Thursday, January 29, 2009

What's On Tonight?

Well it’s almost 7:00 pm on a Thursday night and Pat and Vanna are waving good-bye. That means that it is time to start scouring for something to watch until Hell’s Kitchen premiers at 8:00 pm. I can’t wait to see what kind of belittling torture the foul-mouthed Chef Ramsay is going to unleash on this season’s group that wasn’t talented enough to make the cut on Top Chef.

Let’s see, nothing in sports jumps out at me. The MLB channel is showing the 2005 Home Run Derby. No thanks. I have heard all that I can handle of Chris Berman saying back-back-back-back-back…

Comcast Sports Net has ”The Music of Seal on Ice. If the person on ice were Seal’s lovely wife, Heidi Klum, I would watch. But she isn’t, so I’m not. Plus they just showed a Bob Rohrman commercial. He scares me.

How about Fox Sports North. Kent Hrbek Outdoors. Nope I’m a John Gillespie man. But they are showing the Brewers game from June 25, 2005 on Brewers Classics at 7:30. I will DVR that. That’s the game where Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks hit their first major league home runs. After Fielder’s homer, he has a great moment in the dugout with J.J. Hardy. Raw emotion.

What are the big four offering? Hmmm, CBS has Criminal Minds. Not my cup of tea. My Name is Earl is on NBC. I haven't watched it before, so why start now? ABC is featuring an Ugly Betty rerun. Ya right, I don’t think so! And Fox is tempting me with American Idol. I would rather stick pins in my eyeballs.

TVLand has a couple episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, but they are in color and they feature Warren as the deputy. It is just a matter of time before Ken Berry pops up as the likeable Sam Jones. Obviously this is the beginning of the end.

I guess I will watch Ask This Old House on PBS until Hell’s Kitchen. Tom is helping some guy clean, stain and seal his mahogany deck. Wow! Now the guys are going to help a beleaguered homeowner prevent a raw sewage backup. Good stuff. This is way better than American Idol or Ugly Betty.

Oh well, in two weeks I won’t be plagued with this dilemma. Survivor kicks off its 18th season at 7:00 on CBS. I unashamedly must admit, I have seen every one of the first 17 seasons. I think I will begin writing my weekly Survivor recaps at that time. That is, right after Hell’s Kitchen. Until next time…From The Booth.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The More “Things” Change

I am sure that all of you have heard the saying, “The more things change the more they stay the same.” I know that saying all too well, because it seems that I am constantly being reminded of that fact in my personal life.

Certain “things” are a part of your life whether you want them to be or not. Some you enjoy and look forward to, maybe even embrace. Others are not so enjoyable and you must learn to deal with them.

Many of these “things” are there because of decisions you have made. You have control of these “things” to an extent. Whether you choose to do so or not is up to you. These are “things” you may be able to adjust.

But rest assured, there are some things in your lives that you have absolutely no control over. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. These “things” are there whether you like them or not. One such “thing” is change.

Change is going to occur whether we like it or not. It just is. It is just a matter of whether or not you are going to accept the change. You can resist change, but doing so aren’t you, in effect changing? Think about it.

I have never been a big fan of change. I like “things” to be constant, to be predictable. That’s just me. It is better for me if I know what to expect. I imagine it is for most people. This is especially true when you come to truly enjoy something. You don’t want those “things” to change.

Surprise! They do.

You despise losing a job that you love. Unfortunately, it is happening far too often these days. You hate having long time relationships change or, worse yet, come to an end. Sadly, they do. You don’t want to see a favorite restaurant close, but it happens on a regular basis. You don’t expect to see a favorite radio personality unexpectedly taken off the air, but they are.

I have experienced all of these changes in my life and enjoyed absolutely none of them. Some were much tougher than others, but I dealt with them. The ironic thing is that I have become accustomed to these changes. I know if I become fond of, or comfortable with something it’s not going to last. It never does.

When I first wrote a column for the Daily Kenoshan on May 6th of last year I really liked it. Hopefully over the past nine months the columns have improved because the pleasure I got writing them definitely grew. I attempted to develop a style, closing each piece with, “Until next time…”

Well that nasty “thing” called change has reared its ugly head once again in my life. Due to recent changes with the Daily Kenoshan, there isn’t going to be a “next time.” I will, however, continue to express my thoughts in this blog. Therefore, until next time from The Booth…

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Have You Ever Noticed…

Have you ever noticed that the same person, who asks you in January if it is cold enough for you, is the same person who will be asking you in August if it is hot enough for you?

Have you ever noticed that during the first hot spell of the season, the nightly news feels obligated to tell us how to deal with it?

Have you ever noticed that the same nightly news are also kind enough to give us tips on how to handle the first snowstorm we have? They even tell us to slow down when the roads are slippery.

Have you ever noticed how much you appreciate the people you live with after a family member finally leaves following an excruciating, tension packed 10-day visit?

Have you ever noticed the long distance relative you do wish would come for a visit never does?

Have you ever noticed the long distance relatives you pray won’t come for a visit always do.

Have you ever noticed that the people who question your honesty and integrity are usually the most conniving, scheming cretins around?

Have you ever noticed that attention-seeking women that wear tops cut down to their waist always seem to ask, “What are you looking at?”

Have you ever noticed the people who merit the most recognition and praise are usually the ones that shy away from the limelight?

Have you ever noticed that most of the time; the people that love to talk nonstop about war have never served in one?

Have you ever noticed that some people are happier bitching and complaining than they are having things the way they want them?

Have you ever noticed that Texas Hold ‘em Poker is now considered a sport? What’s next, Scrabble?

Have you ever noticed that the guy who has been drinking tappers all night always seems to order a Beefeater martini when you offer to buy a round?

Have you ever noticed that the name of the best pizza places always end in a vowel? Coincidence? I think not.

Have you ever noticed if you enjoy something and it tastes good, it is never good for you?

Have you ever noticed that the things that are supposed to be good for you always are much more expensive? Why is that?

Have you ever noticed the ever-increasing number of remakes of old movies being made? Does anyone have an original idea anymore?

Have you ever noticed that people that act “Holier than Thou” usually aren’t?

Have you ever noticed that most of the time people, who don’t like a particular thing, have never tried, tasted, read or listened to that particular thing?

Have you ever noticed that the older you get, you remember the good old days being better and better?

Until next time…

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What's On TV?

Being a connoisseur of TV all of my life, I have come to the harsh realization that there is nothing on anymore. It is unbelievable! Despite Time Warner having roughly 327 channels available, I still can’t find any original scripted programs worth watching. This is especially true when it comes to the genre that I am most fond of – the sitcom.

The situation comedy, a television series in which the same set of characters are involved in various amusing situations. A nice definition, don’t you think? Short and sweet, direct and to the point. Just like a good sitcom should be.

I have been enjoying sitcoms since the early days of lying on the floor watching the old black and white RCA. Today, with big screens, flat screens, plasma models and high definition technology, you would think that my sitcom viewing experience would be even more pleasurable. Well it’s not!

No, 2009 is not a good time for the sitcom aficionado. For one, there is a serious lack of this type of show right now. I am referring to new, first-run sitcoms. They just aren’t out there. Reality shows, Law and Order shows and CSI shows have shoved my beloved sitcom to the back of the television bus.

Checking the weeknight schedule grid for the 4 major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) I came up with some revealing statistics. Here is how the 55 hours of primetime programming breaks down.

Drama Shows – 28 hours (3 – Law and Order, 5 – CSI)
Reality Shows – 17.5 hours
Situation Comedy Shows – 6.5 hours
News Magazine Shows – 3 hours

390 out of a total of 3,300 minutes devoted to my cherished sitcoms! A measly 11.8 percent of total primetime viewing. There is definitely something wrong with this equation. What are the network executives thinking? What makes it worse is of the few sitcoms we do have, most of them stink!

Starting with this evening through next Monday, there are the 13 different sitcoms being offered to us. ABC has Scrubs (2 episodes) and Samantha Who. CBS gives us The New Adventures of Old Christine, Gary Unmarried, The Big Bang, How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men and Worst Week. NBC puts together a Thursday night package of My Name is Earl, Kath and Kim, The Office and 30 Rock.

The Office and 30 Rock are both highly acclaimed and both are award-winning shows. But look at their competition! I will be honest with you; I don’t make it a point to watch any of these shows. Most of them I have never seen a minute of. None of it appeals to me. Give me the good old days

This is where I become “Middle-Aged Man”. Let me begin by saying thank God for TVLand, Nick at Night, MeTV and the other cable channels that show the sitcoms from the good old days. Without those stations I would be “sitcom-less”. I am serious. The only thing showing on my Toshiba would be sports and the news. Okay, and Survivor. But that would be it. But, thankfully I have my classic sitcoms at my disposal.

Kicking around ideas for this column, I started by making a list of sitcoms from the good old days. I came up with over fifty and am sure that I left several favorites off. Then I started whittling the list down. Thirty minutes later, I had the list shrunk to twenty. After some more deliberation I finally had my Top 5 with an honorable mention list of ten.

Here are my Top 5 favorite sitcoms:

5. The Bob Newhart Show aired on CBS from September 16, 1972 to April 1, 1978. A total of 142 episodes. The main cast consisted of Dr. Robert Hartley, Emily Hartley, Howard Borden, Dr. Jerry Robinson and Carol Kester.

4. News Radio was originally broadcast from 1995 to 1999 on NBC. A total of 97 episodes. The cast of this great show was made up of Dave Nelson, Lisa Miller, Bill McNeal, Catherine Duke, Jimmy James, Beth, Joe Garrelli, Matthew Brock and Max Lewis.

3. The Andy Griffith Show was first televised by CBS between October 3, 1960 and April 1, 1968. A total of 249 episodes. Main characters included Andy Taylor, Barney Fife, Aunt Bee Taylor, Opie Taylor, Floyd Lawson, Otis Campbell, Gomer and Goober Pyle.

2. Seinfeld originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998. A total of 180 episodes. The well-known cast was made up of Jerry Seinfeld, George Costanza, Elaine Benes and Cosmos Kramer.

1. Leave it to Beaver debuted on CBS on October 4, 1957, moved to ABC the following year, and completed its first run on June 20, 1963. A total of 234 episodes. The cast of this all time classic was highlighted by Ward Cleaver, June Cleaver, Wally Cleaver, Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, Eddie Haskell, Larry Mondello and Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford.

In alphabetical order, my Honorable Mention: Are You Being Served?, Becker, Cheers, M*A*S*H, Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mr. Belvedere, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Wings and WKRP in Cincinnati.

Maybe I have indeed become “Middle-Aged Man, but not one of the twelve sitcoms currently airing could crack my list of fifteen. You can have Old Christine and Samantha Who, give me Wally and the Beaver any day. Until next time…

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What is NBC Thinking?

Despite announcing five years ago that Jay Leno would step down from "The Tonight Show" to make way for Conan O'Brien, NBC has decided the late-night talker wouldn’t be leaving the network after all. Instead, Leno will move into prime time with a new five-nights-a-week show at 9 p.m. What is NBC thinking?

Leno's new show, tentatively called "The Jay Leno Show" and set to launch next fall, will be competing against programs such as CBS' ratings powerhouse "CSI: Miami," and "Private Practice" on ABC. It will be the first-ever program of its type to air five nights a week on prime time U.S. TV and marking a shift in the way NBC programs the most lucrative period for TV advertising revenue.

The five-day format will help NBC reduce its prime-time development and production costs in a tough economy. I know economic times are tough and I realize that it would be much more cost-effective to put Leno on as opposed to paying for an hour of scripted comedy or drama programming. But do we really need a four-hour block of talk/variety television from a major network?

Think about it. This is what the lineup for the National Broadcasting Company will look like starting this fall:

9:00 p.m. The Jay Leno Show
10:00 p.m. Local News
10:35 p.m. The Tonight Show (Conan O’Brien)
11:35 p.m. Late Night (Jimmy Fallon)
12:35 a.m. Last Call (Carson Daly)

Wow! I don’t know about you, but that hardly qualifies as “Must See TV”. The only positive thing for me is having Conan on an hour earlier. I very rarely stay awake long enough to catch his show now, so the switch will give me a chance to do so.

As far as the rest of the shows go, none of them will be on my list of shows to DVR. Having always preferred Letterman to Leno, the only time I would tune in The Tonight Show is when a Heidi Klum or a Marissa Tomei was on the guest list. His “Headlines” bit is okay, but I enjoy Letterman’s brand of sarcastic humor much more. Leno’s style is too obvious and simple for my liking.

All I have to say regarding Jimmy Fallon is good luck! The only thing he has going for him is his close relationship with SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, who was instrumental in choosing Mr. O’Brien for Late Night. That being said, I feel that Fallon will fall into the same heap as Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler, comics who cracked me up before becoming superstars. Having achieved stardom, they just annoy me.

I have even less regard for Carson Daly. I didn’t care for him when he was a VJ on MTV back in the day. When I saw that he has been hosting Last Call since 2002, I was stunned. Where do no talent bums with nothing to offer, like Daly and Ryan Seacrest, get off wasting valuable airtime? I guess if Kelly Ripa can make $10 million annually, there is a place on television for the likes of Carson Daly.

No, I doubt that this is what NBC envisioned happening back in the ‘50s when talented individuals like Steve Allen and Jack Paar first hosted The Tonight Show. And I am sure that late-night TV icon Johnny Carson is rolling in his grave with this recent turn of events. Can you say overkill? With this new programming, how many times will we have to see Tom Cruise, Kate Hudson and Jennifer Anniston? Enough is enough!

I know that economically, times are tough all over. NBC’s decision is proof of that, but it's like the automakers shutting down plants: It saves some money short-term, but what about the long haul? It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I for one, believe that the days of “Must See TV” are over for NBC. Until next Time…