Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Derren Brown’s latest series of stunts on Channel 4 has had the whole country talking. Not always positively, but talking nonetheless. For everyone amazed by the lottery prediction there’s someone still angry that he didn’t teach us all how to win it every week. And for every person stuck to their sofas there were several more left just a bit bewildered by the whole thing. Then there’s this guy, who claims to have been stuck for 12 hours – only emerging from the sofa the following morning, half-starved and desperate for the toilet. I’m sure Derren won’t mind the context of discussion so long as people are talking, and the ratings seem to prove the series a massive success.

Something that he touched on in the sofa-bound show was perception and awareness without consciousness – a basic example that he gave being when the song going round and round in your head turns out to have been whistled by the guy you passed on the street earlier that morning. Derren’s ability to plant ideas in people’s heads is obviously aided quite significantly by his hypnosis skills, but it’s still an interesting perspective on messaging and how simple speech patterns and sentence structure can convey thoughts and ideas without explicitly saying them.

If you missed it, take a look at this clip (can’t embed it for some reason) of a confused Simon Pegg and the subsequent explanation of how he did it. I’m off to build some subliminal programming into my next press release.



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** spoiler alert **

The latest TV offering from US that’s filtered over to me is Dexter – for those who don’t know this anti-hero: he’s no ordinary forensic blood splatter expert, he’s also a part-time knife wielding serial killer that hunts down the bad(der) guys the law can’t touch. He’s the sad creation of his own up-bringing, having witnessed his mother slaughtered in front of him and his brother. Being brought up to live by a code of honour by his foster father – a policeman himself, teaches Dexter how to harness the evil in him for the greater good.

Season two ended with a bang (literally) – Dexter almost had his secret exposed, but a change in a series of (un)fortunate events kept his dark past hidden.

I just watched season three, and although not as gripping as the previous, there are three lessons to be learnt:

1 – If you want/or need to continue being a serial killer for a “good cause”, be careful who you trust. Don’t choose a ‘friend’ who thinks your ideas are cool. He is likely to be crazier than you. Examples are Guy Fawkes, Lindsay Lohan etc.

2 – If you stalk someone that you eventually want to slice up into small pieces, make sure no one else is on the same trail and do it quickly. Don’t do the long monologues. You’re gonna get caught.

3 – Don’t have an affair with someone crazier than you – it’ll put a wrench in your works and mess everything up.

Apart from that, Dexter season three – well worth a watch.

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I hear with glee that series 3 of Mad Men is airing in the US this summer.  This means it should hit our shores during the autumn.  This is a very good thing.

Communications folks like me enjoy Mad Men as it takes us back to a bygone age where a hard day’s work involved rolling up around 11am, attending the odd meeting, lunching heartily and putting away more Old Fashioneds than you could shake a stick at.  And that’s not to mention the frequent and passionate discussions of the Ugandan situation with female co-workers.

Setting aside the naughtiness however, Mad Men includes some truly classic pieces of TV.  Don Draper’s presentation of the Kodak Carousel at the end of S1 is compulsory viewing for anyone who has to pitch for a living.  His wife Betty shooting ducks in her dressing gown, cigarette in mouth, during S2 is another.

Consider your cards duly marked.

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Feeling blu

We’ve been researching Blu-ray a lot this week. As a relatively young format it’s been through a lot – the initial (and ultimately victorious) battle with Toshiba’s HD-DVD, widespread consumer confusion and the threat of digital downloads.

But now the tide seems to be turning. Increasing adoption of HD programming from the likes of Sky, Virgin and Freesat is getting the message through to consumers that their shiny new HDTVs are only really HD when a proper source is plugged in. Prices of Blu-ray players and the discs themselves are falling, they’re becoming more visible in stores, and adverts which would previously have DVD as the main format are now leading with the Blu-ray version.

The technology is also evolving. Interactive content through the BD Live service is being realised, moving away from simple web pages with more trailers to real dynamic content that isn’t available anywhere else. A good example is last year’s The Dark Knight, which featured a live, community commentary with the director. A new development this year will be seen with the release of Watchmen, where a special edition will also include a PS3 game, taking advantage of that format’s shared userbase.

So, what do you all think of Blu-ray? Have you seen it going and do you think it lives up to the hype?

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Time for The Wire in the UK?

As I was watching The Wire on BBC 2 last night something struck me – I have spent a small fortune developing my DVD box-set collection but I don’t own a single drama single series made in the UK.  The Wire, one of the best TV shows ever made in my opinion, tops my list that includes The Sopranos, The Shield, Lost, The Corner, Oz and West Wing – but nothing from Blighty.

I won’t bang on about the gritty realism of the Baltimore-based series – you can read plenty here and here.  I will leave discussion about the production values,  sub-plots and dual meanings developed in The Sopranos to someone else – I am more interested to know we aren’t making like this in the UK? Is the BBC spending too much on sporting events and soaps? Is ITV more interested in its search for talented singers? You can normally expect Channel 4 to come up with something but Shameless, whilst funny and a decent watch,  doesn’t really cut the mustard.

HBO (the US channel responsible for most of the above shows) has shown that making decent quality drama series can still be profitable by selling box-sets by the bucket-load around the world. I think I’ve spotted a gap in the market – maybe I will start writing my own, that’ll give me something to do this weekend.

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