danvk.org » tv http://www.danvk.org/wp Keepin' static like wool fabric since 2006 Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:59:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 FRONTLINE’s The Choice, 2008 http://www.danvk.org/wp/2008-10-21/frontlines-the-choice-2008/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2008-10-21/frontlines-the-choice-2008/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2008 16:18:17 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/?p=334 I wrote a few months back about my mixed reactions to this season’s episodes of FRONTLINE. The latest is their quadrennial biography of the two presidential candidates, The Choice 2008 (also free on iTunes). It’s well worth watching.

The first half of the show, which covers McCain and Obama’s early lives, is the more interesting, or at least less familiar. Frontline did a great job of digging up old videos. There’s a recording of McCain in the POW camp. There’s a recording of Obama giving a speech at Harvard Law in 1990. He looks different, but the cadence of his speech is eerily familiar. It’s also interesting to see speeches that McCain gave in the past. He’s noticeably more relaxed than he has been in the debates. A particular standout is his exchange with John Stewart in 2006.

My main problem with the episode was its lack of depth. This was more of a problem with the latter half, where I could see the gaps in their coverage of stories with which I was already familiar. The biggest questions they asked but left unresolved related to Reverend Wright. They said it was shocking that the Clinton campaign didn’t use him against Obama until after Super Tuesday, but never offered an explanation of why. I’ve often wondered this as well. If the Reverend Wright controversy had struck before Obama was ahead in delegates, Hillary might well be the nominee.

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When You Miss out on the News http://www.danvk.org/wp/2008-05-27/when-you-miss-out-on-the-news/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2008-05-27/when-you-miss-out-on-the-news/#comments Wed, 28 May 2008 03:35:59 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/2008-05-27/when-you-miss-out-on-the-news/ Last we spoke, I swore to not pay attention to the news for a few months. How quickly the world changes when you’re not paying attention! I walked by a TV this afternoon and heard a general saying this:

We want to capture R. Kelly, the world’s most notorious terrorist.

I know R. Kelly is bad, but the world’s most notorious terrorist? It took me a minute to realize what the quote really was:

We want to capture or kill the world’s most notorious terrorist.

What does this say about me!?

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PBS FRONTLINE http://www.danvk.org/wp/2008-02-27/pbs-frontline/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2008-02-27/pbs-frontline/#comments Thu, 28 Feb 2008 03:00:53 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/2008-02-27/pbs-frontline/ frontline.gifFRONTLINE on PBS, the documentary series that takes on the tough, complicated issues and finds them… tough and complicated.

It’s rare for me to watch a documentary and conclude that it undereditorialized, but that’s exactly the reaction I’ve had to the first few episodes of this season.

medicated.pngFirst we had The Medicated Child, which looked at the rapid increase in drug prescriptions for ADHD and Bipolar disorder in children. Frontline’s approach was to follow several families that had either put their children on drugs or decided not to. Each family had widely varying reactions. One family felt that the drugs prevented their child from committing suicide. Another felt that the drugs had led directly to their child committing suicide. And so on. I doubt that these cases are typical, but with only a few stories in the show, it’s difficult to get any sense of proportion. The issue of what’s caused the increase in prescriptions, the issue I found most interesting going into the show, was hardly touched.

online.pngThen there was Growing Up Online, which purports to look at the increasingly prominent role of the internet in the lives of kids. I was really excited about this one since, unlike with most documentaries I see, I have very direct, personal experience with this issue. I was left with the distinct impression that I knew more about growing up online than the producers did. Once again, they followed a few extreme examples. One girl created an entire online world revolving around erotic, gothic pictures of herself. Another boy was driven to suicide by cyberbullying. These are interesting cases, but again, they are so rare that they throw off all sense of balance in the episode. The show was not without its strengths, however. Some of the kids had interesting perspectives on the role of the internet that I was able to relate to. And most interestingly, it showed me how growing up online has shifted since I did it. We had AIM and email when I was a kid, but most people didn’t have blogs and there was no Facebook. We had dialup. Going online was a decision. Nowadays kids have laptops, cable and wireless connections that are always on. Being online is no longer an experience, it’s just a given.

haditha.pngFinally we have Rules of Engagement, which looks at the incident in Haditha, Iraq. I was inspired to watch this by an interview with the director on On The Media, one of my favorite podcasts. Haditha is an especially thorny issue, even by FRONTLINE standards. The Marines say one thing. The Iraqi’s say something completely different. Several Marines have changed their stories, but only after being offered immunity to testify against one another. There’s essentially no physical evidence. It’s just one man’s word against another’s. I certainly feel as though I understand the Haditha situation better after watching this documentary, but I have no idea who to believe.

I guess this is a problem inherent to the documentary. Is a mere data dump valuable? Is it possible? Is it better to editorialize explicitly and make an argument, or is it better not to take sides and only incidentally present a skewed or unbalanced view.

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but I do know that FRONTLINE has left me wanting unqualified statements of fact. Maybe I’ll go read some math books…

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Favorite TV shows of 2007 (Plus a Bonus) http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-12-25/favorite-tv-shows-of-2007-plus-a-bonus/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-12-25/favorite-tv-shows-of-2007-plus-a-bonus/#comments Wed, 26 Dec 2007 06:28:04 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/?p=254 (See also my favorite podcasts of 2007)

I’m not usually much of a TV watcher, but with shows increasingly going online, a one-hour episode can nicely fill up a shuttle ride. Without further ado, my favorite TV shows of 2007 (the bonus comes at the end):

I Love New York
Quick question: what’s the most commented-on post on danvk.org? It’s this one by a mile, with 74 comments and counting. Clearly danvk.org should become a Reality TV blog. After some digging, I realized that this was where all the visitors were coming from. New York was a completely hilarious show, hitting its stride about halfway through as the antics of Chance, Mr. Boston and the Stallionaires developed. I haven’t seen much of season two, but I have high hopes.

(FOX, Monday nights and online)
Sometime last year Gray’s Anatomy decided that medicine wasn’t interesting anymore and I started looking for a new show. Hugh Laurie could make just about anything entertaining, and the show comes up with some fun cases as well. Major style points for the Massive Attack theme song.

(PBS, WGBH Boston)
Frontline won my affections by putting their Endgame" actually made me understand The Surge in Iraq. Almost all episodes are great, but "Hand of God", "A Hidden Life", "e;Tank Man" and "The Age of Aids" are particular favorites.

planet_earth.jpgPlanet Earth
(BBC and Discovery Channel)
The prettiest show you’ll ever see, this was produced to help push new HDTV’s. One of my friends bought one this year, and this series was simply breathtaking on it. The first episode, “Pole to Pole”, “Caves” and “Jungles” are my faves.

Favorite Hip-Hopera of 2007
There’s just no contest in this post’s special bonus category.

closet.jpegTrapped in the Closet
(R. Kelly)
I’m afraid the first five or six scenes of this ‘hopera will squelch this genre with their greatness. R. Kelly just can’t keep up the intensity, and the later episodes are just too complicated. But man are those first few scenes great! Here they are on YouTube. The South Park spoof only adds to the magic.

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Re-experiencing 9/11 http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-09-12/re-experiencing-911/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-09-12/re-experiencing-911/#comments Thu, 13 Sep 2007 05:05:27 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/?p=212 Back in 2001, I was in first period French class when the planes hit. A messenger came by and told my French teacher, but evidently she decided it wasn’t significant enough to merit interrupting class. I got a confused story of what had happened by my locker after class and was glued to the TV for the rest of the school day. I didn’t tune in to the news until after the first tower had collapsed. So I missed much of the initial reaction.

I’ve always wanted to watch the TODAY show broadcast from that day, to see the initial confusion as to what happened, then the realization of what was going on after the second plane hit. I’d scoured around online a few times before, but always come up empty. So I was thrilled to see that MSNBC was showing a “minimally-edited” replay of the 9/11/2001 TODAY show last night.

A few things stood out:

  • Nobody realized how large the first plane was after it hit. Most of the reports were of a “small plane”, though Katie Couric rightly pointed out that it was hard to imagine a small plane causing such damage.
  • Even when the second plane hit, most observers on the ground thought it was smaller than it actually was. It wasn’t until they saw video that they realized how large it was. They were both Boeing 767’s.
  • NBC’s coverage was fairly modest compared to the rumors that were flying on the other networks. At one point they mentioned “six dead” in one tower. If only…

The main point though, was just how big an event this was. After six years of 9/11, 9/11, 9/11!, it’s easy to forget how huge and completely unexpected the attacks were.

I wish the broadcast had been even more “minimally edited”. What was Katie Couric talking about before they received reports that something had hit the WTC tower? What would have been newsworthy on 9/11/2001? What were the commercials like? I would have loved to see the ads that must have aired before the plane first hit. They would have reinforced that 2001 really was a long time ago. Consider this: on 9/11, it was considered newsworthy that so many people had gone online to get up-to-the-minute news on the attacks. Nowadays, what else would you do?

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An interesting final in Montreal http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-08-11/an-interesting-final-in-montreal/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-08-11/an-interesting-final-in-montreal/#comments Sun, 12 Aug 2007 02:47:40 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/?p=199 rogers_cup_logo.jpgNovak Djokovic upset Rafael Nadal in the Rogers Masters semifinals this evening, making up for the Wimbledon semifinals earlier this year. It sets up an interesting final with Roger Federer tomorrow afternoon (noon PST) in Montreal. Fed’s never lost to Djokovic before, (he’s 4-0) but they haven’t played since Djokovic cracked the top ten earlier this year. This is the final I was rooting for at Wimbledon earlier this year, as those elusive “astute readers of danvk.org” will recall. I’m calling Fed two sets. I don’t think Djokovic can beat him.

This week and next also mark one of the more brain-dead stretches of the ATP tour. The top players are required to enter all nine Masters Series events, which are just one notch below the Grand Slams. Tomorrow is the Rogers Masters final, and on Monday the Cincinnati Masters begins. There’s not even a one day break, but the players are all required to enter both. This makes for some really exhausted players and surprising results at the Cincy Masters. Last year Federer won the Rogers Masters, but lost to #21 Andy Murray in early round play the next week. For a sense of what an aberration this was, Fed only lost to two players last year: Nadal and Andy Murray. It’s absurd that the ATP continues to schedule the Masters Series in this way.

Update: Novak made me eat my words, winning 7-6(2), 2-6, 7-6(2). Fed came quite close to winning the first set: he botched five set points before Djokovic sent it to the ‘breaker. Mad props to him, I underestimated him. He’ll be fun to watch at the US Open this fall.

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Baffled by Beckham http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-07-21/baffled-by-beckham/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-07-21/baffled-by-beckham/#comments Sun, 22 Jul 2007 03:35:17 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/?p=194 beckham.png I don’t get the wave of excitement about David Beckham coming to America to join the L.A. Galaxy and play in the MLS soccer league. ESPN was advertising this like mad. His wife, a former spice girl, is even getting her own reality show.

First thing I don’t get: How does an MLS team have $250 million to pay this guy? Does the entire league bring in that much money?

Second thing I don’t get: Why does anyone expect this to get American’s excited about soccer? Getting the World Cup in 1996 couldn’t do it, so how could one man? But there’s no arguing with the true believers.

The whole hysteria has made me very cynical today. If you want to get people excited about something, you don’t tell them how great it is or try to explain why they should be excited. No, you just act as though the rest of the country already is excited. I’ve often wondered if ESPN could pull this off with a lesser-known sport like disc golf. If they covered professional disc golf events on SportsCenter and brought in some talking heads for a “Disc Golf Tonight” show to analyze the week’s events, people would start to care about it.

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Cut Bush Some Slack! http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-05-01/cut-bush-some-slack/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-05-01/cut-bush-some-slack/#comments Wed, 02 May 2007 06:19:57 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/?p=139 The crap he’s taking for this kind of bothers me:

Cut the guy some slack, already! He’s just doing the white guy dance. I’m sure all of us have done this many times. I know I have. I’d like to see Jon Stewart, Wolf Blitzer, or Jack Cafferty do any better.

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Bill Moyers Journal http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-04-30/bill-moyers-journal/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-04-30/bill-moyers-journal/#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2007 07:34:53 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/?p=137 I’ve enjoyed the few episodes of the Bill Moyers Journal that I’ve watch so far. There’s:

  • Buying the War, a look at press coverage in the runup to the Iraq War. This is pretty terrifying stuff, but what’s most interesting is that there were journalists who uncovered the truth about Iraq and WMD before the war. They were just relegated to the back pages.
  • Interview with Jon Stewart, in which they dissect Jon’s recent interview with John McCain. I remember seeing the interview, so it was interesting to hear Jon’s take on it.
  • Josh Marshall, of Talking Points Memo fame. A succinct summary of the U.S. Attorney’s scandal and the role that blogs played in it.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for new episodes in the future. Fortunately, he’s got an RSS feed to make the job easy!

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A Masters Dilemma http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-04-21/a-masters-dilemma/ http://www.danvk.org/wp/2007-04-21/a-masters-dilemma/#comments Sat, 21 Apr 2007 23:39:07 +0000 http://www.danvk.org/wp/?p=134 Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the world’s #1 and #2 tennis players, are facing off tonight in the finals of the Monte Carlo Masters in Rome. They’ll be on at 5:26 AM Pacific Time, which is OK by me. I’ve woken up at stranger times to watch tennis matches before.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, according to the TV listings, I’d be better off if I lived in Thailand or the Middle East. It’s only being shown live on The Tennis Channel in the US. I thought I got TTC, but it must have been a teaser offer. I get it no more. My only option is to watch it on atpmastersseries.tv.

Their offer must be well thought out, because I’m completely on the fence. I can put up $7.95 and watch the match live in Windows Media Player tomorrow morning, or I can leave it. If the price point were $1 or $2, I’d do this without even thinking. But $8 is a bit steep.

I wish the calculus of live sports were different. I’m sure the ATP Masters Series would do fine if they broadcast all their matches live for free, with advertising. It’s not like you can skip the ads on a live broadcast, and sports programming loses almost all its value once it’s not live. CBS made a bold move to broadcast college basketball free online during March Madness. I wish the ATP Masters Series would do the same, so I wouldn’t have to think about paying my $8…

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