One of the better television comedy programs in recent memory is Review.
Review is a program within a television program. Featuring Andy Daly as “life critic” Forrest McNeil, each episode consists of three reviews on some aspect of life, as requested by a viewer of the fictional television program via email, video message, or Twitter.
An episode from the first season that had me in stitches was “Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes.”
In this episode, he submits to a viewer’s request to learn what it is like to eat fifteen pancakes as that’s the minimum yield according to the printed recipe on the pancake-mix box. Although he didn’t regard finishing fifteen pancakes very highly, he later celebrates eating thirty pancakes, as a subsequent viewer requests for the third review. He changes his opinion about eating twices as many pancakes only after sinking to an emotional low following his divorce, which he only undertook after a viewer asked what it would be like to get a divorce.
Having revisited the series recently, I learned that the Andy Daly series is based on an Australian television series from 2008–2010, also called Review with Myles Barlow. There a lot of similarities between the two. For example, in the two versions, each reviewer divorces his wife for the sake of a review, and consequently, each is emotionally crippled in subsequent episodes.
The Australian version, however, has a much darker sensibility. For example, in the first episode of the Aussie series, he reviews what it is like to murder someone.
And, in this episode, he also tests out divorce to learn that it is worth only one star.
The entire run of the Australian series and the first season of the American series are available on Hulu. (The preceding link is a referral link that will earn me some Hulu credit if you subscribe.)
Review and Review
Both series put each host/reviewer in some unbelievably hilarious situations, share a humorously dark situations, and, because of its seriality, make for some great binge watching.
Today is April Fool’s Day. Since yesterday, I’ve been on high alert carefully scrutinizing anything that could be a prank. I usually forget about today—being too preoccupied with this, that, or something else, but this year, I was expecting it so I’ve been fully prepared. Although this heighten skepticism has taken most of the fun out of today, I did get a few choice pranks.
Make a Photo without a Camera
The folks at Lomography, makers of analog film cameras for the hip art-school set, has announced a new spray that will allow you to slowly expose an image onto a roll of film.
I fell for this one at first, partly because I saw it on March 31. It seems completely feasible until you read that it takes up to 24 hours for a decent exposure. I thought that was a typo. But the giveaway in this video was in the time-lapse sequence, where the guy stands with the roll of film in the dark. I’m no expert in Greek, but I know you need light to make a photograph.
Canon Wildlife Camera
Speaking of photography, I saw this announcement come across my RSS feed this morning from The Digital Picture, an expert website for Canon photographers.
This is a very compelling prank. A camera like this makes some sense. However, as far as I know, no one has ever made a flagship (D)SLR camera specifically for one application. (Okay, fine, Canon has made two cameras specifically for astrophotography.) As I skimmed the article, I thought it was real, until I realized what day it was.
Bryan, the site’s owner, even included a link to the B&H website so you can pre-order this camera. However, that link takes you to an “April Fool’s” page, revealing that you have been had!
“Everyone has a number”, admitted Kyle Wiens, iFixit’s CEO. “I didn’t think there was a reasonable number that would make me say, ‘You know I was going to change the world with repair documentation but here’s a number.’” In the end, Apple gave us a number that we couldn’t refuse.
The other is, The Field, a spin-off of the critically acclaimed series Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which I haven’t yet seen (shame on me, yes, I know).
Honestly, I figured out that these spin-offs were fake. However, I was very impressed that they went through the trouble to make two very good looking videos.
Fake United Jeff’s Improvements for United Airlines
The Twitter account for the fake Jeff Smisek, CEO of United Airlines, is one of the few Twitter feeds I read like a blog, where I scroll back to each tweet until I read them all. Today, he’s been dispatching fake announcements to improve United Airlines, such as this one to solve the labor dispute between the airline and its two sets of pilots (former Continental and former United).
United announces investment in first phase of ATP Drone, a program to launch passenger service via unmanned drone by 2020. #suckitALPA
EFF Reports that MPAA is to Update its Copyright Curriculum for Kindergartners
The Electronic Frontier Foundation sent out a “very special” issue of its newsletter, the EFFector.
A few of the stories were pretty obvious pranks. For example, they mention an NSA program, IMPENDINGSLUMBER, that is designed to “intercept children’s bedtime stories.” But one was a little too close to reality to be an obvious prank. Here it is in its entirety:
Citing numerous psychological studies that indicate children under the age of eight respond primarily to fear-based cues, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is adding another character to its “Sharing Is Bad” copyright curriculum: the “Fair Use Creep,” a four-headed monster in a trench coat. “We think these children will respond well to characters like the Fair Use Creep,” said MPAA chief Chris Dodd in a press conference Friday. “And by respond well, we mean cower in fear.”
Doesn’t it seem a bit extreme for the motion picture industry to infiltrate children’s curriculum with lessons on copyright maximalism? This must be a joke, right? Sadly, it’s not.
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Since leaving CNN to make room for Piers Morgan, Larry King has been hosting two shows distributed through Ora TV: Larry King Now and Politicking. Last night, after an exhausting day, I watched a few episodes of both shows. The most recent installment of Politicking was an engaging interview with Errol Morris. Morris has been making the rounds in support of his upcoming documentary on former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, The Unknown Known.
I rarely watched Larry King Live during its long CNN run, but I appreciated him revealing his opinion on this program, acting more like a commentator than an observer. He revealed his skepticism about invading Iraq at the time, which he did not do on his CNN show, and he was self-reflexive on how Rumsfeld’s charisma and double-talk was both deceptive and convincing.
As far The Unknown Known, it’s easy to see this as a sequel to The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003), as both are films about secretaries of defense responsible for two long, calamitous wars. Based on the snippets in this interview, both films also trace how each man arrived at these positions of power and how they reflect on their decisions. But it looks like both men reflect on their decisions in different ways. Perhaps regret is that “unknown known,” whatever that really means.
Watch the whole interview. It’s funny and infuriating at the same time. Also, not since The Fog of War have I been looking forward to watching a Morris film: Standard Operating Procedure was too depressing for me to watch at the time.
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Since 2009, I have watched a total of three Blu-ray disks at home, and although they looked beautiful, there was never an easy supply of Blu-ray disks. At the time, there were not many Blu-ray titles available on Netflix, which also charged a $3 monthly surcharge for Blu-ray disks, and there were no remaining video stores in my neighborhood. Even today, the Blockbuster Express kiosks only carry a very small selection of Blu-ray titles.
Eventually, the Blu-ray deck became a streaming player for Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Amazon. Most of my Netflix viewing is with the Apple TV because of the better interface and much lower latency. The Blu-ray player will not start playing video for almost fifteen seconds, while the Apple TV (and Roku for that matter) are much faster.
Now, with Hulu available on the Apple TV, I can’t see myself using the Blu-ray player much after this. I mean, after all, why would I buy/rent video from Amazon if I can’t watch with my iPad?
the move by Hulu toward the new model — called authentication because viewers would have to log in with their cable or satellite TV account number — was behind the move last week by Providence Equity Partners to cash out of Hulu after five years, these sources said.
The major networks founded Hulu to prevent everyone from circumventing revenue-producing way of watching television. The move has been great. It has been a formidable way to get TV shows, and I have been a subscriber of Hulu Plus since the service launched. The appeal has always been that I can watch the television shows I want to watch and when I want to watch them.
This move could threaten the a-la-carte model that Hulu provides in favoring of bundling a package of channels that I’m never going to watch. While the Post article indicates that Providence Equity Partners is behind this strategy, I question that thinking for two reasons.
the fact that one of the owners of Hulu is Comcast, the biggest and least favorite cable MSO in the United States, and a deal like this really help retains its customers; and…
Hulu was up for sale last year, but then the sale was pulled due to its “unique and compelling strategic value”.
Free Press has launched an online petition to save Hulu from its possible fate as some “TV Everywhere” service that will only inflate cable bills.
Generally speaking: a solution introduces a new problem requiring a workaround that not only negates the goals of the solution but actually serves to exacerbate the initial problem.
Today, I went to a shared office space and found a note reading “Do Not Turn Off” covering the light switch. The note is there because we have temporarily disabled the motion sensor for the overhead lights. Before today, if the motion sensor did not detect any movement after five minutes, or so I’ve calculated, the lights will go off. The goal is to conserve energy, which is obviously a worthwhile goal. However, the motion sensor rarely detects our very subtle movements. It has made working difficult because we have to stop what we’re doing to get up and move about the room every few minutes.
As a workaround, the facilities managers disabled the motion sensor, but it will only remain off if we do not turn off the light switch, hence the handwritten note. The problem is that now the lights won’t actually turn off. It would have been better if we simply reminded the last person in the office to turn off the lights each night, which we were doing anyway. We now have to keep the lights on for the sixteen hours each day (and forty-eight each weekend) when no one is here. It seems like a waste, right?
This reminded me of the CW and Fox television networks each implemented embargoes on streaming new episodes through their own sites or through Hulu. The CW, for example, had implemented a three-day embargo on streaming its own TV shows to boost the Nielsen Live + 3 day ratings, which is how the network calculates what to charge for advertising against its programs. The thinking was that it would encourage viewers to either watch a program live or within three days on their DVR to boost advertising revenue.
However, enterprising viewers who hadn’t recorded the program or watched it live decided to turn to the Internet to get their CW fix. And since they couldn’t find the program on cw.com or Hulu, they would turn to unauthorized sources, such as torrents.
Now, not only are CW viewers skipping the live broadcasts or DVR viewing, they are even skipping the ads that come with online streams on cw.com or Hulu, hence reducing the overall impressions and advertising revenue.