Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: What you lookin' at?

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  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Our watching is dictated by my laziness in integrating new devices to our system* and my love of some key sports. To get cricket I have to get sky, which means we have sky on demand. Sky on demand has some nice and odd stuff, “About a girl” was typically British fun if a bit cliched at times. And Sky allows us to time shift any series we are interested in on broadcast TV.

    I keep reading about how SVOD is the next big thing, and to a small degree it is. The biggest obstacles are 2-fold: firstly, broadband data caps are still slow to rise; and secondly, Internet-capable AV devices still have a steeper learning curve than traditional TVs, especially for those with narrower attention spans than us.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5408 posts Report Reply

  • oga, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I likewise have to pirate my TV and get the related subtitles if I want to watch TV at all. I live in Mexico and Netflix here does not carry English subtitles for the same shows that include English subtitles if I use a proxy to fake an US IP address, which is tiresome because then we can only watch through my laptop ported to the TV instead of the smart TV itself, which can only access the Mexican version of Netflix. The Netflix originals do carry all the language and subtitle options, so we have been watching these, such as Narcos, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and so on, but the catalog for Netflix is such that we've already seen most of the content previously and so we have more or less stopped watching Netflix until they post a new original series.

    The Expanse was my most recent favorite series, and I have a soft spot for the Chronicles of Shannara, mostly for the locations around NZ that I recognize. The Walking Dead is really hitting its stride this season with these episodes that follow the comic book. I am excited for the Negan episodes coming up because I loved that part of the comics. OJ Simpson started strong, but we found that the Kardashian children kept taking us out of the story, and 11.22.63 is definitely better than the book. Black Sails is really strong this season and I am really loving the echoes from my childhood every time I watch it.

    Telenovela and Jane the Virgin give us our over-the-top comedy fix, along with Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Younger, The Muppets, and Crashing.

    One thing that turned us back to Netflix from watching pirated TV was the arrest of the guy behind Yify in Auckland. Yify was the most reliable distributor of films including proper subtitles. Nobody has really filled that void. I have been looking for further updates about this (given that it's in our country), but there seems to be no more information about this, which seems odd because I would have thought the media would be all over a local piracy story.

    Given that we are sick of Netflix, we are considering subscribing to HULU through the US proxy server, but lately we have been trying out Netflix services in other countries, like Japan, but the chances of English subtitles are spotty, depending on the proxy server country.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Regan Cunliffe,

    Let's not confuse this for what it really is. Duncan's outrage is nothing more than the latest attempt at trying to secure NZ On Air funding for his NZME bosses.

    With increasing click bait, poor reporting and appalling fact checking, the resulting decline in ad revenue has meant that the once unneeded taxpayers slush fund is looking like a lucrative saviour.

    Watch the noise around this increase as things go from bad to worse and they try and justify click bait and entertainment stories as the way to fix investigative journalism.

    10 years plus of this nonsense and they now want the taxpayer to fund it?

    If taxpayers are going to put money into anything, I'd rather it wasn't a failing old media business.

    Kaukapakapa • Since Mar 2007 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Brodie Davis,

    How is "we worked really fucking hard to make this" a viable defense of a show that people don't like. I worked really hard to bake a fruit cake last christmas (it was hours and hours of work) and it still tasted terrible. Amount of effort is not a reliable predictor or quality.

    Since Aug 2008 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to oga,

    I have a soft spot for the Chronicles of Shannara, mostly for the locations around NZ that I recognize.

    Me too. "Oooo, the North Head tunnels! Oooo Stoney Batter! Oooo Woodhill Forest! Ooooo Bethells". I'd sort of never realized when I first read the stories that the setting is post apocalyptic, and so the juxtaposition in a fantasy series of a old rusty Zephyr in the swampy part at the bottom of some farmland are not really out of place. Still can't see Manu Bennet without superimposing Crixus on him, full frontal nude, drawling the C word every second sentence. But he's doing great nonetheless as the Gandalf the Druid. My thought about the series is that it's way better than the books, which is rare.

    The Walking Dead is really hitting its stride this season with these episodes that follow the comic book. I am excited for the Negan episodes coming up because I loved that part of the comics.

    I keep wondering - is the Jesus character a homage to the cartoon series Jesus Hates Zombies?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10598 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I have little time for TV generally, my wife and kids being the main users of the device. She's a fan of reality shows, cooking and renovation. When we watch together we're recently doing Cuffs, Shannara Chronicles, Unforgettable (best heterological show name ever - I watch it only to play meme bingo), Forever, Sherlock, Elementary, Orphan Black, Vikings, Black Sails, How To Get Away With Murder, Game of Thrones, The Fall, Poldark. My wife watches the superhero shows. On my own, Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, Luther, True Detective, Silicon Valley (my favourite by far), Doctor Foster.

    When I say it like that, it sounds like I watch a lot of TV. But really, that's just an hour 3-4 times per week, and by "recently", I mean over the last year.

    Method: MySky or downloads.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10598 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp, in reply to Cecelia,

    Isn’t this the Golden Age of TV?

    Maybe. In our house it sort of is but it has very little to do with broadcast tv itself except as a historical source. Being able to programme ones own viewing “advertising free” for weeks via Netflix or some other streaming source makes it a golden age for viewing but not broadcasting.

    I’ve even worked out how to avoid most of the crap episodes and entires series of shows by reading reviews beforehand and just watching series 1 & maybe 2 in some cases.

    The only broadcast channels we watch are Māori TV and Al Jazeera. Its not even worth trying to watch the “news” any more as very little of it is actual news.

    I think those making TV for broadcast audience are in a race to the bottom as that is probably where the biggest numbers are. As long as funding is based on numbers it destroys the usefulness of broadcast as a medium at all.

    I suspect that this audience is savvy with multiple online options but you only need a few percent of a key demographic to stop viewing and the mainstream is toast.

    I don’t know anyone under the age of 20 who watches regular mainstream TV. I’m sure they exist but it is a shrinking group. Youtube is the real attraction for them.

    As an aside – I have just watched a few episodes of Xena Warrior Princess. It seems deliberately bad but lots of people I know worked on it and paid the bills. Maybe something that is deliberately bad has a future. As opposed to just intending to make a good programme and failing to connect with an audience.

    I’ve never watched Dr Who – but I’m told it was pretty terrible for many years and that is why people liked it.

    Just maybe the real problem with Filthy Rich it that it is not bad enough to be good. They could dial up the satirical elements maybe?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 363 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia, in reply to Jason Kemp,

    Some series have been high quality all the way through like Mad Men and Breaking Bad - and of course my favourite European shows. You want more and more. You grieve when your favourite characters are no more, like Jesse in BB and Felix in Orphan Black.
    True Detective went right off the boil but Season One was thrilling. There is some good stuff on TVNZ like the recent Pike River doco but I watch it on demand. I'm finding the Spinoff website so excellent that it has almost enticed me to get Lightbox:)

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    The most thrilling viewing experience recently was series 3 of The Bridge' which we watched over 4 weeks, each weekend, with friends. It is as close to binge viewing as I can abide–you need time and space to saviour between episodes, with drama as rich as this, and with such complex characters as Saga.
    Scandinavia is the source of such great TV drama, and highly influential on drama from other countries (check out Nordic Noir and Beyond website). You can discern such influences from the moment of the opening credits of new shows such as The Expanse.
    I agree about Harry. Oscar Kightley declares that it is the best thing he ever did and it was a bloody shame that series two never happened. It was treated abysmally by TV3.
    Also the comic collection 3 Words. A bloody lovely book.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2535 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Bought series 3 of The Bridge on DVD from the UK. I like to be able to share things I love with others,

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2535 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to BenWilson,

    Manu Bennet

    ...is also in 'Arrow', as supervillain Slade Wilson/Deathstroke. Which is pretty cool.

    Silicon Valley (my favourite by far)

    You (and other techies) might enjoy hacker drama series 'Mr Robot', if you haven't already seen it. Another Amazon original.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Jason Kemp,

    Isn’t this the Golden Age of TV?

    Maybe.

    It is, if you're commissioning programming in the US.

    As my wife observed recently, UK TV commissioning is stuck in the '90's - high cost costume drama (War and Peace, this year), or any number of police procedurals (plus the usual low cost dross- property porn and reality shows). In contrast to the US, it is very risk- and experiment-averse.

    Given Russell's comment about the 'tart-with-a-heart' character, it sounds like NZ TV commissioning is stuck in the early '80's....

    I have just watched a few episodes of Xena Warrior Princess

    Context. All of these shows (and Dr Who is another example) need to be seen in the context of the time of original broadcast. A show with an unapologetically bad-ass arse-kicking female warrior as the lead, without her needing to be rescued by a man? Pretty left-field back in the '90's.

    A show about an old man who travels through time and space in a police box? Try pitching that as a brand-new concept now, and see how far you get.

    We tried re-watching E.T. recently. For a classically beloved children's film that earned approximately all the money when it was first released, it's remarkably slow and dull. Techniques of story-telling and filming move on, and audience expectations adjust accordingly.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    Spoilers, folks!
    I am a big fan of Orphan Black and I didn't know about something I have just read here :-(

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 307 posts Report Reply

  • Myles Thomas, in reply to Regan Cunliffe,

    So cynical. Even if Greive is plumping for NZME or Spinoff his points are still relevant. More relevant still is Russell's about the need for a non-commercial channel (note channel in the broader sense, ie not only broadcast) which is able to take risks a la SBS or ch4 in the UK.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Myles Thomas,

    The thing to remember is that it's the system that creates these problems and not the individuals. Guardian writers are no better than Sun writers - they're just doing a different job, informing vs building audiences. Equally the TVNZ commissioners work in a deeply commercial, precarious and risk averse environment. That is created by pressure from their bosses who are under huge pressure in turn from their shareholders, the government, to make as many $$$ as possible.

    Like the medium is the message, so the paradigm is the programme.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Myles Thomas,

    Equally the TVNZ commissioners work in a deeply commercial, precarious and risk averse environment. That is created by pressure from their bosses who are under huge pressure in turn from their shareholders, the government, to make as many $$$ as possible

    One might almost say they are in 'unchartered' waters...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7818 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    One might almost say they are in 'unchartered' waters...

    :)
    "It's fun to charter an accountant
    And sail the wide accountancy..."

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Myles Thomas,

    Guardian writers are no better than Sun writers – they’re just doing a different job, informing vs building audiences.

    That’s like saying there’s no real difference between this blog and venues like Whaleshit. Sure, they target different audiences, but the Guardian attracts a better standard of writer capable of providing intelligent analysis. The Sun employs hacks. They’re not interchangable.

    Equally the TVNZ commissioners work in a deeply commercial, precarious and risk averse environment.

    And some are more competent than others.

    I’ll tell you a little story. I produced a series for TVNZ a while back called Remarkable Vets. It had a particularly Wakatipu flavour with all-local crew, local music from Noel Coutts and a locally-produced title sequence. My commissioning editor loved it.

    When we were about halfway through making the series she went overseas for a couple of months, so another commissioning editor took over. He didn’t like the titles – so we went through another half dozen variants at considerable cost until we found something he was happy with. Even worse, he hated the music. He demanded something safer and more generic so we were forced to replace the original score with library music throughout. Jeez it sounded awful.

    A week before the first show aired our original commissioner arrived back in NZ and demanded to know who had screwed up the titles and music. I flew up to Auckland and spent a couple of days replacing the title sequences for four shows and remixing two hours of sound to reinstate all of our original music.

    The TV2 show rated well in a 7pm Sunday slot, despite TVNZ running it against a really good Marcus Lush series on TV One. It sold well internationally and we received great feedback on the music.

    Commissioning editors are not created equal. Just like journalists.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1353 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Thanks Rich. I liked Xena for that female super lead idea which predated “Buffy” by some years but in talking with some of the people who were on the show they also knew they were mocking various genres and that was a big part of its charm.

    I was just wondering if part of the NZ commissioning problem is that we are just trying too hard to make serious TV rather than say something like the “IT Crowd” which is very likeable.

    But what do I know – I found “Madmen” and “Breaking Bad” both unwatchable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 363 posts Report Reply

  • Regan Cunliffe, in reply to Myles Thomas,

    I'm not questioning the relevancy, but the motives.

    FWIW I completely agree with the need for a channel that is free from the commercial drivers that have pushed everything to where they are now.

    But where is the line regarding the same people getting the same funding? Is it with SPP? Is it with TVNZ? Is it with Top Shelf? If we follow the logic of Grieve then Russell's own show is in the firing line.

    Kaukapakapa • Since Mar 2007 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Jason Kemp,

    in talking with some of the people who were on the show they also knew they were mocking various genres and that was a big part of its charm.

    I think the difference is between 'affectionate-teasing-coming-from-a-place-of-love-but-c'mon-really-this-shit-is-ridiculous', and 'hur-hur-look-at-the-stupid'. No prizes for guessing which one generally ends up as a better product.

    'Deadpool' is the latest example. An irreverant send-up R-rated superhero film with a main character who constantly breaks the fourth wall. 10 years in development hell, and needed the 'accidental' leaking of test footage to kickstart it out. It's now taken US$609.8m (and rising) at the box office...

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Context. All of these shows (and Dr Who is another example) need to be seen in the context of the time of original broadcast. A show with an unapologetically bad-ass arse-kicking female warrior as the lead, without her needing to be rescued by a man? Pretty left-field back in the ’90’s.

    My kids have become fans of old Sooty and Sweep episodes. Because there's nothing much like it on TV now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10598 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    We've just ditched Sky. Couldn't justify the expense and we were hardly watching anything in the platform apart from the occasional drama on Soho: Girls, The Affair, Homeland and Game of Thrones have all been appointment viewing. However there are other ways to watch landmark drama, and Sky is ridiculously overpriced.

    We don't watch any free to air TV. I can't bear the commercial environment the programmes sit in, and there's not much for me in the schedules. I guess at 50, I'm pretty much outside most of the target demographics. Ironic as I make TV drama for a living.

    Most of our viewing these days is on Netflix and from iTunes - both via Apple TV. Loved The Kiling, and most recently Narcos. This type of viewing feels like the future of home media consumption. Sadly the subscription model will never provide a big enough mainstream audience in NZ to fund quality drama production.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I also saw half an hour of The People v OJ Simpson and was appalled at how wooden it was – David Schwimmer and Cuba Gooding Jr looked like they were reading lines taped on other actors or out of shot, with the emotional range of a gas stove – maybe that was the intent – I read a lot of books these days instead – but it is all different strokes for different folks.

    Gooding’s OJ is really one of the weak links in the show – but oddly enough, it’s doesn’t really matter, because OJ isn’t the lead in his own drama. The face-off in this week’s ep between Sterling Brown’s Chris Darden and Courtney Vance’s Johnnie Cochran was visceral.

    According to The Wrap's OJ Fact Check, the key exchange isn't far from the truth.

    I’m sure part of what I like is that it’s the re-playing of a major news story. It’s fun seeing real people depicted – the Dominick Dunne character was spookily close to looking at the real thing this week.

    But the truly weird thing – and it entirely befits the whole weird story – is TMZ’s scoop on the possible murder weapon that’s been at home with an idiot LAPD officer nearly 20 years.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22695 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Just the facts, ma'am...

    But the truly weird thing – and it entirely befits the whole weird story – is TMZ’s scoop on the possible murder weapon that’s been at home with an idiot LAPD officer nearly 20 years.

    I was just about to post that myself - seems to be 'a thing' police officers hanging on to evidence - I saw a case in Australia recently where a box of papers and evidence was found in the roof of an ex -police officers house:

    A box full of important missing evidence from the investigation into the death of young Sydney man Matthew Leveson has been discovered gathering dust in the roof of a former police officer's home, raising hopes of a major breakthrough in the case.
    In a bizarre twist in the nine-year saga following the 20-year-old's disappearance in September 2007, the coroner's court heard on Friday that the evidence had been found on Thursday night in the home of Nicole Power, formerly the officer in charge of assisting with the coronial investigation.

    see:
    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/missing-box-of-evidence-from-matthew-leveson-case-discovered-in-police-officers-roof-inquest-hears-20160226-gn4vwb.html

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7818 posts Report Reply

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