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Odds and Ends

By RD Heldenfels Published: August 4, 2005

I'm waiting for the day when a television series comes out on DVD first, then makes its way to cable or broadcast. That day is closer than you might think.

Already television producers are well aware of the importance of DVD to their revenues; shows like ''Family Guy'' and ''Chappelle's Show'' have proven their worth via video sales more than by the audience their telecasts have attracted.

And, while ''Lost'' is seen as a demonstration that audiences will sit through a season-long unresolved storyline, some observers are pointing to DVD as fueling that appetite, too. If you can sit down and watch a whole season of ''24'' on DVD, then you know the plot digressions along the way are taking you somewhere.

Anecdotal evidence suggests people wait for serialized shows to arrive on DVD -- or they record the whole season's episodes before watching one, so they can follow the whole arc. Even a show people know, like ''Lost,'' has viewers going back over reruns and recordings of the first season in search of clues; the DVD release in September will just encourage more of that. The commercial-free aspect of DVD is also appealing, to audiences and producers, because it creates an uninterrupted narrative that can be more involving for the audience.

We're already seeing very narrow gaps between series telecast and their DVD release. I know of some cases, with documentaries and children's shows at least, of DVDs preceding the actual telecast. So why shouldn't some enterprising producer make an entire comedy or drama series for immediate release on DVD, then sell it to a network? Word of mouth about the DVD might even give a boost to the later broadcast.

At least, I've been thinking about that some lately. But that's not the only thing. Lots of mental ping-pong lately.

-- I see that CNN has finally suspended Bob Novak. Not for his role in the Valerie Plame nightmare. For swearing on the air and walking off a show. Here's a link to a story about the incident: Naughty Novak. (Note: Contains a strong word Novak used.)

You can draw your own conclusions from that about what's acceptable at the network and what isn't. Smearing, OK. Swearing, not OK. It also indicates that Novak is buckling some under the ongoing pressure to come clean about his role in the Plame case. And considering the pressure he has put on other people, I don't feel sorry for him.

-- The great singer Little Milton has died. His version of ''Grits Ain't Groceries'' has been one of those songs stuck in my head ever since I heard a band do a cover of it when I was in college. Maybe you know the key lyric: ''If I don't love you baby, grits ain't groceries/Eggs ain't poultry/And Mona Lisa was a man.'' How could you not love a song with lines like that? I did, anyway.

-- Looking at the baseball standings, I've been wishing once again that all leagues instituted a .500-or-better rule, which simply says that any team has to have at least a .500 record to make the playoffs. If, say, a division leader has a sub-.500 record, then it still could not go. Instead, another team in the same conference with an over-.500 record that is not otherwise playoff-eligible would be chosen; if there are no such teams, then the playoffs are restructured with the eligible teams.

I have a hard time accepting the idea that a team incapable of winning half its regular-season games is somehow allowed into the playoffs. And I'd be a lot more likely to watch a playoff game on TV if it wasn't a horrible mismatch.

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