Top 10 Media Disappointments of 2010

We’re just about halfway through December now, which means people are starting to look back on this past year — both its ups and downs.  Since I keep this blog media-related, I thought I’d start off our yearly reflection with a look back at the biggest media-related disappointments of 2010.  However, this isn’t a top 10 list of the biggest media failures for 2010, as some of the things on here are actually quite successful.  No, this is a list of disappointments – meaning that, it should’ve performed better than it did.  Each item on this list promised something, but fell short in terms of delivery.  So, without further ado, here is my own humble list of the biggest disappointments in media that we faced this year.

10. iPhone 4

This one is probably going to get me in trouble with some Apple fans, but, yes, I’m putting the iPhone 4 on here.  Think about it – the iPhone has now been through four iterations.  In that time, you’d think Apple would’ve figured out the best way to implement the hardware.  Yet, when the iPhone 4 launched, tons of people reported reception issues that occurred when the phone was held a certain way.  The problem was only exacerbated when Apple denied all issues, merely telling consumers they were holding it wrong.  Then, the shocking discovery – the software has been showing the wrong amount of bars this whole time!  How did that happen?  Eventually, Apple acknowledged the issue by handing out free cases to iPhone 4 owners, but, really, all of this should’ve been avoided before the product even launched.

9. Robin Hood

Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood wasn’t a bad movie, per se, it just wasn’t…. Robin Hood.  In my own review for the movie, I was mostly positive about it because, I have to admit, it is an entertaining film throughout.  Ridley Scott really can do action.  The disappointing part about Robin Hood was all the little things that made it up.  Cate Blanchett was too old for the part (so was Russel Crowe, for that matter), Crowe was way too somber as Robin, Prince John was kind-of-but-not-really the bad guy (until the last 2 minutes), a number of elements in the movie wouldn’t have worked in the time period it was supposedly based on, and there were a handful of plot holes.  On the whole, Robin Hood was entertaining, but, when dissected, it left some disappointment.

Don't let the picture fool you - he only fires that thing, like, twice.

8. Undercovers

Truth be told, I’ve never actually seen a single episode of “Undercovers,” but that speaks to the show’s disappointment as much as my own lack of knowledge.  When it was announced that industry powerhouse J.J. Abrams had developed a new show for NBC, many were excited.  After all, this guy produced a variety of engaging shows such as Alias, LOST, and, more recently, Fringe.  When “Undercovers” premiered, however, it was met with mixed reviews at best.  Personally, I wasn’t interested in seeing it because all of the previews made it look, well, cliche.  The spy genre has been done to death in American television, and, unlike most of Abrams’ shows, Undercovers really didn’t have anything new to offer.  The majority of American audiences agreed, and the show was canceled after only seven episodes had aired.  I guess even J.J. can’t win them all.

It's Mr. and Mrs. Smith. ...Er, I mean, the Blooms. Right.

7. 3D

Last year, Avatar came out and made truckloads of money.  Hollywood saw that, and the only thing it could hear was the sound of cash registers.  Fast forward to 2010 and 3D is being jammed down our throats.  Every big-name movie is now promoted with the tagline “in 3D,” despite the fact that no one has been able to duplicate Avatar’s success.  In fact, more movies have been ruined by rushed 3D conversion than have been helped by the cumbersome process.  Many movie directors have flat-out stated that they dislike 3D, but it’s still being forcefully pushed by the industry.  Some theaters have even begun offering some movies exclusively in 3D so that consumers have no choice but to pay a higher ticket price.  Oh, and let’s not forget the industry’s newest gratuitous obsession – 3DTV.  Because we all want to wear those ridiculous glasses at home.

The height of fashion.

6. Iron Man 2

I don’t put much stock in superhero movies anymore, what with Marvel cranking out a dozen or so every year, but the Iron Man franchise is different.  The first movie was entertaining, engaging, funny, and well-acted, even if the villain was as unoriginal as they get.  Best of all, it had heart – which is a lot less than you can say of most comic-book movies.  Because of this, Iron Man 2 had a lot to live up to, and, unfortunately, it didn’t deliver in the slightest.  Bloated, obnoxious, unemotional, and riddled with more plot holes than a Star Wars prequel movie, Iron Man 2 made just about every mistake you could imagine.  Worst of all, it completely negated the point of the first movie, turning Tony Stark into a jerk again.  For such a great first movie, the sequel wasn’t even worth watching.  In fact, when first asked for my opinion of Iron Man 2, my only reaction was “disappointing.”

Most obnoxious villain. In any superhero movie. Ever.

5. Facebook

Facebook has been expanding at a colossal rate, but it stumbled into a bit of controversy this year with the revision of its privacy policy.  Some users expressed concern, stating that Facebook was more worried about making money off user data than protecting the interests of its users.  Facebook’s response?  “When you sign up for our network, you’re signing away your privacy.  Deal with it or don’t join.”  Naturally, tons of users revolted, with many calling for a boycott of the site (mostly the techies).  The boycott didn’t take, but eventually, Facebook retooled its privacy settings to be a little more understandable.  The social website still tends to be pretty cavalier about user privacy, however, and that’s pretty disappointing for a network that used to be all about the user.

"We want you to use Facebook for email! ...Even though we have terrible security flaws and we don't give a crap about your privacy."

4. The Event

Since the success of LOST, TV networks have been attempting to pull audiences in with brand new serial dramas.  Some have worked; others haven’t.  Since the hit show ended earlier this year, however, NBC hoped to pull in the LOST crowd with its new mystery drama, “The Event.”  The show promised mysteries and plenty of action but also that is would give answers.  Well, the show did have those three aspects, but they were incredibly poorly executed.  I reviewed the show on this blog for awhile (until I got sick of it), but suffice to say, it was a terrible disappointment.  Filled with shallow characters (with no development whatsoever), predictable yet cheesy “twists,” and a number of inconsistencies, “The Event” was nothing but frustration from start to finish (or at least until the last episode I stomached).  Worst of all, it suffered from some of the laziest writing I’ve seen in a show where each episode is supposedly connected to the last.  Unsurprisingly, the ratings for “The Event” have been steadily dropping since the premiere, and NBC recently announced that the show would be taking a hiatus while the writers rethink the show.  Given that this is exactly what happened to FlashForward before it died in a blazing inferno, I highly doubt we’ll be seeing this show again next season.

"The Event" is a show that lacks any focus. Ha! See what I did there??

3. Motion Control (Specifically, Kinect)

Oh, Sony and Microsoft.  Not content with having the more powerful systems, the two companies wanted the unprecedented success of Nintendo with reaching the casual gaming audience.  Their response was to create motion-controlled gaming for each of their systems…five years after the Wii entered the market.  The PlayStation Move is nothing but a blatant Wii copycat, so I didn’t expect much there.  The real disappointment lies with Microsoft’s Kinect.  Let’s be honest – the tech behind Kinect is revolutionary.  It’s incredibly impressive.  Unfortunately, the only thing new you can do with it is pet virtual animals and dance.  Despite Kinect’s impressive tech, most games for the over-priced peripheral involve things you can already do on the Wii.  Boxing?  Check.  Fitness?  Check.  Driving?  Check.  Some form of boarding?  Check.  Kinect is, surprisingly, selling at a very high rate, but I highly doubt it could ever be used for some serious gaming (how do you make a shooter without holding something?).  Hopefully, developers will learn and improve their use of the tech over time, but so far, Kinect’s applications aren’t all that impressive.

Look! Virtual Bowling! ....Just like you've been able to do for the past five years....

2. Metroid: Other M

Metroid is one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises, so when the company announced they were making a brand new, story-focused Metroid game for the Wii, fans began salivating.  The previews looked fairly promising, but when it was finally released, we were a bit surprised at what we got.  Sure, the gameplay was fun, even if it was on the easy side.  The game also looked gorgeous.  The disappointing part was Other M’s story.  Put simply, it was atrocious.  Aside from the fact that it was entirely unoriginal (it essentially retold the story of Metroid Fusion with a few twists), the story was filled with terrible portrayals — with none more worse than that of Samus Aran herself.  Samus was portrayed as insecure, weak, whiny, and incompetent – the complete opposite of Samus when you actually control her (In my review, I stated that the game felt schizophrenic).  The portrayal of Samus even felt sexist, as the game often bashes you over the head with Samus’s shortcomings – most of which appear to stem from the fact that she’s a woman.  Some serious accusations have been made against Other M’s story, and not without reason.  Samus was the very first heroine introduced in gaming (not counting Ms. Pac-Man).  For a franchise that was that forward-thinking, Other M is not only a colossal disappointment, it’s a giant step backwards.

Samus is upset... Probably because of how terrible the story was in "Other M."

1.  The American People

Seriously?  Intelligent, well-thought out shows like Fringe struggle to get ratings, but trash like Jersey Shore continues to increase its audience size and picks up a new season?  And don’t even get me started on that vampire obsession of yours.  What is wrong with you?!

Everything wrong with the world in a single photo.


~ by digitallysmitten on December 11, 2010.

4 Responses to “Top 10 Media Disappointments of 2010”

  1. Good list. I enjoyed reading it and agree with (most of) your assessments.

    My one disagreement, unsurprisingly, is the iPhone 4. For some reason, Apple has gone from a media darling in the last few years to a media piñata. I think the real disappointment in that situation was that the media over-exaggerated the issue and tried to turn it into some sort of scandal. It’s hard to call a product a disappointment when they couldn’t keep them in stock the whole time that the media whined about “Antennagate.” Not only is it a well-documented fact that every phone has an area which causes signal attenuation (including all of the previous iPhones and all of their competitors), but at the height of the frenzy only 0.55% of people had actually reported any problems with their phones and only 1.7% of people had returned an iPhone 4, according to AppleCare. And after the initial flurry of iPhone-apocalypse stories, there hasn’t been a peep about it since. Now really, is the idea of people having signal issues with the worst phone carrier in the U.S. all that surprising?

    What I would add to your list is the GoogleTV. And it’s not really even Google’s fault. I think the disappointment is that the television networks have systematically blocked access to their content from GoogleTV in an effort to make more money for themselves. Even Hulu detects that you’re using a GoogleTV instead of a computer and requires you to pay for access. Really? Why should I have to pay extra for content because of the way I’m watching it?

    That’s my two cents. I look forward to reading your media successes post. And I’m sure you know I’ll make a remark if I don’t see the iPad on there 🙂

  2. Ha! Another excellent post. And since I’m from New Jersey and offended by the show of our shores being invaded by people actually from NYC, I really liked #1.

    I would however have to disagree with you on a couple. Iron Man 2 was great.. especially for a sequel. Sequels are usually expected to be worse than the original, and I thought this one held up very well with the first. Off the top of my head I can only think of two other franchises that have followed up well: Spiderman and Batman. (IMHO) While it may not be on par with either of those, I think it held up 10x better than most other sequels.

    Also, while I agree in general with Kinect, I think you haven’t given it the benefit of a little time in the market. Look up sometime what people are doing with hacked kinects.. the tech is still early, but it’s so revolutionary like you said, that there is some incredible potential in it. I think you’ve got a 50/50 chance of either being exactly right on Kinect as a disappointment, or you’ll be proven wrong in a year or so as it develops. Let’s hope for the later.

    Sorry for the long post..

  3. Great responses! I enjoy getting a little controversy going.

    @Jeremy. True, it may not have been as widespread an issue as the media led us to believe, but I still had a couple of problems with it (Plus, you’ll notice I gave a disclaimer at the beginning saying that some of these products were actually quite successful, monetarily, but still left some disappointment). Apple’s attitude towards the issue was a little on the condescending side, instead of just dealing with the problem. However, the biggest problem was the location of the antenna issue. All smart phones might have that problem, but the iPhone’s was specifically in a spot most people touched on a regular basis. It may not have been widespread, but it was noticeable enough to prevent Consumer Reports from recommending it.
    I completely forgot about GoogleTV, actually. Maybe I should give it an honorable mention (or dishonorable, as the case may be). It’s really disappointing how it’s been completely blocked just because it’s the internet – I can hook up my laptop to my TV and get the same result (I do).

    @John – I’d have to respectfully disagree with you there (with regards to Iron Man 2). It may be expected for sequels to be worse than the original, but I don’t think that’s a good excuse for not making as good a movie as possible. I felt the movie wandered in circles for a while, with the villain proving his idiocy time and time again and Tony Stark showing that he’s a jerk time and time again. The plot holes were many (why on earth would Tony’s father have that element in his map, how did Tony go from drunk and unable to stand up to full-on brawl against War Machine, etc.). The biggest problem I had with it was how the first movie showed Tony Stark having a near-death experience and using that to become a better person. In the second movie, he has a near-death experience and it makes him a jerk again. It just didn’t jive with me. True, it had it’s moments and Robert Downey Jr. can be quite funny, but it just didn’t do it for me.
    As for Kinect, yeah, I’m being unnecessarily harsh, but that’s somewhat because Microsoft has hyped this thing as the biggest thing since microwaves. Don’t believe me? Check out this video from 2009 – As of yet, the peripheral can only do about half of what it promised. Of course, the hacks are pretty impressive. I even stated that the tech itself is revolutionary. My problem with it is most of the awesome stuff it’s capable of is only available after you hack it. So far, Microsoft hasn’t taken advantage of the hardware’s potential.

  4. […] with a 3DS for the first time.  I was pretty skeptical, as it’s no secret that I’m not a fan of 3D.  If I don’t like 3D in my movies, why would I like it in my games?  Well, surprisingly […]

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