Thursday, April 17, 2008

TV Quarterly Report

Hello Campers!

Look at this… it has been 18 days with no update to NWOW. Sorry for the delay, life has been hectic these last few weeks. I had my rotis draft 2 wks ago, followed by the craziness of getting my tax returns ready. But then again... look at Jim Nantz... When does he do his taxes and prepare for his baseball draft?…. Does anyone have an 8 day period as wild and crazy as his schedule? He does the Final Four on Saturday Night…. The NCAA Title game on Monday night and then a few days later he pops up in Augusta.GA to broadcast The Masters? I guess I don’t feel so sorry for myself after all.. but then again he makes a gazillion dollars.

Before we get to today's topic, one recent news story caught my eye that shows how preposterous this whole "political correctness" movement has become.…A delegate for Barak Obama named Linda Ramirez Sliwinski almost lost her delegate status when she got into a little bit o’ trouble for the silliest reason. There were some kids climbing in her neighbors tree, and she told the kids to get outta that tree and stop climbing around like monkeys. Well it turns out that the parents of these kids were so offended by the word “monkeys” that they called the police and the police issued the woman a disorderly conduct ticket for 75 bucks because the kids told the cops that they were caused pain by the “racist” comment! Only in 2008 America!! Now hopefully she won't be bitter about the whole thing...

Between that story and the loonie kazoonies in that polygamy camp with the wacky skirts, the Stepford speech patterns and the women with the Buster Pointdexter seems like I'm watching the Shymalan movie "The Village"... That cult is one Kool Aid truck away from a massive tragedy! Good thing those cops rescued those abused kids from their nutjob moms who let these sleazy old guys have sex with what they call their "pure" daughters! What does all of this say about America?? I hope the Pope isn't watching the news during his visit here.... hes gonna think we're freakin' nuts!!

So how do you write a TV Quarterly Report when almost every show was on hiatus during the writers strike? Maybe that is why it has been 18 days since my last column! Nonetheless, we gotta play with the cards we are dealt… So instead of jumping on the reality TV bandwagon during the recent strike, I took advantage of the strike to catch up on some other stuff… some new.. some long neglected.

CBS ON MONDAY NIGHT – Monday Nights used to be "Heroes" and "24", but the strike relegated them to background status in my brain. I have written about this topic before… the difference between CBS Monday Night laughtrack shows vs. the Thursday Night NBC no laughtrack shows. I think after years of watching TV, I have been programmed to notice that something definitely is missing if a comedy show has no laugh track. As a kid, I used to sit in front of the TV confused on the logisitics of how The Love Boat used a laugh track.. wondering where the studio audience could possibly be sitting during the taping, instead of wondering why a ship that has regular Friends of Bill W meetings only hired ONE bartender!!

I really get a kick out of 30 Rock among the NBC shows.. last weeks reality show within a show about MILF Island was downright laugh out loud funny. But for the most part, Monday nights on CBS are a great place to go while trying to decompress from just another manic Monday. I think The Big Bang Theory is going to be around for years especially with Jim Parsons and Simon Helberg who are fantastic as two pals who are loaded with brains but came up empty when God handed out social skills.

How I Met Your Mother continues to be brilliant… and Neil Patrick Harris's popularity continues to soar… you shoulda heard the teeny boppers go nuts when he appeared in the new Harold and Kumar trailer at the movies the other day. (Trophy Wife and I had free tix to see the ridiculously dopey Superheroes Movie) NPH definitely reinvented himself in H and K go to White Castle.. and he has completely evolved as the star of HIMYM with his incredibly bizarre antics as Barney. The rest of the cast ain’t too bad either by the way. If I was a matchmaker, I would set up Neil with possible Katie Couric replacement Anderson Cooper. They would make such a cute couple.. they could be the face of CBS for years to come!

The New Adventures of Old Christine also might snap the so called Seinfeld curse as she is one the first of the four main actors to launch a sitcom with any mileage. (Of course Jerry Stiller had a long run with The King of Queens… so maybe there isn’t a curse.) And finally, although I didn’t like this show at first, 2 and a Half Men is starting to grow on me. Monday Night’s episode with the double date with his nephew where Charlie forgot his date’s name evoked memories of the old Seinfeld and I kept hoping he would just yell out…. “Dolores!”

LATE NIGHT TALK SHOWS WITH LETTERMAN AND CONAN - Being a night owl. I usually watch the Channel 4 11pm News, followed by Family Guy on Cartoon Network and then the repeats of Larry King and Greta Van Sustern. However during the strike, I started to revisit the late night talk shows too. It had been a looooong time since I watched Dave and Conan. I will not watch Leno … and Craig Ferguson is starting to strike me as being somewhat clever; I will catch his show if he has a good guest.

I jumped on Dave’s hoopla bandwagon when he came back during the strike and then I started to move over to NBC to watch Conan try to kill an hour doing silly things like spinning his wedding ring. Once in a blue moon I’ll catch Jimmy Kimmel too, but after his Post Oscar video with Ben Affleck… it’s hard to top that!! By the way, wasn't Harrison Ford hilarious in that video??

DOUBLE DARE - My game show consumption has dwindled down... 1 vs. 100 on NBC apparently is not coming back which is disappointing because I like a show that has people on it who are there for the sole purpose of sabotaging the contestant's attempt to win a wad of moola... I have been working from home in the mornings the last 2 months, and caught some Drew Carey on The Price is Right and Meredith Viera on Millionaire. Drew is doing a bang up job taking over for Bob Barker and I actually think he will work out on a show I never really thought much of... although the old clips on You Tube are quite entertaining when you see how much stuff used to cost in the old days.

Late one Sunday night I was switching channels and I heard the Card Sharks theme song on GSN. Then…. the announcer (Match Game's Jonny Olsen) said the show was.... Double Dare… and it was not the one on Nickelodeon where families used to jump in buckets of slime. Then… out walked the host..... a fella with a big bushy Gene Shalit-esque moustache, and when he read the questions, he sounded just like Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek! Of course it was Trebek.... the show was taped in the early 70s and it is actually quite entertaining.

The coolest part is the end game where the winner tries to win some big bucks if they can stump the "spoilers".. . I have a video that probably explains it better… but basically they have these 3 Pointdexters sitting in sound proof booths and if you can stump them you win 5 thousand dollars. Catch the GSN reruns for a guy named Dr. Lindenmaier and you will start to see what inspired The Big Bang Theory’s characters!

The way it works is you get a topic – lets say it’s Charles Nelson Reilly for example. There are 8 covered clues of varying degrees of difficulties on the board. Of the 8, you gotta give 4 to the Spoilers. If you stump a Spoiler 4 times, you get 5000 1973 dollars which according to the old You Tube Price is Right clips could probably buy you a 20 dollar 2008 vcr! Strategically, you would not give them an easy clue like …”He sits next to Brett Somers on Match Game”… but you would give them… “He performed on Opening Night in Bye Bye Birdie after he injured his foot when his cat bit him”. That’s a made up clue by the way, but you get the drift. Of all the weird shows Alex Trebek did pre Jeopardy such as High Rollers and Battlestars, this one seems to be the most entertaining.

Here is a clip….

THE BIGGEST LOSER – The only reality show I watch…. NBC did a good job premiering the new season on New Years Day when everybody makes resolutions to lose weight. I don’t know the player’s names but I must admit the show is quite entertaining basically taking a bunch of chubbies and make them play Survivor games with an end of episode Apprentice board room finale. By the way the weigh - ins are made for TV… those aren’t real scales.. the participants actually weigh in earlier on a real scale before they go on the set.

The trainers are quite characters – the male trainer has a ton of tattoos on himself… and that woman Jillian sounds like a Drill Sergeant..The guy actually wore an ascot to the finale that I had not seen since the days of Charles Nelson Reilly... but these 2 trainers do an excellent job and the results speak for themselves. All the show needs is Richard Simmons. By the way, I saw Richard on Good Day NY today, and while I was trying to figure out how he doesn't injure a testicle with those nutty shorts, he made an excellent point. According to Richard, the No Child Left Behind program has added more academia and taken gym class and recess away from school kids resulting in chubbier kids! He is soooo right about this! These kids need to get out and run around a little bit!

In one episode, hostess Allison Sweeney’s questioning at the weigh in of one of the girls (who didn’t do too well that week) seemed to tick off Jillian who totally went off on her. Not since the days of Morton Downey, Jr. have I seen somebody start angrily arguing with the host of a show… but NBC actually kept it in, and apparently unedited.. I had never seen the show before this season, but I must admit I like it. One thing I might change is the preoccupation w/ number of pounds.. heck one of the runner ups was one pound short of winning money. But how ‘bout giving them credit for inches lost? Sometimes that tells you more of the story than pounds lost.

LOST - This is my ritual with this show. I watch it… then I wait a few hours for the bloggers and tv sites to post their comments.. (they wait till the West Coast has seen it).. then I read them all…. And the next day I totally forget all about it. It’s kind of like taking a test in school.

I have been quite impressed with this season with the addition of the new characters who flew on to the island on some mysterious “rescue” mission and the fact that Penelope’s father is apparently looking for the island because he has it in for Ben Linus who by the way has taken over as the star of the show.. (although some might say the real stars are Penelope and Desmond.) The actor who plays Ben, Michael Emerson was terrific on The Practice some years back. Lost's use of flash forwards – mixed in with the unexpected use of flash backs in the Sun Jin episode evoked memories of the “I see dead people” shocker in "The Sixth Sense".

Every season I have a new Lost theory, and this season should be no different. My latest theory which has already been disclosed in a recent episode is that time moves at a different pace on Lost Island than the rest of the world. Which means that the rescued Oceanic Six shown in flash forwards might actually be a concurrent storyline. Once you accept a concept in your brain that time might not move at the same pace for everyone at the same time, you can wrap yourself around some bizarre concepts such as a person can actually be in 2 different places at the same time. And also it makes you ponder why some of the rescued Oceanic Six want to go back and why the rest were left behind… even though some of them such as Sawyer seem to be happier there than in the real world. Does Kate not want to go back because she was acquitted of a murder and a time rewind means a 2nd rescue would place her right back in a courtroom for a possible conviction?

I think once we discard on the rules we live by on concurrent time we can start to accept that some kind of nutty mashugas is going on that crazy island. My question is why does everyone assume that this Penelope - Desmond love story involves 2 sweet angels? Maybe Desmond ain't such a good guy... all the Losties know about him is he lived underground and pressed a button.. and admitted to killing another guy who was on the island before the Lost plane crashed. And, if Penny’s dad is somehow the bad guy – does that make Ben the good guy as he has repeatedly said he is? And what is Mister Widmore’s reason for being so obsessed with this island? Could he have set it up that Desmond ended up there in the first place?

As usual, when it comes to Lost, I have no clue. But I must admit, I enjoy the ride!


Another favorite is Curb Your Enthusiasm. Here is a hysterical clip from arguably the funniest episode when a Holocaust Survivor and Colby from Survivor discuss being a Survivor.