Preacher TV

I love Preacher. Once you accept a few outlandish premises plot comes from character so thoroughly it seems inevitable.

Bootleg Trollope

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I occasionally turn to the Darkweb when I look for something legitimately and find that it is not available anywhere. Such is the 1982 BBC / Masterpiece Theater production of Anthony Trollope’s The Warden and Barchester Towerst. I just finished Doctor Thorne, Book three in the series, and vaguely remember seeing Donald Pleasance in this when it was originally broadcast (and completely forgetting a young Alan Rickman was Obadiah Slope, the oily clergyman in the Stanhope camp.)

While I am sick and in search of comfort viewing, I sought this out. I had been watching the first few episodes of Monarch of the Glen as unchallenging material for slipping in an out of consciousness. What I didn’t realize until I looked this up is that Susan Hampsire, who plays Molly on MotG also plays Signora Neroni, the weirdo ingenue of Barchester Towers. I’m just suprised Hellen Mirren isn’t in it, since it was a British production from between 1975 and 2015. I thought she was required by law to be in them all.

And I didn’t realize until looking for the links for this post there is a brand spanking new production of Doctor Thorne, with Ian McShane as Sir Roger and Alison Brie as Miss Dunstable. Holy cow!

Blindspot

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I thought Blindspot looked intriguing so I set it on the DVR and only just got to watching it this week. I watched all of the pilot. By 10 minutes into episode 2, I deleted the series recording and all the episodes. I just couldn’t take it. This is even though I really like Jamie Alexander as Sif in the Thor movies and was pulling for her. It just felt too network-action-drama bullshitty to me. It’s getting good ratings so most people clearly have either a higher tolerance or even a taste for this. I stopped watching ER a few seasons from the end because it felt like this.

A few observations:

  • This has an NBC patented formulaic plot engine that would make My Name is Earl blush. And the gimmick involves the attractive female lead having to get naked over and over. Even that was not incentive enough to stick around through the horrible dialog.
  • I’m a little surprised I made it through the pilot.
    “Stay in the car!”
    “But you need me!
    <Sigh> “OK, but stay close.”
    Repeat every 6 minutes or more often if the plot needs goosing.

I have a hard enough time keeping up with TV shows. I have a hair trigger and a zero tolerance policy for ones that aren’t working for me.

Soaking in Game of Thrones

I’ve spent since Thanksgiving reading A Song of Ice and Fire. I finished Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows and now I’m a third of the way through A Dance with Dragons. Three books in 4 or 5 months is pretty good for me in recent years. However when you consider this is 3,000 pages which is 6-10 of the kind of books I normally read, it’s phenomenal.

I’ve now also seen S1E1 of the TV show. I bought the first two seasons on DVD/BluRay during a Gold Box special recently. Having immersed myself in this world in multiple media, I thought it would be a great time to start listening to the Beyond the Wall podcast as I watch the episodes. Basically, I get to relive 2011 with everyone else. When I went to try it, the first few episodes are no longer there on the site. The posts exists but the media files give a 404 error. Do they exist somewhere that I can get them? These are the dangers of living your media life half a decade off of everyone else.

What Say You, Fast and Furious?

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I really enjoy the What Say You podcast with Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano. I went about things bass-ackwards, first listening to and enjoying their podcast enough that I decided to try an episode of the Impractical Jokers TV show. I’d expect most people went the other way around. I was already a listener of Tell Em Steve Dave, so I had years of BQ podcast listening under my belt. Still, it seems like a weird path.

Here’s how much I enjoy their show. On their episode 48, I listened to two hours of them discussing the first Fast and the Furious movie. I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen any Fast and the Furious movie. I laughed and enjoyed it and basically had a great time. These guys are seriously funny and I just enjoy being able to listen to them chat. For being guys with their own television show, their podcast is straight out of the mold of the indie shows that I listen to. They have way more in common with Dawn and Drew or Derek Coward than any celebrity podcasters. I love that, I love their podcast, I love their TV show. For me to say that about a program on a reality show network is not a casual thing. They make me laugh, every single time.

James Mason Shark

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Dear Octonauts, I noticed what you did in the “Artifical Reef” episode, giving the sharks all James Mason voices. Thanks for keeping it interesting for the parents, and the older ones at that.

Octonauts FTW

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Punkin has really taken to The Octonauts cartoon. These things come and go in waves (no pun intended) but this one seems to be sticking. We had Octonauts stuff at her birthday party and she spent her birthday money mostly on various Gup vehicles.

What I really like about the show is that every single episode is doing stealth teaching. There is always at least one animal fact or aquatic bit in each cartoon. The other day she used the words “kelp” and “krill.” When I asked her, she was able to correctly define what each was. I would put this as the best cartoon she watches for that reason. Add on that I enjoy it as an homage to all forms of stiff-upper-lip British military fiction (for me, that includes Pertwee era Dr. Who). This show is educational to kids, enjoyable by parents. That’s a win on multiple fronts for me. Now we need to hunt up some of the original books that the show was based on.

Superbowl Commercials

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. Somewhere after child bedtime I realized the game was on but I didn’t care enough to even turn it on. I didn’t look at social media at all last night, opting to go to bed at the first moment possible.

Today I see many people predictably talking about the commercials, their favorites, the best. This always mystifies me. Sure, some are more clever and enjoyable than others but so what? Focusing on the best commercial is like focusing on the gentlest ass-kicking. It’s still a beating, it’s still a commercial.

Eddie Pepitone FTW

I watch @Midnight sometimes. I tend to only watch the episodes that include a comedian or personality that I care about. If none of the three panelists appeal to me, I just delete it from the DVR unwatched. Thus, my knowledge is not encyclopedic. I can however say without a doubt that Eddie Pepitone’s reply to the Tinder message: “F one, marry one, kill one. Me, Hitler, and me again. Go.” is the single funniest moment I have ever witnessed on the show. (It starts at 2:22 for the impatient.) I can make myself start laughing at will just by thinking about it, months after I first watched it.

Eddie Pepitone really is a funny funny guy. I had never heard of him until he started appearing on Marc Maron’s live WTF episodes. Now I subscribe to his Pep Talks with the Bitter Buddha podcast and enjoy it greatly. He is a ball of anger and funny, and I love to hear it explode.

The Things I Know

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There is so much pop culture knowledge from the last 5-15 years that just eludes me now. I have officially hit that age where I respond to most issues of recent pop culture with the middle-aged guy “Whaaa?”

One exception is that I am – if not against my will without really trying – learning a lot about which resident of Pixie Hollow is which, what color uniform each member of the Paw Patrol wears, which Octonaut is which, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First and Chuggington. The list goes on. And on.

A second exception occurred today in the gym. Although I have never in my life watched an episode of General Hospital, I glanced up at one of the televisions and thought “Is that Wally Kurth in bed with Nancy Lee Grahn? When did that sort of thing start happening?”

I know the dumbest shit.

PS – I got a weird and inexplicable thrill from adding the WordPress tag for “wally kurth” to this post. Is there a lot of kurth in the metadata of the blogosphere?

Spoiler Zone

I can see I am really going to have to try to power through the episodes of The Flash and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to get myself up to the mid-season finales as fast as possible to avoid spoilers. Or, I can read and hear the spoilers and promptly forget them because I am that guy from Memento.

Gary Cole on Speakeasy

I’m a fan of Paul F. Tompkins and have been anxiously awaiting more episodes of the Pod F. Tompkast for a year and a half. I’ve just started watching his series Speakeasy on YouTube. This episode has Gary Cole and is pretty phenomenal. I like that the conceit of the series is that the two of them are sitting at a bar enjoying cocktails while they talk. Instead of Dinner For Five, it’s Drinks for Two.

And while I am talking PFT, just let me say there is no better choice than him for the Doctor Strange movie. Ever since Jared Axelrod photoshopped the picture, I’ve been in. Joaquin Phoenix? No, Tompkins all the way! Take that to the bank!

Paul F. Tompkins is Dr Strange!

Television Branding Thought of the Day

Let’s go ahead and make it official. TLC should change what those initials represent from “The Learning Channel” to “Terrible Life Choices.” They clearly haven’t cared about learning for years now, preferring instead the freak show type spectacle. Keep truth in that advertising!

Ebooks From TV – My New Side Project

It’s true, I do not need Yet One More Side Project. Regardless, I have one. Talking to Paul Fischer at Balticon a few weeks ago, I was mentioning to him my ebook buying dynamic. I said that “If I see a book on Colbert or the Daily Show that interests me, I look to see if it is available for Kindle. If it is and at a decent price, I just buy it then. If not, I never think about it again.” Paul’s response was “What if you had a blog that collected all that information in one place?” Brilliant, said I. I offered Paul the right of first refusal on pursuing it since it was his idea. He passed, so I came home and set it up.

That site is Ebooks From TV. I’m trying hard to cover all the evening and late night talk shows, CSPAN Book TV weekends, and the daytime talk shows as I can. Ideally, if a book was mentioned on any of the national TV shows, you can find it in a post on Ebooks From TV. My goal is to get the post up the same day but occasionally it might be a day or two later.

If you run across a TV show where a book is mentioned and you don’t see it on the site, let me know via email at dave@ebooksfromtv.com . It could be that I’m not following that show, that the book doesn’t actually have a Kindle version available, or that it was published more than a year ago. I’ll make sure that at the very least I’m paying attention to that show, if nothing else.

Before the end of the weekend, I’ll set this up as a Kindle subscribable blog. My current understanding is that those blogs available on the Kindle must be at least $0.99 per month. I’ll put it at the very lowest price available whatever that is. If you frequently find yourself looking for books that you saw on a talk show, this might be a handy resource for you.

M*A*S*H Crosses the Line

We leave the TV on to the Hallmark Channel for our dog many days, which means that I leave the house to the Golden Girls and generally arrive home to M*A*S*H. The episode that is on right now is one of the earlier ones with BJ Honeycutt and Colonel Potter. There is a scene where Frank Burns is searching Radar’s desk and pulling out comic books. The only problem – these are clearly 70’s era Marvel Comics, including The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers, characters that wouldn’t be created for almost a decade after the Korean War ended.

I may not know a lot of American history, but I know my comics. When this was filmed, back issues were cheap. Would it have killed them to send a prop assistant out to get some actual 50’s era books?

Proofread It

While watching the final episode of ER, a television event I would think would be a big deal for advertisers, we saw something amazing. There was a McDonalds commercial about scratch made biscuits that had a scroll across the bottom. In it, it referred to “32 oz. sweat tea” (sic). Mmmm, tea made out of human sweat. Sounds delicious.

Does no one proofread these things? How many layers of middle management from the production company, the ad agency and McDonalds had to sign off on this commercial without a single one noticing that detail? That is truly amazing, but it did make for an amusing moment as I did the double take, used the DVR to back it up and look at it again. Wow.

ER Put Out of Its Misery

We’re watching the final episode of ER. We stopped watching the show several years ago and I think we stuck with it a year or two too long. I truly don’t think much of this series finale. The dialog is thudding and obvious, the whole thing has the heavy handed touch I remember oh so well. My eyes have rolled frequently and much of this episode is cringeworthy. I think that once Juliana Margulies left, that was pretty much it. Had I stopped watching then I would remember the show more fondly than I do.

What I really don’t like about this show over the long run is the way it romanticizes irresponsibility. The theme of the show has always been “Rules are for wusses; Best practices and procedures are less important than intuition; Situations can always be fixed by a forceful maverick who cares harder than anyone else.” The program really lost me when Carter decided that he needed to go to Africa to really help people, rather than direct the hundreds of millions of dollars of the family fortune. That’s the ER theme in a nutshell – sure, the boring work could help thousands of people, but its not as heroic as helping dozens by running around with blood on your shirt while yelling. Go heroic because that’s what really matters.

They are running promos for this Southland show created by John Wells. It looks so heavy handed that I can’t lift my arms. Pass.

Porcupine Racetrack

Because my brother brought it up in comments on my previous post about funny TV shows, I have to agree that this is my favorite skit from any comedy show every, hands down. Yes, even above the Blue Oyster Cult “cowbell” sketch. The State masterfully assembles every cliche from the 30’s and 40’s cine,a – but not even real cliches but the cliche of cliches – and puts them all in a 3 minute piece, complete with music, choreography. Then , they top it all off with that bizarre surreal thing they did so well.

This was my favorite comedy show at the time, and 15 years later it’s still my favorite sketch comedy show. The average quality of the sketches is higher than any other show (sorry Kids in the Hall, Python, and Benny Hill) but moreover I loved the ballsy transitions between them even better than Terry Gilliam’s cartoons. It was a great show, and one that really could benefit from a big groaning box set full of lots of extras. If you like Reno 911, Viva Variety, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer and any number of projects that have come since, this is the crucible from which all those metals were forged.

Your Favorite TV Comedy

Through Wednesday evening, the Large Hearted Boy blog is holding a contest. You can win The Complete Monty Pythons Flying Circus: Collectors Edition Megaset, and all you have to do is to name your favorite TV comedy. 320 comments in, I was the very first person to name the Ernie Kovacs show. That don’t seem right. Depending on the day, I might also cite The State (also unmentioned in all those comments), which I stand by as being the single best sketch comedy show, better that Python, Kids in the Hall or anything.

You have a little over 48 hours from when I’m posting this. If you are at all interested, step on up and comment.