Digital Television

This one’s for my non-technical readers.

You may not be aware of this but television in the United States is going to be changing in a big way in the next few years: if you rely on over-the-air transmissions (rabbit ears) to receive television signals your television is going to stop working on or before February 17, 2009. The FCC is requiring that all full-power stations move to digital transmission by next year which means that unless your television is equipped to decode and process digital signals you may begin to experience the “blackout” before the 2009 deadline.

But, there’s no need to panic.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm (on DVD)

Some people find it incomprehensible that I have survived all these years without cable television and up until recently I took great pride in my ability to resist that expensively juicy electronic teat but September of two thousand and five is when I arrived late to the party for the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (CYE) starring “Seinfeld” Co-Creator Larry David. In the past two weeks I’ve been mainlining all four seasons on DVD and kicking myself for missing out on the glorious fun of a guy who thinks that the character of George Costanza is normal because it would’ve have been fun to talk about the show with people when it was still fresh. Even worse, it turns out that I’ve worked on TWO films with one of Larry’s co-stars, Jeff Garlin, once in the early 90’s and once in the late 90’s after CYE had aired. If you’re a rabbit ears person like me and if you enjoyed the Seinfeld show then drop by your local Blockbusters and pick up the first season of this show. You’ll love it or you’ll hate it. Me? I can’t stop watching.

Turner Developing American Dr. Who Series?

TARDIS hovering over Turner Studios
If rumors of TBS/Turner developing a new television series based on the legendary BBC series “Dr. Who” are true then these may be the first spy photos to reveal the look of the new Americanized T.A.R.D.I.S. (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) vehicle (which is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, unlike a portable toilet – especially in the summertime) used by the titular character. In the original series the main character, an extraterrestrial being from a race called the “Time Lords”, travels through time and space in a 1950’s/1960’s style telephone booth reserved for official police matters. While the character (known simply as “The Doctor”) is not a law enforcement agent, he does manage to foil countless evil schemes and alien invasions. The original series ran for 30 years straight in the UK before taking a ten year sabbatical, returning to the BBC for the 2004-2005 television season. But what would make TBS think that it could succeed with the character when its avowed enemy FOX couldn’t make the show fly back in 1996?
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NewsRadio Finally On DVD

Gaziza! After a year-long delay, seasons 1 and 2 of one of the funniest, best-written, best-performed American sitcoms of the 1990’s is finally available for purchase: NBC’s “NewsRadio”. I’ll spare you the twenty page thesis that I could write on why this series was so brilliant and simply state that this is one of those rare television series layered with so many gags that you’ll discover new things with subsequent viewings of each episode. Log off the internet, get off the couch, walk out of the house and drive down to your local DVD store and hand them US$30 (plus sales tax if applicable) this very instant, it’s that good. Lovingly enhanced by the show’s producer, staff and cast, this 3 DVD set abounds with extras, notably the great audio commentaries available for every episode. Starring Dave Foley, Phil Hartman, Stephen Root, Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis, Joe Rogan, Khandi Alexander and Jon Lovitz. Why are you still sitting here? Go!! Hurry before they run out.

Spectre, Shatner and Shorts

Shatner Industrial Film
This weekend I attended a tiny science fiction convention called ‘Sci Fi Summer Con’ for the second year in a row. In my opinion the very best thing this fledgling convention has going for it is the ‘Board Room’ where a gentleman (whose name I have yet to learn) runs a 16mm projector for most of the day, showing old television shows, old movie trailers and ancient industrial films featuring celebrities from the world of science fiction.
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Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

A few months back, awash in nostalgia, I scooped up the five-disc DVD set of the old NBC series ‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’. Starring Gil Gerard as the famed 20th Century test pilot thrown 500 years into the future, the series aired between 1979 and 1981 and featured state-of-the-art visual effects on par with those seen in the hit movie ‘Star Wars’. At least, that’s the way that I remembered it…
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Amazing Race 7 Finale

It was with a glad heart that I watched the husband and wife team of Uchenna and Joyce be the first team to step onto the mat at the final pitstop in the finale of the seventh season of CBS’ award-winning series ‘The Amazing Race’. I’ve been an enormous fan of the show since the second episode of Season One and (sadly) have the stacks of VHS tapes and DVDs to prove it. While not the best season yet, this one certainly had character; namely Survivor celeb ‘Boston’ Rob and his millionaire girlfriend Amber, whose celebrity seems universal. I secretly cheered for Rob and Amber every time they displayed their unique brand of cocky ruthlessness but by the time it was down to three teams I’d decided that the Survivors had already won once and I couldn’t seem to get behind Gomer and the Bitchy Beauty Queen. Uchenna and Joyce were one of the Good Guys on the field of play and after watching Joyce allow her head to be shaved bare back in India it was never a question that I’d cheer for them. It’s nice to know that the good guys can still win.