Undoing the monster TV created

“I wonder if TV will now help us undo the damage they unwittingly begat. Perhaps by having a Trump-like character get what’s coming to him. Put him in Archie Bunker’s chair, and see what happens.” — Dave Winer

Hard for me to imagine Aaron Sorkin isn’t hammering away on his MacBook at this moment. I’ve been thinking in terms of a tell-all book or movie (Primary Colors, Game Change, etc) but a TV series would have a longer life span. Gotta be HBO or Netflix or Amazon to properly portray the monster. Stay tuned.

Chris Stevens KBHR 570 AM

Northern Exposure is an American comedy-drama television series that ran on CBS from 1990 to 1995. My favorite character was Chris Stevens (played by John Corbett). “A philosophical ex-convict who works as the disc jockey at KBHR 570 AM. Between songs, Chris offers comments on events in Cicely and on more intellectual and controversial subjects.”

The Chris character was the DJ we all wanted to be. Okay, “I” wanted to be. Fortunately, I was smart enough to know I couldn’t pull off those long, zen monologues without John Corbett’s wonderful voice and delivery, and a room full of writers. There are a few “Chris Stevens tribute videos” on YouTube that painfully illustrate the folly of those who tried.


My buddy Bob Hague (also a radio guy) told me of an acquaintance that “went bonkers” because Chris never wore headphones in the series.

My father was a Radio Operator (?) in the Navy during WWII. Based on the little he told me of that experience, it was Morse Code rather than than voice transmission. After the war he went to watchmaker school until he figured out he could get paid (GI Bill) to go to the Pathfinder School of Broadcasting (Kansas City).

I recall him saying the the “announcers” didn’t wear headphones because they were in one studio and the engineers (who did wear ‘phones, suppose) were in another. I believe this was common and the reason you’d see announcers from that era cupping a hand behind one hear (holding copy in the other) in order to better hear the golden sound of their voice.

When pop got hired at the little station in Kennett, MO, he was shocked to learned he’d have to “run his own board” and that necessitated wear phones. But I remember (as a child) seeing him or one of the other announcers being on the air without headphones.

Paying for good TV

I grew up glued to the TV and could have never imagined a time when I watched almost nothing on the boob tube. But here we are. Almost no regular viewing since starting my news fast. The one exception is the ABC sitcom, Modern Family. I find the writing so fast and flawless that I have to watch each episode twice to get all the jokes.

This week it occurred to me that we didn’t start watching until the third or fourth season so I went searching for earlier shows and wound up buying the first season (24 episodes) for $30. This might be the first time I’ve done that. (I’m not counting Netflix) $1.25 per episode and no commercials. That’s a good deal in my book. Going forward I see myself (willingly) paying for more of what I watch and listen to. And I’ll be more discriminating. I already have the sense more and more of the good stuff requires a subscription. The crap will come loaded with commercials.

Coif Commandos

I have an idea for a reality TV show but before I tell you about it, you have to buy into the idea that the only ‘reality’ in Reality TV is in the genre name. It’s all scripted and rehearsed to *look* spontaneous and off-the-cuff. We good? Great. Here’s my idea:

A team of hair stylists (with support personnel) cruise around in a Winnebago that’s been outfitted as a hair salon. When they spot a woman (let’s call her Bernice) with a really awful haircut (camera zooms and freeze-frames like a Predator Drone locking onto a target), a couple guys leap out, grab the woman and pull her into Winnebago where she’s strapped into a salon chair and handed a Mimosa.

The Coif Commandos (working title) leap into action as the Winnebago goes careening through traffic. A quick shampoo and the colorist transforms that mousy mop from dryer lint brown to a color better suited to the woman’s skin tone. Then the stylist snips and clips and gives her a cut that’s right for her face (and age). The clock is running and so are the commandos. They drop the freshly made over madam in front of Nordstrom’s and squeal away.

(commercial break)

We next see Bernice talking to the cops at the local precinct, describing her horrific experience.

Detective: And you say they didn’t actually harm you?
Bernice: Yes they harmed me! Look at my hair!!
Detective: (glancing at his partner) Uh, it looks pretty good to me. What did it look like before?

(cut to line-up room where the Commandos are under the lights. Some opportunity to go for cheap gay vamping laughs here.)

Bernice: That’s them!

As we segue into the next commercial break we watch a montage of Bernice’s friends and co-workers trying to be tactful as they talk about how much better she looks with her new coif.

(commercial break)

The courtroom scene consists of bitchy but hilarious testimony by the Commandos (“I’m sorry, but bangs at her age? No, no, no.”) and a series of before-and-after images. Don’t really have a good ending because the series depends on an acquittal in every episode.

I think this might be the result of a flashback from the 2003 series on Bravo, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. And my deep conviction that I could improve on most haircuts with a pair of garden shears.

Feel free to run with this pitch as your own. If you get picked up, send me a tee-shirt.

The Expanse – Season Two

Fans of the SyFy series The Expanse might enjoy recent episodes of Decrypted, Ars Technica’s TV podcast. The February 1st episode included an interview with Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the authors of the books (under pen name James SA Corey).

I’ve watched the first three episodes of season two and suffered only mild dissonance between my mental images of characters and locations from having read the novels. They discuss this at some length in the podcast.

And it’s really niggling things like Bobbie Draper’s combat suit. It was… bigger and played a bigger role in the books. And the damned ceilings are too high. By that I mean the living spaces just seem unnecessarily large. The spaces on the Rocinante are just larger than they need to be (like I know how to design spaceships). Same for Tycho Station. It looks like a gigantic shopping mall. This seems “off” to me. Spacers wouldn’t be so wasteful.

It’s a mistake, in my opinion, to expect the TV series to hew to the details of the books. And, yes, I recommend reading the books first but other can make a case for the other way.

Anyhoo, if you like the books and/or series, you might enjoy the podcast.

New Harry Bosch novel in November

“Michael Connelly will publish the next installment in the Bosch series (untitled as of now) on Nov. 7, 2017, and will introduce the world to the new Renée Ballard series kicking off with The Late Show on July 18, 2017, Little, Brown, and Company announced Tuesday.”

“The Late Show‘s Renée Ballard, Connelly’s first new protagonist in 10 years, is a young detective for the LAPD who has been stuck on the night shift in Hollywood after filing a sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor. Given the nature of the job, she can never finish a case and must hand each project to the day shift detectives when the night ends. But everything changes when she finds two cases of violence against women that she refuses to part with.”

Entertainment Weekly

Dream A Little Dream of Me

First attempt with new recording technique. Video from iPhone in effort to get away from the “looking straight into the laptop camera” look. Recorded audio using Amadeus Pro, then sync’d them. Did the sepia tone and audio tweak in ScreenFlow. So, yeah, I sort of forgot about singing and playing the uke.

ScreenFlow has some nice special effects for audio and video and think I like this version better than the first. Slightly more “enhanced”