New ‘Countdown’ begins on Current TV

The liberal firebrand news host known as Keith Olbermann returns to television tonight after departing from MSNBC a little under six months ago.

As I reported HERE, Olbermann takes his “Countdown” show to the fledgling TV station and Web community known as Current TV and Current.com. (Current was founded in 2005 and pulls in under 60,000 viewers during peak hours according to the New York Times)

The real motivation for Olbermann here is a majority stake in the company. He joins former Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt as an executive of the company.

Full disclosure: I interned for Current’s Vanguard back in summer ’09. Blogged about my experience here and also contributed to Current’s news blog here and here.

Current is not exactly a house name just yet, but getting a heavy hitter such as Olbermann on board may start to change that — at lest that’s what the station is banking on.

Besides Vanguard and now Olbermann, the network received mass media spotlight for its two reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, that were held captive in North Korea.

Keep an eye on this five-year-old channel, because despite setbacks and low ratings, (around 25,000 viewers during prime time) shows like Vanguard, infoMania and now Olbermann’s are worthy of your attention.

Current has always been forward-facing: it initially gathered much of it’s programming through incorporating submissions from online contributors and was the first station to incorporate tweets into it’s coverage of the 2008 presidential debate.

But with new efforts focused on getting the station into more homes and a recent redesign (or more like design overhaul), I have heard few outcries but my own over what I find to be one very big problem:

Current, which was known for bridging the online and televised worlds, stopped allowing full episodes online. So much for anywhere, any time. What year is it?

The channel says the only way to continue carriage on networks like Verizon, TimeWarner and Comcast was to offer exclusive deals and Olbermann tweeted that the TV companies have them “over a barrel.”

Instead, Current is pushing clips big time, all over Hulu, iTunes and YouTube.

But for those of us who already cancelled our exorbitant cable subscriptions, we’re shit out of luck.

I can’t even legally purchase the shows in their entirety…anywhere. Now that’s just not right.

That’s why I scheduled a viewing party of sorts at a friends house for tonight’s premieres of Countdown with Keith Olbermann and a new season of Vanguard.

WATCH TONIGHT: Countdown premieres at 8/9c and Vanguard’s new season follows at 9/8c.

Check out behind the scenes with “Countdown” HERE.

A place where dead TV series can live on

I’m a little late in the game on this one, but I finally got around to watching the season finale of NBC’s “The Event.

While far from one of my favorite shows (LOST, 24, Fringe), “The Event” blends all the genres I love: action, adventure, sci-fi and drama.

But, as good-but-expensive television series go, it was recently announced that “The Event” was cancelled. Damn!

Every time I get engrossed in a good new series, the money-hungry network execs cancel the crap out of them.

Last year it was “Flash Forward” and this year it was the “The Event.”

I was REALLY, REALLY upset when I found out about “Flash Forward” last season. Loved this show and I was totally hooked. Great character development, intriguing government conspiracies, double-crossing intelligence agents, the works — everything a man needs for a good TV show.

Both shows ended after a single season, and both ended with a bang — basically the same concept that started the show’s plot happened again. Sounds cheesy, but it worked for me. Same sort of thing worked for Keifer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer in eight seasons of “24.” (Where’s that “24” movie we’ve been hearing about anyway?)

The real news here is the rumor that “The Event” may resurface on SyFy.

According to media blog The Deadline, the producers of the show have received interest from multiple cable and digital entities, including Netflix and SyFy.

If there’s one trend I like in the TV world these days, is the continuing rise of services like Netflix and Hulu and a creative desire to try out new kinds of programming. Or in this case, find a home for a quality show that didn’t have enough viewers to remain on primetime.

Sure, it’s easier to get lost in the sea of Web videos, between YouTube’s memes and Vimeo’s fledgling filmmakers, but we must do something to keep the quality.

America has already been sucked deep into reality shows like “The Real Housewives”, “The Bachelor”, “Survivor” and “American Idol.” Personally, I don’t need to turn on the TV to see what other people’s “real” lives are scripted to look like. It’s all just a bunch of cat fights and teary-eyed nonsense anyway.

But here’s to forward-thinking operations. It’s 2011, come on guys. If a show musters up a hardcore niche fanbase, no matter how relative sized it may be, that’s got to be something worth banking on. What about iTunes launching its own series? Season pass only.

Or how about Comcast, who now owns NBC and controls plentiful TV pipes, going iPad-only on a show like the Event? We can AirPlay it or Slingbox it onto our widescreens and get the full experience for a fraction of the investment.

I know the writers over at Pop Culture Junkie would agree.

It’s time to find new ways of keeping the good content alive when a major network station can’t afford to take a risk or think outside the damn box.