Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Television-Impaired XV

TV Newsline has compiled an impressive list of TV station slogans. In Massachusetts, we've got

WHDH (NBC) Boston: "The News Station"
WBZ (CBS) Boston: "WBZ 4 News, WBZ Means News"
WCVB (ABC) Boston: "Coverage You Can Count On"

Lost Remote's Liz Foreman comments: Why can't TV stations just be honest like the Aspen Daily News -- "If you don't want it printed, don't let it happen."

I usually don't get into the new fall season of TV shows, but so far this fall, I've caught two premieres I thought would be worth watching. Anderson Cooper 360 got a lot of buzz, and I looked forward to the reportedly whip-smart, fast-paced approach to nightly news. While Cooper did impress me with his presence and delivery, it wasn't quite the hectic headline hullaballoo I wanted. His heavy dependence on reporters in the field added to the depth of the reportage but closed off opportunities for commentary and critique. That said, two segments pleased me. In one, he addressed the contents of several news and culture weekly magazines, harping on their headlines. And in the final segment, the show's close, I was slightly irked by the bait and switch. After analyzing the ways other anchors say goodnight, providing a nice meta-media look at a behind-the-scenes aspect of broadcast television, Cooper copped out, in the end merely promoting another new program, Paula Zahn. This was Cooper's chance to go personal. Instead, he opted for promotional. Opportunity lost!

And Sunday, I watched the first episode of HBO's new program Carnivale. Scheduled to run 12 weeks, the series is more Stephen King's The Dark Tower than Twin Peaks, but David Lynch's influence is clear. The main character, played by BenNick Stahl [the character's name is Ben], is still finding his way in the role, but the ensemble cast -- primarily comprising a clutch of sideshow freaks and carnies -- is intriguing enough. The characters Lodz, Samson, and Sofie will stand out, and Clancy Brown's Brother Justin could well emerge as a parallel to King's Randall Flagg. Worth watching for Rodrigo Garcia's able direction.

Soundtrack: George Winston, "Autumn"

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