Category Archives: TV

Open Letter to Food Network

Hi Food Network. It’s time we had a talk.

I’ve been largely stuck in the house for the past 6 months with the birth of my twins, and I’ve watched a lot of Food Network in that time. I think you need to reevaluate what types of shows you are now putting on your air. Seriously. You only have 4 basic types of shows anymore and you just rehash them over and over. I want to like you, but you make it really difficult. I present to you your programming in nutshell.

1. Competition shows where someone gets eliminated
Offending shows: Next Food Network Star, Worst Cooks in America, Chopped, Iron Chef America (sort of)…

Is there anything more tired and played out than the episodic shows where people (possibly in 2 teams) compete and someone gets eliminated every week? (ie. Star and Cooks). I know it’s not just you, it’s every single network on TV. Still, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it ok for you to do. I’m fairly certain I can’t take another show in that “Survivor/Apprentice” vein. Honestly. Next Food Network Star is always exactly the same. People struggle with talking and cooking simultaneously and get nervous on camera. We get it. But, I’m assuming like a lot of your shows, it’s cheap to produce and gets ratings. For the record, I think “Worst Cooks” was completely rigged and those people were all actors… bad ones at that.

“Chopped” is strangely addictive but it’s not perfect. One of the main problems is the same with Iron Chef… at least half of the “secret ingredients” I have no idea what the hell they taste like. Most of the time, I’ve never even heard of them. When you pull out some sheep testicle and dried tambaqui I have absolutely no basis for reference for what that might taste like.  I’m sure you do that deliberately to make it tough for the competitors, but it makes it a bit less interesting for me.  The only interesting ICA battles to me are when they get a common ingredient and are forced to use it creatively. At least I know what cheddar cheese or hamburger tastes like, so I can appreciate what the chefs are doing to it.

Best part of ICA? Alton Brown. Worst part? “Champion of battle XXX… Iron Chef XXX“. I know the Iron Chefs are good, but if they win every single time, it ceases to be interesting.

2. Shows where all of the drama comes from some arbitrary time limit
Offending shows:  Dinner: Impossible, Restaurant: Impossible, 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, Challenge, Chopped, ICA, Cupcake Wars, Worst Cooks in America

Why? Why must everything have some clock ticking down to create forced drama? I know that in restaurants speed is very important. But you know what? I’d guess that a full 95% of your viewers don’t work in restaurants, have never worked in restaurants and will never become a line cook. Why must everything be so rushed and be on such a deadline? I’m pretty sure that when I’m cooking at home, the recipe doesn’t start with , “Ok, you only have 23 minutes and 17 seconds to finish this! Starting…NOW!”  Why can’t the food be the star and we the viewer be treated to watching a true master take their time to create something special? My life moves fast enough. I don’t need to watch people sweating a timer for my enjoyment. If anything, it may be adding a vague subconscious stress to my life that I just don’t need. Maybe if it was just one show using this trick that would be fine. But when it’s used over and over again. Ugh.

I feel it needs to be said. Your show “Challenge” is only very tangentially related to food at all. Just because they are using chocolate and sugar to create another 4-foot tall princess castle, nobody is going to eat it. If nobody cares what it tastes like, it ceases to be food at that point. There really is no difference in using sugar than using any other cast-able, brittle substance. But I digress.

I think one of the worst offenders of the “time limit drama” is Restaurant: Impossible. I like Robert Irvine. I like that he doesn’t take crap from anyone and tells these delusional restaurant owners that their places suck and he’s gonna fix it. Why on earth does he get stuck with that arbitrary 2 day limit? Why can’t he have all the time he needs to get everything done he needs to really help those people out? I mean, this is these peoples’ livelihoods. And just because the producers set an arbitrary 2 day limit, the resulting product may not be everything it could have been.

3. Shows where you visit restaurants around the country and show what’s good
Offending shows:  Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, Best Thing I Ever Ate, Kid in a Candy Store, Meat and Potatoes, Outrageous Food, any Giada or Rachel Ray show

Now, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with these shows. I’ve enjoyed them. I’m sure if anything I’ve watched them a little too much. Here is my major problem with these. I would be willing to bet that a full 99.9% of the places you feature in these shows I will never EVER make it to. Once I realized that, I couldn’t watch the shows with the same enthusiasm. Now every time I see one all it does is make me hungry for something I won’t get and remind me that chances are very good I will never end up in the town you’re visiting. Not to mention, even if I do visit said town, the chances of my remembering that there was a specific dish at some specific restaurant that I wanted to try are pretty friggin slim.

Wait, remember when I said there wasn’t anything inherently wrong with these shows? I take it back. There is… and it’s name is Guy Feiri. The host of the show I refer to as “Diners, Drive-ins and Douchebags”. In the beginning, he was ok… in small doses. But anymore, you’ve got this guy on your air in 2 hour blocks and that shtick runs pretty thin after a while. I think I’ve had enough sweatbands and frosted tips for a while. But again, I know that show is probably ridiculously cheap to produce, with the major expenses being hair care products and transporting his convertible all over the country.

Finally, the worst type of show on your air…

4. Shows about cake
Offending shows:  Ace of Cakes (which I’m assuming started this trend), Cupcake Wars, Challenge, Have Cake Will Travel, Last Cake Standing

C’mon. Seriously. ENOUGH with the friggin cake. The absolute last thing that anyone on this planet needs is yet another show about cake. These shows aren’t even about how to make a good cake… they are about how to make a cake look like anything BUT a cake. Ultimately, there are simply glorified design shows. If I wanted to watch design shows, I could go to Bravo or TLC. I go to Food Network because I want to watch shows about food. Cake, although delicious, is not in need of this much PR.  A few years ago, I enjoyed Ace of Cakes. It was new. The people were kinda interesting. Duff was kinda fun. But, after a season or 2 I realized that it’s all just brightly colored fondant (which is largely inedible by the way) molded into shapes. Over and over. I’m assuming Duff realized it too and mercifully killed his show.

Honestly, I can’t even comment on any of the other cake shows you are currently running in endless loops. I boycott them on general principle. That, and watching that commercial of some chick carrying a cake while wading through a fountain certainly doesn’t scream “food” to me.

Please. I beg you. No… More… Cake…

 

Now, you’ll notice I haven’t mentioned your actual, you know, cooking shows. That’s because you cram all of those in the mornings when I, and most normal people, are working. I’ve watched a couple of them and sometimes they’re good… except for that amazing fraud Sandra Lee. But, you have long since gotten rid of my sole favorite of this genre: Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello. You never even bother to replay the old episodes you have. A shame.

Don’t even get me started on what the hell “Ice Brigade” has to do with food. Read this description and tell me honestly that sounds like something that should be on a “Food Network”. The only way ice approaches food status is if it’s going into a mixed drink. Even then, it’s barely more “food” than the glass is.

There is another thing about your network that bothers me as well. So, while watching an evening of your programming, you are basically telling us about outstanding food and that there are a lot of great restaurants in this country and how good local food is, so on and so forth (of which I wholeheartedly agree). Then you cut to commercial and it’s a never ending parade of Applebees, Outback Steakhouse, and TGIFridays peddling their new “dynamite chicken flingers!”. Don’t you find that odd? Don’t you find that just a touch hypocritical? I’m fairly certain I haven’t seen ol’ Guy Feiri roll into some town and say, “Ya know… we should hit up the local Olive Garden!”. Chain restaurants are the lowest common denominator. The change from watching, say Iron Chef America, then cutting to a Red Lobster commercial is quite jarring… to say the least. If only your and/or broadcasters could figure out how to serve up targeted local advertising over a national network so, those small restaurants could advertise to the people most likely to visit them. That is what something like Food Network should be doing.

All of which gets me thinking… what show do I see listed on Food Network when I’m scanning through my DirecTV guide makes me excited and want to stop on your channel… Turns out there is only one show left that does that. Good Eats.

Unfortunately, it appears you no longer care about Good Eats since according to this, it’s ending and you never even bother to show repeats. According to your website, between now and June 6th, you are showing a grand total of 5 different episodes. That is pathetic. You’re showing 5 different episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives by tomorrow. Good Eats is the show that got me watching Food Network in the first place. More importantly, it was the show that made me want to start cooking. If it really is coming to an end, I hope you put the entire series out on DVD so I can buy it and just not bother to turn on Food Network ever again.

I suppose I just need to set my DVR to PBS and record a bunch of America’s Test Kitchen, since that’s the last bastion of entertaining and informative food programming left.

At least if they make a cake, they actually care about what it tastes like.

Best Week In Sports?

That is what all the pundits like to say every year come this first week in April.  “It’s the best week in sports!”

Yeah, there is a lot going on, what with the NCAA basketball championship game tonight, Major League Baseball’s opening day today, The Masters starting on Thursday, and the NBA and NHL winding down their regular seasons with teams fighting for playoff spots.  Sure is a lot going on.  But “best”? Not a chance.

A week without football, be it college or pro, is simply discarded from the discussion out of hand.  By my definition, there are no sports going on this week.  Yeah, there are some distractions.  There are some TV events.  But you know what?  I’m watching about 1 SportsCenter a week now.  Obviously, if I’m not watching SportsCenter, there ain’t no sports.

I know a lot of you out there are fans of baseball, basketball or hockey.  I get that.  I get that you have favorite teams and love the sport and get all wrapped up in it.  Here is what they mean to me.  Basketball = something on TV in the winter that I don’t watch… fill out a bracket in March.  Baseball = ahh, summer time.  Great to “watch” while napping on Sunday afternoons… hey doesn’t football start soon?  Hockey = Hmmmm, didn’t that used to be on TV? Golf?  Come on.  I’m interested if Tiger’s playing, but I’m certainly not interested in the goings on of Tiger otherwise. (As an aside, can we please stop having press conferences about his dalliances? It’s all been said at this point. I LONG ago lost interest.)

Which leads me to football.  I am the same guy who damn near overdosed on football a few years ago.  For my money, the greatest week in sports is that last weekend in August / first week in September.  College football kicks-off their first weekend, and ESPN in all their glory have games Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and maybe Tue and Wed too. Boise State starts their season in there somewhere.  Thursday night is usually the kickoff of the NFL season, followed by more college football week 2 on Friday and Saturday.  The rest of the NFL gets it going on Sunday and caps it off with Monday Night.  Plus, baseball actually starts to matter as the regular season is winding down and there is nary a basketball game in sight clogging up my sports channels.  You want my definition of heaven?  That’s it.  And I get to experience it every single year.

Second place in the best week in sports list would probably be rivalry week in college football, 3rd week in November.  That’s always good.

I used to consider myself an all around sports fan.  But as I’ve grown up, it has become abundantly clear that I’m a football fan and lightly pay attention to other sports.  Just the way I roll.  If my love of football was on a 0-100 scale, I’d put it at about a 98. Baseball would be next, with about a 65 (will go higher if it’s going to a game in person, or watching late season/playoff games).  Hockey used to be about a 90, but after the lockout and TV fiascoes over the past years it is now probably about a 30 (which kinda makes me sad).  College basketball would be about a 25 (will bump to 40 if Boise State is any good).  The NBA?  Um… probably like about a 15.  It’s a dark day if I EVER sit down and watch an NBA game on purpose.

That being said, it is It is 150 days, 6 hours, 34 minutes and 58 seconds until college football kicks off on ESPN with Southern Miss at South Carolina on September 2nd.  More importantly, it is 154 days, 7 hours, 3 minutes and 26 seconds until Monday, September 6, and Boise State vs. Virginia Tech.  Oh man, I cannot wait!

Bring on football.

Does the World Need 5-Blade Razors?

I have something I need to complain about so bear with me.

You have undoubtedly seen those commercials for that fancy new 5 bladed “Fusion” razor and how superior it is over the Mach3.  (View One Here)  More blades!  Closer together!  Less irritation!  Shave in 1/8th the time!  Get more sex!  You can’t miss them… I think there is one played every single commercial break.  If you were to judge by the shear volume of those commercials, you would assume that 5 blades are right next to the wheel and the electric light bulb in terms of importance to mankind, and in contrast, if you’re shaving with only 3 blades, you are an uneducated troglodyte who would be better off basically ripping the hair out of your face by the root.

The only problem?  THEY ARE BOTH MADE BY GILLETTE!

It has taken me this long to put the pieces together and I own a Mach3.  Essentially, they are spending millions of dollars, advertising against themselves!  Anyone else find that supremely stupid?  Anyone?  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

Tiger Woods… I love ya buddy, but if I have to see another lame ass commercial of you, Federer the crier and that head-butting soccer schmuck I’m going to lose it.

I think my only recourse is to boycott all Gillette razors.  Gillette, you have angered me.  In result, you have lost me as a customer.

Whew… I feel better.

The Voice is Silenced

It’s a sad day for consumers of movies or television, which is pretty much all of us.

Don LaFontaine has died.

Its possible that name doesn’t mean a whole lot to you, but I 1000% guarantee you will recognize his voice.  He has been the voice of over 5,000 movie trailers and over 350,000 television commercials and network promos.  It wasn’t a real trailer or promo unless you heard his voice.

He was the one who introduced us to the line, “In a world…”.

Really, it kinda feels like an old uncle has died.  You know, the one you never saw very often but got to talk to on the phone regularly?  Don’s voice has been so ubiquitous that you couldn’t escape it if you tried.

I think I’m legitimately a bit sad about this.  Seriously.  I’ve always loved this guy’s voice.

Rest in Peace, Don.  I’ll miss you.

Actors Studio 10 Questions

Inside the Actors StudioThis past weekend, we watched a little Inside the Actor’s Studio since there is no longer any football on TV. I always kinda enjoy the show. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it is basically an interview show featuring those in the movie biz. Lots of actors and directors. They pull big time guests too. Granted, it usually a big love-fest, not exactly hard ball questions or anything, but the long format lets the subjects to be a little more real. If you would like to watch some clips, go here.

Anyway, every show they ask 10 questions of the guest. Every time I see it, I get thinking about my answers to the questions and figured, that would make a great blog post. One caveat, I will undoubtedly go longer on each answer than they do on the show. I got unlimited space here, and some of the questions will have multiple answers.

Also, I would like to invite all of you out there to answer the same questions. You can either do it here in the comments section, or if you have your own blog, answer them there, then link to your answers in my comments section. Could be interesting.

Without further ado…

Continue reading Actors Studio 10 Questions

Man Crushes

There are guys in the world that I am amazed by. I love their work, their personalities, everything. Jess calls them “Man Crushes” (click for Urban Dictionary definitions). Now, before you go getting the wrong ideas, let me make one thing perfectly clear… this does NOT mean I love these men in a unnatural sense. Absolutely not. By definition, “Man Crush” means if you could sit in a bar and have beers with a guy and shoot the shit for 4 hours, that would be a great time. All of these guys have personalties such that if they were normal guys who lived around me, I would think that I would definitely be their friends.

Without further ado, here are my man crushes.

Continue reading Man Crushes

TV – Still for Sale

Ok, so I have yet to sell my monster, awesome TV.  It is still for sale.

I’m getting desperate.  I have already decided that since there is no real way I can wedge that thing into the house, that it will be going into storage until such time as I can offload it.

Here’s the new offer, if anyone might be interested.

If someone wants to take it now (ideally, someone I know) and make payments on that bad boy, say $100 a month, I would totally be open to that.  I understand that not everyone can scratch together $500 at the drop of a hat.

I figure, if I ain’t using it, there’s no sense in not letting someone else enjoy it while making payments on it.

If this fits any of you, let me know.

Again, here is the full craigslist description.

TV For Sale – $500 obo

Please… I’m begging… if anyone out there who reads this would like to buy an AMAZING HDTV from me before Saturday (or knows anyone who would) please let me know.

I’m attempting to sell my 36″ Sony Wega KV-36XBR400 CRT TV before, or while I’m moving. I am also selling with it the matching TV stand as well as a matching A/V cabinet.

This TV has unbelievable picture quality. HD is just awesome. The reason I’m selling it is that despite its quality, it is a rather large set. And heavy. I would rather not try to fit it into Jess’ place if I could just sell it instead. Plus, since I live on the 3rd floor, the movers are coming on Saturday, and they could assist anyone wanting to pick it up.

When I bought this TV in 2001, it retailed for well over $3000. You can bet, that when I bought this thing, it was absolutely top of the line. I really did my research when I bought. (some reviews here)

I will sell the whole package now for $500 or best offer. I have it listed on Craigslist, if you want to see pictures and read more about it: http://boise.craigslist.org/ele/424671819.html

Hell, if you help me sell this TV, I’ll throw $50 your way as a finders fee.

Ask people you know. Ask people you work with. Someone out there wants this SCREAMING deal for an amazing TV.

Email or call me if you have questions.

Thanks everyone.

Goodbye Mr. Wizard

wizard_2.jpgDon Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard lost his battle with cancer yesterday at 89.  View the intro to his show here.  That will really take some of you back!

I LOVED Mr. Wizard. When he came on Nickelodeon in the 80’s, I was hooked. Watched every day. To my young fertile mind, he really was a wizard. To this day, I can remember being truly amazed by what I saw him do with simple household items. He turned me on to science. Maybe that was why I scored in the 98th percentile in science on the Iowa test of basic skills. (and in the 67th for math).

I can vividly remember him teaching us about all kinds of things. Including sight: look through a paper towel tube with one eye, keep your other eye open and hold your other hand up next to the tube… it looks like there’s a hole in your hand!

Or, how to make a volcano (which I did once) with vinegar and baking soda.

Or, how centrifugal force will keep water in the bucket, even over your head, if you spin it fast enough.

Or, how to make a secret message by writing on a a spiral of paper wrapped around a certain sized tube, and in order to read it, you had to have the same sized tube.

Or, how straws actually work not by sucking the liquid out of the glass, but instead by air pressure. And he set up an experiment to see how high they could suck liquid up a straw like tube (using a vacuum pump)

I could go on and on. His show had different ‘topics’ and I loved them all, supermarket science, challenge, how it works, safari. I really think this is why I watch so much History, Discovery, National Geographic, Science Channel shows now. I love them all… all thanks to Mr. Wizard.

So, I just wanted to say Goodbye and Thank You to Don Herbert. You were a serious influence in my young life that echoes even today. Of course, did I find it a little strange, even as a kid, that you always had a gaggle of young kids in your house? Perhaps… If you were anyone else, we might be thinking a Michael Jackson thing. But, at least you never gave any of them wine and porn.

Apparently, his show is available on DVD. I’ll tell you this… if I ever have a kid, he or she WILL be watching Mr. Wizard.