Been a long hot summer in my neck of the woods, but I’ll be back soon. Need to clear out the DVR and build some discipline around writing. Lots of good TV on. Tell me what you’re liking.
James Arness, a mainstay on television for 25 years has dies at age 88. Arness starred on CBS’ Gunsmoke from 1955 to 1975, following that up with How the West Was Won from ‘78-79. Adapted from a radio show, the role of Marshall Matt Dillon was originally offered to John Wayne, who declined, but suggested producers hire his friend Arness. Wayne apparently didn’t want the 6’7” Arness towering over him in the movies.
Arness served in WWII, was wounded at Anzio and won the Purple Heart. After the war, he went to Hollywood and began appearing in films. In 1951, he used his height to advantage as The Thing. Talent ran in the family; his brother was Peter Graves of Mission: Impossible and Airplane fame.
In his twenty years in Dodge City, Arness worked with hundreds of actors, many just getting their start. Edward Asner, Beau Bridges, Harrison Ford, Charles Bronson, Gary Busey, Richard Dreyfuss, and many more. Arness held the record for playing a single character on television until it was broken by Kelsey Grammer.
James Arness’ official web site has posted a letter of thanks to his fans that he requested be posted posthumously.
RIP, James Arness, May 26, 1923 – June 3, 2011
More to Come.
UPDATE: Jeff Conaway died today, May 27, 2011, after being removed from life support.
Numerous reports say Jeff Conaway’s family has decided to turn off his life support after doctors told them he was brain dead. He has been in a coma since May 11, when he was found unconscious in his apartment.
Such a sad end for Jeff. Bobby Wheeler, his character on Taxi was so likable and filled with joy. But Conaway had demons in his life, displayed very publically on Celebrity Rehab and you really hoped he’d beat them back.
RIP, Jeff Conaway, October 5, 1950 - May 27, 2011
The major networks have made their decisions on their Fall schedules. A ton of shows were cancelled to make room for what they hope will be the next big thing. In most cases, the world is a better place without these shows, although a few showed promise or were actually pretty good. Here are the shows that didn't make the cut.
Better With You - I made it through two half episodes. Horrible and predictable.
Brothers & Sisters – I am not in the target audience for this show, so I never watched it. So I won’t miss it. I’m sorry if you will.
Detroit 1-8-7 - I never saw it, but I know some folks who really enjoyed this show.
Mr. Sunshine - Out of respect for Chandler Bing, I gave this show 5 episodes. I LITERALLY did not laugh once.
My Generation - I don’t know what this is. Was it really ever on?
No Ordinary Family - Dumb concept, poorly executed.
Off the Map - My wife really liked this show, so I’d have to say this is the biggest mistake on the list. This show should be saved by another Network. OK, Honey?
V - At least the original was so cheesy, it was fun. This was just boring.
Americas Next Great Restaurant - …is not going to come from a reality show.
The Cape - Watched two episodes. Could have been better, won’t be missed.
Chase - I watched this for about a half season. I kind of liked it. It was well acted and it was set in Texas. The plots became fairly repetitive, with a death just before every commercial break, but still, there are worse things that survived longer. *cough, *cough, Heroes, *cough, *cough
The Event - My most anticipated new show last summer. My biggest disappointment last Fall. Just never went anywhere. A non-Event.
Friday Night Lights - Was this canceled? I thought it just wrapped up. Huh. Well, my employer was featured in a few episodes, so I guess it was a good show.
Law & Order: LA - The second dud in the franchise. Pulled off the air and retooled, it still didn’t catch on.
Outsourced - OK, a lot of folks say this show was not PC, that it was mildly racist. I watched it and never got that feeling. The characters were funny and it tried to celebrate the Indian culture. I liked it and will miss it.
The Paul Reiser Show - NBC yanked this show after two episodes. I watched the first one and it was fine. It could have been better and likely would have gotten better, but now we’ll never know. I’m just sayin’.
Perfect Couples - Hated this show. I think fan-boy fave Olivia Munn was cast in the wrong role. Instead of the straight laced yuppie (do we still use that term?), she should have been the hard drinking party girl. They should have asked me sooner.
School Pride - Again, is this a typo? Never heard of it.
Breaking In - TV seems desperate to give Christian Slater a show. This is his third in as many seasons to get the axe. I watched it, it was weak, but had a couple of funny actors.
The Chicago Code - Didn’t see this, but everyone who did, liked it. Just not enough of them did.
Human Target - I loved this show. It got 2 seasons in before getting cancelled. It was simply fun, a comic book adaptation about a bodyguard. Jackie Earle Haley was especially good as Guerrero.
Lie to Me - …and tell you that you’re coming back? Sorry can’t do it.
Lone Star - This was predicted to be a big hit, but was pulled after two episodes. Harsh treatment for something named after Texas. We don’t normally tolerate that.
Running Wilde - Worst show of the season, possibly of the still young century. The kind of bad that makes you wish you had The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer on Blu-ray.
Traffic Light - Never got around to watching this, but the jokes in the commercials seemed like they might be funny. Red means Stop.
Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior - A spin-off (actually, a back door pilot) of Criminal Minds. Ran in the Spring but never caught on. Case closed.
The Defenders - OK, I thought this might have been a bigger hit. I watched 2 or 3 episodes, thought the scripts were decent, thought the chemistry between the leads was solid. Surprised it didn’t find it’s niche.
Mad Love - Watched two or three episodes of this, it had a few laughs. May have suffered from the fact that the two side characters were much funnier than the two leads.
Medium – This was a quality show that had a pretty good run. A move to a new network didn’t save it, but at least it was allowed to wrap up with a satisfying series finale.
$#*! My Dad Says - Did I already say something else was the worst show of the season? Maybe it was a tie. As a friend said, they should have just called it, “$#*!”. Horribly miscast (should have been Judd Hirsch) and horribly scripted. #GoodRiddance
Hellcats - Hot Cheerleaders don’t get good ratings? What a sad, sad pathetic world we live in.
Life Unexpected - Cancellation Expected.
Smallville - Again, not really cancelled. It was on for years, wrapped up and had a series finale.
Stargate Universe - This one gets my blood boiling. SyFy has been proving they don’t know $#*! about running a network. SGU was the best show in the Stargate franchise. The scripts were just starting to gel and they were getting into some very interesting territory, literally and figuratively. But the show was expensive and SyFy axed it to make room for another kind of fiction: Perfeshunle Rasslin’. And the plug was pulled before they could wrap up the series properly, leaving the plot unresolved after two years. Some executive should be blown out the airlock.
Caprica - I’ll admit that Caprica, the prequel to Battlestar Galactica, was a bit hard to take in if you weren’t a hard-core fan. It dealt with heavy themes, and was a little short on action and typical sci-fi gizmos. But it was still a quality show that could have been great given more time.
Also of note are a couple of shows in development that got some press, but in the end did not get picked up:
Wonder Woman - This may be a case where a single photo of a costume killed a show.
Poe - We will not get to see Edgar Allen solving crimes in 19th Century Boston. Why not? It’s a mystery to me.
Next post: What Made the Cut
More to Come.
No disrespect to the memory of Julia Child, but there are not many things about France that I care for. It’s not the political/nationalism thing; I never ate a “Freedom Fry”. More accurately, I don’t like most of the things the French like. I don’t like wine, small portions,rudeness, wine, Gérard Depardieu, cigarettes, snails, wine, mimes, arrogance or mushrooms. I’d rather go to Rome than Paris and I’d rather go to Vienna than Rome. But the one thing I and the French see eye to eye on is the often maligned and unsung genius of Joseph Levitch, better know to the world as Jerry Lewis. I have watched Jerry Lewis movies as long as I can remember; the Houston UHF station played them Saturdays at 10:30AM and the ABC affiliate showed them on the Million Dollar Movie weekdays at 4PM, doing a week-long run at least once a year. I loved them all, whether it was Martin and Lewis or just Lewis. Favorites include The Delicate Delinquent, That’s My Boy and Way, Way Out, but I’ve probably watched most of them more than once.
What does this have to do with a TV blog? This love of Jerry Lewis movies led to my addiction to the Jerry Lewis Labor Day MDA Telethon. I probably started watching out of the novelty of seeing the guy from those movies on this different kind of show. Throughout most of my childhood, I would stay up on Sunday night, Labor Day Eve, watching until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Late Sunday night was the best part of the Telethon. The theme song would be sung, “Smile though your heart is aching, Smile even though it's breaking…” Sunday night was when they featured all of the old Vegas style acts, singers, magicians and comedians. As soon as my eyes opened on Monday, the TV was back on to see what I’d missed.
Monday morning was used for bringing in big corporate donors to tell how much the Firefighters or 7-11 had raised. Bathroom breaks were taken when they cut away to the local feed, which happened more and more as the day drug on, with shots of kids dumping cash into the barrel, then back to the national show. And every so often, Ed McMahon would interrupt Jerry in whatever he was doing to go to the tote board. “What the World Needs Now” would play and a new total would roll over, usually passing another million milestone. And at some pointon Monday afternoon, so tired he could barely stand, Jerry would take to the stage and belt out, “You'll Never Walk Alone” and he and I would both be in tears.
Year after year, this would carry on. When I was young, my mom or dad would answer my pleas and let me call in a pledge. When I got older and got my first job, I would proudly call and pay my own pledge. Through college and young adulthood, it was hard to give the same attention, but I always monitored it, and tried to call in a pledge when I could afford it.
Lewis began doing short local telethons for MDA in New York in 1952 at the behest of a staffer. In 1966, they attempted the telethon on Labor Day, 19 hours in New York City only. It earned over $1 million dollars, so far beyond expectations that a “1” had to be painted in front of the tote board. Over the next few years, additional stations were added to form the Love Network. The Network grew, the broadcast moved to LA and Vegas, and it became part of the culture. To date the Telethon has raised $2.45 BILLION in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Jerry’s Kids.
Today Lewis, 85, announced that this year will be his last hosting the annual fundraising event. He’s been ill for years, and had been appearing on stage less and less, relying on co-hosts to do the heavy lifting. The Telethon will be scaled back to a 6 hour presentation on Sunday night. Lewis released a statement through the MDA stating in part, “As a labor of love, I’ve hosted the annual Telethon since 1966, and I’ll be making my final appearance on the show this year by performing my signature song, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’… I’ll continue to serve MDA as its National Chairman – as I’ve done since the early 1950′s. I’ll never desert MDA and my kids.”
You may notice that my site has an Amazon Affiliate store now. I will be giving any commissions earned between now and Labor Day to the Telethon. So if you’re going to shop Amazon anyway, go through my store. Jerry’s Kids will benefit.
I for one will “stay up and watch the stars come out” and I’ll be donating. And I’d bet a few tears will be shed, on screen and in the recliner.
More to Come.
Unless you failed to pay your cable bill for the last nine months, you know that Steve Carell is leaving the hit NBC show, The Office, to focus on his film career. Tonight is Michael Scott's final episode. We’ll have to wait till next season to see who his permanent replacement will be and if the show can maintain its quality without him, but tonight’s expanded 50-minute episode is about him.
The episode will certainly have laughs and tears. There will be the requisite one-on-one scenes with each of the other characters where they settle their differences and celebrate their time together (except with Toby).
And thus, I find myself wondering what his last line on the show will be. I think it is obvious. I think there is only one way he could wrap it all up. So here’s how I would script it:
The last day has passed, the last commercial break is done. During the day, Michael has questioned whether he’s making the right decision. Holly is there, knowing this will be a tough day for him and wanting to offer support. Holly and Michael come out of his office. She’s carrying a box with all of his memorabilia—koosh ball, coffee mug, trophy, certificates, desk phone, office supplies. He has his overcoat on his arm. He takes one last long look around the office, soaking it all in. He’s already said his good-byes, he just wants to rip the band-aid off and get this part over quickly.
As they step towards the door, Jim stands and begins slow clapping, followed by Pam, then Andy, then the rest of the office staff. Michael, eyes filled with tears, stands there and absorbs it, beaming. He opens the door, holds it open for Holly. He looks into her eyes and knows he’s doing the right thing.
Looking back to the staff, he says, “Good-bye everybody.” The clapping stops. Unable to control it, Pam says, “We love you, Michael.” He looks at them all, then back at Holly, then back at them. He cocks his head towards Holly and says, one last time…
“That’s what SHE said!”
They kiss, turn and leave, the door closes behind them.
Silence. The phones start ringing. The staff slowly move back to their desks and go back to work. And… SCENE!
Anyway, that’s how I’d do it. Tune in tonight to see how close I got.
The Office on NBC at 9/8C.
More to Come.