Saturday Night Alive

Those of you used to tuning out Saturday Night Live in its waning minutes, generally a dumping ground for weak sketches, missed a treat this week. The episode had definitely had its highs and lows with guest host Luke Wilson and with U2 doing a couple songs from their new album (including that catchy one that’s on the iPod ads as well as the ads for the album.) Then it came time for the usual closer, all the actors on the stage, the guest host saying his goodnights with the lead singer of the band next to him… at which point Bono gets up and heads back to the train platform music set, where the rest of the band is waiting, and the break into a high-energy rendition of “I Will Follow”, with Bono violating the usual stage, dragging cameras around, wading into the audience. Any thought that the famously-hungry-for-airtime cast felt deprived by this (unprecedented?) third song was quickly dispelled by a pan to them, which showed some of them being utterly blown away by the performance. Bono’s shouting “Live!” into the camera repeatedly underscored that this may have been an purposeful extra effort to wash away any lingering bad taste from the Ashley Simpson situation. Whatever the reason, viewers got quite a treat… and the folks in the audience even more so; as the credit roll was ending, we heard the band shout “one more!”, so the studio ushers may have made a wee bit of overtime that night.

Sometimes, TV is good.

Published in: on November 23, 2004 at 11:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Tyranny of the few

So the FCC is cracking down on indecent broadcasts because of the huge number of complaints they’re getting, or so they claim. But when you ask them for the huge number of complaints that generated the $1.2 million fine against Fox for Married By America, well, they’re announcement says 159 complaints. Doesn’t sound so big? Well, the truth is more chilling.
They only received three different letters of complaint.

Published in: on November 23, 2004 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Radical TV Reduction

We’ve just done a major TV cutback here in Casa Tres Gertlers. Oh, it’s not that we’re watching any less – since we’re taking care of the wee one in the living room, we’re probably actually watching a bit more. But we’ve cut back on the depth. We’ve dumped the digital portion of our cable service. It cuts severely back on the number of channels we get (down to a mere 98, oh the indignity!) as well as getting rid of digital music, pay per view, and other such things that we never used. What are we really losing? BBC America, with the British version of Faking It; The N, with its reruns of Daria (and I guess I’ll miss the upcoming Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes appearances on Degrassi); IFC and it’s Dinner for Five and the rare movie on that channel and Sundance.

What do we gain? Twenty bucks a month. (Which is more than enough to pay for a subscription to Netflix, which may well be the upshot; a couple videos per month would add up to more viewing time than we were getting out of those extra channels.)

So far,several hours into The Grand Deprivation, the biggest loss being felt is the loss of the clock on the now-removed digital cable box. Now we actually have to look at our watches!

Published in: on November 22, 2004 at 12:46 am  Leave a Comment  

A House That Can Stand

When I first started hearing about House, I thought about the character descrption. Doc House is a crotchety investigator of strange ailments who is far more comfortable dealing with the facts than with the patient. Add on a use of pain relief drugs that may verge on being a drug habit, and I began thinking “hey, this guy sounds like a medical Sherlock Holmes.” I wondered whether their intention was that specific.
It wasn’t until part way through the show that I finally realized the reason for the strange character name and title. Houses are homes. Holmes. Of course.
The show caught my attention with the interesting casting. Hugh Laurie has done a lot of good work as an actor, notably comedic work partnered with Stephen Fry. (If you’ve seen them playing the Jeeves and Wooster on the British Wodehouse adaptations, then you’ve know they do good stuff.) But Laurie has not shown a wide range of colors in the things I’ve seen him in. He plays the stupid, the inanely friendly, and the oblivious. The dark intelligent misanthrope House is everything most of his characters are not…. and he does it very well. It’s truly a brilliant piece of casting.
The concept of the show is quite a typical modern show. “Look! Strange disease! Let’s take a bunch of folks to go figure out what’s going on, come to a couple of wrong conclusions, and then finally get the right answer in time to save the day. But at least within this stale concept, they make it well and generally intelligently. The first episode, directed by X-Men director Bryan Singer, puts a very good foot forward. I worry about how well it will keep interest in the cookie-cutter concept, but Fry is definitely worth watching.
Problem: it’s up against Scrubs, and since the ReplayTV can only tape one thing at a time, I have to actually watch House at the same time it’s broadcast. How primitive! (Or I can try remembering to work my VCR.)

Published in: on November 18, 2004 at 2:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Drawn Together

The idea of MTV’s new series Drawn Together is a good one. It’s a fake reality show in which a range of different type of cartoon characters have to live together. Pace it like MTV’s The Real World, and you’ll have a funny and unusual relationship comedy. Pace it like a desperate-to-be-wacky cartoon sitcom, however, and you undermine the entire gag and end up with something far less interesting. Which is the route they went.

Published in: on November 18, 2004 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Baby correction

Ummm, the baby was born on Wednesday, not Thursday as earlier mentioned.

I’m firing on about three cylinders these days.

Published in: on November 18, 2004 at 1:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Nat's life goes on

My child, Allison Elizabeth Gertler, was born on Thursday. I’ll still be posting some notes. We’ll see how much I continue adding to this blog…

Published in: on November 14, 2004 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Things go away

Hawaii is already cancelled. dr. vegas is off the schedule. They’ve not ordered more episodes of Father of the Pride which requires a long lead time to create. And Commando Nanny was this year’s entry in the “killed before airtime” list. But the joyou thing of not liking too many of the new shows is that I’ve had little sense of loss…

Published in: on November 8, 2004 at 2:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Walk-Through Of The Universe

Center of the Universe, a sitcom about a grown-up family that still circles their life around one of its members, is an odd disappointment. There are some markedly talented and well-pedigreed actors in it, including most notably John Goodman, who I always want to see in likable material, plays this focus, and with Ed Asner, Jean Smart (who was amazing in Garden State) and others, you’d think even a read-through of a half-decent script would be reasoably amusing. But the odd thing is that the performance feels like a read through, as if each talented actor was trying for the first time to find meaning and rhythm in the script, and no one is sure where to stand. The gathered folk in the living room just becomes a nightmare of boring blocking.Get rid of the folks who wrote and directed this, get rid of the point of all this, and you’ll just have Jean Smart and John Goodman and how hard can it be to craft something good?

Published in: on November 8, 2004 at 2:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Ever again ALF

I was surprised to hear that TV Land has picked up ALF’s talk show as a series. I thought that the pilot they aired a few month back wasn’t too impressive, and I say that as someone who enjoys ALF in general. It’s one thing to acknowledge that there is an audience for shows that aren’t aimed at me; another altogether to think there’s an audience for shows that seem to be aimed at me but I don’t like.

And in the retro TV mode: The Lovely Lara and I took in something odd last week, a live theater version of the claasic TV game show What’s My Line?, equipped with a b-list guest panel and everything. It was a special treat for us, because the Mystery Guest was Rose Marie, of The Dick Van Dyke Show fame. In talking about what she’s up to, she mentioned that they were trying to put together a Christmas follow-up to the DVD Show reunion special of earlier this year — not a great piece of work, but far better than one might fear it would be.

Published in: on November 8, 2004 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  
%d bloggers like this: