Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, October 24, 2021

If you subjected your newborn to hours of Disney’s “Baby Einstein” videos, and years later wound up with a straight-C student, you’re due for some money back:

Last year, lawyers threatened a class-action lawsuit for unfair and deceptive practices unless Disney agreed to refund the full purchase price to all who bought the videos since 2004. “The Walt Disney Company’s entire Baby Einstein marketing regime is based on express and implied claims that their videos are educational and beneficial for early childhood development,” a letter from the lawyers said, calling those claims “false because research shows that television viewing is potentially harmful for very young children.”

The letter cited estimates from The Washington Post and BusinessWeek that Baby Einstein controlled 90 percent of the baby media market, and sold $200 million worth of products annually.

The letter also described studies showing that television exposure at ages 1 through 3 is associated with attention problems at age 7.

In response, the Baby Einstein company will refund $15.99 for up to four “Baby Einstein” DVDs per household, bought between June 5, 2004, and Sept. 5, 2009, and returned to the company.

Sixteen bucks? I’m sure parents were counting on all that video exposure paying itself back when Junior earned a full-ride scholarship to college. Therefore, I say that Disney pony up the cash equivalent of a four-year tuition bill to some Ivy League school. Call it a “genius grant” settlement. It’ll end up being the smartest move those brain-dead parents ever made…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/24/2009 04:44pm
Category: Business, Society, TV
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Tuesday, October 20, 2021

Underlining how irrelevant a 24-hour weather broadcast is nowadays, The Weather Channel is breaking its forecasting cycle by showing movies on Friday nights.

The films are either weather-themed or have plots in which weather plays a key role, [chief programmer Geoffrey] Darby said. Meteorologist Jennifer Carfagno will host movie night and offer commentary.

Other movies include the documentary “March of the Penguins,” the thriller “Deep Blue Sea” and “Misery,” for which Kathy Bates won an Academy Award.

The weather angle is pretty clear in “The Perfect Storm,” but “Misery”? Darby noted the nightmare endured by James Caan’s character begins with a blinding snowstorm.

For The Weather Channel, the risk lies in alienating its regular weather-obsessed viewers, who tune in for news of high pressure systems rather than high drama. The potential reward is that new fans will tune in, and they’ll stay on the station for a longer period, pleasing advertisers.

It’s nothing new: Whenever a single-purpose cable channel starts adding off-focus content like movies, reality shows, etc., it’s because it can’t talk to a certain segment of advertisers otherwise. Whatever devoted audience it had is essentially abandoned at that point, with the hoped-for tradeoff of higher viewer volume.

So since TWC has made the jump, should we anticipate “Rainy Day Movies” to debut soon — flicks that roll in sync with local atmospheric conditions? Might as well synergize the hell out of this whole deal.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/20/2009 10:49pm
Category: Movies, TV, Weather
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Tuesday, October 13, 2021

twits about nothing
The show about nothing meets the website about 140-character bits of nothing. Frank Ferri wonders how the “Seinfeld” crew would react to compulsive Twittering:

JERRY: You know, you’ve got to have something to tweet about in order to tweet.

GEORGE: I got plenty to tweet about, baby!

JERRY: No, no you don’t. You see, you have the Twitter account and the laptop. But you don’t have anything worthwhile to tweet about. No job, no girlfriend, no…

JERRY: What’s the deal with that 140-character limit, anyway? Like if it was 141, the Internet would break?

GEORGE: Ooh, that’s good. Can I tweet that?

I think Kramer would be more prone to over-tweeting than George, actually. To the point where Kramerica Industries would release a Twitter app — one with a tripwire auto-shutdown, to prevent a repeat of the Bob Sacamano death-by-Twitter tragedy.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/13/2009 10:53pm
Category: Comedy, Creative, Social Media Online, TV
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Wednesday, October 07, 2021

When rhetorically asked to explain its existence, a certain college-sports regional channel fumbles off the following FAQ answer:

The Mtn. – MountainWest Sports Network was created in 2006 with you, the fan, in mind. More and more often, [Mountain West Conference] teams were being asked by the former rights holder to play on non-traditional days, such as Wednesday and Thursday evenings and at times not contusive to the fans’ schedules, in respect to both viewership and attendance at games. emphasis added

Yes, The Mtn uses the word “contusive” with respect to broadcasting games around fan schedules. Considering that that term means the ability to bruise or injure without breaking the skin, I guess that means that Mountain West sports programs want to make sure they hurt their viewers at times most convenient to the audience.

Academic standards can’t be too high in the Rocky Mountain region when the difference between “contusive” and “conducive” eludes the media majors. Someone needs to spend more time in the classroom and less time on the field…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/07/2021 06:24pm
Category: Comedy, Sports, TV, Wordsmithing
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Thursday, October 01, 2021

With the strictly-segregated 30-second spot losing relevance, and old-fashioned product-placement not breaking through the mindshare clutter, advertising now is insinuating itself right into the scripts of televisions shows:

During the [commercial] short, which was crafted by ["Desperate Housewives"] staffers, romantic tension erupts among a married couple, with Sprint’s Palm Pre playing a central role in the proceedings. In the next seven weeks, viewers will see seven more vignettes featuring the couple, who find that Sprint products help them learn more about infidelity, betrayal and justice than they ever might have imagined. A few weeks down the road, the two characters should show up in subtle fashion in the actual show “Desperate Housewives.”

Basically a show-within-an-ad-within-a-show. The idea is a seamless viewing experience, where everything counts as one overarching storyline — including what’s usually (or formerly?) a commercial “break”.

Or, on the flipside, you could now regard everything to be one long commercial, including the story content. Considering some of the creative discontent over this approach, that’s both the current assessment and the view to the future:

Peter Horton, executive producer of the short-lived NBC drama “The Philanthropist,” said he would hesitate to have another such ad on one of his shows. He said a dramatized vignette featuring the assistant and bodyguard of the show’s main character using Microsoft Corp.’s Bing search engine to look up things online was confusing to viewers because it sometimes introduced a competing plot line.

“I understand the desire financially by networks and producers,” Horton said. “I do think it’s at the expense of the viewing experience, I really do.”

It’s not hard to figure that the pressure will be to follow the dollars, and that these “dramatized ads” will eventually overtake the pure creative content. The question is whether or not anyone will still be watching the boob tube by then.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/01/2021 11:06pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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Tuesday, September 29, 2021

I strictly adhere to the correct notion that World Wrestling Federation Entertainment’s televised spectacles are not, despite surface appearances and trappings, sporting events. (Therefore, I’m not slotting this post under my Other Sports category.) Accordant with that acknowledgment comes a general disdain for WWE and all such related fake-sports spectacles — a disdain forged from years of enduring the rants from rasslin’ fans who insisted upon major metropolitan newspaper coverage in the Sports section (as if).

That said, I like the ring of WWE “Hell in a Cell”. Strictly for the wordplay. It’s a snappy brand, and nicely captures the malevolent melee spirit that it’s trying to sell (despite the staged phoniness of the whole thing).

What doesn’t help: That the latest edition of this cagefighting series is being sponsored by the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles videogame. Kinda takes the edge off, money aside. If they’re going to take that route, why not spin off a truly kid-friendly sidebar event, and call it “Heck in a Sec”? Might as well work all the angles.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/29/2009 08:59am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture, TV, Videogames
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Monday, September 28, 2021

I wasn’t a fan of the original “Little House on the Prairie”, despite it being a TV fixture for a good chunk of my childhood. Still, the show was a pervasive pop-cultural force during my formative years. So I appreciate the unique irony in Melissa Gilbert revisiting the familiar terrain of her “Half-Pint” character, but in a decidedly different, if equally familiar, role:

The star of TV’s long-running “Little House on the Prairie” — she played the young Laura Ingalls — is back on the prairie. Only now, at 45, she’s onstage, in a musical version at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, through Oct. 10.

This time, she’s playing Ma. That didn’t throw her, Gilbert says, but the singing did.

“My initial reaction was, ‘Are you crazy?’ ” she says. But after two years of extensive training, she now feels confident, especially since she’s doing it “with the safety net of material that is like home to me.”

So Gilbert graduates from frontier daughter to frontier mother, which provides the hook for this play. It probably won’t last, as Gilbert is already planning on coming back to Laura Ingalls, if not the “Half-Pint” part:

“I would like to play Laura again 20 to 25 years from now as a one-woman show, when Laura was at that age when the books were published. Kind of a Will Rogers-type thing,” Ms. Gilbert said. “I think that would be fun.”

I dunno, it’s still not fully resonating with me. I guess my emotionally-invested equivalent from TV-land would be a grown-up Malcolm-Jamal Warner starring as Heathcliff Huxtable in a stage version of “The Cosby Show”. Maybe in 15 years or so…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/28/2009 11:14pm
Category: Celebrity, Creative, Pop Culture, TV
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Sunday, September 20, 2021

buc up
Through some quirk in National Football League television scheduling, today’s Tampa Bay at Buffalo game is being broadcast here in the NYC area — a week after the Bucs’ 34-21 loss to Dallas was also shown here in New York.

So that makes the first two weeks of this NFL season with Buccaneers games on my boob-tube. I’d be fooled into thinking I’m still living in Florida, if not for the chilly-ish snap in the air.

The other reason for the nostalgia is that, so far, it’s looking like the Yuckaneers of the ’80s-’90s have been resurrected as the 2009 edition of the team. I realize it’s been only one game, but from what I saw versus the Cowboys, Tampa Bay isn’t destined to win too many games this season. Thus my conjuring-up of the orange-creamsicled uniforms of the Buccaneers past, with Vinny Testaverde’s oft-seen scramble mode representing the current team’s disarray.

Regardless, I’ll take Bucs games on local TV. I don’t expect this ersatz Tampa Bay television territory to last, but while it does, it’s a welcome respite from all the Giants/Jets overexposure around here.

UPDATE - I didn’t realize that the Giants play at Tampa Bay in Week 3. So that’ll make three straight weeks of televised Bucs games for New Yorkers. I’m making my formal request now for the vintage Bucco Bruce orange unis to make an appearance…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/20/2009 12:04pm
Category: Florida Livin', Football, New Yorkin', TV
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Saturday, August 29, 2021

swatch dogs and diet coke heads
Deeming that the ghosts of Westerberg High have lain dormant long enough, a modern-day, small-screen remake is being planned for the ’80s dark satire Heathers.

I think this nerdy bird’s reaction sums it up best:

Fox is planning a “contemporary take” of Heathers for television. I’d throw up but bulimia’s so ‘87.

As cherished as the original is, there’s no ignoring its extreme datedness today. Look-and-feel is easily overlooked in a period piece, but the movie’s overall low-budget quality isn’t: The cheesy synthesizer soundtrack, bad cinematography, and shaky plot points stick out like sore thumbs. Still, the whole wound up being greater than the parts, and any attempted redo — especially as an instantly-disposable TV movie or series — is ill-advised.

Easy prediction: The rebooted Veronica character chronicles her torments not in a hard-copy diary, but on her (“real”) Facebook page. Or is Twitter more optimal for teen-angst bullshit with a body count?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/29/2009 02:52pm
Category: Movies, Pop Culture, TV
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Sunday, August 23, 2021

How do you get rid of a naggingly-persistent song that get stuck inside your head, otherwise known (somewhat creepily so) as an earworm? By drowning it out with an alternate mental soundtrack:

When earworms become a problem, says [James Kellaris, marketing professor at the University of Cincinnati], “some people swear by ‘eraser tunes’; those that have a mystical ability to eat any other earworms. Singing the eraser tune rids one of an earworm but risks replacing it with the eraser song.” A friend of mine uses Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, though it can also become an earworm.

I don’t know what the neurobiology behind it is, but for me, earworms are linked to lyrics. Words always stick in my mind more than instrumentals, probably because they’re mnemonically easier to remember. The catchier a lyrical hook is, the more likely it is to burrow its way into my grey matter. Therefore, it follows that I find instrumental tracks to be most effective as eraser songs.

Toward that end, and owing to my background as a stereotypical ’70s-’80s child raised on television, my preferred all-purpose eraser song is “The Streetbeater”, AKA the theme song from “Sanford and Son”. I discovered the earworm-fighting power of this Quincy Jones-written tune years ago. No matter what’s musically occupying my mind, the familiar strains of that unmistakable sitcom-starter always chase the offending brainwaves away.

In fact, TV theme songs in general do the trick for me in driving out earworms. The all-instrumental themes to “Hawaii Five-O” and “The Cosby Show” work great. Even the ones with song lyrics, like “The Jeffersons theme “Movin’ On Up”, are preferable to some annoying sticky-song. Maybe it’s because those theme songs were, by nature, short and sweet, and served only as preludes to the main attraction. Also, it’s probably a direct demonstration of my personal preference for what was coming out of the TV, instead of what was coming out of the radio, while I was growing up.

So the key to combating the musical noises in your head is to watch more TV. For any other sounds that are rattling around inside your head, please — consult a physician.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/23/2009 04:30pm
Category: Pop Culture, Society, TV
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Saturday, August 22, 2021

I’m not one indulge in the typically voyeuristic media coverage of a high-profile murder du jour. But the grisly details of a Southern California model’s death have, I admit, snared my attention:

When Jasmine Fiore’s body was found in a Dumpster in Buena Park, Calif., Aug. 15, her fingers had been cut off at the second knuckle and all of her teeth had been pulled out. But authorities were still able to identify the swimsuit model from the serial numbers on her breast implants.

“We actually have had several cases where we identified the victim or the defendant in that way,” Orange County District Attorney spokeswoman Susan Schroeder tells PEOPLE. She says implants carry serial numbers “because of the potential for recalls.”

Body parts removed in such a way as to betray the desperately calculating state of mind of the killer — and the horrific task winds up not being thorough enough. I’m sure DNA testing would have identified Fiore if the implants couldn’t have; to go through that level of minute mutilation indicates that the killer was just trying to buy enough time to escape, knowing that everything would be revealed sooner rather than later.

And all indications are that Fiore’s ex-husband, real-estate millionaire Ryan Alexander Jenkins, is the killer. Adding to the case’s twists is Jenkins’ visibility on recent reality TV shows on VH1, which he qualified for despite a documented criminal record in his native Canada. He’s currently on the run, crossing the border into British Columbia en route to a hideout either in Canada or elsewhere.

I hate to say it, but as disturbing as this whole situation is, I can’t help but compare it to something out of a Bret Easton Ellis novel. The callous disregard for human life, the mindset of the privileged class, and the celebrity subculture all combine into a nihilistic mess. Ellis’ dark visions were limited to his fictional Los Angeles; Fiore’s murder hints of real-life LA intruding upon a similar brand of darkness.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/22/2009 12:51pm
Category: Celebrity, Publishing, RealiTV Check, True Crime
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Wednesday, August 19, 2021

The above hand-crafted neighborhood flier is making the online rounds as a source of amusement. And why not, with such matter-of-fact outrage:


(Drawn from memory. May not be to scale.)
[hand-drawing of bicycle] } 20 inches

My bike was stolen from my front lawn last week. It is a one-speed bike with a skull flag and a lightning bolt on it. The lightning bolt and flag may have been removed. This bike was brand new from the store.


I don’t even want this bike back. I just made these flyers to tell you that I hate you, bike thief. I hope you ride my bike without a helmet and get hit by a monster truck. I hope my bike takes you straight to hell.

As it happens, it seems that the origin of this declaration of two-wheeled hate is a Threadless t-shirt design. And it turns out that the original rage was thoroughly misplaced:

my design MISSING started out as an actual flyer that I put up around my dorm when my bike was “stolen” earlier this year… Later, I found out it had been towed because I chained it to a fence with a “no bikes” sign on it. Whoops!

So much for consigning some bicycling bogeyman to the flames. If anyone’s pedaling straight to Hell, it’s Mr. Missing designer.

This all reminds me of the old “The Kids in the Hall” “Open Letters” bit by Bruce McCulloch. Bruce had only his bike’s front wheel stolen, but that didn’t stop him from calling out his thief as “you human loser”. Given the choice between “I hope my bike takes you straight to hell” and “You human loser!”, I prefer the shorter and sweeter put-down.

(Video of that “Open Letter to the Guy Who Stole Bruce’s Bike Wheel” moment here; I won’t embed it because it seems like whenever I do that with a “Kids in the Hall” clip, it gets yanked from YouTube within a week.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/19/2009 03:09pm
Category: Comedy, Fashion, Internet, TV
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Monday, August 17, 2021

that's the spirit
I wasn’t the only one who suspected some unreported product-placement going on with “Mad Men”: AdWeek poked around for evidence.

It found some, specifically regarding Season 3’s unique inclusion of Stolichnaya vodka:

Andrey Skurikhin, a partner at SPI Group, which owns the Stoli brand, said that he didn’t pay for placement. Skurikhin said ["Mad Men" network home] AMC contacted him and, he, being a fan of the show, gladly acquiesced, even producing a bottle from 1963 to conform to the show’s historical accuracy. But was Stoli even available in the U.S. at that time? Not widely, Skurikhin said, but it’s plausible that the high rollers at Sterling Cooper might have been able to access a bottle.

Like I said in my previous post, I don’t have a problem with this premise, because I think it does preserve the authenticity of the storyline. Do I believe Stoli really didn’t pay for this placement? Maybe, maybe not. It could be that the creative folks had that brand in mind, and didn’t want to start a bidding war between Stoli, Smirnoff, and any other historically-eligible Eastern European vodkas. Or maybe AMC will make up the value given to Stoli by hitting them, or other liquor brands, with desirable ad rates for commercial time in later seasons.

There’s no way of telling, other than taking everyone at their words. And that cloak of secrecy is intentional:

When asked whether other brands mentioned on the show on previous seasons like Utz and Cadillac were paid placements, AMC president and general manager Charlie Collier was coy: “We absolutely have product integration on the show, but you shouldn’t know which ones are paid and which ones aren’t.”

Perception is critical. If everyone starts talking about which props are paid-for, that will color the perception of the show, fairly or not. It underlines how much product-placement is still considered a less-than-honorable advertising practice.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/17/2009 08:07pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food, TV
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Wednesday, August 12, 2021

Today’s earlier mention of the oral transposition of “L” and “R” among Asian English-speakers reminded me of an old joke involving Telly Savalas.

I’m kind of amazed that, after so many years, “Kojak” is still such a recognizable pop-culture icon. I can’t believe that the reruns are still in syndication anywhere. But I guess Savalas’ bald head and oversized Greek personality left a lasting impression, to the point where even Israeli police refer to their squad-car portable sirens as “Kojak lights”.

Anyway, the joke. It’s probably apocryphal, but it fits with Savalas’ abrasive personality, and it takes place in New York, and it’s funny. So I’ll roll it out:

He used to go to dinner at the old Hong Hing Co. on Mott St., a “greasy-chopstick” where Telly would mercilessly tease the waiter, Joe, about the way he spoke, by saying, “You got some Flied Lice today, Joe? Bling us some of that Flied Lice!” One time he was there, Telly teased Joe about the Flied Lice as usual, but you could tell from Joe’s determined expression that something was different. Joe had been practicing his speech and had been waiting for this moment, and, sure enough, when he brought out Telly’s food he said, very slowly and deliberately, “Here’s your FRRIED RRICE, you GLEEK PLICK!!”

Who loves ya, baby? It’s better than the nonsensical schoolyard joke I heard as a kid, during the show’s ’70s heyday: That the reason Kojak was bald was because one day, he got that lollipop stuck in his hair, and yanked out all his follicles while pulling it out…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/12/2021 04:21pm
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, New Yorkin', Pop Culture, TV
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If you’re a fan of “Mad Men”, then you’re probably a fan of the show’s dedication to historical accuracy in libations:

Liquor is not only an integral part of many plotlines (last season, it played a pivotal role in a car crash, a divorce, a rape and two career implosions), but often a telling sign of character. When it comes to choosing a character’s poison, [show prop master Gay] Perello said, many people have input, starting with the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner: “Matt will say, ‘I want them to have a brown liquor.’ And I’ll go, ‘Let’s do a nonblended Scotch, because this is a person who would appreciate that.’ ”

The cocktail historian David Wondrich, 48, thinks an old-fashioned is a conservative choice for the young [main character Dan] Draper, but considers his preference for Canadian Club “exactly right. We’d had years of destruction of the American whiskey industry up until then. So the Canadian stuff was viewed as being pretty good.”

What this article doesn’t bring up: Such a central role for name-brand alcohol creates the perfect environment for product placement. Liquor companies are known to be especially aggressive in positioning their brands into movies, TV shows, and even songs. So regardless of what the prop master strives for, I’m sure there’s plenty of paid-for insertion of specific Scotch, vodka, gin, and beer bottles in the storylines.

In fact, a plot point from the upcoming Season 3 illustrates a seamless method of selling this, without compromising the authenticity:

This season, Sterling gets his hands on some prized contraband: Soviet-made Stolichnaya (then not available in the United States). His priorities remain solidly in place. “Help yourself,” he tells a colleague. “Not the Stoli.”

I’d bet anything that this bit was written into the show expressly because Stoli paid for it. They’d have to forgo the modern-day logo and design, but that’s insignificant — having the vodka mentioned by name by a popular character on a popular show guarantees mindshare, and sales. The minds at Sterling Cooper couldn’t have cooked up a more effective advertising campaign.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/12/2021 03:26pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food, History, Pop Culture, TV
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Tuesday, August 11, 2021

Nothing is more sure to bring a smug smile to my face than the low-budget glory of a crappy, locally-produced television commercial. What would mid-afternoon and late-late-night TV be like without this dreck?

This one certainly delivers that smile, and would have even if it didn’t have snarky, grafted-on subtitles:

Despite the two-minute long rap (which was probably a good 90 seconds too long), this flea-market owner fails to convince me that his institutionalized garage sale is “just like, just like — a mini-mall!”. The combination of the starfish, pony, and typewriter dance moves doesn’t help, nor do his angry-creepy bugged-out eyes. A big fail on the marketing message.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 08/11/2021 03:28pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Comedy, Internet, TV
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Sunday, August 09, 2021

As G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra rose to a $54-million debut this weekend, I was reminded of the original 1980s cartoon series. Specifically, I was reminded of how absurdly bloodless that show was:

The first war between G.I. Joe and Cobra (1985-86), as documented in the G.I. Joe animated series, was the most violent conflict in history never to result in a single casualty. Through a combination of terrible aim, superhuman jumping ability, and impossibly reliable parachutes, every combatant escaped even the most dire of situations without so much as the angle of his beret askew. The G.I Joe series is an ode to the improbable escape, and the thrill of the violence comes not from the possibility of death but from the zany ways the Joes and Cobras avoid it.

Actually, to my memory, there wasn’t much “zany” about those escape scenarios. Oh, maybe when it came to the primaries, aka the nameworthy action-figured characters like Duke, Scarlett, and Cobra Commander — their preservation demanded grand theatrics. What would kill me was how the animators went out of their way to display how everybody — I mean, everybody — avoided death. Every battle scene involved anti-aircraft fire taking down both sides’ jet planes, but those planes never went down or exploded until their pilots were clearly shown to have ejected and parachuted away safely. Civilians always had several seconds to run away from a soon-to-explode car or storefront. Even the anonymous bystanders avoided the barest hint of death, collateral damage be damned.

I always figured this ultra-sanitizing of what was supposed to be a war story was due to the children’ TV watchdogs of the day working overtime. I guess the faintest idea of mortality was too traumatic a concept to allow into pre-teen skulls.

Of course, I was teenaged during that original Joe-Cobra conflict, which probably explains my impatience (even then) for the lack of bloodshed. In my defense, the writing in a small stretch of those episodes was unusually a cut above the typical toy-adaptation fare — which put it only on a 7th-grade level, but still. In particular, “The Traitor” and “There’s No Place Like Springfield” were quite memorable for their halfway-complex plotlines. And, inevitably, their lack of war violence…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/09/2021 03:20pm
Category: Comedy, Movies, Pop Culture, TV
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Sunday, August 02, 2021

Decades after “pay TV” became commonplace, we still have a problem with the idea of enduring commercial interruptions along with our cable/satellite bills. So the ever-burrowing presence of interstitial ads, target-delivered via TiVo and set-top box programming, is sure to set off even more audience grousing.

But if the audience is unhappy, the real customers — i.e., the advertisers — should be thrilled with the relatively low cost of entry:

One ad buyer was told by TiVo that a “pause” ad costs $20,000 a week with exposure on 15 programs. That would be a bargain by some measures: A 30-second commercial airing once on prime time TV costs about $150,000, on average. TiVo would not confirm its rate, saying that what an advertiser ultimately pays can vary widely, depending on what’s negotiated.

Short of affixing a permanent bumpersticker on monitor screens, this is the most effective way of getting an ad in front of rapt eyeballs. So much for TiVo enthusiasts touting the benefits of fast-forwarding past the regular 30-second spots.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/02/2021 06:28pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, TV, Tech
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Monday, July 27, 2021

Not only is Home Box Office pay TV — it’s also gay TV! According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which should should know about these things. GLAAD’s third annual Network Responsibility Index ranked HBO as the leader in television programming incorporating a diverse depiction of gay characters and themes.

And yes, that “H” in HBO now can be re-christened to also mean “homosexual”. But I like “gaytch” better, for snappy-headline purposes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/27/2009 01:23pm
Category: Society, TV
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Sunday, July 26, 2021

Contentiousness between advertisers and TV networks over ad rates is par for the course, particularly in a recession. Still, the stalemate over this year’s volume of unsold airtime inventory is especially acute when considering the tactics on the ad side:

For years, networks showcased their new shows, and advertisers lined up to buy into the programming. An early buy typically provides audience guarantees and better prices than advertisers can get when they buy on the fly. If they don’t buy in the upfront, they may face higher prices for whatever ad inventory remains in the so-called scatter market.

But advertisers are increasingly turning the tables on the networks and doing the pitching themselves. Rather than hear what great shows the networks have to offer, advertisers present their brand plans and ask networks to come up with ad solutions.

This boldness in calling the shots — really, attempting to define the context, i.e. programming content — stems from advertisers’ success in exercising more complete creative control on the Web’s social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Those “ad solutions” requested from television amounts to an emulation of the malleable content advertisers enjoy online.

And that wouldn’t be possible without the acknowledgment that more eyeballs are online, instead of in front of the TV screen. Which revives the debate over just how close the Web is to supplanting TV as the chief mass medium for the American consumer.

I haven’t bought the hyperbole that claims the Web is already the place to be. TV is still far more accessible and impactful for the wider population, and therefore more powerful; that’s reflected in much of what fuels Web content and activity. But certainly, the sands are shifting among key demographics: Tween and Gen-Y behavior is making it a zero-sum game, with television losing the viewership numbers there. With the ad dollars following them and influencing cross-media, I’m wondering if this is the year when the shift from one medium to the other doesn’t truly begin in earnest. The set of possibilities:

- Will we look back at the 2009 Fall/Back-To-School season as the moment when the Web really took over as Americans’ prime media outlet?

- Does TV begin a decade-long transformation, similar to what radio went through in the 1950s, with various shows and other programming migrating online, leaving behind… What? Infomercials and pharmaceutical ads on the boob tube, branding it as something that only “old people” watch?

- Do online ad rates finally scale upward in response, or does the Web’s boundless content keep such monetization permanently in check?

All things to check back in on in, oh, about five years or so.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/26/2009 10:38pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Social Media Online, Society, TV
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I’m sure the Peacock Network intends to squeeze a couple more years of running-on-fumes revenue out of “The Office” before canceling it. Instead of unceremoniously dumping it in mid-stream, here’s how I think the ideal series finale should fade to black:

There’s one last documentary-camera confessional from one of the characters (probably Michael Scott), at which point there’s a pan-out to reveal a TV monitor in some other office, being watched by a couple of suits. Close-up on one of the suits reveals that he’s none other than Ricky Gervais.

Gervais has a dumbfounded look on his face. He turns from the now-dark monitor to face his companion, and says, “That’s it? That’s what we filmed in bloody Pennsylvania, for six bloody years? How are we supposed to make a movie, or a show, out of any of that? It’s all rubbish, innit?”

Closing credits. Goodbye.

Really the only way to play it. Not only does it provide a perfect inside-joke connection with the BBC Britcom original series, it also somewhat salvages the now-untenable premise of a documentary film crew chronicling the Dunder-Mifflin workplace (although that’s been out the window for a while now, unless you believe that the cameraman’s tailing employees on trips to Canada, home dinner parties, etc.). It would also put a nice stake in the heart of the comedy verité milieu that’s been overplayed on American television.

Do the right thing, NBC! And hit me up for my PayPal account info for my creative-consultative fee for this…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/26/2009 12:50pm
Category: Comedy, Creative, TV
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