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Thursday, April 3, 2008

7 TV Shows That Desperately Need DVDs

Just take a look at the TV on DVD shelf at your local video store and you will see countless shows that you forgot even existed. When every season of Dinosaurs is on DVD, you can be sure that they are scraping the bottom of the barrel and pushing out anything that could possibly sell. So with every single TV show that ever existed making its way to DVD, the question is, why aren't these shows getting proper releases?

7. The Comedians of Comedy

Don't be fooled by the DVD release of the motion picture of the same name, this short lived gem of a TV show is still in DVD limbo, apparently not being deemed worthy of gracing the shelves of a Best Buy next to "Mind of Mencia" or other wonderful Comedy Central releases. This documentary show followed comedians Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Zach Galifianakis, and Maria Bamford on their tour of U.S. Cities, splicing together footage from their performances with them attempting to entertain themselves as the drove from city to city. They do so with a variety of activities that often prove to be funnier than their actual stage antics, such as feeding dirty lines into a playback parrot in a Cracker Barrel, recreating scenes from When Harry Met Sally in a diner, and counting how many amputees they can find on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. "Dane Cook's Tourgasm" gets a fancy chrome covered DVD set and the Comedians of Comedy get nothing? Get on it DVD people!

6. Liquid Television

Ren, Stimpy, Beavis, Butthead, Adult Swim... you can thank Liquid Television for paving the way for groundbreaking indie-style animation. Essentially a collection of bizarre animated skits, Liquid Television pushed the public's acceptance of animation past "just cartoons". Aside from giving a national stage to many of the world's most prolific animators including Bill Plympton, Mike Judge, and Peter Chung, the show also featured the genesis of two extremely popular franchises in Judge's "Beavis and Butthead" and Chung's "Æon Flux." The show had a best-of DVD called "Wet Shorts" that featured the show's most popular cartoons, but it couldn't capture the arching storyline of the show's serials, including Dog Boy, Winter Steele, and The Specialists. MTV's been dragging its feet releasing any of its programs in a complete collection, so I don't have high hopes here. Thankfully, Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt have imbued the same "Liquid Television" spirit into "The Animation Show," an annual film festival that celebrated groundbreaking animation.

5. Crossballs

While Ali G made his way across the Atlantic to trick experts into talking about ridiculous and idiotic things, the comedians at "Crossballs" were doing the same, just in a much more hostile environment. They set up a debate show to tackle issues like marijuana and animal rights, but had each side consist of one real expert and one very good improviser. Unbeknownst to the real experts of course. Where's the fun if they're in on the joke? The result is some of the funniest ad-libbing and most frustrated responses to ever grace the moving picture box. With characters like a hippie that hated pot smokers and a Nazi fashion expert, "Crossballs" pushed opinionated people to their limits but never quite enough for them to realize it was a joke. And why is a DVD so badly needed? So the world can finally see the unaired Gun Control episode that led to threats on the lives of the comedian's involved. Oh Comedy!

4. Andy Richter Controls the Universe

When Andy Richter left his sidekick chair on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" it was supposed to be so he would movie onto bigger and better things. He landed a starring role on this unconventional comedy immediately, but unfortunately it didn't last for long. By presenting the world as Andy see it, complete with hallucinations of the homophobic dead man that owned his building and constant re-appraisals of how he could have approached a situation, such as stuffing his suit with puppies, the show became an office based comedy with the silly, absurd sensibility of a cartoon. And thanks to Andy's connections we got a full episode guest starring Conan in one of his rare actual acting roles. Now if only Andy really did control the universe maybe we would get a DVD set.

3. The State

"The State" may have one of the most tumultuous DVD histories in all of television. Constantly on and off, fans of the MTV sketch series from the 90's have had their hopes built up and dashed more times than is even fair. The show proved that young people can do sketch comedy as well as anyone and helped to launch 11 extremely funny people into show business, allowing for smaller factions in the group to form and give the world "Reno 911!" and "Stella." A DVD has been completely prepared, from hours of bonus features to box art, but MTV has shelved the project yet again. Come on MTV, I just want to see a young Michael Ian Black as Captain Monterey Jack!

2. Get A Life!

Chris Elliott established himself as a bizarre institution on "Late Night with David Letterman," so it's no surprise that when he got his own TV show it ended up equally as strange. Chris starred as a 30 something year old paper boy who lived with his parents and ended up in a series of absurd situations like becoming a celebrity for losing his wallet in the big city and befriending and eventually eating an extraterrestrial that shot mysterious liquid out of it's pores (which Chris happily drank of course). "Get A Life!" delved into comedy anarchy, ignoring every rule of the conventional sitcom by having every character be thoroughly unlikable and even ending many of the episodes with Chris' (later ignored) death. Two "best of" DVDs were put out years ago, but the fail to satisfy with the knowledge that Chris has recorded commentary on the whole first season and they won't put it out.

1. Dog Bites Man

"Dog Bites Man" was one of the first to really succeed where Borat did so well: combining prank footage with a story to create comedy that works on both levels. Posing as a news team, 4 comedians would interview local experts for stories and pose stupid questions for them to answer, but at the same time a story ran through each episode that worked along with the news stories and made the comedians into fully formed characters rather than just vessels used to trick people into looking dumb or awkward on camera. This pairing allowed for an interview with a gay rights activist who is told to act "more gay" to rest snugly beside a performance by the news director of his rap song "Up in Dem Guts." And why we really need the DVD is so the final episode, in which the team went to a Klu Klux Klan rally, can finally be seen. Because I cannot think of anything much better than the Grand Wizard of the KKK having to answer the question "Have you seen Big Momma's House 2?"

Original here

Warner Music seeks to offer 'all you can eat' digital music

Broadband customers will soon be able to download unlimited music from the major labels as part of their monthly contract


Consumers can look forward to unlimited music downloads as part of their broadband contracts, following confirmation that Warner Music is in talks with the main British internet service providers.

The record label is actively pursuing deals with the ISPs, aiming to establish a new business model in which customers, or ISPs, pay a subscription fee for access to a vast library of songs, rather than buying them on a 'per track' basis.

Separately, three of the major labels – Sony BMG, Warner, and EMI – announced today that they had concluded a deal with a Danish telecommunications company which will open their digital catalogues to broadband and mobile customers as part of their monthly contract.

Confirmation of the UK talks comes after it was reported that Warner's chief executive, Edgar Bronfman, had hired a senior music industry consultant to pursue a similar strategy in the US.

It has been suggested that American broadband customers would pay an additional fee on top of their usual package - possibly about $5 a month - for access to the whole Warner catalogue, which includes artists such as R.E.M., the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Green Day.

A source close to one of the UK's largest ISPs, who would not be named, said: "Conversations are definitely happening with Warner, but the idea is that eventually all the major labels will come on board. The music industry is shifting more and more to an 'access' model, and we're actively looking at services where unlimited tracks would be bundled into a tariff."

Sony BMG and Universal are meanwhile understood to be collaborating in a partnership known as Total Music, which would approach ISPs with a united front and offer their entire music catalogue in return for a share of the monthly revenues.

British ISPs indicated to Times Online that they would be keen to introduce such a service, especially as they want to be able to generate revenue from products other than internet connections, but they said all the labels would have to be on board in order for them to sign up.

"There’s no point in just having one label," a source close to another ISP said. "The catalogue you could offer customers wouldn't be big enough."

The source added that the labels had also proposed that ISPs should give a minimum guarantee of revenue per month derived from such a service. "That is unattractive to us," the source said. "If, on the other hand, they're willing to offer a reasonable revenue share with us, then we can reach an agreement."

Details of Warner's discussions with the British ISPs emerged as the Danish phone company TDC announced that it had struck a deal with Sony BMG, Warner and EMI, to give customers access to more than a million tracks from the labels' digital catalogues as part of their monthly contract.

For no extra fee, mobile and broadband customers of TDC will be able to download tracks from artists such as James Blunt, Brice Springsteen, and Robbie Williams, as long as they continue to pay their monthly bills

The labels are understood to have agreed a one-off licence payment from TDC, rather than a revenue-sharing deal.

The songs, which will play on computers and any music-enabled phone – but not iPods – will be protected by digital rights management (DRM) software, meaning that customers will periodically have to renew access to the tracks using a key provided by TDC. When customers cancel their TDC subscription, they will stop getting new keys and their access to the tracks will expire.

"This is going to change the way people consume music," Frank Taubert, chief executive of 24-7 Entertainment, which is providing the back-end technology for TDC's service, said.

"In the past there have been barriers to entry in the digital music market, for instance questions about pricing and also DRM, but what our service will show is that if you give the consumer access to music via a base subscription model, you make the barriers to entry very low."

Asked how TDC could make the one-off payment to the labels without increasing their subscription fees, Mr Taubert said: "Think of this as money coming out of the budget that would usually go to acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. The theory is, this new service will make the network very 'sticky' for the customer."

A spokesman for EMI said the company "did not comment on contractual terms."

Music companies have long been looking at ways to reduce their reliance on sales of albums and individual tracks and embrace so-called 'all you can eat' music packages. The sticking point has been the share of a monthly tariff – or other fee – to which they are entitled.

Earlier this month it was reported that Apple was in discussions with the major labels to introduce a similar package allowing customers access to unlimited music in return for paying a $100 premium on an iPod.

Apple is thought to have offered only $20 of that premium to record labels – an offer which the labels have rejected.

Nokia, meanwhile, has successfully wooed Universal to sign up to its new Comes With Music phone, which is due out in the second half of the year, and which will give customers full access to the label's millions of songs from the time they sign their phone contract.

A spokesman for the BPI, the music industry body, said: "All of our members are talking to the ISPs, but the two sides are still too far apart for anything to happen imminently." ISPs would also have to show they were willing to take stronger measures to clamp down on illegal downloading in order for the labels to reach any kind of deal, the spokesman said.

It is understood that any deal would involve the labels' music being protected by DRM, meaning that if a customer changed their ISP, they would be unlikely to be able to keep any music they had downloaded.

Customers would probably be able to play the music on any phone and some media players, but not on iPods.

Original here