And when I'm wrong I'll say it

I just finished watching NBC's Kings -- and I liked it. I didn't like the script when I read it months ago, but apparently a big, flossy soap opera plays better with good acting and grandiose visuals than it did for me on the page. I'll try to remember that the next time I read a big, flossy soap opera. (Though I suspect there's a flip side -- that big and flossy plays even worse when it's poorly produced. Call that the Uwe Boll effect.)

Unfortunately, no one -- not even me -- was there to watch the big, flossy premiere. Now I watch everything and was totally planning to watch Kings. But, even though I have been assured they promoted the heck out of that premiere, I still missed it.


Here's another problem when you program for margins at the expense of actual audience numbers. When you do spend a lot of money on a show (and they did, and you could tell -- thank you!) there ain't nobody out there to watch it.

Hopefully things will get better. I'll watch next week. When does it air again...?


A Welsh semi-conductor manufacturer?

If it weren't so sad, this would be funny.

Aw, hell. It is funny, sad or not. Apparently NBC-Universal's Sci-Fi Channel will celebrate the end of all the quality shows that made them special by incomprehensibly -- and unpronounceably -- rebranding as the Syfy Channel.


Mocking the new name is almost too easy. Really -- how do you pronounce it? Did no one tell the brain trust at Landor Associates that a "y" used as a vowel in the middle of a word does not carry the same pronunciation as the "i" in Sci(ence)? Is it Seefy? Sewfeye? Sifee? I can't help thinking of the Welsh word "tydr" -- pronounced "tudor" -- as in the actual Tudors. Surely Sufee is not what they had in mind?

But the idiotic name itself is only the tip of the goodbye-channel-I-once-loved iceberg here...

“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular,” said TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network.

This was the problem, for which the new name...

"...made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise."

Ahhh. They hate their audience. Now if I were a sci-fi loving guy, I'd be real insulted right about now. As it happens, I'm a sci-fi loving girl...

Guess what? Still insulted.

But then, NBC-Universal leadership are the beautiful people who brought us the “mean, ugly nerds” quote when referring to the striking WGA writers. And who made such a badge of honor of their lack of comic-book knowledge while they drove Heroes into the reef of its-a-genre-show-it-doesn’t-need-to-be-good dumb choices.

Why don’t they just re-label it the PROM Channel and be done with us? They’ll lose their entire audience, but hey – they’ll be cool.

And no, I didn’t go to my prom. I went to a geek high school. No one went to prom. I may have compounded the error by playing D&D with my (mostly male) friends on that night instead. Or maybe we were watching Star Trek re-runs. ‘Cause yes, I like my Fi with a little Sci.

But I am not such an uncomplicated (and clearly unwanted) demographic as the suits at NBC-Universal might think. I also loved the Sex & The City movie. I watch Grey’s Anatomy. Clueless is my go-to all-time favorite I-could-watch-it-on-an-endless-loop fun time. And sometimes I watch that makeover montage in The Devil Wears Prada where she gets to wear all the pretty clothes over and over and over again. Pretty clothes... sigh.

In fact, I like LOTS OF THINGS. Quality things. Well-done things with character and imagination and something important to say (even if it’s just “awesome boots can pick you up when you’re feeling blue”).

So marketing guys, this is ME: I earn money. I spend money. I am susceptible to good advertising. I love well-done Sci-Fi. AND I AM NOT THAT UNUSUAL. Or uncool.

Except, apparently, on the new SyFy Channel. Though, as of this Friday, I'm not sure what I'd be watching on that channel anyway.

Guys, you don't need a new name. You need new shows. And no, your much-hyped entry (Moonlighting plus The X-Files plus Indiana Jones) does not sound particularly good -- or remotely hip, cool or cutting edge. I haven't read the pilot. Maybe it is. I hope it is. But just from the description I can kinda see the show already in my mind. And I'm kinda over it.

On a final, personal note -- when I was first told of the new name from a Facebook friend, I thought it was a hoax. I should have known better...

Some years ago I worked for one of these expensive re-branding firms in New York. The big client was Woolworth's, as it turned out on the hunt for a way to turn a slow, downward spiral into a free-fall plummet. I wasn't actively working on that account, but I remember seeing the materials laid out for the final client pitch -- the name "Venator Group" highlighted on one of the boards, among a number of equally silly made-up words. I laughed, thinking this was the "stupid choices" board after which they would show the client the real, "correct choices" board.

Joke was on me.

Don't you think Woolworth's missed an enormous opportunity to rebrand as... Woolworth's? They could have staked a claim as the "real thing" -- a more upscale Target-type store for the urban masses with a cool vintage feel and a gen-u-ine soda counter in every store. Plus all those awesome downtown Deco locations...

The Venator Group was not long for the world. Let's hope the Syfy channel rethinks before they follow suit.


One good line

I enjoyed the premiere of Castle. Sure, it's derivative of the Mentalist, which was derivative of... lots of other shows. Successful shows, so.

And I agree with at least one reviewer's assessment of Castle's home life -- do we really need another precocious teen daughter on television? But...

It was one of Alexis, the precocious daughter's, lines in the written pilot (that I was happy to see make it into the show that aired) that had me sold on the script:

CASTLE... It’s all become so goddamn predictable. Like this party. 'I’m your biggest fan' 'Where do you get your ideas?'

ALEXIS... 'Can you sign my breasts?'

CASTLE... That one I don’t mind.

ALEXIS... Yeah, um, FYI - I do.

Finally -- a precocious daughter who wants her father to act like a father and not necessarily be cool all the time. Maybe even hang onto a little childhood herself while she can. This may be the one precocious daughter I can actually tolerate.


Musical confusion

I'm watching a lot of reality television this week. It's research on a project I'm working on. It's not like I'd be watching ANTM if it weren't, right? (Okay, wrong. I've never missed an episode -- I love Tyra Banks and all the wacky photo sessions.)

At this moment I am watching a show I have never seen before -- Dancing With The Stars. And I am completely baffled. I love ballroom dancing. Okay, not the weird competition stuff, but actually doing it. So I know a cha-cha-cha when I hear one. And not one of these couples is dancing their cha-cha-cha TO a cha-cha-cha.

Why not??!

I understand "updating" the music for a modern audience, but it's clear from the music they are dancing to that the intended demographic is awfully long in the tooth. How much further back do you have to go for... Xavier Cugat? (Who is the only real reason to EVER cha-cha-cha IMHO.)

I am going to try muting the program during the dancing and insert Ritmo Tropical instead... hot, hot, hot!


A screwy perspective

I love the Budweiser commercial Jake the Clydesdale except it really bothers me that the horse, who one assumes was born in this country and is now three generations distant from Scotland, still speaks with a Scottish accent.

It doesn't bother me that it's a HORSE speaking.