Friday, May 11, 2007

Some random TV notes

Now that the summer has truly come in the main sense that matters to an academic - graduation was earlier today - I am plugging away on my tax & accounting article, which I feel is going well, but one needs to just do it for a while before stepping back and applying perspective. Between sections, or when a new part is thrashing around a bit before taking its proper shape, distractions, including self-created ones if nothing else comes up, are always welcome. So herewith a couple of notes prompted by TV viewing last night.

First, it's just amazing what the Pistons did to the Bulls in game 3 of their second round series. Detroit started the series with two unexpected blowouts, then the Bulls seemed to be making a counter-statement by pushing to a 19 point lead early in the third quarter, and it just didn't matter. The Detroit team of the last few years, along with the one that won two championships before Michael Jordan's breakthrough, is the best basketball team I've ever seen with no superstars. Or, they're the best I've ever seen at overcoming long stretches where they are pitifully unable to score. Somehow it just doesn't matter when they start to clamp down.

Second note pertains to Survivor, still the only network TV series that I have watched regularly in the past twenty-five years. My wife and I would have quit a few years back except that our kids wanted to keep watching, so it became a family thing to do. But after several years in the doldrums, it's actually taken on new life, whether or not anyone has noticed. The producers have made the tactical elements more complicated and tricky, for example by adding a hidden immunity item that one has to decide whether to play before knowing whether one needs to or not, and this has paid off dramatically at least twice this season. They've also managed to induce more fluid, less stable alliances. And the cultural norms of the contestants have evolved to accept greater opportunism towards alliance partners. Finally, the last two seasons have had greater racial and ethinc diversity in the cast, and this as well has paid off in terms of the range of interesting characters. So, while it's too late for this season if you're not already watching, and while who knows if next season will be any good, the current one (ending Sunday) has actually been one of the best ever.


DJ Ninja said...

Oy vey--what to make of your Bball thoughts? I assume you're NOT suggesting the championship Pistons of the late 80's and early 90's lacked superstars; Isiah Thomas might beg to differ. Second, while it is de riguer to think of the Pistons as a superstar-free team, Chauncy Billups and Rasheed Wallace (to name two) might beg to differ. Rasheed is not what he once was--but what he once was was one of the most feared PFs in the league. He's lost a bit in his step, but no PF in the league (save Tim Duncan) adds as many intangibles as 'Sheed (defense, wily veteran play, etc.). What the Pistons certainly ARE is a team with five starters and numerous bench guys who can punish you at any time. Perhaps this is why they're not a "superstar" team: because they don't have 2, or 3, or 4 shlumps on the court you don't have to bother guarding along side their "marquee" players (see also PHX Suns).

If you're merely observing that they play sublime team ball, I'm with you all the way.

DJ Ninja said...

Which is to say: After Joe Dumars offers Chauncy a $65M contract this summer when Chauncy becomes a free agent, I believe everyone will know he's a superstar. Of course, it is exactly at that point that his skills will begin an inexorable decline. PGs head downhill in their early 30s. Do you think they should be eligible for early AARP benefits?