Sunday, February 19, 2012

Aereo -- savior for cord cutters?

This New York Times story last week noted plans for Aereo, a new service being backed by Barry Diller, and set to launch in New York next month (March). Aereo will set up arrays of small broadcast TV antennas in remote locations in Brooklyn and elsewhere. Subscribers, for $12 a month, will be able to rent their own single antenna in the arrays. These antennas will be fed into the Internet to stream broadcast TV content to Roku boxes and similar devices for home TVs, along with embedded DVR capabilities.

I'm really pleased to see this venture making plans to launch, although it seems a bit tricky that there may be a waiting list and they haven't responded to a sign-up inquiry yet. I "cut the cord" from Time Warner back in August after getting frustrated with their poor customer services and callous attitude about their excessive subscription costs. The cable companies' greed in this respect has worked for a long time. I'm surprised that with the Roku technology available now, more people haven't cut the cord as well. I think that Aereo could very well be the tipping point for cable TV. It's a momentous development that will affect all entertainment.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SNL: Ranking episodes and performances

Awhile ago on Jester, I used to do little takes on Saturday Night Live seasons as they got a few episodes under their belt each fall (2008, 2007, 2006). These tapered off after some time, as it felt less necessary or pointed to do in-depth critiques of the show. It's still possible to do this intelligently, though, as Mike Ryan of Moviefone and the Huffington Post proves in this piece, reacting to last weekend's Zooey Deschanel-hosted episode. (Haven't caught all of the episode myself yet, but so far the Clint Eastwood commercial parody featuring the always-inspired Bill Hader seems like the best thing in it).

I have my own favorite and not-so-favorite players out of the current cast, and also favorite and not-so-favorite characters. Sometimes cast members I don't normally like do come up with something good, and vice versa. Taran Killam, who Ryan notes got the most screen time last week, is a good chameleon and can play a lot of characters, but doesn't quite generate an anything-can-happen, anarchic type of feeling that one gets from Hader, or even Kenan Thompson at times.

The current cast is also without a Phil Hartman or Darrell Hammond type who can convincingly take on older characters with more authority. Jason Sudeikis does fill this role to some extent, but it would be interesting to see someone already known join the cast in this capacity, even now, or at least next year.

Sunday, February 5, 2012