Posts filed under Television

Lusting after Nucky's Wingtips

I know, I know... another shoe post. I'm in a bit of a shoe craze now, please indulge me.

HBO's new Boardwalk Empire hooks you right from the opening credits. In particular, Steve Buscemi (as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson) in his pin-strip three-piece and simply stunning two-tone oxford wingtips. I'm not sure if these are technically spectator shoes or not, since the highlight colour on spectators is supposed to be white. Instead, these have a lovely burnished tan, the middle line of punched broguing is a darker brown, with the heel cap, toe, and lacing area in black.

Really quite stunning, although I'm not sure how I would pull them off as part of my wardrobe (or what to wear with them). This of course hasn't deterred me from checking out what is available.  So far, a pair of Forzieri looks remarkable similar (the lighter tan shade could have darkened naturally or from polishing). The search continues.

Posted on October 25, 2010 and filed under Style, Television.

CBC's The Hour

I'm not exactly sure when this happened, but George Stroumboulopoulos's The Hour (CBC) is now available as a daily streaming video. Even though it started after I left Canada, I've watched it a number of times when I've been home. It's refreshingly good television- smart, hip, direct and honest. George S. presents a great mix of commentary, news, entertainment, and interviews. And unlike the Daily Show's John Stewart (I still don't understand why a news satire show has guests in the first place), George is a great interviewer. In addition to the full show, the site also has a bunch of other video highlights. Check it out.

Posted on October 20, 2006 and filed under Canada, Television.

Champions League goes Russia

Who the hell is picking YLE's Champions League games this year, Vladimir Putin? After being on Nelonen for as long as I can remember, Finland's national broadcaster YLE started broadcasting Champions League games this year. YLE will also broadcast two games some weeks. So we can expect to see the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea, Milan, Real Madrid and Lyon, right? Nope. After starting with a predictably boring 0-0 game between PSV and Liverpool, and tonight's Arsenal-Porto game, we'll be treated to five straight games involving Moscow's two Champions League contenders.

We'll kick things off tomorrow with Spartak-Sporting Lisbon, and we'll see Arsenal again against CSKA on Oct 17. Obviously we'd all rather watch the Spartak-Inter game on Hallowen, instead of the ho-hum Chelsea-Barca game that night. I mean, what have those teams done lately? And it's not like there's a big rivalry between them or anything. YLE will wrap up their 2006 broadcasts with... yes, you guessed it CSKA Moscow v. Porto on 21.11 and Spartak-Bayern the day after. Horosho!

I really don't know what's going on. Either YLE wants to have early broadcasts (all the remaining broadcasted games are played in Moscow), wants to save money sending their broadcast team to the home stadium, or Viasat have preference on Champions League games they broadcast. It might be time to get Viasat, or just watch the Barca matches on PCast.

Posted on September 27, 2006 and filed under Barça, Finland, Football, Television.

The Future of Television?

About 90% of the tv shows I watch these days are either from DVD or downloaded torrents. I really like watching what I feel like watching when I feel like watching it. Downloading shows has let me check out some new shows that might not ever be seen on Finnish TV (like UK Channel 4's bizarre comedy Green Wing), or things I missed (like Steven Bochco's Murder One). I just finished watching the first season of Murder One tonight. It's was a really good series, but because the first season dealt with only a single case it was hard to catch up if you didn't start watching from the very beginning (like me). So they changes the structure for the second season, and that still didn't find a big enough audience, so it got dumped. There's an interesting article in Slate from last year that makes the argument "How $2 downloads can revive network television." It makes a lot of sense. If people can easily download the episodes they can catch themselves up, and there will be less need to fill-in audiences or "reboot" plotlines. That should also make for more interesting and creative story arcs, and concepts like Murder One. For me, I'm more and more becoming a fan of the "boutique" style series of 8-12 episodes favoured by British and cable networks, rather than the network mega-series. Shows like the BBC's Life on Mars, HBO's Entourage and Showtime's Weeds are definite favourites, and much more rewarding than that 300th episode of Friends or Seinfeld.

While we're on the subject of shows that didn't quite work, Amos and I watched 'The Best TV Shows That Never Were' last night. It's a great run through of TV pilots that never made it. Most of them for very good reasons, and a few that I would have watched. Amos had the idea for a network that would only show these old pilots, but maybe it would work as a pay-per-download service (or even a torrent archive). Seems to have worked for Global Frequency, at least.

Posted on August 7, 2006 and filed under Television.

BitTorrent VCR

Not long after assembling my fancy new media PC (complete with digital TV card) I realized that downloading TV shows using eMule was easier and less error-prone than recording them digitally myself. The media PC still served as a great multimedia playback platform, and since it is on 24/7, eMule downloads come steady and constant. Probably about half my TV viewing is now via this deferred digital method rather than live. I have a few of my favourite series that I can watch when I feel like it. I get good quality (usually HDTV) copies of shows as soon as their aired in North America (or the UK, as the case may be), rather than waiting for them to be available in Finland. Otherwise, I use analog TV for live sports, local news, or just to have something mindless on. Now comes a new evolution in my setup. I've pretty much ditched eMule in favour of the Azureus BitTorrent client, with the RSS Feed Scanner plugin. Basically, the plugin monitors an RSS feed published by tvtorrent.info using a set of filters that I create for the torrents of shows I want to grab as they become available. While I can use direct links from Mininova to get older episodes, once I'm caught up all the new eps are automatically downloaded.

So now I'm grabbing the Daily Show, er, daily, without having to manually search for a torrent each time. I'd love it if more torrents of Canadian shows were available, such as The Hour or the old episodes of Da Vinci's Inquest. If anyone has tips on where to find these, I'd be very grateful. Of course with this literal torrent of TV flooding into my media PC, the only problem left with is finding time to watch them all (although I'm already pretty picky about what I watch).

Update: I found one site that surveyed the availability of CBC/Canadian torrent TV content available. Looks like The Hour has been uploaded before, until the faithful uploader's computer broke. :( I was able to find a couple season 2 episodes of Da Vinci's Inquest too. Since Alliance Atlantis aren't releasing anything past season 1 on DVD anytime soon, I have no compunction about downloading them.

Posted on January 24, 2006 and filed under Canada, Geek Gear, Television.

Bias Lighting for Home Theatre

After reading about Philips' marketing of something they call Ambilight, which creates a diffuse backlighting behind their fancy plasma TVs, I decided to look into the concept behind it (excuse the pun). Turns out the idea of 'bias lighting' is pretty prevalent in the home theatre community. The diffuse light behind the TV reduces eye strain and improves your perception of the TV image by creating another light source in your field of vision. Digging a little deeper, it seemed pretty non-trivial to create my own DIY bias lighting using an old fluorescent light fixture bought from a flea market for €5. I also cleaned up the visual field behind the TV by hiding some wires with cable tubes and a white bed sheet. The experts recommend a 6500 kelvin temperature colour bulb, which I've ordered from the aquarium shop down the street (though the damn thing costs over €20, which throws off my bias lighting on the cheap concept just a bit). bias lightingSo far, even with the standard fluorescent bulb, I can really appreciate the difference when watching TV in the dark, and there's no nasty reflections of the screen that lights in front of the TV create.  I'm not sure that the current position is ideal, though. Right now, the fixture is installed shining down from a shelf behind the TV, though in the future I may attach the fixture directly to the TV stand and have it shine backwards against the wall.

Posted on January 22, 2006 and filed under Flat, Geek Gear, Television.

The Littlest Hobo (in Spanish!)

So I just watched an episode of Trailer Park Boys (Roskasakki- Trashbag, in Finnish) and the closing scene had Ricky watching the opening credits of The Littlest Hobo. Prompted by a wave of nostalgia, likely common to all Canadians of my generation, upon hearing the them tune, I Googled it and came up with something even weirder than the Trailer Park Boys in Finnish: The Littlest Hobo song in Spanish. Enjoy.

Posted on December 16, 2005 and filed under Canada, Television.

Da Vinci's Inquest

While I'm on the subject of great police/crime dramas, I really missDa Vinci's Inquest. It only started in Canada after I left, but they actually started showing it in Finland (Da Vincin murhatutkimukset) a while back. When I first came across it I totally dismissed it. A quality drama... from Canada? Yeah right. By the time I finally started watching it I was amazed at how good it was. Da Vinci is the antithesis of American tough-guy cop show heroes, and the plotlines delve into social issues most US shows would never touch. (I especially loved the episode that highlights the issue of a safe injection site in the Downtown Eastside where Da Vinci goes down to Pigeon Park to buy drugs for a suspect holed up inside a squat in order to lure him out safely. Like that could happen in a US cop show.) As in Hill Street Blues, the characters are no saints, especially homicide detective Mick Leary (Ian Tracey).

So after getting hooked on this show, it disappeared from YLE (Finland's public broadcaster). A note on their FAQ says 'The acquisition of new episodes of Da Vinci's Inquest for YLE TV2 is being considered. In any case, the series is not yet returning in the near future' ("Da Vincin murhatutkimukset -sarjan uusien jaksojen hankintaa harkitaan YLE TV2:ssa. Sarja ei kuitenkaan palaa ohjelmistoon vielä lähiaikoina.") Bugger.

There's no sign of any episodes available to download from the likes of eMule, and only Season 1 is available on DVD. I guess I'll have to console myself with that instead of new episodes. Any of my Canadian friends and family feel like getting it for me (my birthday was only two months ago)?

Update (09.08.05): As if I could really wait for you lot. The first season DVD set arrived from Amazon.ca today. Nearly ten hours of Da Vinci goodness awaits! Don't call me for a while.

Posted on July 29, 2005 and filed under Canada, Television.

Where is Hill Street Blues?

hillstreet4.gifOne of those shows that simply revolutionized television, Hill Street Blues was one of the first real 'adult' shows that I got to watch when I was growing up. Hill Street set the standard for prestige shows like ER and NYPD Blue that would follow it. Instead of police officers as one-dimensional crime-fighting heroes, the cops of TheHill were presented as complex and flawed humans. With there being such a dearth of quality new TV drama on today, I got to thinking that I'd much rather watch the whole series of Hill Street Blues again than anything that's on now. My quick search surprised me. It's not available at all on DVD! There has to be a market for this. We 30+ somethings buy just as many DVDs as the Dawson's Creek set, so where are our deluxe box sets, I ask you? Yet, I can't even find an online petition to get it on DVD. The 'not yet published page' for it at Amazon is full of praise for the show, and similar frustration at its lack of a proper DVD release.

Posted on July 28, 2005 and filed under Television.