Once Upon a Time: When Fairytales and the real world collide, anything is possible

Welcome to Storybrooke, where the evil queen has frozen time and stashed all the residents of the enchanted forest. The problem? They don’t know they are fairytale characters- including Emma Swan, the lead character. When Emma’s 10 year old son- who she gave up years ago- finds her, it shifts her world view. This is the premise of Once Upon a Time, one of the new shows ABC has lined up for next fall.

Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Lost, Tron: Legacy) invite you to a bold new vision of the world where fairytales and the modern day are about to collide.

Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) knows how to take care of herself. She’s a 28-year old bail bonds collector who’s been on her own ever since she was abandoned as a baby. Henry (Jared Gilmore) is 10 years old now and in desperate need of Anna’s help. Henry believes that Emma actually comes from an alternate world… and is Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and Snow White’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) missing daughter. According to his book of fairytales, they sent her away to protect her from the Evil Queen’s (Lana Parilla) curse, which trapped the fairytale world forever, frozen in time. Of course Emma doesn’t believe a word, but when she brings Henry back to Storybrooke, she finds herself drawn to this unusual boy and his strange New England town. Concerned for Henry, she decides to stay for a while, but she soon suspects that Storybrooke is more than it seems. It’s a place where magic has been forgotten, but is still powerfully close… where fairytale characters are alive, even though they don’t remember who they once were–including the Evil Queen who is now Henry’s foster mother. The epic battle for the future of all worlds is beginning, but for good to win, Emma will have to accept her destiny and fight like hell.

This is one of those times when I wish networks did not do promos so far in advance- this preview has me hooked and I want to see the whole show. Because, as Snow White says, “Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing”. I choose to believe that this could be a happy ending for all the TV viewers.

The show is now active on Facebook and Twitter, so plug them into your social graph.

Robert Carlyle – Rumplestiltskin
Josh Dallas – Prince Charming/John Doe
James Dornan – Sheriff Graham
Jared Gilmore – Henry
Ginnifer Goodwin – Snow White/Sister Mary Margret Blanchard
Jennifer Morrison – Emma Swan
Lana Parilla – Evil Queen/Regina
Raphael Sbarge – Archie/Jiminy Cricket

Production Company – ABC Studios
Executive Producer – Edward Kitsis
Executive Producer – Adam Horowitz
Executive Producer – Steve Pearlman
Executive Producer/Director – Mark Mylod

Charlie’s Angels, Blast from the Past

I must confess, as a preteen/young teen girl, I loved Charlie’s Angels. When someone told me I looked like Sabrina, Kate Jackson’s character, I was over the moon. Three brilliant, self sufficient women being tough and solving problems on their own? I was hooked. The fact that they were gorgeous? A huge bonus. Right or wrong, every teen girl has a drive to be attractive ( oh, fess up, we all still want to be hot – it is just that our definitions of HAWT shift over time). The other problem solving females I had as a role model back then were Daphne and Thelma of Scooby Doo Fame. The lesson there? If you are smart, you are dumpy. Here was a show shattering that reality for me- you could turn heads and still be the heroine!

This Fall ABC will be bringing back Charlie’s Angels. I had a bit of trepidaption about this, not all of the 70’s/80’s show refreshes have been even close to great. And then there is the fact that I have grown up… my view has changed too. Would I still love the Angels? This big, loud, fun take on the 1970’s smash hit series introduces us to three new angels, all fearless operatives, head-turning beauties and close friends. There’s Abby (Rachael Taylor) a Park Avenue Princess who became a world-class thief. Then there’s Kate (Annie Ilonzeh), a Miami cop who fell from grace, losing both her career and her fiance. Finally there’s Gloria, a disgraced army lieutenant who has a way with explosives. When one of the angels’ missions ends in Gloria’s tragic death, Charlie persuades them to partner with Gloria’s childhood friend, Eve (Minka Kelly), a street racer with a mysterious past. They may not know each other yet, but one thing’s for sure–Abby, Kate and Eve will always have each other’s backs.
Leonard Goldberg (the original Charlie’s Angels) and Drew Barrymore (the Charlie’s Angels movies) join forces with Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville) to deliver the adrenaline rush of the season. Set in scorching-hot Miami, Charlie’s Angels delivers nonstop big screen action. With the help of Bosley 2.0 (Ramon Rodriguez), their hot, young technical expert, and the guidance of their enigmatic boss Charlie (Robert Wagner), these angels are an unstoppable crime fighting force.

If the series holds true to this preview look, I am in. It will be one of my “secret pleasure” shows – like Castle. Will it be intellectually stimulating? Probably not. But it looks to be a fun, wild ride and I will stay behind the show that taught me that you could solve the problems of the world, kick ass and still look good.

As ABC says: “Everyone deserves a second chance. Even a thief, a street racer and a cop who got in a little too deep. After all, the three women who solve cases for their elusive boss Charlie Townsend are no saints – they’re angels… Charlie’s Angels”. I will be giving the show a second chance as well.

They are out on Facebook and Twitter, so plug them into your social graph to keep up on the latest news and info.

Annie Ilonzeh – Kate Prince
Minka Kelly – Eve
Rachel Taylor – Abby Sampson
Ramon Rodriguez – Bosley
Robert Wagner – Voice of Charlie

Production Company – Sony Pictures Television
Executive Producer – Miles Millar
Executive Producer – Alfred Gough
Executive Producer – Nancy Juvonen
Executive Producer – Leonard Goldberg
Executive Producer – Drew Barrymore
Director – Marcos Siega

What’s wrong with FlashForward

The new Fall 2009 show FlashForward was one that lots of people wanted to like and whose premise was initially exciting. It has, however, fallen flat. People not actively slamming it have given up on it. I tried again this week to watch it…but find it so uncompelling that it is easy for real life to interrupt. For many shows, I may hit pause on the DVR when I am interrupted and come back. With FlashForward, I walk away without hitting pause and do not have any qualms about missing pieces of it. This is not a good sign for the life of show.

The show has interesting characters and takes on compelling philosophical issues- so what went wrong? This last episode finally gave me some insight into the problem when they introduced yet another character. The show now has over a dozen major characters in a one hour show. With the average show running actual time about 45 minutes * 9 episodes, that comes out to just a little over 33 minutes of airtime per character over the course of an entire season. Not a lot to become invested in characters. Even worse, all of that time is in small 4 or 5 minute bursts. The story, while compelling, has been made overly complex to the point that the storytelling is fragmented, fractured and not even close to fun.

What other shows have failed you this season- giving in to complexity, special effects or shock value rather than building upon great storytelling??

When you can laugh at yourself? very sexy

1. Nathan Fillion is sexy
2. Serenity is great story telling
3. A sexy actor poking fun at his previous image? Makes we want to do all sorts of illicit pleasurable things for him…

I twittered the Hulu link earlier, but apparently outside the US can not view… so Here is a transcription attempt. It just wouldn’t fit in 140 chars.

It is the Halloween episode of Castle, where Mr. Fillion plays an eccentric mystery writer. Camera zooms in on him strapping on pistols, zooms on his crotch and a swoosh of his Serenity coat as he rounds a corner and pretends to take something in his gun sight. His daughter, sitting on a couch looks at him in mock amusement. He is in full out Serenity garb.

Daughter: Hey
Castle: Hey
Castle: I was… I was just trying on my Halloween costume
Daughter: what exactly are you supposed to be?
Castle: Space Cowboy
Daughter: OK, A there are no cows in space. Second, didn’t you wear that like 5 years ago?
Castle: So?
Daughter: So, don’t you think you should move on?
Castle: I like it ( slightly pouty)

I Laughed out loud.

The Death of Apple TV?

Say it right and you are listening to the first nail in the coffin of AppleTV and iTunes Movies.

As a Roku owner, I just got a very interesting email in my inbox, telling me that Amazon Video on Demand is coming soon to the Roku. The content of it is also covered on Roku’s FAQ site. So now, not only can I watch HD Netflix movies but soon I will be able to sit on my couch and order and play content from Amazon Video on Demand. I like the Amazon downloadable video content selections, the only real thing that has kept me from making good use of it is that it requires a special player on my PC. If you have not checked out the Amazon content range, spend few minutes browsing through their digital movies and TV episodes. They also have a lot of free content available every week.

Even better, Roku informs us that they have opened up their platform and we will see other content providers and channels on the Roku throughout 2009. From their email: “Amazon is just the start. More announcements of new things to watch and enjoy on your Roku player are in the pipeline for 2009.” The worst part? We have to wait a few more weeks for the Amazon rollout.

The possibilities have me excited. YouTube? Hulu? Joost? Who is your favorite content provider? What would you lke to see pop up on your Roku box this year?

Depending on how this content rolls out, I could easily imagine downloading my IPTV service to a lower level. No wonder Cable and DSL providers are dreaming of bandwidth caps.

video viewing up… are we really surprised?

The online world is all a-twitter today as people work through this recent Pew Internet& American Life Survey report. The BBC first reported that “Online video sharing sites are reaping the benefits of the ongoing writers’ strike in the US.” in this article. That led TechCrunch to write an article that quoted the BBC article and recently released Nielsen Online numbers that show “According to Nielsen’s figures, YouTube’s audience was up 18% in the two months after the strike started and Crackle doubled its audience from 1.2 million users to 2.4 million users”.

Now, I have no doubt that these numbers are correct. Gods know I watch more and more video online every day ( no it is NOT all NSFW, thank you). But to attribute this so strongly and immediately to the writer’s strike is yet another example of people’s misunderstanding of co-incidental events. Before I even link the two, I want to see the trends from last year. What was the growth pattern over the months of the year in 2006? After all, the Pew report very strongly shows that teens and young adults are some of the biggest consumers of video, and the November/December time frame includes long holidays, end of semester breaks, etc.. They certainly have significantly more time on their hands to cruise the net than other times when classes are in session. (yes, I do know that there are some folks who watch YouTube on laptops in lecture halls..).

Then, I want to see the numbers on a graph with a matched time pattern for other events. Hulu released in early November. YouTube released a new interface somewhere in that time frame and made it easier to subscribe. Joost did a serious push for viewers and was running strong promos in October. Presidential candidates started getting serious on YouTube, electoral coverage is live on YouTube and getting promo’d in the mainstream press more and more.

I believe that there are a myriad of reasons that online video viewing is up… but that the writer’s strike is actually one on the smallest. The BBC article sounded more like it was written to make the writers on strike look strong, than by someone who atually watches video online.

What about you? Have you purposely turned to the web for video to fill a hole in your TV viewing habits??

ISPs to play big brother ?

Engadget reports that AT&T is talking with the MPAA and the RIAA about implementing network level solutions to filter pirated materials. This is a very parental position, where it has become a matter of “if you can not control your own behavior, we are going to control it for you”. Studies continue to show that the majority of traffic on the internet is P2P( with some numbers as surprisingly high as 80%), and the majority of that is video. As far as I am concerned, video has the majority of the share merely because the files are so much larger. There is no good data ( nor a good way to get it) to tell if the number of music or video files is larger. Number of files would give you a better measure of the incidence of file sharing in each format. But governments, large companies and the RIAA and MPAA look at those numbers and say to themselves “there is no way that is all legal….” and are thus motivated to go after the offenders. Here is where we get into murky ground in my opinion video is split between TV and movies, with often equal splits between the two.

In my mind, Movies are easy. If you buy a movie, you should have the right to copy it to a digital format and watch it in your own home on whatever platform you want. But this in no way gives you the right to share that digital copy for use anywhere other than on your equipment. That is, you are not allowed to then give copies of that movie to your friends, neighbors or strangers on the street- no matter what the format or media you share it in. The only way you are allowed to share is if you lend them your originally purchased disc. It never ceases to amaze me that people who are very loudly supporting the writers strike also think they should have the right to give away copies of movies. Is the irony of this not obvious to everyone else?

TV is trickier. Not trickier according to the written law, of course- trickier in figuring out what the real solution should be. To understand the culture of what is acceptable and how we got here, you have to go back to VHS. The industries had complete meltdowns when home recording equipment was first released on the market, and predicted the end of all time. This end did not, as we see, come. But what happened was the birth of time/place shifting. People started recording the shows they love and watching them later. After some debate, it was determined that recording shows for your own individual usage was completely legal. But then you were at work ( or school) and talking to someone about the big episode that just aired and your cube mate says “dang, I missed that episode”.
“well, didn’t you tape it”
“no, I have not figured out how to work the programming on that yet, and I was not at home”
What is your response?
“well, I taped it- you can watch it and then return the tape to me”.

Returning the tape in those days was important- they were not cheap. Technically, this was illegal. But should it be? Most people would answer no. Their gut tells them this is fair use. What was the difference if they came to your house and watched it with you or if they took it to their house, watched it and then gave it back? There was not much the industry could do to intervene in this sort of activity, so although it was technically illegal it was ignored.

I would contend that that TV portion of P2P is mostly this sort of behavior. Those who know how ( or who have the equipment to) recording TV shows and sharing them. Is it illegal, Yes. Should it be- probably not. The only reason that the industry is pushing for this to be controlled is that they are convinced that if people could not download, they would buy more TV shows on DVD. I contend this is not true. It does not lose them cable subscribers, because 99% of the ISPs out there who provide cable internet require you to subscribe to digital cable TV in order to receive cable internet. if you do not have high bandwidth connections, you are not going to be downloading video files- it is just too painful. The other reason for file sharing of TV shows is unavailability through normal broadcast. Our water cooler has gotten very large. It is not just folks who live in the same neighborhood- it is a global water cooler. And when people are discussing tv shows they watched last night, they want they same things everyone else is talking about. If your teammate at work now happens to be in another country ( mine are), and you are discussing tv, the whole “here, borrow my copy” issue comes up again. Only this time the copy is not a video tape, it is bits and bytes on a hard drive. Be certain, it is not just folks in other places wanting current US shows.. the folks in the US are busy downloading shows from BBC and India and China and….
If the TV portion of video sharing ( about half, give or take some depending on the region) were considered legal, how do we tackle the other half?

Why do people illegally distribute copies of movies? I can come up with a list of reasons why people might download them.. but what is the motivation for uploading them? Have you ever uploaded or illegally shared a movie you own? What was your reason/motivation?

There is a lot of discussion on this still to be had… but I need to bolt to work. Comment and let me know what you think.