I first saw The White Bus on ThisTV in primetime, something that would be an unlikely programming choice even for smaller public stations these years; the other week, AntennaTV ran the Jean-Luc Godard film Contempt as part of its broadcast feed on a weekday morning (though it's a further sad commentary on how things go in the US that nearly a half-century after its release, the mild nudity in the film was fogged for broadcast, which wouldn't've happened in Canada or Western Europe, at least).
A number of the Christian networks and cable channels are trying beef up their appeal by running even such slightly unlikely programs as I Spy and The Saint (well, they like that title) and/or slightly less unlikely sitcoms and westerns, and while I might take in one of those, I'm at least as likely to watch on a whim such items as the Canadian spy/crime drama Intelligence on the Canadian cable channel MavTV (which has since quit running the series) or a Hill Street Blues episode on nuvoTV, a station devoted in part to programming for Hispanic-Americans who might not speak Spanish very much (and I was shaking my head over how it's been thirty years since the HSB episode was new).
And, of course, there's C-SPAN, and the fitfully interesting other channels supposedly devoted to news, including Current TV, the closest thing we have, after Link TV (not widely available on cable, but still a feature on both DirecTV and Dish Network, and getting a little late-night broadcast clearance by KCRB in the San Francisco area), to a leftist news-chat channel...even if such other efforts as the syndicated public broadcasting magazine Moyers and Company probably reach more viewers, and the not particularly leftist Dan Rather Reports (his very well-shot variation on 60 Minutes) probably does, too, on what used to be HDNet and and is now calling itself AXS TV. (MSNBC is not, sadly, leftist, even if Rachel Maddow is in the vicinity.)
Hell, I even like the occasional interesting repeat on such cable channels as Cloo and Chiller, the less-well-funded siblings of USA and the SiFi Channel, and Chiller's direct competitor in the horror/suspense market, FearNet. And USA, and its direct competitors BBC America, TNT, and A&E have all produced and/or imported worthwhile series over the last five years or so...and IFC has stopped being a direct competitor for the Sundance Channel, and started to be another direct competitor with the general-interest cable channels, while featuring such arguably "edgier" comedy as the charming video version of podcast Comedy Bang Bang and sitcoms with cult followings and new productions with similar audiences. (Amusingly, films released theatrically by IFC are nowadays much more likely to appear on Sundance.) Comedy Central still produces interesting work and rather bland work at the same time, and cancels nearly all of it quickly, but...The Daily Show and The Colbert Report continue to do what they do rather well. ABC Family occasionally takes a gamble on a potentially interesting series (such as the fine The Middleman...which they canceled quickly), though the most recent, Bunheads, has been both a little too much like and not quite as good as Gilmore Girls, the previous series from their mutual creator/producer Amy Sherman-Palladino. Ovation often picks up the slack in at least the kind of pop-arts programming that once was featured on the likes of Bravo and A&E (public broadcasting's shortform video feed Classic Arts Showcase, with the "bug" ARTS in the corner, can be a very pleasant if only sometimes compelling melange of older performing artforms).
So...while cable might well collapse or at least shift over the next five years to other sorts of delivery, the current mix of "linear feeds" and on-demand (sometimes very clumsy on-demand, from both Comcast and Verizon, at least) do provide a sort of service, that allows for interesting discoveries...in a way that is frequently less hit-or-miss than what one finds among web-video as a whole, as this next citation might suggest.
Nothing Personal: NSFW, to say the least, at very least in most workplaces. It would be R-rated for female nudity and simulated sexual activity by the MPAA, probably would get an MA rating on US television. Posted on Vimeo; runs just under seven minutes.
I'm not sure if I like this or not, as it features Paz de la Huerta playing a role which might resemble rather too closely the actress in her private life, famously chaotic of late...as one of the commenters noted on the posting on the Vimeo page, this does feel a whole lot like a well-shot, boiled-down, less dull reworking of a Godard film...no less cliched but trying to push past the cliches, and arguably succeeding, at best, through the conviction everyone brings to it. An IMDb commenter compares it to Cronenberg's distancing work, and while he's generous, he's not essentially incorrect.
|Not the kind of drumsticks jazz musicians use.|
The reworking of the operatic drama isn't too much more subtle than the nomenclature, but it does stop short of completely recapitulating the play, and the performances, both dramatic and musical, are far more engaging than the script is, whether the performer in question is primarily actor or musician. Brubeck and Mingus improvised "Non-Sectarian Blues" on set (first released in its entirety on the Brubeck album Summit Sessions) and Brubeck and some of the UK folk (not the Brubeck Quartet) do a nice reading of Brubeck's then most recent single, "It's a Raggy Waltz":
It's both sad and grimly amusing that the film, which is as progressive as can be about "interracial" romance (and not just the central couple's), when one's story is based on Othello, was arranged and particularly advertised in such a way as to slight the African-American featured musician on hand: