Thursday, January 18, 2018

Assignment 2: Programming Trends

Star Trek: Discovery
Broadcast TV continues to copy cable and streaming networks this year, copying their trends. The new shows this year include some sci-fi and fantasy, along with the usual cop shows, medical shows, law shows, and comedies. You will see many familiar faces turning up as well. FOX has "The Orville," a spoof of shows like "Star Trek," on Thursdays. It's written by and starring Seth McFarlane, who has had great success with shows like "Family Guy" and the movie "Ted." The first new show to premiere in the Fall, it has done well so far in the ratings. There is also a new "Star Trek" show on CBS called "Star Trek: Discovery." The first episode aired on CBS, and the rest is shown on their streaming service, CBS All-Access. You can view it for $7 a month or watch it commercial free for $10. CBS is hoping it will be a big hit, so that they can launch many new streaming shows and be as successful as Netflix, HULU and Amazon Prime. Video Link

The Good Doctor
Several new shows are showcasing teens with autism and/or high intelligence. ABC has the new medical show "The Good Doctor," about a new intern at a hospital who's not only super smart but also autistic (starring Freddie Highmore of "Bates Motel"). Video Link There's already a good comedy on Netflix about an autistic teen, "Atypical." The "Big Bang Theory" spinoff "Young Sheldon" is airing on CBS. Although many fans have speculated that Sheldon is on the spectrum, there's no mention here of his being autistic, just very smart and clueless. In "Young Sheldon," we get to see how he grew up in his Texas family, narrated by the adult Sheldon (Jim Parsons). It airs on Thursdays. More about the new shows here.

Another theme running through the new shows this year is military service. CBS has "SEAL Team" on Wednesdays, starring David Boreanaz ("Bones"). Video Link NBC has "The Brave" Mondays, about a Special Ops squad of highly trained undercover specialists (starring Anne Heche). Also on Mondays is "Valor" on The CW, a serialized military drama/thriller starring Matt Barr. Not many military-themed series have survived for very long on TV, aside from NCIS and its spinoffs. Trump's presidency, and the working-class male audience that voted for him, may be the reason for these shows.

the new Roseanne cast
Also, there are quite a few reboots and familiar faces. "Dynasty" on The CW attempts to remake the successful 1980's ABC Primetime soap opera. "Will & Grace" reunites the original cast of the NBC sitcom that ran 1998-2006. "S.W.A.T." starring Shemar Moore ("Criminal Minds") is a reboot of a 70's cop show that also spawned a 2003 film. “Roseanne” will be returning soon on ABC with the same cast.  Video Link TV veteran John Larroquette was one of the stars of "Me, Myself & I," while Mark Feuerstein ("Royal Pains") stars with two 70's actors Elliot Gould and Linda Lavin in "9JKL" on CBS.  If the reboots are successful, then you can expect more of them. Using familiar actors and rebooting popular shows is something that networks love to do.

There are a few innovative shows on broadcast TV this year. ABC's "Kevin (Probably) Saves the World" has a strange title, but it’s a fun, heartwarming show. Video Link A lovable loser gets help from an angel to fulfill his destiny. FOX has a new Marvel show, "The Gifted," about a family whose children are mutants. It’s really excellent.  The show's creator also did the wonderful spy drama, "Burn Notice," on USA Network. “The Gifted” stars Stephen Moyer ("True Blood") and Amy Acker ("Person of Interest").

Streaming and cable shows continue to be dark and depressing (but mostly well-written). “Damnation” is a type of western drama on USA Network, set in the 1930’s, in a battle between rich and poor.  “Ghost Wars” on Syfy is about a small Alaskan town under attack by paranormal forces. Another Syfy show, “Happy” is about a former cop, turned hitman, who sees a little blue flying unicorn. Video LinkThe Punisher” is another violent Marvel comics series on Netflix about a vigilante that kills criminals (formerly seen as the villain in “Daredevil,” season 2.). “Alias Grace” is a murder mystery set in the 1800’s about a cleaning woman who may or may not have murdered her employers. “The End of the F***ing World” has two teenagers in pain, who get into trouble with the law.  These shows are interesting, but they’re very dark and sometimes hard to watch. This trend has been going on for quite a while now, sadly, and it's gotten much worse in the past decade.

Continuing this dark trend, serial killers are still very popular. Besides the serial killer shows we already had, like “Criminal Minds” and “Mr. Mercedes” on DirecTV, we can add the new shows “Mindhunter” on Netflix, and “The Alienist” on TNT.  These are very good, compelling shows, if you don’t mind serial killer stories (which can be very gruesome). Video Link

TV always has trends. There used to be a lot of westerns in the early days of TV. Then there were many variety shows.  Later, we saw lots of shows about vampires.  Trends come and go. As a TV fan, it's always interesting to see what the latest trend is. Here's a peek at last year's programming trends.  Usually the trend starts with one very successful TV show, and then everyone else rushes to copy it. It works...until the next trend comes along to replace it.Video Link

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Assignment 1: Personal Video Habits

My name is Suzanne. This is my new blog for my video analyses class.  Be sure to visit my personal blog! I try to write in it every day, and I post it once a week.

I apologize in advance for the length of this post...I tend to write a lot when it's about something I have a great deal of interest in or knowledge about.



I watch a lot of television because of my job running The TV MegaSite. Among other things, I review all of the new shows (I'm a little behind on that right now because of the holidays), so I have to watch at least the first episode of each new fiction show (well, I try....there are way too many new shows). I've been a TV fanatic for a long time, so I also have quite a few shows I watch regularly. You can see the list here. My favorite show is "Legion" on FX. It's mind-blowing.

Sometimes those shows that I have to review are on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crackle, or some other website/service, so then I will watch it on there (I have subscriptions to them all; none of them cost much, but they sure do add up). I have a ROKU connected to my TV, so I will usually watch these streaming sites through that.  That way I can see them on my TV set screen. I would rather not watch on my laptop because I usually like to work on the laptop while I'm watching (can't do both at once), and because the TV has a larger screen.

I also get some of the TV shows ahead of time from the networks to review. They used to send me DVD's for that (called "screeners"), but now most of them are online. I get screeners from NBC, Syfy, PBS, Freeform, Netflix, A&E, History, Lifetime, TNT, TBS, and some other cable channels.  I also do receive some DVD sets to review from PBS, CBS, Warner Brothers, Lionsgate, et al.  In short, I have way too much to watch! I always have a stack of DVD's, an almost-full DVR, and a long list of shows to watch. Forget about streaming... I need to have shows beamed directly into my brain, preferably without commercials and in double-time fast motion.


On social media, I do see occasional videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. I don't watch most of the videos people post (there are just too many!), and I have my laptop and phone sound turned off most of the time, anyway. There are lots of great old music and TV videos on YouTube, and I wish I had time to watch more of them. If I'm learning a song, though, then I do usually go to YouTube to find the song, and I listen to it over and over.
If I miss an episode of a broadcast or cable TV show for some reason, then I will either watch it On Demand on my TV, or I'll try to find it online.  I've been online since 1994, and I used to work for a search engine, so I'm very good at finding things.

I get most of my TV through DISH Network, which I love. We used to get Comcast cable, back in the earlier part of the century, and it was terrible. There were intermittent reception problems that they couldn't ever fix, and a lot of outages, and they kept raising our bill. Worse, when I called up to find out why they were raising it, I could never get a straight answer. That's when we switched to DISH and never looked back. They're cheaper than DirecTV, too. We rarely have any problems with DISH, and they don't raise our rates. We use Suddenlink for our internet and Verizon for our cell phones.

Anyway, DISH now has Netflix as well. However, for whatever reason, it doesn't work terrible well when I try to watch it via DISH. I'm not sure why, but it freezes up, and I can't get it to unfreeze. It usually works pretty well on the ROKU, or on my laptop.   It might have something to do with our internet. I know that Arkansas has some of the slowest internet speeds in the country.  It can't be just that, though, or else it wouldn't work well on my laptop, either.  Maybe DISH still hasn't gotten the bugs worked out on it yet.
I know that people love to binge-watch, but I'm not really a big fan of that. I'd rather record shows on my DVR and then get around to watching them, one episode at a time, at my convenience. It's just too much. I feel like the shows are pressuring me to watch them if they're all available right now.  I'm sure that part of that feeling comes from being old. They didn't have binge-watching when I was growing up. They didn't even have the internet!


When I was growing up in San Diego in the 1960's, we just had a black-and-white TV that got a few local channels, including the local affiliates for ABC, CBS and NBC (there was no FOX or CW back then).  We had two or three other channels. If you lived in North County, you could also get some of the Los Angeles stations.  We were very poor, so we had a black-and-white TV for a lot longer than most people. Eventually, we did get color.  I didn't watch a lot of TV back then, though, because my mom wouldn't let us. She would tell us to go play or read a book.  She used to listen to music on the radio all the time when we were home (probably because she was a singer, like me). I remember that my dad, who wasn't home that much, loved the westerns, like "Bonanza" and "Gunsmoke." I really don't remember what we all watched together, aside from "Batman" and "Star Trek."  I have three older brothers that are all comic book and sci-fi geeks like me, and my mom was into that stuff, too. My mom died when I was 10, so then I watched a lot of TV, all the time. My dad was out a lot, and my brothers had moved out, so the TV was my new companion. We didn't have videos, DVD's, DVR's or internet back then. (I did read a lot, as well) After I went into a foster home in the 70's, we were only allowed to watch TV occasionally.  I think "The Waltons" and "Dallas" were the only shows we really watched. I had my own, small TV in my room for a while, but then someone broke into our house and stole it.  I also used to listen to "Knots Landing" on the radio (You can listen to certain TV stations on the radio).
After I moved out on my own, I usually either had a TV or access to one. Back then you couldn't record one show and watch another, so you could only watch what was on the major networks, unless you had cable. There weren't nearly as many cable stations available then, either. In the late 80's, after my husband graduated from grad school, we finally did get cable.  In the meantime, I got hooked on the soaps in the mid-80's while I was in college. They had a TV in the student union that was always tuned to the ABC soaps.
I bought a VCR in the late 80's, so I could record soaps and some other shows. I have a large collection of videotapes in the garage, but I rarely watch them. I was an early adopter of DVRs when they first became available, as well as DVD recorders. I love DVR's and don't know how we ever lived without them. It's great to be able to record shows with the press of a button, as well as fast-forward through commercials, and pause/rewind a live show.  With videotapes, you had to have a tape handy and pop it in there, and make sure you have enough room left on the tape (I still have nightmares about running out of room on my videotape to record a soap!).  DVD recorders are only slightly better.  Really, the only problem with DVRs is that they have more limited space.  Also, they do break down eventually, since they're just computers. You can't really back anything up, so once your DVR dies, you lose all of your shows. I've had that happen quite a few times, so let me tell you that it's absolutely heartbreaking (especially if you lose hundreds of hours of shows).
The DISH DVRs do allow you to move your shows to an external hard drive, but you can't actually copy them, only move them.  Also, it's very slow, and if your internet or electricity goes out in the middle of moving them, you lose them.  The same thing happens if you try to move too many shows at once. Mine holds about 2,000 shows, so good luck ever watching them, anyway.  Somehow, no matter how many hours my DVR has, I manage to fill it up.
Even though I have many DVDs in my collection, they, too, are going out of fashion.  Not nearly as many people buy them as used to. I'm sure by 2050, they will be gone and fully replaced by streaming/digital, just as VHS and other media before them were replaced.


Getting back to my viewing habits... although I do love TV, I also love movies. I prefer to see them in the theater, but we don't have a movie theater here in town, and I have no one to go with regularly. Sometimes I can convince my husband to go with me (he's not a big fan of movies), or I can go with a friend when we visit somewhere else. This past year, I only saw 4 movies in the theater. Any others I saw were on HBO or on DVD. My favorites, just like TV, are the superhero movies. This year I saw "Wonder Woman" and " Spider-Man: Homecoming" in the theaters, but I missed "Justice League" and "Thor: Ragnarok," so I'll have to wait and see them on DVD, which isn't nearly as good. I do collect all of the superhero movies and TV shows on DVD, at least as much as I can. I'm not saying I have a complete collection, by any means.  
I have a really good smart phone, the Samsung Galaxy 8, but I hate watching TV or movies on such a small screen (even though it's big for a phone, it's still way too small). We have a tablet, so once in a while I will use that, if I have to. Again, it's not nearly as big as our TV (and we don't even that big of a TV).


I'm not a regular video game player.  In the early 80's, we did have the early video game Pong for a while, as was mentioned in class. I used to play pinball a lot when I was a kid (mostly at the corner store down the street), but I never really got into video games. I've played a few (mostly back in the 80's), but to me, they're just too difficult, and a waste of time and money. You have to play them an awful lot before you get good at them. I don't have the patience for that. The only game I really liked was this one arcade game years ago, called Crystal Castles, which had cute little bears and was very easy to play.
I have many friends and family members who are into them now, though, and some of them play online, on their PCs or phones, constantly. I admit that video games are fun, but one can only have so many hobbies that take up time, and I already have too many of those.  I was recently interested in the new Star Wars virtual reality game (just because it seemed really cool and a lot of fun), but it's $200. Also, I read that it works off your cell phone, but it won't work yet with mine. Also, it got some mixed reviews on Amazon for how well it works. I think I'll wait until they get the bugs out of that one, the price comes down and it will work for my cell.  Virtual reality definitely sounds fun, especially if it ever gets as real as the Star Trek holodeck.