Television

CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund & Streaming Commercials

img-holdingcfdafinalistsfinal_19285864363Every year, the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund hold a competition featuring some of the best “new” designers in the world of fashion and award a really awesome grand prize.

It’s kind of like Project Runway, but instead of being in a “made-for-TV” environment, these are people designers and businesses that are living mostly in the regular world *and* trying to win the Fashion Fund competition.

The “judging” panel is also pretty stacked with some amazing people from the fashion industry, including Anna Wintour.

Being a huge Project Runway fan, I should have loved this show.

I didn’t — and there were a couple of key reasons why.

First, the show was an “Amazon Prime” exclusive and instead of releasing the entire season all at once, they decided to only release one episode at a time. I do not understand streaming services that do this. If it was somehow time sensitive, it might make sense. But the project finished filming months ago. Release the whole season at once.

Second, even though I already paid for Amazon Prime, the show had commercials. And, not just a pre-roll and a post-roll. It felt like every five minutes there was a commercial break and there were at least 4 or 5 commercial breaks in the 40 minute show. Besides the fact they existed, the most annoying thing about the commercials was that it was the same 3 brands on every commercial break. One of the brands played the most annoying music in every commercial. I don’t think a commercial has ever caused me to have a negative view of a brand until this show.

Third, it seemed as if the show was being awkwardly edited to create unnecessary drama. Especially since the awards had already been handed out months earlier, it was easy to see online who had won and many of the judges interviews and comments felt like they were trying to create a swerve.

I hope if they chose to air it again that they will make some changes. I might give it another chance, but not if it’s the same.

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Why aren’t you listening to The West Wing Weekly?

WestWingWeekly-1500x1500[1]If you asked me to name my top 10 television shows, The West Wing starring Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe and many others, would certainly be on that list and likely in the top 5. I’ve watched every episode several times and there are episodes and clips that I will pull up on Netflix when I need a specific inspiration.

I was super excited a few months ago when I heard that Josh Molina, who played Will Bailey on the show from 2002-2006, was going to be the co-host of a new podcast called The West Wing Weekly.

The podcast is fairly formulaic. For the first “half” of the podcast, Josh and co-host Hrishikesh Hirway dissect the episode talking about the highlights and lowlights, themes and plots. They share audio clips when appropriate. They talk a lot about Aaron Sorkin and his influence on the writing, the actors, etc.

The second “half” of the podcast usually includes a special guest. The guest portion of the show has absolutely been the best part of each episode so far. They’ve had a few of the actors from the show (Dule Hill, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff), one of the costume designers, a writer, and a couple of other guests.

After listening to the first couple of episodes, I decided that I was going to ration my watching of The West Wing in time with The West Wing Weekly podcast. For the past 8 weeks, I’ve been watching an episode of The West Wing on Netflix and then listening to an episode of The West Wing Weekly, and it’s been amazing.

They have only done 10 episodes so far, and there is plenty of time to get caught up.

 

TV Review: Catching up on NCIS

20999963I’ve recently been spending quite a lot of my “Netflix” time catching up on NCIS. It’s a show that I’ve always really loved, but I got behind and then couldn’t find it online. Thankfully earlier this summer, Netflix added it to the streaming lineup. I’m just about to finish up Season 11, which only puts me a season behind leading into the fall premiere.

There’s a reason why NCIS continues to be one of the top-rated shows on TV. While it’s a bit formulaic — Sailor or Marine is killed & the NCIS team is called in to investigate — it frequently keeps things interesting with story arcs that cover more than one episode and adding “current events” elements without it being too kitschy.

I also think a strong part of its appeal is that the main character Leroy Jethro Gibbs played by Mark Harmon is someone that boomers can identify with in their age range.

However, I think the biggest reason that people keep coming back is what is not in the show. While there is certainly violence and lots of talk of murder and even some really good make-up effects with dead bodies, the violence never feels gratuitous.

There is also very little sex. It’s not a show you have to worry about you kids (or for me, nieces and nephews) walking in while you’re watching and seeing someone half naked rolling around on a bed.┬áThat’s not to say that there aren’t relationships, but they are hinted at rather than shoved in your face.

This fall with start the 13th season with Mark Harmon leading the cast, and I’m not sure that there will be a 14th season with Harmon involved.

If you haven’t watched the show — or if you’ve missed any episodes and want to catch up — seasons 1-11 are now available on Netflix.

Review: A Chef’s Life

Chefs-Life_815x567I love documentaries.

 

And, I love shows about food.

Due to awesome computer algorithms “A Chef’s Life” popped up as a show I might like, and I loved it.

The show airs on PBS stations around the country and the first two seasons are available on the PBS app for you to watch. I think they are currently filming Season 3, and I can’t wait for the new episodes.

The description from the show’s page describes it this way: “A Chef’s Life is a half-hour character-driven documentary and cooking series that takes viewers inside the life of Chef Vivian Howard, who, with her husband Ben Knight, left the big city to open a fine dining restaurant in small-town Eastern North Carolina.”

One of the things I love best about the show is that a majority of it doesn’t take place in the restaurant. Vivian Howard is all about the whole “farm to table” cuisine and the show actually focuses on what that means.

The show talks about food — especially southern food — in ways I hadn’t seen before. Whether it’s biscuits, turnip greens or Tom Thumb, it’s very cool to see.

Six by Sondheim

As I got home from the gym and started flipping through the channels looking for something to watch I came across Six by Sondheim.

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a ridiculous geek when it comes to musicals, and I love documentaries that talk about musicals. The fact that I just happened to catch this one right as it was starting was totally perfect.

If you like musical theatre, you should definitely try to catch this one either on HBO or when it hits Neflix or Hulu.

It does a really good job about being autobiographical without feeling too tethered to a timeline. It also does a really great job of mixing different interviews of Sondheim over the years together. So, it’s not just the contemporary Sondheim talking about his work but Sondheim talking about his work throughout many decades.

My favorite bit about Sondheim that I learned from this show was his relationship with Oscar Hammerstein and how that relationship influenced his own work.

Equality of Opportunity vs. Equality of Outcome

I had a conversation the other day with a friend about Equality of Opportunity vs. Equality of Outcome. He’s a libertarian and believes in the former while I strongly believe in the latter.

I don’t believe in socialism or that there shouldn’t be an opportunity for folks to rise above and be wealthy. I do believe in two things:

a) If you work 40 hours a week, you should receive a minimum wage that allows you to live above the poverty line.

b) There should be a safety social net to help those that legitimately need it.

Today I watched a great documentary on HBO called American Winter. It highlights families facing severe financial troubles due to unemployment, underemployment trying to support a family on minimum wage, running the risk of foreclosure and eviction and having to rely on food banks and other services for basic needs.

These are families who aren’t lazy and are willing to work hard. Intermixed with the stories of the families are people talking about the financial crisis.

This was a great piece, but unfortunately I doubt it would sway those that are determined to subsidize businesses off the suffering of the lower and middle class.

Being a Trekkie – My problem with Deep Space 9

Back in the early 90s, I officially became a trekkie. I was obsessed with Star Trek: The Next Generation. I had missed the original episodes, but my friend Justin and I would meet almost every night when a local TV station would run reruns of the show at 11 pm. It was daily ritual during my junior year in college, and it was something I rarely missed.

Given how much I liked The Next Generation, watching Deep Space 9 should have been a no-brainer. However, I could never get in to the show. Over the years, I’ve tried watching episodes of the series and they’ve never held my interest.

Deep Space 9 is now available via Netflix Streaming, and I thought I would try to check them out again. I’m about 10 episodes in, and I’m not sure I will be watching much more of them. My biggest issue is the acting of Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisto. I know that Avery Brooks is a well-respected actor, but I just don’t believe him especially when he is angry.

There is one scene early on in the first season that he goes to smack the wall and I actually laughed out load about how ridiculous it was.

There are pieces of the Star Trek timeline that I’ve missed by not watching Deep Space 9 (the continuation of the Worf story, for example), but I’m just not sure I can sit through 7 seasons of Avery Brooks for that reward.