Silicon Valley (HBO)

February 25, 2014 12:03am
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(via BoingBoing)

Could be interesting … has a few actors that I’m a fan of, like T.J. Miller and Kumail Nanjiani … although I’m kind of surprised that there’s almost nothing out about it so far and it premieres in April… :?

The Legacy of The Tonight Show

February 18, 2014 1:49am
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I used to be a big fan of The Tonight Show, presumably because it was the one that my Dad always watched.

Loved Jay Leno – he was a funny guy, and typically would stay up late with my friends so that we could watch Conan, too.

“Stay tuned for Conan!”

It all changed for me a few years ago in 2010 when the whole Leno/Conan thing went down that really left a bad taste in my mouth, and I stopped being a fan of both Jay Leno and The Tonight Show because my view on the whole situation is that the one person who could’ve done something (Leno), didn’t.

But this post isn’t really about that, and although I didn’t watch the actual episode tonight, I’ve watched a couple of the clips that are up on YouTube already and I’ve been reading a lot of the media coverage about the whole thing, and what a big deal it is to be moving the show back to NYC for the first time since Johnny Carson left (although I was too young to watch even when he hosted in the 80s/90s), and even how Jimmy Fallon is tweaking the name of the show to be The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon instead of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon … also because that’s how Carson and even the older hosts before him did it.

And I guess all of this kind of got me thinking about, really, what an institution The Tonight Show has become, much like Saturday Night Live – another show that the comedy fan in me would still like to watch, but I just can’t bring myself to do it, and even looking at Jimmy Fallon himself … I never really watched him on Late Night simply because of sour grapes over the whole Leno/Conan fiasco, even though the clips that I’d randomly watch online were mostly entertaining and I’d always enjoyed him starting out on SNL as well.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that after watching his extraordinarily humble and earnest introduction from a few hours ago, I think it might finally be time to give The Tonight Show another shot…

Good news, everyone!!!

January 3, 2014 8:15pm
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This. Is. Awesome.

Click on the image to see all sorts of crazy detail on the artist’s Deviant Art page – the original is something like 5000×3500, so it’s really huge! Unfortunately, it’s a fan creation, so we’ll probably never actually see it in print unless you know a dude who’s a printer who will look the other way, which is too bad because I think it would go great alongside this classic poster of the entire cast of The Simpsons that I currently have framed on my wall…

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…just between you and me, I might see if I can find a place to get a copy printed up at 24×36 anyways…

Loved all of the detail that went into tonight’s Christmas episode of The Simpsons – especially in the intro!

I was also almost tempted to rewind so that I could read all of the holiday special spoofs, but thankfully the AV Club already did it in this otherwise curmudgeonly review of the episode as a whole.

Whatever – I’m easy to please when it comes to The Simpsons … just keep making it!  :wink:

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The Claymation Christmas Special is the best Christmas special ever made – hands down.

The Idealist vs. The Realist

December 5, 2013 7:20pm
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How do I not remember this great bit of dialog from MacKenzie from the very first episode of The Newsroom?! Usually Will gets all of the best dialog, but she really nailed it with this scene.

So I learned something last night about 3D TVs … basically, they don’t suck as much as I thought they did.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think that 3D itself is a gimmick that adds very little to the experience and I have no desire to sit and wear 3D glasses in my own living room, but I did dispel a misunderstanding that I’ve had about the picture quality for the last year that makes me feel a little more comfortable about the next TV that we buy being of 3D nature…

…even though technically the problem that I was experiencing apparently was completely unrelated to 3D…

:oops:

It all started last fall when we were up in New York for my wife’s Grandma’s funeral. Her parents had recently bought a new 3D TV, and while everyone else was gushing and raving over it, I couldn’t help but think that something didn’t seem right. In fact, there were shows that I flat out couldn’t bring myself to watch because the actors on screen had this extra depth to them that made whatever we were watching look more like a live recording than a feature presentation. I tried to watch some of the shows that I had been watching on HBO at the time, everything just looked really fake and terrible.

At the time I chalked it up to 3D sucks and thus vowed that I never wanted to get a 3D TV myself because of it, when in reality it didn’t even click until a year later that the 3D hadn’t even actually been on.

Something finally drove me to dig into this a little deeper last night when my sister-in-law’s new TV showed up and we set it up in the living room to substitute for our old TV until she moves out. For her and my wife, 3D is a big deal, so after getting everything hooked up, we threw a copy of the new Superman into her 3D Blu-Ray player to check everything out in full effect. And it started happening again … all of the amazing space backgrounds looked fantastic, but the actors themselves literally looked like they were performing a stage adaptation of Superman instead of the film that we saw in the theaters earlier this year!

We pretty much watched until Baby Superman landed on Earth and then everyone went to bed … well, they went to bed while stayed up in search of answers because after spending over an hour in the store with her looking at TVs, I thought that the one she settled on was a pretty damn nice TV! There had to be something else that was going on that could make a $2,000 1080p LED look like crap…

…and it turns out there was, and on Samsung TVs, it goes by the name of Auto Motion Plus.

From what I understand, what it basically does is fill in the gaps for lower frame rate videos to bump them from 24 fps up to 30 fps, which doesn’t seem like it would be that big of a deal. In fact, when you watch live broadcasts like sports it looks pretty good, but for anything done in an actual studio, the “enhanced frame rate” makes the latest action blockbuster from Marvel look like it was shot with a Handycam on a badly lit sound stage. Here I thought when the specs listed the TV as having a dual-core processor, I just assumed that it was for the new web interfaces and apps that are being bundled with TVs these days, but in fact, the processor is actually being used for video processing – in this case, generating that extra 6 fps on the fly to “improve” the frame rate for a clearer picture.

Online I found a lot of people referring to it as the Soap Opera Effectwhich now that I’ve heard the name is exactly what it looks like, whether we’re talking about a re-run of Seinfeld or Thor or pretty much anything else with actual people in it! I tried to take a couple of photos, but I don’t really think that they do the issue justice.

First, before – with Auto Motion Plus set to standard:

tv_before

And now with it turned off: (P.S. I hate how yellow that particular scene is, but I think you still get the point…)

tv_after

It’s obviously a lot more dramatic on the actual TV itself, but you can even see in the comparison photos how Thor looks a lot more sharp and shiny in the first one … and maybe that looks great to some, but to me it absolutely ruins the aesthetic of the picture. Thankfully when turning the feature off, though, the problem seems to pretty much disappear…

tv_menu

I did experiment with the other settings first to see if there was a suitable compromise, and Clear wasn’t too bad, but it still popped a little compared to turning it off completely. Turning it off completely delivered the actual HD picture that I was expecting – it looks very nice and is certainly a step up from our increasingly old, 52″ rear projection TV, but more importantly, now the picture is actually watchable … at least in my eyes! ;)

And I guess that’s the weird thing – I still need to show her how to switch it back and forth because neither of them claim to actually be able to see a difference … though admittedly my wife somehow didn’t notice the difference between SD and HD for the longest time, either.  :roll: Considering that my sister-in-law is a football fan, she might find that she actually likes that setting for watching sports – I saw some posts from last year about people watching the Olympics and they said that it looked fantastic with the higher frame rate … which would kind of make sense because it sounds like both NFL and the most recent Olympic games have actually been shot at 30 fps, whereas most movies and standard TV use 24 fps.

You may recall last year there was a bit of complaint about The Hobbit being released in both 24 fps and 48 fps formats, being the first of its kind to do so. Here’s an interesting article that does a pretty good job of explaining why the higher frame rates for that movie especially, and I would argue even here in general, make the picture look weird … essentially because as frame rates increase, you’re getting closer to the actual frame rate that your own eyes can tell the difference between … hence it looks like Thor is performing a play on public television rather than living it up in the realm of Asgard!

One thing that I did note on her TV that I found interesting was that while you can set custom picture settings for each input (i.e. cable, DVD player, XBox), what you can’t do is set different picture settings for individual channels inside those inputs … and admittedly I’m not quite sure how they would even do that, but I can see it potentially being an issue where you might say, “I want to use Auto Motion Plus for Discovery and The NFL Network and Lifetime for when I watch my stories, but not for HBO and Shotime and pretty much everything else.”

I can see that being an issue for some people because most probably don’t even realize that the setting exists in the first place … I would guess that most simply believe that this is just what TV looks like now, so it must be better! As that article mentions, we’ve already seen it with aspect ratios and even before then, with people still viewing SD channels on their HD TVs (huge pet peeve of mine – why can the cable company not remove those from the guide altogether when there’s an HD equivalent instead of just putting a small ‘watch this in HD’ button on the screen?!).

Anyways, for the few and the annoyed who both can’t stand this and want to do something about it, there you go! Turn off Auto Motion Plus or whatever your TV manufacturer calls it, and enjoy your brand new, sparkling, ultra-slim, high definition TV at a normal frame rate the way that god intended.

Who would’ve thought that we’d get to a point where TVs are too crisp and clear?!  :?

The Hobbit Couch Gag on The Simpsons…

October 30, 2013 3:01pm
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This is pretty great! I don’t know which is better – Moe as Gollum or Mr. Burns as Smaug…

Remember this old classic from Freddie? Sadly, he hasn’t posted anything new in over a year … according to his website, he’s actively working on a new album that should be due out sometime soon, so keep your eyes peeled and your fingers crossed for that! ;)

The Gobots (duh dun dun dun dun dun DUH!)

October 18, 2013 9:42pm
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I grew up as a Gobots kid.

At the time I honestly didn’t really think much of Transformers – I think Gobots were just what I ended up with because that’s what they had on the shelves in the toy aisle of our local grocery store, so that’s where my allowance and whatnot went when I had money to spend. In hindsight, it’s clear that one is pretty much a direct rip-off of the other … even though technically my beloved Gobots actually came out a few months before the stupid Transformers did!  :P

Anyways, I bring this up tonight because whenever these alien robots wander back into my head from my childhood, I’m always reminded of one particular series of episodes that I’ve never been able to find online … until tonight. It’s a five-episode arc called The Gobotron Saga that featured the original creator of the Gobots, The Last Engineer, being sought out to save the Guardians from an evil Renegade invasion. The very last part in the series (5 of 5) features him showing off the new power suits that he created to give the Guardians the upper hand against their enemies which were totally awesome … and yes, I absolutely had every last one of them to complete the set…

…although it’s really hard not to look at the final “Power Warrior” that is formed and not think that it’s just a blatant rip-off of Voltron…  :roll:

I also found it somewhat intriguing to look through the actual cast of the show and come to realize that several of the voice actors were actually involved in a lot of the cartoons that I used to watch growing up!

  • B.J. Ward, who was the voice of Small Foot on Gobots, was also Princess Allura and Haggar on Voltron as well as did voices on The Chipmunks and Darkwing Duck.
  • Frank Welkerwho was the voice of Scooter, also did Dr. Claw on Inspector Gadget, ironically Megatron and others on The Transformers, and all sorts of voices from Muppet Babies, Tiny Toon Adventures, not to mention Nibbler on Futurama today!
  • Arthur Burghardtwho was Turbo on Gobots, also appeared on The Transformers, The Chipmunks, and G.I. Joe (a lot of these folks did G.I. Joe – I just never watched that one).
  • And probably most notable of all, Optimus Prime himself, Peter Cullenalso appeared on Gobots as several of the Renegades in addition to narrating Voltron and doing voices for The Chipmunks, Ghostbusters, DuckTales, BraveStarr, Winnie the Pooh, Rescue Rangers, Gummi Bears … the list goes on!

Anyways, here’s the full miniseries – all 100 minutes of it across five parts! I tried to track down another one that I liked as well – it was actually a miniseries of the first five episodes of the show, but the only copy I could find was on some really crappy video site that literally played commercials every five minutes and was nearly unwatchable. Rumor has it you can still get that one as a print-on-demand DVD from Hanna-Barbera, so if anyone needs an awesome nostalgic Christmas gift for me this year… ;)

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