The Classic TV Companion!

November 18, 2010

Before there was IMDB for the TV lover, before the internet, before personal computers… there was the Nick at Nite Classic TV Companion!  OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, because I seem to remember having a computer in my room during those formative years of watching classic television on Nick at Nite.  But if you wanted episode guides to some of those great old shows, you needed this book.

I recently found my well-worn copy and was bemused as to why I would need it at all!  But then I thought about how often I check IMDB on my iPhone to see who’s who in what episode, during what season, and any fun trivia about that episode or person.  So what did I do without it?  Turn to this book, of course!

“Brought to you by the ultimate authority on Our Television Heritage – here is the definitive, entertaining reference to some of TV’s enduring classics.”  Says the back of the book.  Also on there, some quotes from classic TV celebrities, like Bob Newhart, Edward Asner, and Conan O’Brien.  (Wait, what?  Yes!  Conan says, “At last, a book with not too many hard words.”)

I plan on browsing through the book a bit more tonight, then putting it back in the basement with all my other old books.  Maybe someday my children will find it and be really confused as to it’s purpose.

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Better With You

November 10, 2010

I gave this show a chance, but could hardly make it through the pilot.  Granted, I have always held the rule to not judge a show by its pilot, but this season, I’m making exceptions!  With my first child on the way, I’m trying to be extra particular about what shows I watch so getting through them doesn’t take away my whole evening.  So although I really do like Joanna Garcia, I just couldn’t justify spending 30 minutes a week watching.  It’s ratings are pretty high, though I suspect it’s due to being sandwiched between The Middle and Modern Family.

If you’re watching, has Better With You improved since it’s pilot?

Running Wilde

November 9, 2010

I was so excited for this show to start, being a huge Arrested Development fan, and of GOB’s in particular.  And the pilot actually had me laughing out loud, which I find to be quite rare, especially with pilots.  But I’m afraid the show has yet to find it’s groove, and it may be running out of time.  Ratings are low and the past couple weeks it hasn’t even been on!

I will admit that on the last episode, I had more fun trying to find AD references (“Com’on!”) than really watching the episode.  Although the character of Fa’ad has me laughing every time he’s on screen!

Let’s hope the network decides to give this show its “back 9” and it can finally find its groove, because I really think it has huge potential.

I watch a lot of sitcoms and in nearly every episode, I’m reminded of a similar plot in another episode of another series!  This struck home last night while I was re-watching the episode of Frasier, “An Affair to Forget.”  In it, there is a language barrier between Niles and his wife’s Bavarian fencing instructor.  To solve the problem, Niles speaks to Frasier in English, Frasier speaks to Marta in Spanish, who translates to the fencing instructor in German.  Of course, there is a lot lost in translation and it leads to humorous results.  I actually really like that episode and don’t mind that the bit is a complete rip-off of the I Love Lucy episode “Paris at Last.”  But it got me wondering, are there no original sitcom plots?  Are many episodes from our favorite shows just variations of shows of days gone by?  And doesn’t this bother people other than just me?

Anyone else think of JD from Scrubs with any mention of the appletini?  Apparently I am not the only one.  Read Slate’s Brow Beat blog for their HIMYM Shame Index.  I found this week’s particularly humorous.

They ask the following question:

A question for Shame Index readers: How do we feel about Don? The Index was skeptical from the start, but confesses that Don comported himself well last night. Almost too well—remember how buffoonish he was when we first met him? All of a sudden, he seems so … pants-wearing.

And while I was about to leave a comment with my answer, I realized I would have to login to do so.  Too much work to make a login for yet another website!  So I will leave my comment right here in this post, instead:

I really like Don and wouldn’t mind seeing Robin end up with him permanently.  But yes, he’s a totally different character than he was at first.  In fact, I like to pretend that first part never happened.  It was silly and I don’t believe he would change that drastically in such a short time.  That should be in the Shame Index!  Shame on the writers for not thinking ahead, especially in a show all about the flashback!  We (the audience) notice that type of thing, appreciate when it’s done well (hello, Arrested Development fans!), and grimace when it’s done poorly.

There was a time in the early episodes when I had completely decided to give up on Cougar Town.  But I cannot give up on any show until the end of the season.  Then there is the inevitable cliff-hanger, which usually brings me back for the next season!  In fact, I can’t think of many shows that I started watching from the beginning and then just stopped (especially mid-season!).  But Cougar Town may be the first.

Like the title of this post says, I’m still undecided.  In the beginning, it was pretty bad.  Then it sort of found itself and became more of an ensemble-type show.  That was a good move, because a show about an woman in her forties dating younger men was not going to make it.  But I still can’t get on board with the characters.  And are there really people out there like Jules?  If there are, clearly I do not know any of them, nor do I want to because they are annoying!

I may have a bias in this case, because I want Courtney Cox to be the lovable neurotic I knew on Friends.  But she is not!  She’s just a self-absorbed, wino in her forties.  She seems to love her friends and family, but not enough to take the spotlight off herself once in a while.  So am I committed to watch a whole further season about such a woman, even if there are more characters other than just her?

Here are the pros of the show (why I would keep watching):

  • It’s moderately funny.
  • Sometimes I like Ellie’s character (but really don’t buy her as a new mom)
  • Travis is OK; good foil for his crazy parents
  • I don’t like not watching sitcoms that everybody is talking about

Cons (why I might drop it):

  • It’s pretty stupid most of the time.
  • Jules
  • Laurie
  • Grayson (womanizer who falls for Jules enough to change his ways?  Again, don’t buy it.)
  • Andy
  • Bobby

What are your reasons for watching (or not watching) this show?  Help me to decide whether or not to continue with it.

I have always loved sitcoms in particular (even though my blog may say otherwise).  They are real while still being very funny, they have extremely likable characters, and most importantly, they have rewatchability.

An article in the NY Times a few days ago says this:

People like Mr. Lorre are particularly in demand this spring, amid a renaissance of sorts for the network TV sitcom, which not too long ago was pronounced terminally ill. On studio lots, where dozens of new shows are being fretted about and fought over ahead of the networks’ scheduling decisions in May, the number of sitcoms in development has spiked. “I think we’re on the cusp of a bull market for comedy,” said Kevin Reilly, Fox’s entertainment chief, whose No. 1 priority for the fall is adding more live-action comedies to his schedule.

Despite some exaggerated claims to the contrary, the sitcom never died. What happened in the unfunny middle of the last decade, post-“Friends,” post-“Frasier,” post-“Everybody Loves Raymond,” turned out to be merely an anemic period.

And, compared with reality shows at least, sitcoms have better prospects for future profits in syndication.

Why is this?  Because of rewatchability!

Analysts say networks are producing about 40 comedy pilots this season, 4 to 10 more than last season, depending on who is counting.

Virtually all the executives interviewed said that sitcoms are harder to make work than dramas. “You can sort of read a drama script and know what it could be,” said Angela Bromstad, the president for prime-time entertainment at NBC. ”But you can read a really funny script and make a very unfunny pilot and a very unfunny show. It’s such alchemy and such chemistry.”

Yes, chemistry is huge!  And as I’ve said before, that’s something you just can’t write.  And when it’s right, you don’t even think about it.  But when it’s wrong, it can be almost painful to watch.

The shows depend enormously on the viewers’ connecting with the characters. “It’s haiku,” Mr. Lorre said of the sitcom format. “It’s a kind of poetry. It may not be considered high art, but it has its own art form.”

Read the full article here.