Monday, December 8, 2014

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur Blood vs. Water Has Outlasted Its Welcome

Survivor: San Juan del Sur, the twenty-ninth season of one of the first American Reality TV shows, seems to me to be nearing the end of its run.

Unless Survivor re-invents itself, somehow.

I did not like the first version of Survivor: Blood vs. Water. That version had people who had previously been on Survivor returning with a loved one.

The current relative version is made up of people who had not been on Survivor, previously. However, two of the Blood vs. Water pairs had people known to some, as in infamous baseballer, John Rocker, and the twinnies from The Amazing Race, Natalie and Nadiya.

This iteration of Survivor seems to be the only season where those surviving seem to be gaining weight, rather than getting skinny.

Reward Challenge. Want to know what you're playing for? One week fixing's for a barbecue, another week a trip to a Mexican food all you can eat buffet, with beer and margaritas, another week a yacht trip with sandwiches, along with more beer, another week a trip to a baseball game with hot dogs, popcorn, candy and more beer.

And then there was when the two tribes merged and found themselves with a big buffet spread to gorge themselves on.

Or the one week where the Reward Challenge rewarded with food followed by the Immunity Challenge having more food to tempt the Survivors to give up the challenge.

Oh, and if you somehow eat up the supply of rice you are provided, Probst will show up to make a deal with you for another big bag of rice.

And speaking of Jeff Probst. The Probst play by play at the challenges really needs to be toned down. As does the way Probst asks leading questions at the Tribal Councils, leading questions about things like Immunity Idols not being used, which then causes a flurry of panic which disrupts the well planned who to kick off the island scheme.

As for the challenges, it only makes sense that after 29 seasons the challenges would start to have a deja vu feeling to them. But when, in an effort to do something different you have Probst touting something like "In the first time in Survivor history for this challenge Survivors can only use their feet" it would seem we have gone into Jumping the Shark territory.

For Survivor: Season Thirty, I hope Survivor returns to Survivor: Old School. Don't supply so much food. Make it so hunting, fishing and foraging is the food source.

And no gimmicks, no Redemption Island, no Exile Island, no Hidden Immunity Idols.

And cast only people who have never been on TV before, real people, and no people with serious personality disorders....

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

American Idol Season 14 Starts January 14 While Thailand's The Voice Is All About That Bass

The guy you see here is a judge on The Voice.

Don't recognize him from NBC's The Voice?

You don't recognize him because he is not on NBC's The Voice, he is on Thailand's version of The Voice.

I have watched very little of the American version of The Voice. It did not hook me like early seasons of American Idol did.

Have any of the winners of America's The Voice gone on to become known names like so many of the American Idol contestants have?

Is there any The Voice equivalent of American Idol's Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson, Catherine McPhee, Chris Daughtry, Jordan Sparks, Adam Lambert, Phillip Phillips and others I'm likely not remembering?

Speaking of Phillip Phillips. He seems to be the last hit American Idol has had. I don't remember who won the season after Phillip Phillips. I quit watching when it got down to only a few remaining, none of whom I found pop star worthy. I also bailed on last season. Has anyone heard the winner, Caleb Johnson, on the radio?


Me either.

Season 14 of American Idol starts up January 14. I won't be watching. Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. are back as the judges. Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban's head bobbing and dancing to the singing got on my nerves. It was an uncomfortable thing to watch.

I think it likely that the current era of singing competitions shows on American TV is coming to an end.

Below is a YouTube video from Thailand's The Voice. A girl butchers Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass. Do all the singer's on this Thai show sing songs in English? Everything else is in Thai, including the amusing Listerine commercial....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cutting The Cable TV Cord Watching TV Series, Documentaries and Movies on YouTube

What is Google's YouTube up to?

Is Google on track to turn YouTube into the Google version of Netflix?

Why do I ask these questions?

Well. Back when I first was a YouTuber, uploading YouTube videos, one was restricted to a maximum running time of 10 minutes.

Soon after I cut my connection to my Cable TV provider, AT & T U-verse, I discovered that YouTube had drastically changed.

YouTube now has full length movies available for free viewing. I've long wanted to watch the controversial Leni Riefenstahl documentary, Triumph of the Will. I watched it on YouTube.

On my smart phone.

I've long wanted to watch Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. YouTube had that movie available for free viewing.

When James Garner died I wondered if YouTube had any Rockford Files episodes online. Near as I can tell the entire series is available for YouTube viewing.

I don't know where one can find a comprehensive listing of what's available on YouTube. I found The Rockford Files via the YouTube search tool. After I watched a few Rockford episodes YouTube started recommending other series, like the original Hawaii 5-0, Quincy, Gunsmoke, Beverly Hillbillies, Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family, The Carol Burnett Show, I Love Lucy, Perry Mason and others I am not remembering right now.

Sometimes when you search for a specific recent movie YouTube will offer to show it to you for a price, like $1.99 to view it. Is this the direction YouTube is heading? Will all this new content eventually no longer be free to view?

I have no idea. All I know is what Google and YouTube are doing right now sure made it painless to cut the Cable TV cord....

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why Must We Now Have A TV Provider To Watch Most Network & Cable TV Online?

For months I had grown weary of the ever increasing AT & T U-verse bill, with the increased weariness coming from the charge for cable TV.

When a AT & T salesman, several years ago, convinced me to switch from Charter TV to U-Verse promises were made about the cost not increasing.

Well. AT & T's U-verse stayed steady at around $100 for about two years, and then began to go up, til it neared $160. I decided to cut U-verse, keeping only the Internet connection, with increased speed.

I figured I could watch the few TV shows I watch via the Internet via the various websites of the various networks and cable stations.

I figured wrong for the most part.

My thinking I could easily watch TV via the Internet was due to years ago losing an episode of LOST due to a weather event. The next day I went to ABC, found the full episodes option.  LOST started right up, with an announcement that it would be presented with few commercial interruptions.

So, I watched that lost episode of  LOST, on the same computer I am using now, but on a slower Internet connection and found the experience flawless, no sputtering, few commercials, full screen, high definition.

Imagine my surprise and disgust to find, years later, that when I went to the same ABC website I found episodes locked for week, watchable only if you providing TV provider!

And then, when I went to watch an un-locked ABC program, I found even with the screen not full, that there was a lot of sputtering, long commercial breaks, basically not watchable. And so I did not watch.

Soon I was to find that most of the networks and cable stations required a TV provider to watch recent episodes. And that the quality of what you could watch was not good, and with a lot of commercials.

Of all the networks and cable stations only CBS and Lifetime seem to not be playing along with the provide your TV provider demand.

I have discovered that watching CBS and Lifetime programs on my phone is a very satisfying experience.

What I do not understand is the logic of demanding a TV provider by most of the networks and cable stations. I mean, why are the networks even bothering to stream their material online if it is only available to those with a cable TV connection?

If one had a TV provider wouldn't one watch TV on ones TV rather than ones computer? And what if you are on the road, checked into motel with wi-fi, wanting to watch something not on the motel's TV?

I am assuming the cable TV providers have made this demand of the content providers, that they must block access to new programming to those who are not feeding the cable TV money. When did the power shift from the content producers to the content conveyors?

And why are CBS and Lifetime not playing along?

I have also found much un-locked on A & E, however their commercials are annoyingly repetitive. As in five times in a row, in one commercial break, repeating a Reliant Energy ad. Very counter-productive for Reliant Energy. And then the next commercial break comes with five more Reliant Energy repeats.

I have also found that content on the CW is watchable, except for the bad repetitive commercial breaks.

BravoTV is the worst I have experienced. Erratic with what is locked and unlocked. And bad streaming with too much sputtering to be watchable.

It has now been over two months since I cut the cable TV cord. Withdrawal has been much easier than I thought it would be. And because of the cable cutting I have discovered things I did not know about. Such as on YouTube you can now watch full length TV shows without commercial interruption. Lately I have been enjoying The Rockford Files.

On YouTube you can also watch full length movies. A few days ago I watched Chaplin's The Great Dictator. I have discovered the current version of YouTube is very addictive.

When I accessed TV via cable I never stayed up late watching TV. Last night, whilst in bed, I watched YouTube til  past 11. The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour hour long episode titled Lucy Goes To Mexico. It was hilarious....

Thursday, May 22, 2014

American Idol's Ratings Plummet As Caleb Johnson Beats Jena Irene For The Win

The days of American Idol being the top rated show on American TV are over. The former regularly #1 show is now regularly in the Top 20. Usually the lower tier of the Top 20.

I, among many viewers, bailed on watching American Idol last season by the time the contestants were whittled down to the Final Five, or Six.

I did not watch last year's American Idol finale. I know a girl won, I don't know her name, I don't think she has had a hit song.

With this year's American Idol I also did not watch the finale. For me the only one among this year's singers who made it to the live shows who had any chance at pop idol type success was Alex Preston, due to the fact that he is definitely a one of a kind original.

That is this year's American Idol winner, Caleb Johnson, above, sitting on a couch with Alex Preston.

Caleb Johnson  seemed  nice enough personality-wise. But pop idol-wise? His singing seemed to me to be totally imitative of rockers from the 80s. Nothing original about him. I think Simon Cowell would have not been impressed with Caleb Johnson, with Simon's negative critiques likely leading to Caleb's boot well prior to the finale.

As for Caleb's co-finalist, Jena Irene. Well, if you want people to pronounce your named with a long E, then spell it with a G and two E's. The letter J never sounds like Gee, not that I've ever heard.

As for Jena's pop idol-ness, I was not a fan of her singing, at times it was like she went so quiet and soft I could not make out the words she was singing. Performance-wise and entertainment-wise she was sort of dull.

And then there are the judges. I liked Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban. They all seem like very nice people. But, over the course of seeing a lot of hours of the three there were some elements I got a bit tired of.

Harry Connick Jr. at times seemed to be trying too hard to be "entertaining." Throwing beignets into the audience comes to mind. His critiques, at times, seemed sort of a bit overwrought and overthought.

Jennifer Lopez I  really like. And not just because she is very pleasing to look at. But, both she and Keith Urban did something that really annoyed me.

As in more than once Keith Urban and Ms. Lopez would stand while Caleb Johnson was rocking and dance along with the music like a couple of teenagers in cool kid head bobbing mode. It just seemed wrong to me that those two would do this. Harry would have none of it, even with Jennifer trying to get him to stand and join them.

Another thing with Keith Urban, and again I must say he is a very likable guy, who seems to give good advice, at times. But, he could maybe try and expand his vocabulary a bit. He used the word "killer" way too many times. As in verbiage such as "That was killer." Or "That performance was killer." Or "Man, that was killer."

American Idol is no longer a "killer" show. I doubt American Idol will ever find another Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert, Phillip Phillips or any of the others who have gone from their American Idol exposure to a show business, or political office career.

Apparently FOX realizes American Idol's best days are behind it, and so will be cutting the number of hours American Idol airs in its next season of searching for America's next pop star....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Meryl & Maks Win The Mirror Ball Trophy After An Excellent Edition Of Dancing With The Stars

To the right you are looking at Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy a moment or two before they won the coveted mirror ball trophy in the latest  iteration of Dancing with the Stars.

This makes two Reality TV competition shows with satisfying endings this week. First was Dave & Connor winning The Amazing Race All Stars, and now Meryl and Maks winning DWTS.

It would have also been a satisfying win if Amy Purdy and Derek Hough had won the mirror ball. But Derek has won something like five times, whilst Maks never won til last night.

Everything about Dancing with the Stars seemed to be a vast improvement this season.

The guest judges added an interesting element. The production values of the dance numbers and the stage sets and the packaged pieces seemed greatly amped up.

Cheesy, sort of embarrassing elements, like Dance Center with Kenny Maynes, or whatever his name is, were axed.

And the new co-host, Erin Andrews, was such a witty, funny, likable change from the previous rather wooden, leaden, dull, humorless co-hosts who came before her.

And then there were the dancers,  I mean, celebrities. I knew who more of them were this time than ever before. And some were  actual celebrities. Like Drew Carey.

And some with whom I was not familiar, as in James Maslow, Amy Purdy, the Olympic Gold Medalists, Charlie White and his skating partner, the winner, Meryl Davis, I came to like and to understand why they could be considered celebrities.

The effect Meryl had on Maks, changing him from the Bad Boy of the Ballroom, into a Teddy Bear, including a scene of Maks crying and getting comforted by Tony Dovolni, well this was not the Maks we'd seen before.

I half expected Maks to actually spout off an actual marriage proposal in the chaos which ensued after he and Meryl won. That would have been Reality TV Gold.

The next season of Dancing with the Stars has its work cut out for it if it is going to top what the show did this year.