Bleats

Old School Channel Surfing Is Dead - Good Riddance - But There's A New Evil Afoot

Decisions, decisions.

Gone are the days of endlessly flicking through the free to air channels, trying to find something to watch on TV.

It was the vintage pastime of an analogue world, where the whole family shared the one TV set and siblings would tear each others’ eyes out for control of the remote.

Now every man and his dog has a streaming service subscription, or at least a device that does catch-up.

What a blessing it is to live in a world where it’s rare for you to be gritting your teeth as some bored family member or roommate surfs the signals, subjecting you to an infuriating mashup of soundbites from news bulletins, cooking shows, a repeat of Neighbours, another news bulletin…

Maybe this is a petty complaint but when you’ve just settled in on the sofa, and you’re just getting into whatever David Attenborough doco is on, it almost amounts to a homicide defense if someone changes it for no good reason. I submit to the jury that the defendant was provoked by the victim, who prevented her from finding out what happens to the baby wildebeest.

Actual footage of me after someone changes the channel on Sir David

With the arrival of on demand and catch-up you could curate your TV diet to your tastes.

Unshackled from the trappings of frequent ad breaks and schedule clashes, we are no longer at the whims of the network executives and what they wanted us to watch. Your favourite show premieres new episodes on a Friday night, but you promised a friend you’d catch up over drinks? Fret not, for Freeview Plus and its cable counterparts were here to save the day.

And when the networks realised that people were always more likely to pick and mix their shows from different channels and pirate whatever wasn’t available, they put them online so we could access them as we please.

It’s the best of times, and the worst of times. Because now, instead of having four prime-time options full stop, we have millions of choices. Our beloved streaming providers are throwing so much at us every week that finding something good to watch is become a needle in a haystack.

Me opening Netflix on a Friday night

We are truly living in the Golden Age of Content, and it’s making us more paralysed by indecision than ever. Instead of putting up with channel surfers, we’re grappling with our own lack of commitment.

How often have you spent more time looking at the title selection screen than actually watching an episode? And with so many services competing for our attention, the anxiety of trying to find something worth our time is more heightened than ever. So what can you do about it?

The first step to recovery is to get to know your options ahead of time. Stay up to date with the new releases and do your research – some cursory Googling should do the trick.

Monitor your social feeds and if a friend is posting about something that piques your interest, take a note of the title to come back to later. Always keep a queue and a few backups for when a binge session goes awry. You never know when you’ll be disappointed by an over-hyped show!

And try to have some foreknowledge of when you’re most likely to have a lot of time in front of the TV. If you know you’ve got a slow weekend coming up, have something in mind ahead of time.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting on Netflix to introduce a ‘randomise’ button to end my misery once and for all.

Can Someone At Marvel Studios Please Hire A Graphic Designer? Loki Deserves Better

What is a king to a god? And what is a god to crappy typography?

Every year, the Hype Train makes a stop at San Diego Comic-Con so that half of the world can hop on board, and this year was no outlier. With trailers, teasers, and guest panels for geeks of all shapes and sizes, one of the most widely anticipated presentations was the Marvel Studios announcement of eleven new movies and TV shows.

Unfortunately, the excitement was the teensiest bit overshadowed by the eldritch horror that is the (current) title card for the new ‘phase four’ spin-off show Loki. People were legitimately horrified by the blatant disregard for the most basic of design principles. Someone in an office somewhere gave this a green light. I hope the knowledge of what they’ve done haunts them forever.

I will concede that using four different fonts is not always the worst possible thing. I’ve seen the ‘intentional clash’ technique work well. But this? This is an assault on the eyeballs. It’s in the uncanny valley between deliberately ugly and accidental disaster. Observe the consistently dark, metallic tone of the first three letters. Then you get to the ‘I’ and it gives you whiplash.

The possibilities of a mini-series from the perspective of the adopted Asgardian god of chaos and mischief are endless. And some of the more enthusiastic Marvel fans have already started to theorise about what the misadventures of their problematic fave might entail. Yet so much of that zeal has been squandered by this ill-conceived branding choice.

The myriad of memes mocking the terrible design hasn’t stopped theorists from A Beautiful Mind-ing the possible meaning behind it, because when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe there has to be some bigger purpose, some grand narrative that we aren’t yet privy to yet… right? One simple explanation is that the god of chaos needs an equally chaotic aesthetic, but I don’t buy that excuse. Loki is more subtle than that, more stylish. He has self-respect. Others reckon that each letter is a very vague clue about the content of the show – Reddit user _pampampampampam suggested that the styles are an allusion to ages in human history, and that there’d be a time travel component to the show.

Though Loki is the most upsetting example, plenty of the revealed logos haven’t fared much better among the critics over on Reddit, with the Hawkeye logo stimulating some especially heated debate. On one hand, it was designed by an actual comic book artist and directly references the source material. On the other hand, it looks like someone took the minimalism movement a little too literally and forgot that this show is part of a multi-billion dollar canon.

There’s still plenty of time between now and the release dates for the logos to be reworked, and no doubt the starving Marvel fans will forgive these slight transgressions when the shows and movies come out. It’s not even that all of the reveals are bad per se, just a little unimaginative. All I’m saying is that for such a huge event like SDCC, you could at least make an effort, Marvel.

Where To Buy The Apothecary Table From Friends, And Other Non-Stop Nostalgia Homewares

It's like you're in the TV while watching the TV, or something.

When you’re in search of unique, fun furniture, a flea market is probably a good bet. But much to Phoebe’s chagrin (we would assume), the only place to get a perfect replica of Friends’ most iconic props nowadays is Pottery Barn. For the show’s 25th anniversary, the U.S. furniture chain is selling 14 exclusive pieces, many of which haven’t yet been revealed.

Getting a nostalgia kick doesn’t always mean waiting for a big anniversary though. If you, too, love to live vicariously through fictional characters to fill the emptiness in your life, then boy do I have some interior design suggestions for you!

IKEA also capitalised on pop culture this year, with a marketing campaign proving that you can recreate iconic sets from Friends, Stranger Things, and another ’90s kids’ classic – The Simpsons. Sure it requires a bit of elbow grease to achieve any accuracy, and you might need to do some serious squinting IRL to see the resemblance, but outside of the colour I’d say this ‘Knislinge‘ couch is pretty damn close to the original. Added bonus – won’t bankrupt you.

Without paying thousands for original Hollywood props, you have to put some work in to achieve some of the grander stylistic choices of the cult classics. If the bold aesthetic of the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks inspires you, there are plenty of creators who’ll make you a throw pillow reflecting that iconic black-and-white carpet design. Or you could roll up your sleeves, and DIY whatever you like. Might even want to resurface your floor if you’re a David Lynch diehard.

Ever thought about how your kitchen could do with a little bit of magic? ThinkGeek have the Potterheads covered, because they’re selling dinnerware that doubles for divination class. Don’t panic if your cereal spells death – the Grim was already printed on the bottom of the bowl.

Are you, like many of us, lamenting the old days of Disney when everything was expressively animated and Robin Williams was voicing the Genie? Relive the glory days with a rather accurate replica of the magic carpet in a miniature, tea towel form. Perhaps not as fun as the real thing but I would wager that it’s slightly more useful (and less skittish).

And what better way to prove your dedication to your adolescent screen heroes than by appropriating them for your personal items? Live out your fantasy of being held at gunpoint by Samuel L Jackson and embrace the irony of the BMF wallet from Pulp Fiction. Use that to store your drivers license and upgrade your license plate to go with it – be the Fresh Prince you always wished you were cool enough to be with this recreation from that instantly recognisable opening theme. For legal reasons, I don’t recommend actually whacking it to the front of a cab and driving it around though.

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