Shomi Suggestions Lacking

When it comes to user experience, Shomi could learn a lot from Netflix. When I finish an episode of a series on Netflix, it anticipates that I most likely would want to watch the next episode next. In fact, it will auto-play the next episode if I let it. I find this awfully convenient.

On Shomi, when I complete an episode of a series, let's say episode 3 of season 3 of Californication, it suggests I watch random episodes from completely different shows. Why would I suddenly want to watch episode 5 from the first season of The Trip, a series I have never watched in my life?


I mean, if I were going to suddenly start watching The Trip, wouldn't episode 1 of season 1 make more sense? And if you're going to list "You may also like" suggestions, episode 4 of season 3 of Californication really should be at the top of the list.

Shomi's interface sucks.

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Mad Men Finale Thoughts: Spoiler Alert!

I distinctly remember initially being disappointed by The Sopranos finale. It cut to black, and I felt cheated, as if David Chase copped out. Then, the final scene churned through my mind over and over again and by the next day I had completely changed my tune. The Sopranos finale is now one of my all-time favourite finales.

Matt Wiener learned his craft from David Chase, so it shouldn't surprise you to learn I had an eerily similar reaction to last night's Mad Men finale. Initially, I felt cheated by Wiener, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw the genius in what his ambiguity gave me. What we believe becomes of Don Draper depends on how we feel about this complex character. It's heavily inferred he goes back to McCann Erickson and helps Coke develop the successful "I’d like to buy the world a Coke" ad. The rest is up to us.

We bring our own baggage to this show, and watch what unfolds through our own biases. I am a divorced man with two children from my first marriage. I watched this finale hoping Don Draper would immediately return to New York to be there for Sally, Bobby, and Gene with their mother dying. It was important to me that he step up and focus on the most important job he has, that of a parent. I was extremely disappointed that Sally had to fill that void and that Don chose to accompany Stephanie to a hippie retreat instead. Don, we've learned, doesn't always do the right thing, and rarely has his priorities in order. Some things never change.

Otherwise, I'm satisfied with the ending, but could have done without the lazy Peggy and Stan love-fest. That part felt like the last half of the Breaking Bad finale, giving fans what they want instead of what they need.

I'm going to miss this show. Mad Men has always been about the journey, not the destination, and it was a helluva trip.

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Let's Talk Television Spoilers

Mad Men is one of my all-time favourite television programs. Already I've got it sitting comfortably in third place, just behind Six Feet Under and just ahead of The Sopranos. In time, we'll see where it ends up.

The Mad Men finale airs Sunday night. That's as good a reason as any to re-open the spoiler debate.

In episode 120 of my podcast, I called out Roz Weston for talking about a significant plot point in the previous night's episode of Grey's Anatomy. I personally didn't care, as I don't watch the show, but I'm sure many had it DVR'd or planned to catch up on the weekend or later and had this bombshell completely ruined for them because Roz talked about it. Roz told me he felt television spoilers should be treated the same as election results and shared as news. I told him he was just a jerk.

A couple of years ago, I shared my spoiler code of conduct. At the time, I wrote "publicly airing spoilers is downright rude... live tweeting quotes or plot turns is a dick move."

Am I way out to lunch here? Is it okay to Facebook, Tweet, and chatter at work about major plot points revealed the night before? If Don Draper jumps out a window Sunday night, is it okay to blab about it everywhere on Sunday night and Monday morning?

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TVOntario Bits and Bytes 2

Here's Billy Van keeping us up to date with personal computing back in 1991. I learned WordPerfect in high school, became incredibly proficient in the application and promptly watched Microsoft Word supplant it as the word processor of choice.

Billy Van, of course, brought us The Hilarious House of Frightenstein. He also hosted the original Bits and Bytes on TVOntario back in 1982.

This clip, like many clips I share on this site, was uploaded to YouTube by Retrontario. Early next week, I'll be meeting the man behind Retrontario as we record episode 117 of my podcast. It'll be quite the trip down memory lane.

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Mad Men's Back

I know what I'll be watching Sunday night. There are seven episodes to go.

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I am currently a Rogers internet customer, so they've given me their new streaming service for free. If I turn my television to channel 300, there's Shomi.

Amidst the usual stuff you find on many streaming services are a few gems. For example, they carry the Amazon Prime series Transparent. Last week, I decided to give Transparent a try.

Full disclosure: I am partial to anything featuring Jeffrey Tambor. I've been digging him since The Ropers, and I thought he was brilliant as Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show, as well as George Bluth Sr. and Oscar Bluth on Arrested Development. Transparent doesn't just feature Jeffrey Tambor, it revolves around him, and he's brilliant.

The music is great, the characters are fun, the subject matter isn't played for laughs but treated tenderly with great sensitivity. If you weren't questioning gender roles before, this series will change that.


If you've suddenly got Shomi on channel 300, do yourself a favour and watch Transparent. I can't wait for season two.

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Coronation Street Mysteries

Random observation time...

Often, I'll watch the CBC Toronto news either at 5pm or 6pm. Forever, they'd shut it down at 6:30pm for Coronation Street. The opening chords of the Coronation Street soundtrack is etched into my cranium.

Then, a short while ago, this song was replaced by the opening theme of Murdoch Mysteries. I'm not sure what happened to Coronation Street, but I imagined Corrie fans going apeshit at the change. I suspect Corrie fans are the type who really, really hate change.

Now, all of a sudden, Coronation Street is back at 6:30pm after the CBC Toronto news. It's opening song is my queue to turn off the telly.


Did they switch back because the Coronation Street faithful wrote a massive number of letters to the CBC? Was the outcry so loud they had to reverse their decision?

Just wondering...

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What Jack Black Said at the Oscars

If you watched the Oscars, you might have caught a little of what Jack Black sang in the opening number. It was a rare moment of Academy Awards honesty.

Here's a transcript of what Jack Black said.

Stop! This is what you sound like: movies, movies, wow, they rock. Listen up, kid, it’s all a big crock. Now it’s market trends and fickle friends and Hollywood baloney. Believe me, Neil, you’re better off just polishing your Tony. This industry’s in flux, it’s run by mucky-mucks pitching tents for tentpoles and chasing Chinese bucks. Opening with lots of zeroes, all we get are superheroes: Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Jedi Man, Sequel Man, Prequel Man, formulaic scripts! And after Fifty Shades of Grey they’ll all have leather whips! In a world where our greens dropping common machines, only screens we’ll watch them on are the screens in our jeans. Screens in our jeans! Screens in our jeans! The only screens we’ll watch them on are the screens in our jeans! 

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Why Do I Watch the Oscars?

I always watch the Academy Awards. I've done so since I was a teenager. Last night, I did it again.

Every single year, I regret it. 90% of the show is a snoozefest. Most of the musical performances are boring, mediocre songs, and when it's all done at midnight, I remember that I really don't care who wins.

I have this post-Oscar regret every single year, but I always come back. Why do I continue to watch a long, pretentious, boring television program?

There are a few reasons:

  1. I run the family Oscar pool. This means updating the tallies online in real-time. I take this responsibility very seriously, even though I never win.
  2. It's live, and you never know what's going to happen. Sure, 99% of what happens is rather bland, but when it happens, you'll be glad you saw it live.
  3. I enjoy watching something I know I'm sharing with millions and millions of fellow humans. This communal viewing is pretty cool, and Twitter adds this extra dimension I truly dig. In fact, watching the Oscars is no longer the primary entertainment, it's my Twitter feed and interactions that keep the spark lit until midnight. I have no idea how I watched the Oscars before Twitter.

So ends another 3.5 hour circle jerk with so few laughs and memorable moments I can't recall any right now as I type, but I'll be back next year. Will you? Why do you watch?

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My 10 Favourite Saturday Night Live Cast Members of All-Time

I started watching Saturday Night Live during the Sandler era. That crew, with Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, David Spade and Chris Rock, introduced me to the world of SNL.

Since then, I've watched it off and on over the years. Sometimes I'd tune out for a few years, only to rediscover a new cast and watch every week. Of the seasons I caught, here are my 10 favourite cast members.

  1. Mike Myers
  2. Phil Hartman
  3. Adam Sandler
  4. Chris Farley
  5. Dana Carvey
  6. Kristen Wiig
  7. Will Ferrell
  8. Bill Hader
  9. TIna Fey
  10. Taran Killam

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