Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Disney Channel

While laid up, I got to spend more time around the family than I usually did. In the winter months, I usually don't get home till relatively late, and by the time I'm home the kids are getting ready for bed, or at least immersed in homework that I need to go over with them.

This additional time translated in part to watching some TV shows with my middle school kids that I usually wouldn't see. A fair number of them were Disney Channel shows.

The shows that they like a lot are Wizards of Waverly Place, Shake It Up, Jesse, Austin and Ally, and of course, Phineas and Ferb. Three months ago, I doubt that you could have forced me to watch these programs. But they have their charm, as I realized from sort-of-forced viewing. They have their innocent humor, their cute girls, their cool guys, and stories that are simple but at least effective enough to occupy my middlee schoolers' minds. They have another show or two that they like quite a bit, but not on Disney. (They're big fans of Big Time Rush.)

These aren't just shows for girls. Austin and Ally, for example, has my kids interested in internet programming and its possibilities, not to mention songwriting and playing music. (They already have a pretty strong basis for this interest.) Wizards of Waverly Place (which has apparently ended as a series but is still being shown in reruns) entertained them with its Harry Potter wannabe vibe. They just find the other shows entertaining.

I'm glad to report that maybe Disney is doing something basically right with their programming on the Disney Channel.


Monday, March 12, 2012

John Carter...really?

It's been awhile since I've posted anything substantial hereabouts. I've been injured, as you may note from my previous post over a month ago, and my time has been very limited. My limited work schedule has been quite packed since I have a significant backlog of work to do, and lots of paperwork needs to be done this time of the year, regardless of the disability and medical insurance stuff I have to also pay attention to.

Anyway, as I was coming into work this morning, I heard on the news that John Carter was expected (by analysts) to lose 150 million dollars. It did 30 million (if I heard right) last weekend. And it cost 250 million to make.


Who is John Carter, anyway? I mean, here I am, a SF fan, and I have never read the Edgar Rice Burroughs book. I loved Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and dabbled in others also. I read a lot of Brin, Benford, Card, Bear, among others. But I've never read A Princess of Mars. So maybe I'm making an assumption here, but is this story set on Mars? If it is, well, our well-known scientific knowledge (even my middle school kids know this) points out that Mars doesn't have any life on it.

However, I have to admit that I don't know what exactly the premise of this story is. Maybe they've retold it to make some sort of sense. I don't know.

So here are these big ol' commercials for the film, and they look pretty nice, but they aren't compelling. I asked my kids: Does that movie look cool? And I got a lukewarm "Yeah, it looks pretty cool." Not an "I gotta see it, it's so cool-looking" answer. You'd have to hear it to know the difference. There was no follow-up for them, asking about it. Once my younger son asked, "Who's John Carter?" (My answer was that he was a classic character from an early science fiction novel...but I've never read it.)

I feel the same way about the previews and commercials for the films. I got way more excited about the previews for Enchanted when it was coming out a few years back. Or for Bedtime Stories. These commercials don't excite me at all.

It's hard to believe that they spent that kind of money without knowing what their audience was. Is 30M a good opening weekend for a "blockbuster"? It doesn't sound too good. But maybe I'm wrong on that.

Maybe this movie is one of those things that sounds like a great idea but can't really live up to it, even if done extraordinarily well. Time will tell, I suppose.

addendum: Honor Hunter over at Blue Sky Disney posts THIS about the film, suggesting that it's a pretty good movie after all. Maybe even a great movie. I didn't realize that Andrew Stanton directed it. He points to huge marketing flaws as the reason for its suck-y opening. And that's more or less my point here. The marketing for this film stinks. My kids agree with what Honor says. They want to see The Hunger Games, not John Carter.

addendum #2: Cory Gross gives this film a pretty darned good review HERE at Voyages Extraordinaire also. I always considered myself a science fiction fan, but it seems I've missed something by missing this series. OTOH, it doesn't sound like the cerebral SF of Asimov or Clarke, which was more what I went for. I did recognize some of the names as I read the review from a book by Heinlein, especially Dejah Thoris...(Was that book The Number Of The Beast?)