Dancing with the Stars (updated)

Step one: Create new show idea.

Step two: Step one failed if you are a network in the USA so go find something the BBC already came up with and steal it instead.

The result is Dancing with the Stars on ABC where a group of professional male and female dancers hook up with a group of male and female celebrities. They dance, of course, then three judges critique them briefly. The audience votes and the couple with the lowest number of votes gets booted from the show. Very simple, usually low drama, and unfortunately flawed.

ABC tries to spice up the show by adding celebrities you wouldn’t expect to do well in a dancing competition (for reasons ranging from size, weight, attitude, laziness, lack of talent etc). Season six includes Adam Corolla and Penn Jillette as the pre-determined losers. Their inclusion was obviously designed to add some humor to the show, something both personalities are able to do, yet after only two episodes Penn Jillette was gone, with Adam Corolla likely to be booted in the next week. ABC still has celebrities to keep people interested, but Adam and Penn brought a certain amount of unpredictability to the show, especially with it being live. Both were outspoken radio personalities, and both aren’t afraid to say something that might border on unacceptable for a family program, but isn’t that why they were picked in the first place?

Here is how you fix Dancing with the Stars: Do away with elimination. This lets ABC keep the fans of certain celebrities watching past the first two weeks. Let the celebrity and professional dancer pairs work throughout the season with a final 2-hour or 2-day dance at the end where the fans select the best dancing pairs. This allows the less talented dancers to improve over the season and win over the fans. The celebrities who are lazy or didn’t really want to dance the whole season will drop out on their own. If you must have fans voting every episode let them vote on what dances are performed, or who must spend ten hours extra practicing, or whatever other gimmicky thing you can come up with.

In the end you keep fans of all celebrities, you increase the chance for drama and humor, and the judges can be more critical and outspoken since no one ever really gets kicked off until the end.

Update: So I was wrong. Adam managed to survive another week. People must really hate Steve Guttenberg.

Analog to Digital

Leave it up to the government to confuse people more than they already are about the end of analog television broadcasts. Our federal government has been showing an ad where an older woman tries to explain in 30 seconds what digital TV is, why analog TV is ending, what it means for cable customers, and how you can get a coupon for a digital converter box.

No surprise, it fails.

It’s not really a transition. When the time comes on Feb 17th 2009, there will be no more analog TV. A transition implies gradual change, and while it is true that the FCC announced plans for this in 1996, the fact remains that most people that this impacts don’t know about it yet. They probably still don’t know even after watching the government’s commercial for it.

“If you have a digital TV you’ll be fine!Maybe. The key is having an ATSC digital tuner in the TV to actually tune those new fangled digital TV stations. The problem is digital TVs were sold without tuners in large numbers up until about summer 2007. Today those TVs are called “HD Monitors” but before they could still call them HDTVs despite having only analog tuners in them. Some of these ATSC tuner-less HDTVs have been clearance priced in the last six months and I imagine owners of these TVs think they’re all set for Feb 17th 2009. They are not. Continue reading “Analog to Digital”


By now I’m sure most have heard HD-DVD lost the HD format war. I preferred Blu-ray from the beginning based solely on disc capacity. When HD-DVD came out with a finished standard for interactive features my opinion wavered. Blu-ray failed repeatedly to get a standard set for interactivity. My opinion on which format would win flip-flopped like any good politician’s stance on the war, but I continued to hope Blu-ray would win because I felt larger capacity was key to delivering a product as successful as DVD and avoiding becoming the next laserdisc.

As 2007 came to a close I would have been satisfied with either format winning outright. HD looks better than upscaled DVD, so having any HD content in 1080P was important to me. If that meant HD-DVD, so be it.

Then American Gangster came out on HD-DVD/DVD combo disc. Universal put one version of the movie on the HD-DVD side, and another on the DVD side. The features were also split between the two sides. The problem is space. They simply couldn’t fit two versions of the movie on the HD-DVD side of the disc so they made a poor decision and tried to use the HD-DVD and DVD sides instead of including two HD-DVD discs. With 3X DVD starting production early in 2008 my hope was Blu-ray would win. Size issues seen with American Gangster trump Blu-ray’s temporary lack of interactive feature support. I buy movies for the movie not the extras.

Luckily I didn’t have to settle for HD-DVD. Blu-ray won the battle against HD-DVD, but now BDA must win the battle against DVD. They must convince consumers there is a significant advantage over regular DVD and that could be a far tougher battle than anything they’ve experienced against HD-DVD.

2014 UPDATE: Nevermind, streaming won.