Thursday, December 14, 2006

TV 4th Quarter Report - 14 Shows That Entertained Me In 2006 - Part I

As we prepare to wrap up the year, its time for the annual traditions at NWOW.. first the final TV quarterly report of '06... and later this month.. the great psychic Pumpstradamus will appear to take a look into the future for what we will be seeing in 2007. This time for the TV quarterly report, we will do it as a Top 14 list... 14 shows that entertained us in '06... Part I features 7 shows from regular ol tv.. Part II features the other 7 on cable.

Back in the good ol’ days there used to be a little magazine called “TV Guide” which published regional editions each week that included local TV listings. In the early to mid 80’s the focus of the magazine’s articles started to change as an increasing number of TV consumers spent more time taping shows on their VCR’s and cable was becoming increasingly more popular…Remember when there was Wometco Home Theater - WHT - The Movie Network, or when TBS started all its shows at 5 minutes past the hour so it would get its own separate time listing?

TV Guide realized that people weren’t watching shows the way they used to… The local channels on 2-13 were facing increasing competition, and more people were taping shows for later viewing… assuming they knew how to program those pre-TIVO VCRs. And as TV Guide changed, so did we. DVDs have replaced videotapes, and since DVDs are so cheap to produce, TV shows now come out on collectors disks (Don’t even ask me about the Match Game dvd that I ordered 3 weeks ago on eBay and still hasn’t arrived!) As a result, “appointment TV” has virtually vanished. In addition, over the past year or two as more of us have dumped dial up for high speed modems, we are also watching more shows on network’s websites and/or itunes. Basically, listing a “time” for a show has become irrelevant,… TIVOs now just does the taping for you…. And sadly the idea of “listings” has succumbed to computerized color coded grids.

On to the list we go...

Broadcast -

1. 24 - Hands down the most intense show on TV - its serialized format has been imitated by a lot of other shows.. but now as it gets ready to launch season #6.. it has the copyright on action packed fun as the whole season takes place over 24 nail biting hours... And as the show gets older, the writers have learned how to make the 60 minute episodes more self contained.. yet they leave themselves enough wiggle room to allow themselves to change course mid stream while making the ending of episode 24 match up to episode 1.

One odd drawback for FOX... after trying to drag 24’s episodes over a September to May "traditional" season, the producers realized its better to just run the show 24 weeks in a row.. so it now starts in January and runs straight through May. However, its other hit show.. the mega popular American Idol (which did not make my list) also can only run through a finite number of episodes, so Fox has to contend with its annual dinky Fall schedule and then wait until AI and 24 come back in January to pick up the ratings slack of the first 4 months of the season. Survivor and The Amazing Race have been able to split its season into 2 competitions.. ... I know it would be impossible with 24... but maybe AI? Or maybe pair it up with the AI/Gong Show copycat with Regis - NBC’s America’s Got Talent? Heck, an AI episode got higher ratings when it went up against the Grammys, while one of the old AI winners was performing on that prestigious awards show!!

2. Heroes - The BEST new show of the new season is picking up in the ratings.. and if I’m FOX.. I’d do a major tivo ad campaign because 24 is gonna face a run for its money when it starts airing opposite Heroes. I plan to watch 24 live, and then watch Heroes on-line on Tuesday… I can‘t watch it right after 24... that hour after 24 is an hour of decompression... and my blood pressure cant take any more stress.. so unless its some fluffy lightweight David Caruso acting on CSI Miami.. I would just as soon catch Heroes the following night.

And what a brilliantly executed format.. it sounds silly as its premise. a bunch of people have super powers.. but it comes off far more sophisticated than the typical comic book mythology. The show is blessed with some charming actors like the time bending Hiro.. and some not so nice guys such as Nathan the sleazy politican and his brother Peter... who seems to have a jail bait thing going with that cute little cheerleader who also has a superpower that she may or may not remember since her dad has a way of erasing people's memories... That was the December cliffhanger as lovely young Claire realized that anybody who knew about her self healing powers.. seemed to have totally forgotten about it. The Lost fans are flocking over to Heroes because it does something else.. it moves the plot along and ANSWERS questions... while simultaneously creating new head scratching mysteries.

3. Lost - Speaking of which.. I watched every episode in 2006 and for the life of me.. I can’t figure out why. The plot really goes nowhere and the whole “Others” plot has turned into a massive sado masochist torture chamber. I did get a kick out of the cliffhanger at the end of the 1st half of the season where Jack performs life saving surgery on Ben (plastics Benjamin plastics) and stops mid stream and announces he’s just gonna leave him hanging there until he knows his pal and fellow prisoner Kate has been freed. The fact that Jack saw Kate doing the ol’ hocus mcpocus with Sawyer on a hidden cam? Priceless! However my patience continues to wear thin with this show.

4. Desperate Housewives - Another serialized show and the 4th of 4 shows whose recaps I read the day after on and The show seems to have found its way this season by focusing more on the craziness that envelops Marcia Cross’s Bree character including her wacky hubby Orson.

I also wonder what will happen with the storyline involving Lynette after she found some creepy pseudo kiddy porn in her new neighbor’s basement. I was hoping that she would go into the basement and find Betty Applewhite’s son chained down there like he was during Season 2.

5. The CSI Trio- Miami, NY and the Original - I usually catch the first two much more frequently than the Thursday night original. Miami has the legendary David Caruso - and this season the show has given a higher profile to Eva LaRue.. . She‘s not quite Emily Procter.. but they do give her some odd outfits which draws more attention to the silly crime stories that seem to always be solved during the same day .. Just like NYPD Blue used to do… It’s either that or LaRue‘s character has hygiene problems and doesn’t change her clothes!.

By the way did you know that in the 90s La Rue was married to John O’Hurley who played Peterman on Seinfeld and currently hosts Family Feud? Actually, the lovely LaRue is much older than she looks - she and O’Hurley are only 12 years apart. Also, LaRues sister Nika was one of many women photographed by convicted serial killer William Richard Bradford…. He had a thing for photographing women he met in bars.. His ruse? (or La Rues?) He would promise these young ladies that he would help them with their aspiring modeling careers… This story came out on the news just this past summer and CSI Miami producers were so sensitive to LaRue’s connection to this sordid criminal that they made a whole episode about it, and cast LaRue’s sister in that episode!

CSI NY might just be the best one - Gary Sinise is an excellent actor.. Not as much sex appeal as Miami.. but better acting and more interesting storylines. I really haven’t watched too much of the original lately.. I see that Grissom shaved off his beard.

6. The Law and Order trio - By a show of hands can anyone tell me who Steven Zirnkilton is? No googling allowed.. When it comes to this franchise, my L and O of choice is SVU with the Vincent Donofrio Criminal Intents running a close 2nd...

Here is one question about SVU… How much money does Richard Belzer earn… and why??? I happen to think Belzer is very talented.... He was great on Homicide,… but on SVU he has been delegated so far to the back burner that he makes only the occasional wisecrack and reminds me of old Hollywood Squares episodes where Peter Marshall would apologize at the end of the show to any stars who weren’t called on. (Sorry Wayland Flowers - I guess our contestants preferred Lester because Willie Tyler.... HAS TALENT!) By the way speaking of Hollywood Squares.. check out the panel on this clip from You Tube... The CBS FM oldies fans are gonna love this..., and check out the living legend in the Center Square!

Getting back to SVU, it has changed quite a bit since it first started - I think they had 6 detectives back then. But now its only the main 2 with occasional cameos by the other actors… and Belzer taking home more money each week than most of us make in a year.. for doing zippo! And as for the original… they probably should have retired the show when Jerry Orbach died a couple of years ago.. And I’m not such a big fan of the platooning they do with CI.. But I guess I can live with it… Donofrio’s the best TV detective since the days of Columbo,

7. How I Met Your Mother - the only network sitcom to make this list.. I recently went back to it after a brief dalliance with that absurd Deal or No Deal.. the game show that inspired NBC to dedicate its nightly 8pm hour to game shows and reality TV. D or No D has the dopiest contestants who simply don’t understand how to incorporate statistics into their choice to continue playing or quit… . One thing I have noticed while watching the show… I know all the model’s names.. even before Howie Mandel asks them to open the case. I must admit that Howie does a great job hosting this otherwise dopey game, and its popularity might lead to a game show resurgence that CBS was hoping for during last summer’s Game Show Marathon.

HIMYM is quite amusing - some feel it’s the best sitcom on TV although its ratings are not quite as good as the one joke Two and a Half Men. Neil Patrick Harris has hit a career resurgence ever since Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.. Imagine if they went to the one in South Plainfield instead and found it closed.. Would they have gone to Taco Bell instead and spent the rest of the movie sick on the toilet?

Three Shows that would have made the list if it was a Top 10 List:

American Dad, Game Show Marathon and The Nine. American Dad has not drained Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane of all of his creativity! Thank God! What other show has a Republican dad… two teenagers,… a captured alien that sounds like Paul Lynde and a goldfish with a German accent. Game Show Marathon also gets an honorable mention for bringing back some classic game shows on their old retro sets.

The Nine is a perfect example of how the continuing storyline/flashback genre has jumped the shark - the show started out with a bang.. Nine bank robbery hostages and how their lives intertwine after they are freed.. But all the big hullaballoo about the mystery involving one character and his pregnant girlfriend’s breakup during the siege turned into a big disappointment at his parent’s Friday night Shabbat dinner when he reveals he tried to escape the bank and left her behind. And the father is a Rabbi.. Yet they only say the blessing over the wine and challah on Friday Night? What kind of a Rabbi doesn’t say Kiddush? V’Shabbat Kodshachah b’ahavah oovratzon - Key the Zirnkilton baritone HINCHALTONOOOOO….. Zirnkilton by the way is the narrator whose voice you hear at the beginning of all the Law and Order episodes.

Happy Hannukah! And next week - The Seven Cable shows…

Now time for the weekly NFL picks.. Last week we were 10-6.. Now 20 games under .500 at 91-111-6. Pumpstradamus is 9-4-1... and has clinched a winning record.

SEATTLE 9 1/2 point faves over San Fran – The weekly NFL Network game that nobody gets.

ATLANTA 3 doggies over Dallas – Is this gonna be another NFL Network game? I like watching Cowboy losses – and Atlanta may be getting hot.

Philadelphia 5 ½ doggies over THE GIANTS – Fear not, fellow Giants fans.. Our boys will win.. but I think the spread is a just a bit steep, especially against the resurgent Eagles who know that the 9-17 choke job against the Giants may have killed their season.

Jets 3 doggies over MINNESOTA – Bounce back week for the jets in that wacky roller coaster AFC.

BALTIMORE 11 faves over Cleveland – Not a big fan of these huge spreads… or the Browns for that matter…

NEW ENGLAND 11 faves of Houston – Another biiiiig spread.

Miami 1 doggies over BUFFALO – They’re both so mediocre, the game will probably finish in a tie.

Pittsburgh 3 ½ doggies over CAROLINA – No line on this one in the Thursday Ledger due to the Carolina QB situation – so I’m using a friends office pool spread. Notice how nobody consults me for football pool advice? The Steelers may run the table and finish out of the playoffs at 9-7.. but look how much better the Penguins are doing!!

NEW ORLEANS 9 ½ faves over Washington – I just saw in the Washington Post this week that Skins owner Dan Snyder bought the last DC classical music station and flipped the format – now the football AND classical fans cant stand him.

TITANS 3 ½ doggies over Jacksonville – See Steelers running the table theory above plus Nashville fans have the Predators to root for – and theyre in first place!

CHICAGO 13 ½ faves over Tampa Bay – The Bears special teams alone will outscore the bucs.

GREEN BAY 5 faves over Detroit – yawn

Denver 2 ½ faves over ARIZONA – Don’t look now but the Cardinals have their first hot streak since Ford was in office – Not Gerald Ford – Im talking about Henry Ford when he ran the car company!

Kansas City 9 doggies over SAN DIEGO – just a wild hunch…

Rams 2 ½ doggies over OAKLAND – The Raiders are favorites? Woweee!

INDIANAPOLIS 3 faves over Cincy – I get the feeling a lot of people are going with the Bengals on this one.. but this game may not be as predicable as a long in booth chat Monday Night with Archie Manning.

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK: This week we go to NJ.. The site of the origins of the Taco Bell e coli outbreak as the Giants take on the Philadelphia Eagles. Sayeth the Pump: “Go with the Giants, in honor of the late Peter Boyle, who played a giant monster in “Young Frankenstein”.


Pumpstradamus said...

Boy, I have to brush up on my TV watching. Would you believe, I've never seen even 30 seconds of "Heroes". Or even one minute of "Hogan's Heroes". Call me crazy, but maybe I'm afraid of heroes in general, because it's only one letter shy from the word "herpes". Anyway, I predict we'll be doing a podcast right here on NWOW in two more blog entries, so stay tuned folks! Same Nate time, same pumped website.

Nate said...

Wow.. if you're afraid to watch Heroes for that reason.. I guess you won't be watching the hit new game show - Shlemeroids.

Elianna said...

Eva LaRue was NOT married to John O'Hurley! She was married to John Callahan. Not an "All My Children" fan, eh? Eva and John were all the rage....lovers on screen, lovers in real life. Oh boy. Who's your fact checker? ;-)

Nate said...

I believe my cuz is correct that the lovely Ms. LaRue was married to John Callahan. They both hosted the Miss America Pageant several years ago. She actually married Mr. Callahan....... after she divorced John O'Hurley. :)