Tuesday, October 06, 2009

champing at the bit

"Seinfeld" fans like me are ecstatic about the cast appearing on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." In the show, Larry David suddenly changes his mind about a reunion show when he thinks it will get him back together with his estranged wife Cheryl. Some of the best moments occur when Jason Alexander describes the character of George to Larry. For the uninitiated, George Costanza was based on Larry David. The HBO website has plenty to read and watch about the episodes.

I have been in a "Seinfeld" state of mind lately after seeing some episodes on TV. In the years since the series ended, I have generally avoided watching the syndicated reruns. My DVRs are always full of first-run shows to watch instead. I also keep flipping when I see a "Seinfeld" rerun on local television because the picture quality is poor. When I came across an episode on TBS recently, my remote-pushing thumb stopped dead in its tracks. The picture looked like real HD, not the stretched out garbage that I've seen on other TBS shows before. I think they zoomed in and cropped the edges but it looked a lot better than the few minutes I've seen of "Sex and the City" or "yes, dear" on the same network.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

same old, same old

Putting Jay Leno on at 10:00 p.m. solved two problems for NBC. They avoided having Leno go to ABC as Jimmy Kimmel's lead-in and they avoided paying big money for an hour-long drama each weeknight. My wife heard a radio report that almost made it sound like script writers are a thing of the past. A related story said the network was taking a big gamble on Leno.

Leno's new show started slow and then stayed that way. I liked seeing Jerry Seinfeld talk about his upcoming appearances on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" but those same comments could have been and probably will be heard on "Live with Regis & Kelly." The conversation with Kanye West was awkward at best. It's too bad that Kanye's first post-VMA-debacle appearance wasn't with a talented interviewer. Jay will have to book guests I really like to compete with whatever happens to be on my DVR.

I think the Leno show is part of the devolution of network television. The broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) will become more and more like the cable networks such as Bravo, USA and ABC Family. There will be more unscripted shows on the big networks but that doesn't necessarily mean the death knell for drama.

My prediction is that the broadcast networks will regularly use their cable channels as a farm system for the big leagues. A show like "Royal Pains" would get a chance to succeed or fail on the USA Network. If it's a hit, it might get promoted to NBC. I remember the half-hearted attempts to show "Monk" on ABC and "Dexter" on CBS. Those were only limited runs. For a popular cable show to survive the transition, it will have to cut ties with its old home.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

gifts received

The Christmas gift from my friend Bean is perfect for me. The book "Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America" by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor is filled with chapter after chapter of my favorite comedians. The first random page I opened to had a picture of the Marx Brothers on it. A second flip fell open to a photo of my radio idols, Bob & Ray. My luck held when the third page I saw had Jerry Seinfeld's picture. Thanks Bean! I'll continue to enjoy this for a long time to come.

My lovely wife was thinking of my desire to listen to more podcasts when she got a good bargain on a Sony Walkman. Not only does it hold plenty of audio, video and picture files but my friend Sandy will be interested to know that it has a built-in FM radio too. I listened to a podcast of last week's "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me" while eating dinner tonight.

My kids were thoughtful and generous with their gifts too. My son gave me Stephen Colbert's book, "I Am America (And So Can You!)," which looks like it will be a fun read. My daughter knew that the DVDs of the old "Mission: Impossible" TV series were on my wish list. She also knew that while I would probably be most interested in the episodes with Peter Graves as Jim Phelps, the completist in me would need to have season 1 with Steven Hill as Dan Briggs also. That's why she got me both the season one and season two sets. I'm watching a season two episode as I type this. I love that show. Too bad Tom Cruise defiled it with his movie version.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

this season's guilty pleasure

As the regular crowd gathers every Tuesday night in the Old City for the Einstein Simplified show, parking spaces can be at a premium, especially on nights when there's a show at Blue Cats. You probably know that I've been a member of the comedy improv group since 2002. Tonight, for the second week in a row, my wife and I were thrilled to find some TVP outside Patrick Sullivan's. TVP, or TV parking, is a term my friend Rodney Lee Conover would use to describe a parking space as close to your destination as the spaces where characters on television regularly park. Of course it would slow down the show if the characters had to waste time walking back to their car. There's a famous "Seinfeld" episode which is the exception to prove that rule.

I noticed a TVP apologist in prime time last week. The October 29th episode of "Journeyman" actually included some dialogue to explain away the too-good-to-be-true parking. As brothers Dan and Jack left a building, Dan asks Jack, "You parked in a bus stop?" Jack, a cop, replies, "Who's going to give me a ticket?" I guess the writers felt the need to include a nanosecond of realism in a show about time travel.

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Friday, December 30, 2005

she must know what I like

All my daughter wanted for her birthday was a digital camera. We sent one to her while she was away at college this past semester. After a month or so, I emailed her and asked why she hadn't sent any photos yet. Of all the things she could have sent, she responded by sending me a picture that she took during a recent trip to the Smithsonian Institution.

I think it's funny that my daughter's snapshot looks better than the photo of the Puffy Shirt on the Smithsonian website.

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