Saturday, September 10, 2005


Anyone who knows me knows that there was a story in this week's news that I just have to comment on in my blog.
Bob Denver was not a great actor. I'm not even sure you could call him a good one.
But he was lucky.
Lucky to have found a role that was perfect for him and for which he was perfect.
(Can you believe Sherwood Schwartz actually offered the role to Jerry Van Dyke first?)
His Gilligan struck a sympathetic chord with me and millions of other children and I still, at age forty, find something to identify with in a little boy trapped in the body of an adult.
Y'know what's kind of weird? On Friday the 2nd, the day Denver died, I spent most of the day watching Gilligan's Island (I have the DVD set of the 1st season).

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Fall TV Preview

In this column I seek to remind our readers that the approaching autumnal season holds many things to look forward to, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, the kids going back to school, and the new network TV shows. OK, so there might not be a whole to look forward to in that last category, but based on the on-air promos and descriptions from the networks' web sites, I've managed to come up with a short list of highlights; or at the very least a list of upcoming shows that probably won't make me regret my decision to cancel my cable TV subscription for at least the half hour to an hour that they're on.
The two dominant templates in hour long dramas this season appear to be CSI and The X-Files. Crack teams of elite investigators and supernatural conspiracies abound. ABC is even offering up a remake of TV's seminal supernatural drama, The Night Stalker. In sitcoms, the emerging trend is autobiography, as stars of stage, screen and kitchen craft sitcoms based on their lives before they became famous.
The one oasis of originality is NBC's my Name Is Earl, which stars Jason Lee of The Incredibles and Chasing Amy fame as a lowlife loser attempting to make up for all the bad things he's done in his life. He does this by making a list of all the people he's wronged and attempting, one at a time, to make it up to them by helping them get their own lives together. If the promos are any indication, I think this could not only be the best new sitcom of this season, but the best one we've seen in quite a few years. Another interesting development on the peacock network concerns a casting change in one of its long running crime dramas as Chris Noth returns to the role that launched his career, Detective Mike Logan, on Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
Fox's Reunion could perhaps be described as a reverse 24. Instead of stretching one day out across the entire season, Reunion compresses two decades into twenty episodes as it follows a group of high school friends from their mid-80's graduation to the present day. The first episode begins in 2005 at a funeral for one of the friends, but just whose funeral won't be revealed until the end of the season.
Also on Fox, Kitchen Confidential is based on the memoirs of Chef Anthony Bourdain, currently the star of the Travel Channel series No Reservations. In the series, Jack Bourdain is a down on his luck chef given one last chance when he is hired as head chef at a top New York restaurant. I can see this series appealing to fans of Bourdain's cable show, as well as those who enjoyed the "reality" series The Restaurant and/or the Britcom Chef.
Not coincidentally, CBS, the network of CSI, is the one relying most on CSI clones. The most promising of the new crop would seem to be Criminal Minds, if only because it stars Mandy Patinkin, late of Chicago Hope. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Patinkin's going to have much chance to sing on his new show, which is a shame because he is a great singer with a truly beautiful voice. Meanwhile, the newest addition to the eye network's venerable Monday night comedy block is How I Met Your Mother, a romantic comedy featuring Doogie Howser and the lesbian witch from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (also known as Neil Patrick Harris and Allison Hannigan).
Finding something to recommend on ABC's schedule this year is an almost futile task, but the best bet looks to be Freddy, starring Freddie Prinze, Jr. and reportedly based on his life.
For the first time since it went on the air a dozen years ago, UPN begins the new season without a Star Trek series in its lineup. The mini-network's other signature franchise, WWE: Smackdown, however, is still going strong and will no doubt continue to do so even after it moves to Friday nights this season. The contender among their new shows is Everybody Hates Chris, featuring Saturday Night Live alumnus Chris Rock's account of his formative years. Whether this show will become as popular as the one its title parodies, Everybody Loves Raymond, remains to be seen, but with Rock behind it the chances are good that it will be a darn sight funnier.
On the WB, the thing I am most looking forward to is Luke's response to Lorelei's out-of-the-blue proposal of marriage that closed out the fifth season finale of Gilmore Girls. (For my thoughts on that episode, and how I feel Luke should answer, check out my entry “Finale Fever”) The frog network's most promising new series is Twins, a sitcom from the creators of Will and Grace, which begins its final season over on NBC this month. Their latest effort features Roseanne's Sara Gilbert and Molly Stanton as fraternal twin sisters, one of whom is a genius and the other a ditzy super-model. Melanie Griffith and "Cousin Larry", a.k.a Mark Linn Baker, formerly of ABC's Perfect Strangers, round out the cast.