News of the Week: Warp Speed, Way Too Much Media, and the Wonderful Wah Wah Machine

To Boldly Stream Where No One Has Streamed Before

Star Trek

It has finally happened. A new Star Trek TV series is coming. Only it won’t be on “TV.”

CBS has announced that they’ve hired Alex Kurtzman, producer and writer of the recent Star Trek films as well as shows like Alias, Fringe, and Sleepy Hollow, to be the executive producer of a new Trek series that will debut on CBS in January 2017. After the first episode airs on CBS, the series will run exclusively on its online streaming service, CBS All Access.

This won’t be a remake or reimagining of shows or movies that have come before. It will be an entirely new show, with new characters and new missions, though set in the same Star Trek world (the original series timeline or whatever timeline the new movies are set in). Because Kirk and Spock are still appearing in the feature films, you won’t see them here. But maybe they can refer to them once in a while. The new crew can say things like, “Hey, this is just like that time that Kirk had to …” You don’t see Iron Man helping out the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. either.

This reminds me of when Howard Stern left terrestrial radio and went to SIRIUS XM. A lot of people who weren’t subscribers suddenly became them when Stern went to satellite radio. He brought millions to the service, and maybe that’s what CBS is hoping when Star Trek goes to CBS All Access. While these network streaming services have a place and they’re becoming more popular every year, they haven’t quite hit the mainstream yet. Most of us still get our TV shows on our televisions, with a little Hulu/Netflix/website viewing mixed in. It will be interesting to see how many people pay for this and if a younger generation even wants to watch Star Trek every week. I would just make sure that they make it so it’s something hardcore Star Trek fans will like and not just something “new.”

When Do They Sleep?

Teenagers sitting outdoors and texting with their smartphones

A new study by Common Sense Media shows that teens spend an average of nine hours a day on media. That includes smartphones, video games, computers, social media, television. That means they spend more time on devices than sleeping.

The study also shows that teens really love to multitask, because many of them use social media or text or watch TV while they’re doing their homework. Though that’s probably not teen-specific. A lot of adults do it too. I bet you’re watching TV or talking on the phone while you’re reading this, aren’t you?

I guess this is what happens when we can carry our media around with us 24/7. Our lives and media are one and the same now. There’s no separation anymore.

Stars Become Hearts

Speaking of teens and social media, Twitter can be a lot like high school, and this week that became even a little more evident.

People who use the social media service know that there have always been stars you can click to favorite something. It was a good way to show someone you liked a post without having a like button like Facebook has (though a lot of people who favorite your post don’t necessarily like it, it might include a link to something they want to read later). But apparently a star just wasn’t the perfect icon because the people at Twitter have changed the stars to hearts. Longtime Twitter users do not heart it:

Now, a lot of people might not see what the big deal is. Hearts, stars, who cares? But I think it indicates what direction Twitter might be going in and how they see the service as a whole. Hearts are something you see on Tumblr or personal blogs, something you click if you like someone’s cat photo, and it would be nice if Twitter could differentiate itself. Of course, as someone who doesn’t use Twitter anymore — and even when I did I was very stingy about what I favorited, instead relying on retweets — I don’t really care if they replaced the icons with green clovers, blue diamonds, or another Lucky Charm shape. But you have to wonder why Twitter would make a decision like this instead of working on the many other problems they have.

By the way, make sure you heart this column on our Twitter feed!

RIP, Fred Thompson, Al Molinaro, and Charles Herbert

There aren’t many people who can have a long, successful acting career and a political career too, but Fred Thompson did. In fact, a lot of people who enjoyed his work on Law and Order and in movies like Die Hard 2, The Hunt For Red October, Secretariat, and In the Line of Fire might not have even known he was a Tennessee Senator for almost a decade (and an attorney during the Watergate hearings). After an unsuccessful run for president in 2007, Thompson went on to guest star on shows like The Good Wife, Allegiance, and Life on Mars. He died of lymphoma at the age of 73.

You know Al Molinaro from two iconic sitcom roles: as Al’s Diner owner Al Delvecchio on Happy Days and his role as Murray the Cop on The Odd Couple. He also spent many years as the commercial spokesman for On-Cor frozen foods (“With taste and more it’s On-Cor”). Molinaro passed away last week at the age of 96.

One interesting aspect about Molinaro’s career is that he actually became wealthy before he even became an actor, from investing in real estate. He started acting because he enjoyed it.

Charles Herbert? You might not know the name but you’ve seen the child actor in many movies, including The Fly, Houseboat, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, The Boy and the Pirates, and 13 Ghosts, as well as TV shows like The Twilight Zone, Wagon Train, Lassie, and The Fugitive. He passed away from a heart attack at the age of 66.

The Hollywood Reporter’s obit for Herbert has some insight from his friend (and Houseboat co-star) Paul Petersen of The Donna Reed Show.

Your Cat Is Trying to Kill You

Seated Woman with Big Cat in Her LapHarrison FisherNovember 7, 1908
Seated Woman with Big Cat in Her Lap
Harrison Fisher
November 7, 1908

Cats can be aloof and eerily quiet and seem not to be especially friendly (even if they do make for some great magazine covers), but did you know that they’re actually murderous?

According to researchers for the University of Edinburgh and the Bronx Zoo, domestic cats have many of the same characteristics as lions and wildcats and snow leopards, especially when it comes to being aggressive and being neurotic. If they could, they’d kill you. I knew that’s what they were thinking when they were just sitting in the corner and staring at me.

One psychologist even says that we’re letting “little predators” into our homes, and they can be “fantastic, sweet companions … until they turn on you.” That actually sounds like the tag line for a new horror movie.

They’re fantastic, sweet companions … until they turn on you.

The Cats. Starring Ryan Reynolds and Christina Hendricks. Coming 2016.

So, to summarize: Cats are evil, dogs are awesome.

The Wah Wah Machine

The new animated Peanuts movie opens today, and as part of the marketing for the movie the studio has created a site for the Wah Wah Machine. You know how in Peanuts TV specials and movies you never hear the adults talk in a normal voice, and instead you get sort of a trombone-ish mumble? Now you can type words into the Wah Wah Machine and whatever you type will come out as “wah wah” Peanuts talk.

And because I’m a guy and guys are eternally 12 years old, I typed in a few naughty words to see if the machine would accept them. Try that yourself and see what happens.

In related news, Snoopy received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this week.

Today Is National Nachos Day

Plate of nachos
(Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)

I know someone who just likes cheese on his nachos. No salsa, no guac, no sour cream, no refried beans, no jalapenos, just melted cheese on top. I’ve often suggested he just buy a bag of Doritos instead.

But if you do like a little bit more on your tortilla chips, how about trying one of the 50 nachos recipes from Food Network? The variations include Buffalo Chicken, Greek (with feta and olives), Cheesesteak, Pretzel, and even Frank and Bean.

I often make nachos using Triscuits. I’d like to say I came up with the idea myself in a flash of culinary brilliance, but actually I just ran out of tortilla chips one night and didn’t want to go to the store because I was already in my sweatpants and had to use whatever was available (and I’m sure I’m not the first to think of it). They’re quite good though.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Margaret Mitchell born (November 8, 1900)
We all know how popular the 1939 film edition Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind became, but Clark Gable was afraid of taking the role of Rhett Butler.

Veterans Day (November 11)
This is the day, of course, that we celebrate our military heroes.

George Patton born (November 11, 1885)
The Saturday Evening Post Archives Director Jeff Nilsson on D-Day: The Century’s Best Kept Secret.

End of World War I (November 11, 1918)
Did The Saturday Evening Post actually see the coming of The Great War?

Robert Louis Stevenson born (November 13, 1850)
You can read Stevenson’s classic novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for free at Project Gutenberg.