Talking Television and Values.

Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

What Kind of Question Is That, Probst?

Posted by Travis R Grant on December 18, 2007

Oh, I could go on about this past season of Survivor.  But I will sum it up in one word, Boring.

Despite that, I watched it. And I even stomached the reunion, which I usually find even more boring.

But I couldn’t believe that Probst actually asked one question.  Probst asked Erik if he has given up his virginity now that he is dating Jaime.

Seriously, don’t we have any respect for people’s privacy any more?  Maybe I am a hypocrite for loving reality TV and wanting others to respect privacy, but the fact is that certain things should just stay in the bedroom.

That question was both disrepectful to Erik and to Jaime.  I almost have given up on Survivor with that being the straw that broke the camels back.  However, their fans vs. favorites season coming up, looks to be rather interesting.  So I am going to give them one more season to keep me watching.

Posted in Reality TV, Survivor, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

Journeyman SciFi Storyline; Real Life Stories

Posted by Travis R Grant on October 30, 2007

I haven’t written in a while, because it seems that when I write something positive about a show it turns out that the next episode makes what a wrote a lie. I have have been tempted to write about Journeyman for several weeks now.

Actually, my first temptation was after episode one. Not because the show itself was outstanding. While the characters, writing, direction, and premise is interesting and entertaining. My motivation to write was based on its marriage-friendly theme.

Take a minute right now and think of a current show that portrays one of the main characters as happily married and is working to keep it that way, or at the least shows no signs of ending the marriage. Of the roughly 45 dramas on the 5 networks that are broadcast in my area. I can only come up with six or seven.

The first and perhaps most obvious example is the Seventh Heaven which I am counting because it is rumored to be going into its 12th season. Then there is the new CW family show Life is Wild. Third, we have Friday Night Lights, but I am not sure that Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) can be considered the main character. There is also the marriage of Law and Order: SVU‘s Detective Stabler (Christopher Meloni) which has struggled in the past, but they are working to put it back together. Next we have the Unit, where Jonas Blane (Dennis Haysbert) has a committed and loving relationship with Molly (Regina Taylor). While I might have missed one ore two, I am going to end this list with Journeyman.

The first three shows are teenager-oriented dramas, which typically have some stable parents. I don’t mean that to discount them, but simply to categorize them. SVU, The Unit and Journeyman, however, are the only three dramas specifically geared towards adults that portray marriage as something worth pursuing. That is six out of 45 (13% for those who don’t want to get out their calculators).  Only 3 (7%) if these are directed to adult audiences.

In a world where we falsely believe that 50% of marriage succeed (the marriage success rate is actually higher), you would think that a medium that claims to paint the picture of society might actually have more married couples. However, it doesn’t and I think that it adds to many of our myths about marriage and our societies value of marriage.

Journeyman has become my favorite new show of the season because it shows that even in difficult times, marriage can succeed. It takes work, but it can succeed.

The premise of the show is that Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd) is suddenly transported back in time. However, when he returns he loses the time spent in the past. Thus, if he spends 2 hours in 1993, he will be missing in 2007 for 2 hours.

Not sure what is happening to himself, Vasser doesn’t tell his wife, Katie (Gretchen Egolf), about the trips. Eventually he tells her, and the marital problems are resolved. But this is only the beginning of the problems. While in the past he finds out that his long lost love Livia Beale (Moon Bloodgood) is also a time traveler.

So, is this love spark to be rekindled? So far, no. While there are temptations and some original interest, Ultimately, Dan chooses fidelity over passion. Not every episode is completely about the marriage, there is a definite theme that marriage can succeed no matter what the problems are.

This is the type of message we need in television. One of the things I love about Science Fiction is that it often address of the issues of today by removing us from the issue directly and talking about it somewhat covertly. While more overt than most science fiction, Journeyman is a great discussion of values, family, and marriage.

Posted in Drama, Journeyman, Television | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Lost Is In The Brig

Posted by Travis R Grant on May 3, 2007

I am a big fan of Lost. I am currently watching (or re-watching as the case sometimes is) the second season of lost just to keep myself up to speed. And I am enjoying even the episodes I have already seen and mysteries that I already know the answers too.

My re-watching of season one helped me to already figure out that Locke’s father (Kevin Tighe) was Sawyer’s (Josh Holloway) nemesis. And honestly, I knew that Locke (Terry O’Quinn) was lying after about 2 minutes of him telling Sawyer that he wanted Ben dead.

However, as I watched I kept telling myself that I didn’t want Sawyer to do it. I knew he would, but I just wanted him to learn forgiveness. I would have settled for something else (like an earthquake or Jack) to get in the way of the murder, but it didn’t happen either.

It’s all about the murder. I was bothered when Michael killed Ana-Lucia (Michelle Rodriguez) last year and I don’t like what Sawyer did in this episode. I understand that these murders play an important part in the development of the show, but I am not fond of them.

You might be thinking that after last week’s episode, maybe they are already dead, so it shouldn’t really matter. Or you might think that they too could be revived like the Russian (Andrew Divoff) was. However, there were too many references to them already being dead in these past two episodes for me to really believe it. You have to remember that this is the Hanso Foundation. They have power to cover anything up. Oceanic Flight 815 didn’t really need to crash in the Pacific and they didn’t really need to find the survivors, for others to be convinced otherwise.

The events of these past two episodes aren’t about whether they are dead or not.

We have to remember that Ben (Michael Linus) is the mastermind here. Ben could have ordered Locke’s father to the island. Locke’s father’s death could have been faked (remember the smiling man with the IV after the car crash, what was in that bottle?), he could have been brain washed into thinking that the Oceanic 815 passengers died, then he woke up in the box.

Also, this mystery woman (Marsha Thomason) from the helicopter could easily be an “other” that we haven’t met yet. I am sure that the others have the back-story of Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) as they do for everyone else on the island. So they can talk about Penelope (Sonya Walger), and even have a copy of a picture with Desmond and Penelope.

All of this happened so that Locke could give Sawyer the tape recorder. Don’t you think it was awfully convenient that Ben was listening to the tape just when Locke arrived at his tent? And I find it hard to believe that Ben would let the recorder get stolen that easily. This is just another masterly planned con by Ben.
Okay, I am getting too much into theories here. But it is to make a point. I think that the story line has gotten a little too obvious. The mystery is slipping a bit. Maybe I am just upset about the murder, but it just seems to me things are a little too obvious. It could also be that I am just being conned into thinking it is that simple when it is not really the case.

Either way, just like last year, it is near the end of the season and I am losing my interest in the show again. This is partly because of the murders, and partly because of the storyline.

Posted in Drama, Lost, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

Identity Is Fun, but Too Much Skin

Posted by Travis R Grant on April 28, 2007

I really love family shows when it comes to television. And so that often leads me and my family to watch a lot of reality TV and game shows. I know that they aren’t the best type of family television entertainment, but of the choices lately, it’s about all that I have.

Friday nights are one night when usually the kids and I can sit down and spend an hour or two watching television together before bed. And this has meant that we watch a lot of Identity. I don’t think that it is a great show, and I honestly though that Penn Jillette would do a lot better hosting.  We watch, however, for the most part because it is family-friendly.

If you haven’t seen the show, basically the contestant is supposed to match 12 identities (from a doctor to a horseback rider, or an Olympic Gold Medalist to a mortician) with 12 strangers standing on a stage. Sometimes is really obvious, like when the the identity is a clown and one of the people is actually wearing a red nose. However, as the identities are narrowed down, it can often get harder.

The nice thing about this is you can play along. You can make your educated (or sometimes not-so-educated) guess, and then be embarrassed or take bragging rights depending on your accuracy. I have hid my head in shame several times.

I have one big problem with this show, however. This show has too much skin. It seems that every female stranger has to be in either a bikini or strapless, naval revealing outfit.

Sure it has provided me with excellent opportunities to talk to my children about modesty. But it really is getting to be too much.

If the bikini or skimpy outfit is directly related to their identity, then I can understand it (sort of), but when a missionary, preschool teacher, and morticians apprentice are all in bikinis, I just have to wonder if this isn’t just blatant pandering to the perverts in the male audience.

Let’s try to keep family friendly television to at least some level of decency.  Between the poor hosting by Jillette and the immodesty, I don’t suspect that this show has much of a future.

Posted in Identity, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

Choice = Better Television

Posted by Travis R Grant on April 26, 2007

I often find myself disagreeing with Scott Pierce, the television columnist at the Deseret News. However, I find his articles usually quite enjoyable to read. However, he is wrong in his latest column.

While, I don’t agree with the Parents Television Council‘s effort for more government control of television. I do agree that Cable Television should provide an a-la-carte menu. I don’t think that it should be government mandated, I just wish that private industry would provide an a-la-carte cable option without force.

Peirce argues that by creating an a-la-carte style cable system then many of our favorite cable networks would disappear. His claim is that many of these cable stations make money from subscriptions. This is a complete lie. Most subscription services (magazines, newspapers, and even cable networks) make their money from advertising. Subscriptions are simply used to prove that the people view the ads are actually paying customers and not people looking for a free ride.

Of the 38 networks that Peirce lists, there are only a few that are free of advertisements. The rest rely on ads to pay the bills. They are also able to charge a premium ad rate because they can say that their viewers have a specific interest. DIY and TLC can charge more for home improvement ads, and Oxygen can charge more for ads targeted to women.

If people chose their favorite 20 channels, then the premium they could charge for ads would go up. I am sure that this increase would more than make up for lose due to subscription reductions.

Further, If you accept Peirce’s premise that bulk rates are the only way for some of your favorite stations to survive, then I have one question. Why should my money go to support something I don’t watch? If it couldn’t survive without my minute contribution, then why should it survive.

Some might argue that if the a-la-carte style cable system would work, then why aren’t they offering it. The simple answer is because people are willing to pay for bulk packages. It is cheaper to eat at a buffet and not at a cafeteria. However, there are many people who will go to a good steak house rather than get a tough slice of second rate beef from a buffet.

I don’t subscribe to cable. I don’t see that it is worth my money. However, if I could buy just a few extra channels, then I might consider paying more per channel just to get the best of what is available.

Posted in Cable, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

Heroes Renews It’s Energy

Posted by Travis R Grant on April 24, 2007

In gearing up for last night’s return of Heroes, I re-watched every season 1 episode on-line. Yeah, I have to admit I am a little obsessed. Since I did the same thing during the last Heroes drought, I have watched the pre-December episodes at least three times.

While watching these episodes again, I couldn’t help but think that they had tied up too many loose ends. We found out who Claire’s (Hayden Panetierre) real parents are. We had my suspicions that Mr. Bennet (Jack Coleman) was a good guy, and only the “face” of evil not evil itself, confirmed. We met Mr. Linderman (Michael McDowell), however, who he really is hasn’t been revealed. And many more important parts of the story have been discovered.

I was honestly thinking that if they kept up the pace, then the show would be all over by the end to of this season. However, with this one episode, while having several questions answered, we had many new questions to keep our interest.  Some of these interesting new questions are:

  1. Will Nathan (Adrian Pasdar) encourage his brother to explode?
  2. What is Mrs. Petrelli’s (Cristine Rose) power?
  3. Does Claire need to stay in New York or go to Paris to save the World?
  4. Can Mr. Bennet stop the Company?
      • Does he meet up again with Claire when in New York?
      • Or do they end up going to Las Vegas instead?
      1. What happened 15 or so years ago to cause a former group of Heroes to separate?
          • Was Mrs. Petrelli one of the group?
          • Does Mrs. Petrelli work for Linderman?
          • Who was in that group?

          These are just some of the question that I have come up with, and I am excited to see them develop. I am also very interested to see what happens 5 years in the future that is so important to today, so next week is going to be another great episode.

          It’s great that I have Heroes to hold onto, because as of late, I have been losing a lot of interest in television. Sure, I am still watching Lost, but many of the other staples in my TV diet aren’t as appetizing as they used to be.

          I really don’t want to get into the speculations about the show, I just want to point out how good this show is and has become. This show is so good; I even started to believe the tricks of this episode.

          It should have been obvious to me that Peter just needed the glass pulled from his head. But for some reason, I was so caught up in mourning his loss (or trying to figure out how Linderman was going to save him), that I didn’t really think too much about pulling the glass out of his head.

          I was moved when Claire saved him and cited the all to cliche line “I guess we’re even then.” I just solidified their relationship in my head. Before it was just a young girl fantasy about an older brother figure. Now, it is a great uncle-niece relationship that I know will prove important through out the show, even perhaps during the next few episodes.

          Posted in Drama, Heroes, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

          Jericho Gets Nuked

          Posted by Travis R Grant on April 19, 2007

          As Jericho is one of my personal favorite new shows this year, I am upset to report that I won’t be watching any more. I have said in the past there is one thing that will make me stop watching a show. I have been accused of being a prude and of not understanding real life because of it too.

          Last weeks episode had an allusion to the fact that Bonnie (Shoshannah Stern) had spent the night with her boyfriend at her house while Stanley (Bradley Beyer) was in New Bern. I started to question if I should even bother watching the show then. However, I couldn’t determine if Bonnie was a teenager or not.  While I had alway thought she wast, I didn’t want to give up on the show just then.

          According to Stern’s IMBD bio, she is 26 years old. However, it isn’t uncommon for television to have actors portray people younger (or older) than they really are. So, I decided to reserve judgment. Honestly, I was hoping that they would just drop the issue and let me watch in peace.

          However, they continued the story this week, and during a conversation between Stanley and Mimi (Alicia Coppola), Bonnie’s age is hinted to. She is referred to as a teenager, and it was specified that she was having sex with her boyfriend.

          I struggled at that point. I love this show. While my interest in Jericho is starting to wane, I don’t want to stop watching yet. I even contemplated not writing about it today and just letting the incident slide hoping that no one would notice my hypocrisy.

          However, I can’t do that. If I give in on one show, then I lose and those who are determined to normalize teen sex win. So, I am done with Jericho.

          Before some of you start arguing that I don’t know anything about teenagers, I want to point out, that yes I know teens are having sex. I also understand that sex is very much on most teenagers’ minds. However, it isn’t something that they should take casually, and too many television shows are treating this as a casual act.

          I am also hopeful that there is still a large number of teens who are choosing to abstain. I am still waiting for a show that emphasizes that choice, and not as some fanatically religious reason for their choice. I am fine with religion being a part of the choice. I am just afraid that the media will make it some religious fanatical reason for the decision.

          I predict that Jericho will lose a lot of viewers over the rest of this season, and I further predict that fewer will return for the next season. I am sure I am not the only person who feels this way. We need to have more viewers be more discerning about the shows they choose to watch. As for me, I am done with one of my favorite shows this year.

          Posted in Drama, Jericho, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

          Imaginary Raines Entertains

          Posted by Travis R Grant on March 31, 2007

          When I first read about Raines, I was wondering how many more talking to the dead shows we need. Then I realized that Detective Michael Raines (Jeff Goldblum) doesn’t really talk to the dead. He just imagines them.

          So, then I start wondering if we really need another Monk. However, after watching the past three episodes, I realize that this isn’t Monk, and frankly, I think it is a lot better.

          Prior to any of the first episode, Raines’ partner, Detective Charlie Lincoln (Milka Yoba) was killed and Raines is taking it pretty hard. So hard, that he sees the victims that he is investigating as he works on their cases. He even talks to his old partner in his imagination.

          He is not however seeing their ghosts. He only imagines them, and the victim’s character is slow developed as Raines learns more about them. Last week’s episode started with the victim all covered in seaweed and half eaten by fish, until Raines sees a photo. Then the victim becomes normal.

          Last night’s episode we see the victim’s clothes changes as Raines learned more about her. She went from looking like a homeless woman, to a suburban mother like individual.

          These imaginary individuals, however, don’t tell Raines more than he already knows. Sure sometimes they help him talk through problems to understand possible solutions. However, they don’t tell him anything more than he already knows.

          It really creates a very interesting story line, and helps you to understand better how Raines puts the cases together. It really is an excellent literary tool.

          It is a really interesting premise and is very enjoyable. The monologue at the beginning is a little too Dragnet, but it does work for this show, especially when you take into account that Raines talks to himself (or his imagination) throughout the show.

          I will keep watching and enjoying Raines. It is perhaps the best new premier among this mid-seasons releases.

          Posted in Drama, Raines, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

          Ugly Betty Gets Uglier

          Posted by Travis R Grant on March 30, 2007

          If I had posted these comments about Ugly Betty last November when last nights rerun originally aired, I would have been a lot more complimentary about the show. That’s right I have been watching Ugly Betty.

          At first I was watching the show to prove myself right that this show didn’t deserve to be on the air. I was convinced that it would be a complete and total mockery of everything good. And I was pleasantly surprised.

          During the first half of this season this show actually proved to be a great show about how traditional family values will always prevail no matter what part of the world you lived in. Betty (America Ferrera) managed to always save her boss, her company, or her own family by relying on the values and morals her parent taught her while growing up. These values were either never taught or were easily forgotten by her coworkers in the fashion industry.

          I was also further caught up in the mystery surrounding the death of Bradford Meade’s (Alan Dale) mistress. Who killed her? Who was this mystery woman that was going to take over Mode Magazine by revealing Bradford’s involvement in his mistress’s death? It was captivating.

          It was really looking up to being a great show. However, after the winter break in new episodes, Betty got Uglier. Betty Suarez didn’t get uglier, just the show.

          We find out that the mystery woman was supposedly Bradford Meade’s deceased son, Alex(is) Meade (Rebecca Romijn). He faked his own death in order to go into hiding so that he could have a sex change.

          What little I know about sex changes, I know that there is no way you can take the offspring of Bradford Meade and Claire Meade (Judith Light), have a boy, and then convert it into something as beautiful as Romijn. It’s just not possible with today’s technology.

          The revelation of Alexis Meade is where I realized the hidden agenda of this show. It is an advocacy program for the sexually confused. Two of the supporting characters are gay. Two of the supporting characters are sex addicts. And one of them is transgendered. That adds up to five of a regular cast of eleven.  Seems like a high percentage to me.

          This is all couched in the message of fighting for the underdog. We cheer for the success of Betty in her poncho while saving a fashion magazine. We hope for her father Ignacio (Tony Plana) and his plight for legal status in the United States. We have heart for the differences in personality of Betty’s nephew Justin (Mark Indelicato). We pine for Christina’s (Ashely Jensen) success as a fashion designer.

          However, you really lose my interest when I have to accept the transformation of a man into a woman. This is agendized television and I just am not going to accept it.

          It is a blatant attempt at trying to change the hearts and minds of American’s to greater acceptance or at least tolerance towards the sexually confused, I was willing to bear it for a while, but I think I have had enough.

          Posted in Drama, Television, TV, Ugly Betty | 2 Comments »

          Preview: The Great American Dream Vote

          Posted by Travis R Grant on March 27, 2007

          Is Donny Osmond ready from prime time again? While he has done television, broadway, and other media productions. This is the first time in 20 plus years that Osmond will be starring in a prime time television show.

          I was actually quite impressed at how well Osmond did on Pyramid. He was very well spoken, funny (though someone cliché), and rather enjoyable to watch.

          As the Great American Dream Vote is more like a game show than a talk show, I would guess that Osmond will do well in this role. I am sure that he will bring is very natural charm to the screen and help the contestants and audience (both studio and broadcast audiences) feel at home.

          However, I am not sure that this show will work. We often hear about the great American dream. As I was growing up I was always taught that this dream was home ownership. And I still think that it is.

          However, we are dreaming bigger now. And this show is hoping to capitalize from our dreams.

          Contestants in this show will tell America what their dream is. This can be anything from building a dance studio in your basement to starting up your own private business. The key is to convince America that your dream is better than the other contestants.

          First, the studio audience will reduce the vote down to the two best contestants. Then America will decide who should have their dream fulfilled.

          I often speak of celebrating the stories of ordinary people. This show starts with that premise and so there is a part of me that thinks it could be a great success. However, past experiments (like Three Wishes) with helping people fulfill their dreams have proven to be unsuccessful television shows.

          While they often provide people with a great feeling about society and caring for others, these shows just aren’t as entertaining as one would hope they would be.

          Also, I feel that the competition part of the show will have its problems. How am I going to choose between one person’s dreams and another’s? Sure some choices would be obvious, like voting for someone who wants fame and fortune versus someone who needs a home with wheelchair access for their disable child. But how do you choose between the wheelchair and the infertile couple? Or how do you choose between a pasture who wants to improve his church and a homeless shelter that needs more room?

          Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if this show does well. It could be like chicken soup for the television soul. But I don’t hold out much hope.

          Posted in Previews, Reality TV, Television, The Great American Vote, Unscripted Dramas | Leave a Comment »