The Amazing Race – Latin America Edition?

According to Variety report last month, Disney Media Networks Latin America and Discovery Networks Latin America/U.S. Hispanic are to produce a local version of long running reality show “The Amazing Race” for the entire region.

I’m a latecomer into really appreciating what a great show The Amazing Race is. I have to admit I used to discriminate it, for being just another Reality Show, which I’m gladly to admit I was very wrong. Although current season which debuted a little over a month ago, it’s a little underwhelming compared to the more engaging Seasons 12 (the first full season I ever watched) and 11 (the All-Star Season), it’s been at least fun.

Having the visiting the Northeastern region of Brazil in the first 2 legs was really interesting, and reminded me of what I said about the region’s potential to hold legs of the race, back from my post about my visit to Dianópolis, in the state of Tocantins. Fun fact. Dianópolis is not that far away from Salvador (in the state of Bahia), which held the first leg of this season.

I wonder how the The Amazing Race – Latin America Edition will work out, in which my concerns can be approached in two topics.

1) This wouldn’t be the first international edition of the show. Asia has been steadily producing their a version, with 3 full season already shown and possibly more on the way. For the Latin America edition, what will be the scope, will it get the scope that the original US version, with a race around the globe? Or will it just end up like the smaller version of itself, which is what happened when a Brazilian production company optioned to adapted and the result was just bland, as it end up (due to budgetary and time constrains) into a race in Brazil, instead of a race around the globe. As I read, that was one of the major criticisms towards the Family season, in which the show lost scope and a lot of the faster dynamics that the duo teams allows.

2) Onto the subject of Brazil, as it seem always suffers somewhat in the region deals due to the fact, that despite being the largest country in Latin America (and I’m accounting Mexico into the equation), it’s almost the only country within which does not count Spanish among one of the main languages. Yes, people we do not speak Spanish in Brazil. Brazil’s, main native language is Portuguese.  And despite similarities that allow people to communicate among themselves, the deeper and richer aspects of each language is still quite different, and also due to that the cultural backgrounds result in differences. It’s Colonization History 101.

The Tordesilhas Pact from XVI century, dividing the world between Portugal and Spain.

The Tordesilhas Pact from XVI century, dividing the world between Portugal and Spain.

A very recent example was with the Fremantle and 19 property Pop Idol, which originated the US phenomenon American Idol. Due to already pointed languages constraints,  While Sony, which owns the cable network Canal Sony that shows American Idol for all Latin American audiences (including Brazil),  was able licence to produce the Latin American Idol, the licence was acquired by another company in Brazil. Latin American Idol is a prime time show for almost every country in the region, except Brazil, in which the show is simply hidden into a weird time slot at Saturdays. The would never work as primetime show in Brazil. Just like US Idol, the contestants majorly sings big pop or rock successes of the native toungue, mostly of which are unknown to Brazilian audiences, and if shown during primitime, would just alienate any potential audience they had for that time slot. The Brazilian version, called Idolos, got other issues itself, but don’t really matter into the discussion right now.

Thus I wonder what’s the plan with the Latin American Edition of The Amazing Race, it has the potential to reach all local audiences, without some of the culture constraints that Idol suffered.

That’s basically what I wanted to share about this issue, but since we’re talking about differences and subjects related to The Amazing Race, I’d like to make a mini rant.

In light of recent history making event with the visit of a Chinese convey metting with Taiwan this week.  China and Taiwan issues are lingering and complicated.

And Taiwan’s presence in Season 12 should be made clear, not mistakenly reported or just ignored (since it was such a important leg for that race – the one before the final leg), and this rant it’s specifically towards you (Taiwan is not China) and you (for completely ignoring to mention). End of Rant.

Hoist the Colors… Part 3

I’d like to start this hopefully conclusion part of this really long topic post, by fowarding you to two articles that just arrived to me merely minutes ago through Twitter.

Judge Orders YouTube to Give All User Histories to Viacom.

Elite Torrents admin Dove faces 10 years.

This is such a complicated matter, that you can’t completely blame the companies for wanting to protect their investments. Rights that laws from each country seek to protect.

Protection is an important word in this subject, US’ Copyright laws or Brazilian Authorship laws (as I’ve touched on before here)  were written to protect the owners and creators, creating obstacles for people with bad intentions. Problem is when those obstacles created for protection, become some big blinding wall or sluggish chains that will bind any tipe of flexibility.

A great part of interactivity possibilities that the internet allow nowadays, is that no one is really isolated anymore, despite sometimes social abilities developed through technological resources sometimes only applying to that certain environments, sharing became a requirement, even if sharing is for a selected number of people.

The thing is legally speaking, there are things you can share, and there are things you can’t share, the in between area between them is what make all things so blurry and gloomy. The p2p networks which is based on broaden the reach of lending something to a friend, into another level, have both bright and dark sides. Content providers, are investing on being active in new tech, but are weary on really distributing that content, creating mechanisms to limit its distribution. It’s frustrating as I pointed in part 1, when you can talk with everyone anywhere around the world, but you can’t get the same content through similar online resources, because the content provider won’t allow it. It bothers me that still audiences are treated by them as mostly receivers of content.

There has to be a new solution. Things have started to change, but not fast enough.  Some examples include initiatives toward creating immersive experiences, playing with public participation into fictional worlds. But still most of those proposals are limited by country boundaries, with limited interplay by audiences from any country in the world.

The Creative Commons project is a very interesting initiative that attempts to unify a license that can be used anywhere in the world, it never really stops you from also licensing your creation through specific protective channels in your native country, and it works is a lot of countries. Trouble is, sometimes create ambiguous situations, in which allowances provided by Creative Commons, are completely negated by local protective laws. Flipping it a bit protective devices provided by local law, become at some levels questionable.

A real middle ground has to be found. What sickens me is that instead of looking for a middle ground, we have people reaching exactly for the opposite road, such initiative include the Brazilian Senator Azeredo. Which is pretty much making what the New York judge just forced Google do for Viacom’s sakes, sound like small joke, since every such action will become the standard procedure in Brazil.  It simply chains up, an already quite narrow law structure, it almost takes us back to the times of military dictatorship, but instead of crazy military dudes playing gods, we’re just getting closer to a business run reality, in which BuyNLarge (have you seen Wall-e?) or Blue Sun type corporations with run the life of everyone in the world. Professor Sérgio Amadeu through his blog, has been doing a great coverage about this alarming issue. Even if you have to rely on translator to get the general idea, is worth checking it out.

A modern poet, once sang:

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Maybe there’s a small part of my soul is one of those pure anarchists, that thinks that chaos is necessary, despite my rational thrive for order.

Maybe, I’m such a dreamer, that someday chaos and order are at the end only one, and in such chaotic harmony, things will just be figured out freedom will really be guaranteed, but creation will also be protected.

Then, you start to question, what does it mean when companies start endorsing messages that stimulate actions for people fight against those same limited laws. That was the message I got from Pirates of the Caribeean, and for such reason I wanted to start this too long discussion, quoting one of the movies, with a line that sought exactly to expose this fight, this struggle. What does this mean?

Well, we’ll see as the story progress.

Hoist the Colors… Part 2

Won’t be providing the content I promised at the of yesterday’s post, instead I’ll do it tomorrow, and point to the same discussion elsewhere.

Basically, I’m switching the gears a bit here, I’d like to point the few readers here, to follow me to a certain Whedonesque thread, where important issues about this are being discussed. Well, at the end of the day I was going to tie everything up with the release of Dr. Horrible after all, so better early than late.

I think I might actually post a few more comments there, before coming back here. But, stick around for part 3, where I’ll attempt the distill a few more words in this really long discussion.

Hoist the Colors…

From the words of Elizabeth Swann from “PIrates of the Caribeen: At World’s End”: You will listen to me! LISTEN! The other ships will still be looking to us, to the Black Pearl, to lead, and what will they see? Frightened bilgerats aboard a derelict ship? No, no they will see free men and freedom! And what the enemy will see, they will see the flash of our cannons, and they will hear the ringing of our swords, and they will know what we can do! By the sweat of our brow and the strength of our backs and the courage in our hearts! Gentlemen, hoist the colors!

I know, it’s hard to take someone seriously, when this someone is quoting a fictional character from Pirates of Caribeean, instead of some academic, with some text that says mostly the same thing. But, bare with me, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

How much did it bug you when, after reading some interesting post from a blogger about a very interesting subject, but then you find an embedded video from that’s essential for the post setting, and you try to watch it, but end up bumping into the non-availability message.

hulu error

Let’s see what they tell us…

For now, Hulu is a U.S. service only. That said, our intention is to make Hulu’s growing content lineup available worldwide. This requires clearing the rights for each show or film in each specific geography and will take time. We’re encouraged by how many content providers have already been working along these lines so that their programs can be available over the Internet to a much larger, global audience. The Hulu team is committed to making great programming available across the globe.

I don’t blame Hulu for it, as they deal mostly with content provided from mainstream providers, it’s just some mind warping issue regarding legality, which I’ll try to assess today. I’m no law specialist, but I like to reflect on the amount of frustration. I won’t try to discuss ethical issues pertaining disrespecting the authors and creators of the content, as it will take another ten pages of endless discussion.  Won’t try even to start to consider online trolling, into the equations, as online social environment, is another long endless subject. I’ll stick to the corporate view.

The access to content environment has changed a lot in the recent years. The Youtube explosion is only the best example of a sucesss of the .flv protocol for video proliferation, as there are other hundreds of other websites (I’ve been using the download helper add-on for Firefox, and there’s even a ranking), that try to emulate it’s approach, or prefer to be explore specific types of videos focused towards a specific public. Despite rules against it, it’s not only about getting people access to original content created by the users, but also, allow people to get content otherwise unavailable, even when it means breaking the terms of use, by posting copyrighted material which was not created by the user. How many times have you caught yourself reminiscing about some childhood memories though a show or cartoon (or even only the opening), that someone did upload to one of these websites. A lot of times, the easy access to these tool, just provided easier outsource channels to grassroots movements that have existed for years.

Science Fiction and fantasy fans from all over the world, might be the ones most experienced into this field, as years ago was even harder to get content from the things you are fan of.  Fansub is a common word for Anime fans, as it is defined as an unofficial video tape release of an anime that has been subtitled to a western language by fans.  Technically illegal, it was born as a grassroot movement, in which fans weren’t getting the content from anywhere else, and found a way to do it themselves. Most experienced Fansubbers follow the strict rule, that they’d stop distributing a fansubbed production, whenever an official distributions arises. Profitting from it is illegal, but fans do try to compensate the hard work that’s put into it.

Nowadays, fansubbing can even be considered to be a much wider movement, with fans from around the world, translating and creating subtitles for movies and simply every tv show which is ripped daily. A simple google search can get you access to lastest bittorrent file for the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica, Lost or even Law & Order. Another simple search will get you to websites providing with the subtitles for the episodes, for those who are not native speakers, even then, sometimes people from the US, have trouble to understand slangs and quirks from british english.

Is any of this legal? Not at all.  Mainstream content providers face a major issue, in which they are simply uncapable of keeping up with the beat required on the web, as people around the world can get an episode a few minutes after it been shown for the first time in it official time slot.  Well, some international viewers might even get to watch something, before US viewers on pacific time zone. What happens to the market when country borders become a major obstacle. When official channels, still provide blocks to international viewers, to access the content, the only solution available is to seek for illegal sources, which and the end of the day, even friedlier, because they are for free.

What happens when internet is a major issue?Just like time has pretty much hurt news coverage, time is also an issue here. Fans (which are exactly the type of people who will and have the income to invest on what they enjoy) don’t want to wait another month or on worst case scenarios over two years to get content that’ll be discussed hours later in message boards around the globe. In such context, users try to treat each others as equals, even as people on more high end points of tech saviness attempt to include tech newbies. Problem is, from the market point of view, they’re not equal. How do you sell a show time slot to companies when the market share becomes a blurry concept. I expect another several long years for any possible initial agreement towards rights, monetization and how this will affect content distribution. It won’t be something that will be solved in a day or two.

(to be continued… tomorrow I’ll be back with more about why this “us against them” thing is what’s hurting the market, why change is needed, I’ll come in with my 2 cents about a polemic project from a old minded senator from Brazil, and try to conclude this long post on why the hell I quoted Pirates of the Caribeean on the first place).

“Just doing their Job” a review of “9mm: São Paulo”


What? 9mm: São Paulo is Fox first effective investment into producing a Brazilian tv show. Their previous attempt should not named, as it’s somewhat close to relation of what “Joey” (the show, not the character) meant for the fans of “Friends”. It’s basically a police procedural drama set in South America largest city São Paulo

There’s is commitment to produce a total of 13 episodes for its first season, which are still under production, 4 of which will be shown this month, at first as testing ground for how it might perform, as the show will also be shown by Fox other affiliated through Latin America. It’s not the first investment from international companies to produce local content. The last few years we’ve seen HBO produce some successful mini series and Sony after some failed attempts into the world of variety show, found in spinning Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model”, into “Brazilian Next Top Model”, a successful product from the land that is homeland for a 1/3 of “Victoria’s Secret” Top Models and some of the highest paid model in the world.

What does 9mm: São Paulo remind me of? When I saw the first tv spots I thought it would be just another Jerry Bruckheimer-ish CSI rip off. Yes the characters come out from the same archetypes the ones we have in the CSI’s shows, but the result is somewhat different.

In my opinion, the US show that it resembles the most is actually the short lived, but excellent Tim Minear’s “The Inside”, which did happen to be another Fox production. If I had to describe the show for a friend I’d call it a mix of “The Inside” with “NYPD: Blue”, with a touch of CSI.

The show in a nutshell(mildly spoilerific). 9mm: São Paulo it’s an hour-long crime drama, that tells the story of a homicide unit in the largest city in Brazil, as they take on violent cases from dangerous regions of the city. What happens when law and crime might actually walk hand by hand. The team is lead by Eduardo, a young detective in a career fast-track, partly due to his close relationships to a congressman, who might become his father-in-law. Horacio is veteran investigator of the team, with a shady past and a very grey approach toward the cases. Tavares is a 38-year-old newbie, who’s just out of the police academy, and tend to have a very black-&-white view of the world. Luísa, is the only woman in the team, who is a single mom and had her daughter when she was only 15, she has to juggle her constantly busy professional life, while raising a teenage daughter and dealing with an uncooperative ex-husband. 3P is the hotshot youngest member of the team, who can be impulsive and very naive.

This first episode titled Aqui Se Faz, Aqui Se Paga, (Here you sow, Here you pay) have the team investigating two murders, that ends up having a common point in the figure of a talent manager who gives”managing talents”a deeper meaning, and also he has some past relation to Horacio, which leads to its surprising final scene. As the several characters repeat among themselves, they were just doing their job.

What Works? I really liked the casting, it’s clear through the pilot episode that we have a strong main cast, and some supporting cast played by some known actors. I really loved the fact that the team leader is a black man, and they play well into introducing each of the team players and their personal lives and it’s amazing how imperfect they all are. The show pacing is uneven, it get better on the second half, when the cases become one. The use of the “shaky cam”, emulating the reality of a documentary, works well in most scenes, especially in action scene when we have chases or confrontation between characters. I loved the fact that they set the show in São Paulo, not just because I lived here for most of my life (or for the fact that we share a lifelong rivalry with Rio), but it does give a setting of Brazil as urban world, not just “Football”, “Half-naked woman”, “Beaches” or “Coffee”. The dysfunctional characters and their rich backgrounds does show a lot of promise, and make me curious for what we’ll see in the next episodes. They also had some pretty transition scenes effect, it reminded me of a mix of “Angel”, “Woman’s Murder Club” and “CSI: New York”.

What doesn’t work? The shaky cam works well for most of the narrative, but it seemed overused, especially in more intimate scenes, which instead of making the viewer a discreet eavesdropper of a personal conversation, just makes you think that it was being filmed by an overactive operator. I’m all for making it imperfect, however It was getting so distracting on some moments from the first half of the episode, that made me want to scream at the screen for it. Maybe I’m just too spoiled by writers who can pen amazing dialogs, but some of the dialogs in the show were just bad, it made me cringe and feel bad for the actors who were delivering them and were doing their best with the material given. They didn’t play much the team dynamics as a whole, but I expect it will change in the next episodes.

The Bottom Line… as such an ambitious first experiment, for how promising it looks, despite the few laws, It should be considered close to success, and very bright future for other fiction products from local writers and producers. I will surely check the next 3 episodes that they’ll show this month.

PS. I should remember to credit Brian Ford Sullivan, from The Futon Critic, as somewhat the inspiration for this review’s structure.

PPS. In case you didn’t notice, if you click on the picture above, it’s linked to the show official Site.

So this is US TV for next fall season

Won’t do lengthy a coverage like I attempted to do last year, so please check out the extensive and very resourceful coverage from The Futon Critic, as it’s as detailed as you need.

Some useful specific links as follows.

Full 2008-2009 Fall Line Up (as always, subject to change as we approach the fall)

PIlot Reviews (some through pilots, some through presentation, and some through only the script)

Some notes:

Check this brief promotional piece for “DOLLHOUSE”, featuring Joss and Eliza:

– Still think that JJ Abrams is overated, but will check out “Fringe”
– The lack of new compelling shows (unless you’re called Fox, under new management), amazes me, at the same time, it’s so nice that so many debuts from 2007-2008 season, got renewed.
– Still don’t get the fuss about “Mooonlight” (previously known as Twilight), just get over it, or get your creator to create official continuation for it in another medium.