Posts filed under 'Deutschland'

The More You Know: Pauly Shore isn’t dead edition

1 comment February 22nd, 2008

Europe is crazy

Now we all know Europe has been on the forefront of reality TV programming, usually inventing our favorite shows first and doing it with more boobs. But did you know that Europe has had an American-Idol style song contest going on for over 50 years? The latest one happened over the weekend and despite living right in the middle of Europe I had no idea. Of course, I stopped trying to watch German TV after the first week, so I guess that's not surprising. Leave it to Slate to let me know what I missed. Finnish "rockers" Lordi took home the top prize in a performance that must be seen to be believed.

Obviously the "best" performers never win phone-based voting contests, but I'm pretty sure lyrics like "Arockalypse" or "Day of Rockening" should be grounds for disqualification.

Also, that song you think this sounds exactly like is "Eye of the Tiger."

5 comments May 23rd, 2006

Pull TV

Television is a “push” medium, meaning the content is sent to you automatically. Before the TiFaux, you had to be there at the right time to receive it, or else learn how to program your VCR and buy a bunch of $3 VHS tapes. The simple idea behind the TiVo/TiFaux revolution is that maybe you like to watch the shows you like, not the shows that are on when you sit down to watch TV. They call it timeshifting, we call it love.

I got my TiFaux about a year ago and never looked back. Every time I wanted to watch TV I could sit down and a TV show I LIKED WAS ALWAYS ON! It was as if I had become a network programmer and replaced all the garbage with The Daily Show and 4 episodes of the Simpsons every day. The lousy bastards who were still technically in charge of programming could even shuffle the schedule to make it harder to find that struggling comedy I liked so damn much and the TiFaux would adjust like nothing had changed. Sometimes I didn’t even know it had happened. Obviously I started watching more TV than I had before, but I didn’t feel guilty about it, because I wasn’t watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, I was watching really great television.

But now I don’t have a TiFaux. I’m in Germany, and I get two English language stations, neither of which would be TiFauxed even if I had one. What I have is the Internet, and it’s forced me to re-evaluate my viewing habits.

As we learned from the debacle of that Wired “Push” article (it’s officially their worst article ever) the Internet did not become a “push” medium. It remains a “pull” medium. If I want to get something from the Internet I have to do it myself. Yeah, it’s a lot easier to get TV using Bittorrent than it was a few years ago when you had nightmare P2P software like Limewire and Kazaa. But I still have to actively seek out the episodes I want to watch. I have to remember that 24 is on Monday nights which means I can download it in Germany on Tuesday morning. I have to remember that The Daily Show is on 4 days a week and it’s always available for downloading whenever I want. But I forget. There’s nothing pushing the shows at me. And I need that. Otherwise I stop watching TV. If it weren’t for this blog I might even forget to download The Office, which is the best comedy on TV right now. And I’ve stopped watching The Colbert Report (a show I truly love) completely.

There is hope though. There is a form of RSS that encloses Bittorrents instead of the traditional MP3s or videos (known neologistically as torrentcasting) which I am enthusiastic about. That means you would subscribe to an RSS feed using a Bittorrent client that supports it and the torrents will be sent to you automatically, just like a TiFaux, but with lower quality. Right now I’ve been unable to find any RSS feeds that suit my needs, but I suspect it will happen very soon.

As always, you shouldn’t do illegal things on the Internet. Watching television without the commercials is like taking food out of Maggie Stewart’s mouth.

UPDATE: It turns out I was thinking of this the wrong way. I was expecting to find a site that hand-selected the best Daily Show torrents and put them in an RSS feed. It turns out most of the big Bittorrent sites already have RSS feeds and it’s my job to set up filters to find the shows I want. This method allows for a lot more customization, but it’s hard to get the filters right. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

1 comment February 15th, 2006

Television Deutschland

Ok, so I’m an American. I spent my whole life mostly in New England, once crossing over the border at Niagra Falls which cost me a dime when I went through the turnstile. But because of a great opportunity to edit Hal Hartley’s new film Fay Grim (a sequel to Henry Fool) I’m living in Berlin for the next 7 months. One of the first things I did when I got to my Berlin apartment was turn on the television. I had nothing else to do so I thought I’d check it out. Boy did it suck. Every show was shot on video (ick!) and despite my total inability to understand German, I could tell that the acting was no good. But since that first day I’ve discovered that being unable to understand what an actor is saying makes it much easier to evaluate their performance. I was watching a few minutes of Home Improvement dubbed in German (why?) and the acting was also awful, something I had noticed when it was in English, but hadn’t fully appreciated. Is it a coincidence that Home Improvement was shot on video?

From what I’ve seen the best television in Germany is American shows dubbed into German. There is of course the Simpsons, which James Urbaniak–one of the stars of Fay Grim–discussed in his blog recently. Apparently Jeff Goldblum was also very interested in the subject (I’m dropping names). It’s hard to get used to, but odds are I already know the whole episode by heart so it’s fun to watch. The best dubbing I’ve seen was in The Gilmore Girls. They really had the rhythm down. When you talk that fast, even if it’s in German it’s still funny. One thing I have NOT seen on German television is Arrested Development. I’m willing to bet it’s not being shown here. I have no problem with that. 24 definitely would work in any language, but I haven’t managed to catch it. I bet they have a good German Jack. A lot of Germans talk like him anyway. Consenting to be Jack Bauer’s partner automatically makes your life insurance null and void.

There are a few things that show up in English. There are of course the International news channels, BBC World and CNN International. At first I enjoyed watching them, but I lost interest when I realized they didn’t do stories about missing white girls. And the audio on CNN International is about 5 frames out of sync. Since I spend all day syncing up dailies at work, that drives me crazy. CNN International shows the weekly Daily Show International, which is a highlight show from the last 4 episodes. Jon introduces pieces without the studio audience, and the silence always makes me think his jokes are dying. Yeah, sometimes I need a laugh track.

The other thing that is sometimes English is MTV, which still manages to show music videos. How do they do it? The US MTV has two whole channels that don’t play videos anymore. It must be that German efficiency. But a lot of times they show stuff like Cribs or one of their many profile shows and do English audio with German subtitles. Britney Spears is never dubbed. Because Britney gotta be Britney, yo.

February 8th, 2006


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