Santa Claus, The Holidays and Christmas.

It’s cold, yes, but we haven’t really gotten the snow yet.  Kids are still in school and I sure don’t see any open fire’s to roast chestnuts on, but there is no arguing.  Christmas is here!  Whoa… Wait, am I allowed to say that?  Can I say the C word?

As a youngin’ my hectic schedule of multiplication tables and spelling tests kept me from noticing the coming of the holidays.  Thanks to a certain someone popping up in every television and print ad, the excitement level was nothing short of monumental.  Obviously I’m talking about Santa Claus.

 Ah Santa.  That big jolly man, red and white jacket, rosy cheeks and nose.  More importantly, a nice big bag of gifties (obviously all for me!) slung over his shoulder.  He was everywhere!  It was great.  The image of Santa and Coca-Cola pretty much became synonymous.  Santa smiling and holding a coke.  Santa sneaking out of a house with a coke.  Santa chugging a coke.  He was even ON the Coke can!

Nowadays… Not so much.  The signs of the holidays, they are a changin’.  Gone are the Santa’s and the elves, and in come marching snowmen and Cola-loving polar bears.  As you can tell from my last entry, I’m a very large fan of animals, so I’m not complaining about polar bears on my television.  It’s just a little interesting to see how different things are.  We don’t say Christmas anymore, it’s “The Holidays”.  I’m not sure about you and yours, but these days, the Holiday season is far less about religion and more about family and togetherness.  So, exchange love and gifts! Happy Holidays from Chester + Company!

Joy and Pain - Television in the Fall

In the past I have talked about my love of the fall.  The crispness of the air, a general feeling of calm and serenity as nature unwinds after a busy summer.  What else does fall bring?  You know what I’m talking about!

The joys and often-time sorrow of the new fall television lineup!

In a previous entry I wrote about American adaptations of hugely successful foreign shows, like the UK’s Skins or Australia’s Kath & Kim.  The American versions were terrible and completely flopped.  Is this failing formula going to have the same outcome with The X-Factor?

The original British version of the show has always been, and still is, immensely successful.  The American incarnation of the show, which includes series creator Simon Cowell as a judge, seems to be following suit.  The mistake?  Trying to re-create the original show, rather than reinventing it.  According to my research (also know as addiction to foreign shows) all signs point towards “yes, it’s a loser!”

 Next on the chopping block:  Ringer.  After starring in, arguably, the largest cult television show in history (and a personal favorite of mine) Buffy The Vampire Slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar has returned to television in Ringer.  While the plot of the show is extremely interesting, it seems to be depending on the cross-over fan loyalty of Buffy.  Not creating its own audience.  Mind you, it’s hard for me to say.  The first episode was pretty difficult to get through…

After the success of Mad Men, everyone seems to be obsessed with the 1960’s.  The suits, the hair, smoking and drinking without a care in the world.  Through the scope of 2011 eyes, these seem like fun and glamorous times. Now, here comes Pan Am to perpetuate the myth—starring big screen actor Christina Ricci as a flight attendant on the iconic Pan American World Airways.  The absurd espionage plot line is addictive and the refreshing innocence of the era can’t help bringing a smile to your face.  I see big things for this one!  Quite unlike another 60’s show—The Playboy Club

Many of the new shows will inevitably meet their fate… Cancellation.  Yes, making a successful TV show is tough.  Good writing and casting, but a lot of the success also relies on luck and timing.  Cross your fingers for your favorites, my friends! A happy winter depends on it.

Simon Cowell, Tyra Banks, Chester Goluch.

When the television was finding its way into the average household, one of the most popular programs was a singing competition.  It’s a format that’s actually been around for a very long time.  Really, who out of anyone can say they’ve never heard of Star Search?

These shows are still happening today, with wild popularity.  American Idol, America’s Next Top Model, RuPaul’s Drag Race, the list of shows seems endless. There are a few great things about all these shows.  One is that each of them offers something of special interest to the viewer.  More importantly, the contestants need to have talent.  The competition’s the thing.

That’s where you come in!

With 24 entries, the Chester + Company Creative Challenge is a lot like these programs.  Each of our contestants is bringing their own brand of creativity, uniqueness and talent from all areas of the creative spectrum.

There is one other small detail that makes our Challenge similar to these hit shows.  Hello, prizes!  With the 1st place winner receiving their choice of a 3-month internship or a one thousand dollar cash prize, victory seems like a pretty sweet deal.  But we can’t very well just throw away the prize not selected by the winner, can we?  That belongs to the runner-up!

Whether the judge is Simon Cowell, Tyra Banks or Chester Goluch there is nothing quite like a good competition.  In the case of the Chester + Company Creative Challenge, the competition is fierce, and we look forward to seeing who end ups on top and who will be sent home!

The Grammys: Awards, a Show or Both?


Last night was the night all music and pop-culture aficionados have been waiting for.  The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.  With nominations transcending all genres of music, it was sure to be an exciting night and predictions were all over the map!  Had Taylor Swift paved the way for every budding country star?  Would 16-year-old Canadian Justin Bieber prove that not just screaming tweens could give him recognition?  Or perhaps Lady Gaga would reign supreme as the new Queen of Pop.

The show sounded too good to be true.  No seriously, it was literally too good to be true.  The list of performers was endless:  Christina Aguilera, Muse, Arcade Fire, Mick Jagger, Cee-lo, Barbara Streisand.  This show was shaping up to be around, oh, 5 hours.  Clearly this was not actually the case.

The show itself was fairly exciting.  Powerhouse act after act took the stage to wow the television viewers and fans lucky enough to be in the audience.  Something was missing though, where were the Grammys?  Why were nearly no awards being presented to anyone?  When a musical act would take the stage an announcer would state their name and what Grammys they had won or been nominated for that night.

When did this happen?  Isn’t an award show supposed to be dedicated to seeing the recipients actually receive their awards?

Although a spectacular musical production, the Grammys have turned into just that, a production.  At the end of the day it all comes down to ratings.  Would you rather see someone receive an award, or see more performances whether the artists win or lose?  Although we may have missed out on seeing stars gushing over the fruits of their labour we were given the chance to experience more music.  Give a little to get a little, right?  It was quite the show and would have been a shame to miss, but I’m still a little lost as to who actually won anything.

Big Brother or Beverly Hills: Success or Disaster?


All this discussion about television has really gotten me thinking about the formulas for success or failure of revamped TV shows.  Success stories aren’t as hard to find as you might think.  The first to come to mind is the Big Brother series.

Originally developed by Endemol in the Netherlands in 1999 it was an instant success.  A British version was developed in 2000 that lasted right up until 2010, becoming one of the most successful shows in British history.  There have been several global incarnations of the show, including a US series that is still running with high ratings.  How did this show break the failure formula, and become such a hit?

In the British series, the rules of Big Brother are very strict, with the most fundamental rule being that Housemates may not speak of nominations or evictions at any time.  The series is not about scheming and plotting to get rid of people from the house, but more about the development of relationships between Housemates.  However, the American series is the exact opposite.  It’s about competition and alliances, following well-laid plans to be rid of enemies.

The only commonalities between the shows are the premise and name.  Big Brother USA was not trying to reproduce a show, but actually create something new.  Maybe this tactic could have been used when developing Skins for North America?  Rather than trying to make a replica of the series, take the premise of the show and build on that.

It’s not just imports that are suffering.  The remake failure trend goes further.  Does anyone remember the tragic remake of Beverly Hills: 90210?  Was it really necessary to bring back the base storyline of a brother and sister and their trials and tribulations in Beverly Hills? Or bringing back characters from a show 10 years retired?  The story would likely have thrived if it had simply been teens facing problems at West Beverly High.  Let’s contrast this particular failure with the new Degrassi series.  Although former characters were brought into the story line, they were not the focus of the main plot and most importantly, they were never used as a promotional tool.  A new cast was created to actually connect with the new target audience. 

The titles of these news shows often allude to a “next generation” or a “new class” and that’s really what it comes down to.  If a series is going to be remade, the core ingredients that made the original a success have to be refashioned to appeal to a completely different audience.