Thoughts about Westworld

THE MAP OF WESTWORLD
The original Westworld showed a model with the various parts of the Delos park. It has one central spire, three large domes and three smaller domes fanning out between the large domes. The movie states that there’s three parks, but it also suggests that there is construction going on. Westworld would appear to have been in one of the larger domes, but based on the way Richard Benjamin’s character runs from one park to another, the parks would have to be adjacent and not at 120 degree angles to each other otherwise he would have had to go through the central hub, or at least other parks.

Roman World would seem to have been in a smaller dome adjacent to West World. Medieval World was adjacent to Roman World so it would have had to be in a larger park. That leaves three other parks, one large and two small. We saw in Futureworld a rocket ship which would appear to have either been in one of the larger domes or in the central complex, but it appears that Futureworld could have been in the remaining larger dome. There was also a Spa World which would have placed nicely into a smaller dome. That would leave one dome, likely a small one, unaccounted for. The Samurai World we see hinted at in the TV series finale could fit, although it could also have been planned as a Jurassic Park predecessor. Another possibility is that the smaller domes were in fact just docking stations for the shuttles. But that would mean that it would have been easier to run towards a shuttle than another dome.

In the TV series, Delos appears to be a mesa somewhere in, possibly the middle of, the park. The mesa houses not only the robots but staff residence, customer service areas and shopping as well. The Delos model in the movie only shows the overall layout of the parks but it doesn’t show how many layers there are. There is no need for staff members to ever leave Delos, which would make sense given the remote location of the park. One can find a map of the mesa online.

FORD’S FAREWELL
It’s been speculated that this may not be the last of Ford in the TV series because he made a host duplicate of himself. But considering this show makes heavy use of flashbacks, it’s possible that we’ll see him return in a flashback as well. We may well get a storyline in the past were Ford is very much alive. This also makes it possible for any dead characters to return in flashbacks, but aside from the major characters we’re not likely to see that. It makes the timeline too obvious and it can be hard to keep track of which minor characters are alive or dead.

ARNOLD’S FAMILY
Someone speculated that Charlotte Hale could be Arnold Weber’s daughter, a mirror of Bernard’s son. But in this case Arnold’s daughter lived and grew up. And she would have had to change her last name somehow, either through an adoption, marriage or taking on her mother’s maiden name. We don’t know if Arnold’s wife is still alive. If she died around the same time as Arnold did, then if he had a living child and the mother was dead, they child could have been adopted. If this is true, then it’s also possible that Maeve’s daughter is based upon Arnold’s child. If Arnold used his child for a model, then it’s possible that Maeve herself could be based upon Arnold’s wife.

THE PARK’S PAST PARKS
There’s a scene in one of the episodes where Theresa talks about remembering a villa from her younger days and discovers that it’s in Westworld. This villa could have been part of Roman World or another pre-West World park. But it suggests that there may have been a different park within the area now part of West World. This would suggest that the current West World covers multiple parks and that the androids and props for those parks were repurposed, reprogrammed or put into storage.

STAFF HOSTS
This then leads into the theory that the technician Felix Lutz was in fact a host who had been reprogrammed. We also saw in the finale a section in Delos for the Asian Samurai World. This could mean that Felix is a former Samurai World host who was reprogrammed, likely by Arnold. It’s also possible that Arnold and Ford were involved in creating Samurai World.

The use of hosts to do some of the menial tasks makes sense. It works out to be cheaper considering staff is not only paid but supplied with room, board and medical. Those costs are eliminated if artificial staff are used, although there may still be maintenance costs as well as the costs of the initial construction. But if staff were reused from the park, the only real cost would be for their maintenance. In all, it’s very cheap. In the original movie and apparently in the TV series, much of the customer support staff are hosts. We see that clearly in the train station in the TV show and in the reception area in the movie. So there’s precedence for Felix being a host.

TIME & PLACE
There is a time stamp on a website video that indicated Maeve’s escape was set at a time in the future, 2052. Although that mark has subsequently been removed. When the timeline is worked out it would indicate that Westworld started around 2015. It’s likely the producers want to change the date. The Westworld TV show was suppose to start in 2015 but was pushed back. The movie was set in 1983, which at the time was sometime in the near future or ten years later. If the current series follows the same pattern it would place the events of Young William around 2026. That would place Old William in 2056. But we aren’t given exact time differences, only approximate ones. Arnold died around 35 years ago and the park opened at least 30 years ago. Young William is in his first year at the park while Old William says it’s been going for about 30 years. If Old William is in 2052 that would place Young William in 2022, possible the first year of the park’s opening, and Arnold would have died around 2017. It’s possible the 2052 was meant to be for Young William’s timeline, placing the first beginnings of the park around 2040.

There’s also speculation that Westworld isn’t set on Earth but in space, like the Moon or maybe Mars. But there’s been no indication that it’s not on Earth yet. Access to the park is by train. In the movie it first appeared as if they were travelling by train but it was later revealed they were on a shuttle jet. But it’s possible the train takes them to another form of transportation, such as an aircraft or a shuttlecraft.

We did get one shot of the outside world. This is the photo that William had. The picture was set in front of what appeared to be a train, very similar to the train as we see Maeve getting on and off of. And the trains seemed to be in a city but the details were unclear. If that is so then it would place Westworld on Earth. The board members also came from the outside world, suggesting that there is some sort of prosperous society existing outside of Westworld. It’s not a post-apocalyptic world. Of course if that was the case Westworld would be closed immediately since there wouldn’t be any financial backing to keep it going.

LIVES OUTSIDE WESTWORLD

It’s hard to say what sort of life William and the others have outside of Westworld. It is suggested that Arnold had a wife and child but they’re never seen. It’s also suggested by Bernard’s story that Arnold’s child could have died, although if his wife had also died that would suggest a reason for him killing himself. It would also suggest a reason for him wanting to create new life through the androids.

We’re given no indication of any life outside the park for Ford. This would help explain why he never wanted to leave the park since there was nothing for him outside. It wouldn’t be surprising however if a child of his showed up, but it wouldn’t seem to fit. We did see a recreation of Ford’s childhood family but there’s no indication as to whether any of the real people survived. Obviously given Ford’s age his parents would be dead. That would leave a brother which given Ford’s age could also be dead. Of course if Ford’s brother married and had children then Ford could have nieces and nephews but wouldn’t be close with them.

Young William was engaged to Logan’s sister. However, after how he treated Logan it’s unlikely he married her. We don’t know if William did marry or not. It would seem for at least a few years he became obsessed with the park. But we also need to look at the ownership of the park. Old William was the majority shareholder in Delos, and it was Logan’s family who owned the park in Young William’s time. That would suggest he could be related to Ford in some way.

ARE FORD AND WILLIAM BROTHERS?

Another point of interest is that we never get William’s last name. It’s been taken that the young boy shown as part of Ford’s family was Ford himself, although it’s also possible that Ford was the older brother and the young boy is in fact William. This would mean that Ford and William are brothers. This would also give a good reason why Ford never tried to kill William even though Ford could have easily killed him any time. With William was the majority shareholder, replacing him with a clone would have given Ford control over Delos. It also means we’ve seen William at three different points in his life.

THE STATE OF DELOS

Ford is obviously at war with Delos. The park is all he has left and they want to get rid of him. He’s gone so far as to kill someone through Bernard. It’s been thought that the host Ford was creating in that basement may have been a replacement Ford, but it’s also possible it was a replacement for Theresa. He mentioned in a past episode of “they always send someone new” or something like that. It could mean that as board members were sent to the park to oppose him, he gradually replaced them with android clones. It’s unlikely that all board members were clones but many of them could have been. By controlling many of the board members Ford would have more control over the park.

Another aspect that tends to get overlooked is how many of those related to Delos wind up being park patrons. Young William and Logan visited the park early on, possibly before it was open to the public. And Logan’s father was at that time the majority shareholder. If William was Ford’s brother that would also tie William to the park. It sets up an interesting scenario where William marries into the family that owns the park his brother worked at.

We know that Delos wants to sell Westworld. If Samurai World is a new theme for the park, then it would suggest there’s a Japanese company who wants to take it over. Westworld at this point would be about 30 or 40 years old. It’s no longer new and exciting so it may not be drawing in the customers it once did, especially the big money customers the park needs. The board wants to sell Westworld off but can’t because of Ford. Yet if William is the majority shareholder then Ford wouldn’t have control. However, if William and Ford are brothers and share the majority shares that would mean that William alone isn’t the majority shareholder. It could be that William manages Ford’s shares for him and represents him in board votes. But something like selling would be something he needs Ford’s approval.

ANAGRAM NAMES
We know that Bernard’s name is an anagram of Arnold Weber’s. Trying other names gives,
Dolores Abernathy = “A Thorny Rose Blade”
Maeve Millay = “Me A Lively Ma” (A Daughter reference?)
Robert Ford = “Bred For Rot” (A reference to a clone?)
Clementine Pennyfeather = “A Penile Entrenchment Fey” (She was a prostitute.)
Charlotte Hale = “Reattach Hello” or “A Chatter Hello” (There’s a message on the website where she says hello.)
Peter Abernathy = “A Parent Thereby” or “Betray Then Rape” (We saw him as a parent, but there was a dark backstory suggested for him.)

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Ghostbusters 2016

The new remake of Ghostbusters is getting a lot of criticism. Most of this appears to be aimed at the fact that it’s an all-female cast. Although all this criticism is based at most on just a few movie trailers and posters. The actual reaction of fans to the movie has yet to wait until the movie gets released next week.

So why do fans seem to be so against this film? For years fans have been promised a new Ghostbusters movie. And they expected all, or at least most, of the original cast to be in it. But with this reboot it’s clear that the film fans have been wanting will never happen. What they appear to be getting is a commercialized attempt to take advantage of an established property.

Now remakes are nothing new by any means, although calling them “reboots” is fairly new. When “talkies” came in, many older films from the silent period were remade. During the 40s and 50s it was common to find remakes of films made during the 20s. For instance, Frankenstein had already been done as a silent film in 1910 before the most famous version appeared in 1931. (And for a 80+ year film it holds up quite well.) The story has been revisited many times since, mostly as adaptations. The most recent would be the TV show Second Chance which is loosely based on the concept. So there is nothing inherently wrong with a remake.

One thing that is new is to remake a movie with an all-female cast. This is the gender equivalent of remaking movies with black characters like we’ve seen done with The Nutty Professor (which itself was a variation of Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde), Doctor Dolittle and The Wild Wild West (which was adapted from a TV show). These films cast black actors to appeal mainly to a black market with hopes that they’ll also appeal to the general market as well. And it appears that Ghostbusters has done something similar. By using an all female cast the studio hopes to appeal more to a female audience.

But women were also fans of the original movie. And a movie with a strong female lead is nothing new either. Typically those films have been more “click flicks” and have told dramatic stories rather than action stories. Laura Croft was a case of creating an action movie without the need to coat-tail on an existing franchise. She was a female Indiana Jones (or Quartermass) but was quite distinct from him. And we’ve seen many other similar parallels. Agatha Christie created both Hercule Perot and Miss Marple. V.I. Warshawski was a female noir detective in a traditionally male role. So it’s possible to create strong female characters without the need to resort to transgenering existing characters.  Although there is nothing wrong with having female leads in a movie.

However, what’s really going on here may have nothing to do with the film. The film may be nothing more than a multi-million dollar toy commercial. The original Ghostbusters toys sold quite well. It’s quite likely that whatever money is lost on the film will be gained back on the toys. George Lucas made much of his money from toy sales. And even if the film does poorly in the box-office it could still do well on DVD since many will just want to have it as part of their collection regardless of whether they actually watch it. So the movie doesn’t have to be good. The franchise name will bring in the revenue. The original movie spawned toys which were more for boys than girls. But with this new film they can produce toys, especially dolls, based on the Ghostbusters characters that are marketed at girls.

I do think fans should give this film a chance and wait for the reviews of the actual film. It doesn’t mean one has to watch it, just as one has the freedom to choose what films they want to see. And there will be many who think the film will be bad who are interested in seeing just how bad it is. While the trailers don’t create a lot of excitement about the acting, the special effects do look interesting. And an action/comedy film with a female team does sound appealing.

So I would suggest anyone who wants to see this film, for good or bad reasons, to wait at least a week or more until it’s better understood exactly whether it’s worth seeing. There’s a good chance that the DVD will come out before Halloween, and it’s almost certain that the movie will be on Netflix by Christmas. There will be plenty of opportunity to see the film even if you don’t go to the theater. In fact this is the sort of film that could be enjoyed more if one waits until October to watch, possibly at a Halloween party.

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More on Windows 10

Now that more information has come out and the beta version of Windows 10 is closer to it’s final form, I thought I’d post more about my thoughts on Windows 10.

Pricing Plan
Microsoft has released more information about it’s pricing plan. It’s probably best to break it down by operating system. Many users who would have bought Windows 8 didn’t because of it’s poor performance and clumsy behavior so Windows 10 could have a good market if it’s reasonably priced and doesn’t impose a subscription system.

Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 (UPDATED)

(Please note that there’s a great deal of speculation being passed off as fact that makes it hard sometimes to determine Microsoft’s exact plan for Windows 10.)

These operating systems will qualify for a free upgrade during Windows 10’s first year. But they’re ONLY free upgrades, not free retail versions. And after that one-year period owners of these operating systems who don’t upgrade will have to BUY a new copy (or license) of Windows 10. Otherwise they’ll have to revert back to their old version of Windows.

The key to making this work is the Windows Registration Key. The key for upgraded versions is designed to work ONLY on the computer that was upgraded from 7 service pack 1 or 8.1. It will not work on a new machine. And it appears from my experience that it may not work on a computer if installed on a different drive. (Different drives installs are treated as different computers.) So if you bought or plan to buy Windows 7 or 8.1 to save money on Windows 10, you’re only cheating yourself. This appears to be a strategy Microsoft was taking so that people wouldn’t stop buying Windows 8 while waiting for 10 to come out.

Windows XP, Vista, etc.
Since these versions cannot be upgraded to Windows 10 from within the operating system and require a clean install of Windows 10, those users will have to buy Windows 10. But all that these users are missing out on is one year of free use. But as long as it’s a “lifetime” license this really doesn’t matter. It only means they have to buy Windows 10 earlier than those using later operating systems.

Pirate versions of Windows 7 and later
It was previously thought that these users would be allowed to upgrade for free but Microsoft has stated that they won’t. What’s likely to happen is that they’ll be able to upgrade to a trial version of Windows 10 but will have 30 days in which to install a legal licensed serial number. There was mention of “attractive offers” but those are likely to be discounts offered to all Windows users.

There’s still no word as to whether Microsoft will sell Windows 10 by subscription, but it would appear that if they do it will be on an annual basis. It’s also possible that while the basic version of Windows 10 will be non-subscription, Windows update could be by subscription or possibly a combination. Some updates, such as security updates, may be free while major updates require a fee, much like the fast ring and slow ring of the Windows 10 development versions. Microsoft does have to be aware that it’s competing with its older versions of Windows and if the price isn’t right many people will just stick with the older software. Windows 7 is perfectly adequate for the latest desktop computers on the market today.

Performance

One of the latest tricks Microsoft has introduced is to force users to go to into settings to change their default programs. This makes it harder to switch from the default Microsoft programs to something like Firefox. It also makes it more difficult to change all the music and video defaults. Microsoft even has a “choose Microsoft defaults” button in the settings to assure people are likely to use their programs. It’s not hard to use another program, but it does make it more difficult. This is reminiscent of the way Microsoft made Internet Explorer a necessary part of the operating system and is likely to face some legal actions by Firefox and other developers, as well as complaints from users, for this so it’s hard to say if it will stick around.

Windows 10 is far from bug free, but overall it’s stable enough for the average person to use. There’s still a couple months before the official release which gives them plenty of time to deal with those problems. And even after Windows 10 comes out to the general public, Microsoft can fix a number of problems through it’s update, which is expected to be something that users won’t be able to turn off.

Windows 7 touted a fast startup time, although as more software was installed on the machine the startup time slowed down. Windows 10 doesn’t promote that, especially since many upgrades and updates are installed during startup. There may also be some software such as anti-virus software that runs when Windows starts, and many programs will often load their own startup or initialization programs. Windows 10 also has a lock screen, something included as part of it’s attempt to work on portable devices as well as desktops. It is possible to auto-login Windows 10 into the desktop but it’s takes a little fiddling and isn’t currently accessed through the system menu.

Windows 10 also seems to still have the hibernate problem that Windows 7 had. Although hibernate or sleep has been set, there are times when Windows will jump out of hibernation without any reason. This is a problem if you’re trying to hibernate your desktop overnight and it wakes itself up in the middle of the night. This is a particular problem if someone is sleeping in the same room. Typically one would just shut down the computer but with Windows startup at times taking more than a minute it can be useful to just wake the computer instead.

No More Windows Media Center

Microsoft has let it slip that Windows Media Center, which was a highlight of Windows 7, will no longer be offered. Instead it would have users using a variety of music and video programs. TV card users would be expected to stick with the software that came with their TV card, although that software has generally improved over the years as well. Hauppage now offers WinTV 8 and there are a number of programs such as NextPVR and Kodi (formerly XBMC) that can do the job that Windows Media Center did.

This move isn’t unexpected. Those who wanted to use Windows Media Center in Windows 8 had to use a Pro version and had to pay extra for the Media Center Program. The program also suffered from problems with lack of proper support for many TV cards and difficulty in setting them up, especially for those trying to use a cable or satellite box. It would not even allow the use of the video or composite input without such a box set up. This limited those who didn’t have an IR blaster on their video cards.

It’s likely that Microsoft found the software to be too problematic for them. While it was fine with video files stored on a computer, getting it to work with TV cards could be a challenge. Microsoft also had to maintain TV listings that could be downloaded into Windows Media Center, which would require a small but constant maintenance. It’s hard to say if or for how long these will be maintained. And Microsoft is also offering TV shows and Movies through it’s store, expecting that people will move away from broadcast TV to online services.

There’s also less need for Windows Media Center. It was designed for those who wanted to use their computers for TV or with their TV sets, but we now have set-top boxes or TVs with computers built-in that do the job more efficiently. While there are a number of users who do use Windows Media Center, it’s hard to say what percentage of Windows users they are. It’s good for a specific setup of computer and TV integration, but not everyone uses it the same way. And it’s much simpler and easier to use something like Roku to access Netflix while regular TV channels can be handled through regular TV systems.

Summary

Overall I’m not as impressed with Windows 10 as I was with Windows 7. It feels too much as if Microsoft is pushing their way of doing things on the users. While it makes sense for a portable device, many of the features such as the lock screen become minor annoyances on the desktop. Microsoft tends to take the approach that the average user is a novice and needs guidance, but also tends to get caught up in idea that users are willing to do what Microsoft feels is best for them. However, it does appear to be the second best version of Windows after Windows 7.

Not everyone will have a system that supports Windows 10, although if your system can handle Windows 7 there’s a good chance it will also be able to handle Windows 10. There are also a number of computers that were shipped with XP installed but could handle Windows 10 without a problem. Chances are if your computer was made within the last five years, especially if it’s a dual-core or quad-core computer you’ll be able to handle Windows 10. But whether it will be worth switching will depend upon how Microsoft plans on pricing Windows 10. It would be better to stick with Windows 7 or even 8 than to have to pay a fee every year to keep using it.

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Will Windows 10 Be By Subscription?

It appears the next version of Windows, Windows 10, will be subscription based. That means if you want to use your computer you have to pay Microsoft $10 or $20 each month.

Of course Microsoft didn’t come out and say it, but in their last presentation they referred to Windows as a “service.” They also talked about how Windows 7 and 8 users would get Windows 10 free “for one year after the release of Windows 10.” They may offer users the opportunity to buy Windows 8.1 or subscribe to Windows 10, but Windows 8.x has turned out to be a catastrophe. The last decent version of Windows was version 7, and it’s hard to find any stores with Windows 7 in stock. And a second-hand version could mean the license has been used up.

This is a bad direction for Microsoft to go. It’s one thing to offer a program like Office on a subscription basis because people can always choose another program. But there really isn’t an alternative for Windows on the PC. Linux does most things, but there’s still a lot of software it doesn’t run, especially in the field of games. Software companies have been programming for Windows for decades and would have to start programming for Linux. Sure there’s programs like Wine which allow Windows programs to be run in Linux, but it doesn’t work for all programs.

Even if Microsoft offered both a full paid package and subscription, there’s going to be a lot of new PC users who are wondering why their operating system isn’t working after a year. Retailers are likely to only offer a one year trial rather than a full install of the operating system. But not all PC owners will understand this. So when the computer starts giving them messages that they have to renew their operating system license, they’ll have to turn to some sort of technical support. And they’ll be expecting the retailer to cover that cost for free.

It could be the biggest mistake Microsoft ever makes. It will definitely make people angry. It would amount to extortion. Either you pay up each month or you can’t use your computer. And retailers would be getting the brunt of that anger. If there’s enough anger against Microsoft it will open up the field for alternative operating systems. Apple’s OSX will work on the PC, but it’s not something a novice can install. Linux is also a leading choice and many laptops come with some form of Linux on them.

On the other hand, it could turn out to be a big marketing success–for Apple. Apple could develop it’s operating system more to work on the PC. Although Apple has been hesitant to do that in the past because they want people to buy their equipment as well, if they properly support the PC they stand an chance to take over Microsoft’s control of the operating system market. Currently tablets come with OSX, Android and Windows, depending upon the device. That same diversity could be found in PCs. It is possible to install Apple’s OS on a PC but it’s not as simple and easy as installing Windows. And you need compatible hardware on your PC. So it shouldn’t be too much trouble for retailers to offer it but home users may have trouble converting.

Linux has evolved a lot over the years and is much easier for the average person to use. Android, which is popular on many tablet devices, is a version of Linux. But the leading version of Linux for PCs right now is Ubuntu. Since retailers are use to offering Linux on some computers it wouldn’t be difficult for them to offer it on PCs as well. But it would depend a lot on what sort of deals Microsoft has made with the manufacturing companies. Retails may not have a choice.

Linux also has the advantage of being able to work on just about any PC out there. Even an old Pentium II could run Linux. And Linux is free and should always be free, although there are some paid versions out there. But it was developed as an open-source or free operating system. This makes it attractive to retailers since they don’t have to pay to install it and can as such offer a cheaper computer. Linux also has a program called Wine which allows many Windows programs to work on Linux. And there are many major programs such as Open Office and Firefox that also offer Linux versions. So you can do pretty much the same things in Linux, it’s just that you may need a different program to do them with.

But Microsoft still has time to reconsider. It looks like a good plan to Microsoft because they realize they’ve reached the peak of their operating system’s development and once someone has a copy of Windows 7 or later they don’t need another copy. They could keep re-installing it on any new computers they get. They would never need to buy Windows again.

But to the consumer it’s a very bad idea. If they don’t have another OS or an older version of Windows to revert to, it means they have to pay each month to be able use their computer. While it’s true they had to buy Windows to use their computer, it was a one-time deal and it usually came as part of the computer package. And after a number of years they can still use it, so that a computer that’s 10 years old can still be used without added expenses. But having to pay each month amounts to nothing less than extortion. And it hurts computer re-sales since someone buying a second-hand computer can’t just use the installed OS.

Windows 10 is still months away from a proper release. In that time it’s likely that consumers will be giving Microsoft plenty of feedback on their subscription plan and it won’t be positive. That should give Microsoft a change to change their minds about a subscription approach or at least offer a reasonable alternative. But simply the fact that they would even offer subscription could do more damage than their lack of consumer consideration shown by Windows 8.

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Predicting the Ending of Naruto

There’s been a lot of speculation as to when the Naruto series will end, especially after a quote by it’s creator, Masashi Kishimoto. The key part of the quote says:

“The battle of Naruto and his comrades is in it’s final phase, in the truest sense of the term. About the Ten Tails, about Madara, and then, about Sasuke…”

Currently, the manga upon which the anime is based is still being produced.

The anime is currently dealing with the Ten Tails, Madara and has just brought back Sasuke. The Ten Tails story appears to be coming to an end. It also spent time dealing with Madara and his backstory. But Madara is still about (in the anime) so his story isn’t over with. Ten Tails is also still about, although it appears that story will end within a few episodes. That leaves Sasuke’s story, which we could get into or could be bypassed altogether since he seems to have suddenly taken a turn for good. But Sasuke’s story could also be dealt with in a movie after the TV series ends.

Predicting the end of the anime is much easier than predicting the end of the manga. The manga is suppose to end sometime this year, but that may not be until Christmas. However, since Japan has four TV seasons instead of the one main one that the US has, it’s almost certain the anime will end with the end of a season.

The current Summer 2014 season ends in about a month. That would leave only four or five episodes left. That seems too early considering the manga is still going.

The Fall 2014 season will end in about four months, or around New Years Day. That gives the show about sixteen weeks or episodes. Given how close the show appears to the ending, this would seem like a reasonable period.

However, should the manga be concluded around New Years Day, it’s possible the anime could extend until Winter 2015, ending around the start of April. That would give the show about thirty episodes. It’s not unreasonable if the production company decides to throw in some filler episodes, but I don’t know if fans would stand for a lot of filler this late in the show. That’s not to say they wouldn’t watch anyways just to catch the end of the show. It was also said back in 2013 there was about 50 episodes left, and given the math that would suggest that another 30 from now is unlikely.

Of course with filler the show could go indefinitely. We saw the last Naruto series spend more than a year on filler episodes. But something like that would be better handled as a sequel or follow-up series rather than as part of the main series. It’s also possible that the anime could end before the manga, with any remaining story left for a movie.

It’s also worth noting that New Years is a major holiday in Japan. Only recently have they been getting into Christmas, but for the longest time New Years has been their biggest holiday of the year. That suggests that Masashi Kishimoto may choose to end the series with the end of the year. That would make either a New Years or April date most likely.

If however he chooses to end the series earlier, and considering how close the story of the anime series is following the release of the manga episodes, then a New Years ending seems highly likely.

I would also not rule out the possibility of only four or five episodes remaining in the show, but I would think that might be a little too quick. Yet again, when Bleach ended we saw a rush to wrap up the story that we’re currently seeing with the TV show. It came with only a few weeks notice. So it can’t be ruled out.

There’s just no way to know for certain. About the only thing one can say is that we’re probably within the last six or seven months of it’s ending. The New Years Day 2015 ending seems the most likely possibility and it’s the one I would most expect. A one month ending around the end of September 2014 is the second most likely, and I wouldn’t be surprised by it. But I can’t say when it will end, all I can do is go by probability and the reliability of the Japanese TV seasons.

Whatever the outcome, I will and I won’t miss the show. I’ll miss the good episodes; the ones which had strong story and action, but I won’t miss the filler and weak episodes. With 220 original episodes and currently more than 370 Shipuuden episodes (around 600 overall), it’s not like it’s ending too early. One could even go back and re-watch all the episodes, although with the repeated story and filler episodes, it hardly seems worthwhile. I would also expect some sort of Kai version to be produced the way they did with Dragonball which tells the same story in a condensed form.

Edit: Since writing this Naruto Shipuuden has added a lot of filler episodes and based upon the amount of story left it’s likely it could take until the end of 2015 to end the series. A follow-up series about Naruto’s children is in the works.

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Five Things I’d Like To See For Fall TV

With the TV networks announcing their fall schedules next week, along with what new shows are picked up, I thought I’d list five things I’d like to see in the fall.

1. Less crowded Tuesday. I generally don’t want to see any night too filled, but this past year has been busy on Tuesdays. I’m usually recording from 7pm to 2:30am, and then some. It’s been hard to catch everything on TV, and if I show doesn’t record properly I’m usually forced to find it online.

This season on Tuesdays I’ve been watching:
Person of Interest
NCIS
NCIS: Las Angeles
Agents of SHIELD
Supernatural
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop
Storage Wars (which just ended)
Barry’d Treasure (if it wasn’t only 8 episodes I probably would have dropped it)
Pioneers of Television (a special 4 part annual series which has been running over the past month)

I’ve been PVRing things so I can skip ads. But I can only watch and record one show at a time. I can find the shows on at different times, for instance I can catch Person of Interest at 7pm, but if I miss the ending–especially when the show runs a minute over–I just don’t have a chance to catch it again. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for having so little to watch other nights of the week. Last season I found myself without anything to watch on Wednesdays. This year it was Thursdays. Although with so much on Tuesdays I often wound up watching Tuesday shows the rest of the week.

2. Original programming on Saturday nights (again). Networks use to put shows on Saturday night. One of the best lineups was a Saturday night lineup of Love Boat followed by Fantasy Island. But networks also use to run movies, and they’ve mostly dropped those as well now. Even when VCRs came in networks still aired movies. But now there’s just too many alternatives. In fact it was the success of the VCR that lead to the death of Saturday night television. Instead of watching original Saturday night programming, people would watch something on the VCR, either a movie or something they missed during the week.

However, with alternatives available all the time it doesn’t matter as much anymore when a show is aired. And the lower ratings nowadays don’t look as bad. Ratings on a Saturday will still be lower than other nights, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nobody watching. What’s needed is programming people will want to watch, regardless of the night. And if they want to run repeats, why not air same-week reruns of cable channel shows for those who don’t get the channels. I’m sure a Saturday night airing of Game of Thrones–despite the required censoring–could get ratings as good as any show aired any other night of the week. Not everyone wants to pay for a channel that has only one or two worthwhile shows.

3. Half-hour dramas. At one time networks did broadcast half-hour dramas, although that was at a time that half-hour shows actually got twenty-five minutes of air time. Nowadays they only get twenty minutes, which would seem to make it more difficulty to tell a story in that amount of time. Yet sitcoms do it, so why can’t dramas? 

But many dramas are ensemble shows which take time to tell multiple stories with multiple characters. If they reduce the number of character stories it would be possible to tell a good story in only half-an-hour. And considering the way so many shows today are serialized, a hour long show could easily be split into two half-hours. It’s almost as if the skill to write the half-hour dramas have been lost.

4. Less gore and death. It’s not that shows never had deaths, but nowadays they tend to go overboard with them. Just compare a show today with one thirty years ago. While the lack of blood in the past when showing gunshots and stabbings seems ridiculous today, there’s no need to dwell on the goriest scenes in a show. I never got into watching CSI because the gore went overboard. There is a matter of realism, but there are some things better implied than seen. It’s one thing to show a bit of blood, it’s another to show desiccated remains. Quincy was a show about a coroner yet managed to do a shocking scene by just implying how badly decomposed the remains were. People can imagine things, you don’t have to show them on screen.

And why can’t a detective work on a simple robbery? It always has to be a murder. You almost never see a show today about a private detective because private detectives aren’t allowed to investigate murders. And if it’s not a murder it’s a kidnapping. But what happened to the good old robbery stories? Are they just considered cartoon fare? Some shows do deal with robberies, but in those episodes someone always seems to wind up dead.

5. More limitations on commercial time. I tend to PVR everything now because it allows me to skip past ads. But the amount of commercials now have made live TV unwatchable. People aren’t watching the ads now, but they use to back when ad breaks didn’t run more than a couple minutes long. It’s not benefitting the viewers and it’s not benefitting the advertisers. It’s only benefitting the broadcasters who sell more ad time. But we don’t seem to be seeing any improvement in the TV shows as a result. It’s just people getting more money to deliver the same or less.

It’s easy to say that broadcasters need to make their money and as such need to run ads, but are you watching those ads? Or do you feel that ads should be watched by other people so you can watch the show for free. The system is broken and needs to be fixed. There’s no need to see the same ad two, three or four times during one half-hour, especially if it’s for a product one has no interest in. One of the reasons ratings are so low is that commercial breaks have made the shows unwatchable. If I have to wait five minutes for the show to return I’ve forgotten what’s going on. And it’s hard to stay excited or interested in the show with such an extended break. Would Game of Thrones be doing so well if it had ad breaks?

It’s not to say I want TV to go back to what it was during the 70s, although TV was pretty good during that time. But if networks want people to watch, then why do things to drive viewers away? Running two shows at the same time splits the audience. While it’s always been a strategy, over-fragmenting the audience is not going to result in some good shows getting dropped. Saturday nights may not have a large audience, but it provides an opportunity to try out shows that wouldn’t have a chance otherwise. Even Fantasy Island had their share of deaths, but they found after the pilot that fans wanted to see characters live. And long commercials breaks cause one to forget what’s happening in the show they’re watching and as such loose interest.

But with the exception of the first point, I don’t expect things to change.

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Some Thoughts on Primetime Dramas

Continuing with my previous post about TV shows, I thought I’d give some ideas I had about various TV dramas, particularly ones I’m actually watching. I was going to put them in the last post but it got a little long. I’m skipping over other reality shows for now because it’s easy to pick them apart in detail and many of the criticisms are the same as the storage shows.

I’m also skipping sitcoms because I just don’t watch them anymore. They just use all the same recycled jokes as sitcoms of the past. And there’s too much reliance on putting people down or crude humor to get laughs. Situational humor that requires thought is considered too complex for modern audiences. And many times the shows are aimed at people with a certain income bracket, a certain lifestyle, a certain age–usually young–or a certain background. For example, Seinfeld was about a group of Jewish people living in New York. The Office was about a group of people who work in an office environment. And there’s plenty of “family” sitcoms which make the kids out to be smarter than the adults. While one doesn’t have to be part of those groups to enjoy the show, they do tend to appeal more to those groups.

But for this post I’m going to focus on some of the dramas I’ve been watching. I’m also focusing on the full-season network shows. Cable shows tend to follow slightly different rules and have shorter runs. They  are more likely to get full season order or even a two season order since a full season may only be 10 episodes long. As well, a single season is more likely to be aired over two or more years. The channels also don’t air nearly the quantity of shows the networks do and are more likely to put all their backing into just one or two shows.

The Mentalist

It looks as if the show is in it’s last year. If not, then it could only have one year left, but CBS has little room for it’s new dramas so it’s only likely to get another year if almost all it’s new dramas aren’t good enough to go to series.

Most of the show’s story has been sustained by the Red John, but that character was revealed and dealt with earlier in this season. And the whole setting of the show has changed to where it appears almost as a spinoff. Some of the characters are now working for the FBI. The titles of the episodes have changed from being red related to using other colors.

It’s as if they’re making changes in the hopes of extending the show’s life, although it could already be too late. The Red John story was extended too long, and it appears now as if that was because the writers had no Red John. The show reached it’s peak when Jane show who he claimed was Red John. And for the sake of the story that should have been it. But then they had to go into revealing a proper Red John and it turned out to be someone the audience couldn’t care about at all, let alone even remember.

This only goes to show that the writers never had a proper villain in mind when they wrote the earlier seasons. It’s a common problem with many shows, especially science fiction shows. There’s usually some major villain or mystery that the show focuses around, but the writers have no idea what that is. Lost was a good example of this. In order to come up with an ending they writers had to ignore almost everything past the first season because while they found it easy to introduce questions they didn’t have the answers.

Bones

Bones is another show that looks to have outstayed it’s welcome. The show really should have ended a couple years ago. Everything feels recycled. I’m not saying it’s a bad show because I still enjoy watching it, but it feels as if the show will never be as good as it use to be. Still, being able to continue a show past a wedding of the major characters, let alone a baby, is admirable. Much of the time the wedding marks the end of the show. And the danger of a good show getting stretched too far results in killing off any syndication interest the show could have. A shorter show can be watched twice or more, a longer one is harder to. If Star Trek had lasted the full seven years it might not have been as popular as it turned out to be.

Supernatural

Supernatural is yet another show I like be feel that it’s about time to be retired. And it can’t have much life left in it, although the introduction of the Men of Letters did a lot to help give the show a few more years. Unfortunately, it would probably have been more interesting if Sam had been more a Man of Letters and using spells to deal with situations while Dean was more of a Hunter. Although they have been showing some of that.

Hawaii Five-0

I’ve found myself getting further and further behind on the episodes lately. It just doesn’t seem to draw my interest. Everything seems to be following a formula. It tried to tie itself in with NCIS:LA through crossover episodes, and has appeared to survive but acting as an NCIS:Hawaii. But I find the episodes are so forgettable that once I’ve watched it I forget what just happened. And many of the episodes are very badly written, with story elements that are insultingly wrong. Although the show managed to get renewed, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it has been cancelled.

NCIS and it’s spinoffs

NCIS also looks as if it might just be time to retire. The new female character, Bishop, just isn’t fitting in. It’s the top show on TV right now so it’s hard for CBS to cancel it, even if they had to replace major actors. We saw that with Two and a Half Men which was the top sitcom when Charlie Sheen left. But it’s been going so long that there’s not much story left for it. Tony still gets written as a stooge when after this long he should be acting more as an adult. And it’s unlikely that two such skilled detectives as Tony and Gibbs would be allowed to stay on the same team this long.

NCIS:Las Angeles successfully spun-off from NCIS, just as NCIS did from JAG. But how NCIS:LA looked when it started on it’s own was significantly different than it did in the backdoor pilot. The location changed and Heddy was put in charge. Over the years two of the original team members were replaced. Now we’ve seen a backdoor pilot for another NCIS spin-off, NCIS:New Orleans. Although this one looks closer in feel to the original series than NCIS:LA.

However, it’s hard to say how many changes will be made should the show get picked up. NCIS:Red was suppose to be an NCIS:LA spinoff but didn’t fly with the viewers, so it’s hard to say of NCIS:NOLA will be picked up for the fall. CBS wants to have a show to replace the original NCIS when it leaves, but there’s not a lot of room on it’s schedule. It’s very possible that NCIS:NOLA could be a mid-season replacement for NCIS and share the same spot for a number of years until NCIS is ready to retire. Although CBS did have three CSI shows going at once so it wouldn’t seem unlikely to have three NCIS shows at once.

Person of Interest

Right now it appears the best writers on TV are writing for Person of Interest. There’s enough twists and turns in the stories to keep them interesting. The show started with the premise that the “numbers” could be criminals or victims, but lately it’s been making them all out to be victims. Still, that would make this a good time to introduce a villain as a number. It’s just the sort of twist that makes this show work, because these sorts of twists help to keep the show from becoming predictable.

Agents of SHIELD

If there’s anything working against the show it’s using characters that many people aren’t as familiar with. If you were into comics and are familiar with the Marvel universe you shouldn’t have a problem. But for those who don’t know much about Marvel beyond the major characters it can get a little confusing. Especially when some of the “super” villains don’t appear to be all that super.

It’s really hard to say what sort of future the show has. The ratings have not been great, and for a big budget show like this the ratings have to be great or it’s not worth airing. Last week it was beat in the young viewer category by both The Voice and the “old guys show”, NCIS. Yet this show is suppose to be targeting the young audience.

The show can work as a promotional tool for movie releases, but since it’s tied in with the current casting of characters, should that casting change it will date the show very quickly. There’s only so many Avengers and Iron Man movies that Marvel can make before they have to change things up. If the show does get renewed it will need a new timeslot, although unless the last few episode of the season make a dramatic upturn that doesn’t appear likely. Maybe coming out with something with a single hero that isn’t tied in might work a little better, as the WB superhero shows seem to be doing.

I should also add that I’m not against the shows I think should be cancelled. I do watch and enjoy them but feel as if they will never be as good as they have been. If the network drops a show I like, they may replace it with one I don’t like but they may also replace it with one I like more. Sometimes it feels like I’m watching a show just because I use to like it but don’t anymore. And depending upon which night the show is on, I may not even miss it. There’s so much on Tuesdays right not that I’m recording from 7pm to 2:30am straight just to catch everything. So if a show such as Supernatural was to disappear I might not miss it at all, although I do tend to watch it later in the week when there’s not as much to watch. I’m also inclined to catch up on these shows during the summer, although lately there’s been so much new summer viewing that I don’t have a problem finding something to watch.

There’s also a lot of shows I haven’t watched. I never got into Castle mainly because it aired against NCIS, but it was also too similar to The Mentalist. If the Mentalist is dropped I may get into Castle if I don’t get into watching it during the summer. But chances are there will be some other new show that attracts my interest. I usually find for ever show I’m watching that gets cancelled, some other new show appears in the fall that I start watching. And for the past couple summers there’s been enough new material to watch that I haven’t had as much time to get into watching older material.

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