Sunday, April 30, 2017

ESPN and its so-called liberal agenda

I feel like I shouldn't dignify the semi-popular theory that ESPN laid off 100 or so people because the audience is rejecting its left-wing slant, but here goes: Much like the belief in some circles that Colin Kapernick's anthem protests hurt NFL ratings, it's wishful thinking. You can't tell me that the twentysomething college graduates who are moving into their first  places are saying, "Hmm, I would love to pay 100 bucks for cable and get ESPN, but, man, they are just too damn liberal."

If anything, I think people should be focusing on the fact that despite the network is still making oodles of money, it is cutting jobs to make the books look better days ahead of a Disney quarterly meeting. Should we be complaining about a "capitalist right-wing conspiracy" at work? ESPN is about making money, and if it does "favor" certain viewpoints, it's  because it thinks it will make it money. It is worried about not making as much money as it did before. Yet all the prominent left-wing-ish voices that the right wing hates are still there.

I understand the POV that ESPN drifted away from sports, but it drifted towards people yelling at each other, not towards MSNBC-style lefty commentary. The lefty stuff, such as it is, takes place on programming no self-respecting sports fan should be watching, anyway. I know people hate the 6:00 PM Sportscenter now. So don't watch it. But how does that affect prime time?

Look at the Caitlyn Jenner fiasco. Some hate that ESPN gave Jenner an ESPY. Well, the story going around was that the decision was part of a larger quid pro quo aimed at getting Jenner to give an exclusive ABC interview to Diane Sawyer. If that's true--and I believe it is--then perhaps the Jenner ESPY move was not a liberal agenda but part of a crass money-grubbing/ratings-grabbing agenda---again, part of that capitalist conspiracy, right?

But the main thing is, sports fans, why are you watching the ESPYs in the first place? That is not for sports fans. That is for non-sports fans ESPN thinks it can trick into watching its network.

And if ESPN is losing ratings because of  its politics (quite open to debate), why is FS1, which is trying to position itself as an alternative, losing them as well? And if you really want to declare this to promote your own agenda, aren't you kind of defending the one prominent right-wing voice ESPN did get rid of in the last few years--Curt Schilling? And my final question: Regardless of his political views, why do you want to defend Curt Schilling?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings Week #57 (Special "Hey, pretend it's a mock draft" edition)

1) Netflix: You may not like the Bill Nye show or 13 Reasons Why or the brand-new Dear White People, but they have people talking.

2) MLB.TV: I have to rate this pretty high since it's the one channel keeping me from watching more of the other channels, but it also gets credit for a redesign that lets me see all game scores at once when I log in there. In other words, it's one of those rare SVOD redesigns that actually helps the viewer.

3) Warner Archive Instant: Tom Bradford = one of the most sneakily complex characters in the TV landscape of his era. I sure hope WAI adds season 2 soon. I'd also like to see it add some more movies and fix its Roku channel, but, hey... WAI has also done a decent job of attempting to tie into the FX Feud arc about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

4) Hulu: Folks, I forgot to redeem my reward points for free Hulu this month, so you know what that means? That means Hulu is gonna go to the top or near the top of the charts in May as I try to "get my money's worth." However, Hulu also debuted Handmaiden's Tale, which at least one observer has said may be the service's breakthrough hit.  OK, it was me who said that, and probably more than once already. I also like that Hulu has been adding some older Brit series like Lark Rise to Candleford for no obvious reason.

4) Amazon Prime: Credit is due for season 3 of Catastrophe, something I will surely enjoy when/if I get Prime Video again. Amazon also did well at the Daytime Emmy Awards because apparently its kids shows are considered "daytime" ones.

5) YouTube: The worst thing about my kids watching these Minecraft videos is that I forgot to sign out first, meaning YouTube thinks I want to watch all these Minecraft videos.

6) TubiTV: I continued my inexplicable fascination with Diane English's old CBS sitcom Love and War but also checked out another episode of the entertaining mini-show (12 minutes per episode) Pop Culture Quest with Mark Hamill. 11 are available on Comic Con HQ, but only 4 are on Tubi.

7) WWE Network: Much respect for continuing to upload old episodes of Prime Time Wrestling, which should have been up there at the beginning of the network's launch, but who's counting? I mean, I'm ranking, but not counting.

8) The CW: Supergirl is way down in quality this season, but I still like watching it for free on CW.

9) Days of Dumont: OK, I saw something interesting on here: an episode of The Wendy Barrie Show, a daytime chat show hosted by the actress. Days of Dumont is more than just the two-fisted exploits of Mike Barnett and Rocky King!

10) Shout! Factory TV: Squeaks in on the strength of a charming Dick Cavett Show I saw this week, an episode devoted to Jim Henson and his Muppets back in the early days.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

TODAY on Battle of the Network Shows!

Thank you for being a reader...and a listener...and a friend! How about doing me one more solid and listening to our newest episode? Anyone interested?

Click right here to find this week's show. Don't ya dare miss it!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

And Now...a Word from THEIR Sponsor: Just for Feet???

Yes, there was once a chain of shoe stores called Just for Feet, and it was apparently a big deal. I think this is a horrible name for a retail store. "Foot" might be acceptable--see Foot Locker--but "Feet" is really pushing it. I don't want to walk into a store called 'Just for Feet." I worry that my page views are gonna plummet as a result of putting the word "Feet" in the title of this post.

No offense to Quentin Tarantino, but feet just ain't my thing, and in fact the word itself is a little off-putting unless it's as the unit of measurement. There's a reason why this is so funny:

This chain originated in the south, and I never entered one of these stores, so this fascinates and repulses me in 2017. Did this store have to be JUST for Feet? If you want to sell shoes, fine, but offer some other products or at least the illusion that you might find something else in there. Even Payless sells umbrellas and hats and stuff.

So here is a vintage ad for...Just for..Feet.:

Monday, April 24, 2017

'Mooners Monday #10: Who's up for some acrion figures

Two of my favorite collectibles (term grown men use for "dolls") are the Honyemooners "limited edition" Ralph and Ed deals distributed by Exclusive Toy Products in 1997. I am looking at them right now, and it makes me realize, hey, I would love to have some 'Mooners action figures  (another term grown men use for "dolls").

Exclusive also made an Alice Kramden in this series, but I don't have it because...I am a raging sexist pig? No, I honestly do not recall. I wish I had one now. In fact, I wish I had a Trixie, too. Poor Joyce Randolph always gets the shift in merchandising.

If we could receive an action figure line today, surely it would be loaded with Ralphs and Eds, but let me put forth a proposal for a more balanced line that slips in some of the beloved supporting characters who stood out on the series. Here, then, is my proposal for a 4-stage Honeymooners action figure series.

Series 1:
Ralph Classic (bus driver uniform)
Ed Classic (usual outfit)
Alice Classic
Trixie Classic
Ralph as "The human pinball machine" from "The Man from Space"

NOTES: I'd love to see another character in the first batch, but realistically, they'd slip in another Ralph, and I think his Halloween costume would make a great visual for a toy.

Series 2:
Raccoon Ralph
Raccoon Ed
Alice the Vamp (from "Alice and the Blonde")
HAR-vey (from "The Bensonhurst Bomber")
Ralph the Golfer

NOTES: Gets them in the coonskin caps, introduces one of my favorite one-off characters in Harvey (his figure would be even bigger than your Shirley figure). I imagine in this enlightened day and age, any company might strive to get at least one female figure in each series, so we go with Alice all dolled up for Ralph, "I call you killer 'cause you slay me). Another funny outfit for Ralph rounds out this series.

Series 3:
Janitor Ralph
Sleepwalking Ed Norton
Mrs. Manicotti
"Funny Money" Ralph

NOTES: I will never give up my dream of a big publicity push for Mrs. Manicotti. I love the idea of a slot for George Petrie, who appeared in seemingly half of the episodes as various characters, and the "Psychiatrist" in the sleepwalking episode is a fun visual and a nice tie-in with a pajama-clad, eyes-shut Norton. Got  to love Ralph as the janitor and in that outrageous suit he got when he thought he found a briefcase full of money.

Series 4:
Better Living Through TV Ralph
Better Living Through TV Ed
Mrs. Gibson
Bowling Ralph

NOTES: The boys in their chef outfits would be great, and maybe we can get a playset of the commercial stage so the Ralph figure can knock it down. Carlos the suave mambo instructor gets a figure, we get Ralph in a bowling jacket, and perhaps the most feared villain of all is the female slot in this assortment: Ralph's mother-in-law!

Series 5:
Captain Video Ed Norton
Young at Heart Ralph
Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler
Herb Norris
Thelma the Maid

NOTES:  The only villain who could rival Alice's mom as a villain is the maid the Kramdens hire in "A Woman's Work is Never Done." I get my favorite fictional game show host Herb Norris in here, the Raccoon ruler is worth a spot for the uniform alone, and I must admit this Norton would be kind of lame, but the space ranger helmet itself would be pretty cool.  Rounding out this last series is Ralph with his varsity duds and skates.

There's my list, and as much as it pains me to not get a figure for Mr. Marshall, Tony Amico, or Andre, I think I'm pushing it as it is with many of these selections.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings Week #56 (Special "Where's My Tax Refund?" Edition)

Who out there is spending tax refund money on streaming services? Anyone? You'd need a pretty big refund to cover everything that's out there. Of course, you'd still be paying less than your average "expanded basic" cable bill. Just saying.

1) Warner Archive Instant: As great as it is to see season 1 of Eight Is Enough, the show didn't really take off until Grant Goodeve started singing the theme song.

2) Hulu: Coasting lately other than hosting so much new network TV, but, hey, the new network TV counts. The Handmaid's Tale could be a breakthrough success.

3) YouTube: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings came out and said they have YouTube envy, so that counts for something. Perhaps more important, I saw some good old-school WPIX promos this week, and YT's new "we ain't cable; we're better and cheaper" service got some buzz.

4) Netflix: I considered docking Netflix a spot or two after hearing that half a billion people had streamed Adam Sandler movies, but I think that's on the world, not just on Netflix.   Really, this week was more promise than actual stuff, with the big news being trailers and announcements. Plus they missed subscriber targets for the first quarter  (Listen to me trying to sound all Forbes-y).  AND Kickin' It is leaving in May, which is NO BUENO for my kids. So Netflix slides this week for non-Sandler reasons!

Yet it gets a notch back for premiering a new Bill Nye series on Friday!

5) HBO Now: We will also accept HBO Go here. I was disappointed by the premiere of Veep, but this weekend sees a ~prestigious~ Henrietta Lacks movie plus the return of Silicon Valley. And I admit that I do kind of want to watch Suicide Squad.

6) Shout! Factory TV: I got to see John Wayne showing off his "comic chops" with Tim Conway.  That's the good news. The bad news is that I've gone through all the Glen Campbell shows, and Shout's update this month consisted solely of 4 episodes of baseball show Prime 9.. I guess this means it's a good time to "catch up" on what else is on here.

7) The CW: Hey, I'm finally caught up on CW shows! I barely remember what happened on most of the ones I watched, but still, way to go, me!

8) NBC: Just another reminder that unlike a certain other network, NBC has new and old episodes alike free of charge for your streaming pleasure.

9) FX NOW: Hey, I was able to authenticate on my Roku! Yippee! The only problem is they put shows on there, you click them, and you are "treated" to "clips," not full episodes. Not at all cool, FX. Hurry up and put Atlanta and Better Things on Hulu or Netflix if you aren't gonna stream them here.

10) Boomerang: Quiet launch for Turner's toons-on-demand SVOD. 5 bucks a month isn't terrible, but I'm disappointed that there isn't more available. It looks like they are offering more of a, "Hey, watch us for a month" deal than something for serious animation fans or something people would get more than one month at a tine,