Entertainment Turned Tourist Attraction

Entertainment Turned Tourist Attraction

Entertainment Turned Tourist Attraction

For vacation this year I happily left the cold weather behind for a few days and traveled south to Universal Studios and SeaWorld in Florida. And while I loved the roller coasters and warm weather – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was one of the main highlights. I read the books, saw the movies, and now I can say I’ve had Butterbeer, wandered through Hogwarts, and ate lunch at the Three Broomsticks restaurant in Hogsmeade.

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An Awesome Firefly Serenity Ornament

An Awesome Firefly Serenity Ornament

For as much as I love TV, I typically try to refrain from collecting collectibles. Besides the numerous DVD sets, I’ve only got a replica Angel puppet doll from “Smile Time” (5×14), a Buffy lego-like character, a couple of TV show posters, and a replica monkey bookend from Wonderfalls. But lately I’ve been on the lookout for any cool Christmas tree ornaments. After all, it’s a useful collectible item that doesn’t take up space year round.Firefly Serenity Ornament

Perhaps I was being a bit picky, but I was having a hard time finding something worthy of going on the Christmas tree. I didn’t want an ornament with an actor’s photo on it or a weird character bust. Seriously, isn’t it creepy to hang basically just the head of your favorite character?

But then I found a beautiful Firefly Serenity Christmas ornament on Etsy from ThroughThickandThin. It was exactly what I was looking for!

This hang-able version of Captain Malcolm Reynolds’ beloved spaceship Serenity is made from mirrored acrylic and is about 4.5 inches long from bow to stern. And as you can see from my picture above, it looks pretty damn good on the Christmas tree too. Fellow Browncoats are sure to love the simple nod to the show, but for the uninitiated it’s doesn’t seem out of place either.

Although it’s probably too late to get your own Firefly Serenity ornament in time for Christmas, there’s always next year.

“You buy this ship, treat her proper, she’ll be with you for the rest of your life.” (“Out of Gas” 1×8)

Happy Holidays everyone, keep flying and stay Shiny!

Check out the comments section below for an exclusive discount from ThroughThickandThin!

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Sesame Street Educates After Hurricane Sandy

Almost a week and a half ago Hurricane Sandy headed up the east coast and took a sharp left into New Jersey and New York. The super-storm took lives, destroyed homes, tossed aside boardwalks, swallowed up piers, and left millions without power. And to make matters worse, most of the region received snow last night.

My family has been lucky – our house made it through the storm unscathed and we were only in the dark for 32 hours, which means I’ve spent countless hours watching the news taking in the full scope of chaos left in Sandy’s wake. And even though I don’t live on the barrier island, I only have to walk around my neighborhood to see trees down, cars crushed, and houses flooded.Sesame Street Hurricane

It’s equally overwhelming and unbelievable, so I can only imagine how kids are coping. The barrage of images, lasting power outages, and real-life in-front-of-your-face destruction is a constant reminder of how much has changed. So when I came across an EW.com article about an upcoming Sesame Street Hurricane episode I couldn’t help but feel a little bit better to know that someone was going to take the time to present this information to kids too.

The iconic children’s series has tackled a number of tough issues before including death, ethics, and relationships. In fact, this natural disaster-themed episode was originally a 5-part series that aired in 2001. It was repeated following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and now it will air, in an edited form, tomorrow Friday Nov. 9th. The condensed version will focus less on storm-preparedness and more on the after effects of the storm including recovery and loss.

In the episode, Big Bird’s nest is destroyed along with much of Sesame Street. While they try to repair the nest, its ultimately deemed uninhabitable by a city inspector. The scenario is surely something many can sympathize with as officials continue to condemn houses and many still struggle to get over to the barrier island and beach front to see what, if anything, still remains.

I like to think of this episode as a gesture of support from the fine folks over at PBS and Sesame Street – for kids of all ages. I’d also like to use it as a reminder that not all of TV is bad. At times it can teach, provide understanding, and offer comfort. After all, the most sound advice usually comes from trusted friends.

As long-time Sesame Street resident Gordon explains, ‘You’re right, Big Bird, it’s not all right … but it will be all right.’

Wise words for us all.

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Nerding Out At New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con Sign

Yesterday morning my friend and I got up super early, hopped on a train bound for the city, and soon thereafter found ourselves immersed into the crazy awesome world that is New York Comic Con.

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Have the Twitter #Hashtags Gone Too Far On TV?

Twitter IconWithin the last two seasons of television I’ve witnessed an explosions of broadcast and network suggested Twitter #hashtags at the bottom of my TV screen. What was once a generally unobtrusive and simple hashtag (usually just a show’s name) has now become full sentences or even tweeting suggestions.

Just take a look at what appeared on the screen during the final musical number of last week’s episode of Glee:

Tweet your fave couple memories with…
#klaine, #brittana, #wemma and #finchel

Tweeting While Watching Television

In general I think its great that many TV fans and networks have embraced Twitter. If I happen to be watching live TV I enjoy the ability to participate in the Twittersphere watercooler discussion. Plus, just about every TV show has their own Twitter account and some networks even encourage actors and creators to live-tweet during new episodes.

So for TV addicts like myself, Twitter is a great way to enhance the TV watching experience, but I’m less enthused about the increased use of suggested hashtags. If you aren’t watching live TV, but happen to check Twitter during primetime, it isn’t hard to be spoiled. Also, it seems like an overt attempt at steering the online conversation by the TV network.

I understand network suggested Twitter hashtags provide shows with more opportunities to have trending topics (something The CW would be proud of) while also providing fans with a unifying hashtag to tweet with, but to me its the equivalent of using a laugh track – simultaneous distracting and irritating.

Don’t tell me when to laugh, just write a funny script. Same goes for tweeting, if an episode is good (or really bad) it will create its own buzz on Twitter. I don’t need a new hashtag for every scene, just let me watch the show and enjoy the topics of conversation that develop organically from the storyline and characters.

Not to mention the fact that I don’t need anything else taking up space on my TV screen. From the network logo to lower third graphics for upcoming shows, I think there is already enough going on. FOX does an alright job blending their hashtags into the background, but other networks like CBS haven’t learned to be as subtle. The CSI suggested hashtag from this season’s premier episode, #FindRussellsGranddaughter was impossible to ignore in its bold and bright white font.

So what do you think, how do you feel about the increased integration of Twitter hashtags into your TV shows?

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2012 Emmy Winner Wish List

Updated 9/24: Click here to see this year’s Emmy winners, or download the complete winner’s list, which includes all of the unaired and technical categories from: http://www.emmys.tv/awards/64th-primetime-emmy-awards

The 64th Primetime Emmy® Awards air tonight – Sunday, September 23rd, on ABC – so block out a few hours of your evening and enjoy one of the rare moments when we get to see the TV industry award creativity and excellence*.

Also, there are  Emmy drinking games.

Now of course not everyone I am rooting for will win, so before the awards ceremony kicks-off, here are some of my favorites that I think deserve to take home an Emmy.

Emmy Winners If It Were Up To Me

Outstanding Actress In A Comedy Series

Zoey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation should have been nominated for best comedy series, but it wasn’t, so the only way the Academy  can make up for pulling a Jerry is to give props to Amy Poehler’s brilliant work as Leslie Knope.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Max Greenfield, New Girl
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live

In order to avoid a Modern Family free-for-all I am totally pulling for Max Greenfield. The first season of the New Girl may have been uneven, but Greenfield’s Schmidt was a consistent source of humor and he managed to keep the character likable despite being the biggest contributer to the douchebag jar.

Outstanding Reality Show Host

Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers

Betty White is probably the favorite in this category because she can do no wrong, but I whole heartily want Cat Deeley to win. She is an integral part of So You Think You Can Dance and each season she makes personal connections with the contestants, keeps the show on time, bails out incompetent guest judges when they are at a loss for words, and is funny. Also, have you seen her wardrobe?

Outstanding TV Miniseries or Movie

American Horror Story
Game Change
Hatfields & McCoys
Hemingway and Gellhorn
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia

In this category I am pulling for the BBC’s Luther, mostly because I am hoping there will be more episodes and because I think more people should watch it.

So those are my top picks, who are you hoping to see win tonight?

*For the sake of not going into a rant, I’m going to largely ignore the selective and repetitive nomination process that is often frustrating.

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When You Can’t Watch TV – Listen To A Podcast

I love TV, but for better or worse I can’t watch it all the time. So what do I do to pass the time between waking up and prime time or DVR viewing?  –  I listen to podcasts about TV.

While it’s damn near impossible to watch TV at work, podcasts are a great way to get your TV (or general entertainment) fix without losing an entire day’s worth of productivity. So here are my three favorite TV-related podcasts.

Entertainment Podcasts – Just Like TV Minus The Pictures

AV Club Reasonable DiscussionsIn the last few years The A.V. Club has toyed around with a few different incarnations of podcasts – most recently they’ve settled on a shorter format that lends itself to more frequent episodes and a diverse array of topics. Currently called Reasonable Discussions, the podcast is excellent for those with a random array of interests or entertainment ADD. It’s not all about TV, but come on – I do watch movies and listen to music too! Plus, every now and then Amelie Gillette (a former A.V. Club staff member and current writer on The Office) drops back in to do a very special episode of The Hatecast – an awesomely sarcastic take on what’s currently going on in the world.

Pop Culture Happy Hour PodcastThen there’s the weekly NPR podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which posts new episodes every Friday. The usual team of entertainment gurus include Linda Holmes, Trey Graham, Glen Weldon, and Stephen Thompson. Like Reasonable Discussions, PCHH bounces around from music and movies to TV and comics, and even books. But regardless of the weekly topics, I eagerly await each new episode because I enjoy the camaraderie of the roundtable and often find myself interested in something that I otherwise wouldn’t have sought out for myself.

And lastly there is the Nerdist Writer’s Panel, which I only recently found thanks to Pop Culture Happy Hour. Unlike the other two podcasts, the Nerdist Writer’s Panel is all about television and film and features a different group of writers each week. A revolving door of hosts keep things moving as the panel of writers discuss how they got into the business, shows or films they’ve been involved with (for better or worse), and more candid stories about the creation and execution of a script.Nerdist Writers Panel Podcast

Guests on the panel include Bill Lawrence (Scrubs & Cougar Town), Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Once Upon A Time), Shawn Ryan (The Shield & Last Resort), Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life & Thirtysomething), David Fury (Angel & Lost), Dan Harmon (Community), Liz Meriwether (The New Girl), Peter Gould (Breaking Bad), and many more.

All of three of these podcasts are available on iTunes so plug in some headphones, start downloading, and enjoy!

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Can’t Catch Up On FOX Shows With Hulu – At Least Not For Free

While this isn’t news to anyone who regularly watches TV online, all new episodes of FOX shows have an 8-day delay on Hulu and Fox.com.

Now I’ve known about this decision since this summer but since the TV season is officially in full swing I’m just now feeling its effects. Yes, I find the delay annoying but I’m also kind of perplexed by their thought process. And apparently I’m not the only one feeling inconvenienced, a quick Google search for the phrase “FOX delays hulu shows for 8 days” comes back with a barrage of results about rises in piracy.Hulu Plus

From a business standpoint, I get it. The Fox Entertainment Group owns a part of Hulu.com, so clearly they are hoping to profit from their content by offering exclusive access to their shows. If viewers aren’t going to watch it live, I suppose the next best thing is to charge viewers.

But from a live ratings stand-point, I don’t understand their logic. Unless you’re a Hulu Plus subscriber or utilize ‘alternative’ sites for streaming, you either have to watch episodes out of order to catch up or will always be a week behind. So if the ultimate goal is still to get people to sit down in front of the TV to watch commercials, then why wouldn’t FOX want their viewers to catch up in time to see the next week’s episode live?

FOX Broadcasting NetworkWhile most of the broadcast networks seem to have different online streaming options and time frames for episodes, FOX is the first network to really hold their content back – especially after it was so readily available. On the other hand, NBC and ABC, also Hulu.com partners, make their new content available immediately. New episodes are also on their own sites but I find the clean look of Hulu.com to be more appealing, which is why I do as much of my online viewing on it as possible.

Although CBS shows aren’t on Hulu.com, new episodes are available the very next day on their own website. I don’t watch a whole lot of shows on CBS (especially since I’m not an old person), but I went and checked out their site and everything from NCIS to Two & A Half Men had new episodes ready to be streamed.

On the flip side is The CW. Interestingly, the network most geared towards young people has the least accessible online content. New episodes only appear on cwtv.com about five days after the original air date. At least they provide a small window of opportunity to catch up before the next new episode.  Their shows also aren’t available on Comcast On-Demand.

So this all raises some interesting questions. Will other networks jump on Fox’s bandwagon? While great for viewers, will Hulu continue to be seen as worth while investment for its owners? Will new episodes of TV continue to be available online for free and legally? And how will cable provides, networks, and the Internet ultimately blend together?

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