Monday, February 23, 2009

Simpsons, Family Guy “Swept” Under Oscar’s Red Carpet?

Two posts down, please see the post over my confusion over how TV operates today… Sweeps, split seasons, hit shows beginning at any-old-time of the year, etc.

Continuing this topic, February Sweeps is over for Sunday evening, and there was only
ONE new episode each of THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY on FOX.

Over the four Sundays of February 2009 (Feb. 01, 08, 15, and 22), new episodes aired only on the 15th.

Some of this is understandable. Feb. 01 was the Super Bowl. No sense burning up a new show vs. that! Feb. 22 was the Oscar telecast. Nowhere near as severe a competitor as the Super Bowl, but FOX elected to pit an evening with NASCAR against the Academy Awards. I suppose there’s not much overlap in those two constituencies.

But, if Sweeps is the almighty arbiter of TV ratings – and February is a Sweeps period – why were THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY not new for February 08? Can’t think of a reason… other than fewer shows being produced.

Last season, every series was impacted by the Writers Guild of America strike. As the current series I collect on DVD reveal, LOST Season Four was 13 episodes, and HEROES Season Two was only 11!

I suspect similar numbers for THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY.

But, why the small number of episodes produced THIS SEASON? …And why offer repeats during a (supposedly) sacred Sweeps period, when other series like LOST and HEROES were all new throughout?

I suppose we’ll never know… just adding to my general confusion over the “rules” (or lack thereof) of television today!

BTW, I spent Oscar Night watching a DVD episode of THE SIMPSONS from early 2000 that I’d never seen before -- rather than see "The Dark Knight" get snubbed!

Just seemed like the right way to spend Sunday evening.

Monday, February 16, 2009

H-B Flying Saucer Double Feature! (1959)

In the late fifties / early sixties our main fears seemed to be Commies and Flying Saucers.

In both cases, TV animation of the day stepped up. The former was wonderfully realized in the classic creation of the Jay Ward Studio, Boris Badenov.

And, at Hanna-Barbera, we had these two Flying Saucer shorts from the (still unreleased on DVD) Second Season of THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW.

Cop and Saucer” has Officer Huckleberry Hound investigating the landing of a Flying Saucer – in a plot that I don’t believe was ever done in animation before this.

Space Bear” deals with an extra-terrestrial invasion of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone National Park, and an invader posing ( and wreaking havoc ) as a Typical Earth Creature – Yogi Bear! This story would later be expanded and rewritten for THE FLINTSTONES – with Don Messick doing the same sort of “wavy alien voice” for both.

Both were written by the great Warren Foster and performed by the equally great Daws Butler and Don Messick.

So, enjoy this ET-Treat, and don’t forget to phone home!

Huckleberry Hound in “Cop and Saucer”

Yogi Bear in “Space Bear”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Realizations: I Don’t Understand TV Anymore! (Long Semi-Rant!)

I just don’t understand how TV works anymore!

I’m not unhappy over this, just confused!

I watch only four contemporary series (…actually up two from last year – and all are named in the body of this piece) and, the more I watch, the more confused I become at the vagaries of scheduling.

The television I was raised on had all new and renewed series beginning in September, and running through March, April, or sometimes even May. There were mid-season replacement series and there were summer-replacement series – but, most often, a show ran its course for an entire season… using all of its new episodes in sequence, and then repeating until the following fall.

Somewhere along the line, when I wasn’t paying attention, came a concept called “Sweeps”. These, as best I can figure, are “Key Ratings Periods” that somehow count for more than “any old time”.

Sweeps occur in November, February, and May – and entire television schedules are altered to accommodate them. Thus, you will get new episodes of a series at the traditional start of the season in September… but NOW, repeats will be slipped in somewhere between September and November – between November and February (…mostly around the Holiday season), and between February and May!
The way old shows are now consistently slipped in among the new almost equates the television watching experience with washing one’s hair… Lather, Rinse, REPEATS… Lather, Rinse, REPEATS… An episode of something like FAMILY GUY will air in September – and be repeated before November! Get the picture? …Even if you’ve “seen the picture just a few weeks before”!
…Yet, as of this writing, the second Sunday of February 2009 has passed and there have been no new episodes of THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY. Okay, I can see the folly of running new episodes on the evening of Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 01), but why were the February 08 airings of these shows repeats as well? Has the “Sweeps Model” been changed again, without my notice? Or, are they just using it as an excuse to make fewer shows each season? We may never know…

No sooner do I become adjusted to this situation, than I find the viewing landscape his changed again! Recently, I’ve become a fan of two contemporary fantasy-oriented series… LOST and (of late) HEROES! You can read the story of how I got into LOST via DVD collections HERE. A similar situation, involving a large DVD sale at Best Buy, exists for HEROES.

This season, I finally made the decision to watch new episodes of both LOST and HEROES on network broadcasts. And, I’m more confused than ever. Not about the shows, but the scheduling.
LOST’s 5th season did not begin traditionally in September 2008, but on January 21, 2009. Yes, ABC did a good job of promoting this, so that even I would notice, but it still seems odd to me for a monster hit like LOST to be held back from a September start. Though it has been given the opportunity to build up to the (presumed) February Sweeps.

LOST does another unusual thing – and a seemingly important thing given its continued and continuity-heavy nature. Each Wednesday (up to this point, at least), the PREVIOUS WEEK’S EPISODE is repeated at 8 PM, before the new show at 9! Further, the repeat is laced with “pop-up text captions” that explain the background and any previously-seen key points of what you are watching!

Imagine that! A show that gets you up to speed… before you watch it! What a wonderful concept! Strange and unusual… but wonderful! …And consider that ABC feels that an additional repeat of LOST will probably outperform whatever else they might have scheduled for that hour. I’m certain they don’t do that just to keep us up to date with Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke… and everyone’s “favorite other” Ben!
This season, HEROES did something that is, to my mind, even more unconventional… thought this seems to be more of a standard practice for some series (…for instance, LOST did something similar in its third season of 2006-2007).

When I looked for HEROES on NBC’s broadcast schedule during December and January, it was nowhere to be found. As far as I know, this is a popular show and would not have been canceled.

What they did was have a sort of “mini-season” in September, pause for a while, and resume with a new and separate “mini-season” starting February 02, 2009 – beginning a completely new and different storyline than was before. The closest thing I can equate that to would be two separate and distinct comic-book limited series!

Clearly, I enjoy my four contemporary series – THE SIMPSONS, FAMILY GUY, LOST, and HEROES – but it’s become a comedy or adventure in itself to discern when they are on and when the shows are new.

Anyone else feel the same way?

Gotta go watch the “Pop-Up Captioned Repeat” of LOST and tonight’s new episode! ...What’ll that Ben be up to next?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Blogs vs .Blago!

There’s been some confusion of late on BLOGS vs. BLAGO.

You are presently reading a BLOG!
Below is a photo of BLAGO!
Reading Blogs can be fun!
Listening to Blago… not so much!

Some Blogs will try to sell you things!
Blago is believed to have tried to “sell things” too.

Blogs are all over the Internet!
Blago is all over the TV… at least for now.

Blogs can have fancy graphics.
Blago has fancy hair!

In summation: Blogs: Good! Blago: You decide!

I hope that clears things up…

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Two Ships (Space and Star) Passing in the Night!

Here’s a meeting every Sixties TV Sci-Fi fan has played over and over in his or her head.

Now, we can give our weary, junk-fed minds the rest they deserve, and let this “enterprising” video clip take over and do the strenuous work of imagining for us.

Just one question: Did the Enterprise go back in time, or did the Jupiter II go forward?

Star Trek did have “All Our Yesterdays”, while Lost In Space had “Flight Into the Future”.

…We may never know.

Just One More Lost In Space Video Clip!

Here’s The Robot as a “spokes-bot” for NASA!

…Yes, it’s real!

Monday, February 2, 2009

How Did We Ever Live Without Living Color!

Remember when “Color” was so new to TV that they had to TELL YOU that you were watching it?

Hopefully, you don’t… but here’s a reminder from a You Tube poster and TIAH Blog!

Size Does Matter! Great Land of the Giants Promo!

Just because my Blog’s been so dark lately, here’s a wonderful promo for Land of the Giants! Gotta love the sense of humor that went into this one!

When in Doubt, Post a Lost In Space Video Clip!

Ever wonder what the First Season of Lost In Space would have been like if it used the superior Third Season theme music and visual style?

Actually, no… Even I never gave this a thought! But someone did, and I rather like it… so here it is!

And thanks to the people who create all this stuff, and keep my Blog from going dormant during times too busy to come up with something original of my own!