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Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Departures

departuresDepartures.  The television show that I am using as one of my many mediums for inspiration for my backpacking trip next year.  Essentially what is is two friends, Scott and Justin who travel all over the world for one whole year.

This show is absolutely amazing.  First off, it’s filmed in high quality HD.  The production of this show is stellar.  The music, the picture quality, the editing is all probably some of the best on Canadian television right now.  But more importantly than that, the concept of the show is superb.  It’s not just a show about two people who go to obscure and beautiful places.  Departures really captures the essence of their friendship in the context of travel.  These two friends, while being around each other almost 24/7, get to share some life changing experiences together.  Scott and Justin were best friends before they embarked on this year long experience. But by virtue of them experiencing these different countries together, their friendship has formed a new bond that very few people in this world ever get to experience.  And you get to view that in the show.

The best part about the show is that it has been able to capture the intrinsic value of their travels.  You literally see Justin and Scott appreciate this world and come to these amazing realisations about where they are at that particular point in time.  Literally, their eyes and their minds open and expand right before your eyes.  That is probably the best part of the show in my opinion.

On their one year long journey they travelled to Jordan, India, Ascension Island, Japan, Cook Islands, New Zeland, Thailand, Cambodia, and rediscovered their very own Canada from ocean to ocean to ocean.  The travel bug has bit these two friends pretty hard because season two of this show is set to air on January 25, 2010 where they will have travelled to Morroco, Lybia, Brazil, Cuba, Mongolia, Iceland, Zambia, Madagascar, Chile and Antarctica.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Every time I watch this show it gives me drive and motivation to make this trip a reality.  I realize that I too can experince with my friends what these two are experiencing on this television show.

The website for the show is here and their youtube channel is here.

My heart calls out for Southeast Asia.  All I need is a bit of patience and discipline.

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CNN Sucks

cnn

When I was a child, I always remember CNN as being the place to go to for breaking news around the world.  It was different than the rest of the news networks because, first, they were a 24 hour news network and because of that, second, helped the viewer feel like they were intimately connected to the world at large.  But the last few years have seen the steady decline of CNN and its quality of coverage and programming.

During the ladder half of the 90s, and arguably even before that during the first Gulf War, CNN was always labeled as being a channel for US propaganda.  But there was never any real evidence to suggest that.  This all essentially changed with the Gulf II.  With the run up to the war, it was pretty much clear that CNN was all gung-ho about bombing a sovereign nation state and killing innocent people.  This was clear night after night with their coverage up to the lead up to war.  Wolf Blitzer was a clear example of CNN being a cheer leader for the war.  There were so many instances where a guest would appear on his show who was against the war and Blitzer would literally begin to argue with the guest with Blitzer obviously pushing the Bush line for war.

Ever since the war I have also noticed that CNN has begun to dumb itself down.  Maybe it’s just me but its almost as if CNN has decided that for more ratings, they must appeal to the lowest common denominator.  There is no longer any in depth, analytical coverage of major events both in the United States and around the world.  Jeff Greenfield and others did a decent job back in the day, though not perfect, along with other journalists such as Bernard Shaw worked for a sophisticated audience and actually asked tough questions (for the most part).  Now CNN has Anderson Cooper who’s “keepin’ them honest.” Aaron Brown as you recall was the unique and sophisticated journalist who got fired by CNN for yielding low ratings.  From what I understand, Brown still had higher ratings than Cooper has ever had.  I would argue that the last ounce of sophistication CNN could lay claim to left with the firing or Aaron Brown.

Nowadays, when I watch CNN (If I watch CNN), its more of a charade than anything else.  Its so unbelievably animated that sometimes its embarrassing to watch.  Production of CNN and its programming have focused more on visuals than actual production value and content.  They have lost their way.  The journalists that they got on air right now are horrid.  Rick Sanchez gets so involved in the littlest issues, raising his voice, exaggerating his hand gestures and acting like a plain tool in front of the camera, all in the effort to “help the viewer understand.”  The viewer isn’t 4 years old.  Tony Harris does the news and looks at the camera as if he doesn’t really know where he is, trying to act sophisticated but utterly failing.  Anderson Cooper doesn’t offer much to his program either.  If you have no education and need information to be spoon fed for you, watch Cooper.  You’ll be a fan of his.  Larry King used to be a good interviewer back in the day.  Now he’s gone from inteviewing people who matter, such as world leaders and key actors in international affairs, to having a bunch of rejected idols on for the entire hour.

The CNN sets and graphics add to why I think the channel is so animated.  They try and offer all these visual aids to try and appeal to the viewer but in the end are nothing but distracting.  The best example of this is that stupid wall that they got going right now.  Essentially, its this really large curved screen that spans the literally the entire set of CNN.  On it they have the ability to display multiple clips and graphics and the sort.  The only problem with this thing is is that it barely fits into the field of the camera.  On top of that, the graphics and whatever is displayed on it ends up being so tiny that its pretty much useless to show it on TV in the first place.  The curve that is inherent on the screen is also very distracting.  Distracting is probably the biggest problem with this thing.  For example, last night as I was watching the Obama speech after he fulfilled the delegate requirements, CNN in the middle of his speech switches away from the actual speech and goes to a camera which is filming this giant screen wall where they have the speech on one side, and a bunch of useless clips of him throughout the year at debates and whatnot on the other.  It was completely useless, un-necessary and took away attention from the speech.  The worst part of this screen is that they film it at an angle rather than from the front.  This is probably because they could not resolve certain problems like shadows, bad lighting or just the shear size of the damn thing.  Another stupid gimmick they got going is that stupid touch screen plasma TV they got where they “analyze” key counties and districts for the US election.  Its useless and serves no real purpose, only to further distract the viewer with un-necessary facades of being tech savvy. 

Overall, we are seeing the steady decline of CNN.  A channel that was once considered revolutionary has sunk to such a low that it essentially has no credibility left whatsoever.  Before, it was simple, serious and yet extensive. Now it has become large, elaborate and useless.  No wonder CNN is always the butt of so many jokes.  CNN has turned journalism and news into another form of entertainment, focusing more on superficial things than their quality of programming and content.  We’ll see what crapolla CNN has to offer in the coming years.

Commercial

The new iPod+iTunes commercial.  This is the perfect night time commercial.  What do I mean by `night time commercial?’  A night time commercial is one of those commercials that you can only appreciate at night.  Its one of those commercials that contributes and adds to the mood set by the night. 

Ive been seeing so many times this weekend that I think I am hooked to it.  Whether you love or hate Apple, you have to admit, they have one amazing marketing campaign going.

French Food At Home

Laura Calder

So my latest tv obsession has been focused on the food network.  French Food At Home, hosted by Laura Calder focuses on, well…french food.  The show, which is in its second season, focuses on food from France and French Canada as well as tid bits of french culture from both France and Canada.

Lets talk about the host first.  Not only does she have this passion for French food, but she is amazingly educated.  She has 2 BAs from two universities in Canada, and Masters degree from the London School of Economics.  Moreover, she studied cooking at The Dubrulle Culinary Institute in Vancouver, Canada and at L’Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne in Burgundy, France where she studied for 7 years. 

With that said, she has written for a number of magazines: Vogue Entertaining and Travel, Gourmet magazine, Gastronomica, Salon.com, the Times of London, the Los Angeles Times, the Wine Journal, and Flare magazine.  She has written her own cookbook as well which was published back in 2003, the title the same as the tv show.

The first season of the show was done quite well actually.  There’s nothing on the Food Network about french food.  So it was good in the sense that it was different.  On top of that, I loved the set and the lighting as well as the camera angels, camera work and the type of camera that they used (they didn’t use the typical camera that one would use to film a tv show; rather they used what seemed like a high quality dvd type of camera).  But the best thing I loved about the show last season was that it was simple; something that I have always loved about Canadian television as a whole. 

The second season is just as good, if not better.  Although they have begun using a different camera and the set is a bit different as well, the second season is more casual and open.  Laura has begun to display more of her personality via her hair, her clothes and her makeup.  She is more relaxed and is beginning to tell jokes in between kneading and mixing.  I can’t say anything about the food since I am not at all familiar with french good.  But judging by Laura’s passionate explanations, I am sure its quite good. 

One thing, however, that I would change is the lighting.  The lighting this season isn’t as good as it was last season.  The way they have it this time around is that the show is trying to go for that ‘natural light look without any evidence of any light bulbs’ type of thing.  It can work, and it does work to make Laura’s dresses and makeup pop but it kind of makes the rest of the set look a bit dark.  If the set had bright colours instead of warm colours than perhaps they could pull it off.  But as of right now, I don’t think the lighting is as good as it can be. 

So if you like food, its a nice little half hour escape into the realm of wonderful french cuisine.

ER Must End

January 11, 2008 2 comments

ER

I was afraid that this time would come.  I have been a fan of ER since the days of Carol Hathaway, Mark Green, Doug Ross and the rest of the crew back in the day.  When it first came out, ER was a dynamic and exciting new television series with equally dynamic and exciting characters.  The writing of the show in the past has just been phenomenal.  As amazing as the acting has been on the show over the past years,  I believe that it is the writing that actually made the show what it is today.  And I am sure you all know that acting in a role on ER is no easy task.  In terms of television, ER has the hardest acting role on any show on right now. 

The whole dynamic between Carol and Dough, Jeanie and how she dealt with Aids, the love story between Neela and Galant, and so many other stories, they were written in such a way that they would captivate the audience and have then truly involved in the story from A to Z.  This could not be more true than with Mark Green.  Honestly, who could forget Dr. Green and his battle with brain tumour.  We all know he lost that battle and honestly, we could all see it coming.  But the writing during that season was probably the best its ever been on the show.  I still remember this scene where Mark is on the island and he’s walking with is daughter Rachel, both with surf boards in hand.  All of a sudden Mark starts shaking and falls to the ground.  If there is one scene out of all of ER that I will remember for the rest of my life, it has got to be that.  The Juxtaposition between the beauty of Hawaii, the palm trees, the blue sky and the tragedy that was Dr. Green and his slow, painful, emotional, dark death…honestly, I can’t explain it.  It was genius.  It was beautiful. 

But lately, I haven’t been able to feel that spark.  After Mark Green’s death, ER was still good.  You had the whole John Carter, Luka Kovac, Gregory Pratt situation in Darfur.  You had the Neela and Galant love story, Kovac’s run in with the crazy patient played by Forest Whitaker and everything else in between that I have failed to mention.  Which was all good but in all honestly, the writing, the story lines, the characters and their progression have all been going down.  It just seems like everything is going around in circles and there isn’t any real progress in the characters.  I mean there was that scare where Pratt might have left the ER but he decides to stay.  Abby goes to rehab and gets sober, which isn’t really all that big of a deal.  It just seems like nothing really is going on on ER.  There isn’t anything captivating, there isn’t anything that we can look forward too.  I have begun to notice that with all the veterens that have passed, its been a bit more difficult to create something out of the newer characters.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been some good moments but generally speaking, it really hasn’t been all that exciting.  Where there was potential, like say with Dr. Ray Barnett and his relationship with Neela after he lost his legs, they just cut Ray out of the picture completely.  And I don’t know how everyone else feels about this but personally, I don’t like the addiction of uncle Jessie (John Stamos aka Dr. Tony Gates) to the ensemble, although I must admit he has done a pretty good job thus far. 

I am pretty sure I can go on and on about how ER has gone progressively more crappier after the death of Mark Green.  But I think you get the point.  So having said that, sadly, I believe that ER, with 14 seasons under its belt, the longest running American primetime medical drama in history, should come to an end.  Maybe not this season, maybe not even next season, but soon.  They should wrap things up, do what they have to do, finish up and close the lights on the way out.  As amazing as the show still is in its current state, I believe that they should end the show while it is still decently good.  It would be so unfortunate to have a show like ER end when it gets bad.  Its just like Seinfeld; end the show when it is still good.  Its the best way to go out.  Abby doesn’t look like she’ll ever be happy, even after being sober.  Sam will keep dating and trying to find the right guy, which will take a really long time.  Neela is always up and down, I really am not sure which direction she is heading in.  Uncle Jessie is new to the ER so there is only so much they can do with the character they have engineered for him.  Pratt is gonna stay in the ER until he dies, looks like it.  I mean, you get the point.   Just end it now. 

I use the death of Mark Green as a reference point because I think ER’s climax was Mark Green.  The writing for the show, in my opinion was the best ever, just in case you’re wondering.  But good things can only last for so long.  That is the nature of this life.  And the life of ER has, or should rather, come to an end.  Lets just hope they don’t end the show like The Sopranos.  I really hope someone responds to this entry so that someone can prove me wrong and tell me I have no clue what I am talking about and that there still is life left in my beloved program.  If nobody responds, I’ll assume that I am correct in my assessment. 

Felicity

Felicity

No, this is not my current state of being.  Rather, I am in a state of felicity while watching felicity.  This is my latest obsession while on winter break.  When this show came out, I was probably in grade 6 or 7 when this first came to air.  I could see that it was a good show but I never really watched it because frankly I was far too young and would not have understood any of it.  At that time, we had a family friend that was staying with us who was attending university and he was heavy into this show.  And literally, almost a decade later, I can clearly see why.  Felicity is a really good show.  If you haven’t heard of it or if you haven’t watched it, I am afraid I won’t be telling you much about it.  You have to check it out for yourself.  I just finished the first season last night.

At first I thought Felicity was just a tad bit crazy with her following Ben to New York and when she dropped out of pre-med.  But it all comes back to the title of the show, Felicity.  Although I am only beginning the second season, I can already see how its all about a person’s desire to find and attain happiness, no matter how crazy that pursuit really is.  Every character in the show is trying to attain the ultimate state of felicity.  It also shows how difficult attaining that state really is.  I mean, everyone can attain one degree or another of felicity, but to achieve the ultimate state of felicity is something that is probably one of the most difficult things in the entire world.  And the thing is, very few people actually get to reach that state.  There are the obvious themes in the show, like love, friendship, self discovery, creativity.  Some people may argue that these are cliches but I would argue that these are all things that are inherent in life and in human nature.  These themes need to be addressed in order to attain a state of felicity.  I sure know that my life involves pretty much all these themes. 

The writing is phenomenal.  And the setting is by far the best;  New York city and a university campus…it honestly can’t get any better than that.  For university students especially, I would highly recommend watching this show.  Its very addictive so don’t let it interfere with your school work.  Its too bad that the show got cancelled in only its fourth season.  It seems like there are so many good shows that get cancelled early.  That’s the nature of television I guess.  I know the Canadians are going to be mad at me when I say this but God bless American Television.

What I Have Learned This Week

November 20, 2007 3 comments

Aside from learning (semester after semester) what a pain it is to write essays hours before they are due, I have come to the complete realization that I am absolutely in love with television.  During my times of procrastination, I would frequently be surfing youtube for clips of various shows.  I am really starting to believe that those that work on television are extremely lucky and I assume they are happy. 

Right now, I am in the midst of downloading three shows that have since departed: Felicity, Freaks and Geeks, and Undeclared.  I was always intrigued by the ladder two shows but never really got into Felicity.  But lately, I don’t know, for some reason, it seems like a very intriguing show and very interesting story.  I will probably spend the majority of my Christmas holidays watching this show.  And after Superbad came out, I am starting to realize just how creative Seth Rogan and his crew really are. 

So what is it about television that captures me?  Now that I look back, I have always been into tv.  Ever since I was a kid, I was always glued to the TV.  Whether it was watching the news, or kids shows or prime time, I always found television to be fascinating.  As I grew older, I became intrigued with the beauty that is prime time television.  I think what really gets me is what television truly is: art.  Everything about television makes me intrigued.  The lighting, the angles, dialogue, the writing, the acting, music….everything.  I even find myself sitting there critiquing commercials. 

Even when I am doing homework at home, I’ll be sitting at my desk with the TV on the Weather Network or something with the volume muted.  Its almost like as if its some sort of companion, an imaginary friend.  The biggest thing about television though is the escapism.  Its like this constant escape from the reality of a not so wonderful life.  Just the fact that I can get away from it all with literally a click of a button is like the most amazing thing to me.  And now that television is on the net and on DVD, its even better.  You can actually watch shows that came to and end long ago or got cancelled.  Ive got all the Greg The Bunny Episodes on my computer!  And its only getting better.  Tivo, hi def, flat screens and all that great stuff is only enhancing the whole television experience.  I can’t even imagine what it will be like 10 years from now. 

I think that if I were not into what I am, I would probably seek a career in television.  The only downside to it is that it seems like the whole industry is very volatile with respect to jobs, especially for actors.  But nevertheless, it just seems like some of the greatest creative potential comes out on television.  And it also seems like because television is so readily available, many of us take this art for granted and don’t realize all the hard work that goes into creating these shows that we watch every day and the beauty that materializes out this work. 

I am literally the only person that I have met that feels this passionately about TV.  Mind you, I am the audience so I have a completely different perspective on it. Those that actually work in the industry may be able to pick out the flaws in what I have said.  And I can admit, there is a hint of romanticism in my perspective.  But even so, I honestly think, and I know this may sound lame, TV is one of the better things in my life and I am so glad to have it.  I wouldn’t give it up for anything. 

I love television.