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Original author: 
David Pescovitz

The Writers Guild of America has released its list of "101 Best Written TV Series." I'm thrilled that four of my favorite TV shows ever are in the top 5. Here's the top 10: 1. The Sopranos
2. Seinfeld
3. The Twilight Zone
4. All In The Family
5. M*A*S*H
6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
7. Mad Men
8. Cheers
9. The Wire
10. The West Wing "101 Best Written TV Series" (WGA)    

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Original author: 
Casey Johnston

Casey Johnston

Aereo, a service that streams over-the-air channels to its subscribers, has now spent more than a year serving residents of New York City. The service officially expands to Boston tomorrow and is coming to many more cities over the next few months, including Atlanta and Washington, DC. Aereo seems like a net-add for consumers, and the opposition has, so far, failed to mount a defense that sticks.

But the simple idea behind Aereo is so brilliant and precariously positioned that it seems like we need to simultaneously enjoy it as hard as we can and not at all. We have to appreciate it for exactly what it is, when it is, and expect nothing more. It seems so good that it cannot last. And tragically, there are more than a few reasons why it may not.

A little about how Aereo works: as a resident of the United States, you have access to a handful of TV channels broadcast over the air that you can watch for free with an antenna (or, two antennas, but we’ll get to that). A subscription to Aereo gets you, literally, your very own tiny antenna offsite in Aereo’s warehouse. The company streams this to you and attaches it to a DVR service, allowing you both live- and time-shifted viewing experiences.

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Original author: 
Nathan Yau

Show ratings for 24

The quality of television shows follow all kinds of patterns. Some shows stink in the beginning and slowly gain steam, whereas others are great at first and then lost momentum towards eventual cancellation. Using data from the Global Episode Opinion Survey, Andrew Clark visualized ratings over time for many popular shows in an interactive.

The graph represents the average ranking for the show over time. The red lines indicate changepoints, estimations of when the properties of the time-series, typically the mean changes. The intensity of the plot varies according to the number of respondents. An episode of a show that is favourably rated tends to get more people ranking as do earlier episodes in long-running show.

For example, the chart above shows ratings for 24. The ratings started in the 8s and finished in the 7s, which isn't a huge difference really when you compare it to ratings for The Simpsons.


There's a self-selection challenge here. To participate in the GEOS survey, you have to create an account, so there's probably going to be some polarity in the ratings as well as limited sampling for many episodes. So take it all with some salt. Nevertheless, it's fun to poke around and see how your favorite shows changed over time. Most of the ratings matched my expectations.

The R code is available on github if you want to have a go at the data.

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What does it take to generate new interest in a property as well-worn as the Hannibal Lecter story sequence from novelist Thomas Harris? For the new TV show Hannibal, in which producer Bryan Fuller charts the early days of the working relationship between FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Lecter, a few things are obvious parts of the approach.

The cast is on. In addition to Dancy there’s the attention-getting choice of Mads Mikkelsen (Pusher, Casino Royale) as Lecter, with the addition of Laurence Fishburne, Gina Torres, Gillian Anderson, Eddie Izzard and Ellen Greene, with Caroline Dhavernas and Lance Henriksen.

And then there’s Fuller’s style, which oozes from this first full trailer. His weird American Gothic approach looks very much like a good fit for this story. We’ve seen the Lecter story told exhaustively on film (in Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising, and the Manhunter remake Red Dragon) but visually, at least, this version seems to go in a new direction. And while the story lends itself to the old procedural format that is so familiar from innumerable TV shows, that visual style helps Hannibal stand out.

Check out the trailer below.

Hannibal premieres in April.


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A man uses the cover of a hot tub to move a TV set through floodwaters at Cornubia, Queensland. Massive summer floods have killed four people and forced thousands to evacuate their homes across the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales, according to local authorities. -- Reuters

Editor's note: Photo taken on Jan. 29, 2013 and made available to NBC News today.


Wild weather has broken a lot of hearts: Australia PM

Video: Frothy sea foam spills into Australian town

PhotoBlog: Three killed, dozens rescued in Australia floods

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During Saturday Night Live's all-star holiday special tonight, Samuel L. Jackson said the word "fuck," followed by "bullshit." It looked like an unplanned goof during a skit with Kenan Thompson.

"That cost money," said a surprised Thompson.

If so, any price NBC may or may not pay in FCC fines is a small price for the immediately renewed relevancy and mindshare this incident grants on the show. A verbal nip-slip, if you will.


Below, Jackson's tweet immediately following the incident.

Do you believe him?

I asked on Twitter if anyone smarter than I could recall the last time someone said "fuck" on SNL. Alex Pareene of (and others) say Jenny Slate did this in 2009, and Google proves him to be correct. It was on the season premiere of her only season with the show. Andy Ihnatko adds, "Charles Rocket, in the 80's; first SNL F-bomb was by Paul Shaffer the year he was a castmember." There have been others, according to this pretty great Wikipedia article on the history of SNL— but it's nice to see the tradition renewed.

We can only hope parents out there took to heart Mr. Jackson's lullaby strategy, "Go the Fuck to Sleep."

(YouTube clip HT: @ditzkoff)

I only said FUH not FUCK!K was sposed to cut off da BULLSHIT, blew it!!…

— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) December 16, 2012

Looking forward to people who haven't ever watched SNL losing it because Samuel L. Jackson said "fuck" on it tonight. Because children.

— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) December 16, 2012

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Hollywood actor Tom Hanks, who is flacking his new movie “Cloud Atlas,” did a pretty brilliant slam poem using the corny 1990s television show “Full House.”

It’s pretty epic.


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Boing Boing has spotlighted "How's Your News" in years past, and I'm delighted to see the team reassembled to cover the 2012 presidential elections. The project features a team of reporters with various developmental disabilities roaming the halls at the Republican and Democratic national conventions, interviewing big TV news personalities and politicians: Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Diane Sawyer, Karl Rove, Sen. Rob Portman, Herman Cain, Anne Coulter, Jesse Jackson, Rep. Michelle Bachman, Olivia Wilde, Sen. Barbra Boxer, Stephen Baldwin, Piers Morgan, Jared Leto, Sen. Pat Leahy, Rep Barney Frank, and many more.

Download the hour-long documentary for $5. I watched it last night, and I strongly recommend. It's not "political," in the sense that it's not advocating a particular party or candidate; it's more about the culture of news and the surreality of what it's like to be at a convention. I've been inside that beast, and this is the most accurate capture of that weird world I've seen. Also, if you work in TV news? There are some scenes in this film that will prove to you, without any doubt, that politicians tend to spew prepared talking points as answers to questions, even when the questions are unintelligible non-word vocalizations.

Above, a trailer. Below, an exclusive clip, and a Boing Boing Q&A with director Arthur Bradford, and Matt Stone ( South Park, Book of Mormon ), who backed the project and is a big fan.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker have been involved with Arthur Bradford and "How's Your News" for 15 years. Matt tells Boing Boing, "It is a great relationship and a totally cool thing." Arthur also directed "The Making of South Park: 6 Days to Air," and received an Emmy nomination for that documentary.

Boing Boing/XJ: Matt, I know you're a big news junkie, what do you get out of watching this that you don't out of, say, reading the New York Times or watching CNN's coverage of the political conventions?

Matt Stone: Even to a news junkie like me, the current incarnation of the political conventions are pretty absurd. The regular news dutifully tries to distill the psychodrama and bullshit into a horserace of political power. How's Your News always puts a smile on my face because they so effortlessly resist that narrative. I need more How's Your News in my life. I am a huge fan.

Boing Boing/XJ: Arthur, my question to you, why are you doing this project?

Arthur Bradford: I've been making these How's Your News films for over fifteen years now. It really just just started as a lark at this summer camp I was working at. We wanted to make videos which we could show after dinner at the camp and have people laugh. When Matt and Trey got in touch way back in 1996, before they became famous, I thought it was both great and weird that people I didn't know enjoyed these videos. Over time we became friends and if it weren't for their encouragement, and later, financial help, this whole project would not exist. I like making these films because I think they are pure - we have the same motivations we did back at the summer camp, just wanting to make people smile and surprise them. I know of no less pretentious people than the reporters from How's Your News? I have learned so much from watching them approach and converse with the various public figures they meet. I honestly believe you can learn quite a lot about a person by watching the way he or she interacts with a person with a disability. In that sense I have found that the conversations which take place before our cameras are often more revealing than the supposedly hard hitting interviews we see on major networks. What I particularly like about this latest film is the chance to watch the way political figures, and the many handlers surrounding them, work so hard to manipulate the way they are portrayed in the media. Often the most interesting part of the interview for us is not the actual interview at all. It's the slightly uncomfortable negotiation which takes place beforehand as we ask them if they will speak with us. I liked being able to include those discussions in this new film. In the past we didn't have the freedom, or good sense, to do that.

Arthur Bradford: Over the years we have endeavored to produce How's Your News in many different ways, as a film festival entry, a DVD, an HBO documentary, and even an MTV series. This latest version, a completely independent, pay-per-view online stream/download, is truly the best form of distribution yet. For those of you who feel frustrated by commercial news media, I really urge you to support this kind of thing. Not to get on a high horse, but hey, this is It's the future of independent media. It's a very good thing.

Boing Boing/XJ: What's it like working with the correspondents?

Arthur Bradford: I've known all of them for so long now, they are some of my oldest friendships. And I do mean friendships. I first met Jeremy when he was just a kid, seven or eight years old. He was a crazy little ball of energy and we all wondered what he was going to be like when he grew up. Would people still think he was cute and charming? He's grown up now and, well, you can decide. Sue calls me up at least once a week, usually more. She is relentless when she's got something on her mind. This latest "How's Your News?" project came about in part because of her prodding. She was leaving messages on my phone saying, "Is this How's Your News horse dead or what? Come on!" Bobby is like an uncle to me. He was an usher at my wedding and plays with my children. I honestly don't know of anyone who can so easily mix and mingle with such a wide array of people. You could take him to a Hell's Angles rally in the morning and he'd have everyone hugging him and then attend a formal White House luncheon an hour later and he'd be cozying up the the Secretary of State. He'd know just how to behave immediately. It's a skill few of us have.

I hold our reporters to a high standard. I often feel like I'm the coach and they are my team. I have to assess who is feeling good and who will interact in the most interesting way with a given interviewee. I sometimes get frustrated with the reporters if they ask banal questions or act shy. I let them know it when I think they can do better. But I never feed them questions. That doesn't come off well. The questions need to come from them. If they are not having a good time and showing genuine curiosity then it's not enjoyable to watch. I find directing How's Your News to be exhausting and draining and usually after each one is done I swear I'll never do it again. But then Sue and Jeremy starting calling me up and we end up hitting the road. And in the end I'm glad we do it.

Download the documentary.

(All images courtesy Arthur Bradford)

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On "Screen Junkies," Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell interpret scenes from the TV program, "Here comes Honey Boo Boo". There's a lot to wade through, but worth it just for Walken's attempt to pronounce "vajiggle-jaggle."

(via Mike Hayes)

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WARNING: Video contains spoilers.

[Video Link]. To celebrate the premiere of Breaking Bad's Fifth Season this week, my fellow trufan Miles O'Brien and I dug into the show's vaults to explore the top 10 chemistry moments in Breaking Bad, from seasons One through Four. Only, there was so much awesome science, we had to choose 11 top chemistry moments, instead.

Also, check out our excellent adventure: air-dropping in to a random Breaking Bad fan's premiere party in the show's hometown of Albuquerque, NM.

More Boing Boing coverage of Breaking Bad here.

Assembled by Joe Sabia (Twitter: @joesabia, web: Check out his CDZA project on YouTube, too. Thanks, Joe!

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