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Rants and Raves

16 Jan, 2007 By: Jessica Wolf

I couldn't pick just one topic on my mind to write about this week, so I thought I would pick them all and categorize them in these two overused yet oh-so-descriptive categorical terms.

Here goes.

RAVE: "24" (and Fox Home Entertainment)
I have to say, especially now that the Kiefer-fest is on at the same time as the fabulous "Heroes" on NBC, I'm not sure if I will keep religiously up with the twisty action-packed Fox hit this season. My suspension of disbelief muscles are sore after five years of Jack Bauer's exhausting pace (hello! I LIVE in L.A. ... I KNOW how long it takes to get places!). And, funnily enough, those muscles find the heft of a show about a group of superhumans much easier to lift these days.

However, given that, I am decidedly pleased at the Fox network and the production companies involved who once again made the season opening of the show so utterly riveting with the double-stuffed, double-night premiere. It's like they realize how perfect "24" is for DVD watching — those all night, all-day disc marathons, and for the second year in the row, they have totally embraced that mentality and thereby earned the appreciation of the show's many fans.

And, I think many of those fans will be tickled pink at the opportunity to own those four awesome episodes on DVD right away with the disc Fox just released today.

RAVE: iPhone
Man, you are a sexy looking little device, I give you that. And, I see the appeal of having music and videos and the phone all together — one less gadget to carry. And I really really like the QWERTY touch screen keyboard for text messaging, emailing and web surfing on that gorgeous little widescreen.

However ...

RANT: iPhone
You are too expensive at $500 or $600 and too small, storage-wise. Again, I see the market for this gadget. I see all the people who will want it, the Nano and Shuffle folk, perhaps. But 4GB and 8GB is just not big enough for me. And, when I can spend the same amount or less and have anywhere from 30 to 80GB of storage, it's just no contest. I am quite perturbed, though, to discover that the iPhone is equipped finally with a widescreen display and yet Apple has yet to increase the screen size for the infinitely more video-appropriate 30, 60 and 80GB video iPod models.

I guess maybe Apple didn't want to steal thunder from my next entry ...

RAVE: Apple TV
Now this set top box that wirelessly communicates with your computer and hooks up to the TV is the real run-to-the-store device for me. At $299, it's not a huge financial stretch. It is completely user-friendly and dork-proof (looks like) and it will make those iTunes digital downloads I admit I am so very fond of, so very much more versatile. Plus, the interface looks really snazzy and pretty and, again, dorkproof. I'm drinking the Kool-aid on this one.

RANT: New Line head Bob Shaye vs. Peter Jackson
OK, this is getting tiresome. Yes, perhaps Jackson fired the first volley by coming out in November on TheOneRing.net and telling that (granted, rabid) fan community he would not be involved with the making of The Hobbit or any other potential Lord of the Rings prequel, at the choice of New Line. But I read that letter and to me, it did not seem that Jackson was overtly hostile toward any one person or New Line in general. It seemed to me, yes, he was turning up the heat on New Line and its decision by getting fans in the know, but it was done with a measure of decorum.

I can't totally say I feel the same thing about Bob Shaye; he seemed to be very bitter and personal, as he basically blamed the whole situation on Peter Jackson's overweening greed in an interview two weeks ago with SciFi.com.

Like most things, I think this is a "he said, he said" situation and the truth of the matter lies in somewhere in the middle of the two men's perspectives.

But I say, let it go, both of you. I loved Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films. I loved them dearly. I love the DVDs and have watched them over and over and as such take a bit of offense at Shaye's implication that Jackson is simply looking for more than his share of profits. I don't know, maybe I am na?ve, but I saw a lot of passion and hard work on those DVD documentaries, not the least of all by Jackson.

Anyway, having said that, I am actually really excited to see what someone else can and might do with the Lord of the Rings franchise. The Hobbit is arguably the best of the books and undoubtedly contains the most tightly constructed narrative and will make for a great cinematic experience. There are plenty of filmmakers out there who grew up loving Lord of the Rings. New Line has taken good care of this franchise and it has taken good care of them. I trust the studio to find someone who will do The Hobbit justice. So I'd really like to see the bickering just stop.

While I don't think that a dual-format player is the be-all-end-all solution to the format war, I applaud this manufacturer for taking the time and resources to develop one. It is a consumer-based, solution-based decision — one that I think is lacking on other company fronts.

RAVE: Warner Bros.
Warner isn't one of those problematic companies I find lacking. Warner also seems to be driven to find solutions, if not to the format war, then to the consumer confusion. Warner already is committed to eliminating as much as possible any consumer confusion between the two software discs, by taking care that big releases such as Superman Returns are identical in extra features and quality on both formats. And now, Warner's Total HD, while it may be more of a band-aid than a panacea to the format war, at least it smacks of an attempt to create a solution rather than more confusion and division.

RANT: High-def in general
It's hard to get excited about something that is still so convoluted. In my heart, I honestly think Blu-ray will win out in the end, mostly because it has virtually all the content a HD movie lover might want and those brand names on the hardware are going to stand for something. I don't think cheap electronics from China are going to be able to pull those slower consumers into HD the way it budget suppliers did for DVD. It's just too much of a risk, and there are too many cords and extras that have to feed into each other. Either way, I think it's going to be a while until consumers of my ilk and lower feel confident and comfortable with either format.

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