Editor’s Note: My recent post listing the definitive, authoritative list of the Top 5 Cooks from Too Many Cooks spurred my friend Evan Habeeb to submit his own list of the Top 10 Cooks. Without further adieu, Evan’s list of the Top 10 cooks, including commentary:
10. James White
I want those reports on my desk by 5pm or you’re off the force!
9. Tara Ochs
She just can’t get anything right — even the cookies!!
I rarely ever channel surf live TV, though when I do I’m consistently amazed at the sheer length and frequency of commercial breaks. The seismic impact of DVRing aside, TV providers have limited if any tools beyond the decades-old “Previous Channel” button to help casual surfers avoid the mind-numbing crush of ads in those rare occasions when clicking around is the entertainment method of choice.
Browsing through the DirecTV channel guide while out of DVR’d shows on a quick lunch break the other day, I thought of a new idea that might infuriate advertisers and networks even as it makes casual browsing just slightly better for viewers.
Imagine your TV provider’s standard channel guide (a screenshot of my DirecTV guide is pictured). Now, imagine a new feature: An icon next to each channel or show name, to appear when that particular channel is currently in the midst of a commercial break. If we want to get negative, the icon could be a red button or perhaps a skull and crossbones; a more moderate icon could be as simple as a megaphone or “Ad break” — anything to provide an immediate and yet subtle visual clue so you can choose to skip past that channel and pick one where that 295th rerun of The Wedding Singer is actually airing.
If TV providers wanted to go a step further and give a nod to the advertisers they were helping viewers avoid, they could potentially even show a logo of the advertiser next to the show name in the guide, updating it live as the ads changed. An even more explicit and potentially mutually beneficial feature would be to show a countdown until the break is over. Sure, a commercial break countdown that still shows 4 minutes left might spur viewers to another option, though a nearly-finished countdown could also tilt the scales towards a few seconds of ad viewing. Since so much of my ad viewing comes via fast-forwarding the ads in DVR’d show, I’m assuming advertisers are already accounting for extremely brief views as part of their ad creation process.
Yes, this would be more visual clutter in the already crowded channel guide user experience, and no, TV providers are not likely to subvert their partners so brazenly. All that said, “heads up” ad break tracking on channel guides could be a useful innovation to a problem that has plagued our lazy weeknights and sick days for generations.
One of my favorite TV shows is ending, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Nearing the third season premiere of Kroll Show next month, co-creator and star Nick Kroll announced that he’s ending the show entirely after this season airs. Not because ratings are low, or the network decided to move on, or any of the business-related reasons that shows are ended. Rather, Kroll is wrapping up simply because he “wanted to feel like we were going out with the best work that we’ve done.”
Given how rare this type of voluntary ending is, I have even more respect for Kroll than I already did. In an industry where the norm is to renew successful shows until long after their natural expiration dates — resulting in increasingly ridiculous plots and beloved cast/characters exiting, among other issues — it’s really refreshing to see a star (with creative control, no less) making sure a show goes out like this.
Of course it’s natural to want something great to continue. That said, we often stick with great shows to the point where they’re no longer recognizable as what we loved in the first place. The results are comedies like The Office continuing on without its star, funniest character and emotional heart; otherwise superb dramas like Downton Abbey resorting to inexplicable deaths, and previously respected shows like ERdescending into soap opera-like insanity to keep viewers tuned in.
The worst part isn’t even what we’re watching — it’s what we’re missing. When previously great shows continue on well past their prime, their producers and stars are spending time and energy investing in a stale product when they could instead be working on new and different projects. A new project isn’t guaranteed to be a winner, though I’ll always bet on a great performer to come back again with something new and great, when given the chance.
After Kroll Show wraps, I’ll miss Liz and Liz, Ceasar (maybe not), Bobby Bottleservice, Wendy and Ashley, the Wheels crew, and of course Gil and George most of all. That said, loving nearly every minute of the show so far only makes me more excited to see where Kroll and the cast and crew of the Show will end up next.
Louis C.K. is back on TV…4 years after his last show on HBO was canceled, he’s back on FX with a show called simply ‘Louie’. Looks like the hilarious Chelsea Peretti is co-starting?! Here’s a teaser clip currently up on Hulu:
After the jump, a classic Woodrow sketch from SNL, courtesy of Hulu.com:
CBS has just announced that one of the two best shows on television, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, has been renewed for a third season! Congrats to the entire crew and cast. Looking forward to seeing what happens next year.
At his RTNDA keynote in Las Vegas today, Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire supported my thesis. Lost Remote has an excellent wrap-up of his speech, where he demonstrated the new and exciting Brightcove platform which is about to go live (give it about two weeks or so). It’s a huge story, as Brightcove appears to be the first truly usable, open platform for creating, distributing, and monetizing personally-created video.
Brightcove is behind some of the most innovative video projects on the web, and founder and president Jeremy Allaire’s keynote follows. He demonstrated Brightcove’s tool that allows just about anyone to build their own player experience from a variety of templates and settings. And he talked about upcoming plans to encourage anyone to upload, distribute and sell video through Brightcove’s tools and a new relationship with AOL. More…He begins by mapping out the promises of internet TV: open distribution, consumer choice, multi-screen delivery and content owner control. A broad overview for the broadcast folks in the crowd.
I’ve been testing out a form of the Brightcove player for a few months but what I’ve seen is nothing like what Allaire demonstrated today. This is exciting stuff.