TV-NOT ON VACATION ANYMORE!

Not too long ago, the Consumer Technology Association’s 20th Consumer Technology Ownership and Market Potential Study was released. This report presented the current (as of 2017-early 2018) status report on how consumer technology has made its mark on the domestic public at large. The tech-based gadgets focused on within the report range from among others, phone devices, media receivers (i.e. television sets), and any other piece of electronics that operates through a web based connection.

According to the report, television devices exists in 96% of all domestic households. Smartphones are found in 87% of those same homesteads. And the latest entry of electronic goods, digital assistants–those speaker-esque devices that go under the brand names as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod are now owned by 22% of those same dwelling spaces that have the for noted TV sets and phones.

And when the report notes upon the TV sets, these units are of course, “smart” TV sets that have the ability to connect to a web based application that can steam media without going through a separate set top unit; although all flat screen TV sets that have a HDMI input can get access to steaming video, or any other application that makes a TV set intelligent in its own system.

Each one of these devices, along with electronic pads and traditional laptops, can get access to any video streaming found down the line. The digital assistants, although they don’t have a video screen attached, can make suggestions on what to watch, where to watch it, and how to get access to the programming one can ask for. Granted, depending on what device is used, it may lean toward that company that is connected to the device and/or who is paying the provider of the electronic assistant creator to make suggestions. For instance, If somebody asked their Echo unit on what to watch that week, it might bring up programming available through Amazon Prime. Ditto for any programming that paid Google for their spot found within the cyberspace universe. But if the asker of the assistant isn’t too picky, if not too hip on why their digital assistant suggested one title over the other, it makes the classic task of asking “What’s on TV tonight?” a whole lot easier, considering that TV Guide isn’t as easy to skim through as it used to be when it was digest size and sold at a dollar or less per issue!

But this is the middle of summer. People are usually out enjoying what summertime has to offer. Kids for the most part are out of traditional school-based classrooms until the Labor day weekend (give or take a week). Folks plan to go camping in the woods, heading toward the beaches, savoring the desert landscape, or perhaps taking a day trip to what their home town has to offer. (Museums, etc.) And for so-called indoor activities, there’s taking advantage of a blockbuster/tentpole feature found at the local multiplexes. If folks would rather watch movies on the big screen with a real audience present out in the open, many locations offer outdoor movie screenings projected on the big screen. Some facilities that offer these events charge admission, while many do the same for free. The movie itself may be of a classic title, or one released from the previous year. One can beat the heat and indoor stuffiness by having the best of both worlds!

However, watching TV can be performed on a vacation. Anyone that is located where a WiFi connection exists can catch up on their favorite media through their pad, their laptop, or their phone. And yes, a few folks do drag out their TV screen machines to view media on a size far surpassing 60”.

Once upon a time when television signals came over the air as fed by a handful of channels found in a local area, mostly supplied by a trio of coast-to-coast television networks, television saw their lowest audience levels in the summer months, ranging from right after the Memorial Day weekend through the Labor Day holiday. This was the period where regular series went into their rerun period, or for series that didn’t air repeats, a program called the “summer replacement” aired on its time slots. These summer replacement programs were limited series shows, consisting of episodes ranging from eight to twelve installments, and were not meant to be as a long running series.

Variety programs aired quite a bit when it served as a place holder for an existing variety show not found in the summer months, such as The Red Skelton Hour, or The Dean Martin Show. Situation comedies also has a few brief runs as the networks wanted to test a show that they held interest and if it would be good enough to be included for the fall or perhaps a mid-season add on. Those programs where a single episode was created (called a “pilot”) as part of a potential series that was eventually axed by the networks were lumped into an anthology series with a generic sounding title such as “Comedy Playhouse” or “Adventure Showcase”, also aired where one can see a bit of a show that would never be seen ever again. (In the trade industry, these programs were called “Garbage Can Theater” since one can see just what the big three networks were placing in their trash heaps!)

Since TV seasons no longer need to rely upon a September starting point to gain an audience, any media source can start a series whenever they can, usually with the entire series of shows starting out all at once! If Netflix, perhaps the biggest player of streaming TV, opens their new programs staggered throughout the calendar year. It takes time to view some eight or ten episodes all at once (called “binging”). So if one is camping in the woods, and over a roaring fire pit nestled inside of a campground where the home-away-from-home RV or similar vehicle is nearby hooked up to running water, electrical power, and other post-modern conveniences, one can whip out their phone, laptop, pad, or even their 72” 4K TV machine they dragged along, and have a blast of tuning in to the third season of Dear White People as viewed under a starry night where raccoons hide within the bush, hoot owls perched within the trees give out their hoots, and the crickets chirp along as one watches away–unless the viewer is too busy fumbling through their smartphone to determine how to calculate the current temperature based on how many chirps a cricket makes in a minute.

Then again, the fall season is just right around the corner. That means more TV to consume, and more devices at one’s disposal to soak them all in. Just imagine that back in the good ol’ days, one had to wait until September to see all of the new shows on a real TV set that has a screen no bigger than 26” (if that big at all) to see what’s new on ABC, CBS, and NBC. As an electronics firm based in South Korea uses as their sell line, “Life is Good!”
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills opens their 2018-19 season with Norm Foster’s SCREWBALL COMEDY, a laugh fest about competing journalists chasing the same story in order to either get a job at a big city newspaper, or to keep an existing job at the same paper.

The year is 1938. The effects of Great Depression still lingers on. Mary Hayes (Kate Whitney) just lost her job as a perfumer (perfume saleswoman) at the local department store. Her real passion is to be a journalist. It’s been since her college days ten years before since she was last a reporter. Now pounding the pavement for a job, she tries to land a gig at the big city newspaper The Chronicle. Mary has an uphill climb, since the best journalists around tend to be men! Upon meeting the editor Bosco Godfrey (Daniel Leslie), she encounters Jeff Kincaid (Lane Compton), the paper’s best beat reporter. Bosco give Mary a challenge. He assigns her and Jeff to work as separate reporters to cover the wedding of Chauncey Diddle (Niko Boles) and Gloria Fontana (Jean Mackie). Chauncey is the son of Dolores Diddle (Sharron Shayne), the paper’s owner. Delores inherited the paper, as well as the rest of the family fortune, when her husband drowned after he fell off the family yacht while drunk (again) and for the final time! But this wedding has some suspicion connected to it all. It’s up to Mary and Jeff to grab this story by the horns, perhaps making it worthy for the front page, and to either give Mary her job, or to have Jeff keeping his.

This production is reminiscent to those wild, witty, and somewhat wacky comedies that the movie studios (such as RKO or Columbia Pictures) once churned out in the 1930’s and 40’s where it was usually a battle between the sexes that used plenty of wit, witticism, with a notion of romance thrown in for good measure! Unlike those features created some seventy plus years before, this play depicted on Theatre 40‘s stage was written in the 21st century by a playwright based in Canada! That playwright, Norm Foster, uses the same form of comedy that was very commonplace during that period, even if some of the visual and verbal gags used are not necessarily “politically correct” in today’s landscape. However, this play takes place at the time when men were men, women were women, and the humorous stunts were delivered in rapid fire action! The cast that appear in this production, including Gail Johnston as Jonesy, Bosco’s “girl Friday”, George Villas as Peter Terwillinger, Deloris’ new beau, and David Hunt Stafford as Reginald, the Dilddle family butler, all get into the sprit of the play’s period. Howard Storm, who has directed a number of Theatre 40 shows of recent past, is back on helm to direct this work that is very comical and charming to boot

With such period pieces comes period fashions and sets that go along with the action. Jeff G. Rack, Theatre 40’s residential set designer, creates a scene that fits the era, while Michele Young’s costuming also speaks for the times that gives the cast a chance to give it with all they’ve got!

SCREWBALL COMEDY’s title says it all! It’s the type of comedies that they just don’t make anymore. There are many reasons for that, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t create ‘em! The 1930’s may be long gone, but they aren’t forgotten! The style of comedy depicted is unique. It’s also very breezy where its happy conclusion is light, likable, and gay! (The 1930’s definition of “gay”, that is!)

SCREWBALL COMEDY, presented by Theatre 40 and performs at the Reuben Cordova Theatre, located within the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 South Moreno Drive (off little Santa Monica Blvd.) Beverly Hills, until August 19th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM.
For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 364-0535, or via online at http://www.Theatre40.org
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MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (Universal) revisits the Greek isle of Kalokairi where Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is ready to reopen the hotel that her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) began years before. Now called the “Hotel Bella Donna”, it pays tribute to her mom who passed away the year before. With a new hotel comes a grand opening. She invites all of the people that were part of her life, from her mom’s BFFs Rosie and Tanya (Julie Waters and Christine Baranski), to her trio of dads Sam, Bill and Harry. (Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, and Colin Firth) The story shifts into the past that focuses on Donna when she fresh out of college. (Lily James plays the young Donna) She gives farewell to her college pals Rosie and Tanya (Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn) and heads toward Paris. From there, she meets the first of her three suitors. (Jeremy Irvine as the young Sam, Jeremy Irvine as the early Bill, and Hugh Skinner as the youthful Harry). As Sophie welcomes her guests along with her additional staff that includes the manager Fernando (Andy Garcia), she reunites with Sky (Dominic Cooper), as well as her grandmother, the well-off vocalist Ruby Sheridan (Cher). Among the festivities, their is plenty of opportunity to sing and dance to a selection of songs made famous by the 1970’s-era supergroup Abba as composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

This musical piece, the obvious sequel to Mamma Mia! that Universal released ten years before when the studio was then owned by General Electric, could be considered as fun and breezy, without the fluff that musicals of late tend to contain themselves. It’s rather amusing to see most of the original cast that made the first movie, based upon the stage musical of the same name that became a monster hit both on Broadway and on its many road tours. Although some of these players didn’t necessarly age too well in the past decade, mostly limited to the three dads as played by Brosnan, Skarsgård, and Firth, it’s amusing to see them reprise their roles. The screenplay by Ol Parker (who also directs) with story by Richard Curtis and Ol Parker and Catherine Johnson, presents the back tale who how the Donna character wound up in Greece and pregnant with child. It also shows Sophie going through the same motions as her late mother did beforehand (pregnant, but this time knowing who the father is), with the usual happy and content results. (Would it be a spoiler alert to note that she doesn’t marry the man that “did” her?)

The music score takes some of Abba’s more obscure tunes such as “Angel Eyes,” “When I Kissed The Teacher,” and “I Wonder (Departure)”, as well as reusing musical numbers that were in the first feature, from Waterloo, to Fernando (Andy Garcia’s character name is Fernando–thus the connection!) in a new and different format. One doesn’t mind hearing those songs again because they all fit within the storyline.

In short, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the ideal feature film to see with your gal-pals as this movie serves the middle aged female demographic that doesn’t care much for silly-yet-amusing family-style animation titles, or overly aggressive action-adventure shoot-em-ups that’s the preference of fanboys, no matter what age they may be. Even if one didn’t care much for Abba when they were part of the top-40 set back in the day, one will enjoy this musical that’s light and bright in all of the right places! Will there be a third Mamma Mia? Only box office results will spell that out for Universal. The studio already has enough Jurassic Park and Fast and the Furious sequels in their pipeline as it stands!

Rated “PG-13” for mild cussing. Now playing at multiplexes nationwide.
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2018 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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