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Comcast Sucks

When we first moved to Arizona, I splurged and bought a Tivo. It was an old one, and it was wonderful. Worked great, super intuitive interface, great integration. Back then it had to call Tivo every day to get the latest listings.

In 2006 or so, we went HD, and upgraded to a Series 2 HD, with the cable cards. With the exception of a failed HD in 2012, replaced via Weaknees, it has been wonderful.

At both our places in Arizona, we had Cox cable. It was reliable, reasonable, and it gave us absolutely awesome internet speeds.

Fast forward. We have moved to the San Jose area. Our stuff is still in storage, and we are in temporary housing. The apartment we are in has Comcast Xfinity service. Internet, TV, and telephone.

I guess I should be happy that it has a DVR, but the UI is so fucking primitive, it is painful to use. It is slow, non responsive, and the search function truly sucks ass. Yes, there are lots of channels, but unless you search precisely right, it will not return anything, and then you get to go back to square one.

I can only hope that we have a choice wherever we end up, but I suspect that we will have the choice between Comcast and AT&T U-Verse.

I guess I will once again go back to Tivo.

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Bad TV – Columbo

To be fair, this isn’t really bad TV.

Lieutenant ColumboI love Netflix streaming. It is a great way to while away the hours. I have enjoyed many classic TV series, from Rockford Files, Hawaii 50, and the early Twilight Zones. I get great enjoyment watching these.

I watched all the original Hawaii 50 episodes. I think it was the 8th season when they finally showed it raining in Hawaii (but, ironically, every time McGarrett (Jack Lord) when to the mainland, it was raining there.

Lately, I have been watching the old Columbo episodes. It ran from 1971 and had 7 seasons. The episodes are 1:15 long (so it was a 90 minute show).

What I love:

  • Peter Falk – man, he was a character. Always disheveled, waving that nasty green cigar around. Driving that wreck of a car. An amazing character. In the 3rd season when he picked up the dog (with no name), a bassett hound, I loved it.
  • Interesting plot twists. Of course, they telegraphed the twist up front, so you got to see Columbo work it out.
  • Well shot. For the time period, it was really good cinematography.
  • “There’s one more thing …” – gotta love that line…

What I hate:

  • The criminals are idiots. They all make really basic, stupid mistakes. Of course, you expect criminals to be less than brain surgeons, but they do so many things right, but then do completely bone headed things that trip them up.
  • It all unravels with one pull of the thread. Invariably, there is one piece of incongruent evidence. And bang, Columbo gets them.

Still, I enjoy watching these.  I just started the 4th season, so I will probably keep watching them.

If you haven’t seen it, the movie that makes Peter Falk’s career is “The Inlaws” with Alan Arkin. Totally worth the watch.

I am saddened that Peter Falk passed in 2011, apparently in an advanced stage of Alzheimers. A shame.

Mission Impossible (the series) Observations

I love Netflix streaming. Now that I finally hooked it up to my XBox 360, and it is a much better integration than the Tivo series 3 box.

One of the shows I have been watching is the original Mission Impossible series. I enjoyed it when I was growing up, and I still enjoy it.

Although, there are some gaping holes in the plots, and miraculously, even when they are deep in eastern European communist countries, or communist countries in South America, everybody speaks english. The signs are all “readable”, and the sets are all hokey.

But I still enjoy the shows. I can’t wait until I break into the Peter Graves episodes (still in the Stephen Hill episodes.) All cheese, but it is a tasty cheese.

How the Twilight Zone Stories hold up

I have been watching the original series of the Twilight Zone from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. It has dawned on me that the stories have held up remarkably well a half century on.

At the beginning of widespread broadcast TV, the Twilight Zone was a trend setter.
At the beginning of widespread broadcast TV, the Twilight Zone was a trend setter.

First, they were prolific. 35 episodes a season, where today a show struggles to deliver 12 or 14 episodes. Of course, this was possible as the sets were simple, the stories weren’t contiguous, and the actors were changed often. Rod Serling is a consistent thread though, and he was the driving force.

Second, the episodes were 26-ish minutes. Today, a 30 minute show yields about 22 minutes of footage.

Third, there was a revolving door of great actors. Burgess Meredith, Jack Klugman, Don Rickles, William Shatner, and others. They brought a lot of talent, and fun to the show.

Time travel, magic gift sacks, aliens, nuclear armageddon were staples of the show, but not the major props in the episodes. The stories were solid, and have been repeated over and over again in shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, and many more.

Good stuff, and the iconic image of Rod Serling, smoking his Pall Mall.

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Netflix Observations

As I have posted before, I have been grooving on watching TV series from my youth. (well, ok, not really my youth) I have come to a realization. Regardless of what show it is, it seems that in the 5th or 6th season, the shark is invariably jumped.

X-Files, in the 5th season, they kill off all the conspirators, and in the 6th season it gets mega campy. Sigh, because I still groove on Gillian Anderson.

Family Guy – I was a big early fan, but I have been dropping in on episodes, and season 7 is where it falls completely apart.

I propose a new rule. From now on, TV series should only have 5 seasons. All shows should be put out of there misery in a reasonable fashion.