- FRED: On Youtube.
PSA: THE AETN/COMCAST BLACKOUT
Complaints have been coming from Comcast viewers who can't get a signal from the Arkansas Education Television Network: Color bars, frozen images, delayed sound. AETN says equipment that sends its programming via fiber-optic to Comcast failed, stopping the signal entirely over the weekend; the other issues are also related to the feed, which is a stop-gap measure until AETN can go digital June 12. Tiffany Verkler, promotions supervisor at AETN, says new equipment has been ordered and is now being installed. She says the station hopes to have AETN back on the air for Comcast viewers by the end of this week. Verkler said the station will rebroadcast certain high-profile programming this summer — including the premiere of PBS' Masterpiece Mystery! series starring Kenneth Branagh -- to give viewers a second chance to catch it. If viewers call AETN and tell the station which shows they missed, AETN will put their name on an e-mail list to alert them when the program they missed re-airs.
9 p.m. Mondays
This writer is a relentless tinkerer. When I was a kid, I was the one who took my mother's toaster, the television set, and the carburetor from our Pontiac apart to see how it worked. What with that, I find a kindred spirit in Leonardo da Vinci. Born in 1452, Ol' Leo was waaaay ahead of his time, and was doing things like designing airplanes long before it was cool. I really and truly love the guy. It stands to reason then, that I've been pretty much glued to this new reality show from The Discovery Channel. Every week, a team of engineers, timber framers, carpenters, metal workers and fabricators build a working model of one of the amazing inventions Leonardo sketched in his famous journals. Because da Vinci put a lot of his not-inconsiderable brainpower toward the design of new weaponry, some of the things they've built week to week are as deadly as they are amazing: a round, crank-powered tank with cannons to fire in all directions; a primitive machine gun with rotating barrels; a “scythe chariot” with a 15-foot spinning blade on one end, designed to turn opposing troops into coleslaw. If you're a tinkerer or a fan of history, this show is loads of fun.
ON THE WEB: FRED
The televisionist isn't a complete couch potato. We do other things too, like surfing the web. Here's a question for you: Who is the most-watched star on the video posting mega-site Youtube.com? Jonas Brothers? No. Kris Allen? Nope. Jesus? Sorry, J.C. No, it's Fred. As the story goes, Fred is the creation of 15-year-old Lucas Cruikshank of Nebraska. A couple years back, Cruikshank's mom gave him a cheap video camera to keep him occupied during the long Midwestern summer. Playing around with the camera one day, he came up with Fred, a hyperactive first grader with a helium voice. Since that first video, Fred's short, funny, bizarre, irreverent videos have grown into an empire, with over 200 million total views. His channel now has one million subscribers, the biggest on Youtube.com, and stores like Hot Topic are selling shirts with his face on them. Though Fred is an acquired taste — and definitely geared toward a certain age bracket and a certain level of humor — I dare you to watch two or three of his videos without smiling at least once. If Cruikshank doesn't turn out to be a creation of Madison Ave., we all might finally have something to aspire to. Just search for “Fred” at Youtube.com