Thursday, June 26, 2008

TV Quarterly Report: NBTD-TV

So the big news story of the week is the hullaballoo regarding Imus's wisecrack about NFL Player Pacman Jones. My question is why are people making a bigger deal about Imus's comment than the fact that Pacman Jones is a lifetime thug with a rap sheet longer than his on field accomplishments??

Here's an interesting tidbit.. I did a Google search using the search this blog box and I discovered that the TV Quarterly Report that we ran 2 Junes ago (June 16, 2006), marked the only times this blog ever mentioned Tim Russert and George Carlin. I was criticizing that skank Anne Coulter and her new book and talked about her appearance on Jay Leno while Carlin stood by silently as we all knew full well that at any moment he was capable of verbally tearing her to shreds. I also said not to buy her book but to buy Russert's instead. And, did anybody have a better command of the clever nuances of the English Language than George Carlin? I saw him at Kean College back in 1985... and it was by the far the funniest show I ever saw in person.

For this TV Report, I am going to propose my own new cable network. I'll call it NBTD TV... Nothing Better To Do Tv... the kind of channel you flip on when.... you have nothing better to do. NBTD will have a line up of reality shows.. your typical how to home improvement programming plus an occasional rerun of Mister Belvidere. That seems to be what TV is all about... you got nuthin better to do... you watch this channel,

The Fall Season seems to be full of those kind of shows. Even though I saw the announcements of the new network schedules, I already forgot most of the new shows and I really don't get too excited until September rolls around. This past season, only 2 shows caught my attention.... One was The Big Bang Theory on CBS which is absolutely hysterical.... and if done right could be the Seinfeld for geeks for years to come. Also, the late lamented Journeyman... the time traveling show on NBC that was quite well done but never caught on. There is one more show that I started watching this season.... it was originally intended to be a midseason replacement show... but it didnt premiere till June and we'll discuss that later in today's column.

Here are some TV highlights for the times I am not watching baseball or managers getting fired in the dead of night or the Yankee owner ripping interleague baseball because his ace pitcher got hurt running the bases. And since I have already realized that my rotiserie team is not gonna do well this year, I have more TV time on my hands. Here are some tidbits:

*Job Opening at NBC - I really must admit I never watched much of NBC's national news and only caught Meet The Press once in a blue moon. Nonetheless, I had seen a lot of Tim Russert and it was sad that he had died so suddenly. Its very rare that a network news person dies suddenly... I remember David Bloom from NBC died a few years ago in Iraq and prior to that the last time I recall the sudden unexpected death of a network news person was back in 1983 when Jessica Savitch was killed in a car crash.

Now Tom Brokaw is gonna host the show through the election. After that... its gonna be a toss up. I would think that Jeff Greenfield might be a good host... or as a longshot, John King from CNN who has done a terrific job covering the election. Maybe even toss in his fiance Dana Bash as a co-anchor.

*Howard Kurtz interviews Dennis Prager - All summer long we will be hearing about this year's Presidential election, but last Sunday's show may have provided the sound bite that could catapult Obama to the White House. Kurtz was talking about how the media covered Gay Marriage last week and how it was not quite the issue in the Presidential election as predicted by Prager and his fellow right wing Republicans. To which Prager corrected Kurtz by pointing out that the liberal acceptance of Gay Marriage is indeed a huge issue this Nov. The GOP has already Foshnizzled in their attempts to catapult Hispanic Immigration as a major issue. And not only that, pointed out Prager, gettng rid of Gay Marriage is a bigger issue than gas prices!! That just shows how out of touch the Republicans are,.... I see a lot of people pulling up to the gas pump and paying a lot of money and not once have I heard anybody fork over a stack of shekels and complain that homosexuals are getting married. By the way, I don't have a problem with gays getting "married", but semantically speaking "married" does mean men and women.. but this is not an issue that Presidential candidates should be talking about with all the other problems we are facing in the United States!

*Larry King interviews Ed McMahon - Oh gosh... what a person to use as the poster child for the foreclosure crisis. Everybody likes ol' Ed and nobody wants to see anything bad happen to him, but no way is he a representative of the typical homeowner facing foreclosure. Ed broke his neck more than a year ago... he won't say how... and its affecting his ability to work, although I thought he cohosted the entire Jerry Lewis Telethon last year even though he didn't look too good during the show. Now, the job offers will come pouring in for Ed and he will get his money and all will be well. But the typical Joe Shmoe in foreclosure doesn't have a management team that can put him on a national cable show that will create a fundraiser to pay off his bank loan.

You gotta love Larry for the stuff that comes out of that mouth of his. At one point, Ed's very young wife said she had enough of homeownership, to which Larry correctly but maybe not so tactfully pointed out... "Oh you're never gonna be able to buy another house after this...." which Mrs. McMahon rebuffed Larry's idea of the typical foreclosure rent-a-condo by pointing out that they have seven dogs. And then when Ed pointed out that the house was for sale, but they couldn't find a buyer, Larry blurted out... "Hey isn't that the house that had the mold problem?" I'm sure Ed's realtor was thrilled with that disclosure!

*Mark Goodson and Bill Todman must be proud! - Game Shows seem to be the in thing. Password is a big hit for CBS... All Star Family Feud is back with Al Roker. I just saw the first episode on, and Roker did a decent job. I did notice that Ice T's mother in law is actually quite attractive and was probably better looking than the much younger daughter of Wayne Newton. And that Raven Symone from The Cosby Show - gosh is she nutty and when did she become so uh bosomy? The show is just like those old 70s specials when Richard Dawson would host thrilling battles between the casts of The Love Boat and Soap. The show took a Match Game-esque route with double entendre questions, but Ice-T took the "implication" away by tossing out shmeckle as one of his answers.

Speaking of which, one of my all time favorites is also coming back. I was thinking of going to CA for a few days next month and my trip coincided with the taping of a Match Game pilot. But they moved the pilot up and it was shot last week. Some guy from Mad TV is hosting it and the fact that he is a no name might bode well because that show needs a low key host who will play straight man to the funnier celebrities. The panel looks good - Sarah Silverman.... (go see her amusing Joe Franklin wisecracks in the Aristocrats movie) and Super Dave Osborne who is knee slappingly hilarious! Sometimes he fires off ad libs on Curb Your Enthusiasm that are so hysterical that I don't know how the rest of the cast doesn't start cracking up. According to the game show blog BuzzerBlog, the set is similar to the 70s set which might be a good idea for people looking to capture the old 70s magic. I also noticed that the Roker Family Feud is using the same theme song from the Dawson feud.

*The Best New Show of 2008 - Speaking of the 70's - Ladies and Gentlemen... the most original show I have seen in ages - Swingtown! Imagine if Dallas wasn't about oil barons but a bunch of swingers, and there you have it - a prime time soap opera taking place in the 70s consisting of 3 couples. One couple is very square; one couple is a bunch of wild and crazy swingers and the third couple who just bought a house and moved to "Swingtown" is finding themselves torn between both lifestyles.

Swingtown was supposed to be a mid season replacement but got bumped to the summer by the writers strike and folks, this show is fantastic. Alan Sepinwall. the great Ledger TV Columnist actually hates this show, and I can't figure out why. The only actor I knew from this show was Grant Show who was on Melrose and now sports a cheesy Jason Giambi moustache. The characters are fascinating, and the couple torn in the middle of all this - The Millers are just trying to find their way in that post sexual revolution, pre AIDS era. The square couple is quite amusing - the husband wishes his wife would loosen up, and ultimately you know that as the season progresses, she will come out of her sexually repressed cocoon. And the swinging couple - hes a pilot; shes a former stewardess and the first episode featured a menage a trois featuring a 2nd stewardess. And then moments later the characters are drinking from vintage Tab cans (not the updated 80s cans sold in stores), using Kodak flashbulb cameras, and watching Tony Randall carefully toss out clues in the bonus round of the 10,000 Dollar Pyramid.

Here is why I think this show is so awesome - it's not just about swingers. The kids on the show, preteens and a girl who seems to be about 18 are getting some very heartwarming storylines. This is almost like a Michael Landon show its so sweet! The Miller preteen son befriends a young preteen neighbor girl who runs away from home and builds a tent in the park. He goes to visit her and brings her food and when she says she will go home soon because her mom probably has the cops looking all over for her, he tactlessly but correctly points out that her weird mother doesnt even realize she's missing. The girl ends up coming home anyway when she realizes her cry for attention went unanswered. Another preteen kid gets his mitts on some liquor and gets so drunk that he wakes up in a neighbor's backyard the next day bellowing... "Where the hell am I?" I guess this show took place before cell phones with built in GPS, specifically designed for people who get drunk and wake up lost!

And the Miller's 18 year old daughter - makes an inappropriate pass at her summer school teacher at the local library. The show takes place around the Bicentennial, yet nobody has mentioned Entebbe. While this little library pass is unfolding, the Millers hold a housewarming party where Susan Miller decides to cut loose and rips off the tacky wallpaper left by the previous owner. Since the wallpaper will be replaced, she gives out markers and encourages people to draw on the walls. The party is long over when the daughter comes home, and with some cool 70s music playing in the background - part of the shows phenomenal soundrack - she discovers this crazy wall and with little stars in her eyes writes her intials and her teachers initials and draws a little heart around it. I wonder if in 2008, this same character who seems destined to be an English Professor is drawing little hearts with the initials of one of her college students she is probably banging!

Sepinwall is usually on the money with his reviews... (except for his intense love of The Sopranos) but it seems that Swingtown is the most original, most well presented show that has come our way in a long time. It's definitely Thursday Must See TV for the summer... As for the rest of the drek... just toss that on NBTD-TV!


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