Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Welcome To Thrush TV: UNCLE Still Blocked


UNCLE fans still aren't happy.  In fact, they're even unhappier.

As detailed in another post the Plattsburgh MeTV affiliate station has been blocking transmission of The Man From UNCLE for its half-hour Vermont news program at 10 PM.

At first WPUTZ-TV on Channel 5.3 would cut to the last 30 minutes of each UNCLE episode after the news.   Now the station is has even eliminated that on Sunday nights, showing reruns of The Twilight Zone.

Channel 5 simulcasts the same news at subchannel 5.2 .  So people can get their Vermont news fix there.

The odd part is that local news does conflict with another MeTV program on Saturday night, Svengoolie, that features old Universal Studio monster movies in a two hour format hosted by a goofy host.  The last time I checked at 10:30 PM the station threw in another half-hour program but then it broadcast all two hours of Svengoolie, one hour behind its regular schedule.

So why doesn't UNCLE get the same treatment?

Gee, was it something I said, WPUTZ-TV?

I heard from one UNCLE fan who was wondering why reruns of The Twilight Zone ended up on his video recording when he was trying to time-shift UNCLE.

Because Channel 5, despite being located in New York State, is gonna to cram its Vermont news on both subchannels, like it or not.  Your viewership doesn't count as either a New York news watcher or UNCLE fan.

Remember: The public owns the airwaves.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lost, Seeking A Sign

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush


Before you explore an unknown Adirondack backroad make sure you have GPS, a good map, or at least a compass.

My friend Jack invited me to take a drive through the regional hinterlands.  It was a rainy day but there was always the chance the clouds would clear, releasing the bright sun.  Either way I brought my camera along.

We traveled to Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and then began to return home on the main drag, Route 3 East.  Around Vermontville I saw a peak covered with a thick low hanging cloud but couldn't get a good shot over the treeline.  We took a sideroad hoping for an open spot to capture the image.

You would think locals such as ourselves would know two basic facts by now:

1.  Backroads out in the wild countryside are usually forest corridors, walls of trees on each side, clear views are rare.

2.  Backroads are hardly marked with signs.  When you encounter an intersection there isn't a signpost indicating the names of the roads or pointing towards the nearest community.  You are on your own.  Limbo.

So Jack kept driving, thinking that if we just kept going we would end up back on Route 3, a few miles past Vermontville.

There was no way to track the direction of our travel.  The sun was reduced to a pale sheet spread across the leaden sky, hardly a useful reference point.

Jack spotted a sign on the side of the road.  It was one of those ancient historical markers, rust brown with raised yellow letters.  The sign said that we were on an old turnpike that ran between Port Kent and a place called Hopkinton.  No details were provided to the present name of the road, even a county road number.

At another point we checked out a "witness post" sign.  The white metal plaque stated that a survey marker was nearby, do not disturb, contact Washington, DC, for more info.  An indication that we were really in rural limbo.  Speculation: if someone removes that marker the area will fade into nothingness.   

Later at one intersection I spotted a sign — not an official state one — that simply said PLATTSBURGH with an arrow pointing to the left.  The sign looked homemade.  I suspect that one of the few people who lived in this area got tired of people pounding on his door, asking for directions back to civilization.

The road took us back to Route 3.  Relieved to see the familiar passageway we drove on, only to find ourselves driving once again into Vermontville.  Despite the fact it seemed we were traveling eastward, we had backtracked miles to the opposite point.  Like I said: Limbo.

But I did get some good photographs on that maze of backroads, including shots of collapsed buildings, forgotten, left to the forces of nature.

My theory: the owner of a pre-buckled structure wanted to maintain his property but couldn't find his way back to it, he kept driving in circles and gave up.  Without proper maintenance entropy did its job.

And with Halloween approaching I suspect that the souls of lost travelers unable to reach their final destination will be seen on those twisty, never-ending Adirondack backroads.

But I won't be one.

One spot did open up during the backroad odyssey so I could capture the low clouds obscuring the mountains.

Monday, October 06, 2014


Consternation at UNCLE headquarters over "The Half-Ass Affair."


They've cut Napoleon Solo in half.

No, the evil organization called Thrush wasn't behind this dastardly deed.  It's a local TV station that stupidly assumes that people won't mind missing the first half of the superspy's heroics every Sunday night at 10 PM.

Tonight I tuned in to Channel 5.3 (Me TV) to watch The Man From UNCLE and found WPUTZ-TV was running its local newscast until 10:30 PM.  Then without any explanation or warning it cut back to the Me TV network feed right in the middle of an UNCLE affair.

For the uniformed The Man From UNCLE is a spy adventure series from the 1960s, TV's answer to James Bond.  Compared to some old TV shows (for example, take MASH — please!) it hasn't been seen around rerunland that often.

There's really no good reason for WPUTZ-TV to chop an episode in two because on its other subchannel, 5.2, it's simulcasting the same news program.  On that channel (the CW affiliate) an hour of Seinfeld reruns are scheduled but that series is formatted in the 30 minute format.  So one episode is blocked but the other can still be seen in its entirety at 10:30 PM.

I don't watch Channel 5 local news.  One reason are the incessant ads that run on all three of WPUTZ's channels extolling the greatness of its news team.  Every ten minutes it's bragging that its news is the best in the business: the best journalism, the best weather forecasting, the best sports coverage, the best humility.

Also, I live in New York State but Channel 5 panders to the almighty Vermont advertising dollar.  Green Mountain State news until you choke.  Its competition across the lake, Channel 3/WCAX-TV, is professional, not a dog-and-pony show.  Sometimes it does a better job of covering news on this side of Lake Champlain.

WCAX's logo: "Vermont's Own Channel 3."

WPUTZ's logo: "Vermont Owns Channel 5."

Before the fall season kicked off the Channel 5 news trio — the two anchorpersons and the weatherman — were seen 24/7 in a promo rhapsodizing that the popular Ellen DeGeneres talk show was moving to their station.  Extreme close-ups showed the TV news team lacing up their shoes.  Why?  Because they were getting ready to dance.

And then the trio danced around, cavorting like coked up clowns, giddy that Ellen was coming to Channel 5.  Big smiles and a hearty "Welcome!"

Yes, happy dance = professional journalism.

So will Channel 5 change its mind and run The Man From UNCLE in its entirety on Sunday nights?

I doubt it.  From what I've seen the station manager will just dance around the issue.  Giddily.