Friday, November 19, 2010

My Nanoblogging Is Your Microblogging - Episode 1

Honestly, this sort of post is why I would be better off with a Tumblr account, but hey, here we go. Besides, I just finished a 15-page research paper on the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 and I need a good way to celebrate.

1. Oh God, the Doghouse Just Fell Off the Front of the Lorry
As I'm typing this paragraph, I'm losing my "Top Gear" virginity. I've heard enough stories about some of the ridiculous things they've done on this show, and I've been itching to watch this show for some time now. Thanks to the magic of Netflix on a video game console, I'm now on my third episode and loving it. (Season twelve, if you're curious.) I love the fact that I (as well as many other friends of mine) am/are not HOLY CRAP NOW THAT OTHER LORRY IS ON FIRE (ahem) Sorry about that. I love the fact that many of my friends and I are not car fans, but this show definitely has enough humor to appeal to a wide audience. I'm hoping to keep watching more of this, because it's quite good. I understand that there's an American version debuting on the History Channel on Sunday... Honestly, I'm a bit scared. I don't know if we can really match the unique British-style humor and general enjoyability I'm seeing here.

2. Poker? I 'Ardly Know 'Er
I preordered Poker Night at the Inventory back on September 3 (or so my tweeting indicates). It was an impulse buy, half because because I was in the mood for something poker-y at the time, half because it had a bunch of characters I recognized in it and the concept seemed ridiculous enough to work. It's now mid-November, and the game is still slated to debut Mid-November. Having now seen the preview video, my thoughts are faltering a little bit. If, from what I gather from the video, the game boils down to playing poker with four characters from random games, there had better be a ton of witty banter to go along with it, or else the game is going to go stale pretty quickly. I'm still hoping for the best, but I'm starting to feel leary about my (under $5) decision, and the fact that no actual release date has been finalized yet worries me a smidge.

Another impulse buy, I bought BIT.TRIP BEAT. Verdict: Not worth the price. If you're not familiar with the game, just think of a one-player Pong in which everything you hit is timed to coordinate with the music. This should be a good concept, but something kinda falls flat in the final package. One thing I really like about the game is that each level takes (totally guessing here) 10-15 minutes to complete, so it's really an endurance challenge. Unfortunately, each long level builds up to a rather underwhelming boss battle at the end. The first boss is the only slightly novel boss (level two is just Breakout, level three is Pong against the AI that's heavily stacked against you). And after three bosses, that's it. The entire game is three levels long. It's sadly not worth the $9 I paid for it. That said, it still is a decent game (except for the bosses), the music is pretty good, and the endurance factor makes the game oddly replayable, so I'd still recommend the game to a friend, but only after the price drops to at least $5, if not $3.

4. One Day, I Will Regret Everything I've Written on the Internet
I've been thinking a lot about the future of this blog. While I would like to continue using it as a place for musings about games, television, and other media-based oddities, it's getting to that point in time (namely, near the end of my college career) when I need to start thinking "professionally". I don't think the quality or nature of my posts would change, but I think I need to spruce things up and make this place more presentable. The Uniqlock? That's gotta go. The Onion Ring Tally? That's staying. The somewhat overused Blogger template with some minor color tweaks? That's something that's really got to be changed. In fact, it'd probably be for the better to get out of the * domain just for the sake of additional "professionalism" and buy an actual domain name for myself (although choosing a professional-sounding name is going to be hard, considering that I'm already battling against other famous people). In any case, I'm thinking I've got to fix things up for the sake of "professionalism", as much as it hurts. I'm thinking of throwing up some sort of portfolio for projects and writings I've done, plus keeping the blog (and archives) alive. So my main question is, does anyone have any suggestions for how to get started on the breaking-free-from-Blogger-and-starting-to-look-professional process?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No Ordinary Blog Post... wow, that was unclever

For a class, I was assigned to follow one of the television shows that debuted this fall. I was lucky enough to have been able to grab ABC's "No Ordinary Family," which airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST. I say that I'm lucky because it is just as interesting and intriguing as I had hoped, and it was also one of the few shows that didn't look terrible. (I feel kinda bad for the kid that got stuck with "Lone Star"...)

"No Ordinary Family" follows the lives of the Powells, a slightly dysfunctional family that becomes slightly less (or more?) dysfunctional after a family vacation to Brazil results in a plane crash into a mysterious lake. As a result of something in the water, the family develops superhuman powers, such as father Jim's (Michael Chiklis) super strength and ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound (though NOT fly), mother Stephanie's (Julie Benz) 600mph running speed (and a side effect of a ridiculous metabolism), daughter Daphne's (Kay Panabaker) who can read minds, and son JJ's (Jimmy Bennett) genius mind.

On the whole, the show is fun to watch, and the running plotlines (such as Jim and Stephanie's constant arguing over when it's "right" to use their powers and JJ's initial reluctance to tell his parents about his powers) make for some interesting drama. I won't say the writing is entirely perfect, though. There are moments where the dialogue and action feels sorta... oh, what's the word... hokey. For instance, there are times (which seem to pop up at random) where you can't help but feel like everyone around the Powells are completely thick and miss the obvious signs that something just plain ain't right with this family. I'm saying this while well aware that we, the audience, have the omnipresent eye and know everything that's going on, but it still feels like someone somewhere should have picked up on something.

While not entirely proving my point, I would like to reference a scene from this week's show. In this episode, Stephanie's prying parents stop by for a surprise visit, and the family try to keep them entertained (and to keep their secret safe). Steph's father (Bruce McGill), still under the impression that JJ's thick, schools his grandson for a few games before the following scene occurs. (Note: Video will likely expire about a month from when this post is written.)

Well then, how many things did we spot wrong with that scene? Trust me, you've got to see the amazing stuntwork that takes place later in the episode, it's equally sad. Not all of the show is this terrible, but there are those moments of hokeyness that just drive you up a wall.

In any case, the main point of the class assignment was to follow the show, and pay attention to the ratings. To be honest, "No Ordinary Family" is against stiff veteran competition, including apparent old-person favorite "NCIS," younger-skewing powerhouse "Glee," and... well, "The Biggest Loser" returned for another season. Let's give them a hand. Right then, the ratings (as of this Sunday, when I first scrawled out this chart):

Wa-hey, a pretty consistent third place! For being the rookie for the time slot, I'd say that "No Ordinary Family" is holding its own fairly well (though I'm not a network exec, so I could be way off). There's something about those Tuesday 8pm numbers that scare me a bit though. While "NCIS" consistently holds rating well over its nearest competitor on most nights, "Glee" wins over the 18-49 demographic on nights with new episodes. "Dancing with the Stars," normally a powerhouse for the older demographic, creamed "NCIS" with last week's early results show. These two factors lead me to believe that while "Glee" gets the younger crowd (and subsequently, the advertising), "NCIS" gets the points from the Neilsen Nursing Homes across America.

So where does that leave "No Ordinary Family?" Limbo, I guess. It's holding its ground, but it's not really excelling. Seeing that it hasn't gotten the "Lone Star" treatment yet, I still think there's great potential for the show. Most of the casual remarks I've heard/read about the show say that it's "interesting." I hope ABC continues to back this show, because they really do have a unique show on their hands. I've somewhat fallen in love with the plot, despite its flaws, so I hope this show catches on, possibly in a different time slot where it has more exposure. Oh, and some more consistent writing would be lovely.