Friday, December 12, 2008

TV Quarterly Report - 14 Things To Watch in 2009

Originally I was going to do my Quarterly TV Report at the end of the month, but NBC's historical announcement this week led to my decision to juggle my columns around a little bit. And this column about 14 Things to Watch will start with one show I definitely plan NOT to watch.

Just in case you got too involved in the craziness involving the Illinois Governor and missed the news, Jay Leno is being pushed out of the Tonight Show and will be replaced by the better Conan O'Brien version of late night TV. In order to keep Leno's ratings, NBC decided to give up on coming up with new shows for the 10pm slot during the week and will move Leno's show to 10 pm... a move that essentially shuts NBC prime time down an hour earlier each night.

Personally, I don't think it's such a big deal.. Fox and CW also stop programming at 10 for the local 10pm news. Some people are saying that shows like Law and Order SVU will be moved to the earlier 9pm hour... and that show's type of adult content might not be appropriate for that time slot. However, have you heard some of the dialogue on some of the CBS Monday Night Sitcoms? Somehow I think SVU will do fine at 9pm.. assuming NBC renews it.

As for Leno, it has been many years since I was a fan of his. Back in the 80's I actually thought he was quite funny when he was a regular on Letterman's 12:30 show.. However, once he started guest hosting for Johnny Carson, I started losing interest.. especially since I thought Garry Shandling and Joan Rivers were better guest hosts. But once Leno became the regular guest host and then stabbed Letterman in the back to take Johnny's timeslot, I totally lost interest. On rare occasions, I will tune into his show if he has an outstanding guest... but once Leno basically got rid of his old edgy humor to be bland and vanilla, I stopped paying attention to him. Night after night, Letterman consistently delivers the same acerbic humor that made him famous 25 years ago, and amazingly Leno beats him in the ratings. I don't know what that says about the ratings...

Now here are 14 things to watch for in 2009....

1. 24 - I really didn't get into the TV movie a couple of weeks ago... it was too much drama too soon after a thrilling Giants game. Nonetheless, I am waiting for Jack Bauer and his amazing Cell phone for 2009 after not getting my fix of 24 last season due to the writers strike. I always get a kick out of the futuristic cellphones each season on 24... or as they say in Japan - the old clunker cell phones! Will this season's cellie core a apple?? Will it be able to send stuff directly to a printer? Will it have a good browser so he can update facebook during his day? Jack Bauer is... still chasing bad guys after 20 hours and is looking for a place to pish.

2. Lost - Here is another one that I haven't seen since May and I already forgot what happened. I joined this group called the Lost Time Loop theory fan club on Facebook... It has 2684 members, and is connected to this fantastic website I mentioned in the spring that has a very plausible explanation for all the stuff going on on that crazy island. Basically the island is not in the same "time" we are... time moves at a different pace there so you can actually be there and at another place simultaneously. Pretty cool, huh?

3. Heroes - I'm so tired of all these people kvetching about this show. As far as I'm concerned.. if you don't like it... don't watch it! I think this season is not as good as Season 1.. but Season 1 was quite gripping due to its originality. I do agree with the critics that the show is bogged down with too many characters mixed in with too many simultaneous storylines. so here is my idea... Get rid of Mohinder and all the Petrellis except for the father. Robert Forster is doing a terrific job playing this character... I like how a New Yorker has a midwest accent! By the way he plays Nathan's father on Heroes and he also played Nathan's father in the amusing but underrated movie "Human Nature". Also, game show aficionados should check him out in the movie Rags to Riches.

Once they trim the cast they should take a core of Heroes... such as Claire, Hiro, Parkman and the girl with the crazy hair and make them the core characters for a story arc... and then take 2 of those heroes and toss in another two, and make them the core characters for the next storyline. I also must admit that despite what other fans have said, I actually like what they did to Sylar this year making him bad... but with a softer, more sensitive side that is easily manipulated.

4. The 2009 Mets - They added K-Rod for the 9th inning, Putz for the 8th inning and bring back Luis Ayala for the 7th inning! Thank you Omar Minaya for making the heist of the year sending away Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith and Endy Chavez who is great for one amazing catch a year for JJ Putz, The Gentile Sean Green and outfielder Jeremy Reed to replace Endy. Once we get past the holidays, it will just be a little more than a month till pitchers and catchers report!

5. Big Bang Theory/How I Met Joe Mama hour - CBS really has a pair of winners in the Monday Night 8pm hour... although I can never remember the characters names. I still forget which one is Sheldon and which one is Leonard... a similar problem that befell fans of former CBS sitcom Kate and Allie. The really skinny guy and the Jewish guy absolutely steal the show and Kaley Cuoco is turning into a very talented comedic actress playing straight man to her wacky neighbors. Also, HIMYM continues to crack me up with all kinds of bizarre hijinks. The cast is great and the storytelling is well presented too with its use of bouncing around the timeline. And Neil Patrick Harris is an absolute gem on this show.. picking up on the quirkiness he created in the original Harold and Kumar movie. Was this guy really Doogie Howser?? This could be the funniest hour on TV except for....

6. Family Guy/American Dad Hour - By far the funniest hour on tv as Entertainment Weekly's Top TV Genius Seth MacFarlane continues his Sunday night brilliance. Family Guy has the bizarre tangents and obscure pop culture references... I just watched an episode and Trophy Wife had to explain a couple of jokes that flew right past me! But anybody clever enough to have Stuie on a Big Wheel give a can of whoopass to Saddam Hussein and then trike through town to the theme song of "Police Squad" is one example of the crazy stuff that goes on there... American Dad doesn't have the flashbacks, but it cleverly utilizes the kooky family that also is lucky enough to have a talking goldfish and pet alien. On its best day, American Dad is competitively as funny as an average Family Guy episode.

7. People's Court - I think I'm turning into the guy from Rain man but this is a must watch show. Here in NJ it airs 2x a day.. 10 am on Channel 9 and 4pm on Channel 5. I work from home in the mornings so I make it a point to catch the 10 am airings. Unlike other Judges who are just blowhards and full of themselves, Judge Milian actually listens to the cases and her rulings are fair and make a lot of sense. The cases are also pretty entertaining and there always seems to be some bizarre twist. The show also uses the old traditional post trial interview that was made famous in the Wapner version by Doug Llewelyn. I'm not too sure she is too thrilled with the opening credits calling her TV's hottest judge. Hey, how about Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

8. Life on Mars - Another time traveling show that I got hooked on this fall.... The Mentalist is actually the most popular new show.. and last week it was the most popular show period.. However, quality wise, Life On Mars is absolutely awesome with its weekly salute to those crazy 1970s crime dramas. Mars takes place on the 70s because the main character woke up after being hit by a car and found himself living 35 years earlier. The show has some Watcha talking about Willis moments especially when he meets his young mom and sees himself as a kid.. Then again last week on Heroes, a time traveling Claire changed Baby Claire's diaper. Somewhere there exists a very perverse joke. Life on Mars will be back on in January - airing immediately after Lost which is going to make Wednesday Nights at 11 a time for lots of head scratching.

9. Monk early season reruns on Channel 4 - So this is what I missed? The show is the same except Monk has an assistant named Sharona whose departure was a big deal among the Monk fans back when it happened. I only started watching if after Natalie became Monk's very patient assistant. The Sharona Monk looks like every other 1980's hair girl from NJ... and the older episodes are pretty much the same as it they are now.... I also liked the most recent USA episode where Stottlemyre joined a monastery and shaved off his Geraldo mustache. Monk is like Encyclopedia Brown with a lot of psychological damage. I just wish it wasn't on so late on Sunday Nights... Channel 4 actually shortens the post football 11 O'clock News to get to Mike'd Up.... but I don't understand why they air some horrible local PM Magazine show after Mike'd Up pushing Monk back even later...

10. The 11 am wknd game show hour on Gsn - Every weekend... Match Game at 11 am and Password Plus at 11:30.

11. Law and Order SVU - I don't know why I watch this show every week... it is just soooo stressful with dark, dreary stories yet I keep coming back for more. I just hope that they don't alter the format when it moves to the 9pm slot next season when Leno takes over 10 pm. And I still don't know why they don't give more air time to Richard Belzer although I must admit that Ice T has been getting some funny lines.. especially last Tuesday when he instantly knew the bra size of a woman the cops were watching in a home made porn video. One cool aspect of this show.. it starts with unrelated characters in the first few minutes "stumbling" into a crime scene.... the first half hour is one storyline... then comes the twist and then the meat and potatoes of the episode. They also do a lot of good casting.. the guy with the eyepatch from Lost was on a few weeks ago.

12. CSI NY and Miami. - If it ain't L and O formula its the CBS crime shows which almost all seem to come from one Jerry Bruckheimer factory. I rarely watch regular CSI... and Miami is just so wacked out with the one day storylines and the horrific David Caruso acting... The stories are entertaining. CSI: NY is nowhere near as campy... although I was getting a little dizzy watching the episode that was taking place at the top of the Empire State Building. Sometimes they run stories spread over a few episodes and the writers just don't know how to properly edit in those little stories within the framework of the main story. But hey.. CSI is making it cool to be smart.

13. The American Idol Gong Show Auditions - Just the auditions.. not the show itself. Now that this unfortunately mentally ill auditioner killed herself in front of Paula Abdul's house... the weirdness factor take a stranger turn.. And since Paula Abdul is already bizarre... it's hard sometimes to tell if the auditioners are weirder.. or camouflaged by Abdul's bizarre behavior. Nonetheless, even though Comedy Central remade the Gong Show last summer.... this is the Gong Show of all Gong Shows... until they take the more talented people to California where I get bored with it and start to wonder why Ryan Seacrest is on the radio and TV all the freaking time. And whatever happened to Dunkleman?

14. HBO's Original Funny Shows - Entourage has the four boys and the incredibly funny Ari Gold... while Curb Your Enthusiasm has Seinfeld-esque storytelling thrown in with some bizarre ad libbing that creates dialogue patterns you never ever see on TV. Some of the comments thrown out by Funkhauser played by Super Dave Osborne are downright hilarious. One time he was talking about a senile relative and ad libbed a line that every time he'd fart he would call the fire department. How do the other actors keep a straight face?? Last season ended with Larry splitting with his wife.... and despite a wacky plot to win her over by "saving" her shrink from a "mugger".. he ended up hooking up with Viveka A Fox... I don't know when these shows will be returning in '09. Honorable Mention goes to Bill Maher's show which when it books the right guests for its panel can be an incredibly entertaining hour.

And there you have it - 14 things to keep an eye out for. Keep in mind that only 1 of those shows premiered this season, and only 1 other show came around in 2007. This might tell you quite a bit of the quality of the new programs coming out, and explains why NBC had no choice but to stick on a non funny show like Jay Leno's five nights a week.

PUMPSTRADAMUS NFL PICK OF THE WEEK: Pumpy racked up another win last week to improve to 10-4. Will this be the first time Pumpy gets 11 right? This week we go to Detroit which is on the brink of disaster as the automakers are holding their breath to see if bailout money is headed its way. The Lions are on the road as 17 point doggies to the Colts. Sayeth the Pump: "I'm picking Indianapolis because I like the Indy 500... even though they might have to race with bicycles if Detroit stops making cars."


Last week we went 2-1 to improve to 27-15. No matter what they say, the only game that matters is next week against Carolina. If the Giants win that game they have home field throughout the playoffs, no matter what Tampa Bay does since the Giants would hold the tie breaker over Carolina and Carolina would hold the tie breaker over Tampa if all 3 finish with the same record. But off the top of my head, I don't know the tie breaker if there is a 2 way tie between Tampa and The Giants.

Giants 3 doggies to DALLAS - The word "meaningless" does not exist in the Coach's vocabulary... the Giants played hard in last year's "meaningless" regular season finale against New England and they will do likewise on Sunday Night.

ATLANTA 3 faves over Tampa Bay - It would be nice if Tampa loses this week to avoid any complicated tie breakers for home field.

Bills 7 1/2 over THE JETS - I think the Jets will cover.

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