When I was a kid one of my favorite times of the year was New Years Day because the annual tradition of a The Twilight Zone marathon. TTZ is my favorite television show of all time. When it was announced that Jordan Peele, writer and director of the massively popular Get Out, would be bringing the series back I was excited to say the least. It seemed to me, based on all the interviews that I read, that Peele has a lot of admiration and respect for the original series. I felt that he could come out with a version of the show that was as close to the original as possible.
I was looking for something to watch on Netflix over the weekend and found a show from Conan O’Brien entitled Conan Without Borders. I’ve been a fan of Conan for years. He quickly became my favorite late night talk show host and I was excited when he took over The Tonight Show. I don’t have to tell you how that ended, but the whole experience allowed me to have some dealings indirectly with Conan and his people (I once owned the domain teamcoco.com and sold it to him after he left The Tonight Show).
Conan Without Borders doesn’t have any new footage, that I can tell, but is instead a re-packaging of Conan’s travel segments from his talk show. If you’ve not watched Conan before, oftentimes he goes to another city for several days (if he’s filming the show in said city, then he’ll usually stay the whole week) and each night they will air an 8-10 minute segment of Conan interacting with the people and places of that city. What this show does is takes each of those 8-10 minute segments and combines them into a single episode. There are 6 episodes in the first “season” and he visits Cuba, Korea, Mexico, Israel, Haiti, and Italy.
The idea of the show is pretty smart. It can potentially open up Conan to more viewers who don’t watch his late night show. It also shows Conan at what I think is his best. In these segments he is his typical goofy self, but in many of these places he really shows his human side and there are moments of the show that are quite touching (in the Haiti, Mexico, and Israel episodes for example). He’s having real conversations with real people about real things. They are not the normal 6 minute canned promo interviews that plague late night talk shows. Each episode was really enjoyable, though I think Haiti and Israel were probably my favorite. Those two I think were really impactful, especially in the current ‘America-First’ political climate.
If you are a fan of Conan or travel shows, or both, I suggest you give it a watch. Some of the segments you may have seen before if you are a regular viewer of Conan, but the segments are so good they hold up in repeated viewings.
No, you are not dreaming. There really is a Saved by the Bell board game and it looks amazing. Well, it looks like it would be fun to play once or twice until your friends stop playing with you because you know way too much about the TV show and it is no longer fun for them. From the description on Pressman’s website:
Your homework assignment: Be the first player to collect one of each Character Card, or 3 Character Cards of the same player. Once you spin “View a Scene,” you’ll have a few seconds to glance at snapshots of classic scenes from the show. Be prepared to answer random questions. So, study up and don’t flunk this memory test to win a Character Card!
If you spin a number, you must move your character that number of spaces on the board. You can land on “Time Out” and steal from your fellow players. You’ll even receive your own Yearbook to collect your Character Cards, but don’t doodle on Zack – you must be focused to get an A+! Once you’ve collected one card of each Character or three cards of a single Character, you’ve won the game and you’ve been… Saved by the Bell!
You can pick the game up from Target. If you’re not sure if the game is for you, check out the instructional video on how to play.
A couple of months ago I decided to do something I never thought I would do. I cut the cord. Sort of.
In December I decided to cancel my cable. The bill was getting too high and I have been watching less and less traditional TV. Many of the shows I watch over the past few years have ended or I lost interest in them (looking at you The Walking Dead). Many of the shows I continued to watch I found I could watch the next day on Hulu, of which I was a subscriber. I also found many new shows that rivaled the quality of network and cable shows, even premium cable shows, on Hulu and Netflix. So, I made the decision to cut the cord.
Currently, I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon (a bonus of my Prime shipping subscription) and HBO Now. The only show that I currently watch but cannot get on these services is AMC’s Better Call Saul. Well, that was the case until this week. Charter, the cable company in my area, is offering their version of the Sling TV service called Charter Spectrum Stream. For $20 a month you get some popular cable channels (TBS, FX, ESPN, and AMC among others) plus either HBO or Showtime. So for $5 more a month I can get HBO plus some other cable channels including AMC for Better Call Saul. I can then cancel HBO Now. One of the other upsides to the service is that you get the local channels (even the alternate HD local channels that no one ever watches). This was great for me since, even with an antenna, I couldn’t get any local channels over the air (not entirely true. If I touched a co-ax cable to the window frame and grounding the signal, I could get 3-4 local channels. Trust me, it works).
This is almost TV as I want it to be. I am paying for the channels I watch the most and can watch my shows whenever I want without the added cost of a DVR. It will be interesting to see how this continues to evolve over the next few years as more and more people cut the cord and opt to watch TV in non-traditional ways. The only thing I have yet to figure out is how to watch Cardinals baseball this summer (without using MLB at Bat and a DNS routing service). I think sports will be the last hope that traditional cable and satellite subscriptions have. Once the various leagues wake up to the potential of offering sports without a cable subscription, I will be set. But I’m not holding my breath.
Speaking of great Aaron Sorkin TV shows, Entertainment Weekly has a great article about Sorkin’s first show, a 30 minute short-live comedy entitled Sports Night.
Set in the high-stakes world of a live sports news program, the Aaron Sorkin-scribed dramedy followed the behind-the-scenes exploits of fictional “Sports Night” coanchors Casey (Peter Krause) and Dan (Josh Charles), their brilliant producer Dana (Felicity Huffman), harried associate producer Natalie (Sabrina Lloyd), gruff executive Isaac (Robert Guillaume), and whip-smart researcher Jeremy (Josh Malina).
The series was less about sports and more about the interactions of the characters who hosted and ran the fictional Sports Center-like show. It featured Sorkin’s trademark quick and witty dialogue, with a ton of Capra-esque optimism about the world. While it only lasted two seasons (one with a horrible laugh track), it is, in my opinion, one of the best comedies ever made. I watch both seasons at least once a year. Read the entire article. It’s great.