Oct 29, 2010

CraigyFerg Dance Number Alert

22374_craig-ferguson-cbs-blurbA Tweet from @CraigyFerg confirms the The Late Late Show will open with one of Craig Ferguson's consistently fun dance numbers. Appropriately tonight, it’s The Monster Mash.  Tune in or record, these are always hysterical. 

The Late Late Show with TV’s Craig Ferguson, on CBS at 12:35/11:35C

More to Come.

I’m With Coco: Show Zero

UPDATE: Conan: Show Zero premiered last night online, sponsored by Diet Coke. If you were waiting for your NetZero to finish “ga-dong-ga-donging” via dial-up or went to grab a Coke Zero from the fridge or to see if there was Zero bar in your kid’s Halloween bag, you may have missed it.  Conan appeared in his new offices, and proclaiming that on the Internet things had to move fast, proceeded to conduct a complete late night talk show in less than five minutes. His staff was gathered in a conference room as the audience, Andy Richter was standing backed up to a window. There was only room for one member of the band (playing on a piccolo, no less). Conan told a one-joke monologue, then invited his one guest, Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons. Parson said “Hello,” Andy Drank a Diet Coke and said, “mmm, diet Coke, Buy some,” then it was time for the musical guest. Steel Train plowed though the door to play the opening chord from their latest single.  Good night everybody!

This was pure Conan: take a silly comment and turn it into a comedy bit with lots of hype.  It may also have been a sly dig at Jimmy Fallon who did an Internet show for a few weeks to warm up for his gig as Conan’s replacement on Late Night. Makes me even more anxious to see the real show next week.  If you missed it, you can watch it here.

Conan O’Brien has been contractually prohibited from being funny on television since January 22, 2010, but that is coming to an end. (Jay Leno ConanOBriencontinues to be prohibited from being funny on television, or so it would seem.) Conan’s new Monday – Thursday show, “Conan,” begins on TBS on Monday, November 8 at 11/10c. Andy Richter will again join Conan as his sidekick and announcer, but Max Weinberg is not returning as the band leader. (Hopefully, that E Street Band gig will provide him with something to do.)

To get you ready for the new show, Coco and company are presenting Show Zero online at TeamCoco.com on Monday, November 1 at 11/10c. They’re not saying what will happen on the online broadcast, but we can assume it will be a preview of things to come. This will be our first chance to see if Conan will follow through on his pledge to risk NBC’s wrath by bringing back some of his favorite bits, most notably, the Masturbating Bear.

Team Coco Presents: Show Zero, Monday, Nov. 1 on TeamCoco.com at 11/10c

Conan, premiering Monday, Nov. 8 on TBS (DirecTV Channel 247) at 11/10c, M-Th

More to Come.

Funny Ladies

NBC will broadcast a Prime Time special on Monday, November 1 featuring the 081008mollyshannon_tinafey_juliadreyfusfunniest female Saturday Night Live cast members of the last 40 years. And Kristen Wiig will be there too. Scheduled to appear are interviews and clips with Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (many forget that Seinfeld’s Elaine got her start on SNL; she used to have a dead on impersonation of Linda Ronstadt), Laraine Newman, and Amy Poehler. I would hope for a tribute to the funniest woman ever on SNL, the late, great Gilda Radner.

The Women of SNL, Monday, November 1, 9/8C.

More to Come.

Oct 27, 2010

American Zombie Classics

If you’re looking for a few extra scares on Halloween, tune in to (or record) the Zombie-1-350premiere of AMC’s latest original series, The Walking Dead. Based on a popular indie comic book series, the show tells the story of a small group of people trying to survive after a Zombie epidemic. Mad Men and Breaking Bad  have shown that AMC tends to do things right (18 Emmys and 64 nominations between them), so this is likely to be a great show. I’ll be watching because I prefer Zombies to pale over-emoting Vampires and Werewolves.  Monsters should be SCARY!

By the way, interesting bit of trivia. Did you know that the fantastic movie Zombieland was originally pitched as a TV series? The producers want to do a couple of sequels, then possibly pursue that further. 

In the meantime, we’ve got The Walking Dead, premiering Halloween Night on AMC at 10/9c.

More to Come.

Oct 25, 2010

Sherlock is a must watch

If you missed it, I tried to warn you. The PBS Masterpiece Mystery presentation of Sherlock was even better than I expected. This was simply a superb adaptation, bringing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective into the 21st century! I watched it with my kids (16 and 12) and we all enjoyed it immensely.  sherlockpbs

Whether or not you’ve read the books, you can enjoy this production. The two leads, Benedict Cumberbatch (have you ever heard a more British name than that?) and Martin Freeman, have a real chemistry. The script was fantastic, using on-screen text to show how Holmes’ mind works.  The modernization of the technology employed by the deductive genius were spot on. I can't wait for the next two episodes and am glad to hear they will produce more in the future.  Check your local listings for rebroadcasts of the first episode or watch it online here, and set your DVR so you don’t miss the next two. Trust me on this one.

More to Come.

Oct 23, 2010

Odds and Ends…

I have been traveling, so I need to catch up on a few odds and ends.

RIP, Mr. C
Another classic TV icon passed this week. Tom Bosley, famous to a generation as Happy Day’s Howard Cunningham, Richie’s dad, Marion’s wife and Fonzie’s landlord, died of heart failure of following a long battle with lung cancer. Bosley’s gravely voice was often the voice of reason, often the voice of exasperation in the Cunningham household.  Bosley first gained notoriety on the Broadway stage in the 50’s, winning a Tony Award for the musical Fiorello!. He later returned to the stage to originate the role of Maurice in the musical version of Beauty and the Beast. But he was best known for his roles on television. In addition to his long run on Happy Days, he also experienced success with a recurring role on Murder, She Wrote and The Father Dowling Mysteries.  RIP, Tom Bosley October 1, 1927 – October 19, 2010.

The Game is Afoot
On PBS (yes, your TV still gets PBS), Masterpiece Mystery is premiering the British import, Sherlock, a modern take on the classic sleuth. Reviews are strong. It is also of interest to see Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. Freeman starred in the British version of The Office and has just been announced to star as Bilbo Baggins in the Peter Jackson helmed film of The Hobbit.  Sherlock on PBS, Sundays, Oct. 24, 31 & Nov. 7, 2010. Check local listings for times. If you enjoy it, be sure to give financial support to your local PBS station.

It’s just a jump to the left!

If you’re a Gleek or if you’re sweet transvestite, or both, you’ll want to be sure to catch Tuesday’s episode of Glee. The cast pays tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Early pictures look like they have a lot of fun with it, and the soundtrack is already available on iTunes.  And you can watch the full Time Warp rendition here. The Rocky Horror Glee Show, Tuesday on Fox, 8/7C.

More to Come.

Oct 16, 2010

RIP, Mrs. Cleaver

Word today that Leave it to Beaver's Barbara Billingsley passed away this morning at age 94. Billingsley was beloved by generations as the mother of Beaver and Wally, husband to Ward, and frequent recipient of disingenuous compliments from that Eddie Haskell. June Cleaver was the idealized 50’s homemaker, always dressed up and wearing pearls no matter what time of day, with snacks ready after school and dinner on the table every night.  Billingsley played the role during the run of the show from 1957 - 1963, and shown endlessly in repeats.  She reprised the role in the 1983 TV movie, Still the Beaver. This later became a show of its own, The New Leave It to Beaver that ran on various channels from 1984 - 1989.

Later generations remember her for her hysterical cameo in 1980’s Airplane, listed in the credits as “Jive Lady,” delivering the following exchange:

Randy: Can I get you something?
Second Jive Dude: 'S'mofo butter layin' me to da' BONE! Jackin' me up... tight me!
Randy: I'm sorry, I don't understand.
First Jive Dude: Cutty say 'e can't HANG!
Jive Lady: Oh stewardess! I speak jive.
Randy: Oh, good.
Jive Lady: He said that he's in great pain and he wants to know if you can help him.
Randy: All right. Would you tell him to just relax and I'll be back as soon as I can with some medicine?
Jive Lady: [to the Second Jive Dude] Jus' hang loose, blood. She gonna catch ya up on da' rebound on da' medisii.
Second Jive Dude: What it is, big mama? My mama didn't no raise no dummies. I dug her rap!
Jive Lady: Cut me some slack, Jack! Chump don' want no help, chump don't GET da’ help!
First Jive Dude: Say 'e can't hang, say seven up!
Jive Lady: Jive ass dude don't got no brains anyhow! Hmmph!

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Cleaver.  Barbara Billingsley, 1915 - 2010.

More to Come.

Oct 13, 2010


Whether or not you are a regular viewer (but you should be) of the surreal genius of 30 Rock, you’ll want to tune in on Thursday, 10/14. SNL alum Tina Fey heads back to her roots by broadcasting the show LIVE.  All reports are they will still use flashbacks and jump cuts, but it will all be live. They’ll even have to do it twice, once for Eastern and Central Time Zones and a second time for the West Coast. Both versions will be available online after the live broadcasts so you can look to see which jokes they tweaked on the second one.

This isn’t a first for NBC; ER did a live broadcast a few years back. Pop quiz: What two teams were playing the baseball game being watched in the doctor’s lounge?

This should be fun. Tracy Morgan alone is so incredibly unpredictable, there’s no telling what might happen. My guess is the censor will have his finger on the 7 second delay all night.

A Live episode of 30 Rock on NBC, Thursday, October 14 at 8:30/7:30 Central.  Gottawatchit!

More to Come.

Oct 10, 2010

SNL, 10/9/10, Jane Lynch with Bruno Mars

A surprisingly good episode, despite several appearances by Kristen Wiig. This episode used its host quite well, as the centerpiece of many sketches.

The Cold Open: Serviceable Gloria Allred impersonation by Nasim Pedrad. No real point to it other than to show off her impersonation, but good to see the talented Pedrad used so early. Time to promote her from a “featured” player. What, no room? Ditch Wiig.

Monologue: I was distracted the whole time trying to figure out of Lynch knew her suit was hanging off her shoulder exposing her bra strap. Clever song, bombastically delivered. But fix your suit. Funny actress, loves me some Jane Lynch, but I don’t really want a nip shot from her.

Fake Commercial: “Dammit my Mom is on Facebook Filter.“ Funny stuff based on real life horror story. “I’m laughing out loud on the floor!” “Boy do I need new dungarees.” Like.

Requisite Glee Parody: This was proceeding very nicely. Funny impersonations and lines. And then screeeeeeeetch to a halt... It’s Kristen Wiig, the worst comic on the show, doing her worst character, Gilly. SUCK! SUCK! SUCK! Someone put an end to the madness! If you tune her out, a funny sketch, with her, SORRY.

Talk Show Sketch: “The New Boyfriend Talk Show.” This was a funny sketch, with Lynch as a tramp and Adams Samberg as her son who interviews each new boyfriend before they go home. Clever idea, well written and executed. Lynch and Samberg are joined by Jason Sudekis as the latest “guest”. Sudekis is hysterical, especially when he finds out Magic Johnson is one of the many men ahead of him on the guest list. Best sketch of the night.

Fake Commercial: Wiig brings back her Christine O’Donnell impersonation with a parody of the now infamous “I’m not a witch” campaign ad. I’ll give Wiig this one, it’s a pretty good likeness. Clever, if a little obvious.

Fake Gameshow: The “classic” gameshow Secret Word, a knockoff of Password. Wiig trots out another of her tired retread characters, Mindy Grayson, the vapid narcissist actress who can’t get the rules of the game. How many ways can they come up with to have her say the secret word as the clue. Bwaha. Bwaha. Bwa… Lynch does a good turn as a Phyllis Diller/JoAnne Worley style comedienne. A weak sketch that we’ve seen several times before.

SNL Digital Short: Funny short with Lynch as a therapist helping Samberg with his stress issues. Lots of good bits, bit of a shock seeing Lynch naked spooning with Adam.

Returns & Exchanges: Can’t say the last time I saw a Denzel Washington impersonation. Denzel Washington. Odd showcase for new featured player Jay Pharoah and a spot on impersonation. Of Denzel Washington. Denzel Washington.

Bruno Mars, First Song:Just the Way You Are” I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Bruno Mars before this performance. You could probably call me a fan now. Nice performance of a pretty song. Not what I was expecting, but a beautiful performance. I’m guessing iTunes did some brisk business as a result.

Weekend Update: A solid Update. Seth Myers delivers his standard good one liners, and the guests were not as annoying as the tend to be. Best punch lines“ “Record” and “Play”. “You’re Fired.” Mark Zuckerberg: Everything is about meeting girls. Touché. “You’re gonna get shot in a bar.” Funny bit with the Mexican Board of Tourism, who‘s English mastery wavers when asked about drug lords and shootings.

The Suze Orman Show: Wiig was only in one sketch last week, are we making up for it this week? Ah, Suze has Gay-dar. Mildly amusing, I guess. Jane Lynch is “out” so I guess the jokes were appropriate.

Sunday Night Football: Jane Lynch sings again. Funny until about halfway through, then the ideas ran out. But Lynch again gives it her full comedic skills which covered for her singing skills. I will say, though, that Chris Collingsworth should have been parodied long ago, and Bill Hader nails him, in voice and pseudo-intelligent delivery.

Bruno Mars, Second Song: “Grenade”. Another great performance. I like this guy.

Final Sketch: A lawyer with a tiny half-formed twin coming out of his head. Sometimes they expect us to all have gone to bed by this time. Not a funny sketch, but this last slot is where they usually try some of their weirder stuff.

All around a good episode that made good use of the host. Lynch went all out at every sketch.

Next week: A repeat of last week with Amy Poehler and Kanye West.

Oct 7, 2010

Ay, Oh, Pop Quiz Today

An interesting new reality show premieres Friday on A&E. “
Teach: Tony Danza” follows the amiable actor, best known for his roles on “Taxi” and “Who’s the Boss?,” as he spent the 2009-2010 school year teaching tenth-grade English at Philadelphia’s Northeast High School.

Who knew Danza had a degree in history education before he became an actor?

Based upon reviews in EW and on NPR, this is not just a stunt. Danza takes the job seriously and has to perform as any other teacher would, developing lesson plans, teaching, even helping out with the football team, the band and other school activities.

It’s hard not to like Tony Danza. Taxi is an all-time classic, and the first couple or three seasons of Who’s the Boss didn’t suck. And he did introduce the world to
Alyssa Milano, so he’s got that going for him. I’ve got a series recording set. 
Teach: Tony Danza, Fridays at 10/9C on A&E.

More to Come.

Oct 6, 2010

Craig & the Busters

If you don't have your earworm for the day, watch this.  Craig Fergusen opened The Late Late Show with one of his great musical numbers. This time it was Modern English and I Melt With You.  It featured a Flock of Seagulls hairstyle, some of his puppets and Adam and Jamie from the Mythbusters.  Fun stuff from the best late night host on TV.

More to Come.

Oct 5, 2010

Galactica Re-creator May Go West

Entertainment Weekly's "news hound" Michael Ausiello is reporting that Ron Moore, the writer/producer who re-imagined Battlestar Galactica so successfully, is in the early stages of doing a reboot of the 60's hit, Wild Wild West. The original starred Robert Conrad and Ross Martin as Secret Service Agents James West and Artemis Gordon, who fought evil geniuses in the old west using gadgets and disguises. They operated out of a decked out steamer train.  Think James Bond and Our Man Flint in leather vests and Stetsons.

I have repressed the memory of Will Smith's horrible movie version, but the TV show was always entertaining.  

If you never watched the reboot of Battlestar, you missed some incredible television.  Moore kept the basic premise, the name and shape of the Battlestar, and the concept of Cylons rebelling against their creators. Everything else was completely re-imagined.  What was a Saturday matinée serial that looked like Sid and Marty Kroft were production designers became one of the grittiest, most intense hours of television in years, with some of the most complex characters imaginable. BSG is definitely worth adding to your Netflix queue.  Anyway, if Moore does for Wild Wild West what he did for BSG, you can expect Deadwood with gadgets and disguises.

This report follows the one last week that Moore is also developing what has been dubbed "Harry Potter for Adults." No, not bad porn; apparently this will be a police procedural that takes place in a world where magic is normal.  Again, in Ron Moore's hands, this could be a very entertaining show.

More to Come.

Oct 3, 2010

SNL, 10/3/10, Bryan Cranston with Kanye West

I’ll do a much deeper analysis of Saturday Night Live, the series, at another time, because I have a lot of history with and passion about the show. In the meantime, here is my quick analysis of last night’s episode.

The Cold Open: Typical and expected political sketch riffing on the press conference transferring from Rahm Emmanuel to Pete Rouse as White House Chief of Staff. The real event just happened yesterday; do they really wait so long to write the open? Well, it shows. There were a few clever moments.  Fred Armisen did his very weak impersonation of President Obama, but Bill Hader was funny as his consigliore. It is apparent already that everyone on the show will continue to rely on cue cards for every word.

Monologue: Byron Crandon, err, Bryan Cranston delivers a clever song a la The Music Man focusing on how he’s not a household name.

Fake commercial: A spot for Pepto Ice, a malt beverage that cures the runs. This is what happens when a comment at a bar becomes a sketch. Weak.

The Miley Cyrus Show: One of the highlights of the show, this sketch served as sort of a newcomers showcase. New featured player Vanessa Bayer did a great impression of Miley, capturing her country skankiness and vapid teen speak, with her gummy smile. Newcomer Paul Brittain was also very good as Johnny Depp; I’d actually go see his version of Goodnight Moon. Cranston was wasted as Billy Ray, but otherwise the sketch was quite funny.

What’s Up with Dat, Episode 77: This sketch gets pulled out at least every other week. For some reason, it entertains just on its predictability and the fact that most of the regulars go all in for the bit. (The Actual) Morgan Freeman got first chair, so he got to speak a bit before D’Andre Cole broke into song again; he actually did a little acting with the death stares he was giving Cole. (The Actual) Ernest Borgnine looks happy to be anywhere at age 93, but it was cool to see him. This sketch is always a bit one note, but energetic; I keep wondering how long Jason Sudekis can keep up his frenetic dancing without passing out. And where else are you going to get a random Mary Kay Letourneau/Vili Fualaau reference?

Corporate Basketball: Blessedly, the only appearance of the awful Kristen Wiig on the show, doing her Shanna, the sexpot with gross personal habits. Oh look, Kristen Wiig doing a character with a wispy, quiet voice, the novelty! I just don‘t get her. The least attractive cast member playing a sexy woman;  weak to the power of 20. Just not funny. This sketch also exhibited one of my biggest pet peeves about SNL; every sketch is blocked so that no actors actually face each other or make eye contact, so they can keep their eyes locked on their cue cards.

Digital Short: Fairly clever riff on iPhone apps and the cross pollination of social media and advertising.

Kanye West, first song: Can’t say I’m a fan, just because this isn’t my style of music, but the staging was very unique for SNL, all white light and a score of dancing beauties (I think I‘ve been in that dream but with different music). At first, I thought it was a prerecorded video. I’ll have to leave it to someone else to say if the performance was any good, but it was visually stunning.

Weekend Update: Usually the only reliable part of the show, Seth Meyers delivered several good jokes, including a good one comparing Kim Jong Il to the Bush family. The momentum slammed to a halt when they brought out the confused “second hand news” guy, which is just a hack job on Emily Litella. Andy Samberg as Cathy (Ack!) was clever. A few more jokes, then a clunker about Zombies that even Seth looked embarrassed to read.

Oh, a game show sketch. Haven’t seen one of those in a week. Actually, this one was pretty good, a 1972 kids game show with a kissing host who favored Samberg’s 12 year old character. Two dudes kissing used to be shocking, now it’s just funny, especially when done with gusto as it is here. Kenan Thompson was funny as a sassy little girl who wanted none of it.

Worst of the night: A sketch about a local one hit wonder singing duo who used to be popular but now no one goes to see. Metaphor for SNL? I didn’t get it. Yawn.

Kanye and the girls again live from the clean room at Intel with autotune. Not as good as the first song, as far as I could tell, but still visually unique for SNL.

A fairly funny sketch about Henry, a way small 5th grader being taught to fight by his father.  The kid is played to the hilt by the vastly underused Nasim Pedrad. This was silly, but funny with some unexpected child punching. A clever character that will likely be seen again. Very well written and decently performed.

Final sketch was a pre-taped Sharper Image commercial for a traveler’s gadget for African Americans: A Black Noise Generator. It puts out Muffled Tyler Perry movie sounds, old women complaining through the wall noise, the soundrtrack of “Friday” and “Bass”. I thought it was completely offensive and designed to perpetuate stereotypes. Or very funny. Not sure which.

On the whole, an average episode based upon the last few years. The host was underused. A couple of decent sketches, a couple of unwatchable ones. The latest group of “featured players” seem to have some talent and I hope they get more screen time. If you haven’t figured it out, I hate Kristen Wiig (as a performer, she may well be a wonderful person) and wish she’d move on to other endeavors, so I was glad she only made the one appearance.

Up next week: Sue Sylvester herself, Jane Lynch with musical guest Bruno Mars. I plan to live blog it, so if you’ve got nothing better to do, join me.

More to Come.

Oct 2, 2010

RIP Stephen J. Cannell

On of TV's most prolific writers died today. Stephen J. Cannell was 69.  If you own a TV or have ever owned a TV, you have seen his work.  He worked in the TV industry for decades.  He sold his first script in 1968 and was put under contract at Universal.  He went on to create some of the most iconic shows on television and some very memorable characters. Cannell worked on 40 shows in all, most often action shows, cop shows and detective stories. 

The list of shows he wrote reads like a Hall of Fame of 70's and 80's TV. Just a sampling include: 21 Jump Street, Adam-12, The A-Team, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Baretta, The Commish, The Greatest American Hero, The Rockford Files and Wiseguy.  He even did a little acting, appearing as himself on Castle as one of several authors in a poker group.  Later in life, Cannell began writing, authoring nearly 20 crime novels. All of this from a man who battled dyslexia most of his life. 

The signoff on his shows was the memorable shot of him yanking a sheet of paper out of a typewriter and it floating down to a stack of papers.  He typed on an IBM Selectric for his entire career, only using a computer for research.

Stephen J. Cannell created much of the landscape of television in the 70's and 80's. Never a critical darling, his shows were still some of the most popular viewing in those decades.  New shows like The Defenders and Chase have their roots in his work. Gone but never forgotten, rest in peace, Stephen.

More to Come.

Oct 1, 2010

Pilot Episode

Call it what you want—the idiot box, the boob tube, the small screen, the telly, opiate of the masses, the electronic babysitter—but I love TV. The only reason I pay my electric bill on time is to be sure the TV works and I would give up my car before my DVR. If I could have my dream job, I’d either take over for Ken Tucker or join the writing staff of a sit-com. I’m starting Adams on Television for a couple of reasons. For starters, it is a creative outlet that I hope will improve my writing abilities for personal and professional reasons. But more importantly, I want to celebrate the medium of television, often criticized and blamed for all sorts of social ills, but one that has great power and potential to entertain and educate and to create a shared psyche across a culture. I won’t contend that all TV is of value, and obviously too much of anything is a bad thing, but I have little tolerance for TV Snobs, those who arrogantly proclaim, “Oh, I don’t have time for TV,” or “I have more important things to do than watch TV.” Your loss, folks, make time. I feel sad for these people; they miss out on great moments of humor, drama, pathos and education and they are missing a huge chunk of cultural literacy.

For some who have stumbled upon this, your first thought may be, “Who the hell is Adams and why do I care what he thinks about Television?” Fair question. I’m Wm. Adams, a middle-aged man in San Antonio, Texas who likes TV. I have thoughts and opinions about TV and can often express them in insightful and humorous ways. Take it or leave it.

Adams on Television will initially be all over the board. I will tell you what I like (and why) and what I don’t like (and why). I’ll attempt to be funny and engaging. I’ll try to be analytical and critical. I’ll report on current favorites and classics as well. When in a pinch for topics, I’ll resort the staple of lazy bloggers, the Top 10 (or so) List, as filler. I may even try live blogging SNL if I can stand it (a topic for later, for sure). I plan to shy away from politics and news, saving that for another endeavor.

I encourage your comments, opinions and suggestions. You might see ads in the margins, click on them if you want, maybe I’ll earn 2¢ a year. If you like what you read, let your friends know. Follow me on Twitter, @AdamsOnTVision, if you want to be updated on new posts. If you don’t like what you read, just like TV, you don’t have to tune in.