Monthly Archives: January 2009

Ox Notes: January 7, 2009

In an appropriately democratic gesture, HBO will broadcast the inaugural kickoff ceremonies from Washington D.C. on January 18 free to anyone with cable or satellite service, not just HBO subscribers.

CBS also announced its broadcast plans for Inauguration Day, January 20.

Following in the footsteps of her sister, Kim, Khloe Kardashian is expanding her reality TV ambitions beyond the E! network. The younger Kardashian has signed on for the upcoming season of The Celebrity Apprentice.

A&E is developing a new reality documentary series called Paranormal Cops. The show will be filmed in the Chicago area, a hotbed of ghost-related crimes. Unless the cops are the ghosts. Wait a minute…

ABC is working on a reality competition series called Superstars, in which regular folks are paired with pro athletes to compete for prizes. Perhaps to avoid confusion, they could rename it something like Superstars of Sports and Their Bumbling Sidekicks.

Speaking of shows with "Superstars" in the title, here’s a performance by American dance troupe The Groovaloos from this week’s Superstars of Dance:

Ox Notes: January 6, 2009

If you were planning on getting a government rebate check to cover the cost of buying a converter box so that your old analog TV set will work after the switch to digital on February 17, act quickly: the program is running out of money.

HBO is working on an adaptation of the British comedy series Shameless. The first season of the British version is the only one available in US DVD format.

Dancing with the Stars cohost Samantha Harris has joined The Insider as a correspondent (thanks for the tip, Jen C). You can now stop watching The Insider.

The Chicago Tribune’s The Watcher blog has a handy list of shows debuting or returning in January.

A fascinating new series premiered last night on PBS. The Story of India is a six-part series that traces the history of Indian civilization, which has surprising ties to the West both culturally and linguistically. The show looks beautiful in HD, too.

The first hour of Superstars of Dance finished in third place in the Sunday night ratings, while the show moved in to first place during its second hour. It averaged just over 10 million viewers across both hours, but we’ll see if those numbers hold up in the coming weeks.

After watching last night’s episode, I’ve decided to bail on Superstars of Dance. There’s not enough content to justify the two-hour run time, and the editing of the dance numbers is so poor that it makes them hard to enjoy.

Take for example the Indian group bhangra dance. The routine lasted for 2 minutes 50 seconds. During that time, there were at least 49 different camera shots (I may have missed a few). That averages less than four seconds per shot.

With each cut, the angles changed drastically, from closeup to long shot to face to feet to group to individual to audience, and so on. It was impossible to get an overall sense of the dance. DwtS has quick-cuts, too, but that show almost always keeps the entire couple/group/individual in frame throughout the dance, so you really get a feel for the routine.

In addition to the contextually worthless shots of individual dancers’ faces and feet and the studio audience, the routine was occasionally shown from a viewpoint above or behind the dancers, even though the routine was choreographed for a front-seated studio audience. Why can’t we just see the performance from the studio audience’s perspective, the way the routine is choreographed?

During the longest continual shots (which were maybe ten seconds long), the camera moved from one side of the stage to the other, sometimes in the opposite direction of the dancers. That made it hard to get any sense of where the dancers were on stage or where they were going, and it made the choreography appear less impressive. Again, why can’t we just watch the performances the way they were meant to be watched?

Superstars of Dance seems to be edited for people with exceptionally short attention spans (shorter than three minutes, evidently), for whom constant motion is more important than continuity — as if the constant motion of the dancers isn’t visually stimulating enough. I’m not one of those people, so I’m out.

Ox Notes: January 5, 2009

Ox Notes is back! Throughout 2009, I’ll be posting new Ox Notes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, instead of the daily posts I’ve done in the past. Today’s is a special Monday post because…

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Karina Smirnoff got engaged on New Year’s Eve! A tasteful ceremony in the Dancing with the Stars ballroom (officiated by Tom Bergeron, of course) sounds appropriate for the DwtS pros.

In other Dancing with the Stars news from the past month, Mark Ballas left the DwtS Tour after he suffered a groin injury. He expects to recover in time for the show’s eighth season debut on March 9.

DwtS alum Marissa Jaret Winokur will host a new weight-loss show on Oxygen called Dance Your Ass Off.

The New York Times ran an interesting piece on why many foodies are annoyed that Rocco DiSpirito left the kitchen to pursue mainstream popularity on shows like Dancing with the Stars.

I watched an episode of Rocco’s new cooking show on A&E, Rocco Gets Real, and wasn’t impressed. The format — professional chef helps struggling home cooks prepare meals in their own kitchens — has been done before on shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Take Home Chef and Food 911.

The international dance competition Superstars of Dance debuted on NBC last night, and I was pleased with the quality and variety of the dancing on the show. The production value could use some work, however. The massive stage dwarfed the soloists and pairs, and every time bland host Michael Flatley approached the cheesy judges’ dais, I thought I was watching a PBS pledge drive.

On the positive side, I’d be happy if Superstars co-host Susie Castillo took over Samantha Harris’s job on DwtS. And producer Nigel Lythgoe was smart to showcase some So You Think You Can Dance vets like Robert Muraine and Pasha Kovalev & Anya Garnis.

The show moves into its permanent timeslot tonight at 8 ET. Tonight’s episode is two hours long, which means I’ll be recording it and watching it later to skip over the copious commercials and Flatley’s flatly delivered lines. Will you be tuning in?

Check out Pasha & Anya’s performance from last night’s Superstars of Dance premiere: