Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why aren't you watching Doctor Who?

Doctor Who is probably a show you've heard someone talking about or read about some where. You also probably associated it, well in America at least, with those same geeks that speak Klingon, quote Yoda and whine about how Fox killed Firefly. Though there is probably some truth to that assumption you would be missing one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever aired if you didn't take the time to watch it.

Now that Netflix has put up the first 6 seasons of the new Doctor Who you have the chance to see why this show, that has aired since the 1960's, is still counted as a national treasure in the United Kingdom. It has a simple principle to it, take a little bit of time travel and mix it in with a dash of space opera and then add in that one ingredient that makes it what it is, the human element.

Doctor Who takes television to a level you wont see in America, the CGI (the fancy graphics we all love) is excellent, the acting superior and the script on any given episode will rival any blockbuster sci-fi movie out there. Yet still I can count on one hand the amount of American's who have taken the plunge and watched this fantastic show.

Each show takes a wild and thourghly absurd premise and turns it into a journey where we suspend our doubt's and disbelief's to let ourselves get lost in the story. A story driven by the main character, "The Doctor," who is as complex a character as any you've ever seen. The Doctor is an amalgamation of Captain Kirk, Yoda, Han Solo and Gandalf all rolled into one man (well Timelord), who's almost human, except for his two hearts. I often think of the two hearts as a metaphor for a man who feels more than most and at the same time has seen more pain than most. That emotional attachment and distance is what draws you into the deep affection the fans of the show feel for this often changing character.

You see there are several incarnations of The Doctor, each time he has died he is regenerated into a new body, which not only look different but also have different personalities, but the same underlying idiosyncrasies. To do this and make it believable, they manage to bring in actors that the fans learn to love, even though you often hear the fans bemoan how they killed, "The Doctor," it doesn't take long before they are once again cheering for their new protagonist. Yet The Doctor would be nothing with out a stellar cast that make up his companions.

The Companions are what round out The Doctor. They follow him around, mere mortals, who thrust in the often surreal and astounding universe they never knew existed become the Yin to his Yang. The Doctor, it could be argued, is only as human as those companions he takes with him. As you go through each season you see an assortment of men and women accompany him and add all the personality and subplots that make a space-opera so engrossing. Each one you start rooting for as much as The Doctor himself and in doing so you find yourself caring about them. All their insecurities and doubts, are pushed aside as they succumb to the same overwhelming wanderlust that drives The Doctor from episode to episode.

So with that being said, I ask you, "Why aren't you watching Doctor Who?" It's on Netflix and BBC America in the United States and it's one show that anyone who loves Sci-Fi or adventure needs to watch, because at it's heart it's one of the few shows that really is something the whole family can watch. Something that is an oddity in the United Kingdom, where so many of the drama's are targeted at the adult crowd, this show manages to still be family friendly.

So take the time and watch a few episodes, season 1 starts off slow but as you get into season 2 things really light up and if you are still watching by then, you will be like me, complaining that we have to wait too long for the next season of Doctor Who to air in America. I hope you take my advice and I'm sure you will enjoy your travels with The Doctor.

Monday, August 1, 2011

America Lacks Intelligent Programming...

I'm coming to the realization that American TV is generally not all that intelligent and the few shows that are, Pushing Daisies, Firefly, Terriers to name a few, hit the floor within two seasons. I have been watching a lot more UK television lately and I have to say that I am impressed. There is a level of intelligence that you don't see on American TV.

Why is this? Cause honestly, beyond the stereotype, I don't think Americans are stupid. I mean most of the Americans I turn on to UK TV shows love them. I have yet to see anyone say they hate Misfit's or Peep Show but for some reason we don't see show's like that on any of the big networks.

It's not to say that there aren't some intelligent shows on American airwaves, Dexter and Justified are smart well written shows that consistently deliver, I'm just saying that a large majority of programming is stupid. You don't realize it until you watch shows that force you to pay attention or get lost.

So are we just so acclimated to stupid sitcoms and dramas that we don't care? I think part of it is that seasons for most shows in America are 24 episodes long and in some case the writers are going for quantity over quality. Most UK shows are only 6 to 10 episodes long at the most. That leaves a lot of time for writing each season, which allows for a higher quality programming.

It's not to say American television isn't popular in the UK, in fact most of my UK readers constantly remind me of how good TV is in America which makes me ask one other question? Is this just a case of the grass being greener?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sex and TV are Americans too Uptight?

So lately I've been watching British TV and I noticed that in almost every show there is a lot more emphasis on Sex and it's not very subtle, in fact it's pretty blatant. So it leads me to ask the question are Americans to uptight about sex?

On the most popular prime time TV shows in Britain you see nudity and sex as graphic as anything you would see on any of the big cable networks. I don't think it's a bad thing and not just because I'm a guy and I'm not easily offended but because it reflects on society.

I think one of the reasons we let the government regulate everything on TV is because, god forbid, our children should see a naked person on TV or two people having sex. I'm not saying that children need to or should see this, they shouldn't, I'm just saying that we rely on regulations set up by the government to moderate TV and protect our children. This to me should be up to the parents to do.

Parent's should be the ones sitting with their children making sure they are watching the right programming. The fact that many parents rely on the government to make sure their children are watching suitable content, seems a lazy approach to parenting. To be honest taking nudity out of television doesn't affect teen sex. Kids in America are having sex just as much as their UK counterparts. The levels for teenage pregnancy are actually lower in the UK too even though their isn't as much government oversight with regards to the handling of sexual content on TV.

I think that watching a television show where the people involved are swearing, and talking very blatantly about sex is probably true to how we act in our daily lives. Why then are we trying to hide just how our society is on television? I talk to men and women and I know that the conversations about sex are frank. People in general don't pussy foot about when it comes to talking about sex.

I also remember what it was like being a teenager and this was back in the 1980's, we swore like pirates and talked about sex. I think if I had seen this sort of thing on television it might have made us a little less uptight. We would have probably had parents more concerned with talking openly about the importance of sex and relationships.

Plus, if parents are so concerned about their children seeing inappropriate behavior then they have to tools to monitor that. I mean how hard is it to program a television so that parents block out what they think is unsuitable for their children? Not at all really! It's like 5 button clicks on most modern televisions. Better yet set the television so that children watch what you want them to watch.

So it comes down to this, not only are Americans uptight but they are down right lazy about one of the things that children spend the most time doing, watching TV. They would rather see their shows censored then take the time to make sure their kids are watching whats proper.

I've watched several British shows, The Book Group, Misfits, Peep Show, Teachers, MI:5 and more, that are well written, high quality programs that wouldn't make it to American prime time based solely on the fact that the characters swear. The intelligent dialogue, relevant topics or overall quality of the programs don't matter because there's a censor who has already decided it's not appropriate for us to watch. Adults shouldn't watch this even though most of us really wouldn't be offended.

When was the last time you exited a Rated R or PG 13 movie and heard someone say I would have liked that more if they hadn't said, "Fuck Off" or mentioned "Blow Job?" Not very often because most Americans could care less. We pride ourselves on rights in America but when it comes to television those rights are only as good as what is proper for the average twelve year old to watch. I think this is wrong and I think that the right thing would be to deregulate censorship on television to some degree.

I'm not saying throw porn up on television, I'm saying that if television networks want to put mature content up let the people decide if they want to watch it or not. Make the parents work more to safeguard their children rather than sit back and have the government do it for them. We Americans, the creator of modern television, are 20 years behind Europe in this regard.

I guess that sums it up. What do you think?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The British Invasion

Anyone that reads my blog knows I'm a huge HULU fan. The reason I'm still a fan for so long is that it continually adds content that is top notch. They have managed to keep putting up new and better programming by negotiating with some major networks and now they have managed to bring some top notch programming from England. Yes the island nation that brought such great shows as Black Adder, Faulty Towers, Doctor Who and Monty Python is still making some top notch programming that rivals anything from our own great nation (America just in case that was in question.)

With that in mind, I have been a fan of British television for awhile but until recently what I was able to watch was limited to what aired on PBS, which more often than not were period pieces and mystery shows that seemed far from the mainstream programming we see in America, not anymore though. With Hulu I am now able to watch some of the most popular shows in ol' Britain. Believe it or not they are a far cry from the fair we have seen on PBS often risque and with a boldness we only see on cable television.

First off Misfits is new to Hulu even though it is starting it's third season on BBC 4. This is a show that is part X-files and part Heroes but even though it's an odd combination it works. The show revolves around five teens who are struck by lightening and receive super powers. It's a simple concept that's shaken up by the fact that all five are juvenile delinquents on probation, stuck in a community service program. The premise works brilliantly and it's an enjoyable show that I want to say is targeted at teens but with this very strong warning. British television often runs along the TV MA gambit and as such contains some stuff we in America find taboo, such as extremely vulgar language and nudity and this show is no exception. There is, as the rating's people like to say, strong sexual situations and nudity involved, as well as strong language, drugs and alcohol which is to say even though the premise involves teens you might think twice before queuing up the show with your teens in the room. Still a great show for scifi fans looking for something missing currently on american television.

The next show I have become obsessed with is Peep Show. The story follows Mark and Jez, roommates on the cusp of thirty trying to deal with all the mundane events of daily life. It sounds bland but what it does is show how some of the most innocuous events in our life can actually be the opposite and at the time out right hilarious. Honestly this is one of those shows you will either get or not get but if you get it, it's one you will watch religiously. There's alot of rough language which is the standard for any British show.

Spaced is another one of those offbeat crazy shows where you either get it or you don't. It's made by the creator of Shaun of the Dead and it's humor runs along the same lines. If you haven't seen Shaun of the Dead, then shame on you, one of the best zombie movies ever made with it's quirky humor and anti-heroes. This show does the same thing except rather than facing zombies the protagonists are facing the realization of what being a responsible and mature adult entails and as is often true in real life, it's funny and often not pretty. The premise is about two strangers posing as a married couple to get into a flat (apartment). They learn to deal with their own differing personalities as well as the realization that maturity waits for no man or woman. Funny show that is offbeat and often surreal.

There are a bunch more out there not to mention the Office, the show that was the premise of the popular US version of the Office. If you like our own NBC version you will most likely enjoy the British version. I hope that you take the time to check out the new shows on Hulu especially those from England as it helps you realize that we in the US are not the only source for great television. If you are one of the many out there that is watching Netflix you will find a section devoted to British television, with shows that run the gambit from scifi to cop shows. Probably the one that really shows just how good television in Britain can get is Sherlock, a retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes story set in modern England. It's funny, witty, and action packed, with a quality to rival anything on American television.

Give them a try and enjoy. Leave a comment if you seen any of the above or have a favorite.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Computer Viruses and You

So most people who know me, know I'm kind of a computer geek. I spend quite a bit of time fixing peoples computers and 90% of that time, the problem is a computer virus. So I'm writing this blog to give some bit's of advice that I think will help me not have to fix so many computers. Not that I'm lazy or anything it's just that I would like some free time.

First off never install anything on your computer from a website unless you trust the site. This seems pretty straight forward but a lot of flashy sites out there look legitimate, when all they are doing is hosting a virus, spyware or something equally bad for computer. The easiest way for them to do this is to make it seem like something you really need. That flashy program that just popped up asking you to scan your computer so benignly for virus or spyware is actually just spyware. Almost 99% of the time it will hijack your computer and ask you to pay to have them fix the problem, which ironically is the program you just installed on your computer.

Second watch what sites you're visiting, people oddly think that the only sites that have viruses or spyware are porn sites, and while they do host the majority of them, a lot of sites out there, gossip, television or movie sites etc... also are hosting some very bad things for your computer. First rule if you are going to visit a site try checking online to see if it's actually a legitimate and safe site. The easiest way to do this is by downloading McAfee's Site Advisor here.

Now if you clicked the "here" that's also a clever way people get you to download viruses but I didn't so your safe this time but be careful what links you click on.

Third get a good virus scanner and use it, use it a lot! Once a week is usually good enough but setting it up to run at least every night is better. In fact never restart your computer until you have scanned it. The best program out there hands down is Malwarebytes which you can get for free here click the link for the free version, though I encourage you to buy the full version! Malwarebytes is one I keep in my arsenal at all times. You can also get, totally free, Microsoft's security essentials which is a good back up (found here.) Run both of these as often as you can to ensure your safe.

There are others and you will see them but before installing any virus scanner please use McAfee's Site Advisor to make sure it's a legitimate site. Don't screw yourself by doing the one thing you're trying to avoid.

In closing if you do get a virus or spyware on computer and you know it's there never restart your computer until you run one of the two above. Sometimes a virus or adware might be keeping you from running Malwarebytes or Security Essentials if that's the case then run this little program, RKill found here. This will stop almost any virus running and allow you to run a scan.

Now if you have restarted your computer and cant get anything to work reboot your computer and when the computer starts to turn on keep pushing the "F5 key" till you get a prompt asking you if you would like to boot into safemode. When that comes up do it! If you can, go into "safemode with networking" and then follow the steps I told you. Run Rkill then Malwarebytes then Security Essentials (separately don't be lazy.) Once they have gotten rid of any virus you might have, go to your (windows/start button) where all your program menus are and choose the help and support from the menu. From there you will see an option to restore your computer. From there look through the points and choose a date where you know your computer was virus free and go to that point. Some people are afraid to do this cause they fear they might lose some documents or what not on their computer but the only thing this will do is remove any programs you have installed or that have installed with out your knowledge from your computer (well it does more but I don't want to geek this all up.)

God willing your computer is as good as new. So that's it. I just put a lot of those IT guys out there out of work by showing you just how simple it is. I hope this helped and keep tuned in I'm going to be blogging more again so you might read something else helpful! Who know's it could happen!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Back By Maybe Popular Demand...

So I've decided to once again take up this blog. I enjoyed the time I put into what was a hard and often thankless endeavor. I hope that those that read it before will come and check it out again. I'm going review shows again, write about some of the topics in entertainment news and hopefully be witty while doing it.

I appreciate the support and encouragement from those asking me to put my thoughts back into publication. Though I'm sure some might agree and some disagree with what I have to say, I do want to thank each and every person who takes the time out their busy hectic day to check this blog out.