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post #26761 of 36157 Old 12-08-2018, 02:37 AM
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Originally Posted by aaronwt View Post
I would like a microtransaction option in games. I would rather pay a few dollars in real money for something I want than have to do a long list of things in the game
Unfortunately, companies figured out that it was much more effective -- and lucrative -- to make cheating "legitimate" by forcing you to pay for it, rather than trying to prevent it, so much so that many games -- especially mobile ones -- are purposefully designed to be so annoying to play that cheating is the only way to get anywhere. Microtransactions are the modern equivalent of Game Genie/GameShark/CodeBreaker/Action Replay. It sounds like you should be picking up an old game console with a cheat cartridge/disc, rather than wasting money on modern games that you don't really enjoy playing all that much.
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post #26762 of 36157 Old 12-08-2018, 02:59 AM
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My son and I are gamers and we've both noticed the micro transaction trend. I don't mind spending money on in-game stuff if I think it's worth it (both Pokemon Go and Fortnite have gotten some of mine), but we won't even buy a game if it requires cash for loot boxes in order to advance.
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post #26763 of 36157 Old 12-08-2018, 07:07 AM - Thread Starter
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TV/Critic's Notes
Baby-boomer alert: Decades later, cheesy TV theme songs remain nostalgic earworms
By Bill Keveney, USA Today - Dec. 7, 2018

When I heard that actor Ken Berry had died this month, I felt sadness for the passing of an actor whose work I had enjoyed over the years.

But that didn’t match the words and music that immediately began playing in my head: “The end of the Civil War was near/When quite accidentally/A hero who sneezed, abruptly seized/Retreat, and reversed it to victory.”

For baby boomers, or any fan of '60s sitcoms, those lyrics are instantly recognizable from the opening theme of “F Troop,” a silly ABC comedy that featured Berry as the inept commander of an incompetent frontier military unit. The show is mostly forgettable – except for its self-explanatory theme song. (It's badly dated today. As with the series itself, the “F Troop” theme contains the kind of insulting reference to Native Americans that was standard then but unacceptable today, unless it’s the name of an NFL team.)

The memory of that goofy theme made me smile and think of the whole genre of ‘60s sitcoms predicated on ideas so nutty — high concept, in today's jargon — that they essentially required directions in the form of theme songs that explained the show's premise. (Theme songs are mostly memories these days, the victims of shows squeezed for time to sell more commercials).

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale/a tale of a fateful trip/that started from this tropic port/aboard this tiny ship …” — you know the rest — and you’ll know everything about “Gilligan’s Island” by the end of the opening credits.

The theme from "The Beverly Hillbillies" lays out the fish-out-of-cement-pond story of a plainspoken mountain man striking oil — i.e., "bubblin' crude, black gold, Texas tea" — and moving his clan to snobby “Beverly/Hills, that is/swimming pools, movie stars.”

And at a time when divorce was becoming more commonplace, “The Brady Bunch” theme – another musical explainer from “Gilligan’s” creator Sherwood Schwartz – features lyrics that set forth the concept of a blended family, fairly new to many viewers at the time: “’Til the one day when the lady met this fellow/And they knew that it was much more than a hunch/That this group must somehow form a family/That’s the way we all became the Brady bunch.”

The kooky sitcom trend was popular at a time when broadcast networks were the only game in town, attracting big, broad audiences of every age, including kids who are now adults with theme songs taking up too much shelf space in their brains.

Other shows that laid out an entire fantastical storyline in a theme song include: “Mr. Ed,” about a talking horse; “The Patty Duke Show,” which introduced viewers to "identical cousins"; and “Green Acres,” the wonderfully off-kilter tale of a country-loving husband (“Fresh air”) and cosmopolitan wife (“Times Square”) that might be worth reconsidering with today’s urban/rural divide (keep Arnold Ziffel, the pig who was treated like a human boy, but ditch the husband claiming his right to force the wife to move to a farm. Again, a ‘60s blindspot.).

Some one-season wonders, as in “I wonder how that got on,” are remembered, if at all, solely because of their opening songs. How many people have never seen “My Mother, the Car,” an automotive embrace of reincarnation, but can remember that Jerry Van Dyke's mom had turned into a caustic 1928 Porter? Schwartz also produced the time-travel comedy, "It's About Time," which had the distinction of two theme songs, one explaining astronauts who traveled back to the Stone Age, and a midseason reversal that had the astronauts and cavemen returning to the present in an effort to beef up lagging ratings. (Didn't work.)

Other ‘60s shows featured similar, if less explicit themes, including “The Addams Family;” “Petticoat Junction;” and a couple of primetime cartoons, “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons.” “The Monkees” turned a theme that introduced the rock band at the center of the show into an actual chart hit.

By the ‘70s, the crazy concepts started fading away, along with the need for detailed theme-song explanations. Some great shows, such as “Maude” and “The Jeffersons,” explained themselves to a degree with opening numbers, as did some less great entries, such as “The Love Boat.”

While the "Cheers” theme didn’t lay out the story of friendship at a neighborhood bar, millions can identify the phrase “where everybody knows your name,” which is synonymous with the '80s sitcom. And, “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” had the meta-theme of all time to match the show’s matter-of-fact genius: “This is the theme to Garry’s show/The opening theme to Garry’s show/This is the music that you hear/As you watch the credits.”

In the ‘90s, budding superstar Will Smith, in collaboration with DJ Jazzy Jeff, rapped an explanation of how he became “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” creating one of the catchiest and most popular themes of all time.

If broadcast networks no longer have time for theme songs, pay-cable networks and streaming services have no such restrictions. HBO's "Silicon Valley" offers a funny, detailed visual explanation of its tech-heavy address, while Netflix's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" features a creative opening theme that plays off tabloid-style reporting about the kidnapping and release of the title character.

And, there’s at least one current show, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” that pays homage to TV’s crazy past.

In its Season 1 theme, the series, which finishes its CW run in early 2019, laid out the story of how lawyer Rebecca Bunch gave up her high-paying New York legal job “to move to West Covina, California/Brand-new pals and new career/It happens to be where Josh lives/But that’s not why I’m here!” And, “Crazy” has brilliantly rewritten its theme over four seasons to reflect its changing story.

So, thanks, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” for keeping a fun, sometimes witty and always pleasingly goofy tradition alive. And thanks, Ken Berry, for memories of a time in TV that we might as well embrace, because, as the “F Troop” earworm attests, it's going to be with us forever.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/...st/2197552002/
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post #26764 of 36157 Old 12-08-2018, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
Ghost in the Shell Next-Gen Anime Series Coming to Netflix
By Matt Webb Mitovich, TVLine.com - Dec. 7, 2018

A new adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell manga, titled Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, is coming to Netflix in 2020 — by wait of 3DCG animation.

Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) and Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed) are set to serve as directors on the project using next-generation animation, with Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell) and SOLA DIGITAL ARTS (Netflix’s upcoming Ultraman anime) serving as the production studios.

The original Ghost in the Shell manga tells the story of Public Security Section 9, a counter-cyberterrorist organization led by protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi, in mid-21st century Japan.

Previous adaptations of Ghost in the Shell include a 1995 anime cyberpunk film, the 2004 anime TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and a live-action 2017 movie that controversially starred the not-Japanese Scarlett Johansson as Motoko.

Check out the full drawn art of Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045‘s Motoko Kusanagi:


https://tvline.com/2018/12/07/ghost-...eries-netflix/
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post #26765 of 36157 Old 12-08-2018, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Notes (Cable)
‘Hit the Floor’ Canceled by BET After 4 Seasons
By Tony Maglio, TheWrap.com - Dec. 7, 2018

“Hit the Floor” just hit a brick wall: BET has canceled the pro-basketball-dancer show after four seasons.

“At this time, BET Networks will not be moving forward with a fifth season of ‘Hit The Floor,'” a BET spokeswoman told TheWrap. “We are grateful to the most passionate fans ever who helped to bring one more season of the #DevilsNation to the screen, and the incredible cast and dancers.”

“We would especially like to thank and recognize the acclaimed executive producer and creator of the series James LaRosa for his passion and vision,” the cable channel’s statement continued. “We look forward to finding ways to continue in partnership.”

To be clear for our readers, LaRosa does not have an overall deal with BET — the two parties just have a good relationship (and hopefully still do).

His scripted series debuted in 2013 and ended up tallying 41 total episodes.

https://www.thewrap.com/hit-the-floo...ter-4-seasons/
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post #26766 of 36157 Old 12-08-2018, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
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TV/Critics' Notes (Cable)
The worst trend of the year was Blank Check TV
By Darren Franich and Kristen Baldwin, EW.com - Dec. 7, 2018

This week, TV Critics Kristen Baldwin and Darren Franich published their respective lists of the 10 best TV series from 2018. That also meant sifting back through twelve months of television shows that weren’t very good. A common theme emerged, leading to this discussion.

DARREN: There was a cultural moment barely just 12 zeitgeists ago when TV could be every kind of quality — great/good/bad/unmemorable/a transcendent work of human artistry/an offensive act of terror — but below it all, television was, well, cheap. Hollywood cheap, I mean: Episodes of what we now must refer to as “the original run of The X-Files” averaged a $2 million budget, which could’ve paid for one whole Sundance of indie movies. And the history of television in our own decade is steadily inflationary: More Ice Zombies on Game of Thrones, more spaceships on Star Trek: Discovery, more chances to watch Kaley Cuoco earn ten thousand bucks per breath on The Big Bang Theory. I should clarify that “cheap” never meant “bad”: There are medium shots from The Sopranos of James Gandolfini sitting on a chair that is worth more than any movie money from the 2000s.

There was a difference back then between movie money and TV money, a feeling you had even if you weren’t a budget wonk. It feels to me, Kristen, like 2018 was the year when big money became a kind of new normal on television. Netflix launched special-effectsy megashows like Altered Carbon and Lost in Space. Amazon countered by filming on location in what looked like nine continents for Jack Ryan and The Romanoffs. The long tail of True Detective’s influence meant this was the year when film directors and bigscreen stars invaded TV (Hello, Kevin Costner! Welcome, Julia Roberts! Don’t hurt me, Sean Penn!)

The big-wallet sensation that there were no rules anymore extended to the subject matter of TV shows, sometimes ambient in the feeling that you were watching something without any obvious structure or genre, and then sometimes very specifically because Succession, a kabillionaire show I would patiently describe as a less realistic DuckTales. I was talking to you about this feeling awhile ago, Kristen, and because you’re much smarter than I am, you came up with a term that perfectly sums it up! Can you explain your name for this trend?

KRISTEN: Behold the era of Blank Check TV, Darren! Not only is there more television than ever before, the television itself is more everything than ever — the episodes are longer, the budgets are bigger, the concepts are higher, the star wattage is brighter, the language is bluer. Bigger isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but bigger with no boundaries is. With countless networks and streaming platforms pumping out more and more content for our overtaxed eyeballs, it seems the industry’s latest strategy for breaking through the “clutter” is a) throwing money at a recognizable name, and b) getting out of the way.

For me, the purest case study of Blank Check TV in 2018 is The Romanoffs. Amazon was so eager to land the follow up series from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, they gave him $50 million dollars based on the mere wisp of an idea: What if some people were still named Romanoff? Weiner got to spend months traveling around Europe, and we got eight episodes of very expensive mediocrity. It seems that the people who greenlight TV have forgotten that even the most brilliant creative minds need an editor. Saying nothing but yes to a genius will not result in a work of art; more often than not, it will result in a mess that could have been brilliant had anyone bothered to challenge its weaknesses before they made it to air.

And sometimes the excess has nothing to do with money. There were shows this year that were clearly given the “be as controversial as you wanna be!” directive — and it ruined them. Just because you can write Alyssa Milano into a homoerotic threesome with Chris Gorham and Dallas Roberts doesn’t mean you should, Insatiable, especially when it seems like more time was spent on crafting “outrageous” “moments” than developing a core idea for the show itself. And the writers on Heathers clearly thought having a suicidal teen girl on roller skates bleeding out on the couch next to her oblivious parents would be the epitome of dark, oh-yeah-we’re-going-there comedy… but it felt emotionless and flat, a shock with no jolt.

As you mentioned, Darren, Netflix continues to be a prime offender in this space, whether they’re leafblowing money at comedians to make late-night shows they’ll immediately cancel, or boring us to tears with the big-budget bombast of Lost in Space. What are the shows that exemplify Blank Check TV for you, Darren?

DARREN: I share your frustration with The Romanoffs, Kristen, though I find it very difficult to hate that show, and I’ve seen all 97 hours.

My personal pick for “Creator Given Too Much Creative License” would be Sacha Baron Cohen, called back into shock-comedy service by Showtime for Who Is America? The show required five new Cohen characters, a lengthy production cycle, and enough successful espionage to fool Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, and Ted Koppel. And it was all just so pointless, familiar decade-old stunts resurrected in a miserable new context.

If I had to pick a single totem for the style of Blank Check television, it would be the Unnecessary Helicopter: picking up the Roys for a family baseball game in the Succession pilot, disrupting a fancy DC party to ferry John Krasinski’s Jack Ryan to his destiny as an American hero, flying Kevin Costner’s cattle patriarch all around Yellowstone’s Montana, getting blown up by a climactic bazooka in the Sense8 finale, carrying billionaire James Delos (Peter Mullan) to the town of Sweetwater in one of Westworld’s billion flashbacks.

Not all excess is created equal; I kinda liked the Sense8 finale. But two scenes from this year stand out to me as representative of the dull instincts behind Blank Check TV. There was a lot of chatter about the Big Fight Scene this year on Daredevil, a single-take corridor romp wherein Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) punched a lot of people while being himself punched by a lot of people. This was also the farewell tour of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who spent his final Walking Dead episode slowly walking away from several hundred zombies. All the technical prowess that went into these scenes couldn’t hide the fact that you’d seen sequences like this a hundred times before, Daredevil Fighting People, Rick Killing Undead. And the last time we saw Rick he was… in a helicopter!

Can we get heavy here, Kristen? Last month, Amazon announced that its cyborg hivemind was terraforming Long Island City into a new headquarters, a construction project allegedly involving at least one taxpayer-funded helipad. Vanity helicopters everywhere! The rise of tech-giant FAANGcore as a genre of streaming decadence left cable and broadcast scrambling, to familiar creators or revived brands. New iterations of The X-Files and American Horror Story refracted hysterical visions into post-coherent pulp. (People always died on American Horror Story, but on Apocalypse, every actor seemed to play two characters who died three times.)

But I know I’m part of the problem, since I kinda liked one-fifth of the X-Files reboot. Were there TV series that stood out to you as GOOD examples of Blank Check television, Kristen?

KRISTEN: It’s a smart idea to focus on the positive here, Darren, because Blank Check TV looks to be the norm for now. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but Apple’s entire original programming philosophy seems to be built on this model: If you hire big stars (Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon! Chris Evans! Octavia Spencer!), the viewers will come. (Won’t they?)

As you pointed out to me via Slack, Darren, many of the shows on our Best of 2018 list wouldn’t have been possible if the TV industry wasn’t willing to Go Big. (See: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Deuce.) The Blank Check ethos can work, when applied with discipline. The good folks at Apple and any other provider with money and creative license to burn would be wise to look at some of these shows for guidance: Amazon’s Homecoming starred the world’s most famous woman (Julia Roberts) and had an unlimited budget for crane shots, but it also proved that gripping, timeline-hopping conspiracy drama can be told in half-hour installments.

And while Ryan Murphy’s tendency toward overindulgence has crippled more than one season of American Horror Story, he reined it in with my favorite drama of 2018, The Assassination of Gianni Versace. Yes, it had A-list stars and a lavish production — they built a replica of the houseboat where Andrew Cunanan killed himself! — but it was all deployed with careful precision, in service to highlighting the humanity behind a series of sensational murders.

Who knows what TV exorbitance 2019 will bring, but if it ever gets to be too much — that is, when it gets to be too much — you can always find the perfect antidote to Blank Check TV on Netflix, of all places. Fire up The Great British Baking Show, any season, and settle in for the simple pleasures of 12 people in a crisp white tent in the middle of the English countryside, quietly crafting beautiful pastries, breads, and other tasty concoctions. ‘Tis a gift, pure and simple.

https://ew.com/tv/2018/12/07/2018-tv...lank-check-tv/
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post #26767 of 36157 Old 12-08-2018, 07:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Technology/Washington Notes (Mobile)
FCC investigating whether carriers gave inaccurate information on rural coverage maps
By Colin Lecher, TheVerge.com - Dec. 7, 2018

The FCC said today that it will investigate whether “major carriers” provided inaccurate information on their coverage areas as the agency determined where to send funds for rural broadband.

The Mobility Fund II project is meant to allocate more than $4.5 billion to encourage building out mobile broadband service in rural areas. As part of the project, the FCC requested coverage maps from carriers, which it could then use to determine which areas needed support.

The agency said a review of more than 20 million speeds tests raised serious questions about the accuracy of the data, and it has suspended the next steps of the project while it investigates.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said improving rural access to broadband has been a key goal for the agency. But the FCC has faced criticism over its maps in the past, most recently after a report from Microsoft found broadband access was less widespread than the agency’s numbers suggested.

Pai said in a statement that the agency’s preliminary review of the mobile coverage data “suggested significant violations of the Commission’s rules.”

“That’s why I’ve ordered an investigation into these matters,” Pai said. “We must ensure that the data is accurate before we can proceed.” No carriers were mentioned by name in the statement.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/7/1...-coverage-maps
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post #26768 of 36157 Old 12-08-2018, 07:33 AM - Thread Starter
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TV/Production Notes (Broadcast)
Comedy Starring Natasha Leggero In Works At CBS With Morgan Murphy
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Dec. 7, 2018

CBS is developing Rachet, a multi-camera comedy from Another Period co-creator Natasha Leggero, who also is attached to star, and Morgan Murphy (Two Broke Girls).

Written by Leggero and Murphy, Ratchet centers on Jessica Rachet (Leggero), who must start a new life and make new friends after her rich fiancé dies suddenly and leaves her to fend for herself.

Murphy and Leggero executive produce with 3 Arts’ Michael Rotenberg for 3 Arts, and Brillstein Entertainment Partners’ Jon Liebman, Marc Gurvitz, and Geoff Cheddy. 3 Arts and Brillstein Entertainment Partners produce with CBS TV Studios.

Leggero is an actress, writer and standup, best known for creating and starring in Comedy Central’s series Another Period. Her latest comedy special, The Honeymoon Stand Up Special is now on Netflix. She is repped by CAA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and attorney Isaac Dunham.

Writer-comedian Murphy also has Danny Issues, a comedy she is co-writing with Michelle Nader, set up at Fox with put pilot commitment. She recently was a writer on ABC’s Roseanne revival and also was a co-executive producer on ABC’s Downward Dog. Murphy is repped by CAA, 3 Arts, and attorney Jared Levine.

https://deadline.com/2018/12/cbs-you...hy-1202516383/
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post #26769 of 36157 Old 12-08-2018, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Notes (Analysis)
TV Long View: It's a Golden Age for Very Long-Running Series
By Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter - Dec. 7, 2018

Twenty new series have premiered on the broadcast networks this fall. About half of them, recent history suggests, won't live to see the 2019-20 season. The odds of more than a handful surviving past four seasons — enough time to build up a decent library for an afterlife on a streaming platform or in syndication — are vanishingly small.

It's never been easy to mount a long-running series on a broadcast networks, and with the explosion of original series across cable and streaming services in the past decade, it's become even harder. Unless, that is, a show already had a substantial life before the streaming era began.

The current season is something of a golden age for series that are, well, in their golden years: 18 entertainment shows on the broadcast nets have been airing for a decade or more. There's at least one on each network — even The CW, which is in its 13th season and whose longest-running show, Supernatural, predates its existence by a year.

Four of those 18 decade-plus series are in at least their 20th year, and at the extreme end of the spectrum, The Simpsons is in its record 30th season. And in a postmodern twist, several of these shows that debuted before the rise of streaming shows may at least partly owe their continued existence to the likes of Netflix.

(For the purpose of this story, unscripted shows that run multiple cycles per season are counted by years on air, not the number of cycles — Dancing With the Stars and Grey's Anatomy both premiered in the 2004-05 season, for instance, and are in year 15. Survivor is in its 20th year, having premiered at the tail end of the 1999-2000 season.)

Network schedulers and research heads The Hollywood Reporter spoke to said that in the Peak TV era, the allure of stability has never been greater — and neither have the ways for veteran shows to be found by new audiences.

"Some of these shows are being rediscovered by younger viewers because there are so many episodes on other platforms that they binge-watch and come back to linear," said Andy Kubitz, executive vp programming strategy at ABC. "The perfect storm is where you keep these shows on for many, many years — then they're rediscovered and relaunched and brought to a whole new group. It can become a self-supporting cycle."

The average network series (excluding news programs and regular live sports telecasts) has been on the air for just under five years (4.8, to be precise). CBS has the longest-running lineup with an average series age of 5.6 years, including seven of the 18 decade-plus shows.

Fox's dramas are collectively the youngest of any network with an average age of 2.6. Empire and Gotham are the senior members at five years each. Thanks largely to The Simpsons, Family Guy and Hell's Kitchen, however, the network has the second-oldest lineup at an average of 5.45 years on air.

That Fox has two animated series that have been around since the 1990s (Family Guy premiered in 1999, was canceled in 2002 and brought back in 2005) speaks to the malleability of animation, said Dan Harrison, executive vp strategic program planning and scheduling at the network.

"I put animation, which is unique to Fox, as a distinct category of programming that sustains and refreshes itself partly because no one gets older. Even though Bart Simpson never has a birthday, the topical humor evolves the storytelling," Harrison said. "The same can be said of Family Guy and Bob's Burgers [now in its ninth season]. … And you get to explore creatively in a way that's impractical in other genres. If The Simpsons wants to air an episode in which the characters go all around the world, it doesn't cost any more than having it take place all in their house."

NBC has the freshest lineup of any of the networks, with its average series having been on the air just 3.7 years — a product, in part, of the network having done a sizable teardown and rebuilding of its schedule this decade after a sharp decline in the post-Must-See TV era. The CW, while going after young viewers, has a slightly older lineup, with the average show having been on air 4.3 years. ABC is in the middle of the pack, right on the all-network average of 4.8 years.

In a time when breakout new hits are ever more the unicorns of network TV, veteran shows hold the appeal of consistent delivery of audiences. They're not the shiny new objects that attract huge amounts of attention each fall, but the NCIS-es and Law & Order: SVUs of the broadcast world are essential to healthy lineups.

"As the number of options have just been skyrocketing and it's harder and harder to get new programs sampled, the tried and true are holding in there," said Jeff Bader, president program planning, strategy and research at NBC. "You know you have a guaranteed level of performance with some of these returning shows, so it might just be a little bit less risky to stick with some of these."

The preponderance of shows in their teens and 20s also speak to "how alive and well [network TV] is," said Noriko Kelley, executive vp program planning and scheduling at CBS. "It's also incredible to see shows that consistently do well season after season, that help time periods and nights do well."

Case in point: NCIS, which has occupied the 8 p.m. Tuesday spot on CBS since its debut in 2003 and has been a top-five show in total viewers for each of the past 10 seasons.

"You see the strength … of NCIS, which is in its 16th season, yet still last season was the most-watched drama," Kelley said. "And it has consistently been used to launch new hits — NCIS: LA, NCIS: New Orleans, Bull and now FBI."

Similarly, Grey's Anatomy has been on since the 2004-05 season and has never finished lower than 13th in the adults 18-49 demographic or 32nd in total viewers. (It's currently seventh in the demo and 23rd in viewers for 2018-19.) Kubitz accredits some of the show's staying power to new viewers discovering it on Netflix, binge-watching past seasons and then joining the on-air run.

"From research, we know that young people are discovering Grey's Anatomy. This couldn’t have happened 10 years ago because the windowing and multi-platform places didn't exist," he said. "It is amazing to see the young people come out for Grey's Anatomy after 15 years."

Digital viewing has also helped refresh Law & Order: SVU, which is in its 20th season on NBC. The average on-air viewer of SVU is over 55; on streaming platforms, NBC says the average SVU viewer age is 30 — two years younger than the streaming audience for the network's biggest show, This Is Us.

A lineup made entirely of shows that debuted before the streaming era wouldn't be sustainable, given that shows get more expensive to produce as they age. All the schedulers and research gurus THR spoke to said they strive for a mix of long-running series and newer shows that can draft off — or, in rare cases, build on — the established ones as they develop their own audiences.

But they also see little upside to canceling such long-running series unless evidence — a combination of ratings and the back-end profitability, or lack thereof — unequivocally tells them it's time. Or, in the case of a series like The Big Bang Theory, there's a mutual agreement on an end date.

As Kelley put it, "It's hard to argue with not letting them be on the schedule because they're such dominant players in their fields."

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/li...-shows-1166515
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TV/Critic's Notes
Baby-boomer alert: Decades later, cheesy TV theme songs remain nostalgic earworms
By Bill Keveney, USA Today - Dec. 7, 2018

For baby boomers, or any fan of '60s sitcoms, those lyrics are instantly recognizable from the opening theme of “F Troop,” a silly ABC comedy that featured Berry as the inept commander of an incompetent frontier military unit. The show is mostly forgettable – except for its self-explanatory theme song.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/...st/2197552002/
It had Melody Patterson. And for a hormone driven teenager, that is all that was necessary.
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TV/Production Notes
Ice Cube to Revive MTV’s ‘Celebrity Deathmatch’ Claymation Series
By Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone - Dec. 7, 2018

Ice Cube will team with MTV Studios on a revival of Celebrity Deathmatch, MTV’s beloved Claymation series that transformed music beefs and tabloid feuds into a violent, satirical battle to the death. The rapper will both star and, through his Cube Vision production company, executive produce the revival, with the series’ original creator Eric Vogel also on board as executive producer.

“Happy to once again be working with Viacom and MTV on a fan favorite like Celebrity Deathmatch and to continue our success together,” Ice Cube said in a statement.

The original Celebrity Deathmatch ran for six seasons and nearly 100 episodes from 1998 to 2007; notable Claymation fights pitted Charles Manson against Marilyn Manson, Hillary Clinton versus Monica Lewinsky, boxing promoter Don King versus then-mogul Donald Trump and Backstreet Boys royal-rumbling Beastie Boys.

Celebrity Deathmatch is the latest Nineties-era MTV show to receive a revival from the network, following planned reboots of Daria, The Real World, Made and Aeon Flux; while those reboots are still in the works, a revival of The Hills is set to premiere in 2019.

However, although MTV Studios is producing the reboot, it’s unclear whether the weekly series will actually air on MTV, as the new Celebrity Deathmatch is seeking “an exclusive [streaming video on demand] or premium broadcast partner in 2019.”

https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-n...hmatch-763682/
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TV Review (Broadcast)
Making Money Online with 'The American Meme'
By David Hinckley, TVWorthWatching.com's 'All Along the Watchtower' - Dec. 7, 2018

If you’re worried that our social media-obsessed culture has plunged us into a world of empty, meaningless, brain-rotting babble, The American Meme will provide all the convincing you need.

If you’re in the glass-half-full school and think social media just increases the size of a cultural room we already live in, The American Meme makes that case, too.

Either way, The American Meme – which debuts Friday on Netflix – is essential for anyone who wants the full, if not always pretty, picture of contemporary cultural media.

Memes, to oversimplify a little, are quick-hit videos, images or messages that millions of mostly younger people constantly watch, sometimes to the point of obsession, on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

While anyone can post memes, a handful of posters have made it a career and writer/director/producer Bert Marcus focuses on four: Paris Hilton, the hotel heiress who has been selling her life for years; Josh Ostrovsky (top), who goes for shocking and outrageous images under names that include “The Fat Jew”; Kirill Bichutsky, who among other things hosts drunken orgies and films them; and Brittany Furlan, who specializes in snarky remarks on pop culture and young adult life.

Those capsule descriptions don’t do full justice to the content that has enabled each of these four to build social media empires with hundreds of thousands of followers.

Hilton talks about how she really loves her million-plus followers and in some ways feels closer to them than to her family. She loves that they pour their hearts out when they write to her, talking about all the troubles in their lives and how following the pain in Paris’s life has helped them to cope and feel less lonely.

Marcus films Paris talking about all this as she walks through her world of luxury, designer dog tucked under her arm. She remarks at one point that if there’s no further life after you die, “that would be really boring.”

Josh and Kirill revel in crudity and sloppy excess. Kirill sometimes relies on old frat moves like having drunken girls take off their tops and get squirted with chocolate syrup. Sometimes he guzzles an entire bottle of alcohol with someone filming its effect on him.

Brittany has the documentary’s most complete story arc. Partway through the filming, she meets Tommy Lee, the rock drummer who was once married to Pamela Anderson and Heather Locklear. He’s 56, and she’s 30. She says it’s “my first true love.” They get married.

And even beyond that, they make this super-cool video where he deals very tenderly with some material from Brittany’s nose. We won’t ruin the scene with any further spoilers.

Marcus spends some time on the larger world of social media and memes, where much of the quest is simply finding something more outrageous than everyone else has done. A door stunt breaks someone’s nose. A young fellow eats laundry detergent. Dude!

If it gets clicks, it’s a winner, because every day millions of phone owners troll the Internet in search of moments when they can text their friends, “Hey, didja see . . . . ?”

Marcus doesn’t wade too deeply into the economics of it all. Monetizing clicks is still a work in progress on the Internet in general, and The American Meme repeatedly notes that in this corner of the social media world, longevity is not the norm. The meme game is “what have you done for me in the last five minutes.”

Ostrovsky says that’s why he’s expanded into the wine business, hoping it has a longer shelf life than his characters.

One of the larger questions here, of course, is whether any of this has what used to quaintly be called redeeming social value.

Social media, and traditional media like television for that matter, are cluttered with people who are famous for being famous. They do pretty much nothing. They let other people watch a curated portion of their lives, including some parts that have traditionally been considered private, and that gives them enough recognition that they can then market themselves. Not anything they do, just themselves.

Social media stars like Bichutsky and Furlan, arguably, do create something outside themselves. Some of it is social satire or commentary. Some of it aims to be nothing more than outrageous, a loud shout of “Hey, look at me!”

Bichutsky argues that crude, outrageous and stupid is the real essence of human nature and that he’s liberating his subjects and followers from society’s stifling repression.

The argument also surfaces here, implicitly, that all of us are engaged by something – which suggests that finding inspiration in the life of Paris Hilton isn’t necessarily less legitimate for some people than finding inspiration in the life of Mother Teresa.

Whatever works, y’know?

The American Meme does not judge its subjects. It wonders aloud what they can ultimately do with their creations, but right now, it suggests, they’re quintessential successful American capitalists. They’ve found a demand, and they’re supplying product to meet it.

If they’re also exhibitionists, so what? To most of their followers, presumably, it’s harmless fun, a way to liven up the day.

Following meme accounts, even dumb ones, doesn’t preclude those followers from also someday becoming contributing members of a healthy community, or working at food banks, or finding ways to alleviate water pollution. It just means that is not how, at the moment, they’re spending some portion of their time.

We’ve declared young people to be lost generations before, and most of those generations have outperformed that ominous prediction. It only gets sad if The American Meme generation does not.

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogP...x?postId=17428
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TV Sports
NFL Schedule (Week 14)
By Sportsmediawatch.com Staff

SUNDAY, DEC. 9:

TEAMS : / TIME (Eastern): / NETWORK:


--New England-Miami / 1:00 pm / CBS
--Baltimore-Kansas City / 1:00 pm / CBS
--Indianapolis-Houston / 1:00 pm / CBS
--N.Y. Jets-Buffalo / 1:00 pm / CBS

--New Orleans-Tampa Bay / 1:00 pm / FOX
--N.Y. Giants-Washington / 1:00 pm / FOX
--Atlanta-Green Bay / 1:00 pm / FOX
--Carolina-Cleveland / 1:00 pm / FOX

--Denver-San Francisco / 4:05 pm / CBS
--Cincinnati-L.A. Chargers / 4:05 pm / CBS

--Philadelphia-Dallas / 4:25 pm / FOX
--Pittsburgh-Oakland (Flexed from SNF/NBC) / 4:25 pm / FOX
--Detroit-Arizona / 4:25 pm / FOX

--L.A. Rams-Chicago (Flexed from 1 PM/FOX) / 8:20 pm / NBC

MONDAY, DEC. 10:

--Minnesota-Seattle
/ 8:15 pm / ESPN


http://www.sportsmediawatch.com/nfl-...-mnf-nfln-tnf/
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
SATURDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)
From Zap2it.com's TV Grid - Dec. 8, 2018

ABC:
8PM - The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition (120 min.)
(R)
10PM - The Alec Baldwin Show (Time Slot Premiere: Sarah Jessica Parker)

CBS:
8PM - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Special)
(R)
9:01PM - Frosty the Snowman (Special)
(R)
9:31PM - Frosty Returns (Special)
(R)
10:01PM - 48 Hours: Dear Savanna
(R)

NBC:
8PM - Dateline NBC - Remembering George H.W. Bush: A Love Letter to Gampy (Special)
9PM - Dateline NBC: The Devil in Disguise
(R)
10PM - Saturday Night Live: Justin Timberlake hosts and performs
(R - Dec. 16, 2006)
* * * *
11:29PM - Saturday Night Live: Jason Momoa hosts; Mumford & Sons performs (93 min.)

FOX:
8PM - 2018 MLS Cup Finals: Portland Timbers at Atlanta United FC (LIVE)*
* * * *
11PM - PBC Countdown: Jermall Charlo vs. Willie Monroe Jr.
11:30PM - PBC Countdown Jermell Charlo vs. Tony Harrison
*
(Simulcast in Spanish on Unimas)

PBS:
8PM - Austin City Limits: Band of Horses; Parker Millsap
(R)

UNIVISION:
8PM - Fútbol Mexicano Primera División: Cruz Azul vs. Monterrey (LIVE)
10PM - La Rosa de Guadalupe

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Movie: Dr. Seuss' the Lorax (2012)
8:30PM - Movie: Ratatouille (2007)

ION:
9PM - Movie: Rent-an-Elf (2018)

ESPN 2:
6:30PM - College Basketball, Never Forget Tribute Classic: Connecticut vs. Florida State (LIVE)
8:30PM - College Basketball: New Mexico State at Kansas (LIVE)
10:30PM - College Basketball: Notre Dame at UCLA (LIVE)

CNN:
8PM - Young Wonders: A CNN Heroes Special

ESPN:
8PM - Heisman Trophy Ceremony (LIVE)
9PM - Boxing: Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Jose Pedraza (2 1/2 hrs., LIVE)

FREEFORM:
8PM - Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings: Holiday Magic (Special)

HALLMARK:
8PM - Movie: Homegrown Christmas (2018)

LIFETIME:
8PM - Movie: Santa's Boots (2018)

OWN:
8PM - Oprah at Home With Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade & Their New Baby (Special)
9PM - Chad Loves Michelle
10PM - Ready to Love

A&E:
9PM - Live PD (3 hrs., LIVE)

ADULT SWIM:
9PM - Dragon Ball Z Kai
(R)
9:30PM - My Hero Academia
10PM - Naruto: Shippuden
(R)
10:30PM - Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
11PM - Dragon Ball Super
11:30PM - Mob Psycho 100
Midnight - Megalo Box (Series Premiere)
12:30AM - JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable
1AM - Black Clover
1:30AM - Hunter X Hunter

SHOWTIME:
9PM - Showtime Championship Boxing: Wilder vs. Fury (Tape Delayed)
10:40PM - All Access, Wilder vs. Fury: Epilogue (30 min.)

CBSSN:
9:30PM - National Finals Rodeo Preshow (LIVE)
10PM - Rodeo, National Finals (3 hrs., LIVE)

NBCSN:
9:30PM - Curling World Cup, Women's: Canada vs. United States (LIVE)
* * * *
11:30PM - Figure Skating, ISU Grand Prix: Ladies' Free Skate (LIVE)
12:30AM - FIS Alpine Skiing,Women's World Cup: Super-G
1AM - European Champions Cup Rugby: Bath Rugby vs. Leinster Rugby (120 min.)

TLC:
10PM - My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding (Season Finale)

HBO:
10:20PM - Boxing: Cecilia Braekhus vs. Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes (Series Finale, 2 hrs. 45 min., LIVE)


https://tvlistings.zap2it.com/?aid=gapzap
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TV Sports (Boxing)
Jim Lampley is ready for his last HBO boxing call
By Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times - Dec. 7, 2018

If the tears flow Saturday as Jim Lampley ends his boxing broadcasting career on the final HBO fight card, the veteran who served the premium network at ringside for 30 years says it won’t be long before his mood lifts about future work.

“I have friends and associates who seem to feel this is going to be a huge emotional challenge at the end of this, but I don’t feel that way,” Lampley told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week.

“I feel like I’m very psychologically prepared for another life — and it will be, in some ways, another life because I won’t be calling boxing matches anymore. But I have been aware of the thought process for quite a while, and I’m a loyal corporate soldier.”

Lampley has worked for HBO since 1988, a shift he’s spoken of passionately before, waiting his turn while honoring the connection to the sport that late broadcasting legend Howard Cosell of their mutual past network ABC owned.

As it became obvious that HBO, under vice president of sports Peter Nelson, was unable to satisfy the demands of powerful promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank — he left for ESPN — and woo and retain talent like Anthony Joshua, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, the home of major fights since 1973 became obsolete.

Its goodbye broadcast comes at StubHub Center, where women’s unified welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus defends her belt on a card that also includes super-flyweight Juan Francisco Estrada’s fourth fight of the year and a women’s middleweight title defense by two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields.

“We’ll have some moments … we should not leave the air without a retrospective … Max [Kellerman], Roy [Jones Jr.] and Lampley deserve a chance to say goodbye. We reached out to Larry [Merchant] and he has graciously agreed to accept,” Lampley said. “All of those things will make the evening worthwhile. I’m going to do my best not to cry and we’ll see, but there’s still a long way to go.”

While Lampley walks away from calling fights, he said he will retain his producer’s hat after presiding over the documentary miniseries “On Freddie Roach,” and his own boxing show, “The Fight Game.”

Nelson has spoken in highbrow phrases about his plans for the storytelling of sports on HBO, and Lampley says he has his own ideas to complement that strategy.

“When it came time to realize the landscape of boxing television is changing, the delivery systems are changing, and that the depth was tilting away from us, I prepared myself psychologically and operationally for the possibility I wouldn’t be calling boxing matches anymore,” Lampley said.

His fondness for HBO, however, remained, he said.

“I left commercial networks behind to a certain degree and sacrificed opportunities in 1988 to go to work for HBO and put HBO in front of the other network I was working for. HBO was always No. 1,” he said. “To some, that might have seemed illogical. It just had to do with my unusually great reverence for the artistic impact of this network, the way it worked and doing telecasts without commercials.

“I’ve been addicted for a long time to that editorial process. So I’ve turned my back on some upward mobility in order to work for what I saw as the No. 1 television network in the world and, artistically, the most important network to have been on the air.”

Lampley said while attending the University of North Carolina he strived to be an executive producer before landing an ABC college football job from a pool of 430 applicants.

“My on-air career was an accident. It happened, and I rode that train for as far as I could make it go,” he said.

Of HBO’s exit, he says loyally, “I totally understand the thought process. I know why the network is doing what it’s doing. Under these circumstances, I believe I would make the same decision if I were in the corporate suite.”

ESPN Plus and the new streaming service DAZN, which landed Joshua and Alvarez, have offered high television ratings and rich purses, respectively, to the fighters while Showtime has been joined by Fox in aligning with powerful fight manager Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions stable more than four years after HBO split with PBC.

“Boxing’s going to be fine. That’s fantastic,” Lampley said. “What won’t happen is that one network will broadcast over a 45-year stretch the succession of fights we have. No one will have as dominant a franchise. It’s going to be more colonized, more split up than when it was lodged in two primary places [HBO and Showtime]. You won’t see the catalog of what [ours] turned out to be.”

* * * *

Tale of the tape:

First HBO boxing telecast:
Jan. 22, 1973, Frazier vs. Foreman, Kingston, Jamaica.

Boxers with most appearances on HBO:
Roy Jones Jr. and Oscar de la Hoya (32)
​Shane Mosley and ​​Floyd Mayweather (​27)
​Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto​ (24)
Lennox Lewis​ and Bernard Hopkins​ (23)

HBO Boxing commentators, 1973-2018:
Don Dunphy
Barry Tompkins
Jim Lampley (1988-2018)
Fran Charles
Bob Papa
Marv Albert (1 fight)
Larry Merchant (1 fight)


https://www.latimes.com/sports/boxin...207-story.html
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post #26776 of 36157 Old 12-08-2018, 04:14 PM
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TV Sports (Boxing)
Jim Lampley is ready for his last HBO boxing call
By Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times - Dec. 7, 2018
Too bad us fans on dish won't be able to see it. Been watching HBO boxing for decades.
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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
Friday Ratings: Fox’s ‘Last Man Standing’ Wins In Demos, But CBS Carries The Night
By Bruce Haring, Deadline.com - Dec. 8, 2018

Fox’s Last Man Standing was back on top in the Friday prime time demo ratings race, returning from a brief break to score a 1.1/6 and a 5.48 million audience, staying even with its last episode.

The strong start on the evening helped boost sitcom The Cool Kids, which followed with a 0.9/4 and 4.33 audience, again holding steady. Hell’s Kitchen concluded the Fox night with a 0.9/4, 2.69 million audience, up a tenth.

ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat (0.6/3 and 2.81 million) and Speechless (0.5/2, 2.05) were down a tenth. But the Victoria’s Secret Holiday Fashion Show did a 0.4/2, 1.92 million audience, and managed to help ABC’s 20/20 grow in total viewers, the newsmag scoring an 0.5/3, 2.84 million audience.

On CBS, MacGyver held steady with an 0.7/3, 6.39 million. But Hawaii Five-O (0.8/4, 7.78 million) and Blue Bloods (0.9/4, 8.77 million) both rose a tenth. The network was the overall winner among its competitors, scoring a 7.65 tally in total viewers and easily out-distancing the others.

NBC’s Blindspot (0.5/2, 2.83 million), Midnight, Texas (0.4/2, 1.88) and Dateline (0.5/3, 2.84 million_ all held steady.

The CW saw Dynasty holding at 0.2/1, 0.59), but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was down at 0.1/1, 0.39 million.

https://deadline.com/2018/12/friday-...ht-1202516650/
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TV Sports/Notes (Cable)
'First Take' Host Max Kellerman Signs New Deal with ESPN
By Marisa Guthrie, The Hollywood Reporter - Dec. 8, 2018

First Take host Max Kellerman has signed a multi-year extension with ESPN that includes an expanded role on the network's boxing coverage.

The deal — announced Saturday during ESPN’s live coverage of the Vasily Lomanchenko-Jose Pedraza fight, from the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York — includes a prominent role on ESPN's boxing coverage as well as a weekly boxing show on one of ESPN's linear networks. Kellerman will continue to co-host First Take with Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim.

Kellerman has a long association with boxing; his entrée into sports broadcasting was via a local-access boxing show in New York. He has been color commentator for HBO Championship Boxing and Boxing After Dark. He also an analyst on ESPN's Friday Night Fights program.

There has been much speculation about Kellerman’s role on ESPN’s boxing coverage, since HBO announced last August that it was getting out of the boxing business after 45 years of covering the sport. ESPN, meanwhile, has expanded its portfolio in boxing and MMA, including a seven-year deal with Bob Arum's Top Rank Boxing. The deal — reached last August — replaced an existing deal that began in 2017. The new deal runs through 2025 and includes 54 live boxing events annually as well as shoulder programming, fights from Top Rank's library and studio content.

Kellerman will preside over the network’s top boxing matches from the broadcast desk position in the arena, rather than from ringside.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/ne...l-espn-1167766
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Technology Notes/Review (Gaming)
'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate': The most fun fighting game is a Switch must-have
By Eli Blumenthal, USA Today - Dec. 6, 2018

"Super Smash Bros. Ultimate," the latest version of Nintendo's popular cartoon fighting game series, is one of the most hotly anticipated games of the year. After playing the final version, out Friday, I can also say it is one of the best Switch games yet.

The latest in the long-running franchise, "Ultimate" brings together iconic characters from a wide variety of games including Nintendo's own Mario, Donkey Kong, Kirby, Zelda and Pikachu, as well as other well-known ones such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man and Snake from "Metal Gear Solid."

In total, there are 74 playable characters in the game, with five more available for purchase in 2019 as downloadable content. (Those who buy and register the game before January 31 get one of those characters, Piranha Plant, for free; they cost $5.99 each or $24.99 for a pass that gets you all five and new songs and stages, too.)

The game has two main gameplay experiences: "Smash," the popular head-to-head fighting mode where you can compete with friends or battle the computer, and "Spirits," a story-like game mode called "World of Light" where you need to battle to free characters from a mysterious "hand" deity that has captured them.

The "World of Light" mode isn't as exciting as older versions of "Smash," particularly the Wii's "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" and its Subspace Emissary story. Playing through you battle the various main characters, as well as a large number of side ones, called "spirits," that can act as "perks" after you've defeated them to assist you in future battles in the mode.

There is an additional "Spirit board" mode, which lets you unlock different "spirits" to boost your main characters in future fights in the "World of Light" game.

After several hours of playing time, I found the "World of Light" mode to be enjoyable but greatly lacking a clear, overarching narrative to hook players in.

Some battles will unlock the main fighter, others will unlock the "spirit." After unlocking the main character you'll be able to fight as the main character in this mode, equipping your fighter with the newly-won perks.

Characters unlocked here can then be used in the "Smash" mode, though fighters unlocked in the "Smash" mode do not carry over to "World of Light." To play with them in both locations you may need to unlock them twice.

The option is enjoyable for a single-player mode, and its large map should provide hours of entertainment and a good way to fine tune your skills. But as has always been the case with "Super Smash Bros.," the real fun is when you play against other players. This is where the "Smash" mode comes in.

With the ability to play head to head with as many as seven other players off of one Switch (assuming you have enough controllers), "Smash" is a perfect reminder that not all multiplayer games need to be online to be fun. Nor must they be massive "battle royales" like "Fortnite," "PUBG," "Call of Duty Black Ops 4" or "Red Dead Redemption 2."

It is worth pointing out that there is an online mode that allows you to play matches over the internet through Nintendo's Switch Online service, but these are four-player battles. There is no "battle royale" mode here. However, I was unable to test this as Nintendo did not make the online functionality available to reviewers in advance of the game's release.

"Smash" mode pits you against other players locally or against the computer. You start the game with the option to fight with any of the original eight "Smash Bros." characters: Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, Samus, Yoshi, Kirby and Fox. The more you play, the more new "challengers" appear. Battling and beating them will allow you to unlock the other 66 characters for use in future fights.

The cartoon graphics and the arenas, known as "stages," look great on both the Switch's built-in display and on a TV when the Switch is docked. Nintendo has brought more than 100 stages into "Ultimate," some new ones as well as a number of classic ones from prior "Smash Bros." games. Each stage has its own quirks, and a new "stage morph" feature lets you bring a second stage into a single battle, allowing fights to be fresh even after hours of gameplay.

The best part about this mode, however, is how easy it is to play with friends. Every Switch comes with two detachable Joy-Con controllers, which can be a single controller or removed from the main Switch console and shared with a friend to play together.

Playing with the Joy-Cons is fine, though due to its limited buttons you don't have the same capabilities and controls you would get by playing with both Joy-Cons as a single controller or when using Nintendo's optional Pro Controller or GameCube controller. But it does let two players play together right out of the box, one of the best attributes of the Switch.

As an increasing number of games go all in on the "battle royale" genre, Nintendo's latest "Smash" stays true to its roots, delivering not only one of the best Switch games yet but also one of the best video games of the year.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/...rs/2220366002/
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Media/Business Notes
Fandor Lays Off Entire 40-Person Staff Ahead of Pending Assets Sale
By Matt Lopez, TheWrap.com - Dec. 8, 2018

Fandor, the streaming service that specializes in independent films, has laid off its staff of about 40 people in advance of a pending sale of its assets, according to the company’s former PR team.

A select few staffers will be retained on an hourly basis to keep the company functioning in an attempt to avoid a total shut-down, the rep added.

Fandor CEO and chairman Chris Kelly announced that the company had “completed a transaction that allows a new entity to seek to continue the service under different management.” He provided no further details about the nature or terms of the deal, or the identity of the “new entity.”

“We continue to hope that the prospect of reaching diverse audiences with great visual storytelling will inspire creators everywhere,” Kelly added in a statement to Variety, which first reported the news.

The mass layoffs and apparent sale follow a series of unspecified setbacks that took place just before Thanksgiving.

Fandor had been trying several ways to expand its reach and drive revenue over the past few years, including inking a partnership with Roku. In September 2017, the SVOD service was one of the first companies to partner with streaming hardware manufacturer on the its ad-supported streaming service The Roku Channel.

Under the partnership, a portion of Fandor’s content streamed on the AVOD service, which Fandor received ad-share from. After the partnership — though not directly attributed to it — the company saw a rise in subscriptions, according to COO of Fandor Felice Oper who told TheWrap in October.

However, despite that increase, the company has fallen to the same fate as many in the digital video industry have suffered in 2018.

The layoffs come a month after Defy Media shut its doors, laying off an estimated 80 staff, and less than a week after Otter Media announced it was cutting 10 percent of its staff. The news also follows WarnerMedia’s closure of its classic movie streaming service FilmStruck, a shutdown that Fandor ironically tried to capitalize on by offering a discount to former FilmStruck subscribers.

Other video-centric companies that have been met with layoffs this year include WarnerMedia’s DramaFever, which shutdown in October; Refinery29, which lost 40 employees that same month; and Mic, a news-focused media outlet that laid off most of its staff towards the end of November.

https://www.thewrap.com/fandor-shuts...unknown-buyer/
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TV/Critic's Notes
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘Barry’ was a great comedy that turned out to be one of the year’s best dramas
By Hank Stuever, Washington Post

Forget the days when a lone TV critic could honestly claim to have watched everything in the past year. This list is more about taking a minute to salute the shows that rose above the streaming/cable/broadcast glut and impressed me with their stories, performances, structure and, most of all, left me with a sense of satisfaction.

1. “Barry” (HBO) Wickedly funny, deeply felt and unnervingly tense, Bill Hader and Alec Berg’s dramedy about a tormented hit man who accidentally winds up in acting school is a terrific example of how to push a viewer’s preconceptions: Funnyman Hader turns out to be a remarkably versatile protagonist, and Henry Winkler’s work in the series redefines the concept of a comeback. Sometimes a terrific “comedy” turns out to be one of the year’s best dramas.

2. “The Americans” (FX) There’s little left to say, except to salute creators Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, their writers and certainly their cast (especially Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Holly Taylor and Noah Emmerich) for a near perfect and emotionally draining send-off to this superb Cold War family drama, the final scenes of which left just enough room for viewers to supply their own epilogues. (My takeaway is that I’ll never listen to U2’s 1987 hit “With or Without You” quite the same.)

3. “Killing Eve” (BBC America) Sort of a sleeper hit at first, word quickly spread about Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s splendidly paced, six-part action thriller about a deskbound American (Sandra Oh) working in a London intelligence office who begins obsessively hunting for a wily and weird assassin (Jodie Comer) who leaves a trail of bodies across Europe. As it charges toward a confrontation, the series soars on Oh’s and Comer’s performances as two women thoroughly absorbed in a game of chase.

4. “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime) Brett Johnson and Michael Tolkin’s adaptation (with director Ben Stiller) of this story of two convicted murderers (Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano) who escaped a maximum-security prison in 2015 with the help of a besotted employee (Patricia Arquette) is striking for its unadorned quality. It’s a disciplined example of how a masterful true-crime miniseries can skip the need to play up a theme or suss out a larger meaning — which, if you still need one, is about human corruption. What if remorseless people are just bad and get exactly what’s coming to them?

5. “Kidding” (Showtime) Despite my initial worry that David Holstein’s dramedy about a troubled but beloved kids TV host (Jim Carrey as Jeff, a.k.a. “Mr. Pickles”) might bump too close to the sacred memory of Mister Rogers, “Kidding” stands entirely on its own. “Kidding’s” conception of Mr. Pickles’s imaginary world — with puppets and songs — shows top-notch creativity while Carrey gives his most memorable performance in years as a grieving father and estranged husband who begins to reexamine everything he thought he knew about love and feelings.

6. “Insecure” (HBO) My interest in what happens to the characters Issa Rae and company have created in this hilarious and sharply observed dramedy continues unabated — particularly with the show’s third season, in which Rae’s character leaped before she looked, quitting her job as a social worker, becoming a Lyft driver and testing the patience of friends. Beyond the comedy scenes, which are fantastic (that girls’ trip to Coachella alone is worth a re-watch), there’s covert reporting here about surviving the rapid, widening gentrification of Los Angeles.

7. “The Fourth Estate” (Showtime) With President Trump demonizing the media (and recently implying that it’s okay to kill a journalist under certain conditions), master documentarian Liz Garbus delivered this astounding and intimate look at the inner workings of the New York Times’s Washington bureau, where reporters and editors relentlessly pursue the administration’s constant chaos. I remain hopeful that “The Fourth Estate” will reach an audience beyond Beltway news junkies. All Americans need to see this example of the First Amendment in action.

8. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon) It’s on this list as much for its first, Emmy-winning season as its just-released (and so far equally marvelous) second season. This comic period drama about a hyperactive 1950s Manhattan housewife who finds her calling in the Village’s stand-up comedy scene is creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s grandest achievement yet — welcoming, yet bracingly obnoxious (yes, that’s a good thing), with a dazzling attention to timing and detail. “Mrs. Maisel” is scrumptious from start to finish — and appreciatively forthright about pursuing one’s dream in the face of sexism and other midcentury norms.

9. “Atlanta Robbin’ Season” (FX) Most of the talk around this long-awaited second season of Donald Glover’s dramedy — about a peripatetic man (Glover) who winds up managing the nascent rap career of his moody cousin (Brian Tyree Henry) — centered on the “Teddy Perkins” episode, a horror-tinged tale of a Michael Jacksonesque recluse (also played by Glover). But the season’s deeper story arcs, set against the unease of the holidays (a.k.a. “robbin’ season”), further cemented the show’s real worth as a study of the human condition.

In "Forever," June (Maya Rudolph) and Oscar (Fred Armisen) live a comfortable but predictable life, but they suddenly find themselves in unfamiliar territory. (Amazon Prime Video)

10. “Forever” (Amazon) People often say we’re living in an era of outrage, but I think we’re living more in a time of perpetual sadness. A delicate sense of grief (ennui, maybe?) runs through some of the year’s best TV shows, particularly in Alan Yang’s effectively quirky “Forever,” in which Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph play a married couple who discover the afterlife is just an extension of their bland (yet content) suburban routines. Some viewers complained that they expected more LOLs from a show starring two SNL alums, but in the end, we got something far better: a perfect meditation on the meaning of love and commitment.

Some notable additions, if this list could be longer: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu); “Lodge 49” (AMC); “ The Good Place” (NBC); “Star Trek: Discovery” (CBS All Access); “Homecoming” (Amazon); “You” (Lifetime); “This Is Us”(NBC); and “GLOW” (Netflix).

Disclosure: Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/enter...=.259c44601a25
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post #26782 of 36157 Old 12-09-2018, 08:30 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Review (Streaming)
‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Season 2: Midge Is A Star Without A Spotlight
By Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

Midway through the new season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the eponymous heroine, Fifties Jewish housewife-turned-comedian Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) tells her manager Susie (Alex Borstein) that she’ll be spending the summer with her family at a resort in the Catskills. Susie is aghast about losing two months’ worth of potential bookings, as well as whatever momentum Midge has built up in the fickle and female-unfriendly comedy world, but Midge seems utterly unconcerned. But when an opportunity presents itself for Midge to get back on the Revlon counter at her department store day job after a recent demotion, she all but sprints the 100 miles back to Manhattan. Susie, who has temporarily moved upstate to hunt for local gigs for Midge, is not pleased.

“I thought, ‘What’s a real **** move someone like Miriam Maisel could pull?'” she snarls, explaining how she figured out her only client had skipped town without even telling her.

That Midge is so much more invested in the makeup counter at B. Altman than in furthering her stand-up ambitions is a key part of her character arc in the Emmy-winning Amazon dramedy’s second season. (It debuted Wednesday; I’ve seen five of the 10 episodes; ★★★1/2 out of five) For a variety of reasons — including the bitterness of her estranged husband Joel (Michael Zegen) over her success at his dream job, as well as her fear of parents Abe (Tony Shalhoub) and Rose (Marin Hinkle) finding out about the filthy things she says on stage — Midge does not seem as hungry to make a name for herself as she was at the end of Season One.

And by the time of Susie’s angry phone call, it’s hard not to feel similarly exasperated by Midge’s reluctance to do the thing she’s best at — and at The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for repeating that flaw on a larger scale.

The first season found Midge stumbling ass-backwards into comedy after being abandoned by her cheating, joke-stealing, loser husband. She got on stage and told impromptu, profane stories about her own life and was instantly great at it. The greatest miracle of Brosnahan’s performance, coupled with the writing of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, is that Midge was utterly believable as a natural comic. (Lots of actors can carry a tune well enough to play singers; few can deliver a stand-up monologue with the skill and verve of the genuine article.) And her gift behind the microphone offered a way out of the trap Joel had laid by marrying her, having kids with her(*) and then stepping out on her. Here was not only a potential career but an entirely new way of thinking about herself. The show often played fast and loose with the inner workings of the profession — Midge learns that she has to craft a tight set rather than improvising every night, then winds up improvising most of the time anyway, presumably so Amazon subscribers won’t hear the same jokes again and again — yet she’s so radiant, so alive when she performs that we want success for her almost as much as she does. Mrs. Maisel the comedian is who Midge was always meant to be, even if it took a traumatic event for her to realize it.

(*) The show treats Midge’s young son Ethan and baby daughter Esther as glorified props for whom childcare is available round the clock, even if all the adult members of the family are out doing things at the same time. Most TV shows do this, but it feels particularly glaring in one about a newly-single mother who is trying an unconventional career to support the children she now has to raise on her own. And it’s even more distracting this season: In the first Catskills episode, the family is so excited to be back at the resort and catching up with old friends that they completely forget they’ve left Esther in the back seat of the car on a warm summer day for a long time — and it’s played as a joke!

Season One concluded with Midge performing a potentially career-launching set promoted by her famous friend Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby), leaving the impression that we’d come right back to see how she might capitalize on that showcase. There’s some of that here and there in the new episodes, like Midge suffering the double standard of being mocked by the male comics at a bigger club, then told that she shouldn’t do the same to them. And when that happens, or when it’s simply Brosnahan and Borstein swapping the trademark, rat-a-tat patter of Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino, Mrs. Maisel still purely sings. But the new season has a lot more on its mind both for Midge and for the ensemble as a whole, and it keeps getting distracted from the stand-up as much as she does.

Much of the first two episodes were filmed on location in Paris, for instance, where Rose flees, much to the surprise of Abe and Midge. You can tell that Sherman-Palladino had a lot of fun directing those scenes — much of them, like a lot of the series, done in long, fluid takes to give you a dizzying but concrete sense of place and time — but as a writer she never creates enough dramatic necessity for the continental shift. There’s one memorable scene where Midge finds herself onstage at a French drag club, doing her act while an American expat translates for her, but even that’s mostly coasting on the goodwill of Brosnahan’s performance. (After a minute or two of second-hand jokes, the crowd would almost certainly start hooting for the drag queens to dance again.) Once Midge is back in New York for the second episode, the Paris interludes with Abe and Rose feel even more self-indulgent, despite how simultaneously good and ridiculous Tony Shalhoub looks in a beret. (In another episode, he wears a romper. A great sport is Tony Shalhoub.)

Still, that’s the kind of favor a successful awards magnet of a show often calls in around this point in its lifespan, and the Paris scenes all look lovely. More worrisome is the way the Palladinos find the non-showbiz characters — Joel in particular — as interesting as Midge and Susie. On Gilmore Girls, they also tended to fall a little too in love with ancillary characters, and/or to become blind to the flaws of more major players, so it’s not shocking that Joel remains prominent despite being so dull on top of his betrayal of his wife and kids. But it’s still dismaying that the show devotes so much time to him, particularly in stories utterly disconnected from Midge(**). There’s a scene during the Catskills interlude where they wind up on the dance floor together that’s clearly meant to be romantic and emotionally fraught, but it’s not because he’s so useless. On Gilmore Girls, Sherman-Palladino had a similar weakness for having Lorelai fall back in with Rory’s father Christopher, despite their relationship being so toxic. But Christopher was at least charming; Joel isn’t, yet the scales never seem to quite fall off Midge’s eyes when she looks at him.

(**) Though this at least means a lot more time for Joel’s dad Moishe, played by Kevin Pollak. Pollak’s not only a natural with the dialogue, but is a Jewish actor on a show dripping with chicken soup and matzoh balls, even as many prominent roles are played by people (including Brosnahan, Shalhoub, and new recurring guest star Zachary Levi) who can pass for Jewish but aren’t.

Rose and Abe are more sympathetic figures, meanwhile, but there’s often a sense that family subplots are there to give Hinkle and national treasure Shalhoub things to do (and maybe get Shalhoub the Emmy he didn’t win this year), rather than adding compelling shading to Midge’s world. They have funny moments because the writing is sharp and Hinkle and Shalhoub know how to play it, but it’s not until near the end of the available screeners that either of them feels like a genuine part of the story. Midge’s rationale for keeping her comedy career a secret has always been left murky at best; the wackier and more fun-loving her parents act in the new episodes, the less sense it makes that they’d flip out if they learned the truth.

The new episodes do a better job at illustrating some of the unanticipated side effects of Midge’s stand-up in her life. She curses more often in casual conversation, to the shock of those around her, and she reflexively starts slinging dirty jokes in the most inappropriate of places, like a friend’s wedding at a Catholic church. (“I’ve completely forgotten where the ****ing line is,” she laments after.) So her reticence makes sense to some degree. It just minimizes the thing the show did and continues to do best. When Midge is enduring the scorn of the male comics at the new club, or when we get a montage of three different routines at three different clubs edited so that they start to feel like one big, weird monologue, Mrs. Maisel continues to feel like one of the most vibrant and vital shows around. There’s still a bounce to the scenes set outside comedy world, particularly in the visual flourishes deployed by both Palladinos when they direct: the world folding in on itself so that the tips of the Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower are pointing at each other, or a hula hoop competition shot from above like an old Busby Berkeley number. (There’s always been a musicality to Sherman-Palladino’s writing, but she and Daniel shoot Mrs. Maisel as if it actually is a Fifties musical, just with banter instead of song lyrics.) The Catskills scenes are a distraction from Midge’s career, but they’re also a surreal and loving tribute to a ubiquitous part of northeastern Jewish life from this era.

But just as Midge Maisel isn’t being her best self when she’s away from the stage, so is the show that’s named after her. She needs to get back behind the mic more regularly, and soon.

https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-r...review-761751/
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post #26783 of 36157 Old 12-09-2018, 08:37 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Review (Cable)
Season 2 of the Complex 'Counterpart' Arrives on Starz
By David Hinckley, TVWorthWatching.com's 'All Along the Watchtower' - Dec. 9, 2018

If you didn’t watch the first season of the Starz series Counterpart, don’t delude yourself that you could understand the second.

If you did watch the first season, a year ago or in a later binge, then you’ll be pleased with several of the turns in the new season, which launches Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

You also may be able to understand it, though it remains true that Counterpart isn’t a show you can watch while doing something else. Its dense storylines require concentration.

J.K. Simmons, the heart of the show and a solid one, returns as Howard Silk, a low-level bureaucrat who for 30 years was curious as to exactly what his bureaucracy was really doing.

He finally found out last year, in one of those classic “be careful what you wish for” revelations.

The Office of Interchange (OI), where Howard works, handles travel and commerce between the Alpha World, where Howard lives, and the Prime World, a parallel universe accidentally created in 1987 by East German scientists.

And here we thought East German scientists spent all their time creating a super race of swimmers.

Short summation: Everyone in the Alpha world has a duplicate in the Prime world. Also, the Prime World has a lot of anger. So while the two worlds communicate through the Office of Interchange, and people from one world sometimes travel to the other for business or other reasons, the Alpha World is constantly on guard against rogues and moles who mean Alpha people harm.

All this has long been above Howard’s pay grade. In the first season, he got ensnared while meeting Howard Prime, and he gradually became a player in a crisis that ultimately led to a shutdown of the border between the two worlds.

This stranded a number of people on the wrong side, and most of them weren’t supposed to admit they were on the wrong side. So there’s a lot of tension, compounded for Howard by some changes in the condition of his wife Emily (Olivia Williams), who had been in a coma after being struck by a car.

Also, an assassin from the Prime World, Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco) was trying to kill her. All of which would be hard enough if there weren’t also an Emily Prime.

As Season 2 opens, the Howards – did we mention they seem very different in personality? – are trying to sort things out.

Things are also getting tenser for Howard’s boss Peter Quayle (Harry Lloyd), who must deal with the fact that his apparent wife Clare (Nazanin Boniadi) is really from the Prime World and doesn’t always have honorable intentions.

Is all that clear? Of course it isn’t. That’s been the point of Counterpart from the beginning; that nothing can be taken on face value because everyone has secrets and neither the Alpha nor Prime World is a place where people feel safe sharing too much.

It’s a dark show with no clear endpoint. But Simmons invests us in Howard surviving its minefields, and the notion of a parallel world with different versions of ourselves lends itself to an infinite number of twists. Season 2 pits an ever-smarter Howard against an ever-more-dangerous universe.

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogP...x?postId=17437
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Technology/Washington Notes (Mobile)
FCC investigating whether carriers gave inaccurate information on rural coverage maps
By Colin Lecher, TheVerge.com - Dec. 7, 2018

The FCC said today that it will investigate whether “major carriers” provided inaccurate information on their coverage areas as the agency determined where to send funds for rural broadband.

The Mobility Fund II project is meant to allocate more than $4.5 billion to encourage building out mobile broadband service in rural areas. As part of the project, the FCC requested coverage maps from carriers, which it could then use to determine which areas needed support.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/7/1...-coverage-maps
So, the FCC's issue is not that customers may have been misled so much as they aren't sure how much money they need to give to carriers to build out their networks in rural areas?

Awesome.....

It's good to see the government continues looking out for us.

Perhaps, and I'm just spitballing here, they could maybe assess some fines that could be waved if the companies spend an equal amount of money to actually build out those networks with their own billions....you know, like that money they earned by showing those chock full coverage maps to people in their ads?
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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
‘Saturday Night Live’ Ratings Rise With Host Jason Momoa
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Dec. 9, 2018

NBC’s Saturday Night Live, with host Jason Momoa, musical guest Mumford & Sons and Robert de Niro returning as Robert Mueller, averaged a 4.3 Live+same day household rating in the metered markets and a 1.7 adults 18-49 rating in the markets with local people meters.

That was up from last week’s show, which was hosted by Claire Foy with musical guest Anderson .Paak (4.1, 1.5) to tie the episodes hosted by Jonah Hill and Steve Carell (both at 4.4, 1.7) for SNL’s second highest adults 18-49 delivery of the season behind the Sept. 29 season premiere (4.8, 2.3 with host Adam Driver and musical guest Kanye West).

Saturday Night Live was the #1 telecast of the night on the Big 4 networks in both metered-market households and 18-49 in the local people meters, topping all primetime shows on those nets in both categories.

https://deadline.com/2018/12/saturda...oa-1202516756/
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TV/Production Notes (International)
Netflix Orders First African Original Series 'Queen Sono'
By Rhonda Richford, The Hollywood Reporter - Dec. 9, 2018

Netflix is crowning a new queen, with its first original African series Queen Sono.

Quantico star Pearl Thusi will star in the South Africa-set spy dramedy set to go into production next year.

Thusi announced the show in a tweet Monday, saying: “It's going to change the game for every artist on this continent.” The news was first reported by South Africa's Independent.

“Thank you to Netflix for believing in this idea,” she continued. “I cannot wait for every young woman, every woman on this continent and actually this planet to meet Queen Sono. We have worked so hard on this and I cannot wait.”

The team behind the Johannesburg-set Catching Feelings, director Kagiso Lediga and executive producer Tamsin Andersson, will reunite for the new series through their Diprente production house. Thusi starred in the romantic drama last year.

“We love the team behind the show, [and] we're passionate about coming in and doing something that feels fresh and different,” said Netflix vp international originals for Europe and Africa Kelly Luegenbiehl. “Their point of view and creating a strong female character was really something that also really drew us to it.”

Netflix's vp international originals Erik Barmack compared the main character to House of Cards' Claire Underwood and Jessica Jones' titular character, two other Netflix series.

"We are delighted to create this original series with Netflix, and are super excited by their undeniable ability to take this homegrown South African story to a global audience. We believe Queen Sono will kick the door open for more awesome stories from this part of the world," said Lediga.

Queen Sono is the first of several series Netflix plans as it expands in Africa. Added Barmack: "Over time our roots will get deeper in Africa and South Africa, and we're moving pretty quickly to that now, and plan to invest more in local content.”

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/ne...n-sono-1167858
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TV Notes (Cable)
Jodie Whittaker will definitely return for next season of Doctor Who
By Clark Collis, EW.com - Dec. 9, 2018

The BBC has announced that Jodie Whittaker will continue to play the titular Time Lord in the next season of Doctor Who. The corporation also confirmed that Whittaker’s costars — Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole — will also be coming back for the next run of shows. Season 11 will premiere on BBC America in early 2020.

“We’re off again!” said Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall in a statement. “Well we never actually stopped — as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and friends have been winning the hearts of families, we’ve been busy with a whole new set of action packed adventures for the Thirteenth Doctor. We adore making this show and have been blown away by the response from audiences, so we can’t wait to bring more scares, more monsters and more Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole. Brilliant!”

Watch the trailer for Sunday night’s finale of the current season of Doctor Who, below. [CLICK LINK]

https://ew.com/tv/2018/12/09/jodie-w...-doctor-who-2/
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TV/Critic's Notes (Cable)
‘Deal or No Deal’ Gets a Revival, but Should Its Bevy of 26 Models?
By Lara Zarum, The New York Times - Dec. 9, 2018

Game shows are as old as television, and for as long as they have existed, producers have decorated their sets with beautiful women who don’t say much but just might make your dreams come true.

Perhaps nowhere has that format proved more tenacious than on CNBC’s “Deal or No Deal,” which returned for a new season Wednesday after a nearly 10-year hiatus, and features 26 female models in matching high heels and short, skintight dresses. It’s a formula that helped make “Deal” a prime-time hit when it debuted on NBC in 2005.

That was 13 years ago. But in 2018, as the culture continues to grapple with the way women have been disregarded and sometimes abused by Hollywood and its machers, “Deal” and shows like it raise an awkward question: Is this a convention whose time is up?

Series like “Deal” encapsulate the paradox of the modern game-show modeling gig: On one hand, it offers a stiletto-heeled foot in the door for many young women who aspire to careers in entertainment — Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen, among others, got their starts on “Deal or No Deal.”

Vanna White, who has been turning letters on “Wheel of Fortune” since 1983, has shaped that gig into a long, multifaceted career. “I’ve turned what I’ve been a part of for 36 years into other things, and I don’t feel any lower than Pat Sajak,” she said, referring to her male co-host. “I feel equal to him.”

On the other hand, it is unclear whether those advantages are worth the broader message it may communicate in the wake of #MeToo .

“I do feel it’s a bit tone deaf,” said Nicole Martins, a professor at Indiana University Bloomington who focuses on media and body image. “These women are used as eye candy, and it reinforces the idea that these women should be appreciated for how they look.”

Things have changed since the days of “Barker’s Beauties” on “The Price Is Right,” named for the show’s older male host, Bob Barker. Yet, despite profound changes in television, hot girls in heels holding and gesturing to objects have remained a staple of contest programming.

The earliest game shows, like the popular 1950s program “Queen for a Day,” featured models posing in fur coats and gowns and holding prizes next to wide grins. Carol Merrill, the model on the original run of “Let’s Make a Deal,” from 1963 to 1977, said she grew up watching shows like “Queen for a Day.”

“I’d see the gals and they’d be holding the products close to their faces and smiling into the camera,” she said, “and I really never knew their names.”

That began to change while Merrill was on “Let’s Make a Deal.” That show’s host, Monty Hall, said her full name each time he called on her, making her the first game-show model to become a household name. Although Merrill didn’t wear a microphone, hearing her name over and over piqued the audience’s curiosity.

“We got letters saying, ‘Can she talk, even?’” Merrill said. In response, the writers planned a kind of gag for the show’s 2,500th episode: Hall asked Merrill a couple of questions, and Merrill finally spoke. And spoke.

“I talked and I talked, like I am now,” she said, “and they went away to a commercial and they came back and I was still talking.”

For as long as game shows have existed, so has the tendency of many to reinforce gender stereotypes. Early entries like “Queen for a Day,” “Supermarket Sweep,” and “Missus Goes-a-Shopping” confined female contestants to the role of homemaker, competing to win a cart full of groceries or a new baby crib. Invariably these shows were — and for the most part, still are — hosted by authoritative men in suits.

Elana Levine, a professor of media studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who has studied the sexualized role of women in American television, sees the persistence of the game-show model is a bow to nostalgia. As these programs reboot for new generations, the models are a comfortingly consistent feature.

“But game shows are about winning money or commercial goods, and the figure of the spokesmodel is very much part of that,” Levine added. “She’s kind of on display as another product.”

On “Deal or No Deal,” that display is ostentatious. At the top of each show, its host, Howie Mandel, greets the throng of models: “Hello, ladies!” The women reply in singsong unison: “Hi, Howie.” Each “briefcase girl” holds a case containing a dollar amount between $1 and $1 million, which she reveals at the contestant’s request.

The models themselves often have a more positive perspective, and their role is generally more evolved than it once was. In the revived version of “Deal or No Deal,” they interact more with the contestants than in the previous version, and when they speak, their full names and Twitter handles appear onscreen.

Mahogany Lox, a model on the revival, said the producers encouraged the women to be themselves. A singer and a D.J. (her grandfather is the Motown founder, Berry Gordy), she released a single last month titled “No Deal.”

“They want your personality to shine and for you to connect with the people,” she said.

Game-show fixtures like Merrill and White helped popularize the idea that a TV model could be more than just a pretty face. Officially, White is Sajak’s co-host on “Wheel of Fortune.” But she faced derision early on for the perceived simplicity of her job.

“I was put down quite a bit for that in the beginning,” she said.

That role has been a mostly silent one. (When White published a memoir in 1987, she called it “Vanna Speaks!”) But White has used the visibility to her advantage, building her status as a public personality and pop-culture icon. That has included lucrative spokeswoman gigs for companies like Spring Air mattresses and Lion Brand yarn, which designed White — an avid knitter — her own line.

Historically, the game-show-model format has exposed glaring inequalities, both onscreen and off. Kathleen Bradley, who in 2014 published a memoir about her experiences on “The Price is Right,” became the first long-term African-American game-show model when she was cast — in 1990.

But despite her 10-year presence on the show, she and her fellow models were never offered proper contracts, working week-to-week. “Price” and Barker were accused of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination in multiple lawsuits in the 1990s. (Barker has denied the accusations.)

The former “Price” model Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith said there was a sea change in the dynamic between host and model when Drew Carey replaced Barker in 2007. She recalled being present during an interview when Carey was asked what he wanted the models to be called, now that they were no longer “Barker’s Beauties.”

“And he said, ‘They’re not mine,’” Osborne-Smith said. “‘They’re their own people, and you can call them by their names.’” The models felt freer to be themselves during interviews after that, she said.

By 2010, the models of “Price” were wearing microphones on set — with Carey, they became more like a sitcom ensemble, bantering with the host and the contestants. In 2012, the show hired its first male model, and it now has two regular male models, James O’Halloran and the former N.F.L. player Devin Goda.

Bradley said she welcomed the changes. “They have incorporated the models much more into the show, which is great,” she said. “I like how they have them speak.”

Mike Richards, the executive producer of “Price is Right,” said his biggest challenge was to balance respecting the tradition of a long-running series with making a show that felt current.

“I’ve been on the show 10 years now,” Richards said, “and everything we’ve done is threading that needle, whether it’s changing the set, the lighting, the prizes, new games, redoing old games, how the models and the announcer are used. We the producers don’t take any of it for granted.”

Levine, the Wisconsin media professor, argued that the tradition’s value was not self-evident.

“This is the way game shows have been for a long time,” she said. “That doesn’t mean it’s not still really sexist, and really troubling that this is the way for a young woman to establish herself.”

https://deadline.com/2018/12/saturda...oa-1202516756/
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TV Review (Cable)
Examining TARP with 'A Vice Special Report: Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis'
By David Hinckley, TVWorthWatching.com - Dec. 10, 2018

Anyone who laments the lack of bipartisanship in contemporary America can sigh with wistful nostalgia over a new Vice documentary (in collaboration with HBO) on the trillion-dollar 2008 government bailout fondly known as TARP.

As director John Maggio points out in A Vice Special Report: Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis, airing Monday at 10 p.m. ET on HBO, no one on either side of the political aisle liked the idea of the government bailing out large failed or failing financial and corporate institutions.

The left saw it as giveaways to Wall Street and the rich at a time when their failures had crippled millions of ordinary citizens.

The right saw it as a betrayal of capitalism and the free market.

Both sides saw it as rewarding the behavior, and as it all unfolded in the middle of a presidential election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, it must have seemed like a natural for both candidates to run against it.

They didn’t because the only consensus stronger than the opposition to the bailout was the reluctant agreement that if it weren’t enacted, many of those large banks and financial institutions might go under. If that happened, millions more ordinary people would find their money and their jobs gone, and the country would face the real possibility of another Great Depression.

So the plan, hatched in its first form under President George W. Bush, was fully implemented by Obama after he won the November 2008 election.

Panic takes extensive note of the opposition to the bailout. It argues persuasively that anger over the bailout fueled the formation of the Tea Party and much of the populist fervor that picked up the same angry banner.

It tacitly nods approval to those who say the bailout set in motion the forces that propelled Donald Trump into the White House.

And, in the end, it suggests the bailout was essential to preserve the economic health of the United States, and, by extension, much of the world.

It makes that case largely through the three men who formulated the original plan – Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and New York Federal Reserve chief Timothy Geithner. They recount, step-by-step, how they came up with the plan and why, then the long, arduous uphill battle of forcing a reluctant Congress and country swallow it.

All three stress they thought it was a bad move. It was just better than any other move and much better than no move at all. The collapse of banks and mortgage institutions, for instance, could have thrown millions of people out of their homes – on top of the hundreds of thousands to whom that had already happened.

Propping up the institutions, they argue, was the only way to keep those commitments intact and maintain confidence in an economy that was teetering on the brink of implosion.

George W. Bush, who like Obama and others is interviewed here, says he hated the idea and still does. But, he says, he too was persuaded there was no way around it. So he helped twist Republican arms, and ultimately enough joined with a majority of Democrats to push the TARP bailout through.

Geithner acknowledges, like his colleagues, that the bailout never won public approval. Ironically, he and Paulsen both note, it turned out to be a financial win for taxpayers, who ultimately made billions more than they spent as the bailed-out institutions recovered.

Panic provides a fascinating if at times familiar retrospective on the political process here. It examines how legislators of very different ideological persuasions were convinced to support something they didn’t believe in that could also have hurt them politically.

As for the three initial architects of the plan, they stand by their actions today even as they acknowledge not everyone sees those actions as profiles in courage.

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogP...x?postId=17445
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TV/Critic's Notes
My Favorite TV Shows of 2018
By Troy Patterson, New Yorker

This list lists toward bleak comedy, which may suggest an alignment of current personal tastes, prevailing national mood, and a televisual trend of mining tragedy for farce. A lot of the comedies have body counts, and all of them are antic expressions of dire absurdity.

If I’d been inclined to lighten the mood, I might have included “Desus & Mero” (a late-night talk show that refreshed the form), or “Nailed It!” (a Netflix baking competition that, unbeatable as family-friendly wallpaper, has made grade-schoolers conversant in the niceties of fondant), or the YouTube stream of Beyoncé’s performance at the Coachella Music Festival (which offered out-of-homebody transcendence in the brass and flash of its spectacle). If you are inclined to object that my list is itself a farce, you will likely still concede that the most worthy alternative shows are also tales of murder, meltdown, and existential despair. It’s been a big year for nihilism you can believe in.

“The Americans” (FX)
Closing its six-season run with typical elegance, the spy series offered a conclusion at once unexpected and inevitable. The Jennings family, led by undercover K.G.B. agents, was sundered, their mission complete only in its futility, their story vibrant even its melancholy. The creators Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields spun a Cold War spy tale into a tapestry about love, trust, and duty. The personal was geopolitical.

“Atlanta Robbin’ Season” (FX)
The second season of Donald Glover’s Peach State dreamscape gathered its disparate episodes around the theme of scams and schemes. Glover plays Earn, whose work managing his cousin’s hip-hop career means suffering various thefts of money and dignity. (He also plays the title character in “Teddy Perkins,” an instant-classic episode of uncanny horror.) An unclassifiable treasury of hustles and shakedowns, the eleven episodes are a vision of making it in show biz and making it out of the rat trap of race in America.

“Barry” (HBO)
A despondent hit man (Bill Hader), hoping to reclaim his humanity, embraces life as an apprentice actor. This is surely the wrong lifeboat to cling to—he’s entered a world of egotists who would murder their mothers for the sake of two lines on a show ten per cent as engrossing as this one. Created by Hader and Alec Berg, “Barry” is a hilarious study of the performance of everyday life and a fresh comedy about the impact of death. With Anthony Carrigan as a mobster whose manners are as fussy as his rage is pure.

“Corporate” (Comedy Central)
The typical workplace sitcom treats life in the cubicles as an analog of the domestic sphere. This one (created by Pat Bishop, Matt Ingebretson, and Jake Weisman) bleakly tweaks that tradition. “My co-workers are my family,” one of two junior executives running the hamster wheel at a soulless behemoth says. “I know that because they constantly mistreat me and I desperately need their approval.” Illuminating white-collar wage slavery with the ruthlessness of fluorescent tubes, the sitcom is a satire of life under capitalism that captures its texture: that of factory-farmed gruel.

“The End of the F***ing World” (Netflix) and “Heathers” (Paramount Network)
A pair of highly stylized, deeply mordant coming-of-age tales about adolescent male psychopaths and the sullen girls who enable them. The former, adapted from a graphic novel by Charles S. Forsman, brings the lightest touch possible to the madcap misanthropy of young lovers on the run in an eerily anachronistic England. The latter, thoroughly reworking a teen-angst comedy classic, is set in an up-to-minute United States, which helps explain why its network muted its début and neutered its school-massacre climax. It is serious about violence, in comic fashion.

“Homecoming” (Amazon)
In which the style of a vintage conspiracy thriller conveys the substance of contemporary anxiety about power. Julia Roberts plays a therapist who is contacted by the government to rehabilitate veterans, and then comes to learn that she is a cog in the war machine. In fact, she learns it twice, as the dual timelines of the gorgeously efficient plot converge on the restoration of erased memories. Adapting a podcast by the show’s creators, Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, the director Sam Esmail slices the story into a bracing consideration of trauma and stress—both formally inventive and casually haunting.

“Killing Eve” (BBC America)
It’s a cat-and-mouse tale as imagined by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who, unpacking the genre of the international thriller, discovers an unforeseen range of precious goods. In this tale of a glamorous assassin (Jodie Comer) and a formerly desk-bound sleuth (Sandra Oh), no small part of the suspense derives from the possibility that it will dip suddenly into spiky comedy or tender emotion.

“Random Acts of Flyness” (HBO)
Each episode flows and skids among surrealistic short films, satirical sketches, animated fantasias, blurts of essayistic journalism, and blips of documentary, such that the season amounts to a confrontational art installation about blackness and negritude. The show’s creator, Terence Nance, interlaces the pieces within and across episodes, so that ideas bubble up and themes ooze into view with a jubilance of expression, even as he explores fear and grief.

“Succession” (HBO)
On account of the bite of the dialogue and the cleverness of its plot-work, this drama would have made for an acid portrait of dynastic conniving had it merely concerned a family-run hardware store in Dayton. With the fate of a multibillion-dollar media empire as its subject, the stakes are raised and the manners deranged, and its pitiless satire of a powerful family—a pack of wonderfully awful people invented by Jesse Armstrong—blossoms as a dark farce of American capitalism.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/20...-shows-of-2018
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