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, March 14, 2008

ABC Mid-Season Pilot Review: Miss Guided - Premieres March 18; TV One April 2008

Miss Guided

Miss Guided - Thursdays 8:00PM & 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Tuesday, March 18 on a special night and time of 10:30PM ET/PT following Dancing with the Stars

This new ABC half-hour comedy series Miss Guided stars Judy Greer and is from actor/producer Ashton Kutcher (he also guest stars on this show) and Emmy Award-winning director Todd Holland directs this series that takes on high school's annoying tendency to repeat itself.

Having finally conquered the awkward, traumatic world of high school, Becky Freeley (Judy Greer) returns to her alma mater as a guidance counselor with her insecurities and orthodontia a distant memory.

While Becky deftly navigates the uncertainties of troubled students and an often troubling faculty, she is certain of one thing - her desperate attraction to hot mechanic-turned-Spanish teacher Tim (Kristoffer Polaha). Now that it seems Becky might finally be getting the upper hand in life and love, she's shocked to discover that the newly hired English teacher is none other than her high school nemesis, Lisa Germain (Brooke Burns). Lisa is a smart, stunning beauty, and suddenly Becky is forced to relive her past and compete for Tim's affections.

Cast Details:

Judy Greer as Becky Freeley, Kristoffer Polaha as Tim O'Malley, Brooke Burns as Lisa Germain, Chris Parnell as Vice Principal Bruce Terry, Earl Billings as Principal Phil Huffy

Judy Greer (Becky Freeley) has been on various TV series in the past. She has guest starred on series such as Early Edition, Family Guy, Maggie Winters, Just Shoot Me, Two and a Half Men and My Name is Earl. She might be best remembered for her role in Arrested Development as Kitty Sanchez. Judy also co-starred on the short-lived sitcom Love & Money and the short-lived drama Love Monkey. On the big screen her various films include The Three Kings, The Village, 13 Going on 30, The Wedding Planner and 27 Dresses opposite Katherine Heigl.

Kristoffer Polaha (Tim O'Malley) has graced the small screen over the last decade in various TV work. He is best known for his co-starring role in North Shore. Among the series he has guest starred on are Angel, Roswell, Birds of Prey, House, Bones, Mad Men, , and C.S.I. Miami. His comedy works include guest starring on both It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and short-lived ABC sitcom Hot Properties.

Brooke Burns (Lisa Germain) is best known for her role as Jessie Owens for three years on Baywatch. She has also co-starred on TV series such as North Shore (with co-star Kristoffer Polaha) and Pepper Dennis. She has also appeared on series such as Ally McBeal, Just Shoot Me, and She Spies. On the big screen, Burns starred in Shallow Hal, opposite Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow and in Smokejumpers, alongside Erin Karpluk and Rick Ravanello.

Chris Parnell (Vice Principal Bruce Terry) is an alumnus of Saturday Night Live, having made memorable contributions as a regular cast member off and on from 1998-2007 with his impersonations ranging from Eminem to Tom Brokaw. He has made numerous guest appearances on series such as 30 Rock, Seinfeld, The Jamie Foxx Show, Suddenly Susan, Murphy Brown, TV Funhouse, Friends and Ed, among others. On the big screen he made his debut in 1996 in Jingle All the Way and has since also appeared in The Ladies Man, Down with Love and Anchroman: The Ron Burgundy Story.

Earl Billings (Principal Phil Huffy) is a familiar face for sitcom and TV fans. He had a recurring role on the hit '70s sitcom What's Happening!! playing the character of Rob (the owner of Rob's Place). He has appeared on dozens of television series and made-for-television movies/mini-series including Roots: The Second Generation, Rockford Files, Perry Mason, Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills. Just a few of series television roles include Good Times, The Jeffersons, Home Improvement, South Central, Frank's Place, New Attitude, Family Matters, Roc, Wayans Bros, The Parkers, How I Met Your Mother, Without a Trace, ER and Ally McBeal, among others. His work on the big screen includes numerous film roles including Something New, American Splendor, Thank You for Smoking, Fat Albert, The Antwone Fisher Story, Con Air, Crimson Tide, Youngblood, Wired, among many others.

Pilot Plot:

#1 "Homecoming" (Airs Tuesday, March 18 at 10:30PM ET/PT).
Becky Freeley returns to her alma mater as a guidance counselor after having finally conquered the awkward, traumatic world of high school. With her orthodontia and teenage insecurities a distant memory, Becky deftly navigates the uncertainties of troubled students and an often troubling faculty, she is certain of one thing – her desperate attraction to hot mechanic-turned-Spanish-teacher, Tim. Now that Becky might finally get the upper hand in life and love, she is shocked to discover that the newly hired English teacher is none other than her high school nemesis Lisa Germain (Brooke Burns). Lisa is a smart, stunning beauty and, suddenly, Becky is forced to relive her past and compete for Tim's affection.

Guest starring in "Homecoming" are Jonathan Sadowski as Gary, Chad Broskey as Shane, Chelsea Harris as Allison, Daryl Sabara as Russell, Samantha Gray Hissong as Heidi, Vanessa Marano as Kelly, A.J. Noel as the whiny band geek, Christian Serratos as the weeping cheerleader, Jesse Fremont Allis as the angry delinquent, Tom Choi as Ed, Tim Bagley as Peter, Tiffany Hines as the pretty student, Juan Carlos Cantu as the janitor, Jane Galloway Heitz as the lunch lady and Lauren Gates as the thin girl.

"Homecoming" was written by Caroline Williams and directed by Todd Holland.

We also viewed the second episode airing, titled "The Hot Sub," which will air Thursday, March 20 at 8:00PM ET/PT, the show's regular night and time premiere. This episode was actually shot 6th, but is airing as the premiere episode in its normal time premiere.
Becky is over the moon when a hot Spanish substitute teacher (guest starring Ashton Kutcher as Beaux), chooses her over Lisa, but has second thoughts when his presence threatens Tim's job. Meanwhile, one of Becky's troubled students (guest starring Jamie Lynn Spears as Mandy Ferner), gets exciting news from college, but considers throwing it all away if it disrupts romantic life.

Guest starring in "Hot Sub" are Ashton Kutcher as Beaux, Jamie Lynn Spears as Mandy Ferner, Angel Laketa Moore as the staffer, Robin Krieger as the secretary, Mikey Reid as Roger, Travis Caldwell as Michael and Scotch Ellis Loring as Mr. Shoemaker.

"Hot Sub" was written by Kevin Etten and directed by Todd Holland.

Analysis:

After watching the first two episodes that are airing, I can say that this show is worth airing. The show completed 7 episodes before the writers' strike started and we will see all 7 episodes in 3 weeks. There was talk that it wouldn't even air at all because of the strike, but I'm glad it is airing! I think many people will be surprised that it is actually a good single-camera sitcom. If this hits, it could be paired with the hit sitcom Samantha Who? starring Christina Applegate next season.

The show is basically about Becky coming back to her old high school as a guidance counselor. Her high school nemesis Lisa Germain is also hired at the school as an English teacher. I can see a lot of battles between the two in future episodes. Becky's love interest seems to be the Spanish teacher Tim O'Malley. Tim doesn't realize however that Becky seems interested. Will Lisa beat her to him? Rounding out the great bunch is the Principal and Vice Principal. They both are very funny and have great chemistry together. Fans of What's Happening!! will like seeing Earl Billings again on a sitcom. He looks familiar still, but has gained some weight making him more like Bubba from Sanford & Son these days.

Basically the pilot revolves around the homecoming dance, hence the title of the episode. Will it be like high school all over again for Becky? There are some very funny scenes, especially when Becky is in the bushes looking on in the homecoming dance, because Tim and Lisa are there together.
The second episode is about a new substitute Spanish teacher, played by Ashton Kutcher. He uses an unorthodox way of teaching, but is it really a good method? He has everyone hooked, including the Principal, that Tim O'Malley has been demoted back to mechanics class instead of Spanish. When Ashton's character is walking in to the school for the first time, you see a girl in a blue shirt do something so hilarious. I won't ruin it, but a promo has shown a bit of it. Jamie Lynn Spears also guest stars in the episode as a confused teenager seeking about college. My has she grown up. She looks great and looks exactly like her sister when she was that age.

Conclusion:

I really hope this show hits and does well. It is pretty funny and charming. It should debut nicely after Dancing with the Stars but hopefully viewers follow it to Thursdays for the next three weeks. The mind of Ashton Kutcher is always innovative and his show are very young skewing (Punk'd, Beauty & the Geek). This show has gotten me thinking how it would be like to go back to high school and relive memories...both good and bad. Students currently in high school could also relate to this sitcom and have some fun with it. I would put this series so far up there with the best new sitcoms (The Big Bang Theory, Samantha Who). Maybe not better than those two yet, but it has a chance.

Maybe this show will be a hit rather than a "burn-off," since 7 episodes are being crammed into three weeks...but ABC has nothing to pair it with right now. With limited scripted programming currently, viewers will likely watch...I hope at least. What to look for in future episodes includes a guest appearance by Edie McClurg playing Mrs. Pool (ironically she played a character by that name on the hit '80s sitcom The Hogan Family). Will it be the same character? Tune in March 27 for that episode!
This is the best school-themed show currently, forget about High School Reunion, this is much better, funnier and more realer.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funiness: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 03/14/08

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Miss Guided Photo Gallery



  • Moving on to some news...we will talk about TV One in April 2008. We broke the story first about The Hughleys coming to TV One in April, now the trades have finally reported it this week. We already reported that it will start with a weekend marathon on April 5 and 6, but now we have details on its regular timings and the rest of TV One April!
    Beginning on Monday, April 7, comedian D.L. Hughley's family sitcom The Hughleys joins TV One's weekday lineup at 7:30 PM and 11:30 PM. Because of this, some programs will be shifted a bit on weekdays:
    1:00PM – Good News (replaces Wanda at Large)
    6:30PM – Parent'Hood replaces Hangin' With Mr. Cooper)
    7:30PM – The Hughleys (replaces Parent'Hood)
    11:30PM – The Hughleys (replaces Eve)
    4:00AM – Eve (replaces Wanda at Large)
    4:30AM – Good Times (replaces Hangin' with Mr. Cooper)
    5:00AM – Divorce Court (replaces Parent'hood)
    5:30AM – Divorce Court (replaces Good Times)

    Some stunts for April include that Hughleys two-day marathon. Saturday, April 5 from 8pm-6am and Sunday, April 6 from 4-7pm with an encore late night. Then on Saturday, April 26 beginning at noon through 10pm, it's a "Cedric Weekend" on TV One as Cedric the Entertainer’s variety/sketch comedy series Cedric the Entertainer Presents hits the TV One airwaves in an all-day marathon to keep viewers in stitches watching the resident funnyman in a variety of sketches playing a host of wacky characters and lampooning national past-times, attitudes and situations. Then on Sunday, April 27 at 9PM, Cedric the Entertainer gets serious with host Cathy Hughes in the premiere of an all-new episode of the TV One original interview series TV One on One. Cedric opens up about career highs and lows as well as some personal demons that don't always have the famous funnyman laughing out loud. An encore airing is scheduled for midnight.

    Yes, we promised ION April 2008, but as of now only April 1-6 has been released and it confirms that Baywatch is just Saturdays at 6PM starting March 29, while Drew Carey Show will air 9-11PM Mon-Thurs until at least April 3. We will know very soon if that will continue for the rest of April or not...hopefully sometime next week, so come on back. Also, early next week we have some BET minor schedule news and don't forget to come this weekend for our weekly mini-reviews, Solomon's Weekly Rant and the Weekly Ratings report!

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    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    ABC Adds New Sitcom Miss Guided; TV Guide Reports According to Jim Close To Be Renewed; CMT Acquires Two Reality Series

    ABC's new midseason sitcom Miss Guided now has a premiere date! It will launch following the second part of Dancing with the Stars' season premiere on Tuesday, March 18. It will air 10:30pm, before moving to Thursdays 8 and 8:30pm starting March 20. The show completed 7 episodes before the strike happened so it will air for three Thursdays atleast. Who knows maybe this could be a surprise hit. The show had a lot of buzz and positive feedback during upfront season last May.
    The new ABC half-hour comedy series Miss Guided stars Judy Greer (27 Dresses) from actor/producer/writer Ashton Kutcher (That '70s Show) and Emmy Award-winning director Todd Holland (Malcolm in the Middle, The Larry Sanders Show), which takes on high school's annoying tendency to repeat itself. In the premiere episode, Becky Freeley (Judy Greer) returns to her alma mater as a guidance counselor after having finally conquered the awkward, traumatic world of high school. With her orthodontia and teenage insecurities a distant memory, Becky deftly navigates the uncertainties of troubled students and an often troubling faculty, she is certain of one thing – her desperate attraction to hot mechanic-turned-Spanish-teacher, Tim (Kristoffer Polaha). Now that Becky might finally get the upper hand in life and love, she is shocked to discover that the newly hired English teacher is none other than her high school nemesis Lisa Germain (Brooke Burns). Lisa is a smart, stunning beauty and, suddenly, Becky is forced to relive her past and compete for Tim's affection.
    We will have a full review of this sitcom closer to premiere date. Stay tuned this weekend for our pilot review of the new Fox mid-season sitcom Unhitched, which premieres this Sunday on Fox.

    Meanwhile, TV Guide is reporting that long running ABC sitcom According to Jim could be renewed for next season (2008-09 season). The show is currently airing new episodes Tuesdays at 9PM through March 11. The show will still tape 6 post-strike episodes this season for air at a later date, as we mentioned last week. We will keep you up to date on that and when the renewal news becomes official by ABC.

    They are not sitcoms, but they are off-network acquisitions, and everyone is interested in what networks buy in syndication, especially on our website, CMT has picked-up repeats of the reality series Nanny 911 and Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy. CMT will broadcast episodes of the series during the day, with repeats appearing in the early evening. Both reality series have been on hiatus on Fox for awhile now, and no idea if new episodes will continue. Trading Spouses will premiere March 3 at noon and 1 p.m., with repeats at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., while Nanny 911 will debut March 4 in the same time slots. So, Trading Spouses will air Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Nanny 911 on Tuesdays & Thursdays.

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