The Simpsons and Twin Peaks premièred a few months apart from each other in 1989/1990, and at the time, it felt like a real sea change had taken place in the culture. That feeling dispersed becauseTwin Peaks imploded in its second season, and instead of a bunch of brilliant network shows, what we got in their immediate wake was a shitload of forgotten animated shows whipped up by hacks and Cop Rock. But one thing that both those shows had that really shook things up was a critical, self-aware attitude about TV. Earlier shows that tried for something halfway similar turned spoofy and paper-thin, like It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, a sometimes moderately diverting late-’80s show that, at the time, impressed some critics who’d just learned to type the word “post-modern,” and that, in retrospect, was barely a pimple on the ass of Shandling’s later The Larry Sanders Show. But The Simpsons and Twin Peaks actually managed to make shared jokes based on the fact that smart viewers who’d grown up watching TV understood the basic mechanics of how the shows worked, while still getting the viewers involved in the characters and the stories.
The future of TV is about access and entertainment, not a remote control upgrade. The people focusing on Siri’s integration with any possible Apple television have a serious lack of imagination.
Should any such product be developed, it would likely have a blazing fast 802.11n Wifi extender built in. While most access points are optimized for distance and throughput, the TV would be designed to serve extremely low latency networking to the room with the television in it.
Combine the speedy, hyperlocal area network with AirPlay, and you’ve got something far more compelling than Siri, which is utterly uninteresting, and even counterintuitive, as a TV add-on.
You have a television that will instantly play anything your iPod, iPhone or iPad sends to it, without having to switch inputs or even turn it on. Directly controlling your television in any fashion is utterly ridiculous. It’s just a leftover from the original, pre-remote control design. A modern television should be a dumb display and nothing more. It is for watching, not controlling, and certainly not for talking to. On mobile, the touch interface has been about removing layers of abstraction. Siri is an extension of this. On TV, Siri would just get in the way.
Apple won’t get in the TV game just to replace the remote control. They’ll do it to complete what they’ve already begun with the current Apple TV. They’ll make it easy for developers who’ve already extended their apps from iPhone to iPad to extend them to Apple TV as well, as we’ve already seen with games like Real Racing II.
The television has a future only as an extension of a mobile device. An Apple television will be able to do anything an iPad can do. All other televisions will continue to do what televisions have always done, which is very little. Nobody with an iDevice will even consider buying a TV without AirPlay built in. Manufacturers will beg Apple to let them build AirPlay into their sets. And Apple might just let them.
The future of television is here.
There is, in fact, a web show made just for you (although you probably haven’t found it yet).
The full spectrum of product placement oppositionists, from those who reject the practice because it “compromises art” to those who see it as manipulative marketing, seem to be far more upset about the occasional McDonald’s placement than a brand that has appeared in more than one third of all box-office hits since 2001. A great illustration of this phenomenon is the show 30 Rock, which has been taken to task for its product placements, especially its McDonald’s McFlurry episode, even while the same show’s pornographic Mac and iPhone appearances passes with little comment.
Hey cord-cutters! Do you know that NBC Universal has a secondary sports channel running Olympic coverage in many markets?
Click here to see if Universal Sports is broadcasting in your town.