The Leftovers is Must-Watch TV


“I hate to be hysterical about it, but The Leftovers is absolutely clowning the rest of television in this quantum leap of a second season. It’s doing monster-truck wheelies over the competition. There’s been a lot of amazing television in 2015, but with every new episode of The Leftovers comes the very real possibility of seeing a “top 10 episodes” list violently upended.”

Source: “Lens” · The Leftovers · TV Review The Leftovers just won’t stop kicking the rest of television’s ass · TV Club · The A.V. Club

This is spot on.  The Leftovers was just OK the first season.  It has reinvented itself into something otherworldly and mesmerizing this season.  It’s a must-watch show. Even the opening credits are phenomenal.


The TV Walls Are Starting to Crumble


Hulu is a great idea, with a horrible execution (so far), because of ads.  Like many people, I spend significant amounts of money each month (Netflix, Spotify, XM radio, DVRs, etc.) in an effort to avoid ads.  Hulu has previously been unbearable because not only does it have ads, it has a lot of repetitive, brain-inflaming ads.  If I have to choose between ads and a cord, I’ll take the cord.  That Hobson’s choice has been one of the biggest issue in cord-cutting.  Now it seems like that’s about change.

Hulu is planning to offer an ad-free plan.  Apple inches closer and closer to announcing and releasing its streaming television service (the sleuth in me wonders if Hulu’s ad-free announcement is an effort by its owners- some of the very nervous content providers-  to get in front of the forthcoming Apple streaming avalanche.).  Weekly, we see new announcements from content providers making their content available via streaming, and apart from the traditional and obsolete cable bundles.

It will take some time, but the walls are crumbling and one thing technology has shown us is that once cracks start appearing in obsolete, unwanted gatekeeper monopolies, those cracks are almost impossible to repair.  The generation of consumers, like my kids, who have never felt tied to a cord will ensure victory for the cord-cutters (by way of example, my daughter loves Teen Wolf, but isn’t watching the current season because she doesn’t know or care what channel it’s on or how to record it on the DVR; “I’ll just wait ’til it’s on Amazon or Netflix.”).  The only question is how long it will take.

I still have a DirectTV package, which I would love to abandon in favor of something as close to a la carte streaming as possible.  When I can get the channels I want reliably and at a comparable cost, I’ll cut the cord, for sure.  The big, unspoken, hitch in this giddy-up is the requirement for fast, reliable broadband (a decade or so from now, all the pipes and waves currently delivering television content will be delivering data, which will vastly increase the size of the pipe, but for the time being pipe size will be an issue.).  My broadband at home is plenty fast enough to accommodate all the content my screen-addicted family wants to consume.  The farm, like most of rural America, is another story.  I am fortunate enough to have fairly reliable wireless broadband at the farm (because I am at the top of a hill with a good line of sight to the tower), but I am the exception, and the broadband I have, while perfectly adequate for web surfing and the occasional Apple TV download, is nowhere near fast and wide enough to accommodate mass streaming consumption.  I don’t know how this problem can be solved, but once cord-cutting becomes a more realistic option, at least we’ll have one less obstacle standing between us and our scissors.

The End of Saturday Morning as We (Used to) Know It


I don’t know when the ritual of Saturday morning cartoons went on life-support, but it was sometime between when I was a kid and now.  It probably had a lot to do with the hundred or so channels kids have today compared to the 3 or 4 we had back in the day.  Videos, both the DVD and on-demand kind, surely played a role.  As did the ability to time-shift via video recorders.

Well, whenever the decline started, it has now ended.  There are no exactly zero cartoons on major television networks on Saturday morning.  Pajiba sums up the melancholy that many of us Bullwinkle and Touche Turtle fans feel:

Saturday morning cartoons were an institution for a couple of generations of American children, our first introductions to stories and characters that we cared about as things made real instead of just the noisy blur of younger entertainment.

Saturday morning cartoons were a big part of my young life.  I remember looking forward to Saturday morning in front of our television, paddling around the few channels we could get, looking for my favorite shows.

I’m sure many of my favorites have been forgotten over the years, but some of the ones I remember seeking out include:

Quick Draw McGraw

Touche Turtle

Wally Gator

Jonny Quest

Speed Racer

and, of course, one of the few that remained popular with all three of my kids, Scooby Doo.

My kids haven’t thought of Saturday morning as a special time for cartoons in a long time, if ever.  But it’s still a little sad when something that used to be so special is finally and forever gone.

Awesome Songs on TV Shows

Pajiba, an awesomely named site that is a fairly recent edition to my daily feeds list, has a good post on The 12 Best Songs to Close TV Show Seasons.  I can’t argue much with the list, at least as far as the listed episodes I’ve seen.  But they got the one they picked from The Wire (yes, it is the best TV show ever) wrong.

They picked the song that played at the end of the series finale: The Blind Boys of Alabama’s “Way Down in the Hole.”  And that’s a good one.

But the best season-ending song from The Wire, and maybe the best ever, was this one from the end of Season 2.

Sobotka, Ziggy, Clay Davis, Beadie (Beadie!), Lester, Proposition Joe, Nick at the end….

Every camera shot in every scene in every season of that show was perfect.

David Collins Was a Cream Fan!

I am re-watching the entire original Dark Shadows series as treadmill fare.  I’ve watched it twice before, once as a kid when it was on the air and once when it was on the Sci-Fi Channel back in the nineties.  It’s good stuff.

I have been struck this time by the complete lack in the series of any cultural references from the era.  It was mostly set in the late 60s to early 7os.  Other than an occasional reference to seeing an (unnamed) movie, there are virtually no references to music, film or television.  In fact, I can only recall seeing a television in one scene.  A woman’s boarding house room as she was terrorized by John Yaeger.

As a result, I’ve watched closely for any intentional or unintentional cultural references.  I noticed a cardboard animal in David Collins’ room that said “Chicken Little was Right.”  A google search didn’t turn up anything interesting.  There are some interesting posters in David Collins’s room, but until today there was never a close enough shot to see what they were.

But today.


There was a scene where I could read this poster.  It says Aug 29 – Sept 3.  I gave google a shot, and much to my surprise and delight it turns out TO BE A CREAM POSTER!!!


Specifically, a Fillmore poster for Cream’s Aug. 29-Sept. 3, 1967 shows with the Electric Flag and the Gary Burton Quartet.

How awesome is that?

A close look shows that they removed the references to the bands and the Fillmore, but it is clearly the same poster.


There’s another Cream poster in David’s room too.


This one from Cream’s  Aug. 22-27, 1967 shows with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the South Side Sound System.

Winter is Coming: And Here’s a Great Song to Prove It

So we all know that Game of Thrones, books and TV show, are just about perfect.  To say I am immersed in George R.R. Martin‘s expansive world is an understatement.  In fact, I have dreamed on more than one occasion that I was in Westeros.  Those are my third favorite dream topics, behind only the times I’ve dreamed I was a member of the Grateful Dead and….  Well, other stuff.

While we wait impatiently for the next book in the series and season on TV, here is one of the most rocking songs I’ve heard in a long time.

I was previously unfamiliar with Dominik Omega and The Arcitype, but if this is indicative of their work, they should be performing in stadiums full of crazed fans.  This is really good stuff.

Must See Video: The Visual Style of The Wire

Everyone knows The Wire is the best show in the history of television.  It’s so good, I wish I could erase my memories of it so I could have the pleasure of watching it again for the first time.  Since I can’t do that,  unexpected pleasures like this video essay on the visual style of the show are a real treat.


Here’s  Erlend Lavik, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Science and Media studies at Norway’s University of Bergen, discussing some of the techniques used in framing and filming our favorite show.

And for those stubborn few who deny themselves the pleasure of the best show ever, the montage that ended Season 2.


(via A.V. Club)