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Hasbro Releases Board Game Based on Zynga’s Words with Friends Based on Hasbro’s Own Scrabble

This is like the time NBC ordered an American remake of Coupling which was just a British rip-off of Friends.

To be equally senseless, Hasbro is releasing a Words With Friends board game which was just a rip-off of Scrabble which is already a board game.

The target audience for this is very stupid people.

Zynga makes money off its plagiarism. Hasbro tries to make money by updating its IP for the IP that was ripped off by trying to appeal to that important demographic of people who don’t remember anything that happened before 2006.

Everyone wins. Everyone loses.

 

Revolution is Not Revolting

Revolution has its problems, most of them involving its whiny protagonist, but it’s still about the only drama worth watching on television. The concept is big and it’s easy to question the details, the lack of modern firearms in the vicinity of Chicago, but it’s also the only show that is taking some actual risks.

On Monday at 10, what used to be a prime hour for dramas, Revolution is up against the bland Hawaii 5-0 and the nearly as bland as Castle. Revolution has its flaws, but it’s not another of the watered down crime dramas or worse hospital dramas cluttering up the networks. It steps outside the box the way that a few shows like Lost and 24 have done.

Revolution is ambitious. It doesn’t come close to living up to those ambitions, but it’s the only series making an effort to open up another world and push beyond the formula of what a network series is supposed to be. It’s the kind of show that SyFy would never budget for and that network television has been wary of.

Can a post-apocalyptic drama with horses and saber fights make it on network television? I don’t know. But considering the complete lack of Science Fiction, even on the SyFy Channel, I’m willing to give Revolution a chance.

The first two Eric Kripke written episodes have been good, for all their logical flaws. The episodes written by Monica Owusu-Breen (No Quarter) and Anne Cofell Saunders (Plague Dogs) have hovered near the terrible range. I haven’t seen Soul Train yet and I’ll see if it breaks the cycle.

Revolution is probably doomed, even on NBC, but it’s also the only thing on NBC’s programming wasteland worth watching.

The Dumbest Story About Nobel Prize Winners You Will Read Today

There comes a time when a Nobel Prize Winner, like everybody’s grandpa, gets easily annoyed by everything and resorts to writing letters about it to the newspaper. For some baffling reason, a bunch of Nobel Peace Prize winners decided to write a letter protesting an NBC Reality Show that didn’t air yet.

I’m starting to feel sorry for NBC which keeps walking into crazy firestorms of hate over its crappy new shows. Animal Practice, or whatever the show with the animals that the network is promoting non-stop is called, led to racism charges. Now Stars Earn Stripes, which is just Boot Camp with B-List celebrities, somehow attracted the attention of nine Nobel Peace Prize winners who couldn’t be bothered to go denounce Bourne or Glee, but had to zero in on The Marriage Ref Joins the Army.

Nine Nobel Peace Prize winners decided to denounce  Stars Earn Stripes for “glorifying war and armed violence”. Maybe that’s a point, maybe not, but why not denounce… everything. Half of everything on TV and in movie theaters glorifies armed violence. The biggest game franchises are simulations of armed conflict. Go and denounce that.

It’s the old Jack Thompson argument and it’s not much more credible from Tutu and Betty Williams than it is from him.

Could NBC have gotten a bunch of foreign Nobel Prize winners to denounce its show as a publicity stunt? It would be expensive but not impossible. They all have their own funds. NBC donates a hundred grand to each of them. That’s less than a million dollars for a fortune in free publicity.

Next NBC needs to get them to denounce Animal Practice.

NBC’s Post-Apocalyptic Revolution

A few thoughts.

1. After J.J. Abrams’ string of high profile TV failures, why do networks still keep throwing money at him?

2. Can S.M. Stirling sue for this? What about the creators of Jericho? Maybe they can file a joint suit?

3. In a world without electricity… Manhattan is a jungle. Neat. Do they realize that most of Manhattan was built without electricity? We didn’t actually use electricity for everything. We used it because it was more convenient than the alternatives.

We might not have iPods, but we would have cities. And the United States predated electricity. It actually managed to keep together in a Civil War… without electricity.

4. 15 years later there are warlords and everyone is living on farms, but they look exactly like wannabe actors and models in LA.

5. What’s with all the bows? Are you telling me that all the firearms in the country stopped working too?

With all the caveats this still looks better than Terra Nova, but so does a dog yawning in the sun.

Hipsters Hating on Outsourced

There isn’t a show this season that has been more relentlessly and undeservedly hated than Outsourced. It’s a successful series that was bullied out of its timeslot by the same people who are now trying to push it into cancellation. Because NBC isn’t supposed to have anything but Office/30 Rock/Parks and Recreation/Community and the same bunch of yuppie hipster oriented TV.

Most of the hatred coming Outsourced’s way comes out of the entitlement of that audience, whose own fave shows rate poorly, but resented Outsourced because it took the mediocre Parks and Recreation’s timeslot. And did better in it than Parks and Recreation had. Outsourced was pushed into a death slot, but the hate still continues.

Outsourced isn’t a great show, but as a half-hour comedy, it’s decent. It’s not stocked with SNL trash like Amy Poehler or Chevy Chase or hipster fave comedians. Its cast is mostly non-white. So are its writers. It was an attempt by NBC to do something different and it worked surprisingly well. Outsourced is light on its feet, tells stories easily and actually takes you somewhere different than another office full of awkward white people and their minority sidekicks. (Office, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock.) So of course it must die.

Read through the attacks on Outsourced and they’re irrational. Accusations of racism by people who admit they never watched the show. But you know what’s not racist. Killing the only minority centric TV show on NBC to make way for another Office clone.

Person of Disinterest

The sheer amount of money and talent thrown at Person of Interest makes it all the more inexcusable what a waste the show is. But New York location after location and attempts at topical issues can’t give the show the veneer of authenticity it needs. Or the originality.

Every plot element in the expensive pilot is a cliche and you can guess what happens next every few minutes, except for the one twist in the middle. Which would be defensible if the whole thing wasn’t painfully slow, if the exposition wasn’t thrown at the screen and if there was any reason to care about what is going on screen.

Even the basic elements are off. James Caviezel’s makeup in the opening is surprisingly terrible. Odd for an episode that probably cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 million. And Caviezel’s acting is equally terrible. The promos implied that Michael Emerson would get more screen time, but instead it’s Caviezel trying on his best tortured act and then smirking his way through the rest of the show.

Watching Person of Interest, I felt like I was watching a subpar version of The Pretender with worse acting and a weaker concept. All the meditations of national security and surveillance are about a decade too late and a cop bashing show that also tries to exploit 9/11 is barely even worth sneering at.

What Person of Interest really shows is that networks have completely forgotten how to make action shows. The reboot of Charlie’s Angels, Person of Interest, the reboots of Knight Rider and Bionic Woman all come back to the same thing. Add on the bastardization of Human Target and it all adds up. Networks just can’t make an action show anymore. They don’t understand that it has to go someplace.

Person of Interest combines the pace of CSI with the plot of a generic 80’s action hour overlaid with a whole bunch of meditation on surveillance for something that fails on every level. Its writing fails. Its acting fails. Even its makeup fails.

Time for a Purge at NBC

This was supposed to be the season of recovery for NBC, but the only new show it has that anyone will watch voluntarily is yuppie bait, Up All Night.

Making the situation worse is that NBC has a schedule full of dogs as it keeps bringing back loser shows like Community, Chuck and Parks and Recreation which shut out even more of a potential audience. NBC needs a major purge, badly, but this is the 30 Rock network with its head too far up its own peacock to do what has to be done.

The Office won’t last forever. Playboy Club was a bad idea that performed badly. Prime Suspect could have worked, but it’s a dead end. Keeping Community on might be defensible if it at least hit the demographic sweet spot, but it doesn’t.

NBC used to rule Thursday night. Now Community pulls in audiences about the size of a community college against a Big Bang Theory past its prime. And Parks and Recreation gets eaten for lunch by everyone. It’s time for NBC to pull the plug.

The End of the Office

The Office isn’t off the air yet and its ratings are good and NBC is desperate enough that it will keep on paying money to keep it on the air. When the competition is Parks and Recreation and Community, shows that no one outside LA and New York even watches, then it doesn’t have too much to worry about, but the season premiere is a reminder of how completely the show has been ruined.

Seasons 1 and 2, the Office was funny without being a sitcom. It was exaggerated but it also had the reality of the workplace, the senseless misery and lack of control, the awkwardness of the people you work with whom you’re around all day but don’t really know or like, and the sense that you would rather be doing something else if you weren’t being paid to do this pointless thing.

Then the show let go of the reality more and more, and just let the characters run wild on a collision course with each other. It was close to a sitcom but it was still unexpected, awkward and felt grounded in a workplace. Year by year that changed, and then this is the season that it became a sitcom. A sitcom without a laugh track, but with all the lameness.

The Office was always going to become a sitcom, the more Michael became Homer Simpson and Dwight was allowed to run wild, and Jim and Pam became smug parents, the closer it got. But nothing cliched it like a show digging up a plot that almost every office sitcom has toyed with, the boss dividing the office by turning them against each other, and the moment where Andy walks in to deliver a sitcom cliche of standing up for his fellow workers that is determined to make viewers feel good, without earning it. It’s the end.

NPR’s Stupid Outsourced Rant

It’s amazing reading articles from people who sit through dingy episode after episode of 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation, but treat watching Outsourced like a priest going to a whorehouse. They make a point of telling you how much they’re lowering themselves by even talking about it. The Onion’s piece was bad enough. NPR’s Marc Hirsh is even worse. The smugness just rolls off the page like sweat off a fat guy.

First a comparison of Outsourced to Doritos. We get it. You’re too good for junk food. Then the obligatory salaaming for 30 Rock. We’re get it, you’re elite. And then the stupid begins. I’m going to cut out most of it to get to the criticisms.

It depicts American culture in the stupidest possible terms… Outsourced’s Todd (the manager of the call center, played by Ben Rappaport) talks about these bits of useless crap as though they’re the basic currency of American culture, rather than silly items used for coarse humor. The show doesn’t say, “Yes, a bell that you ring to announce that you’re horny is dumb, but it makes people laugh, and that’s why we sell it.” It says, “The sex bell is one of the things that makes American great and free.” It’s presenting worthless marginalia as societal cornerstones.

Because… you know funny. Just like 30 Rock and The Office exaggerate for comedic effect. Or Stan on American Dad.

Presenting worthless marginalia as societal cornerstones? Way to channel your inner Armond White. Also why isn’t The Office about the quest for world peace. And why were Darren and Samantha so obsessed with advertising, instead of fighting for civil rights? Why?

A show where there’s a joke about gag gifts being the American way, now hates America or something. Thanks for the Glenn Beck analysis of a 3 second bit of a half hour comedy on the tail end of NBC’s schedule.

Indian culture is constantly viewed as though it’s in the wrong.

Okay so now Outsourced doesn’t just hate America, it hates India too! Except the writers are mostly Indian. And it’s a show about cultural misunderstandings viewed from both sides. The American and Indian characters are baffled by each other’s oddities.

In many episodes, Todd comes face to face with some aspect of Indian society that he doesn’t understand (such as arranged marriage and simple physical contact like shoulder-touching) and spends the rest of the episode trying to convince everyone else that the American way is better. What’s worse, he often succeeds… Essentially, the show’s main character thinks India would be a whole lot better if it were exactly like the United States, instead of, say, India.

This isn’t completely wrong, but it’s not really true either.

Todd is aggressively clueless, but he rarely convinces anyone that the American way is best. Shoulder touching is a custom that he freaks about and learns to avoid. Arranged marriage is questioned not just by Americans, but by Indians. But the American hook ups of Todd and then Mahnmeet are shown to be dead ends.

The show never comes down on either side. Instead it shows both sides learning about each other.

In fact, in one of the more curious developments around this show, I can tell you – purely anecdotally – the most ardent fans that I’ve found are people of Indian descent. (Yes, that’s written by a writer on the show, but she discusses this phenomenon anecdotally herself.) And it’s not simply a matter of “Yay, we’re on TV!” (For that, they’d simply have to turn to The Office, 30 Rock, The Good Wife, Parks And Recreation, The Big Bang Theory, etc.) The attitude seems to be that Indians are a self-deprecating bunch and that it’s silly to be offended even when the point seems to be that Indian culture is stupid/funny/wrong,

See this is why I hate white liberals. In one paragraph, Marc Hirsh manages to be more racist and clueless than the show he’s attacking.

Indians like Outsourced. Obviously they’re too filled with self-hate to know what’s good for them. They should go watch positive depictions of themselves on Big Bang Theory, where the Indian character is borderline psychotic, repressed, can’t talk to women and whose culture is used as a punch line every time. And whose land is mocked in almost every episode.

Please, why won’t those desis listen to Marc Hirsh. He knows what’s good for them.

It’s not a funny show.

It’s as funny as The Office or the rest of the bunch. The jokes come more from the character interplay, just like on the Office, than from classic setups and punchlines.

Where Outsourced goes wrong is in implicitly sympathizing with its main character. If Todd’s objectionable attitude dug him deeper and deeper, you’d have a show that had some of the same uncomfortable and/or dark humor of The Office or Arrested Development.

And why does a show have to be dark and uncomfortable? Not everything has to be cringe comedy. Since cringe comedy isn’t even very funny.

Also The Office sympathized with Michael way too much.

(Imagine if Arrested Development assumed that Gob was the hero.)

It would have been a much better show. Michael Bluth’s whining was constantly annoying. Tobias would have been better than Gob though.

Alternatively, if he was the one trying to adjust to his new surroundings (instead of trying to adjust his new surroundings to him), then you’d have a show maybe a little bit like Community, where he’s forced to be somewhere he doesn’t really want to be but has to make the most of it, even if it’s a struggle sometimes.

That’s something audiences can sympathize with, they’re not into watching Community either.

The writing is lazy and ham-handed. It uses every cheap trick that every bad sitcom has ever used. Right from the start, there might as well have been a giant flashing arrow over Asha (Rebecca Hazlewood) that read “THIS IS THE WOMAN THAT THE MAIN CHARACTER IS GOING TO FALL FOR, RIGHT HERE.”

Which is different from The Office how? Hey that Will Ferrell appearance last week was so nuanced. And Pam, who knew that was coming.

And would you believe that a character’s bachelor party results in his bride-to-be and her stern father walking in at the most compromising moment? It’s just so tiring. For me, that is. Clearly not for the writers.

Sure, I’m not one of those Doritos eating morons. I’m sophisticated. I like my comedy to be completely unpredictable. Like when Michael does something wacky every episode for seven years. Who can predict what he’ll do and that it will go wrong? No one! Absolutely no one.

And when Dwight shows up to work with a gun, can anyone predict that he’ll blow his manager position by discharging it in the office. No one. Because even though he’s gotten in trouble for using weapons in the office before and Chekov ‘s old gun adage remains, it’s fresh and original.

And yet, here I am. I’m so fascinated by how aggressively, angrily bad Outsourced was able to go that it’s mesmerizing in an utter-trainwreck sort of way. There’s not one thing about it that works, and yet, there it is, chugging along, with so many people involved in keeping it moving in the hopes that eventually something will spark. They’ve been basically pushing a dead car along the road, figuring that maybe if they pop the clutch just one more time, it’ll start up. And in the meantime, they’re killing themselves pushing.

Better known as 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Community. Hey if we talk up this crap some more, maybe somebody who doesn’t work in advertising in New York will finally tune in.

Prize for reading the comments where a few asians show up to defend the show, to be smugly told by the white NPR folks that they’re too stupid and ignorant to know what’s good for them.

Cape Canceled

I can’t mourn too much. After seeing the pilot, I had a soft spot for it, but the show was just too slow, the lead actor too annoying and the material too badly executed. It could have been done better, with some different casting, sharply written scripts and good pacing. But that didn’t happen.

I don’t know what everyone involved was expecting. The Cape looked like a holdover from the Silverman era of Knight Rider and Wonder Woman reboots, except done on the cheap. It was like one of those interminable syndicated action hours that used to be everywhere all the time. Generic hero puts on cape and does stuff. The mythology of the cape wasn’t bad either. But a lame hero and a lame villain didn’t make for great entertainment.

It was a surprise to see something like this even get aired and now its final episode is being burned off online. It’s sad that an opportunity to put a genre show out there got wasted. Now it’ll be replaced either by a Modern Family ripoff, something that J.J. Abrams wiped his ass on and sold as a pilot, or knowing NBC something even worse.

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