Friday, April 02, 2010

TV Rebels: People and Programs that Shaped the Medium, Volume 1 Review; Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 5, 2010)

Today we will be reviewing the book TV Rebels. Sound familiar? We exclusively posted 12 essays from the book over the past year or two and now the book is out! TV Rebels: People and Programs that Shaped the Medium, Volume 1 has been released as the first in a series of chapbooks by The Last Automat Press. Innovators like Norman Lear, Rod Serling, Irwin Allen, and Desi Arnaz, and series such as Star Trek and The Sopranos are honored in this collection of essays as significant contributors to the growth of television.
To achieve "rebel" status is to have presented something new, innovative, and thought provoking. It was to have set a standard that those who followed were inspired by and in turn looked to emulate. The people and programs in this volume and in subsequent TV Rebels collections have done just that. In so doing they have become part of our collective pop culture consciousness. We quote them, we laugh at them, we cry for them, and here, we remember them.
Contributing authors to this volume are Oscar De Los Santos, Brett Glatman, Kelly Goodridge, Mark Misercola, Justin Orfanella, Lou Orfanella, Pasquale Palumbo, and William Suesholtz.
Copies may be ordered for $10 each, plus $1 shipping per order. Orders: The Last Automat Press, P.O. Box 35, Patterson, NY 12563. Mention SitcomsOnline.com and your copies will be signed by at least two of the contributing authors!
Visit http://www.thelastautomat.com/ for more details.

TV Rebels: People and Programs that Shaped the Medium, Volume 1 (The Last Automat Press, $10.00)

TV Rebels: People and Programs that Shaped the Medium was originally conceived as a companion piece to Oscar De Los Santos' 2008 text Reel Rebels: Eleven Directors who Bucked the System and Shot the Flick their Way (Fine Tooth Press). Several of the authors herein also contributed essays to Des Los Santos' book.

The book has a soft red cover and features cover art by Ivana Masic. It's divided into 18 sections and runs 48 pages. Each essay is 1-4 page(s) in length.

Sign On: Felix the Cat: The First TV Star - Lou Orfanella discusses the history of the magic bag toting feline.

Irwin Allen: A Master of Disaster Who Changed the Way We Look at Sci-Fi - Mark Misercola talks about Irwin Allen who brought us shows such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Spae, The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants.

The Andy Griffith Show: Mayberry's Sheriff Without a Gun - Oscar De Los Santos takes a look at the success of The Andy Griffith Show.

Desi Arnaz: More Than Just a Bongo Player - Lou Orfanella comments on Desi Arnaz who changed the traditional method of producing sitcoms by shooting on film with multiple cameras.

Bill Cosby: Double Rebel - Lou Orfanella looks at the career of Bill Cosby from I Spy to The Bill Cosby Show, as well as his other credits.

ESPN: He-Could-Go-All-The Way! And Other Catch-Phrases - William Suesholtz comments on the development of ESPN's SportsCenter, Chris Berman's nicknames and other ESPN personalities.

The Flintstones: The Honeymoon That Never Ended - Mark Misercola traces the history of the family from Bedrock.

Norman Lear: Changing the Face of Comedy - Lou Orfanella takes a look at the career of Norman Lear who brought us groundbreaking and influential hit series such as All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

The Mary Tyler Moore Sow: She Made it After All - Justin Orfanella discusses the issues that were dealt with on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and how it was revolutionary.

Monday Night Football: Cultural Phenomenon - William Suesholtz analyzes the impact of Monday Night Football and how it has changed who and why Americans view the game.

Monty Python's Flying Circus: And Now for Something Completely Different - Kelly Goodridge comments on how the "Pythons" altered the face of television comedy and were inovators with their jokes and sketches.

Saturday Night Live: Live From New York, it's Saturday Night! - Kelly Goodridge takes a look the history of the long running sketch comedy-variety show and some of the memorable characters.

Rod Serling: Submitted For Your Approval - Lou Orfanella talks about Rod Serling who brought us The Twlight Zone.

The Smothers Broithers: You Can't Do That on Television - Lou Orfanella looks at the development of the show and how they battled censors over the content of it.

The Sopranos: An Offer We Couldn't (and Didn't Refuse) - Pasquale Palumbo analyzes the HBO show and what made it so popular with viewers. The cast and characters are discussed.

Aaron Spelling: More Than Just Jiggle TV - Brett Glatman discusses the work of Aaron Spelling who brought us shows such as Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and Charlie's Angels.

Star Trek: Where No Science Fiction TV Show Has Gone Before - Oscar De Los Santos takes a look at the development of the show, the cast, the writing, cancelation and legacy of the series.

Sign Off: TV Dinners: Culinary Pop Culture - Lou Orfanella provides a short history of the TV Dinner.

This is a nice collection of essays that cover a variety of topics. They are well written and researched with a works cited section for each of them. Many genres are covered including animated series, sci-fi, sitcoms, sports, sketch comedy/variety series and dramas. I think they made some fine choices for shows and people that made significatnt contributions to the growth of television. This is a quick read at only 48 pages and with no photos. It would be nice to see them cover some other genres like news programs, soap operas, game shows, children's and educational programs, music television, talk shows, reality shows and westerns in future volumes. Most of the shows and people covered here are pretty well known. It would be interesting to read about some tv rebels and innovators that may not be household names.

Reviewed by Todd Fuller
(3/5 stars)

It's Friday, so it is time for "Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows" for the coming week. This is where we list what sitcom stars are appearing on talk shows for the coming week, the stars are both current and past sitcom stars (but we won't cover movie stars like Tom Hanks or John Travolta, since they won't be talking about their past sitcoms likely), so this is for all sitcom fans of all eras!
For the week of April 5-0, 2010, we have many current sitcom stars and past sitcom stars on TV talk shows! So get your DVR's (or whatever you use) ready! Ready? Here is all what you need to know for the coming week!

Monday, April 5, 2010
  • None.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Steve is promoting his movie on Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm ET on CBS. But before that catch him with Tina Fey on The Oprah Show, check your local listings.
  • Tina Fey (30 Rock) - See Tina with Steve Carell on The Oprah Show, check your local listings for time and channel.
  • Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show/Golden Girls/Hot in Cleveland) - She will be a guest on a "Funny People" edition of Oprah Show. Check your listings for time/channel!
  • Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) - Tracy will also be a part of the "Funny People" edition of Oprah! Check listings.
  • Carol Burnett (Carol Burnett Show/Mama's Family) - The legendary comedy queen stops by NBC's Today show sometime between 7-9am and then later LIVE! with Regis & Kelly. Check local listings for time and channel.
  • Mindy Kaling (The Office) - She stops by CBS's Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:35am.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Steve stops by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central at 11pm ET. Earlier in the morning Steve joins Tina Fey on NBC's Today show between 7-9am.
  • Tina Fey (30 Rock) - Tina will be on LIVE! with Regis & Kelly so check your local listings for time and channel. And a bit earlier Tin joins Steve Carell on NBC's Today show sometime between 7-9am.
  • David Duchovny (Californication) - David stops to chat with Leno on The Tonight Show at 11:35pm on NBC.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

  • Martin Lawrence (Martin) - Martin will be on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 12:05am ET and will also on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your listings!
  • Tin Fey (30 Rock) - Tina will promote her movie, but will probably mention her sitcom on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:35am on NBC.
  • Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) - Edie stops by to talk to the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am PT.
  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Steve's press tour for his movie continues, this time on LIVE! with Regis & Kelly, check local listings for time and channel.
  • Carol Burnett (The Carol Burnett Show/Mama's Family) - Carol stops by HLN's The Joy Behar Show at 9pm.

Friday, April 9, 2010

  • Jennifer Aniston (Friends) - It's a slow Friday, so we'll mention her. Her repeat appearance on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman from March 15 reairs at 11:35pm.
  • Steve Carell and Tina Fey (The Office, 30 Rock) - The duo stop by The Rachel Ray Show to discuss their movie. Check local listings for time and channel.
Leave us comments on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us to let us know what you think of this new feature! We do listen!

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Friday, November 27, 2009

TV Rebels: TV Dinners - Culinary Pop Culture

It's time for the final edition of TV Rebels. We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...and then last year we got rights to 6 additional essays (for a total of 12!), so today is number twelve, TV Dinners. The book is in the works and will be released in 2010...so stay tuned for that and look for a review of the book right here before it comes out!

So without further adieu, we bring you the final essay of TV Rebels:

TV Dinners: Culinary Pop Culture
by Lou Orfanella

The concept of freezing food for thawing and consuming later dates to at least 1923 and Clarence Birdseye who created a method of preserving foods that allowed for long term storage. It was not until the 1950s however, that the C.A. Swanson company capitalizing on a public's desire for faster meal preparation and its desire to not miss an episode of Milton Berle or Sid Caesar, invented the first TV Dinner. Varying accounts give 1953 or 1954 as the actual date of the creation of the first TV Dinner.

The original Swanson meal, in its familiar aluminum compartmentalized tray, consisted of turkey with stuffing and gravy, peas, and sweet potatoes. It sold for just under a dollar and came in a box with graphics that resembled a television set. Gerald Thomas, a Swanson executive told the popular culture website fiftiesweb.com, "After Thanksgiving, Swanson had ten refrigerated railroad cars-each containing 520,000 pounds of unsold turkeys-going back and forth across the country in refrigerated railroad box cars, because there was not enough storage in warehouses. We were challenged to come up with a way to get rid of the turkeys" ("Swanson"). Swanson thought of the single compartment trays airlines used to serve food and parlayed that into the TV Dinner concept. An original release of 5,000 dinners turned into millions in the first year. Varieties have increased and imitators have been abundant, but Swanson remains the name most often connected with the TV Dinner.

New York Daily News media writer David Hinckley reflected when the TV Dinner celebrated its fiftieth birthday. "I haven't had one in probably 40 years. It doesn't matter. My wife could serve me one for dinner tonight and I would be transported to 1959, sitting in front of the black-and-white Magnavox console, gingerly peeling the hot foil off the top of the aluminum tray. The compartment at the bottom would have several slices of turkey in gravy. Top left, mixed vegetables. Top right, mashed potatoes...the smell, texture, taste-those are as imprinted at the TV shows" (Hinckley).

Did the concept of quick meals to be eaten in front of the television weaken the family by infringing on the nightly ritual of bonding around the dinner table? Perhaps. Or perhaps the popularity of the medium itself did that. In any case, the TV Dinner, like the people and programs consumers watch while eating it, has taken its place in popular culture. Microwavable trays have replaced the metal ones and "TV" has been dropped from the product's name, but the TV Dinner remains an icon in American popular culture. "Although technology moved on, the original aluminum tray was not forgotten. In 1986 it took its place in the Smithsonian Institution, immortalized right next to Fonzie's jacket, the two most appropriate symbols of television's happy days. Hollywood followed suit in 1997 when an aluminum tray-along with handprints of Swanson salesman Gerry Thomas-was placed in the cement outside Mann's Chinese theatre alongside the marks of Lassie, Uncle Miltie, and other TV legends. In 1999, Hollywood produced a commemorative sequel, giving the tray its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame" (Dixon).

Works Cited
Dixon Lebeau, Mary. "At 50, TV Dinner is Still Cookin'" The Christian Science Monitor. 10 Nov. 2004. 8 Aug. 2007 <http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1110/p11s01-lifo.html>.
Hinckley, David. "Dinner and a Show." New York Daily News 9 March 2003: Lifeline23.
"Swanson TV Dinners." Fifties Pop History. 11 Aug. 2007 <http://www.fiftiesweb.com/pop/tv-dinner.htm>.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

TV Rebels: Rod Serling - Submitted For Your Approval

It's time another edition of TV Rebels. We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...and then last year we got rights to 6 additional essays (for a total of 12!), so including today's essay, only two essays are left. We soon will give you the last one, which is TV Dinners. The book is in the works and will be released in 2010...so stay tuned for that and look for a review of the book right here before it comes out!

So without further adieu, we bring you the eleventh essay of TV Rebels:

Rod Serling: Submitted For Your Approval
by Lou Orfanella

In the early years of television, science fiction, terror, and horror all graced the small screen with various degrees of success. Boris Karloff's Thriller ran for two seasons in the early '60s. Science Fiction Theater was seen in syndication in the mid-1950s. Local stations around the country programmed A and B list horror movies with low budget wrap-arounds and creepy hosts, notably John Zacherley in Philadelphia and later in New York.

When the Rod Serling hosted Twilight Zone premiered on CBS in October of 1959 the science fiction anthology genre reached a new level. The Twilight Zone was a unique combination of terror, suspense, mystery, and irony that raised the sci-fi television bar to a new intellectual level. This likely surprised no one familiar with Serling's work. He was a well respected writer who had success in radio and with scripts for television anthology series like Playhouse 90 for which he wrote "Requiem for a Heavyweight," arguably his most famous piece. The scripts, many written by Serling, were often ironic slices of life and its often dark side and resonated in viewers' minds long after the final credits rolled. "Most of Serling's comrades had long since left television for other less censorious and more 'artistic' media, but Serling refused to abandon video: he believed in television. And-unquestionable-Serling liked the limelight" (Sander xix).

The combination of Serling's skills as a writer coupled with his desire to be in front of the camera is likely what helped The Twilight Zone achieve legendary status. His on camera introductions to each episode, delivered in a dry monotone, became as popular as the teleplays themselves. The content of the stories often shed light on cultural ills and human frailties. In "Escape Clause" a man granted immortality in exchange for his soul decides to challenge the death penalty only to be sentenced to life in prison instead. Aliens arrive on earth "To Serve Man" according to one of their books translated by earthlings, yet it turns out to be a cook book. In yet another of the series' most enduring episodes, "Time Enough at Last" the lone survivor of a nuclear attack believes he will finally achieve his dream of having ample time to read all he wants, only to break his glasses. Serling would return from the shadows at the end of each episode to offer a comment on mankind and society.

The Twilight Zone ran until 1964 with both the title and theme song becoming an indelible part of popular culture. To be "in The Twilight Zone" came to mean in a strange or inexplicable situation, and all one needs to do is vocalize a few notes of the show's spooky theme music to indicate danger on the horizon. Rod Serling, long a proponent of intelligent, literate television never replicated the success he had with The Twilight Zone. He returned as host and frequent writer of Night Gallery on NBC from 1970-1973 but audiences did not embrace it as they had his earlier program. The Twilight Zone was revived in the years after Serling's death (at age fifty in 1975) first on CBS, then in first run syndication and later on the UPN network, but never to the same popularity as the original.

When all is said and done, Rod Serling was The Twilight Zone. "As Stephen King wrote in Danse Macabre, a collection of his meditations on horror that was excerpted in TV Guide in 1982, The Twilight Zone 'generated a kind of existential weirdness that no other series has been able to match'" (Lasswell 150). Eulogized in TV Guide in 1975 Serling was called, "an angry crusader, pleading the cause of quality television...he was a charming man-involved, concerned, restless-and he made a great contribution to television. We are all in his debt" (Harris 231).

Works Cited
Harris, Jay S. TV Guide: The First 25 Years. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978.
Lasswell, Mark. TV Guide: Fifty Years of Television. New York: Crown, 2002.
Sander, Gordon. Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man. New York: Plume, 1994.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day; TV Rebels: Desi Arnaz - More Than Just a Bongo Player

Happy Labor Day everyone! Most of you are probably outdoors spending this last "unofficial" last day of summer with your family & friends, but for those of you who are in needs of some TV marathons...you've come to the right place as usual!
We have mentioned many of these already, but it's a good reminder if you have forgotten! The Golden Girls will get the most play this holiday! Hallmark Channel will air a marathon from 8am-12am, while WE tv will air a marathon also from 1pm-7pm. BET is airing a marathon of The Game all-day today, while TBS goes to The Office this Labor Day from 4pm-8pm.
Other notable marathons are for dramas...Criminal Minds on A&E, NCIS on USA Network, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family. Both TNT and SOAPnet have short stunts of Law & Order and One Tree Hill from 11am-5pm, while The N has what else...Degrassi all-day. And on network TV, ABC has a three episode block of Castle from 8-11pm, as the season premiere is two weeks from tonight. TV Land has a movie marathon from 9am-6:30pm.
Reality wise we have Supernanny on style, 16 and Pregnant on MTV, Cops on G4, Catch 21 on GSN, and Dirty Jobs on Discovery. Hope you all find something!

It's time for the return of TV Rebels. We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...and then last year we got rights to 6 additional essays (for a total of 12!), so including today's three essays are left. Upcoming TV Rebel columns will be about Rod Serling and TV Dinners. The book is in the works and will be released in 2010...so stay tuned for that and look for a review of the book right here before it comes out!

So without further adieu, we bring you the tenth essay of TV Rebels:

Desi Arnaz: More Than Just a Bongo Player
by Lou Orfanella

In 1950 when CBS was interested in bringing Lucille Ball's My Favorite Husband radio program to television Ball demanded that her real life husband Desi Arnaz play her husband. The network turned her down feeling that the viewing public would not accept Arnaz with his heavy accent as her husband. She held out, the network acquiesced and Mr. and Mrs. Desi Arnaz forever became Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in popular culture history.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had been married since 1940. By 1950 she was doing her radio show and periodic big screen projects in a mostly unnoticed film career. Arnaz was travelling the country with his band and their marriage was strained. By insisting they do what would become I Love Lucy together Ball hoped to solidify their domestic life. "Richard Denning, Lucy's radio hubby, comments: 'She said it would help her marriage. Also the show. And, of course, she was right'" (Andrews 22).

Ball was determined that Arnaz not be seen as playing second fiddle to her. The title, I Love Lucy, in fact was an effort to include Desi in the title and indeed since he is the "I" give him top billing. "The general impression seems to be that he was a lucky Cuban who was handsome, charming, played the bongo, and happened to be married to the funniest lady in the whole world. Well, this was all true, but there was a lot more to Desi than that. He may have only been that when he started, but he had an amazing ability for learning things and he was an astute businessman" (Davis 55).

It was Arnaz' business acumen that changed the traditional method of producing situation comedies. Traditionally shows were broadcast live and "preserved" on low quality kinescopes, which were essentially copies made by aiming a movie camera at a television monitor and which were used to broadcast programs outside of the eastern time zone where sponsors were less likely to view them and challenge the quality. When production was set to begin on I Love Lucy for its premier season, Lucy and Desi lived on the west coast and had no intention of moving to New York where the show could be done live for what was then the largest audience, and the sponsors as well. Desi's solution was to film the show like a motion picture resulting in high quality prints. It would be an expensive proposition requiring three or four cameras, special sound and lighting techniques, and potentially multiple sets which would increase the costs. The network only agreed after the Arnazs agreed to a pay cut to help defray the production costs. "The burden of planning this new method fell heavily on Desi's shoulders. No one had attempted a situation comedy on film, shot before a live studio audience: he was plowing virginal fields" (Andrews 32).

Arnaz was not only successful in changing the way sitcoms were filmed and preserved for the lucrative rerun syndication market, but was shrewd enough to acquire an ownership percentage in the series which he and Lucy parlayed into Desilu Production, at one time, the most successful in the business.

Works Cited
Andrews, Bart. "Lucy&Ricky&Fred&Ethel: The Story of I Love Lucy." New York: Dutton, 1976.
Davis, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr. "Laughing with Lucy." Cincinnati Emmis, 2005.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

TV Rebels: Monty Python's Flying Circus

Since it is Labor Day weekend, our ratings report is off this week. Stay tuned next week for the return of that...as today we will give you a TV Rebels column!

It's time for another edition of TV Rebels. We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...and as we mentioned in April, we have now gotten rights to 6 additional essays (for a total of 12!), so we will be bringing you one each month until at least November! Upcoming TV Rebel columns coming soon are about Rod Serling and Desi Arnaz. The book is in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the ninth essay of TV Rebels:

Monty Python's Flying Circus: "-and now for something completely different!"
by contributing author Kelly L. Goodridge

It was 39 years ago when Monty Python's Flying Circus and the satirical comedy of six men known as the "Pythons" altered the face of television comedy. John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, and Graham Chapman, all Pythons and graduates of Oxford and Cambridge, created a kind of side-show television circus sketch comedy that commented on, questioned and poked fun at life. Monty Python's Flying Circus is known for its ingenuous brand of "Pythonesque" humor and for subverting the standard formats that other sitcoms deemed necessary in the late 1960s. The show includes satire, farce, sarcasm and parody, and is difficult to categorize, especially with sketches such as "The Funniest Joke in the World," the "Dead Parrot" sketch, "The One-Man Wrestling Match," and "The Ministry of Silly Walks." Michael Mills, BBC's Head of Comedy, initially gave the Python team thirteen 30-minute shows, the first of which aired on BBC-1 on October 5, 1969. However, 44 more episodes followed and aired over four seasons. The show was produced by John Howard Davies and the first 39 episodes were titled Monty Python's Flying Circus, but the final six episodes, which aired without Cleese, were called Monty Python (The Museum of Broadcast Communications). Although the final episode aired on Dec. 5, 1974, the television series and five Monty Python films have a cult following today (The Pythons Autobiography By The Pythons).
Originally, the comedy series was to be called "Baron Von Took's Flying Circus," after a comment made by Mills. However, Barry Took, the comedian that is credited as "London's Longest Laugh," and who Mills coined "Baron Von Took" brought the Pythons to the BBC and suggested the show unite two teams of young writers -- Michael Palin and Terry Jones alongside John Cleese and Graham Chapman (BBC News "Took: Comedy with a Twist"). "The content of Monty Python's Flying Circus was designed to be disconcerting to viewers who expected to see typical television fare" (The Museum of Broadcast Communications). The show's humor is evidenced in each of the comedic actors' ability to play diverse roles and characters, including women. In addition, each Python also refined character traits such as "Captain Fantastic," off the wall language accents and trademark lines such as Cleese's "You bastard!" The show's sketches are loaded with innuendo and risqué humor, sight gags, disrespect for authority and animation merged with live action. Gilliam's arrangement of cut-out art and skewed scale set against surrealist landscapes offered something new. Gilliam asserts, "Nobody had ever seen anything like it and I was animator. Just like that" (The Pythons Autobiography By The Pythons 119).
Rather than following traditional sketch format, the Pythons were innovators and rebels of sorts with their jokes and sketches, which have had a lasting effect on the medium (Saturday Night Live and SCTV). In fact, The BBC credits Monty Python's Flying Circus as "one of the most popular comedy series ever" (BBC News "Took: Comedy with a Twist"). At any rate, the television series was a precursor to their films and if the official Monty Python website, Pythonline.com is any indication -- the show impacted and continues to impact culture. Pythonline offers "The Daily Python" news, books, audio recordings, clothing, toys, a 16 DVD boxed set of "The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus" with all 45 television episodes, as well as DVD's of their films -- And Now For Something Completely Different (1971), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974), Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979), Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982), and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983). The website also includes the "Latest Global Python Sightings" and appearances of the Pythons (with the exception of Graham Chapman, who died of cancer in October 1989), polls for visitors to take where one can select their favorite movie or "Vote for the Top Ten Monty Python Skits of all time!!", as well as a link to buy tickets for their current musical hit comedy Spamalot on Broadway or in Las Vegas, London, or Melbourne.

Works Cited
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and
Michael Palin with Bob McCabe. The Pythons Autobiography By The
Pythons
. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, First St. Martins Griffin ed.,
November 2005.
Pythonline.com, the official Monty Python website. <http://pythonline.com/>.
BBC News. "Took: Comedy with a Twist." <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1903971.stm>. Sunday, March 31, 2002.
Hammill, Geoff. "Monty Python's Flying Circus: British Sketch Comedy/Farce/Parody/Satire Series." The Museum of Broadcast Communication (mbc). <http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/M/htmlM/montypythobn/montypython.htm>.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

TV One September 2008 Schedule and Highlights; TV Rebels: Bill Cosby

Our look at the fall 2008 season on cable continues with TV One's September 2008 line-up. This September TV One will be adding the hit '90s sitcom Living Single to its African-American line-up. Living Single premieres on TV One in a week-long marathon event that airs each weeknight from 7pm-12am ET/PT (encores 3-6am ET/PT). Each character will be showcased on various nights -- Khadijah on Monday, Synclaire on Tuesday, Regine on Wednesday, Max on Thursday, and The Boys (Overton and Kyle) on Friday. Living Single was a situation comedy that centered on the lives of a group of six African American friends living in (or near) a Brooklyn brownstone. The series focused on the personal and professional lives of each character, as well as their relationships with one another.
After the marathon, Living Single settles into its regular time-slot weeknights at 8:30pm & 9pm starting Monday, September 29, with an encore from 3-4am ET/PT.
Other changes include the fall 10am-4pm block. Beginning on Monday September 8 and continuing until further notice, the TV One daytime marathons which air weekdays from 10am to 4pm will have a steady schedule consisting of the following: Eve (Mondays), Movies (Tuesdays), Wanda At Large/Divorce Court/Between Brothers rotate (Wednesdays), TV One on One/Roc rotate (Thursdays) and All of Us (Fridays).
On Monday, September 29, the TV One fall schedule settles into place with changes taking place after 5pm. View the full TV One September 2008 line-up for complete details.
Moving on to other highlights, on Saturday September 20 beginning at 1pm, it's girl power time as TV One presents the "Eve-Sisters Doin' It For Themselves-Marathon" that showcases episodes of the sitcom Eve that feature the women taking charge while resolving their own problems and issues that will keep viewers laughing as well as fired up with emotion as Shelly (Eve) and her crew prove that new millennium women have it all together.
Future Outlook: TV One has also acquired the sitcom Half & Half for later in the fall...we will have details on that at a later date!
So, don't forget to view and discuss the TV One September Line-Up!


It's time for another edition of TV Rebels. We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...and as we mentioned in April, we have now gotten rights to 6 additional essays (for a total of 12!), so we will be bringing you one each month until at least November! Upcoming TV Rebel columns coming soon are about Rod Serling and Desi Arnaz. The book is in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the eighth essay of TV Rebels:

Bill Cosby: Double Rebel
by Lou Orfanella

In 1965 standup comic Bill Cosby earned critical praise and the first of three consecutive Emmy Awards as outstanding lead actor in a dramatic series as he began his three year run as globetrotting government agent Alexander Scott on the NBC drama I Spy. More significant and media changing than his triple Emmy feat was that this was the first instance of a major dramatic starring role by a black actor on a network television series. The groundbreaking weekly adventure costarred white actor Robert Culp as Scott's partner Kelly Robinson. "Coinciding with the crest of the civil rights movements, the series' light touch was 'balm for the jangled American psyche of the time,' said the New York Times. It was a historic moment in casting when a black man was placed along side a white man as his equal and it created international interest in the show" ("Biography").
After I Spy ended in 1968, Cosby headlined the sitcom The Bill Cosby Show on NBC ffrom 1969-1971 as well as the variety shows The New Bill Cosby Show (CBS) and Cos (ABC) in 1972 and 1976 respectively. He entered the Saturday morning children's shows arena from 1972-1977 with the message filled animated offering Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. It was in 1984 however, that Cosby would achieve his greatest success and become a double TV rebel.
In 1984 with the situation comedy genre mostly left for dead by network executives, Cosby returned to weekly series duty as the unflappable dad Cliff Huxtable on NBC's The Cosby Show, a light hearted family sitcom that skyrocketed to the top of the ratings and rejuvenated the genre during its eight year run. In the process it became the anchor of what was to become NBC's Thursday night lineup of "Must See TV." The Cosby Show was the most watched show on the air for five of its seasons and is credited with reviving the viability and profitability of the situation comedy genre.
In many ways The Cosby Show allowed its star to extend the social changes he had been a part of with I Spy. Two decades after Alexander Scott showed that blacks and whites could be equal partners, The Cosby Show depicted the black family on equal footing with middle and upper class white families, rather than as low income ghetto dwellers such as in previous shows as Good Times and Sanford and Son. "The Cosby Show discontinued familiar sitcom formulas filled with disrespectful children and generational conflict and presented instead a two-parent family in which both partners worked as professionals. In the Huxtable household, viewers were exposed to the existence and culture of historically black colleges and universities" ("Cosby"). Black art and music as well as black history were all apparent in the Huxtable universe expanding the traditional and often stereotypical view of black families television had presented.
During the 1990s the man known widely as simply "Cos" would star in three additional series. First came the revival of the comedic quiz show You Bet Your Life with Cosby filling the legendary shoes of Groucho Marx. The Cosby Mysteries followed, and the Cosby (CBS, 1996-2000) sitcom closed the decade. He also hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things for CBS. While none of those efforts made an indelible mark on television history, Cosby's legacy had long been secured with I Spy and The Cosby Show, two series that helped change the face of television.

Works Cited
Biography of Bill Cosby. The Kennedy Center. 7 August 2007 http://www.kennedy-center.org.
Cosby, Bill. The Museum of Broadcast Communications. 7 August 2007 http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/C/humlC/cosbybill/cosbybill.htm.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

TV Rebels: The Andy Griffith Show

It's time for another edition of TV Rebels. We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...and as we mentioned in April, we have now gotten rights to 6 additional essays, so we will be bringing you one each month until at least November! Upcoming TV Rebel columns coming soon are about Rod Serling, Bill Cosby, and Desi Arnaz. The book is in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the seventh essay of TV Rebels:

The Andy Griffith Show: Mayberry's Sheriff without a Gun
by Oscar De Los Santos

In many respects, The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) was born out of the network womb of The Danny Thomas Show (1953-1964). A seventh season episode of Danny Thomas featured its star being stopped for speeding by Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith). Soon, the sheriff, his deputy cousin, Barney Fife (Don Knotts), and the town of Mayberry, North Carolina made their network TV series debut on October 3, 1960. Other regular characters included Andy's Aunt Bea (Frances Bavier), who lived with the widowed sheriff and his small son, Opie (Ron Howard); Ellie Walker (Eleanor Donahue), Andy's first girlfriend in the series; Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut), the sheriff's later girlfriend; Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn), Barney’s girlfriend; Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), who would eventually get his own spin-off show; Goober Pyle (George Lyndsey), who took his cousin's mechanic and gas-pumping job at Wally's Filling Station when Gomer enlisted in the Marines; Otis Campbell (Wallace Smith), the town drunk, Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear) the town barber, Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), Aunt Bea's closest friend and friendly rival, and a host of other charming Mayberry citizens.
The show was a sitcom that seemed to defy much of the sharper edged network offerings of its period. It showcased no murders and featured few sarcastic jabs, but rather good-natured humor and thoughtful moral lessons, many of them delivered by Sheriff Taylor via his folksy ruminations. For instance, one episode revolved around Andy teaching Opie to care for orphan birds after the boy kills their mother with a slingshot. Another focused on Andy teaching Opie to defend himself against a bully without stepping in and fighting his son's battles. Other shows featured the highs and lows of Barney buying his first car and Aunt Bea's competition with Clara to make the best pickles for the county fair.
In spite of the show's name and the fact that "Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas designed The Andy Griffith Show to fit the image of its star" (The Andy Griffith Show, The Museum of Broadcast Communications), this was much more than a comedy about a small-town sheriff. Each of the ensemble characters had his and her major episodes and/or significant roles in other stories. Indeed, it's arguable that the program was as much about Barney Fife as about Andy Taylor, since so many of the show's plots were either directly or indirectly focused on Andy's bombastic and braggart deputy.
Another way to view the success of The Andy Griffith Show is to consider the town of Mayberry as the main star of the show. Audiences were willing to tune in for eight years and 249 episodes of the series because they loved the region the characters populated as much as the characters themselves. Mayberry was quintessential small-town America: a gorgeous, clean, peaceful town where a citizen could count on two lawmen to keep the peace and diffuse any problems that arose -- and these were usually no more threatening than finding a way to tell Barney that he was singing out of key and ruining the church choir's performances or making sure that Otis got his breakfast and had sobered up enough to release him from jail and send him home the next morning. Do such ideal locales really exist? Maybe not on the level of TV's Mayberry, but according to Ken Beck and Jim Clark, "The fictional town of Mayberry was partially influenced by the town of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith's hometown. Much of the show's realism drws from Andy Griffith's use of Mt. Airy as a model for Mayberry. The names of many of Mayberry’s townspeople, businesses, and streets, and landmarks can be found in and around Mt. Airy" (xv).
The Andy Griffith Show can be compared to Gunsmoke (1955-1975), another immensely popular program with its own streak of TV rebellion (see Gunsmoke in this volume). Like The Andy Griffith Show, Gunsmoke was as much about its ensemble cast and setting as about its main star. Early episodes often centered on Marshall Matt Dillon but as the Western's tenure on the air stretched on, its stories focused on Chester, Miss Kitty, Doc, Festus, and other characters. Moreover, just as Andy Griffith Show audiences fixated on Sheriff Andy Taylor's Mayberry, they focused on Marshall Matt Dillon's Dodge City; but while many viewers would have loved to trade their own hometowns for Mayberry, few dreamed of jumping into the squared electronic box and actually taking up residence in Dodge. After all, crime in Mayberry was so low that the town sheriff didn't wear a gun and his deputy carried his six-shooter's only bullet in his shirt pocket, but Dodge City was all about crime -- a rough Old West location where life was tough, the bullets flew frequently, and shot bodies dropped to the gritty earth each week. Two shows spinning their own historical mythos? Perhaps, but The Andy Griffith Show provided a more gentle wishful thinking for an increasingly jaded American populace.

Works Cited
Andy Griffith Show, The. Museum of Broadcast Communications.
http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/A/htmlA/andygriffith/andygriffith.htm. January 15, 2008.
Beck, Ken and Jim Clark. The Andy Griffith Show Book. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995. (Revised 35th Anniversary Edition.)

Works Consulted
The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club. http://www.mayberry.com/. January 15, 2008.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

TV Rebels: Jack Webb; TV Land's She's Got The Look Scores Again for Episode 2

We were very busy in May (upfronts!) so we couldn't bring you the May installment of TV Rebels, but we will bring it to you today! We will bring you the June edition later this month, I promise. We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...and as we mentioned in April, we have now gotten rights to 6 additional essays, so we will be bringing you one each month until at least November! Upcoming TV Rebel columns coming soon are about Andy Griffith, Bill Cosby, and Desi Arnaz. The book is in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the sixth essay of TV Rebels:

Jack Webb: Just The Facts Ma'am
by Lou Orfanella

Dum de dum dum. Dum de dum dum dum. "The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent." Nine musical notes, eighteen words, and the most famous police drama to ever hit the airwaves. From 1952 to 1959 and again from 1967 to 1970 on NBC Sgt. Joe Friday of the Los Angeles police department kept the streets safe from crime solving cases drawn from the actual LAPD files. Stone-faced actor Jack Webb played Friday in both incarnations of Dragnet, a part he originally played on a radio version of the series. With catch phrases like "My name's Friday, I'm a cop." and "Just the facts, ma'am," Webb's Joe Friday became an iconic figure among television cops. Besides starring, Webb created, directed, and produced Dragnet as well as overseeing the hits Adam-12 and Emergency! through his MarkVII Limited company.
With a keen eye for detail and a desire for realism in his series, Webb the producer, and Dragnet the series, created what may well have been the prototype for all police shows that followed. "Jack Webb's contributions to the film industry were his use and improvement of the teleprompter, automobile tow shots, and close camera angles. He is credited as the person who pioneered the television police drama, which remains popular to present times. Further, with his demand for accuracy and realism, Jack desired an economy of dialogue with no excessive verbiage, insisting on a 'clean script.' He would have strongly objected to today's excessive violence offered on television" (Moyer 220).
Dragnet was in fact relatively devoid of violence. Few gunshots were fired and the show was considered unqualified family fare that was praised for its overarching theme that crime does not pay. A letter received by Webb and quoted in an early article about Dragnet underscores the appreciation he received. "Not only do you provide wholesome entertainment, but you are doing more for law enforcement than anyone else in the entertainment field. As a former FBI agent, deputy city attorney and prosecuting attorney, I'm particularly grateful for the public service you are rendering" (Harris 21).
After Webb's death in 1982 there were several attempts to revive Dragnet. Dan Aykroyd starred in a comedic big screen version in 1987. A syndicated version ran for 52 episodes starting in 1989. Producer Dick Wolf whose own Law & Order franchise drew from actual case in the Dragnet tradition attempted a revival in 2003. In this Dragnet a post-Married with Children Ed O'Neill played Joe Friday. Only 22 episodes were produced for ABC. Joe Friday was apparently too closely associated with Jack Webb for anyone else to wear badge 714.
Webb was a pioneer, a TV rebel whose contributions to the medium were long lasting. "Jack Webb achieved fame as a film and television actor, producer, and director who created the most popular crime drama it its time. His fast-paced and long-running Dragnet set standards and formats that influence television and motion-picture films today. Most police and detective stories prior to Dragnet concerned commercial and glamorized characters that real-life officers frequently laughed about. But Jack's contribution to police work was that his stories addressed the daily trials and tribulations of an actual large city department, from whose records he drew true-to-life accounts" (Moyer xi).

Works Cited
Harris, Jay S. TV Guide: The First 25 Years. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978.
Moyer, Daniel and Eugene Alvarez. Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Authorized Biography of Jack Webb. Santa Ana: Seven Locks Press, 2001.

TV Land's newest original reality series, She's Got The Look, continues to build momentum, as the second episode aired this past Wednesday and scored double digit gains among the network's target demo, Adults 25-54, and the network's core audience, Adults 40-54 over last week's series premiere.
The six-episode series, a collaboration with Wilhelmina Models, Inc., sets out to discover a sophisticated, beautiful and confident woman 35 or older destined to become the next great supermodel. The winner will receive a lucrative modeling contract with Wilhelmina Models, Inc. and a photo spread for SELF Magazine.
Wednesday's episode, in which the ten finalists dare to bare it all in their first elimination challenge, posted a 0.5 rating (488,000 viewers) among A25-54, up 15% in rating from last week's episode and 14% in viewers. Among the network's core A40-54 audience, the episode earned a 0.6 rating (313,000 viewers), a rise of 12% in rating and 13% in viewers over last week's premiere episode. The median age was 45...which is inside the network's 40-54 core audience. Compared to a year ago, the telecast witnessed a 74% increase in rating and 79% increase in viewers among A25-54 and a 39% rise in rating and 44% in viewers among A40-54.
TV Land did not release how many total viewers there were as they did for the series premiere...my guess is it went down a bit in total viewers.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

TV Rebels: Sid and Marty Krofft

The weekly Mini-DVD Review will be preempted today so we can bring you a special TV Rebels essay. As you all know, Solomon's Weekly Rant had its finale last week, so that is no more..but we will continue to have a mini-DVD review on Saturdays. Anyway, for today it is time for our monthly TV Rebels essay! We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...now we have gotten rights to 6 additional essays, so we will be bringing you one each month until at least November! The book is in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the fifth essay of TV Rebels:

Sid and Marty Krofft: Psychedelic Saturday Mornings
by Lou Orfanella

Wacky witches. Talking flutes. Living hats. Land bound sea monsters. Rock and roll insects. Welcome to the world of puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft, a place where Saturday morning children’s programming was more like a bad acid trip than a day with no school, cozy pajamas, sugary cereal, and endless cartoons.
The Krofft brothers first gained television recognition as costume designers for the 1968 NBC Saturday morning series The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. A production from the Hanna-Barbera animation studio, the program combined live action and animated segments, with the live action being a quartet of life-sized "animal" puppets who performed music and skits between the cartoons. A year later the Kroffts would break new Saturday morning ground with the first of a string of children’s shows that turned the genre upside down.
In September of 1969 NBC premiered the initial episode of H.R. Pufnstuf, a live action series with all of the colorful trappings and visually shocking images of an animated show. Dragon H.R. Pufnstuf is the mayor of Living Island. Young Jimmy, played by Jack Wild, fresh from a starring turn as the Artful Dodger in the Academy Award winning musical Oliver!, is whisked to the island in a storm where he, along with his magic talking flute Freddie is pursued by the evil Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes). Similarities to The Wizard of Oz may or may not be intentional, but at the very least, the Kroffts have drawn frequent accusations of embracing the drug culture of their era in their work, though they have denied such implications as often as Peter, Paul and Mary have done so with "Puff the Magic Dragon." Still for some the surreal inhabitants of Living Island conjure images of the opium that might have been derived from the poppy fields of Oz.
Names like Pufnstuf and Lidsville (a Krofft production for ABC in 1971 about a land where the inhabitants were all talking hats) have been pointed at as euphemisms for marijuana use. Addressing the contention, Marty Krofft says, "There might have been some double meanings there, but that's for the audience to figure out. But some people, they hear the name Pufnstuf and they're immediately thinking about pot. In a way, I think that's what they wanted it to be about" (Martindale 6). Add to the brothers' list of hits 1970's The Bugaloos about an insect rock and roll band, and 1973's Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (a sea monster befriended in captivity by two young boys) and the substance abuse accusations continued to fly. Sid Krofft adds, "A lot of people ask us if we were on drugs when we made these shows...Sometimes I tell them we were high-high on life-because life is the greatest drug there is. But we never, ever, did anything like that. These shows didn’t just come from smoking a little pot" (Martindale 6).
Largely what the Kroffts did was approach Saturday morning programming from a new creative angle. "What made the Kroffts' shows so unique was Their mix of colorful stage props, mesmerizing stories, enchanting musical scores, and a variety of fascinating live-action characters. Their costume designs that placed characters in full-body suits has been one of their most-recognized accomplishments" (Morgan 74).
Everything from PBS's Barney to the McDonaldland characters to stadium mascots may well have been inspired by the weird and way-out creations of Sid and Marty Krofft. Marty explains, "There were people in walk-around suits before Pufnstuf, before we got on, but I don't think anybody had done a whole shoe like that ever before...We were the first ones who took a live-action show and made like a living cartoon of it. That's what we did first" (Martindale 39).

Works Cited
Martindale, David. Pufnstuf & Other Stuff. Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 1998.
Morgan, Bill and Greg Davis. Krofft-mania: Recapturing the magic of Saturday morning TV. Toy Trader. Feb. 2997: 74-77.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

TV Rebels: Smothers Brothers; Fox Moves New Drama to Fridays; Baseball Time For SitcomsOnline

It is time for our monthly TV Rebels essay! We have gotten special permission to publish at least 6 different essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by author Lou Orfanella. The book is in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the fourth column of TV Rebels:

The Smothers Brothers: You Can’t Do That on Television

In 1967 when CBS was looking for a program for the time slot against NBC's longtime Sunday ratings champ Bonanza the network turned to the popular comedy/singing brother duo Tom and Dick Smothers. The network ended up with more than it bargained for. In addition to their trademark folk music and "Mom liked you best" sibling rivalry banter, they brought with them an alternative/counter-culture point of view on the state of American society that triggered weekly battles between The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and the CBS censors.
Lampooning public figures, particularly political personas did not have a long history on American television when the Smothers Brothers debuted. That Was the Week That Was ran for a season and a half on NBC in 1964 and 1965 to some initial attention but faded relatively quickly. In addition to the presidential race between Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, the escalating war in Vietnam gave the brothers an unending stream of material. "With hundreds of G.I.s dying every week in Vietnam, those who opposed the war were widely seen as betraying America, and that was the dilemma the Smothers Brothers presented to a network that already took flak every time Walter Cronkite dropped so much as a hint of bad news. The Smotherses were recruited specifically to help CBS appeal to The Young People. But when they started to use words Young People used, like 'mindblowing' well, CBS wasn't about to let a word like that on the air when nobody at CBS was sure what it meant" (Hinckley).
To Tom Smothers the show's comedy reflected a society where young people wanted more of a voice. "Things had heated up in the Vietnam War and protests were out there, so we started reflecting more of what younger people were thinking. We were in our late twenties at that time and most of our writers were in their early twenties, so there was a certain passion there, and it showed up in sketches on the war and voter registration...we expressed those alternative points of view that weren't being reflected, and it became a battle with the network censors" (Lasswell 161).
Those battles with the censors over both the comedic and musical (singer/activists like Pete Seeger were welcomed by the brothers but not embraced by the network) content of the show continued through its cancellation in 1969. The reason for cancellation has been debated over the years. Some believe both the outgoing Johnson administration and the incoming Nixon administration put pressure on the network. Others believed that the duo attempted to push the envelope a bit too far. "Were they sacrificial lambs-as an incensed New York Times article claimed shortly after their dismissal-victims of behind-the-scenes political maneuvering? Or did they do themselves in by displaying a mixture of bravado, immaturity, and youthful rebellion intolerable to their network and sponsors? However their war ended, while it raged it was indisputably a clash of two generations, with TV's old guard being challenged to put up their dukes for the first time" (Neuwirth 32).
Attempts to revive The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour by ABC in the summer of 1970 and by NBC in the winter of 1975 met with lukewarm receptions, the political unrest of the 1960s already becoming a memory. Their irreverent legacy, however, is preserved in everything from Saturday Night Live to The Daily Show. Tom and Dick Smothers never faded from view, becoming nightclub and concert hall fixtures. They even resurfaced on CBS from 1988-1989 with yet another version of their comedy hour.

Works Cited
Hinckley, David. Line of Responsibility: The Smothers Brothers. The New York Daily News 20 May 1991: 39.
Lasswell, Mark. TV Guide: Fifty Years of Television. New York: Crown, 2002.
Neuwirth, Allan. They'll Never Put That on the Air. New York: Allworth, 2006.


Fox has made a schedule change starting this Monday (March 24). New drama Canterbury's Law, which seems to skew very old, will be on the move to Fridays at 9pm starting March 28. House repeats were airing in that Friday slot and now Fox will move those repeats into Canterbury's Law old slot of Mondays at 8pm starting this Monday. I am afraid to see how Canterbury will do following the low-rated new sitcom The Return of Jezebel James.

Don't forget to tune into the second episode tonight of new sitcom Miss Guided. Over 9.2 million saw the premiere at a later than usual time for a sitcom, so hopefully tonight it will match that or do better. Tonight will be the premiere of its regular night and time of Thursdays at 8:00pm. Ashton Kutcher and Jamie Lynn Spears guest star. It is a very good and funny episode. Better than the pilot, I think...see my review if you missed it. Tune in tonight at 8 on ABC!

Finally, we leave you today with some off topic news. Every year at SitcomsOnline.com we have various online fantasy sports seasons (provided by Yahoo!), such as Fantasy NBA, NCAA March Madness Pick'em, NFL Pick'em, and Fantasy MLB. We only have 7 teams thus far for our upcoming Fantasy MLB league and we need 12 teams...so 5 spots are open. Whoever joins first will be in. The live online draft will be tomorrow (Friday) at 11:15pm ET, so if you want to join, please play with us. If you can't make it to the online draft, you can pre-rank your players that you want. To find out how to join click HERE. Todd and myself will be in the league as well, along with other sitcom fans. You know this is a sitcom league as we have one team called "Furley's Ascots." So, sitcom fans, come join other sitcom fans in playing some fantasy baseball...this isn't like the Happy Days softball team, but still fun! Let's see if you all can beat me ;)

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Friday, February 29, 2008

TV Rebels: That Girl; Network Notes: Scrubs to ABC?, Family Guy Spin-Off?, Quarterlife to Bravo?

It is time for our monthly TV Rebels essay! We have gotten special permission to publish at least 6 different essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by author Lou Orfanella. The book is still in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the third column of TV Rebels:

That Girl: It's Not a Man's World Anymore
Before Mary Tyler Moore tossed her hat into the Minneapolis wind, before Murphy Brown changed secretaries like other people change underwear, before Carrie sought sex in the city, Ann Marie climbed aboard the suburban commuter train from Brewster, New York to seek fame, fortune, and romance in the big city.
A young single girl living on her own in Manhattan and trying to make it in show business may seem like pretty tame fare in the twenty-first century, but when Marlo Thomas debuted as That Girl in 1966, television was still a man's world. From Father Knows Best's Margaret Anderson to Leave it to Beaver's June Cleaver, a woman’s place was in the home, or perhaps in a case like Our Miss Brooks, in the classroom. But on her own on in a New York City apartment? Not in TV Land. The men went to work and the women stayed home cooking up schemes to trick their men or getting into predicaments from which their men could rescue them.
During its five year run on ABC, That Girl did not necessarily tackle feminist issues head on or include ground breaking storylines. There were the traditional sitcom trappings. Ann gets her toe stuck in a bowling ball. Ann meets "special guest star" Ethel Merman. Ann takes a temporary job and chaos ensues. The program did however present a young girl who was not afraid to embrace life with little more that ambition and self-assuredness. Sure, there was a dichotomy of sorts to Ann Marie. Her father, restaurateur Lou Marie (Lew Parker) was always hovering nearby overprotecting and offering advice and boyfriend magazine writer Don Hollinger (Ted Bessell) would bail her out of jams, yet through it all, Ann did things on her terms and spoke her mind. That represents the turning point for the modern TV woman.
In That Book About That Girl Stephen Cole sites That Girl as a conduit of sorts between the traditional female lead television character and the contemporary. "...Ann and her crew forged a place in the hearts of American television viewers. She wasn't Lucy (of I Love Lucy) and she wasn't Margie (of My Little Margie). She was something new and contemporary. One part Doris Day, two parts Jean Arthur, and all parts Marlo Thomas. She was the bridge to Murphy Brown (1988-1998) and all other modern women in the sitcoms of today. She was Ann Marie. That Girl!" (13)
Speaking in an online interview with Lynn Sherr, Marlo Thomas discussed the influence of her Ann Marie character on television history. "I think That Girl made a journey through Kate and Allie (single moms), Cagney and Lacey (women working in traditionally male roles), Murphy Brown, who was the first imperfect woman hero on television (she had a drinking problem, she yelled at people who worked for her, she had a baby out of wedlock), and now the young women on Friends. I think that all of those women are links in a chain of the depiction of females on television ("That Girl").

Works Cited
Cole, Stephen. That Book about That Girl. Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 1999.
"That Girl was a Pioneer." That Girl on the web. May 2002. 28 July 2007 http://thatgirltv.com/interview.html


Moving on to some news. There are reports all over the place (Hollywood Reporter, Variety, TV Guide, etc), that ABC is close to picking up 18 episodes of Scrubs for next season. The comedy is in its 7th season currently and has aired on NBC all 7 seasons. NBC has promoted this as the final season but they might not air an actual series finale because of the strike and that it might go right to DVD instead. ABC Studios produces the series and they are mulling a deal to bring the show to ABC next season. NBC is upset and has threatened legal action because they say they have first rights. I think this is a ploy by ABC Studios to bring the show back...and it looks to be working because no one thought Scrubs would be back next fall, and now it seems like it will, whether it is on NBC or ABC! And if it does return, YES Zach Braff will be a part of it. We shall have more on this for sure, so come on back.
Fox is developing a spin-off of Family Guy based on the Cleveland character. The show will be titled Cleveland. If it makes it on air, it could be paired with Family Guy on Sunday nights or for sure somewhere on the Sunday schedule. This could be bad news for American Dad or King of the Hill. Fox is also developing a spin-off of Prison Break based on women in prison. I am thinking that they will introduce it next season on Prison Break, which will likely be the last season of Prison Break (if renewed, that is), and if it hits, Fox will make that into a series. More to come I'm sure.
Finally, NBC announced yesterday they have pulled Quarterlife after just one airing (it didn't even have a 'quarter' of its 6 episode order aired!), now one of their cable networks will air the remaining episodes...Bravo. Bravo will air the remaining five episodes later this season.

Stay tuned tomorrow for our review of the upcoming new Fox sitcom Unhitched, which launches Sunday at 9:30pm.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

TV Rebels: Norman Lear; Solomon's Weekly Rant: Crazy Glue Good Times, Beverly Hillbillies for Three's Company?, Carpoolers Time Change

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for mini-DVD reviews and Solomon's Weekly Rant! But wait! This Saturday we won't have the regular mini-DVD review as we have the second installment of TV Rebels! However don't worry, Solomon's Weekly Rant is still on in its regular day and spot.
As we did last month, we have gotten special permission to publish at least 6 different essays on TV shows that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by author Lou Orfanella. The book is still in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the second column of TV Rebels:

Norman Lear: Changing the Face of Comedy
On Tuesday, January 12, 1971 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time, the first episode of a series that seemed destined to fail finally aired on CBS and the television situation comedy was never the same. Producer Norman Lear had been fighting unsuccessfully since 1968 to get his American adaptation of the British hit Till Death Us Do Part on network television. After multiple pilot films, cast changes, and title changes (Archie Justice and Those Were the Days were discarded choices), All in the Family debuted to less than stellar ratings, but leaving no doubt that new territory was being explored.
Blue collar bigot Archie Bunker, his devoted wife Edith, daughter Gloria, and son-in-law Mike made up the immediate family residing at 704 Hauser Street in Queens, New York. Archie's conservative rants and endless stream of ethnic slurs were far removed from even the most bombastic characters to rule the airwaves previously. "Even after the '60s lowered the bar for acceptable public expression, it was hard not to notice a fat white guy sitting in his chair, cigar in hand, railing against everybody else" (Hinckley). And notice they did. By the 1971-1972 television season All in the Family was the number one show on the air and would remain so for five years running.
By the fall of 1972, All in the Family had spawned Maude, the Beatrice Arthur character who had appeared as Edith Bunker's liberal cousin. One of many Lear "spin-off" series, Maude was to become another ground breaking comedy during its six year CBS run and another piece of the foundation which would support the growing empire that was Tandem Productions, the company of Lear and partner Bud Yorkin. While All in the Family had brought reality into the genre, "...from social politics to bathroom use, and dealt with them in language franker than TV audiences had ever heard. Maude wert even further in its weekly squabbles. The first season's 22 episodes...dealt with topics like racism, infidelity, sexual equality, divorce, menstruation, malpractice and, most notoriously, abortion, when Maude found herself pregnant at 47" (DeCaro).
The Lear productions continued to flourish throughout the 70's with hits like Sanford and Son (another adaptation of a British series, Steptoe and Son), The Jeffersons (another All in the Family spinoff), Good Times (a Maude spinoff), and other traditional/formulaic sitcoms. Lear would attempt to push the envelope with Hot L Baltimore on ABC in 1975. Set in a rundown hotel (hence the missing "e" in the sign/title) and based on the off Broadway show of the same name Hot L Baltimore's characters included a prostitute, a homosexual couple, and a never seen practical joker named Moose. The series boasted some cutting edge dialogue but it failed to click with viewers and vanished after 13 episodes.
Lear would hit pay dirt again in 1976 with the syndicated soap opera spoof Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. After being turned down by the networks in spite of his track record as a television innovator, Lear sold Mary Hartman to local station where it became a late night hit. Once again, Lear pushed the boundaries of controversial subject matter and outlandish plotlines. And once again, it worked.
Norman Lear's place as a television rebel was likely secured that night in 1971 when the public was first introduced to Archie Bunker, though he continued to travel uncharted waters. "In a few short years after All in the Family’s debut, Lear had influenced all of TV comedy and dominated much of it, to the extent that by 1975, critic Michael J. Arlen wagered, 'it's probably a good bet that roughly a hundred and twenty million Americans watch Norman Lear comedies each week-which adds up to a total of roughly five billion viewers each year.'" (McCrrohan 137).

Works Cited
DeCaro, Frank. "Archie Bunker's Feisty Feminist Flip Side." The New York Times 22 April 2007:AR30.
Hinckley, David. "Change of Life: Archie Bunker." The New York Daily News 12 October 1999:17.
McCrohan, Donna. Archie&Edith, Mike&Gloria: The Tumultuous History of All in the Family. New York: Workman Publishing, 1987.

Stay tuned next month for another installment of TV Rebels as we take a look at the sitcom That Girl!


Solomon's Weekly Rant
Saturday, January 12, 2008
"Crazy Glue Good Times; Beverly Hillbillies for Three's Company?; Carpoolers Time Change"
By Solomon Davis

This month marks the 4th anniversary of Good Times on TV One and I can't believe after 4 years we are still going to see a marathon next month based around the Michael character. Good Times to TV one is like how Fresh Prince is to Nick at Nite, it's the network's favorite show and everyone with 20/20 vision must be reminded of that all the time. I mean how many more years is this show going to be presented to TV One viewers like it's a new addition? I was hoping the year of 2008 would push some shows off the TV One schedule so some new shows can be pushed in and given a chance to gain an audience. And just once if TV One is going to air this show all the time at least feature the show's best years and not the Penny/Carl/Keith era.

OK I'm not a fan of The Beverly Hillbillies and never intend to be, but why did TV Land have to replace Three's Company at 1am so that The Beverly Hillbillies can be seen? The show already airs in the daytime and evening, while Three's Company will now only be 4am (it will gain 11am in February though). That replacement makes no sense at all and now I have absolutely no reason to turn to TV Land from 11pm to 2am since there is nothing on from the 1970's era just all Andy Griffith, M*A*S*H (this is '70s but boring '70s), and the newly re-acquired Beverly Hillbillies. But now the 2am hour is different with Sanford and Son airing in that slot so they think they could squeeze a 60's sitcom in the 1am slot now. They should air a new type of 60's show like Gomer Pyle. TV Land is definitely a channel that should be under the pre-basic cable package.

I was all set to get back into Carpoolers this past Tuesday and ended up forgetting to watch the show because of the new time ABC scheduled the show to air. It was originally airing at 8:30pm and now has been moved to 9:30pm which made it very easy for me to forget to watch the show and have to try again next week. So what's probably going to happen is most people will forget about the new time slot (since that's not a time they were used to watching the show) combined in with the fact that show hasn't even been seen since October which will lead to cancellation avenue. So that strategy by ABC will definitely have Carpoolers in the "goodbye" list in about 4 months.


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DISCLAIMER: Remember, Solomon is not the voice of SitcomsOnline. He is just stating his opinions and does not reflect what SitcomsOnline says or thinks. It is just his 'View' but it is always quite entertaining.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

TV Rebels: The Dick Van Dyke Show; Solomon's Weekly Rant: Disappearing Tuesday Sitcoms on ABC; Frank TV Airs Too Late; Morning Show Wedding Dance

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for mini-DVD reviews and Solomon's Weekly Rant! But wait! This Saturday we won't have the regular mini-DVD review as we have a special for you! However don't worry, Solomon's Weekly Rant is still on in its regular day and spot.
We have gotten special permission to publish at least 6 different essays on TV shows that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by author Lou Orfanella. The book is still in the works and will be released in 2009. Once a month, each month (for the next six months at least) we will bring you one of his excerpts from his pending book. So, this is a little exclusive and will help you prepare for the book coming in 2009!
But first here is a little about Lou: Lou Orfanella's latest book is the fiction collection In a Flash: Twenty-One Short, Short Stories. In Excursions: Poetry and Prose he brings together many genres of literature including the direct address, fiction, collaborative writing, and a novella in poems. He is the author of the poetry collections Streets of New York, Allurements and Lamentations, Composite Sketches, The Last Automat, Permanent Records, How I Happened and Summer Rising, River Flowing and the work of nonfiction Scenes from an Ordinary Life: Getting Naked to Explore a Writer's Process and Possibilities. He contributed chapters to the books Reel Rebels, When Genres Collide, and Rationales for Teaching Young Adult Literature. His columns, essays, articles, reviews, and poems have appeared in many national and regional publications. He holds degrees from Columbia University and Fordham University and teaches writing at Western Connecticut State University and English in the Valhalla, New York school district. He has presented dozens of public readings of his work and offers individual and group workshops on topics including poetry, fiction, memoir, journalism, and family history. He can be contacted at LORFANELLA@hotmail.com.

So without further adieu, we bring you the first column of TV Rebels:

The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Sophisticated Ensemble Comedy
Two years before the 1961 premiere of The Dick Van Dyke Show veteran television writer Carl Reiner had created a series for himself called Head of the Family. The pilot failed to sell but was seen by producer Sheldon Leonard who suggested a casting change for the lead role. Although young comic and daytime TV host Johnny Carson was considered, the role of Rob Petrie went to the multifaceted entertainer Dick Van Dyke who had gained national recognition via his Broadway and motion picture performances in the musical Bye Bye Birdie. While Van Dyke's name graced the title of the series, it was an ensemble that relied as much on co-stars Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Richard Deacon, and occasionally Reiner as it did on the headliner himself. Additionally, it leaned on a more sophisticated humor than most of the comedies to that point.
Situations comedies had generally been produced as pure family fare with an attempt to cram in as many quick laughs as possible. Entertain the kids, don't offend the adults, and don't require too much thinking on the part of the audience. "Dick Van Dyke was the first sitcom that was rated A-for Adult. Rob and Laura Petrie were sensible, grown-up people. They were funny and they did funny things. They were not the Burnses, who were zany and did zany things. Nor were they madcap Margie and her foolish father or the warbling Partridges. Laure and Rob Petrie were not silly people. They didn’t act; they behaved. They were substantial-more so than Donna and the rest of the Stones. That's just it: the Petries weren't stone, they were...clay. They were like real people. Real people who made jokes, but weren't jokes." (Mitz 181). The Dick Van Dyke Show helped television grow up a bit.
A major change brought about by The Dick Van Dyke Show involved the way writers looked at their audiences. Audiences were given credit for more intelligence than had been the case in the past. While most sitcoms focused on a main character cooking up schemes and finding him or herself in ridiculous situations and took place primarily in one venue, be it the home or workplace, here in an almost literary style, Rob Petrie had both work and family lives and it was assumed that audience could accept the two "plot" lines. Sight gags and slapstick pratfalls were part of Van Dyke’s repertoire of comedic techniques, but were not, as was the cast with so many previous comedies seen as essential to getting a laugh from the audience. Good writing and intelligent dialogue were trusted to lead to the payoff. Another sign of growth was the deeper character development that was afforded others in the cast. What was happening to, and thought about by, wife Laura and coworkers Buddy and Sally was as significant as what Rob was experiencing.
"The show's unique blend of wit and warmth would prove beyond any argument that a situation comedy could be sophisticated and urbane-and still deliver a sizable audience. In the space of only five years, Carl Reiner and his company of actors, writers, and fellow producers had succeeded in creating a work of such consistent intelligence and invention that it would set a new standard for quality television-a standard that still serves as a benchmark for prime-time comedy to this day. As few television shows had done before, and very few have done since, The Dick Van Dyke Show would forever alter the way we watch television." (Waldron 300).

Works Cited
Mitz, Rick. The Great TV Sitcom Book. New York: Perigee, 1983.
Waldron, Vince. The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book. New York: Hyperion, 1994.

Stay tuned next month for another installment of TV Rebels as we take a look at the legendary Norman Lear! Should be fun!


Solomon's Weekly Rant
Saturday, December 8, 2007
"Disappearing Tuesday Sitcoms on ABC; Frank TV Airs Too Late; Morning Show Covers Wedding Dance"
By Solomon Davis

What's up with the disappearance of Caveman AND Carpoolers on Tuesday nights? It seems like its one preemption after another with no new episodes in sight. Are the ratings that bad for both shows? It's easy to just do a time slot change instead of leaving both shows in the timeslot to fail. ABC just go ahead and make the announcement that the two shows are not coming back because I already saw that next Tuesday in the 8pm Hour they will be preempted again for holiday airings of Shrek the Halls and Winnie the Pooh & Christmas, Too. The only thing the specials are doing is making viewers forget all about the the two comedies which is probably their plan anyway so they can have a reason to pull both shows.

Why does TBS have to put Frank TV in the 11pm slot on Tuesdays? I mean for me it conflicts with local news and SportsCenter on ESPN and even the re-airing is after 1am in the morning. How bout having Frank TV air between 8pm and 10pm and CUT DOWN some of the encores of Family Guy? Family Guy is on from 8pm to 10pm and I'm sure Frank TV being a new show can fit somewhere in there. I mean does TBS want people to see the show or not? But they do label it as a late night TV show.

There was a clip of a recently married couple on YouTube dancing at their wedding reception and the mornings shows like Good Morning America and The Early Show wanted to keep showing them dancing OVER and OVER. Who cares that they were dancing at their wedding reception? And did the wedding couple really need to be interviewed by the Early Show just because they were dancing and acting silly? The Early Show can't find any other story to talk about and have to discuss YouTube videos of married couples dancing to rap music? Is that all it takes to get a interview on TV these days? Clearly the DUMBEST feature story of the year. Maybe I should record a video for this blog with me laughing at Emmit Smith on ESPN while I eat nachos. I wonder if The Early Show would interview me?

My Weird TV Moment of the Week:
Thursday, December 6, 2007: During the Bears/Skins game on the NFL Network, a fan ran out of the stands and attacked a player on the field and NFL Network immediately CUT away from the situation. WHY?? Security Had already tackled him so what did NFL Network think was going to happen?


Agree or disagree with Solomon? Discuss it here.

DISCLAIMER: Remember, Solomon is not the voice of SitcomsOnline. He is just stating his opinions and does not reflect what SitcomsOnline says or thinks. It is just his 'View' but it is always quite entertaining.

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