Friday, August 28, 2009

The View from the Phlipside

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

There's an upside and a downside to being a cult hit. The upside is that since you're a cult hit you can get away with a lot of things that a mainstream show or whatever simply couldn't do. The advantage of being the quirky, ignore the rules kind of a thing means you can do whatever you want. For example, imagine being a TV program that actually requires replacing the lead actor every so often. It's actually part of the whole "reality" that you've created. You never have to worry too much about actors getting too demanding or having other projects on the side. If they get too problematic, poof, they're gone. And the show keeps on moving.

The downside is that fans of these kinds of shows tend to be even more fanatical than your common garden variety. I mean they can just be nuts. You thinks fans of "Lost" are crazy? They've got nothing on this next group. All of this is in relation to what? One of the most successful, off the wall, go its own way TV franchises of all time, you should pardon the expression. I'm talking Dr. Who.

For Dr. Who it's all about different people playing the Doctor. It's all about the Dr. having different looks, different personalities, different eccentricities. It's also all about people arguing over who was the best Doctor. Jon Pertwee? David Tennant (who is certainly the most popular and with good reason)? Maybe like most American viewers you have a soft spot for the first Doctor to be seen in this country, Tom Baker. If so I've got some good news waiting for you in the Tardis.

At 75 Baker isn't really up to jumping around and racing in and out of trouble with that scarf any more. So they've created a new way for us to get a fix. Baker will star in a series of audio adventures of the Doctor. The first will be available from the BBC in September with at least five total planned.

You'd think Dr. Who fans would be ecstatic. Well some of us are. The rest are arguing about where these stories will fall in the "official canon". These are folks who will argue about who is a proper Doctor and who isn't. Now we've got a proper Doctor but do these stories have a proper place among the proper stories? It's enough to make a Time Lord's head spin.

And let's face it, a true fan of the Doctor's wouldn't have it any other way.


So this is what the end of the world looks like. The very apocalypse is upon us and as befits then ending of all things it comes from an unexpected direction. A marriage proposal in a comic book.

I was utterly, utterly appalled to hear the news that after almost 70 years at Riverdale High, constantly being chased by two classic comic beauties Archie has finally broken down and chosen one over the other. That's right Archie has finally decided to spend his life with just one of the two girls that have had their eyes on him longer than your humble commentator has been alive. On September first the latest issue of the long running comic book hits the stands appropriately with only a couple hands, a diamond ring, an enormous valentine's type heart and the words "The Proposal" on the cover. In case you haven't heard by now Archie will propose to the dark haired beauty Veronica Lodge.

At which point the world will end. I can't believe that Archie and the folks behind him will allow him to make such a monstrous mistake. Let's face it just on the surface this is easy to spot as the wrong choice. In the world of Betty and Veronica it's Betty. Just as in the world of Ginger and Mary Ann it's Mary Ann. Always. Every time. Surely that's obvious. Let's face it, Veronica is a spoiled rich brat who is all caught up in herself and her rampant consumerism. On the other hand we have Betty - star athlete who can not only whip up a great meal at home but can fix the car along the way as well. I just can't figure this one out.

The next several issues will show that the comic book is playing around with the story line. The proposal takes place some five years in the future. The multi book story arc will include the wedding (of course) and a couple of kids down the road. It is interesting to note that no one seems to rule out that this may not be the final story line here. Not to say that Archie might get a divorce (the mind reels at the concept) but that there may still be something up the creative team's sleeve.

So now we just sit and wait to see if the apocalypse is really coming.


Pity the poor TV anchor person. It's not enough any more to just deliver the news in clear concise terms. You can't get by with a sterling voice and reassuring presence like Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow. No, now you have to have the right look. And not just your hair and eyes and firm jaw line. You have to wear the right clothes, clothes that make you look good and professional but mostly good.

Once upon a time a lot of stations did trades with local clothing stores. You may remember seeing credits at the end telling you where the anchors clothes came from. In the current economic situation fewer and fewer places will do that. If you think that the anchors all get clothing allowances you may want to think again about that too. No the clothing you see the anchors wearing usually is their own. Unlike you and I who can show up week after week in the same stuff they need to keep their wardrobe fresh. And that can get expensive.

Enter Jolene DeVito, former TV news anchor in Dallas Texas. She now offers a place where TV anchors can sell their old stuff and buy new stuff from other anchors looking for a cheap(er) way to freshen the look. The website is called and it's only been up for about two weeks but is already making sales.

I'll give them this much I think it's a great concept. Many local TV anchors don't make as much money as you might think. And with all due respect they need to do their shopping a little more upscale than the local J.C. Penney's. And that costs big bucks. DeVito is part of professional coaching firm for TV professionals. I'm sure she coaches the importance of getting the details right. Which makes the big goof right in the middle of her home page rather disheartening (she forgot to remove a place holder in her HTML editor when she designed the page).

In the end it's a pretty innovative idea at a time when news divisions are getting squeezed harder and harder. Sadly it's especially tough on female anchors because we insist on being much more pre-occupied by what they wear. I mean come on, if Walter or Dan or Peter showed up in the same suit every Tuesday for six months would we even notice? But somehow it's "important" that a female anchor keep her wardrobe "new". One more way that we've managed to forget about what's important in a newscast. You know, little things like facts and good reporting.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

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