Friday, November 27, 2009

RE: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

This is in response to two of Alan Cross's articles, which you can read here:
Part 1

You would be wise to go off and read them now, as much of what I will be saying herein will make just about no sense without having done so. I'm a patient man. I'll wait here.

Finished? Good.

First of all, it should be noted that I have a substantial degree of respect for Alan Cross, and just about everything he does. Accordingly, no one should view this response as me talking shit about him, but merely a critical response to his post. Alan and the Two Assholes have always had quite a good working relationship (We even have a good interview of him
here.), and I don't want anyone to think that this article is in any way an attempt to stifle that.

Second, I'm going to revert to somewhat of an intellectual, legal speaking tone, as this isn't me ranting about how awesome the Ninja Turtles or Mega Man are. This is, after all, a serious topic.

Alan has cited a number of blogs and other online postings which seem to mirror his concerns about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (hereinafter "ACTA"), but I always find it more helpful to go straight to the source documentation. This is a practice bred not only out of my time served in academic facilities, but also due to the fact that I am a practicing lawyer. Review of legal texbooks are useful at times, but really tend to give you more of a gloss-over of the real factors to be considered, and are of very little utility before a judge or other judicial officer. In short, you need to go straight to the case law, statutes, and whatever other source documentation is applicable.

Here is the wikileaks article containing the leaked document that is being referred to by a great deal of the cited sources. The download link is near the bottom. You'll note that this is a Discussion Paper that was "reportedly provided to select lobbyists in the intellectual property industry". What this really is is a layout of some of the types of things that the U.S. government may want to see put into the ACTA. You'll note that even the most specific of potential provisions aren't that specific.

Here is the Government of Canada's official policy on Tabling of Treaties in Parliament. This is the mechanism by which all treaties are adopted in Canada. Given the scope of new enforcement regimes that Alan and a number of other people on the internet are concerned with, ratification of the treaty will be required by the passing of domestic legislation, in addition to the fact that treaties have to be tabled in the House of Commons (which gives MPs an opportunity to respond or attempt to defeat the acceptance of the treaty by a parliamentary motion).

Here is the government's official page providing all of the documentation that it has made available at present with regard to the ACTA. You'll note that the government has sought, and is constantly seeking, public input with regard to the ACTA, and they have even published a number of the submissions made to them thus far.

Now that all of the source documentation has been pointed out, let's move directly to deal with Alan's assertions with regard to the ACTA.

First of all, treaties are always drafted to some degree "in secret", primarily because the entire process would be exceptionally bogged down if the negotiating parties had to seek public approval at every single step of drafting. This would be the same as if lawyers engaging in a negotiation on the part of a client had to stop every single time a term was being discussed, to go off and consult the client. It's far more efficient, and makes infinitely more sense to have an initial consultation, negotiate the agreement amongst the lawyers, and then return with a finished draft for approval or rejection by the client. That's precisely what is ongoing in this case amongst the negotiating parties to the ACTA. They will hammer out specific terms, and then return home and put the finished draft treaty before their respective governments for approval or rejection. If enough countries reject the draft, then it will likely go back for renegotiation. If only a few reject it, then the treaty stands, but only among those who choose to be bound by it.

Bullet 1 - Firstly, if sites are perfectly legal, then they will not, and cannot by definition, run afoul of the enforcement of copyright. Secondly, by looking at the discussion paper referred to above, the only portion dealing with ISPs is a section near the end where it proposes measures to protect ISPs from any liability should they cooperate with rights holders. There is no suggestion, as there is for other groups, that ISPs should be entitled to some powers to filter or determine copyright infringement on an
ex officio basis. Rather, the suggestion is that other laws (presumably privacy legislation) be relaxed where ISPs are requested to cooperate with rights holders. For reference, Rogers, one of Canada's largest ISPs already is in the routine of monitoring certain traffic, and sending out correspondence to its subscribers where such has been requested by rights holders. In short, what is actually proposed is only a small step above what already goes on in Canada, and is about the same as what already goes on in the U.S.

Bullet 2 - The sort of rule that Alan is talking about here seems to be based upon the UK's "Three Strikes" rule which was intended to go into effect. The UK, however, has scaled the plan back, and no longer intends to simply cut off internet access, but only send warnings at first. You can read about it
here. This proposed law came as a result of an EU decision that member countries are now permitted to use technical measures such as cutting off internet access, in order to reduce piracy.

Bullet 3 - Eliminating the ability to make a back-up copy of any media would require substantial changes to the Copyright Act, and will likely attract some measure of Charter scrutiny, as the law would effectively involve the government controlling individual, private use of wholly-owned property.

Bullet 4 - Based upon the discussion paper above, this seems like it may be a misstatement. The discussion paper deals with the seizure of infringing "goods". Electronic data is not a "good", but the media that it is on may be. However, and iPod, or any other digital audio player is unlikely to infringe on a copyright in and of itself. In short, while such a rule may impact upon pirated CDs or DVDs (and in fact, the discussion paper does specifically mention optical media), or counterfeit music players themselves, it isn't going to impact upon media files on a perfectly legal device such as an iPod. Even if such a measure somehow managed to make its way into a treaty that Canada both signed, and ratified, it's unlikely to survive Charter scrutiny, as it would become wholly impossible to mount a defence to the accusations.

The ACTA won't even be at a final draft stage until sometime in 2010, and the government will then have to jump through the hoops of approval and ratification of the terms of the treaty. This will take a significant amount of time, and a considerable amount of effort on behalf of the government based upon two factors:
A) We have a minority government in place. This means that the government can't make moves that all of the opposition parties are going to oppose.
B) Since Bill C-61 was proposed by the Conservative government, Canadians have been pretty up in arms about the possibility of more radical steps being taken to enforce copyright. Bill C-61 was left to die for a reason. The country is not yet Conservative enough to accept it.

What's my point, through all of this?

It's two-fold.

Firstly, everyone should educate themselves. In the internet age we have a tendency to rely very heavily on secondary and tertiary sources such as blogs, online news sites, and wikipedia. The problem with this is that levels of summary can often obscure the actual fact with interpretation. The fact itself is what you need to know, not what someone else might think that it implies.

Secondly, the ACTA isn't something to fear at this stage, and it would be imprudent to begin to fear the adoption of a law, or laws, the substance of which is based upon rumour, conjecture, and leaked documents. Should you be somewhat concerned about possible ramifications? Yes, but there's no sense being worried, or being "very afraid", until we have some solid, actual sense of what this treaty will entail.

By all means, however, make your voices heard to the government, and let them know what you're not willing to tolerate. You do elect these people, after all, and if enough of you will only vote for the political party that will oppose such measures, then the government will either listen, or be voted out of office.

Disclaimer - Adam is a lawyer, but he's not your lawyer. None of the foregoing is legal advice, nor should it be construed that way. If you need legal advice, go find your own lawyer.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Sell The Dead DVD Review

Now if you've been following my movie reviews of what Anchor Bay has been sending me the last little while you know it's been a mixed bag at best. Loved the Hellraiser dvds. Imurder...not so much.

So when I Sell The Dead arrived at my door, I tried not to get my hopes up.

Sure it co-starred Ron Pearlman who can bring quality to any part he plays despite a film being a big floating turd. But this was a period piece on a very low budget. So with some trepidation I put the disc in the dvd player.

And thankfully I was rewarded with a nice little comedic horror flick.

I Sell the Dead stars Dominic Monaghan (from Lost and former hobbit), Larry Fessenden (who also serves as a producer on the film but still brings the noise as an actor in it) and Ron Pearlman (Hellboy, lord among character actors) with an appearance by Angus Scrimm (the Tall Man from the Phantasm series).

Set in the 17 or 1800's (it never gives a clear date...not like it's needed), Arthur Blake (Monaghan) and Willie Grimes (Fessenden) steal bodies and sell them to medical science. It works out alright for them but when business really picks up is when they start dealing with the undead and selling them to medical science. Eventually the two are accused of murder and the story is told in flashback as Blake speaks to Father Duffy (Pearlman) about his past adventures.

While I was watching the movie it reminded me a lot of the old Roger Corman drive-in movies that I used to watch on late night tv. Decent script, decent actors, no budget but yet had a charm to it that over came the fact that the set in the Pit and the Pendulum was then transferred and dressed up with plants for Little Shop of Horrors.

I instantly fell in love with Blake and Grimes and their ridiculous adventures. Stealing bodies, waking vampires, finding aliens, the characters, while we don't find out a heck of a lot about them, they seem to be completely there from the moment they hit the screen. Fessenden in particular really grabbed me as Grimes, the grave robber with a heart of gold.

The film itself I would describe as a comedy with strong horror overtones. And well written. Unlike a lot of other indy horror flicks I've sat through, at the end of the movie, I did not feel like I wasted over an hour of my life and I didn't feel like a moron for giving this movie a chance.

In fact my only complaint about the movie is I want more! At 85 minutes it ends just as the story is getting good. It would make a great pilot for a tv series which I would watch religiously every week. But hey, if they want to make full length sequels, I'd be more then happy with that.

As for the tech specs, the picture quality is great, the sound mix is alright in 5.1 surround and it even comes with a few extras including a one hour making of, commentary by the director and the two stars and a full small graphic novel adaptation in the dvd case.

The film is being distributed by Anchor Bay here in Canada and made by Glass Eye Pix's Scareflix division.

So good was this film that I will gladly sit through any other movies they will come out with even if they are only half as good as this one.

In short, this is a buy or at the very least a rent. Please do one or the other cause I want a sequel!

I Sell The Dead is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

What Might have Been #2

Welcome back to another installment of What Might Have Been. This is where I take a look at movies and TV shows that nearly came about, but either fell apart before they became a reality, or in the process of filming. The first article got so much favorable response I decided to try it again.

Alien 3 by William Gibson

Alien 3 is one of those weird junkyard movies (pun not intended). A lot of what we saw on screen was a script cobbled together from bits and pieces of other drafts. This is not entirely unusual in Hollywood; right off the top of my head, a good example I can think of is the first X-Men film.

But the really interesting thing about Alien 3 was, beyond the cobbling, there were at least two other scripts developed that never really appeared in the finished product. One was by screen writer Eric Red, best known as a writer who worked on the original The Hitcher and Near Dark.

The other was by William Gibson.

While not a huge household name, William Gibson is probably recognized as one of the most influential science fiction writers of the last 50 years. Gibson along with a few others created the genre of cyberpunk which not only influenced other writers but music and art. He also happens to be the man who coined the term “cyberspace”.

Somewhere in the late 80's, the powers-that-be got wind of Gibson, due in part to the fact that most of his written work had been optioned for films (there's a whole column in itself about why we've only ever seen one of those) and gave Gibson the chance to write the screenplay for Alien 3.

The only catch was, it had to be written in such a way that if Sigourney Weaver was not going to be involved (at that point she was done with the franchise...well at that moment anyways), they could work around it.

Gibson's script focuses on Bishop and Hicks each who are “rescued” by separate human factions. The evil company Weiland-Yutani is messing around with the genetics of the xenomorphs, so they no longer do the incubation thing; they carry a disease that will turn some people into human/alien warriors. The nice thing about this is it brings back a bit of the mystery element from the first film because you're guessing which characters are “infected”. Most of the script takes place on a space station/mall/lab and it is really action oriented.

How action oriented?

Aliens feature two rather large stand-off action scenes between humans and aliens.

Gibson's Alien 3 features eight.

So what happened?

To put it bluntly, the producers just didn't care for it, which kind of surprises me. Director Reny “I blew stuff up for no reason before Micheal Bay did” Harlin was attached to it, so it kind of seems like it would have been his type of flick. And what did Harlin end up doing when he eventually left the project?

Die Hard 2.

The kind of odd thing about this is there was a trailer before there was ever an Alien 3. While we are now used to trailers for films that are in production, it's very rare that we get a trailer for a film that doesn't even have a script yet, and hasn't shot a single piece of film. As you can tell by the following trailer, it doesn't much sound much like the eventual Alien 3 we got.

And since we took a look at the big blue boy scout the last time, I only figured it was right to have a look at a Dark Knight we never saw.

Batman: Year One by Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller

For the last few years, a good portion of the comic book community has felt that Frank Miller has gone in a weird creative direction.

And that's putting it mildly and in a very friendly tone compared to many others. I've heard the phrase “Pissing on Eisner's grave” used in conjunction with Miller's film version of The Spirit. As well, All Star Batman and Robin has been given mixed reviews at best.

But many agree Frank Miller's takes on Batman in his comics The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One are probably two of the best takes on the character, in the top ten if not the top five.

So doesn't it sound like a great idea to pair up Frank Miller with Darren Aronofsky? One of the greatest comic book minds mixing it up with one of the most creative film makers of our generation. And the movie would have been based on Batman: Year One which is arguably one of the best Batman comic stories, ever.

Sounds good doesn't it?

That's what Warner Brothers thought in the late 1990's and thus commissioned the script that can be easily found on the internet.

So what went wrong? Why did we never see this?

Well, there are a few reasons. I can tell you from reading the script that it is very well written. Par for the course of Aronofsky's other work, it's also very dark and a little bit on the human side. All in all this would have made a pretty decent film.

Except they called it Batman.

You see, the main problem with this script is if the sound was off, for three quarters of the film, you would think you walked into the wrong film. Nor does this resemble Batman: Year One.

Alfred is nowhere to be found nor is Wayne Manor. Instead, disoriented after his parents brutal murder, Bruce wanders the streets and is eventually taken in at a garage by Big Al and Little Al. Bruce is a pretty screwed up little kid and slowly but surely begins his war on crime. Gone are the awesome gadgets, now we have stuff Bruce makes from the Anarchist's Cook Book. The only part that remotely resembles the graphic novel is Gordon's storyline and his fight against corruption.

Now I'll be honest, I have no idea which draft I've read. I know there are a few other drafts out there that are somewhat different than the one on which I have extensive knowledge. One contains a mobster take on The Penguin, and Gordon having a beer and cheating on his wife. Oh, and a jive-talking Alfred. I'm pretty sure the one I've read is a later draft.

To put it mildly, Warner was not incredibly excited by the pitch. I honestly feel if they had pitched it as anything other then Batman, this movie may have gotten made. It could have been made on a low budget and would have been kind of like the Matrix. The Matrix was a comic book movie without the comic book and did very well.

But as Batman? I can already see the executives reading through it.

“Um...where's Alfred...wait do you mean this black mechanic is Alfred?”

“His ring makes the symbol of a bat when he punches them? Isn't that The Phantom? Someone ask legal if this would get us sued.”

“Wait...he's poor 90% of the movie?”

And to be honest, I can't disagree with them. It is one thing to do a different take on a character but it's another thing altogether to throw away almost everything.

So Warner passed and eventually we got Batman Begins, so we ended up winning in the end.

Finally, we have a movie that may make an appearance – or at least parts of it might.

Roger Rabbit: Toon Platoon

One of my favorite film going experiences was in 1988 when I got to see Who Framed Roger Rabbit at the Woodbine Center with close family friends who were looking after me for the weekend.

It was an amazing film that holds up to this day and it's one of the few chances you get to see almost every conceivable cartoon character finally mix it up with one another. We got Donald and Daffy in the same scene! Brilliant!

But one of the lesser known points is that there have been several attempts at getting another Roger Rabbit film going. For instance, children of the 90's may remember a Disney cartoon series called Bonkers. The cartoon was about a washed-up cartoon actor who ends up becoming a cop and teamed with a human partner.. Originally Bonkers was going to be Roger Rabbit, but due to copyright issues involving Amblin Entertainment (who shepherded the Roger Rabbit film) and Disney, Disney created a brand new character instead.

But for my money, the most interesting idea was a prequel Roger Rabbit called “Toon Platoon”.

Serving as a prequel, we see Roger in 1941 searching for his mom and dad, meeting Jessica (his future wife) foiling a Nazi plot and fighting in a bit of World War 2. Eventually Roger finds his folks and we discover Roger's dad is Bugs Bunny.

I love this idea if it was done right. It could easily become an over-the-top tribute to those rather interesting and now incredibly racist toons from WWII. But done right, it could be brilliant and funny.

But alas, Spielberg had a problem that conspired to shelve this film. By the time the script was done and animation tests began, Steven Spielberg (who produced the first film) had shot Schindler's List. Apparently after that experience, he didn't think he could do a funny Nazi movie. And to be honest, given the material, depending on how it went it's hard not to disagree.

But I assume this is why there was no Nazis in the hunt for the Crystal Skull, so then again...

Shortly after the script was retooled into Who Discovered Roger Rabbit which kept the sub-plot of looking for his folks but focused more on Roger's rise to stardom. Animation tests were done combining live action, CG animation and traditional 2D animation.

Then someone took a look at how much a movie would cost using all of those things – or even just CG and live action – and the film was once again shelved.

And do you know where the money went that was earmarked for Roger?

Pearl Harbour.

God Damn It!

In an interesting twist, rumors of Roger's ride back into the limelight are beginning to surface. The writers who brought us the first film are back on board, as is director Robert Zemeckis. Zemeckis has also stated he may be working motion capture into the film, but not for the toons. The toons would be animated traditionally (I imagine Disney is now happy that John Lasseter brought their animation department out of mothballs).

Now what the story may entail, or if it would bring back any of the concepts from previous script incarnations, has yet to been seen. Hell, we may be talking about this attempt at a re-start in five years – but here's hoping.

If you like these posts and have a movie you'd like me to find out “whatever happened to?”, feel free to drop me a line and I'll do my best. As for the next piece in this series, there are so many projects to chose from. For instance, I could do a whole column focused on Orson Wells and his failed projects, or the various versions of He-Man that never made it to screen.

I promise it'll be a good mix of film history and nerdiness.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Behind the Scenes: Interviews

Hey guys, thanks for sticking around.

It's been a year since Adam and I started up this little adventure with the help of TRPA and one of the things I honestly get asked more then anything else (with the exception of "That's really the name of your show?") is how I manage to snag the interviews we've done.

The simple answer is... I ask.

Of course a little more goes into then that but it's more or less the truth. I email or I call someone, ask their people or in some cases them for an interview, sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no and sometimes I get no reply.

But in the spirit of DVD commentaries and the extras on DVD's I love so much, I figured I'd go through our year of interviews and give you the inside scoop on the bigger ones. Some of you out there might find this useful or at the very least interesting.

Alan Cross
The interview with Alan was a bit of time in the making. It more less started on Feb 10 of 2009 where I wrote a simple fan letter and mentioned I would love to be on the new Explore Music tv show. To my surprise, they had me on and it was an amazing experience (speaking of which, Alan and Nathalia if you happen to be reading...can I come on the show again?) and afterwards I inquired about Alan doing an interview for our show.

So a couple emails back and forth and it was agreed that Alan would be more then happy to let us talk to him. Then it was working out time.

That took a while.

The one thing I can stress beyond the "it's okay to ask" part of getting an interview is have patience. If you happen to score a good one there is a very good chance it will be a while until you do it. Be patient and wait, don't complain or moan about it, trust me when you get there, if it's an interview you really want, the wait will be worth it.

Anyways between our schedule, work schedules, Alan going to Asia for a few weeks and his work schedule (which involved at bare minimum a radio show a day, another one that aired weekly and a weekly tv show), it was about two months later when Adam and I had a chance to sit down with him.

And even that took a bit but for a good reason.

As soona s we entered the office, Alan got a call for a job refrence. It was for a former employee who Alan respected and felt deserved one. In no way were we going to fault him on that especially in today's work climate.

Besides, how long could it take?

The guy on the other end was reading off a script and it took quiet a while. And while Alan was in obvious pain trying to get through this, he felt that this former employee was worth it and kudos to Alan for not just hanging up.

The interview itself was (or at least my take on it) was a little different for Alan. That's mainly due to Adam.

If you listen to our interviews, I tend to be the straight interviewer and Adam tends to say "eh fuck it, I'll ask or say whatever.". Which is great because it does help turn what could be a normal interview on it's side a little. In this case a lot of the interview became more like a discussion then an interview because of this and I think it turned out better for it.

Or at anyrate we didn't piss him off too much because he still answers my emails on a regular basis and Explore Music still posts my articles.

Joe Quesada

So far we've got two of Brent's rules for interviews.
Rule 1) Ask
Rule 2) Be patient

And now we get to the third rule.

Rule 3) Always be nice to contacts, you never know when it can be useful.

Case in point, Joe Quesada.

Joe has known of me since the mid 90's when he and Jimmy Palmiotti took over a slew of Marvel books under the Marvel Knights imprint. He and Jimmy had a message board for their comic company Event Comics. Fun fact, another member of that board? Ben Templesmith, artist on 30 Days of Night (among many other things). The Event board was pretty interactive, especially in regards to the creators posting and responding to emails. Joe was nothing but helpful with advice. We also used to occasionally shoot emails about music back and forth.

Eventually Joe ended up being Editor in Chief at Marvel but he still responds to emails.

So I guess it was April or May I discovered he was going to be at Fan Expo so I sent him an email via his personal address (which to this day surprises me still works) seeing if he'd do it. He said sure but it had to go threw the convention people at marvel that schedule these things. He forwarded my email on to two other guys at Marvel and then negotiations began.

To the outside world, it must seem like “How busy can this comic book guy really be?”

The truth of the matter is incredibly.

Joe is the second face of Marvel Comics (the first being Stan Lee). Joe is the guy who does media rounds, interviews, dvd extras, etc for Marvel. He's been on The Colbert Report at least twice.

So when at a convention like this Joe has to fit in interviews, signings, business (as we all found out later, the Monday after that weekend, the Disney deal was announced) and this particular convention, a little bit of vacation with the wife and daughter.

So initially what started as a possible thirty minute interview at our make shift studio turned into 15-20 mins at Marvel's booth. I in no way fault marvel or Joe for this, it's just one of those things that happens.

Max Brooks

I'd like to say there is an awesome story behind this one but the truth of the matter is, there isn't. I had emailed Max's book publisher, they never got back to me. When we got to the show, we talked to the guy at Avatar's booth, he told us to show up at a time (along with every other interviewer who asked), we showed up, Max was awesome.

Jason Agnew

Now Agnew is another case of “Remember me?”. Best part to start at is the beginning. Jason is the long time co-host of Live Audio Wrestling (currently on Hardcore Sports via Sirius Satellite Radio) and as we all know I'm a big wrestling and mma fan. I have been writing in and calling into The Law for years. I never use a fake name and surprisingly my last name is slightly unique. Bite Tv also has a podcast called Bite Radio which is kind of a behind the scenes podcast. I became a fan of that and Jason has been nice enough to occasionally read my plugs on air. Flash forward a few years later and I am a guest on Explore Music. One of the producers is Jason Agnew. Jason was surprised that I was who he thought I was. We ended up adding each other to facebook, etc, etc. May comes around and Jason needs an anime expert for The Surf for Anime North.

Who else would I volunteer?

So Adam got the gig, went on tv and a keep sending in the occasional email in to The Law and Bite Radio.

Jason is a rather busy guy. Most of the shows on Bite involve him in some way shape or form. So when I never really thought we could get him to do the one year anniversary show. I floated a general message to him and the rest of the guys at Bite Radio about it and never really heard back.

We get to the week before the show and I have two guests drop out. This occasionally happens due to scheduling conflicts or just plain bad luck. Being desperate and having nothing to lose, I reached out to Jason again and begged for anyone from Bite to come down. I believe I used the phrase “I'd take a monkey as long as he's media ready and can talk for fifteen minutes.”

Jason one uped me and said he would come down and do it. To which I was grateful as I knew 1) Agnew is media ready. I prompt him and he will talk. 2) Jason's got kind of an interesting rep with the nerds in the Ontario area. Due in part to his show The Conventioneers, Jason's kind of a polarizing subject. Some of us (myself included) love the show and the fact that he and Matt Chin take a bit of the piss out of the nerd culture. Others would like nothing more then something rather heavy and medieval fall on him.

This makes for a good interview and hopefully when you guys get to hear it, you will enjoy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dollhouse canceled and in other news, Fox still a bunch of idiots

Joss Whedon's Dollhouse has been kicked to the curb after non-fantastic ratings.

I'll be the first to admit, this show wasn't for everyone. As we all know, I'm a big fan of Whedon's work but watching the show it was very much a case of "if you haven't liked anything else the man has done, you ain't going to like this."

But while that may have been some of the problem (and I'll wager maybe a minor issue) the bigger issue is the following.

Fox is a bunch of morons.

Okay that's not fair. Whoever it is who wants something to work in that Friday night kiss of death time slot are morons.

You see my friends this goes back quite a while ago. In fact this stems from a small incident in the fall of 1993.

It was a Friday.

It was 9pm.

And a show debuted called The X-Files.

Now if you are around my age you remember how awesome the X-Files were, especially when it first started. It had a good budget, decent actors, well written scripts (despite being essentially a monster of the week show) and most importantly...


Nothing. It had been a long time since we had gotten something this good out of sci-fi/horror tv but it also had that uniqueness that appealed to a lot more then just the nerd crowd. I remember a friend of mine in high school whose mother basically had the entire house hold stop at 9pm so she could watch the show in peace.

And the ratings for those first few seasons went steadily up until it became a juggernaut of a show. It even got a spin off feature film in season five which was unheard of at the time for a show that was still airing new episodes.

Now this has not been lost on Fox...although in many ways, those of us who like genre tv wish it had been.

Since the X-Files moved (and subsequently left the air) from Friday nights. Fox has treated this as it's sword in the stone timeslot. Meaning if they can just get a show unique and odd enough to step up and grab that timeslot, Fox will rule the airwaves on Friday nights, a time slot largely abandoned by other networks due to low numbers.

What Fox hasn't realised is that The X-Files was a once in a life time sort of thing.

You know why no one watches tv on Fridays?

The age group you are gunning for has a life and pvr.

Take myself for instance. I'm now in my early 30's and Friday nights usually have me out with friends somewhere. I at a bar, or at a party or a movie with some woman I've suckered into going.

It has to be a really good show for me not to go out. Like more amazing then anything ever. Why? Because I know I can download it, catch it online, on demand on my cable, etc. Unfortunately ratings only capture people watching it in real time.

The X-Files came before pvrs (you had vcrs but they could be unreliable or the people in your home could screw up the taping while you were out) and it had writing that appealed to everyone, not just nerds.

How bad has Fox been with this time slot? Well I should say range in time slot so let's say 8-10.

Let's take a look shall we? (I'll make a quick not about each show because some of these are long forgotten and you may not get the full impact)

The Adventures of Brisco County Jr (1993-1994)

Bruce Campbell's awesome cowboy show. This was father son bonding time at my house as we both enjoyed the show's off beat humor. It was like a modernised western serial with some steampunk elements in it. It ran for 27 episodes the same year the X-Files started.

Mantis (1994 - 1995)

Kind of like Batman but produced by Sam Rami. Made it 20 episodes before being cancled.

Sliders (1995 - 1997)

Now Sliders fared a little better...although it was initially canceled in it's first season, fan protest brought it back. The moral of the story? As I've mentioned, nerds can be a hard core bunch but it isn't a huge audience. After the 3rd season, Sc-Fi network took it for two more seasons.

Strange Luck (1995 -1996)

A dude who had weird luck. Basically wherever he turned up, weird shit followed.

VR.5 (1995) I looked this up because I don't remember it all. It lasted 13 had something to do with virtual reality

Brimstone (1998-1999)

Cop bring the devil souls

Greed (1999 -2000)

A game show

The Lone Gunmen (2001)

A spin off from the X-Files

And the list goes on and on. On wikipedia the Fox entry on Friday Night Death Slot lists over 30 tv shows in the period from X-Files onward that either began and died there or where Fox thought moving a show there might save them. I will be fair and say that some of the shows listed were on it's last legs. If it was the Friday slot killed Married with Children in it's a 11th season, it was purely out of mercy. There was a couple of mild success as well. Millennium probably didn't help maters in the "weird shows that work" but it was an X-Files spin off but it only lasted three seasons and the X-Files rub certainly didn't help The Lone Gunmen.

Now while I understand Fox can't completely give up on Fridays, they can't air static (although I'd say static would be better then The Return of Jezebel James or The Wedding Bells) but come on!

Out of the 30 I'd say there are at least a good ten to fifteen shows that would have done much better somewhere else. Brisco County JR for instance would have made a great fit on Sunday nights a traditional night for family friendly tv. Wonderfalls would have been great as part of a Tuesday or Wednesday block.

Stop putting high profile shows in there to die. Would Dollhouse been canceled if it wasn't on Fridays? Maybe not but I can guarantee it would have done a shit ton better then it did.

Of course Joss Whedon should have known better. Another casualty in that time slot?

Whedon's Firefly.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Episode 14 (High Quality)

After a considerable absence (due primarily to Adam's wedding), the Two Assholes are back, and better than ever. Well, more correctly, their combined level of awesome has been always been at its highest, so technically, they can't possibly be better than before.

In any event, they're back to discuss the many nerdy things they're looking forward to this Christmas, and as usual, they will then proceed to get lost on some tangents. The end result, however, is entertainment, and isn't that all that really matters?

Episode 14

After a considerable absence (due primarily to Adam's wedding), the Two Assholes are back, and better than ever. Well, more correctly, their combined level of awesome has been always been at its highest, so technically, they can't possibly be better than before.

In any event, they're back to discuss the many nerdy things they're looking forward to this Christmas, and as usual, they will then proceed to get lost on some tangents. The end result, however, is entertainment, and isn't that all that really matters?