Friday, March 31, 2006

Doing Nothing Is Doing Skill

''World Series of Skill Games.''

Look for GSN to announce the WSoSG in the near future. According to its recent trademark app, GSN will be "sponsoring, organizing, conducting, and producing non-casino games played via the internet which are exhibited through television."

It's only natural that GSN would host a World Series since you can already compete in the Skill Games 2006 World Championship. By playing games like Zuma, Solitaire and Bejeweled, you have the chance to dominate the World Championship and score $1,000,000 cash!

I'm guessing — with absolutely no insider info, it's just a guess — that the WSoSG will be a two-hour special about the Finals since all finalists must travel to LA in the middle of June, 2006 to compete against each other.

The rules for the World Championship are great. Mostly it's the usual legal BS, but there is one phrase I just adore that I highlighted in bold italics.
Except where prohibited by law, entry in the Championship and a winner’s acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for the Company to use each winner’s name, address (city and state), photo, likeness, biographical information, statements and voice for advertising, promotion and publicity purposes throughout the universe in perpetuity, in whole or in part, by any and all means, media, devices, processes and technology now or hereafter known or devised (including, without limitation, print, broadcast and Internet) without future notice or compensation, in, and in connection with: (1) the production, distribution, exhibition, promotion, advertising and exploitation of the Championship and website; (2) advertising, promotion and publicity for the Sponsor; (3) the prize awarded; and/or (4) any current or future promotion conducted by the Sponsor.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dreaded Menus Tell No Tales

Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application (20060066755) from Canon. I don't really see the novelty in the application, but that's usually the case these days. All Canon did was take the concept of a pie menu and apply it to an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) to display TV program info. Here's Figure 8 from the patent app:

That seems like it's obvious for someone skilled in the art. Imagine that you're an engineer and you're told to design a user interface for viewing TV program info via an interactive menu. You pull out your list of menu designs that people have used before. A linear menu is at the top of the list and (gasp!) a pie menu is right below it. I just love the fact that Canon did not use the words, pie menu, anywhere in their application. They prefer to call it an ellipse.

I also don't think that it's well-suited for viewing program info. Sure you can see more channels on the screen at a time, as compared to linear menus, but can you really read the program titles near the center of the circle? And how do you switch from one pie to another? You definitely can't show all channels at once. Can you imagine 500 skinny wedges on the screen?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Only Stein Will Tell

The Rapes of Graff.

If you plan on watching ''Veronica Mars'' tonight, that's the name of the ep you'll see. Of course, it's a shout-out to John Steinbeck. I doubt that VM talks about The Great Depression, but I wonder if someone will suffer from great depression?

Since it's a day before Sweet Thursday, that means it's time for an ep list. What other series honored Steinbeck's 1939 book, The Grapes of Wrath?
  • The Shapes of Wrath (''Hey Landlord,'' 10/16/1966)
  • The Apes of Wrath (''Get Smart,'' 11/28/1969)
  • The Dates of Wrath (''Julia,'' 1/13/1970)
  • Dates of Wrath (''Three's Company,'' 12/8/1981)
  • The Grapes of Generosity (''Fraggle Rock,'' 1/21/1985)
  • The Slugs of Wrath (''Alf: The Animated Series,'' 12/10/1988)
  • The Crepes of Wrath (''The Simpsons,'' 4/15/1990)
  • The Tapes of Wrath (''Capital News,'' 4/30/1990)
  • Apes of Wrath (''Darkwing Duck,'' 9/12/1991)
  • Gripes of Wrath (''Duckman,'' 3/19/1994)
  • The Apes of Wrath (''Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys,'' 2/1/1997)
  • Grapefruits of Wrath (''Daddio,'' 3/23/2000)
  • The Burgers of Wrath (''Spin City,'' 12/13/2000)
  • The Grapes of Plath (''Cyberchase,'' 9/16/2004)
  • The Rapes of Graff (''Veronica Mars,'' 3/29/2006)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Common Threads #4

What do these three TV characters have in common?
  • Shari Rothenberg (played by Kate Mara) on "24"

  • Michael Tribbiani (played by Paulo Costanzo) on "Joey"

  • Tyson Mao (as himself) on "Beauty & the Geek 2"


Monday, March 27, 2006

There Are Plenty of Kitsch in2tv

When you view historical TV schedules from the trivialTV database from now on, you'll occasionally see the logo for AOL's in2tv for eps that you can watch online.

It appears that AOL will only make 10 eps available at any given time for each series; so I'll have to update the trivialTV database each time AOL changes its inventory. I'll update these images to direct video links in the future if AOL's turnover rate is slow.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Don't Give Up the Zip

You might be watching "American Inventor" on ABC, but did you watch "Made in the USA" on the USA Network last Fall? I didn't think so. Apparently, nobody watched. The show moved from primetime Wednesday to early Thursday evening to Friday mornings, and then USA pulled it from the air before announcing the winner in the sixth (and last) ep.

But maybe you should've watched. Justin Marty and Joshua Pace were eliminated in the fourth episode. Why is that significant? The History Channel and Invent Now, Inc. selected their Quad Zipper as one of "the 25 semi-finalists of the Modern Marvels Invent Now® Challenge, a national competition that provides an opportunity for independent inventors to be recognized and to influence the ever-changing face of invention."

Not bad for an invention that finished fourth (out of six) in a failed reality show. I can't wait to see if any inventions from "American Inventor" crack this list.

There's Something Skew Under the Sun

TBS will soon unveil Skew, it's broadband network for movies, TV shows and online games. Turner Broadcasting filed for trademark protection on March 17 and registered the domain,, on March 2, 2006.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Place for Every Input and Every Input in Its Place

Do you have a home theater with cable/satellite, VCR, DVD, DVR and PS2 connected directly to your TV screen through different video inputs? I'm sure you know exactly which device is connected to each input, but did you ever have to leave a set of instructions for a house guest? If Hewlett-Packard has anything to say about the software on your TV (or computer screen you use as a TV), then the task of matching video inputs with devices will be greatly simplified.

Last week the US Patent & Trademark Office published Patent App. 20060059513, which is HP's filing for "User interface with tiling of video sources, widescreen modes or calibration settings" that it first filed in November 2004.

It's such a simple idea. When you press the input button on your remote, little preview boxes simultaneously appear on your screen showing the video being delivered to the TV through all inputs. Then just use your remote to navigate and select the appropriate preview box. Here's an artist's rendition from the patent filing for an embodiment with four video inputs:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Zen That Shares Is a Zen That Cares

Last night the Alphabet net showed "Hope & Faith" in its new timeslot, airing an ep titled Now and Zen. Whenever I hear zen in the context of pop culture, I always think about Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

The book was first published in 1974 and quickly gathered an inquisitive following. Bantam Books ran a 6th printing of Zen in 1975 and the mass market paperback edition of Zen in November 1981.

You can see from these ep title homages that Zen definitely hit pop culture paydirt in 1981 and that we continue the inquiry into the value of Zen.
  • Zen and the Art of Cab Driving (''Taxi,'' 3/19/1981)
  • Zen and the Art of Law Enforcement (''Hill Street Blues,'' 2/18/1982)
  • Zen and the Art of the Split Finger Fastball (''Simon & Simon,'' 10/22/1988)
  • Zen and the Art of Murder (''Homicide: Life on the Street,'' 4/2/1999)
  • Zen and the Art of Milo (''Pepper Ann,'' 11/15/2000)
  • Zen and the Art of Omelet Maintenance (''Good Eats,'' 7/23/2003)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Performer By Any Other Name Would Act As Sweet

If you've watched the news at all, you're well aware that Monday marked the third anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Speaking of the military, have you noticed that fighter pilots always get choice nicknames? In "Top Gun" we met Maverick and Goose. In a TV Shorty called "AFP: American Fighter Pilot," we were introduced to flight instructors named Heater, Shark, Bubba and Stump.

But TV performers do pretty well in the nickname department too. Just take a look at the episode list for A&E's "Biography" series. Granted. These nicknames aren't as forceful. But we're talking about performers. Not pilots.

Some "Biography" ep titles, like "Vanna White: Game Show Hostess," are simply matter-of-fact. Others, like "Ray Walston: No Antennae, Please" and "Paul Lynde: Off Center," allude to a singular role that defined a performer's career — for better or for worse.

Can you match the following TV personalities with their "Biography" nicknames?
TV Personality"Biography" Nickname
1.Jackie Gleasona.Master of Ceremonies
2.Henry Winklerb.The Eye of CBS
3.Loretta Youngc.Hollywood's Musical Mom
4.Sid Caesard.Eyewitness to History
5.Bob Barkere.Hollywood's Heavenly Beauty
6.Walter Cronkitef.Hollywood's Coolest Character
7.Ed McMahong.Television's Comedy Genius
8.Mike Wallaceh.America's Sidekick
9.Shirley Jonesi.Hollywood's Homespun Hero
10.Andy Griffithj.TV's Grand Inquisitor
11.William S. Paleyk.The Great One


Monday, March 20, 2006

Atypical Update

Atypical. Only because the update is really late. I had a hard time finding a good internet connection Sunday night. That's bound to happen sometimes when you travel.

This week I thought I'd update the scoreboard at the bottom of the near right column. In the last eight weeks I've added a lowly 138 US series to the trivialTV database — all with confirmed preem dates.

Friday, March 17, 2006

T_x money does not grow on _pple trees

"P_t, I'll t_ke the porcel_in dog." The six worst words ever muttered on _ g_me show. Not only do you win ugly decor, but now you h_ve to p_y t_xes.

Mich_el P_ul L_rson, of "Press You Luck" f_me, simply p_id $28,000 in t_xes on his $110,237 winnings. He h_d it e_sy since he won c_sh.

But wh_t _bout prize winners? G_me show winners used _ll the tricks to reduce Uncle S_m's cut. M_rri_ge. Selling prizes. Re-_ppr_ising th_t porcel_in dog _nd p_ying t_xes on its re_l v_lue. Or simply rejecting prizes _ll together.

Those t_x bills were enough of _ p_in, but im_gine h_ving your house remodeled on "Extreme M_keover: Home Edition." Not only do you get _ t_x bill for the incre_sed v_lue of the house, but you get the t_x bill th_t keeps on giving — property t_x. Yes. You get to p_y property t_x on your winnings every ye_r. Th_t's why the f_milies _lso get _ lump sum c_sh p_yment from the producers.

A Man's Home Is His Casino

As part of this week's tribute to Peter Tomarken, I'm sticking with games. It wasn't easy to find recent scoop about games on TV, but I unearthed something interesting.

If you live in New Jersey, Nevada or Mississippi, you'll be able to use
GameLogic's technology. What does GameLogic do? Here's what CEO Steven Kane had to say in the Q&A section on their website:
Our games essentially sit on top of an existing approved and installed game — like Keno. Players purchase PlayAway tickets at a licensed casino location. Later, they log on to the casino website, and using a special access code, enter GameLogic's Games Gallery to view their results. There, they enjoy unique, reveal-type PlayAction using themes from their favorite casino games. Then, they return to the casino to collect their winnings.
OK, so your home isn't really a casino. But your TV will be someday be your window into the casino. And somebody must be a believer — GameLogic raised $18.6 million dollars in Series B funding last month.

What's the scoop?

GameLogic applied for trademark protection for two new interactive games (reveals) about two weeks ago:
  • Texas Slide 'Em
  • Ten Pin Payout

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Foolish Consistency Is the Hobgoblin of Older Gameshows

What if you watch Super Lotto results every week, and you think you see a pattern? You carefully track numbers for a few more weeks and find out that you're actually right. There is a pattern. What's next? Of course, you'd go out and buy a ticket at just the right time!

And that's exactly what Michael Larson did in 1984. He taped "Press Your Luck" on his VCR and watched shows in glorious slow-motion as simple patterns emerged from his TV screen. Of course, he bought his ticket, too! He went on the show and won $110,237 in cash.

Here's an excerpt from Tom Hopkins' retrospective in the November 26, 1994 issue of Dayton Daily News:
Larson began watching carefully, videotaping programs so he could study them later by slowing them down and studying the freeze frames.

His goal: Figure out how to determine where all the "whammies" were. If you could do that, he decided, avoiding them would be relatively easy.

"I wanted to see if there was a random to those lights, or if they were going in order," he recalls.

"I moved it from frame to frame and wached the lights go from one square to another. I started seeing little three-number runs that looked like other three-number runs, and I knew there was some commonality.

"Six weeks into it, it just came to me. I finally determined there were only six patterns of 18 numbers."

Memorize the patterns, and he could strike it rich.

Larson bought an airline ticket and headed for Los Angeles.
Now that's great use of technology.

If you ever want to see the entire story, you can watch GSN's 2003 special, Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal, when they air it again.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Devil Is in2tv's Details

Today is the official launch of AOL's in2tv. AOL made the beta version available over the last week, but not much really changed.

I've given the service a test drive. Not bad for a first effort, but there is definitely room for improvement. Here are some of my thoughts:
  • Many people complain about the ads and all the info surrounding the streaming video. All you have to do is click the 'Full Screen' option at the lower right corner of the video player and everything else goes away. That means you only have to watch a 30-second commercial at the beginning of each clip, and that's all the advertising you'll see. If you don't want to watch that single ad, click on the clip you want to watch, go to a different web page for a while in another browser window, and then come back and rewind to the beginning of the show. Problem solved. in2tv doesn't need to be the active window while video is streaming.
  • The service only seems to work with Windows Media Player 10. Hopefully, AOL made this choice for their launch and will improve compatibility.
  • AOL has a full listing of TV shows and eps. The interface can be improved so that all shows appear on a single page with a portion of the page (frame or nodisplay javascript) showing ep titles for the show selected (ala iTunes). But at least they have a listing in alphabetical order that's easy to use. Are you listening Google Video?
  • Of course AOL didn't want to release all their content at the same time; they took a page out of iTunes' book. Release a little bit at a time so people keep coming back. But AOL made some odd choices — non-consecutive eps, different seasons, and partial eps. Partial eps? Well, kind of. Right now in2tv only has one part of a few two-part shows, such as:
    • Snow Way to Treat a Lady (Part 1 of 2) ("Perfect Strangers," 2/18/1987)
    • End Game (Part 2 of 2) ("La Femme Nikita," 8/30/1998)
    • Follow the Leader (Part 2 of 2) ("Welcome Back Kotter," 1/22/1976)
    You can't see how the first show ends, and you don't know how the last two shows begin.
  • AOL needs to provide some context for these eps. From the listing and show page, it's really hard to figure out what you'll be watching. Take a look at a series like La Femme Nikita. Here are the eps currently available on in2tv:
    • Mother (season 1, ep 5; original airdate: 2/9/1997)
    • Darkness Visible (season 2, ep 8; oad: 3/29/1998)
    • Open Heart (season 2, ep 9; oad: 4/5/1998)
    • First Mission (season 2, ep 10; oad: 4/12/1998)
    • Psychic Pilgrim (season 2, ep 11; oad: 4/19/1998)
    • Fuzzy Logic (season 2, ep 15; oad: 7/5/1998)
    • Inside Out (season 2, ep 17; oad: 7/26/1998)
    • End Game (Part 2 of 2) (season 2, ep 22; oad: 8/30/1998)
    • Cat and Mouse (season 3, ep 7; oad: 3/28/1999)
    • Line in the Sand (season 4, ep 14; oad: 7/2/2000)
  • The Pilot Theater Channel was a little disappointing. The channel just had pilots for shows that you could access through individual channels. I was really hoping for a channel that showed unaired pilots for shows that weren't picked-up (ala Lee Goldberg's ABC Special based on his book Unsold Television Pilots).
Happy viewing!

A Piquing Game Hangs Around Long

When someone asks you to name gameshows, you probably go straight to the classics. You might start your list with ''Jeopardy,'' ''Wheel'' or ''Pyramid.'' Not ''Distraction.''

These classic gameshows are ripe material for ep titles since everybody knows them. Whether you saw them or not. Whether you know the rules or not. You've heard of them. They live on as pop culture icons.

Which series have ep titles that put a twist on the names of classic gameshows? Keep reading to find out.
  • ''Family Feud''
    • Addams Family Feud (''The New Addams Family,'' 7/10/1999)
    • All in the Family Feud (''The Wayans Brothers,'' 1/14/1998)
    • A Fine Family Feud (''The Nanny,'' 10/2/1995)
    • Foxworthy Family Feud (''The Jeff Foxworthy Show,'' 12/16/1995)
    • Pet Feud (''The Powerpuff Girls,'' 2/13/2000)
  • ''Let's Make a Deal''
    • Let's Quake a Deal (''Charles in Charge'')
  • ''The Price Is Right''
    • The Price Is Height (''The Apprentice,'' 4/1/2004)
    • The Price Is Wrong (''The Cosby Show,'' 1/9/1992)
    • The Spice Is Right (''Aladdin,'' 10/22/1994)
  • ''To Tell the Truth''
    • To Tell the Tooth (''Kissyfur,'' 9/27/1986)
    ''Truth or Consquences''
    • Tooth or Consequences (''Married…with Children,'' 10/1/1989)
    • Tooth or Consequences (''Perfect Strangers,'' 10/13/1989)
    • Tooth or Consequences (''True Colors,'' 10/28/1990)
    • Tooth or Consequences (''Roseanne,'' 5/11/1993)
    • Tooth or Consequences (''Johnny Bravo,'' 11/12/1999)
    • Truce or Consequences (''Cheers,'' 11/18/1982)
    • Twins or Consequences (''Sister, Sister,'' 12/13/1998)
    • Youth or Consequences (''Bionic Six,'' 6/7/1987)
  • ''Wheel of Fortune''
    • The Wheel of Misfortune (''227,'' 10/4/1986)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ask a Silly Question and You'll Get a Complicated Answer

Just ask any gameshow host.

Because of the tragic news about Peter Tomarken's death, I'm dedicating most of the posts to gameshows this week.

Tomarken is best-known for his stint as the host of ''Press Your Luck'' in the mid-80s. You may not remember him, but I'm sure you remember 'No Whammies!' Yes, Tomarken hosted that show, but he also hosted five other gameshows:
  • ''Hit Man'' (NBC, 1983)
  • ''Bargain Hunters'' (ABC, 1987)
  • ''Wipeout'' (Synd, 1988)
  • ''Decades'' (GSN, 1994)
  • ''Paranoia'' (Fox Family, 2000)
Six series. Not bad. That number puts him somewhere in the mid-20s on the list of hosts who reigned over the most gameshows.

Can you name the ten hosts with the most gameshows?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Regular Airings Update

Today I'm just updating the trivialTV airings database. I added ~500 records for the month of February.

If you take a look at the Total Tube Time feature in the near right column, you'll see that ''Law & Order'' is poised to take over the top slot for dramas with the next update.

Friday, March 10, 2006

A Card Player Is Only as Good as His Tools

Just when I think the poker craze has reached its apex, I find something new that tells me I'm completely wrong. Again.

According to a recent trademark filing by WPT Enterprises, Inc., WPT Academy will provide "instruction, strategies and tips in the field of card games via television, a global computer network and wireless devices." I'm guessing that "WPT Academy" will air as a weekly series on Travel Channel this Fall.

Frankly, I'm surprised it took the WPT so long. Take a look at this timeline for poker-related instructional resources:
  • 2004 Oct 13: The two-hour "WPT Poker Corner" preems on Travel Channel and is hailed as the "first televised poker analysis show."
  • 2005 Feb 1: "WPT Poker Corner" bows on XM Radio as a 60-second daily audio segment.
  • 2005 Jul 29: WPT Enterprises, Inc. purchases the domain name,
  • 2005 Sep 27: " Presents: Learn from the Pros" debuts on Fox Sports Net.
  • 2005 Dec 19: WPT announces that World Poker Tour: The Official Magazine will appear in the UK soon.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

VOD Is Flicker Then Hotter

This past weekend I introduced a friend to Charter Communication's VOD.

I think his jaw is still on the living room floor.

He was simply amazed that he could watch Lewis Black's HBO special whenever he wants, as often as he wants. (Yes, he does subscribe to HBO.) He was dumbfounded when I told him to use the VCR-like functions on his remote control. I felt like I was watching a child on Christmas morning, but I fear that he'll never leave his apartment again.

Then came the questions. Oh boy, the questions. How does it work? Can two people watch the same show at the same time on different household TVs? If the neighbors are watching the same show, is he controlling what they see too? How often do the shows change? Can he record while he watches?

All those questions got me thinking. How was VOD implemented in some of the initial market tests? Companies had to use some low-tech solutions in these early pilot programs before they spent significant cash on infrastructure and equipment.

How low tech? Take a look at this excerpt from Price Colman's article in the December 29, 1991 edition of Rocky Mountain News:
Denver, the so-called capital of cable television, will get its crack early next year at a new form of television: VCTV, or Viewer Controlled Cable Television.

About 450 of United Artists Cable's suburban subscribers will be guinea pigs for the interactive service, which will offer an electronic video store with more than 1,000 titles, as well as pay-per-view movies and events.

Although there will be some fancy technology involved - fiber optics, remote-control interactivity - the approach is decidedly low-tech: A technician in a control room filled with VCRs will plug in the movies that viewers request.
Now that's low tech!

Be Oscarful What You Wish For

I was a bit disappointed that Crash won the Oscar for Best Picture. I was kind of hoping that Brokeback Mountain would win.


It's an entirely selfish reason. It's really easy to find ep titles that riff off Brokeback Mountain. Crash? Not so much.

Ahh, just what I was waiting for. Here's the envelope straight from the offices of Price, Waterhouse & Cooper. What's inside? A list of TV ep titles that reference some of the past Oscar winners for Best Picture. The year at the beginning of each line is the year of the award ceremony.
  • 2005: Million Dollar Ghost (''Danny Phantom'')
  • 2004: Lord of the Bling (''Veronica Mars,'' 2/8/2005)
  • 2002: A Beautiful Mine (''The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius,'' 8/1/2003)
  • 1999: Shakespeare in Lust (''Quintuplets,'' 8/4/2004)
  • 1997: The English-Speaking Patients (''Ink,'' 2/3/1997)
  • 1996: Bravefinch (''Just Shoot Me!,'' 3/26/1998)
  • 1995: Blossom Gump (''Blossom,'' 11/21/1994)
  • 1994: Schisler's List (''Nikki,'' 4/29/2001)
  • 1993: Unforgiven Cheese (''Biker Mice from Mars,'' 10/13/1994)
  • 1992: Silence of the Yams (''Small Shots,'' 8/22/2001)
  • 1991: Finances with Wolves (''American Dad,'' 1/29/2006)
  • 1990: Driving Miss Crazy (''Carol & Company,'' 11/17/1990)
  • 1989: Wayne Man (''Perfect Strangers,'' 2/29/1992)
  • 1986: Out of Africa...and Outta Here! (''The Real World,'' 11/15/1995)
  • 1984: Sperms of Endearment (''Duckman,'' 2/10/1996)
  • 1982: Chariots of Fear (''At Ease,'' 3/11/1983)
  • 1981: Ordinary People, Too (''The Duck Factory,'' 6/6/1984)
  • 1980: Duke vs. Duke (''The Dukes of Hazzard,'' 1/23/1981)
  • 1979: The Daria Hunter (''Daria,'' 2/23/1998)
  • 1976: One Flew Over the Hoochie's Nest (''Martin,'' 4/24/1997)
  • 1973: The Mod Father (''The Partridge Family,'' 10/27/1972)
  • 1972: The Detroit Connection (''Hec Ramsey,'' 12/30/1973)
  • 1968: In the Hart of the Night (''Hart to Hart,'' 11/30/1982)
  • 1967: A Tan for All Seasons (''Growing Up Gotti,'' 11/14/2005)
  • 1966: The Unsound of Music (''Family Affair,'' 11/18/1968)
  • 1965: My Fare Lady (''Hack,'' 11/1/2003)
  • 1963: Florence of Arabia (''Alice,'' 2/19/1978)
  • 1962: Sweatside Story (''Welcome Back, Kotter,'' 10/7/1976)
  • 1960: Bend Her (''Futurama,'' 7/20/2003)
  • 1958: The Bridge on the River Y (''Beetle Bailey,'' 5/3/1964)
  • 1957: Around the Moon in 80 Blinks (''I Dream of Jeannie,'' 3/24/1969)
  • 1954: From Hare to Eternity (''NYPD Blue,'' 12/14/1993)
  • 1953: The Greatest Show on Eternia (''He Man and the Masters of the Universe'')
  • 1952: An American Deputy Mayor in Paris (''Spin City,'' 5/10/2000)
  • 1951: All About Christmas Eve (''AfterMASH,'' 12/19/1983)
  • 1950: All the Editor's Men (''Just in Time,'' 4/13/1988)
  • 1944: Castleblanca (''Cyberchase,'' 1/22/2002)
  • 1942: How Green Was My Valet (''Get Smart,'' 2/13/1970)
  • 1940: Gone with the Breeze (''That Girl,'' 1/26/1967)
  • 1939: If You Can't Take It with You, Don't Go (''Rango,'' 4/21/1967)
  • 1936: Mutiny on the Bossy (''The Hogan Family,'' 3/5/1990)
  • 1935: It May Have Happened One Night (''Wings,'' 12/3/1992)
  • 1930: All Quiet on the Westfield Front (''McKeever & the Colonel,'' 3/10/1963

source of Oscar winners: the envelope at
source of ep titles: trivialTV database.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wise Men Make Improverbs; Fools Repeat Them

I don't know what to call it. Is it an iSitCom? A siticom?

You have no clue what I'm talking about, do you?

Improvisational situation comedy. You know, a TV show where performers only get a specific plot outline and few key lines. The actors get to ad-lib most of the dialogue. Think about shows like ''Curb Your Enthusiasm.''

If you haven't noticed, the nets are jumping on the bandwagon. Last week Fox preemed ''Free Ride.'' Tonight ''Sons & Daughters'' debuts on the Alphabet.

That brings us to this week's trivia list. Can you name the partly improvised series that first aired on US TV?
  • ''Curb Your Enthusiasm'' (HBO, 2000)
  • ''Contest Searchlight'' (Comedy Central, 2002)
  • ''Life with Bonnie'' (ABC, 2002)
  • ''On the Spot'' (WB, 2003)
  • ''Reno 911!'' (Comedy Central, 2003)
  • ''K Street'' (HBO, 2003)
  • ''Significant Others'' (Bravo, 2004)
  • ''Pilot Season'' (Trio, 2004)
  • ''Unscripted'' (HBO, 2005)
  • ''Fat Actress'' (Showtime, 2005)
  • ''Texas Hardtails'' (Speed, 2005)
  • ''Free Ride'' (Fox, 2006)
  • ''Sons & Daughters'' (ABC, 2006)

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Rising TV Guide Lifts All Notes

Have you stopped by lately? I kind of gave up on them a while ago, but they're improving their series guides.

Try the search feature. As you type letters in the box, you're presented with a pull-down menu immediately below the box. You can keep typing if you want, or you can select an item from the list.

If you search for a series — maybe ''Will & Grace'' — you're immediately taken to the series front page. Here are a few highlights:
  • At the very top of the page you can see airing times and locations for upcoming eps on all stations, including cable.
  • Next you'll find pix and videos, including TV Guide covers.
  • The ep guide is presented in the middle of the page and credits are presented along the left column.
  • At the bottom of the page you'll find links to online TV Guide articles in which the series is mentioned. The site makes excellent use of its other content.
If TV Guide continues to improve its site and database at this pace, it will be the de facto site for regulated content. The breadth of its database pales in comparison to and right now, but it's a nice supplement to these sites for more recent series.

I've added click-through links in the trivialTV airings database to TV Guide's series front pages. Most shows now have a TV Guide logo. Just click the logo to get more info.

Go ahead and try it!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Make Weight While the Sun Shines

Bikini Boot Camp. Expect to hear more about this Eco Chic Resort soon.

Melissa Perlman and Erica Gragg opened Bikini Boot Camp at Amansala Resort in Tulum, Mexico about three years ago. Celebs like Jude Law, Benicio del Toro, Armand Assante, Sienna Miller, Linda Evangelista, and Cindy Crawford have enrolled, giving the Camp some cred. According to this recent first-hand account, Ms. Perlman "bought another property [Casa Magna] a 15-minute walk down the beach and is working on a book, Bikini Boot Camp: The Mind, Body & Spirit Workout."

And that leads us to today's scoop. Ms. Perlman also has her sites set on a TV series. I assume that she'll take the workouts from Amansala and the forthcoming book and then package these workouts with the right bodies. Sounds like the perfect series for FitTV, especially if Ms. Perlman can convince any of the celebs to appear in the series in exchange for free resort time at Casa Magna.

If You Love SomeZingy, Set It Free

Zingy, Inc. is best known for being a middle man. They deliver Company A's content for Company B's mobile phones that use Company C as a carrier.

Until now.

Apparently Zingy wants to own some of that content and is dipping its toes in the shark-infested waters of makeover shows. They plan on developing their own makeover series, "Primp Your Chick," and deliver mobisodes to your wireless devices.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Sound Mind in a Sound iPod

Apple announced its iPod Hi-Fi on Tuesday with a very lukewarm reception. People expected a true video iPod — that's just an iPod with 6GB storage and a larger video screen — and those people felt cheated. Whatever. Rumors are just that. Rumors.

They can pine for the next gen Video iPod all they want. I'm anxiously awaiting an accessory for Video iPods.

Now that Apple has external speakers for its iPod, why shouldn't it produce an external screen (with speakers) for its Video iPod? What if Apple made an under-the-counter LCD screen with a dock for a Video iPod?

Seems like a natural development milestone to me.

Apple's goal is simple. They want you to buy content only from them and store that content on one or more their portable devices that you play using one or more of their accessories. Apple wants you living in an Apple world.

Well, their world is missing an external screen. Sure the workarounds for using your TV appeared almost immediately, but nothing beats seamless integration. Apple already sells LCD screens for computers; so a Video iPod external LCD is only a small step.

Let the speculation begin. I'm guessing we'll see the accessory next year at this time.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Two Bridesheads Are Better Than One

Maybe you caught last night's fresh episode of ''Gilmore Girls.'' If you did, you probably liked the ep title — Bridesmaids Revisited.

Of course, ASP's staff paid tribute to Evelyn Waugh's 1945 novel, "Brideshead Revisited." I haven't read it yet, but I suppose I should. "Time Magazine" listed the book in its list of all-time 100 best English-language novels from 1923-2005. The novel was adapted into an 11 ep British miniseries back in 1981 and the story was being adapted for the big screen, but I haven't heard much news about it lately.

While we wait for the next adaptation, we'll do TV GuideSked Revisited. The following eps all honored Waugh's most famous work:
  • Riviera Revisited (''Danger,'' 1/19/1954)
  • Shore Patrol Revisited (''Hennesey,'' 5/8/1961)
  • Deaths-Head Revisited (''The Twilight Zone,'' 11/10/1961)
  • Sleeping Beauty Revisited (''The Farmer's Daughter,'' 10/11/1965)
  • The Nelsons Revisited (''The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet,'' 10/20/1965)
  • Murder Revisited (''Mannix,'' 3/7/1970)
  • Hartford Revisited (''Karen,'' 3/6/1975)
  • The Wild Wild West Revisited (1979) (''The Wild Wild West,'' 5/9/1979)
  • Rizzendough Revisited (''Coach,'' 1/7/1992)
  • Bridesmaid Revisited (''Going to Extremes,'' 1/27/1993)
  • Bridesface Revisited (''The Naked Truth,'' 10/20/1997)
  • McBride's Head Revisited (''Melrose Place,'' 4/12/1999)
  • Louise Revisited (''Sports Night,'' 10/26/1999)
  • Bridesmaid Revisited (''Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place,'' 1/5/2000)
  • Capeside Revisited (a.k.a. About a Girl) (''Dawson's Creek,'' 10/24/2001)
  • Bridesmaids Revisited (''Gilmore Girls,'' 2/28/2006)