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Sunday, February 28, 2010

What has James Cameron ever given the world other than showing us Kate Winslet's breasts?

And honestly, that's far from her best role, so suck on that Cameron.

I know what you're all assuming I've been dead because I haven't updated since December 4th... that's like a crazy long time, easily my longest absence since I've started my Blurty, originally. Ahh, Blurty, how useless you became once better services became available. No offense to anyone reading this on Blurty...

So I have a lot to write about, naturally, given the three month absence and honestly, the only reason you're getting me is because I have a decent sized paper to write tonight that was due last week. Man, I'm really uninspired in that class, hurts my grades. Have to work on that, motivate myself to bust out some good writing tonight yet, so I'm going to get myself warmed up with this. I have to write about the changes in ethics regarding what is property in terms of the Internet and the new age of knowledge, etc... Should be a good read once I actually get around to writing it...yeah, that's it.

I'll start with work - work is great, for the time being. I was put on the automated scripting team which means I'm doing legitimate programming. I'm doing a lot of other things still with reporting services, which is good for my resume and I like that too. The bad news is that I'm basically on a 'stop when we don't need you any more' contract and because the project launches on the 8th (essentially a week), I don't know how much longer I'll even have a job. Oh well, all I can do is keep plugging away and hope for the best, I'm sure given that I actually have some experience now, I should be in good position to get another job. I'm doing some freelance stuff as well, so hopefully that stuff has the ability to pan out. Maybe.

Moving to school, school is school. I like the programming stuff, the rest I could do without. Ain't that the way it always go. I have finals this week (minus Monday's class, that is next week because I had President's Day off for some reason, but it buys me a week to write that paper). I think I get a week off there and then I have some more classes, should be a good time, although nothing on the docket that really excites me in terms of a pure programming class.

Christmas was good, Tori and I went a little overboard because we had a good year, for the most part, and felt we needed to do something good for ourselves and families. I got Tori a laptop, which she loves. I need a new laptop myself, I have no hard drive space and hardly enough memory to run my programming software, particularly if I need to multitask. I have a computer built from Dell, just a matter of affording it ($1100, give or take). I'm excited about it, but not likely to be able to afford it for a few months, at the latest, Christmas this year. So leading up to Christmas last year, I complained to Tori that I always ask everyone I know for CDs for Christmas and never get any, so she got me CDs...not only did she get me CDs, she got me 10 of them as a matter of fact. She also got me a Snuggie (laugh all you want, that thing is crazy comfy, Cuppie has gotten to it, so I'll need a new one soon), Super Mario Bros. Wii (awesome fun), and a hard drive for the 360. I'll talk about the 360 later, remind me.

So anyways, the 10 CDs I got were...
  • The Black Keys - Attack & Release
  • Coldplay - Viva La Viva
  • Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros - Up From Below
  • Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
  • Muse - The Resistance
  • My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade
  • Orenda Fink - Ask the Night
  • Park Ave. - When Jamie Went to London... We Broke Up
  • The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
I also got a pair of Tim McGraw albums for my brother from another mother (but same father), Jamie. I'll talk about each one shortly. Overall - getting a bunch of CDs for Christmas...awesome. Especially that many, lots of good listens. By the way, there would be a very easy solution to my hard drive space issue, namely removing all of music but it actually angers me a little bit that I can't have all of my music with me. I'll figure out a solution at some point. I'm currently down to about 7gb free, so I'm not in dire straights yet, but something that worries me in the long run.

So anyways, the albums...I'll keep this brief, since I have a bunch more to write about.

The Black Keys - Attack & Release, this is sadly my first Black Keys album but I know it won't be my last. They have a lot of the root elements found in the early White Stripes, rooted in blues guitar rock, but it's good. Very good indeed. Suggested tracks - "Same Old Thing", "Psychotic Girl", "So He Won't Break"

Coldplay - Viva La Viva, the good news is that this is probably the best pure Coldplay album. There is enough trying new things to keep it interesting (something X&Y sorely lacked), but has that same catchable rock attitude that made A Rush of Blood to the Head such a success. Coldplay is an interesting band because they are essentially generic, but they are very good at that and it is no different here. Suggested tracks - "Viva La Viva", "Cemeteries of London", "Life in Technicolor"

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros - Up From Below, so I first heard of Edward Sharpe from last year's NPR review of SXSW and then again when they did a tiny desk concert for NPR ( I liked what I heard, but wasn't convinced, until I heard "Home" used in an episode of Community (talk about that later as well in a general TV review), it was then that I got it. Odd how that happens, catching a song out of its normal context and 'getting it' as it were. The particularly odd thing about Edward Sharpe is that the lead singer's former project, IMA Robot, sounded like this - Raises some questions about musical identity, in my mind, but hey - that's his battle, right. Either way, it is a solid album...there are some where the whole freak folk thing doesn't work for me, just not interesting, but most of the songs are engaging and encompassing, though I'm guessing they are 100 times better live than on album, just the nature of that particular beast, I suppose. Suggested tracks - "Home", "Janglin" "Om Nashi Me" Honestly, the band seems a bit volatile, similar to the first Libertines record although obviously a completely different style, so if I can, I'll try to catch them in concert as I suspect this star will burn out quickly.

Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue, first and foremost, note to Jenny Lewis...of your musical boyfriends, Jonathan Rice is by far the least talented (I only know of two and Blake wins hands down), so lets try to minimize his involvement in writing in the future. There is currently word they are working on an album together, which I'll get because Jenny Lewis gets that kind of respect from me, but I'll be weary to say the least. It is very interesting to see how Rilo Kiley alum (they haven't officially broken up, but they are pretty much on permanent hiatus as they are 5 solo albums in from their core four members). What's interesting is the sound that the band has adapted in recent albums (more and more pop oriented) and the sound the solo albums have taken (basically, somewhere between country folk and country rock). If you combine the solo albums with the band's latter albums, you basically get the band's early albums. Very strange how their influences manifested themselves that way, no? Honestly, I miss the old Rilo Kiley, but that's me. Back to Acid Tongue, which basically starts up where Rabbit Fur Coat left off*. That being said, Acid Tongue is a lot looser of an album, a lot less formal and intentional, which works to its benefit as it sounds more sincere which is always good when you're making a folk album. Suggested tracks - "Acid Tongue", "The Next Messiah", "Sing a Song For Them"

Muse - The Resistance, so I have a few scatter Muse tracks that I've collected overtime and I've always respected the band, so the fact that I just now picked up a Muse album is a little disappointing. So yeah, this is a damn good album. It works on so many different levels and I dare you not to listen to this album and think of Queen at their best. One, the drummer does more on this album than most band's drummers do in concert where they are supposed to shine. Two, there is a great dynamic of volumes throughout the album which so many modern rock albums are missing these days. Three, man...that voice is epic, just saying. Note to self, by more Muse. Suggest tracks - "United States Of Eurasia / Collateral Damage", "Resistance", "Uprising". Reading through that list, you may jump to the conclusion that the album is top heavy and it may be a little as the band tries to overreach a little on the Exogensis Symphonies that close the album, but that is no reason to knock the attempt as it isn't, by any means, just doesn't work as well as the stand alone tracks. I wouldn't be surprised if their next album is a complete concept album.

Watching the Breakfast Club, Molly Ringwald is a tease...good times.

My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade, speaking of concept albums... This album is definitely my favorite of the bunch (possibly the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but right now it is MCR). Their last album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (actually their sophomore effort and from what I've heard of their debut, they were still getting their sound together), really set the stage for Black Parade but I don't think I could have expected what I got. The best parts of Three Cheers are here...that can't finish the song fast enough guitar style, the frantic singing, and of course the Alkaline Trio inspired lyrical motif, all of those are here in spades but refined and used much more effectively when necessary. No one will ever mistake MCR's lyrics for Bob Dylan's, but they are quick and effective, and there is always something to be said for efficient use of words in this style of music. Like Muse, they overreach, this time when they try to get a little soft, like on "Cancer" or "Sleep", where they lose steam a little bit, but they start and stop so well, it hardly matters. Suggested tracks - "The Black Parade", "Teenagers", "Dead" "House of Wolves" "The Sharpest Lives". Again, like Muse, I would put the house on throwing out all the stops and going full blown concept as well for their next album as well. As a matter of fact, given the current direction of a lot of music, I would say we are in for a full slate of concept albums in 2011 or 2012. Queen and Bowie will reach all time highs in popularity, at least in terms of inspiring successful acts.

Maybe the US would have won today had Emilio Estevez been coaching, yeah...

Orenda Fink - Ask the Night, man...I miss Azure Ray. I like Orenda and Maria solo just fine, but something about them together just worked wonders. Probably the layers of vocals, especially with Andy LeMaster's production, but I suppose we who don't create can't really complain to those who do. This album is a lot more organic than her first solo and it works well, seems a lot less conscious about what it is. It is odd to think of her as the utility player in the Faint (she's also married to their lead singer), Rilo Kiley (plays trumpet, along with a few other instruments) and Now It's Overhead, given how straight forward most of her music is. Simple guitar and singing sweet songs. There aren't really any duds here, but not any real stand out tracks either. She seems very spiritually accepting of where she is, and that's what really stands out when you listen to it. Suggested tracks - "Alabama", "Wind", "That Certain Something Spring"

I'm glad Anthony Michael Hall grew up to be the bully in Edward Scissorhands because he's a pussy in this one.

Park Ave. - When Jamie Went to London... We Broke Up, I grabbed this one because it was finally available. Basically, if you don't know, Park Ave was an off shoot band for Conor Oberst and some members of Tilly and the Wall before before they were Bright Eyes and Tilly and the Wall, obviously. So they were a bunch of friends who made an album, then broke up because, well - Jamie went to London (as the album name suggests). The album really does sound like a bunch of friends making an album, but instead of sounding like an inside joke that only they could truly appreciate (and I'm sure they do appreciate it on a different level than you or I can), it feels like they invite you in on the experience and let you, at least when you're listening, to be part of the band. A lot of the elements of both Conor's early music (pre-Lifted) and Tilly's infectious style, can be heard here in their formative stages and just for that, it is worth a listen, but moreso - it is just a good album with solid songs. I'd be most interested in hearing this album redone with proper production, but I doubt they could capture the mood and spirit of it again. Suggested tracks - "Lachrymose Obsequious Vehement Elated", "All Boy Band", "She Teaches Art?". In case you're wondering, Jamie is back from London and one of the members of Tilly and the Wall...she's the tap dancer.

If you're an outcast girl, have a popular girl give you a makeover and the jock will like you. The nerd still gets no love. There really is no connecting the dots in this plot...just suddenly, it dawns on everyone that they should go with their social opposite, except the nerd of course.

The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely, oh Jack are possibly the most talented musical artist of our time, at least since...honestly, I can't remember a more dynamic songwriter and guitarist, at least one who was so demanding of the spotlight, whether he likes it or not. The true strength of Jack White is his ability to shine through whatever he's doing, even if it is unintentional. I don't think he can help it, he just does. That being said, this album is a lot closer to a Jack White album than I think he intended. A lot of the elements from the White Stripes last album, Icky Thump, can be found here - like the Mexican inspired sound on "The Switch and the Spur" in particular. White really does benefit from having the other members though as they clearly have input and all his sound to become cleaner and tighter. Suggested tracks - "Old Enough" "Top Yourself" "Rich Kid Blues" "Salute Your Solution"

Did you realize that Mr. Yang on Psych was played by Ally Sheedy, the misfit girl from the Breakfast Club. Interesting.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz! Like I mentioned when talking about MCR, this is close to my favorite album and some is. The thing about the YYYs is that they continue to evolve. Their sound from their debut to It's Blitz is amazing, as they went from a very post-punk guitar based sound to essentially, keyboard based dance music, without losing their core attitude (almost entirely Karen O). Words cannot describe this album, it has to be heard. Suggested tracks - "Zero", "Dragon Queen", "Hysteric"

Tim McGraw - Not a Moment Too Soon, I make a habit of asking for Tim McGraw CDs for Christmas from my family because I like Tim McGraw but never enough to buy the albums, and I know they probably will. I had this one on cassette back in the day and it holds strong. Sure, a song like "Indian Outlaw" is more offensive than fun now that I'm older, but the album as a whole is a good listen for more traditional country sound. He has definitely improved his sound since then. Suggested tracks - "Don't Take the Girl", "Not a Moment Too Soon"

Tim McGraw - Let It Go, hey look...a latter album to exemplify how I just said he improved his sound. Unfortunately, this one is more generic than some of his other albums. When you have a cornerstone artist in a particular genre (especially one as rooted in tradition as country), it is hard to experiment with your sound too much without alienating your fanbase. He has gotten looser since this album, which I think is a good sign, basically he spent Everywhere, A Place in the Sun, and Set This Circus Down getting that sound down and Let It Go kind of plays like a culmination in all of those albums. The two albums between Circus and Let It Go were a bit looser, so it makes sense to have a return to sound, so to speak, to reaffirm your fans. It is a solid album, nothing wrong with it, just nothing really to write home about if you're looking for an expanded sound from a great tradition. Suggested Tracks - "Let It Go", "I Need You", "Last Dollar (Fly Away)"

So there you go. I did have a footnote in there, which I will talk about here - see. *Is it fair to discuss an artist's former work when discussing their latest? As in, is the current release really a culmination of all their work, the expectations formed from theme, and their growth as an artist or is it better to rate each work on its own merits? Discuss amongst yourselves.

See, lots and lots to say tonight. It is like I haven't posted in three months. Where should we start - movies or TV? I guess movies, then I segway into TV. That seems good.

So I haven't seen many movies recently, well - I probably have, but I don't remember a lot of them...sign of the times. I've been watching a lot on Netflix, because I have it and it is easy to catch up on a lot classics as well as more under the radar movies that Tori doesn't particularly care about. Let me think about some of the movies I've seen recently, either in theaters or at home...

Sherlock Holmes - it was...what it was. I don't know how true it was to the character of Sherlock Holmes, I mean, yes he figured out a pretty obscure mystery, but I doubt on repeated viewings it would be any more revealing as far as subtle context which we missed on the first run. It was a good time, for what it's worth, quintessential movie where it was entertaining and nothing more.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - yeah, I didn't hate this movie, but I have a serious problem with the current theme in literature turn movie. Basically, you take a mythological concept, where be it vampires (Twilight) or Greek mythology and changing it for their own convenience. Now, I understand taking mythological concepts and using them to craft the background for a story - it is a good way to build an immediate understanding of general, sweeping characteristics without having to go into details like character development, and there is a better way than Tolkien's mythological masterpiece. The problem now is, they change the mythology to fit their story and assume the audience won't dig deeper into it, just assume that the story is close to the source material. Sure, mythology is in its essence, fiction and thus should be malleable, but at this point some mythologies are just understood - like vampires and Greek mythologies, these are set in a somewhat more rigid context and just changing them seems really cheap in my mind. I would be a lot less effected by this, especially in the instance of Percy Jackson, had they just taken elements from Greek mythology and made their own. I understand in the context of vampires, there isn't an easily developed alternative, but the instance of Greek Gods, just steal concepts and change some names, make up a nationality and mythological culture to go along with it, this also allows more flexibility in your story because you can take better concepts from Eastern cultures or some of the lesser known European myths. Just saying, if I can look it up on wikipedia and find your you're full of it, you lose. Rowling did it right, she took a mythological concept (wizards) with a very broad definition, and molded it into a lifelike world. Just saying...
When In Rome - yeah, Celebration Cinema has a facebook page and they put up coupons sometimes, this one was free. When I walked out I said to myself, I'm glad that was free. I like Kristen Bell, but I find her a lot more appealing in backup roles, or at least in co-starring roles. She doesn't carry a film as well as some other leading ladies. She also shouldn't wear low cut shirts, they don't do her body justice, in my opinion. It doesn't help that it was a lazy script with very little depth or characters or really anything.going for it, maybe if she was given (or took) a role with more meat, I would think differently. There was a funny scene with a small car in an elevator, but that was about it and I gained nothing from watching the movie. I didn't waste 90 minutes, and I didn't waste money, so win...I guess.

Clash of the Titans - you know, the original. You know, if any movie deserves a CGI redo, this is it, because they try so hard to blown away their audience and I'm sure in 1981, they did at some level, but it just looks awful. The new one will probably be awful as well, but at least it'll look cool.
Year One - this was terrible, Jack Black and Michael Cera playing their most annoying characters in a crazy, goofball environment. Yeah? No. Just no. There were parts I chuckled, sure, but it was overall pointless and unnecessary. It didn't even look like it was fun for the stars, which is sometimes what I suspect when I see an especially bad movie with big names, not like Black and Cera are Pitt and Depp, but they are worthy standouts from the comedy genre and were reduced to pathetic bit players here (okay, Black has been reduced to a bit player at this point in his career as he has shown little range to date). I'm guessing this was one of those, "you know what would be funny" ideas that by the time they realized it wasn't, it was too late. Count your losses and put it out.
Pineapple Express - yeah, this was alright. Again, chuckled at times and that was about it, didn't give me much to think about and I didn't really expect it to. David Gordon Green directed and he's doing the Suspiria remake which interests me, although he's known more for his art house work than this kind of thing (although another movie he's coming out with soon is Your Highness about weed in medieval times so maybe he wants to be that stoner director that the world so desperately needs, in between his day job as a good director). I didn't take much from the film, but I don't feel like I wasted the time watching it either. However, the comical part was the ridiculousness of the final fight sequence. It is one thing to have to suspend belief, it is another to completely throw it out the window.
Cashback - art student gets dumped, gets job at super market, falls in love with easy to miss at first glance check out girl. Doesn't sound familiar to the letter, but nothing new in the world of film or even storytelling really. It was a nice movie, well shot, etc... but it didn't really go anywhere. For such an arty movie, it never really stretched itself which disappointed me a bit.
Bart Got a Room - this one I kind of liked. Basically, it is about a loser kid and his quest to find a date for the prom. Yes, you've seen this movie a dozen times and no, this one isn't going to blow the doors off the concept, but it was funny and well done. It had Alia Shawkat who is close to becoming my next Jena Malone if she ever got a role to really stretch her wings. The winners here are Williams H. Macy and Cheryl Hines who play Danny, our protagonists, well intentioned but oblivious parents. As they are going through their own comical divorce, they are trying their best to teach their son about the beauty in finding love, or at least a date, but they fail miserably as do the rest of Danny's plans. Again, nothing shocking, but a fun watch regardless.
Let the Right One In - so I watched this one last night with Tori after hearing a lot of very positive (and no negative) reviews about it and I was not disappointed. I highly suggest anyone to watch it immediately, if you have Netflix, you can watch it instantly. It is in Swedish, so you have to read subtitles, but like Pan's Labyrinth, it is just as rewarding, maybe even moreso as it is a lot more tangible of a story, even given the presence of vampires. It is also a horror, but only in the lightest sense, as there are moments of intense violence and moments of suspense, but nothing like what would we expect from an American film (by the way, they are remaking it, we'll how well they capture the essence of the film). Throughout the film, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the use of still frames really captures the loneliness of our primary characters and the desolate landscape where they live. The film is based on a book and from what I've read, some things are left out of the film, but only partially, which leaves a lot of questions after watching, but even with these issues with the jump (the writer wrote the screenplay, so it is a little confusing why they left some of the details out, or put them in if they weren't going to explain that particular subplot entirely), but the film is great either way. I would gladly host a movie night and watch it again, if anyone would be interested, would require very little work on your part, although the movie is probably best in an intimate setting as it is a very quiet film. Either way, watch it - seriously.

Finally, on movies, who's excited about this year's slate? We have the first part of The Deathly Hallows, Alice in Wonderland - Tim Burton/Disney style (haven't we always said Tim Burton needs to do Alice). Personally, I'm excited about The Last Airbender although as I re-enjoy the first season (the movie will be based on the first season alone, as part of the trilogy), I grow concerned over how much the film will lose because of time constraints. We'll see where they focus their energy in this one, if they want to make a successful trilogy, they'll need to establish good characters and have an engaging storyline. The story is there, but it depends on how much of it they use, the writers of the series had 400 minutes to work with, M. Night has about 120. There are some other movies that intrigue me, but I'm not going through the list now, it is already two!

Now on to television.

I've been watching Community more frequently as it started out, as a series, a little slow but has really has found its voice now. Good stuff.

Psych is back (for the time being) and I have two beefs, neither with the actual show. 1) USA needs to figure out their schedules, having Psych go from September to November, then January to March is crazy lame and annoying. It is bad enough we only get 16 episodes a season, why not show them all at once. 2) Show the damn episodes in order so the Psych writers can explore more complex story arcs with their characters. Typically, I get frustrated with role shows (like House) doing story arcs that put the characters in overly dramatic situations but I have faith that Psych could pull this off, given the right story arc, without dampening the show. The show is nearly getting repetitive. It is hard to say that because three of the five episodes shown thus far in 4.5 have been great, above par, great, but it would be very easy for the show to become formulaic and stale, and more complex stories for the characters would help. USA showing the episodes to fit their needs, moving what they think should be the debut, finale, etc... really hurts the writers of the show and I hope they get more respect next season to do more with what they have. This was especially clear in the Abigail goes to...wherever she went...episode as the scene at the airport felt tacked on and forced, especially the "I'll be back in town on the 24th" part - like they had to explain why she was in town for an episode they know will show later. By the way, the episode that showed on the 24th didn't have her in it, so now they look stupid for putting that in anyways. Now, to the Psych writers - you're getting too close to Shawn/Juliet, back off and let them have their little sexual tension game again. Also, Judd Nelson was a great character and I would totally for having him play a permanent helper that appears randomly to answer sciencey questions - not like he's doing anything else these days. That would also give you two Breakfast Club alum doing reoccurring roles and that is something to be proud of, in my mind.

I was also watching FlashForward on ABC, which apparently had a schedule six month hiatus. News flash to ABC - terrible idea. For starters, the storyline wasn't moving nearly as quickly as it should have and seemed unfocused, and it was already struggling to get viewers so having it disappear for six months pretty much guarantees it will be cancelled. When you have a good concept for a television show, then you throw it away for one reason or another, like not actually coming up with the ending, just the concept, then you are doomed to fail - take note if you're making a pilot with a cool concept, know where you're going with it. I'm more disappointed with that then Harper's Island because I knew what I was getting with Harper's Island and it was as shallow as I suspected, it could have been better, but they did what they advertised. FlashForward clearly had no focus going into the project and jumped off the rail pretty quickly.

I still watch the Simpsons and it is still hilarious, I don't understand the hate because they are just as good as they ever were and aren't nearly as repetitive as MacFarlane's three show suite. I think that is MacFarlane's ultimate goal - kick off the Simpsons because he knows that in the battle of mocking each other's show, he lost because at heart, he is a rip off. I doubt he'll get the Simpsons' episode count combined from all his shows, just saying.

That's pretty much it for stuff I watch on TV, sad really. There is nothing good on, at least not on the channels I get. I watch Weeds and Big Love on DVD because I'm not about to pay premium prices, ridiculous. Those are good shows, damn good shows. Especially Big Love, that is what makes good television. Complex characters, strong story arcs, constant themes. And big up to HBO on their DVD packaging, they spend their money well.

As I've gotten older, I've made the following observation. 1) I watch more movies now than I used to, primarily because they are more of an instant experience than say, listening to a song. I used to listen to more songs because they were shorter and in terms of time, the emotion shared with a song seemed more immediate, but really to really get into a song, you have to spend a lot of time with it and you can't really force that experience, it just has to hit you at the right moment, whereas a good movie can really bring you in to its world and make you feel for those characters right away. It is a good use of two hours for an emotional high, if you're up to accepting it. 2) Television is a disappointment and always has been, because it has a lot more potential than it ever tries to reach. I was thinking of two things earlier - the animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Simspsons' and how they are interlinked. Basically, both series constructed an entire world out of essentially nothing. Avatar did it much quicker by establishing the premise for the world in the title sequence and building it from there. I think it being focused at kids also helped as it allowed it to be more flexible in the world creation process, like inventing the flying bison and odd animal combinations seen throughout the series. They clearly had a lot of fun developing the world which Aang lives in. But they also gave the world a very deep and complex history, with a very strong mythology (based primarily on those of Eastern religions). The beauty here was that they were able to do this because they had 1200 minutes, approximately, to tell their story and develop their world. They kept the story moving along while revealing more and more of the world to the viewers. The Simpsons' world kind of developed out of necessity as 21 episodes in, not all could be about the same 5 people (one of which is a baby that doesn't talk), so expanding to the side characters and really developing them into more three dimensional characters just made sense and now the Simpsons' really do live in a world with a dynamic relationship with all those around them and even while most things never change and rarely are events remembered (Maude's death excluded), that is possible to stay somewhat fresh (given the general bounds of storytelling) within the world. I speak of these two fictional worlds created on television because that is how I feel television should be. Basically, in a movie, you have about 120 minutes at best (longer and you risk losing the interest of the audience) to establish plot, characters and setting whereas, on television in the course of a season you have, at worst, about 320 minutes (16 episodes, 20 minutes each) to do this and, with the right format, you could have 900 minutes (24 episodes, 45 minutes each). I speak exclusively of seasons because that is how television should be seen - a complete season is a single storyline (rumor has it, FlashForward was based on a 5-season plan). The problem, of course, is a movie has the benefit of uninterrupted storytelling whereas in a television series you have to plan for commercials and weekly showings. The patience of the audience, namely the mindset people get in when they sit down to watch a show, needs to change as well, but I think that the main problem is that people are conditioned to expect something from television shows and react poorly when they don't get it. I have no method of getting around the audience issue, maybe networks need more patience (I know, they lose money, they panic and I don't blame them, but still) and the audience will catch up. I do have some ideas.

A television season should run from February-June (about 20 weeks), straight. Weeks off throw off the flow of a series, plain and simple. Nothing kills momentum like preparing for those 3 weeks around Christmas where nothing new is shown. A short season can run from August-December, though I would be tempted to cut it before Thanksgiving to maintain that consistency of an episode a week. I understand the downside of showing a series, particularly debuting a series in the summer, when people may be on vacation, but given how people watch TV these days (Hulu, DVR), if they were interested, they'll catch it eventually and be able to catch up.

Stop with the stupid cliff hangers. The thought process that a cliff hanger will bring the customer back needs to stop, because people know when they are being manipulated, especially in such an obvious manner as week after week of cliff hangers. Your story should be engaging enough and your characters sympathetic enough to keep the audience wanting more, if you need cliff hangers than you are doing something wrong.

Stop toying with audience emotions - shows like Grey's Anatomy and CSI focus on horrific crimes, or grisly injuries, and then put a humanistic side to them so we can relate the characters on screen. Everyone thinks child rape is wrong except child rapists, and even they probably think on some level it is wrong but clearly have issues listening to that part of their brain. Getting us to relate to your characters because they think murder is bad too means your character is shallow and poorly developed. Shows like How I Met Your Mother and Friends work because anyone can relate to one of the primary characters, or know someone like one of the characters - if you're making a drama, I would really hope you could develop more complex characters than sitcoms, just saying.

Write the entire season, then figure out the episodes. I'm not saying this would be an easy task, but finish your thought before you start slicing and dicing it for mass consumption. And actually, tell a story to begin with. If you're going to do a show where every episode, this this and this happens, then your show starts out formulaic and stick with it, but if suddenly you get the urge to be more with your quasi-developed characters, don't just throw in random storyarcs and kind of see where they go, figure out your stories before you show them.

So anyways, that's my beef - TV is disappointing because given the screentime alone, characters could be a lot better developed and stories more complex and worlds more thoroughly created, but instead we have three or four CSI shows and at least four hospital dramas. Maybe originality is dead in Hollywood. I hope someday I become an eccentric billionaire, because I will gladly lose millions of dollars to put on decent television.