Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Insight into Whedon's New Dollhouse

The LA Times reported today that "Naked" favorite Joss Whedon is coming back to TV!!! I'm so happy I could do a little dance and stake a vampire in the heart! Word is that Faith (Eliza Dushku to you non-Buffy fans) convinced Joss to partner with her company Boston Diva Productions. Provided the expected writer's strike doesn't go on too long, we can look forward to new series "Dollhouse" gracing the small screen in Fall 2008. Visit the Times site to learn more.

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Monday, October 29, 2007

User Experience Week coming up in Vegas this December

Okay folks - it's that time again, time for User Week in Vegas! If you're a new media professional and haven't attended before, all I can say is "What's wrong with you?" Sign up now, or don't whine to me about your conversion and guest engagement.

User Experience Week is an intensive learning experience put on by the ultimate usability gurus from the Neilsen Norman Group - Jakob Neilsen, Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini and Don Norman. And you haven't learned ANYTHING about development until you take a class from the "Tog".

But for my money, the real brains of the outfit is Hoa Loranger (Thank Pete she's available for hire in addition to these conferences, I know I would have been lost without her many a time). If you're new to the business or need a refresher, take Hoa's "Rapid Iterative Design" course on paper prototyping. It really changed my entire outlook on development and testing when I took this course many years ago - and continues to help me today.

Okay, since I'm not making commission or anything, I'll stop gushing now. :)


Welcome Hulu!

Hooray - after months of simply calling it "Newsite" and then months more of malicious bloggers referring to it as "Clown & Co.", the new-media creation from giants NBC and FOX is finally here. Welcome Hulu! With a cornucopia of new and old TV Shows, Movies and a slew of advertisers, this beta should definitely be interesting. Sign up (if you haven't already) at Hulu, and if you want more info - check out this article from the New York Times.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

25 Awesome Action Heroes

I know that Naked has been on a huge TV kick lately, but most of you know of my deep appreciation for film. And for me, nothing taps into what audiences truly LOVE more than a kick-ass Action flick!

So I just had to share with you's "25 Awesome Action Heroes" list (I'm also a total sucker for lists). I can't quite explain my obsession with great action - is it the physicality? the excitement? or does it simply tap into the base human need for fantasy?

I don't think they got everything right with this list - they missed Jason Statham in Louis Leterrier's "Transporter", and the undeniable brilliance of Josh Lucas' death-defying fire plunge in "Poseidon" (although that was more about a spectacular bit of CG and an amazing stunt double versus a "Great Action Hero") - but overall it's a great list and I totally agree with #1.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars" bringing America closer together?

According to our friends at Neilsen Media Research, black viewers and white viewers are watching essentially the same TV programs, based on data from the 2006-2007 season. This is a big departure from a few short years ago - maybe if we all are connecting the same characters and stories, then there is hope for all of us after all?

You decide.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Naked Who?

Another night brings another new show to Top of Mind TV - this time it's a delightful twist on the thirty minute sitcom, Samantha Who?. Welcome back Ms. Applegate! Here's the skinny...

Overall, what did you think of the premiere?
Absolutely wonderful - Christina's timing is fantastic, taking each and every bit to a new level.

What was the sweetest moment?
When "boyfriend" Todd (Barry Watson, "7th Heaven", "What about Brian?") brakes down and tells Samantha a few choice - but quirky - facts about herself, the screen really starts to sizzle. Barry and Christina have amazing chemistry, and somehow are able to weave in this touching moment that makes you pause in the midst of all the ridiculousness - wonderful!

What was your favorite quote?
"Oooooohhhh..... I was Baaaadddddd!!"

What was the most interesting moment?
I found the never-ending lineup of friends and family who lie to Samantha for their own nefarious purposes both intriguing and hilarious... evil mom, slutty friend, boyfriend-who's-already-an-ex... SWEET!

What was the most annoying moment?
Jean Smart - admittedly ALWAYS funny was SO very, very over the top. Tone it down a bit, Jeanie. We get it, and we already love you. And I don't think Ty Pennington is coming to your house.

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Samantha and Todd are fantastic together - I totally want to know what happens next!

Overall Grade: A -

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Naked Buzz on the new sites...

Okay, TV Junkies - if you're wondering how the new TV season is shaking out beyond the ratings, where do you look? Well, the Yahoo! Buzz Index is a great indicator. It looks like "Journeyman" and "Big Shots" might be in trouble, and it looks like "Cavemen" the sitcom is pretty much as big of a bomb as the critics expected it to be. Checking out the buzz on Technorati is another great way to keep your finger on the pulse - after all the drama with Jericho last year, I like to keep up with what people are saying about my fav shows.

Hold on... I need to go check out that "Pushing Daisies" and "Chuck" are doing ok...

Okay, I'm back. I think we've got no worries on that score. This seems like a great time for a review of why shows get cancelled. Is it because... the network execs are evil and shortsighted???? Well, that's certainly always a possibility. ;) But in general, TV is a business and shows pretty much get cancelled for only a couple of reasons. Ratings are obvious, but the score definitely isn't the only indicator. Another is how well a show can hold it's lead. This is one of the reasons why the buzz doesn't look to good for "Journeyman" on NBC, which is dumping one-third of its audience after the Heroes lead-in. OUCH!!! From a fan point of view, I think the show is developing nicely... but it frankly can't get a much better lead, and this news is definitely a concern in terms of whether this interesting sci-fi take has a future.

Another reason is if a show is bringing down the overall Network average in the time slot - this is also specifically related to what it's replacing, but the programming execs look for a hold at minimum and generally expect some growth to stay committed to a new property. "Big Shots" on ABC is in this predicament this season - having been given the very juicy "Grey's Anatomy" slot from last year. Look out - DYLAN'S IN DANGER!

The last biggie is if a show simply costs too much - your basic ROI equation. This was the killer for "Studio 60" last year, a loss that still gets my goat.

Ok - that's it for today, more Naked Buzz to come... keep your finger on the pulse!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pushing Daisies with TOM TV

Top of Mind on this beautiful sunny Sunday is last week's premiere of "Pushing Daisies" on ABC. I didn't really want to watch "Daisies", mostly due to an irrational contrarian streak that makes me always want to stay away from whatever the critics say I just can't miss. Hype can really be a pain in the tuckus - and it's just so damn disappointing when something doesn't live up to it.

Luckily, I have some goofy self-imposed rules that guide my life and keep me from doing stupid things. Like my rule to ALWAYS finish a book once I start it (this one is usually a good thing - like when I forced myself to finish "Ender's Game", which turned out to have one of the greatest endings of all time... but it wasn't so good when my best friend made me read "The Good Brother", but that's another post). In this case, I'm referring to my rule to try and watch every pilot. You just don't know what's going to stand out - and as we all know, the producers aren't usually the ones approving the marketing... it's just a good idea to watch everything and make up your own mind.

So last week I pushed some daisies. Some of you might be wondering why I didn't write about it. Well, the truth is - it was just so good that I couldn't do it justice. This show was so masterful, so delightfully quirky and intelligent - we've been quoting it for days. Any show that uses the word 'masterbate' to refer to 'masticate' and doesn't bother to stop and explain itself is my kind of show (I mean, if you don't get the joke the first time then why should we bother to explain it to you??)

Brilliant. And one of only two new shows this season that doesn't pander to the LCD. I'm gleefully looking forward to episode 2 this week, and encourage you to not put off watching if you missed last week. Although considering that "Daisies" scored the best debut ratings of any network scripted series in the Wednesday 8 p.m. time slot since the premiere of "Lost," you probably already know how wonderful it is! I know it stuck with me through the week, always Top of Mind. :)

Photo Credit:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Life in the Carpool Lane... with TOM TV

Top of Mind TV next takes on "Carpoolers" starring Jerry O'Connell . You may hear Jerry's name and think "Jerry McGuire" or "Crossing Jordan" , but to me he's always going to be the goofy timetraveller from "Sliders". :)

But back to our show.. here's what's top of mind...
Overall, what did you think of the premiere?
I was pleasantly surprised by the laughs, although that's mostly because I didn't expect any. But getting the new kid run over just to try and get a good parking space is just plain funny.

What was the most annoying moment?
For some completely unfathomable reason, the writers decided to name Jerry O'Connell's character "Laird". Um. No.

I'm sorry - I'm a fan of O'Connell, but he is DEFINITELY not a "Laird". As far as I'm concerned, the bronze Adonis that is the greatest big wave surer of all time does not need a goofy sitcom character using his name - and I found it totally distracting. Mostly it made me want to stop watching and pop in a copy of "Riding Giants".

What was the sweetest moment?
Every moment that Faith Ford walked on the screen as "Leila" was darling, that cutie can just do no wrong. She really adds depth to the cast, and I hope we see much more of her in future episodes.

What was the creepiest moment?
We don't, however, need to see any more of T.J. Miller as "Marmaduke", Gracen's ridiculous son who seems to just skulk around the house in his tidy-whities. What is the point of this character? Every time he came on screen I had to look away - CREEPY!

Overall Grade: B - (Cute, but without Faith I wouldn't be watching next week)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

TOM TV takes it to the Stoneage

So I'd heard ALOT about this show leading up to it, as we all have - and I, unlike others, actually like the idea of a really great commercial concept being turned into a series. In concept. I do actually think some of the greatest creative minds of our time are working in advertising right now - so 'crossover' creative really appeals to me.

However. See below to get my thoughts on the latest sitcom concept ABC has sic'ced on the world...

Overall - what did you think of the season premiere?
Okay, so basically this show is about trio of Neanderthals from the Geico commercials that struggle to live in modern day America. The thing is... the concept totally doesn't work when you're telling a full story. The beauty of the commercials (which I must admit, I love), is that you don't know anything about these guys. Nobody goes around explaining to you that one is writing is dissertation, or that another is heartbroken over his ex-girlfriend, blah, blah, blah. You just get a brilliant little story arc in 60 seconds or less. And that's enough.

What was your favorite quote?
Not much to go on from this episode, I'm afraid - the only thing that really stood out was the slang "Sape" for undesireable "Homo sapiens". Clever, but not interesting enough to keep my attention...

What was the most interesting moment?
Seriously, I don't recall a single interesting moment in the whole thing. I even found the fact that they were playing 'squash' totally annoying - I mean, the whole point seems to be that these guys are just like everyone else. So what the hell are they doing playing squash? Really? THIS is what all the hipsters are doing these days?

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Let's see, I found Joel slightly less annoying than Nick. This is about all I can say.

So to sum up - I would like to apologize to all of the EXTREMELY talented TV writers and producers out there that I ever thought the concept guys in advertising should be given a chance.

I was wrong.

Can we cancel this now?

Overall Grade: C- (Not as bad as Moonlight, but still very, very bad)