Thursday, December 15, 2011

Netflix, Netflix, Netflix... What am I going to do with you?

Let me confess something right here and now... I'm a Netflix addict. I stream when I work out... just about anytime I can, I DO. I love catching up on stuff I missed the 1st time around. Farscape, Firefly, Breaking Bad... TONS of stuff. Netflix has allowed me to be well-viewed.

I find it especially enticing when noise about Firefly being resurrected is mainstream here and here. (Great little show! Cant recommend it more highly.)

But Netflix pissed off a lot of people by jacking their rates for DVD's and streaming. (I do streaming only so I was unaffected but that fiasco.) But I did watch it unfold with a curious eye. Folks cried foul, Netflix launched a spin-off venture, only to fold it less than a month later. Content providers are letting Netflix deals expire and they have their delusions cast on launching their own streaming ventures/deals, envious of Netflix recent success.

The drive to produce their own content is a big gamble but one worth taking to retain viewers. If the stuff is GOOD they will gain viewers. But,to me this is like the cherry and whipped creme on the sundae. These are the last bits you add AFTER you build a tasty treat.

Really, the end-game for Netflix is this:
They need to reach deals with the NFL Network, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA and ESPN and carry streaming sports LIVE. They need to do this TODAY. 2 min delay, let those networks/groups show their nationally sold ads via the stream, give them a % per view, whatever it takes to get them on the bus. If this were in place I would cut my cable TO-Fucking-DAY.

Then what are all of those content providers (STARS, HBO, Showtime) who fancy their own distribution channel gonna do? They will practically be paying Netflix to give them bandwidth, begging to stay relevant.

I'm old school. Al Gore says he built the internet... we unless he posted the 1st dirty picture, he didn't give it the right fertilizer to grow. Porn built the internet. Nerds wanting to look at hi-res boobies made dial-up modems obsolete. (Smile if you know I'm right!)

Game set and match to Netflix.
IF they can pull off the double play of live streaming Sports AND Adult content. They would practically be a content distribution monopoly. And Stock-type people love to print money with a monopoly. Netflix previous missteps will be forgiven and forgotten.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

C'mon Marvel, pick something and stick with it.

Back in the fast-paced 90's, Marvel developed a marketing strategy that nearly put them out of business. They relied on short-term flashiness, like crossovers and shiny covers with metallic ink to attract buyers, and wound up with a lot of product nobody wanted. Now they're doing it again.

Case in Point: there used to be a series called Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins, a spinoff from Avengers storylines concerning the dreaded return of the Elder god Chthon. Chthon wrote the Darkhold book himself, infusing the pages with all sorts of nasty evilness designed to corrupt and destroy mankind so that he could return to a nice homey apocalyptic world. He must not have used the right glue to bind the pages together, as they got lost and scattered. A mysterious demented dwarf came into possession of some of the pages, and started passing them around like candy to unsuspecting marks. They read the sinister scripture, thinking their dreams would come true, but of course they don't. They turn to soul-destroying shit.

Enter the Darkhold Redeemers. Victoria Montesi is the reluctant descendant of a long line of Darkhold guardians. She is given the task to recover the pages, and receives help from occult expert Louise Hastings, Interpol agent Sam Buchanan, and Mordred the Mystic. The series used similar formulas to the Friday the 13th and Warehouse 13 TV series, where occult investigators recover bad mojo that drives people insanely and murderously evil, and lock it safely away to never trouble mankind again. The occult was big at the time, as DC had Sandman, Swamp Thing and Hellblazer flying off the shelves.

So, how did Marvel screw it up? They made it crossover central, guest starring the Midnight Sons, Ghost Rider wannabes who rode demonic motorcycles with lots of skulls and sulfurous flames of hell spouting out of their exhaust pipes. Doctor Strange also crossed over, as well as Punisher and any other oh-so-hard-edged "dark" trope they could push down readers' throats.

As the Darkhold Redeemers were being overshadowed by these frequent guest stars, Marvel obviously decided the real stars of the series weren't enough of a sell. So, they killed off the dumpy professor, made Victoria a lesbian, and transformed Buchanan from a middle-aged pot bellied detective to a steroid muscle monster with BFGs. (Big Fucking Guns) Those short-term solutions didn't work of course, and the book died a quiet death.

Nowadays, it's Thor that's getting the constant redesigns. Again, Marvel thinks the way to sell the book is to introduce major Earth-shattering events during every story arc, totally scrap any continuity they've established, and bait potential new readers into buying flashy shiny crap.

To wit: Thor rebuilds Asgard. Asgard gets destroyed. It gets rebuilt. It gets destroyed again, and gets rebuilt, only this time it's now a multi-cultural commune overlooked by three goddesses.

Odin had been exiled to eternal battle with Surtur. Thor brings him back. Odin takes over Asgard, acting like Odin always does, bellowing "Never question me" at the Asgardians, and Thor gets pissed. Odin fights Galactus over a seed, then goes back into exile. Oh yes, Galactus lets Silver Surfer go and replaces him with a small-town preacher. Isn't that just so monumental and earth-shattering? I bet they kill off the new herald before New Year's.

Loki comes back as a woman when Thor rebuilds Asgard the first time. Then he becomes a man again. Then he becomes a child and is spun off into another series. He is barely given any time to establish an identity before the MONUMENTAL EARTH-SHATTERING MARVEL ROD changes everything.

Oh yes, Thor dies off-screen, Beta Ray Bill's cousin takes his place, and now Thor's a child trying to escape the afterlife.

Marvel can't be bothered with developing personalities. They'd rather change environments instead, because they can market it as monumental, rules-breaking, unconventional shit that nobody else dares to do. That drove them nearly bankrupt before, but apparently they haven't learned their lesson. As the Thing used to say, "What a revoltin' development!" Thing knows. Thing knows.