Comcast: Cut the BS on Fox Soccer in HD and just answer already!

[This is the email I sent to Comcast, for all the good it will do.]

I’m getting fed up with the BS line the customer service people are told to give as an answer when I call to ask why I have to pay extra for Fox Soccer Channel and GolTV.

I was told, after waiting ONE FREAKING YEAR since my last call, the same BS: that Comcast cannot carry these channels in HD because the networks won’t allow it.

Fox, of course, says that they’d be happy to have the ONE OF THE TWO LARGEST CABLE COMPANIES IN AMERICA carrying their network.

Clearly one company is not telling the truth. Given that Fox can only gain from carriage the logical answer is that Comcast is not being honest.

What, is $250 a month for TV and Internet not enough to be at least treated with respect???

As it happens last summer I spoke with a manager after getting the standard BS line and he told me that Comcast was planning a network upgrade that would increase HD capacity but it wouldn’t be ready until about June of this year. Well, its August and I see I can get WGN and KCSM in HD but still no Fox Soccer Channel.

Why is Comcast not willing to answer honestly and openly? Look at the hottest thread on the customer forums,, over 400 posts from customers begging or telling of switching to a different provider and yet all Comcast Larry can say is he has brought the request to the team’s attention.

Answer already!

International Mystery on Public Television

For the last few years I’ve watched the International Mystery series on KCSM (a public television station associated run by the San Mateo County Community College District). The series rotates through many Western European crime series including the original (Swedish) Wallander, Detective Montalbano from Sicily and the long-running German Tatort.

Note: This has been running Monday nights at 10 with a repeat around 3 or 4 a.m. but the KCSM website shows them as moving to Sundays at 6 and 9 p.m. and a repeat on Tuesday night.

I really like the differences from typical American series. To a degree these shows are similar to what we get on the cable networks, not including the nudity–which is blurred–and profanity–which is not in the subtitles–in that the ending is not always neat and the protagonists don’t just get or find all the answers.

There’s also much more time spent on the main characters’ personal life. I wonder if this is down to smaller budgets but even so it makes the series’ more engaging.

Fortunately the shows are never dubbed into English, which generally throws me off due to the lack of synchronization of sound and image, and with today’s large flatscreens subtitles aren’t a bother. KCSM always blocks two hours for this but the shows are never more than 96 minutes.

Currently we’re getting Montalbano, a detective from the House school of crankypants; Donna Leon: Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries, which is set in Venice but filmed in German; Van Veeteren, a kindly old retired Swedish cop; Detective Inspector Irene Huss, an attractive middle-aged married mother of two Swedish cop; and the classic French flic Maigret in a French television adaptation, though I think his run is done for now as no episodes are set for July or August.

My Future Web Invoice

Reading MC Seigler’s Netflix Original Content Is Much More Than A Strategy Shift — It Could Shift An Industry I thought again about cutting the cord. Our household is a very heavy consumer of cable content: soccer on Fox Soccer Channel, Gol TV and ESPN, movies and series on HBO, Showtime and Starz, original cable series on SyFy (though much less so than I would have expected if you asked 30 years ago!), USA, FX, AMC and A&E plus the normal fare from the fivefour main over the air networks.

Accordingly we pay Comcast a pretty hefty fee, adding on broadband internet to the above. North of $200 a month to be honest.

What if we could just buy the broadband from Comcast and get the sports and entertainment content online, per Siegler’s post? That would mean paying the higher internet fee–somehow Comcast gets away with charging about $15 a month more if you don’t take both cable and internet.

I made a list, and am probably missing a couple of things, but even so we’d save a chunk of money:











Showtime/Movie Channel
Fox Networks


includes FSC, FSD
Disney Nets


includes ESPN
NBC Nets


includes Versus, USA, SyFy
CBS Nets


includes Comedy Central, MTV+


Starz, Encore


Wonder how soon I’ll really be able to do this. Networks, can you feel me?

Well, nothing much going on today so I here is a quick rundown on what I’ve seen so far:

  • Enterprise: Excellent, three strong shows out of three so far. Producer Brannon Braga says if you don’t like the theme song, turn the volume down, and I don’t like it and hope, perhaps for season two they will make a change. Even singer Russell Watson (and who the F is he?) thinks the song needs work. Watch it, you haven’t missed so much that you’d be lost.

  • Spin City: Hmm, why did they need Michael J. Fox to do a guest appearance? Funny, but then so was his hair. This week’s episode, the first without Fox, was pretty good so maybe they still have it. ABC has already announced a schedule change, and the show will be moving an hour earlier.

  • Friends: So far, very good. This is the last season, so they may try to run the Ross-Rachel romance back into the foreground and go out on a high note.

  • Frasier: Umm, not sure yet. Doesn’t strike me as being as funny as a few years ago but still better than, say, Dharma and Greg (which has been the main competition lately).

  • Inside Schwartz: I like the inside his mind commentary from the NBC and ESPN stars, it’s definitely different. However, what they have to comment on is too dependent on sex and potty humor. Look for this show to go down for the count in an early round.

  • Just Shoot Me: David Spade is really funny and what this show needs is more of him.

  • The Agency: Only saw one episode but I’m not encouraged. Given the current political climate, CBS might give them some space to try and grow into a better show.

  • Alias: Very cool, although I seem to be in the minority when it comes to Jennifer Garner’s looks. Could develop into something interesting.

  • That ’70s Show: Getting stronger in its fourth season. The writers and actors seem to be really getting comfortable with the characters and therefore able to take them far past, say, Happy Days.

  • Undeclared: Really funny and a good match for That ’70s Show. College kids (the show is set at the University of North Eastern California!) are smart, stupid, silly, overeager, horny, caring, and often unspoiled by worldly pressures. Rachel Lindquist is really yummy.

Letterman Monday: Remarkable

I hope you were able to watch David Letterman’s first post 9/11 show this past Monday. As Bill Carter writes in the NY Times, it was a a remarkable hour of television. As Dave Pell writes in the current issue of his NextDraft newsletter, we are a generation of cynics, more attuned to debates over burning the flag than loving it. But watching Dave give his monologue, asking for patience as he works his way through his feelings out in full view, saluting Giuliani as the personification of courage, comforting Dan Rather through tears, was just amazing. Anyone who can keep a nightly show going strong for 20 years has a pile and a half of brains, no doubt, but Letterman’s show persona was a little too long on the sneer in recent years to attract me. But I’m sure Monday we saw the true Letterman, no persona, and I was moved and impressed. By the time Regis Philbin showed on set, I guess things were getting more back to normal if not comical and so I won’t be a convert. But for one night, for about 40 minutes, I saw amazing television.

Sopranos: Not a summer show

Fresh off a leading all shows 22 Emmy nominations, HBO announced programming news. The cable network will broadcast all existing 39 episodes in widescreen format starting August 12. Fans might hope that season four would premiere on week 40, in late May, but no–that ain’t gonna happen. Scheduling Sopranos then would interfere with the new seasons of Sex and the City and new hit 6 Feet Under, not too mention creative genius David Chase and crew might not be ready by then. So don’t expect new Sopranos episodes until September 2002 (production is set for October).

On the good news side of the ledger, HBO is apparently forking over $20 million to ensure a season five. This is probably a good thing, there has to be more than 52 great hours of television in this story. Chase did drop a few notes on his season four thinking, even though no scripts have been turned in yet. Chase said he has no plans to bring back Tony Soprano’s girlfriend, Gloria, played by Annabella Sciorra, or the injured Russian war veteran (Vitali Baganov), who disappeared in the snowy Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Okay about Gloria, who we did get some resolution with, but the Pine Barrens episode was a classic and I can’t believe Chase will leave that dangling.

The NY Daily News is also reporting that the deal may be for tow more seasons, not just one as the actors have contracts tying them up for six seasons (Chase’s deal was for four) and because 65, not to mention 78, episodes makes the show much more salable in syndication. I never expected Sopranos to be syndicated due the nudity and profanity but apparently they’ve been shooting two versions all along.

Stones to be rolled into Sopranos

After hearing that Rolling Stones members Keith Richards and Charlie Watts are fans of The Sopranos, Warner Brothers has cast them for acting roles in the mobster drama, reports the Sun. An unnamed source at the show says the legendary guitarist and drummer ”might appear as themselves, but we would like to have them play a pair of old-school British gangsters…We know they love the show just like we love the Stones, so it’s really a match made in heaven.”