Recently, in the Television category…

Ms. Kitty, Assistant Director

  1. You basically have to turn off everything in your house to make the audio guy happy.

  2. Bad puns happen because everything’s funnier after six hours of shooting in a house without air conditioning.

  3. The sight of a field producer running around a house with duct tape covering every logo she can find is clear evidence that trademark law is ludicrous.

  4. Cats make excellent assistant directors.

  5. Professionalism + Friendliness = A cool experience for everyone involved.


You know, it’s very satisfying to see your theory validated. I have to believe this is the same way Einstein felt.

Here’s what I said a year ago:

Rambaldi is very much alive… immortality is a simple problem for somebody who can design a floating ball that turns people into zombies…

And so, in the season finale of Alias, Irina Derevko tells us just that: Rambaldi is alive and he has solved that pesky mortality issue.

Now, some of you may think it a stretch to assume from this that Rambaldi is running things on the Lost island. But, consider this: If you rearrange the letters in Hanso’s full name and title:

Alvar Hanso, Dharma Initiative B.U.D.

You get this:

A, uh, Rambaldi vanished in a TiVo rat

Compelling, isn’t it? If you don’t remember seeing his title of Board Underwritten Director (B.U.D.), go back to the episode where they show the “Orientation” film and step through it frame by frame. It’s there, trust me.

I know, I know, you’re in awe of my dramatic series analytical prowess. Me too. It’s a gift, and a curse.



Still, some of the inventions have been pretty clever, and I suspect it will get much better once we get past the open casting calls.

That was my prediction, two months ago, about American Inventor. Well, I was wrong. Very wrong. Pre-war intelligence wrong.

Part of the problem was we never actually got past the open casting calls. They just kept showing them, every night. Which you might think would be interesting. After all, they had 10,000+ entries. That should give them plenty of material, right? Uh, no. They kept showing the same entries every night.

Hey, look, it’s Toe Jam guy!

Oh, and there’s Bladder Buddy guy again!

Remember wacky Therapy Buddy guy? Good times!

Rinse, repeat. Then we get to the judges narrowing the field to 12. “Great,” you think, “now we’ll get some real insight into what the judges think makes a good invention.” Nope. Instead, we got a couple of minutes of meaningless chatter and fighting amongst the judges so that there is more time for sob stories. And, of course, more open casting calls…

Boy, that Bladder Buddy guy sure was funny, remember?

Anyway, after that, each semifinalist gets $50,000 plus one of the judges as a mentor while they improve their product. “Ok,” you say to yourself, “now we’ll get to see how each inventor develops their product in a unique way. And, on top of that, we’ll get to see their mentor giving useful advice throughout the process.”

Oh, you naive little television watcher, you. Every single one of them did the exact same thing: meaningless focus group, design team, crying fit, product unveiling, wacky test video. And instead of seeing them get advice from experts we saw each get a two minute pep talk (even though, according to Doug Hall, the judges spent a great deal of time with the contestants).

Kudos to whomever at American Inventor found that last copy of 90’s Love Ballad HITS in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. You, sir, got your money’s worth. Now, let’s see what’s next…

Ah, Therapy Buddy guy. Will you never learn?

In the finale we saw… yep, you guessed it: everything we saw in the semifinalist episodes. Plus, the contestants made commercials. Yay! We TiVo viewers are so excited that you made commercials! Bloop-bloop… Oh, sorry, force of habit.

After the finale, America voted on which of the four finalists should win. And, by America, I mean the 18 of us obsessive-compulsives who must finish what we start. The finale was followed a week later by the final finale, which finally finalized the results from the finale. It was an hour long — for no particular reason. There were several long stretches of people standing in silence, waiting for results. This was supposed to be suspenseful. It was not. We also had live remotes in each of the finalists’ home towns where the host talked at the people there. Not with, at. Apparently the earpiece was not such a great American invention. So, we got more stretches of silence — which, ironically, actually were suspenseful. Will he respond, or won’t he? And after all this, the winner is announced and… we gotta go. Yep, they ran out of time — it flew by so quickly, you almost didn’t hear a thing…

Each finalist will continue to get help with their invention, which is cool. Everything else about the show pretty much sucked. They would have to completely revamp it for me to watch next year. Drop all the repeats and show us more of the process, more development. Maybe they will do that. Or, maybe…

Toe Jam guy! Where’ve you been? We missed you!

I gave up on reality television several years ago when I realized I prefer my fake drama performed by actors. I decided, though, to give American Inventor a try. Angela and I are both suckers for gadgets, and we also listen to Doug Hall’s weekly radio show, so it seemed worth checking out.

It’s not bad. There’s way too much melodrama. As soon as the contestants start to tell their story, the sappy music starts and we get close-ups of everybody in the room who is choking back tears (yes, I’m looking at you, Mary Lou). And I feel bad for the people who were obviously only put on the show so that America could make fun of them. Still, some of the inventions have been pretty clever, and I suspect it will get much better once we get past the open casting calls.

For people who think Doug is too hard on the contestants, I recommend listening to his podcasts about the show. He explains some of his decisions and gives some insight into what he’s looking for as a judge on the show. I haven’t agreed with all his votes, but I think he is being more realistic than Mary Lou some of the other judges.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the show. I still consider it on probation. I’m going to give it a few more episodes to see if it’s worth sticking with.

If you don’t watch Alias or Lost you can safely skip this post.

Now that I’ve watched the season finales of both shows, I thought it time I reveal the secret of Lost. It was rather easy to figure out — J.J. Abrams gave the whole thing away when elements from Lost appeared on Alias. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The plane crashed on Rambaldi Island. Rambaldi is very much alive — immortality is a simple problem for somebody who can design a floating ball that turns people into zombies — and he and his followers are continuing to screw with people from this island.

There you have it: The mysteries of Lost revealed. You don’t need to watch anymore.

You’re welcome.

Via JD: TV executives are startled to learn that people don’t watch ads. Do they? I have to believe these guys occassionally sit down on their couch and watch TV — at least their own networks. Do they sit through every commercial? Yet they expect us to.

Several years ago, I watched a documentary about advertising. One of the points it made was there is no solid evidence that advertising does any good at all, and I believe that is still the case. Advertising will continue, in a variety of forms, even on television. But, as PVRs become more popular, TV advertising will start to look very different. Personally, I prefer when a company sponsors a show, rather than product placement in the show, which is always so obvious and phony.

The point of all this? I love TiVo. :-)