Sunday, July 17


I spent most of the day Saturday catching up on some old episodes of The Amazing Race [TAR]. Well, okay .. these episodes are about five years old and are airing on the Game Show Network for an indefinite time.

It's odd watching TAR this way (thank you, TiVo) but good that I can pack five episodes into an afternoon. It's also Amazing how far they've evolved: the host (Phil Keoghan) isn't nearly as visible, and he looks oddly youthful. The only time you see him "on the mat" is when the last-place team is being dismissed. Also, the editing's not nearly as clean; at times, it's even confusing as to what's happening.

I've also watched episodes of (late 1950s/early 1960s) The Twilight Zone evolve; the quality of the black and white images sharpens dramatically at one point, and even a casual glimpse can tell you if the show aired after 1961. It's Amazing how things like Rod Serling's omnipresent cigarette jumps out, when it probably didn't attract much attention when the show aired. I read somewhere that cigarette advertising accounted for 15% of network revenue in those days. Serling died of a heart attack when he was 50.

The Twilight Zone's special effects (how much was their budget? $50 an episode?) are laughable at times; the encounters with Space Aliens is frequently worth a guffaw, compared to recent episodes of Star Trek:Enterprise. The early episodes of Star Trek (the original series) and ST:NG (Next Generation) often reeked of comedic attempts at alien makeup, too (I pity Michael Dorn -- the actor who played Worf -- as his makeup evolved over the years).

Another show that I've become addicted to over the past few weeks is LinkTV's Mosaic, which is a daily 30-minute collection of stories being aired on TV stations in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi; Beirut; Damascus; Amman; Tehran; Jerusalem; Cairo). In many of the broadcasts, the women announcers don't look much different than an anchor here in Dallas, although this changes dramatically when the Tehran channel is shown. At least she's not in a burqa!

I noticed that PBS' 500 Nations has started to appear in reruns (maybe I hadn't yet instructed TiVo to seek out new episodes then). The DVD set is available via PBS for $60, or less if you're handy with eBay. I'm amazed at how many native American tribes just vanished over the years, at the hands of the European (Spanish, French, English) settlers.
Deep Thought #70: I have to wonder if our government's ability to adhere to a treaty has evolved over the decades? Best I can tell, it has not. We'll sign something, then violate it when our mood strikes. Pretty disgusting, actually.
Finally, I'm impressed by Morgan Spurlock's series [30 Days] which is on the FX network. His ability to test new scenarios is working (for me, anyway). I give it a Gene Bob Tip o' the Ballcap.

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