Netflix and Chaos

Sometimes I feel sorry for Netflix. Well, as sorry as one can feel towards a combination of old style in-home Blockbuster and new-age Artificial Intelligence.

You see, there are three individuals who use Netflix in my house, and we could not be more different. Can you imagine the havoc we must play on the poor program’s algorithms?

First, you have me. I love horror. I’m not ashamed. Love it. “No One Lives” is one of my favorite movies – the name sort of gives away the plot, but hey. Great movie. Classic B movies such as Dead Silence? I am so there, popcorn in hand. BUT. I’m also addicted to British crime and mysteries such as Miss Fisher, Midsomer Murders, and Ripper Street. Throw in period dramas like Pride and Prejudice, Peaky Blinders, The Tudors, Versailles, and The Borgias, along with a smattering of off the wall shows like Psych and Monk, and well…you’ll kind of get a sense of my eclectic taste.

On my chaotic watching alone, Netflix could not be blamed for pulling its hair out when trying to pull together a cohesive list of matching shows.

But then you add in my kids.

There’s the daughter who watches anime along with sitcoms like Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Office, and Parks and Rec. BUT. She also likes superhero movies and so gets her fix by watching Gotham and Daredevil. Continuing her love for animated movies, she watches those frequently, but only certain ones – namely Megamind, Moana, Emperor’s New Groove, Road to El Dorado, Zootopia and the like – no standard princesses for her. Add in her love for stand-up comedy, especially that of John Mulaney, and movies such as The Way He Looks and Out in the Dark, and you’ve got quite a confusing trend for Netflix to track.

The boy on the other hand, he watches a different kind of anime (I’m told there are MANY varying styles of anime) and Seth Rogen movies (ugh!), and a surprising number of stand-up comedians I’ve never heard of before but that I’m assured are hilarious. BUT. He shares my love of comic book inspired entertainment and watches Iron Fist, among others. So, that’s a good thing.

I can only imagine what Netflix’s algorithms must think about our household. As many of you probably already know, Netflix loves to make recommendations “for your viewing pleasure.” It’s one of the system’s more endearing qualities. Netflix’s complicated programming allows for it to analyze your extensive viewing selections and then based on that analysis, the system generates a list of shows it recommends that should, theoretically, match your past selections.

Well. With the diverse t.v. viewing going on in my household, how on earth can Netflix condense these wide-ranging choices into a coherent recommendations list? One answer. It can’t. And for that, I feel sorry for it. The little man in there must be really scratching his head. Or pulling his hair out. One or the other. I don’t blame the system. I mean, it must truly appear that at times we are simply choosing shows at random. You should see some of the recommendations we get in return. I find it quite amusing myself.

After checking our “top picks for you” list recently, I found that next to Axe Murders of Villisca, is Minions. The Unborn has a place next to That 70s Show. Secret Life of Pets is immediately to the left of Twin Peaks. Chicken Little? It resides beside Doc Martin. Arrested Development was next to Octonauts for god’s sake. Last Airbender is followed by It Follows (a movie about a sexually transmitted curse – I had to check the plot after seeing the name). British comedian Jimmy Carr’s latest stand-up is listed right beside an anime called Mushi-Shi. The odd pairings go on and on.

So yeah, quite the eclectic list of recommendations, I must say. It’s sort of like my bookshelf, I suppose. If anyone wants to come in and go through the list without asking, they get what they deserve.

 

 

Waiting Game

There’s not many things that will make me shout out “Hallelujah!” but it did recently happen. Care to guess why? Was it because I nearly avoided being involved in a terrible car accident with my one and only daughter in the vehicle with me? Did a friend called me with news of their cancer going into full remission (I wish!)? Was Publisher’s Clearinghouse outside my front door one morning with a big check? No such luck.

Sadly, none of these are the reasons for my exclamation. In those examples, I think a word like “Hallelujah” is pretty appropriate. There’s no shame in admitting that. Unfortunately, the real reason might not be quite as noble. So enough with the suspense. You want to know what happened? Here you go…

A show I really like just released a new season on Netflix.

Wait, wait. Before you judge my use of religious superlatives you have to understand. I’d been waiting SO LONG to catch up on the latest episodes and re-watch some others.

Something tells me most of you understand that feeling; the jubilation that you can finally see how that cliffhanger turned out. The wait between seasons is becoming more and more common and as much as I enjoy the higher quality television we’re getting, I am not a fan of the wait.

It used to be such a simple formula. Shows began their seasons in September. There’d be a good couple months of new episodes, then some repeats, then another stretch of new shows up until the big season finale in May. We all have our summer vacations where we spend time outside and away from the TV. In August, the commercials whetting our appetite would start again, then in September the cycle would start over again.

Not anymore. This new “Golden Age of TV” is like the wild west. There are no rules. No promises of when we’ll see these characters again. There’s not even a guarantee that they’ll be back on the same station. It’s all up in the air now making some of the wait times far, far too long.

I only need to bring up Game of Thrones and any devoted watchers are sure to understand my frustrations. But if you’re not into GoT that doesn’t mean you’re immune. Walking Dead anyone? Season 2 of Jessica Jones? Peaky Blinders? Don’t even get me started on Sherlock. Always Sunny in Philadelphia just ended their latest season in March and won’t be back until 2019! Heck, there’s a comedy on TBS, Nobodies, that just finished their first season. I repeat, their first season. At the end of the finale they had the audacity to put up on the screen “We will return in 2018.” 2018!? What the hell? I sort of understand when you have shows with high production values and intricate set pieces, but this show is literally just about three writers sitting around their office getting into awkward situations. There are no CGI dinosaurs to create. No monster make-up to apply head to toe. How can it take so long for them to give us another season? If a tiny show like that can take more than half a year to give us new material, what hope do we have of quickly made Westworlds or Fargos or, be still my heart, Taboos?

Like I said previously, I’m loving what TV studios are putting out there for us now. Trust me, I don’t want to go back to the days of choosing between King of Queens and Malcolm in the Middle (blech).  But a person can only be expected to be so patient and I’ve been finding that patience tested on a regular basis when I get invested in a new show. All I have to say is thank god for books and Netflix. If I didn’t have them I don’t know how I’d get through.

What Did You Say??

I was watching a Hallmark channel love story this past week – one of their typical “June wedding” movies.  And as I usually do, I had the captions on because, having the attention span of a gnat, I don’t always catch the dialogue of t.v. shows and the captions help. Usually. But in the case of this destination-wedding themed bit of escapism, the captions let me down. Big time.

I can’t be the only one to have noticed. I mean, I realize these movies cater to a very particular niche, but nonetheless, I’m sure they have a somewhat broad audience who, like me, partake in the weekly guilty pleasure. You’d think with the revenues generated by the romance industry, especially considering it’s Hallmark of all people, that there would be a higher quality of closed-captioning available. Well, you would be wrong.

Now, I realize that most captioning is mechanized these days and with automated translations come massive translation fails, especially when the actor on-screen is speaking a language the captioning program doesn’t understand.  I’ve seen some very good, high quality movies or shows where the caption states “Jane Doe speaking Vulcan…” or “John Smith speaking in High Valyrian,” which demonstrates an obvious programming flaw, but at least in those cases, even the caption program realizes, hey, I need to be respectful here even though I can’t make heads or tails of whatever it is they’re saying. If we’re really lucky, the movie’s internal production system kick in and the translation appears via subtitles built into the movie. Sadly, that’s not always the case, as proven by my foray into the wilds of Hallmark movies previously mentioned above.

So, as I said, the plot was centered around a destination wedding set at a resort in Acapulco, Mexico, complete with white sand beaches, turquoise water, the obligatory romantic tension between completely dissimilar people, and Spanish-speaking locals…you know how they do…in Mexico. With such a heads-up as to the setting of this movie, you’d think that a strategy would’ve been put into place to cover and possibly translate any oh, I don’t know, Spanish dialogue. But there, you would be wrong again.

I’ll set up one of the scenes in question for you – zoom in on a beachside table at which sits the starring couple, who just happen to have perfect teeth and great tans, and who also just so happened to be in love years ago though it didn’t work out because they were completely unsuited for each other and who now reluctantly find themselves thrown back together while planning the wedding of a friend and whilst doing so forget that they’re completely unsuited for each other and eventually fall in love all over again – but, BUT before they realize they are once again besotted with each other, it is time to try out different foods for the dinner aspect of the aforementioned wedding they are planning – hence sitting beachside, surrounded by food. Enter one Spanish-speaking local who, apparently flustered by the couple’s nitpicking at each other, does his nervous best to describe the food he has prepared – and the results are these impressively awful captions.

 

 

I don’t think that means what you think it means…

I pretty much had the same look of utter confusion, though admittedly my teeth aren’t nearly as perfect. So. Yeah. I’m hoping before Hallmark releases another movie with bilingual dialogue that they sort of up their game on the whole captioning thing — on so many levels. One can only hope, but in the meantime, I won’t hold my breath.

 

Lunchtime Musings

On my lunch break I saw no less than 5 joggers meandering through my neighborhood, seemingly impervious to the off and on rain we’re currently experiencing. Seeing these fitness devotees got me thinking about one of my favorite shows:  Law and Order – Criminal Intent. I know. Just stay with me for a minute. At one time I also enjoyed watching Law and Order – SVU, but the stories broke my heart or induced rage-filled mutterings and who needs that from a television show? So, anyway, one thing I’ve noticed in these shows is that there seems to be an inordinate amount of joggers who meet their untimely demise. Who knew fitness was such a magnet for crime?

At any rate, it just so happens that I came across the below the other day and it seems very apropos for today’s observations and musings on exercise, crime, and Robert Goren.

 

That’s Entertainment

The following gives you an inside view on Sarah and I deciding whether to watch a movie or not.  Cause I know you guys are eaten up with curiosity over just how we manage to come to such an important decision.

Sarah: That movie looks sooo weird!  Even for us.

Me (*gleefully*): I know, right!?

Together: Let’s watch it!

T.V. Fails

Every time, and I mean every time (because it seems I don’t learn), I’m running through the t.v. guide a bit too quickly and I happen to catch a glimpse of “Keeping up…,” my nerdy, British-t.v. loving brain races with joy for the briefest little moment until, with utter and complete disappointment, I finish reading “…with the Kardashians.”

 

click photo for link to show bloopers -- sooo worth it

click photo for link to Keeping up Appearances bloopers — sooo worth it