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December 2008

Jumping for Joy - Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog - The Most Fantastic Thing You Will Ever See. er, almost.

I heart Dr. Horrible. www.drhorrible.com

This past spring a bunch of Hollywood types got together and wrote and produced a little thing they called "Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog" featuring Neil Patrick Harris as the eeeeevil doc trying to rid himself of his nemesis The Hammer. There's a lot of singing and there's a lot of intentional hambone acting. And it was also the most entertaining thing I've seen all year with the possible exception of WALL-E and the season finale of LOST. There was more heroics in the first five minutes (and we're talking about a movie that focuses on the villain here) of Dr. Horrible than in the entire 13 hours of this season's HEROES (what a bag of crap that show is, who's writing this shit? I can only assume that they are drunk with the money that NBC must be feeding them and not spending enough time.. well, you know, actually writing).

Anyway, more and more people are spending less time watching the traditional gawk box (television just in case you weren't paying attention) and more time watching television shows and videos that other people create on the computer. This is a trend that will continue in earnest the more we hardcore tv addicts have to endure the piss poor quality of shows like HEROES and MY OWN WORST ENEMY (ugh, more on this as I write a fall season wrap up in the days to come) as well as a half dozen other shows that the network suits I'm sure are sitting there scratching their heads wondering 'gee, why aren't our shows doing well?"

Would someone please tell them (politely if you must but tell them nonetheless) "because your shows are terrible. There is nothing entertaining in watching people be beat up, shot at, cut open and die. There is nothing entertaining in watching good people kill other people in a cheap SAW rip-off as the HEROES season finale pretended to be. And if you want us to come back, you'd sure as hell know where you're going with the story because we can sniff out a writing team that doesn't have a clue a mile away" (LOST is for some reason excluded from this.. we all know and strangely accept that the writers have zero idea how to resolve all the balls they've thrown up in the air but I guess we'll just learn to accept that .. I'm not sure why but we do).

Anyway, I think we'll look back at Dr. Horrible as the thing that kick started web-only entertainment with professional name recognizable talent. And thus the death knell of television begins. Oh and thank you Jeff Zucker at NBC for making this happen just a wee bit faster. Oh, and in case you weren't paying attention to these things: NBC owns HULU.. and HULU plays what? oh yeah, internet videos. Have we found the smoking gun? Is NBC purposely trying to kill it's prime time lineup in order to bolster it's online profitability?? sniff.. smells like it. Only my opinion of course but that's what it looks like from here.

If you haven't seen it, you can download it off of iTunes and you can go to www.drhorrible.com/ to pre-order the DVD. Honestly, you'll be glad you did.

Cost Cutting Your Nose To Spite Your Face

This caught my eye today in the Washington Post (online version, naturally): “Under a new agreement reached this week with its labor unions, WUSA, Channel 9, will become the first station in Washington to replace its crews with one-person "multimedia journalists" who will shoot and edit news stories single-handedly.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/11/AR2008121103976.html

It’s the latest in a long series of cost-cutting measures that have hit the entertainment industry in recent times and more specifically, this week. What with Viacom laying off folks, newspapers on the verge of going belly up, and NBC essentially pulling a bunch of jobs away from writers, producers, agents, etc by removing five hours of scripted programming hours a week from their schedule and replacing it with a prime time Jay Leno ‘Not Tonight Show” Tonight Show.

But that wasn’t really what caught my eye. No, what caught my eye was the station’s call letters: WUSA. I worked as an intern at WUSA when Gannett (their parent company) assigned the patriotic moniker to their Minneapolis NBC station. It has since been reassigned to a Washington DC station.

It was an exciting time, to be 22 and spending three days a week in a newsroom as well as riding around with reporters as they went out on stories.

I won the cheers of everyone on crew when, one day, I was returning from the airport in one of the station cars with film for a story, a car broadsided me and I careened into the middle lane guardrail. By the grace of God I walked away unscathed but the car was beyond repair. I thought I would be fired, fined, jailed but instead the camera crew guys patted me on the back – they’d been wanting to get rid of that junker for years. Whew. Dodged a bullet there!

Anyway, I'm not sure how I feel about one person 'mulitmedia journalists'. I'm sure most of the people I knew back 22 years ago at that Minneapolis station have long since moved on to other places or retired and it's not as though these guys wouldn't have been capable of doing it on their own if it came to that.

But I can't help but wonder - how can tv survive all these cost-cutting measures? If they're not creating a product worth watching, why, then watch? If you watch tv for scripted shows and they're not there. Why watch? If you watch tv for professional news coverage and it's not there, why watch? And if people aren't watching, advertisers don't advertise with you and you go out of business. It doesn't seem like a very smart business model to me......

more on this again because it warrants more discussion than I have today..