Category Archives: network

The Newsroom

I love HBO. I think that they, along with the folks at Showtime, AMC, and Starz among others, just make the best television out there. Looking at ratings and award nominations, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that belief. I guess that’s why “The Newsroom” is such a hard pill for me to swallow.

I tried to watch the first season of “The Newsroom” when it aired. I just couldn’t get into it, and once the episodes started to pile up in the DVR, I gave up and resolved to catch up later. It’s hard to start watching a new show. Some things like “Dexter,” “Treme,” and “The Walking Dead” grabbed me immediately from the first moments. Others like “Rome,” “The Wire,” and “Homeland,” all of which I loved/love, took some time to warm up to. “The Newsroom” falls solidly in the latter category, but maybe without so much of the love part.

There’s a lot to like about “The Newsroom.” Jeff Daniels, in the lead as a on-his-way-out newscaster trying something new to stay relevant, is spectacularly selfish. He’s been given something few actors get – a platform on which to act over the top. His supporting cast is amongst one of the best ensembles in television. Dev Patel is someone to watch, and Alison Pill is the real star of the show, definitely watch her. Most of the performances are high caliber, a hallmark of HBO.

The show is a little bit Network, a little bit Broadcast News, with just a touch of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” as well. The problem I have lies behind the scenes, in its creator, Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin belongs to an era and style of television I particularly dislike. Much like David E. Kelley, Sorkin doesn’t just want to entertain audiences, he wants to teach, to preach, to ultimately force feed his opinions into the viewers, whether they like it or not.

Here, in “The Newsroom,” it gets so bad sometimes as though it literally feels as though characters are merely taking turns on an imaginary soapbox than actually having a conversation or debate. It always takes me out of the show, and sometimes it’s painful in its execution. Shame.

Except for that, “The Newsroom” is definitely worth watching, especially for Jeff Daniels, Alison Pill. Dev Patel, and also genre favorite, Oliva Munn. The Bin Laden episode made me cry, and that’s saying a lot. The show is very very good, despite its preachiness, but it is, after all, HBO. Check it out.

Pain and Addiction

You might ask where I’ve been. It has been some time since I’ve written this blog. Well, November had something to do with it. I’m a writer, and November is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. You can read about it here, but that took up quite a bit of my extra time. I was also sick, and had a twisted ankle in there as well. I could easily make those excuses, but it wouldn’t be entirely true. The truth is I’ve found a PS3 game I really like. It’s called Pain.

I have the Dark Crystal to thank for this new addiction. Late one night she sent me this quick text: Go to the PlayStation Network and find the game called Pain. I’ll give you ten bucks for the download. You will love it! I did eventually, at first I was skeptical, and I didn’t quite trust the PlayStation Network after that wonderful hacking scandal. Once I had the game, and started playing I was sooo hooked.

Pain is kind of like Angry Birds, only instead of birds, you’re flinging people from a slingshot into at first a cityscape and then other worlds trying to break stuff for points. Besides the obvious buildings, cars, billboards, signs and the like, there are also explosives, tunnels, even mimes and monkeys as obstacles. The whole time your people are screaming in agony, making snarky remarks and getting tossed about like crazed ragdolls.

Besides different backgrounds to be flung into, there are also a variety of people who can be flung. You can be a rapper, a gamer girl, a cheerleader, a wrestler, a cowboy or girl, a ninja, a pirate, a cat, an old lady, even characters from other games, or ‘celebrities’ like Santa, Flava Flav, Elvira, George Takai, Elvis, Andy Dick, or David Hasselhoff. Yeah, even The Hoff.

Thank you, Crystal, for hipping me to this terrific game. And just for the record, I’ve never felt the need to collect that ten bucks, especially not for the hours and hours of fun I’ve gotten from this game.

The Infamous Demo

When we first got the PS3, a remarkable thing happened. The entire PlayStation Network was hacked and personal information and passwords were stolen by Mario knows who to do Mario knows what. Nothing bad has happened yet, but Sony encouraged us all to change our passwords and hope for the best.

Oh yeah, as an incentive to get folks to trust them again, they also had what they called their “Welcome Back” program where they would outright give you two free games from The PlayStation Store for each account. The Bride and I looked at each other and said “Hells yeah,” cuz that’s a total of four free games for our inconvenience. That might be fair – as long as no one who stole our info ever uses it.

The problem of course is that there was a 30 day expiration on those free games, and neither I nor my non-technically challenged wife could navigate the terrors of The PlayStation Store/Network/Home to make this thing work no matter how hard we tried. It’s a damn shame, because I was kinda looking forward to two of the free games offered – Little Big Planet and Infamous.

Now we’ve talked about the second Little Big Planet here before, but Infamous was a game whose interest caught me elsewhere. I co-host a weekly vidcast about comics, The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast, and a few months back, one comic book grabbed my attention. It was Infamous from DC Comics, and it was, you guessed it, “Based on the Best-Selling PlayStation Videogame.”

What got me the most was that there was a story here. This wasn’t like the mini-comics that came with the old Atari 2600 games like Star Raiders and EarthQuest that really had nothing to do with the game at all. Infamous had a compelling story and characters, and from everything I had read, this carried over directly from the PS3 game. I really wanted to try.

Dejected at not finding my free games in exchange for being hacked, I was exploring the rest of the Store/Home/Network and found that there were demos that could be downloaded – among them, Infamous. So I went clicky-clicky. I was a bit surprised to find it would take well over two hundred minutes to download, but I let it go overnight and decided to play it the next day.

Unlike a lot of things on the PlayStation, the downloaded game was actually easy to find, and when I clicked it on the intro started, looking very much like a comic book, not the comic book, mind you, but a comic book just the same. Nice art, and animation and flash working together to tell a narrative close to what I already knew. Then it was time to play, and then it got hard.

A diagram of how the controller worked came up on the screen, no, two screens. Wow, maybe I am just a technology caveman, or just easily perplexed, but that’s a whole lotta buttons and functions. Again, I am flummoxed by the controller. I’m going to have to take a picture and print it out to use as a cheat sheet so I can play. Or I can do what I always do, just push all the buttons and move all the levers and hope for the best.

When it comes to playing, I am eased up a bit by the way everything is pretty much spelled out as far as what you have to do, with missions, and onscreen directions. It still doesn’t make it easy. And the controller shaking in my hand is an interesting sensation. There is a learning curve involved, and knowing the basic plot of the game helps. One annoying factor is that when you leave the mission area, you start over.

All in all, I’m still learning, and still trying to play, but this has great graphics and is fun for those who know how to turn on the PS3, and those who don’t. I might just buy the whole version of this one.