Tag Archives: NBC

Team Coco rejoyce… or not.

Somewhere in between watching my beloved Yankees lose the ALCS and watching “King of Queens” repeats, something occurred to me:  Conan O’Brien is coming to TBS.  The network placed it on the sidebars during the commercials, Craig Sager plugged it during every sporting event, and little Conan animations popped up during “House of Payne.”  The whole station just looked more orangey than usual.

This is great news for everyone who’s ever been Team Coco or better yet, anti-Leno.  Conan’s premiere on cable was to be Conan’s big redemption and revenge on the major networks that had wronged him in the past.  On top of all the hype that came with his exit from NBC and agreement with TBS, the trailers for Conan’s new show promised that the show would be EPIC.  Everyone was on the edge of their sofa’s waiting for the clock to strike 11 O’clock on Monday November 8th, 2010.

In fact, so many people were waiting and watching and clenching their pearls, that Conan trounced the competition.  Not just beating the red hot Daily Show and Colbert Report (who’s ratings last month were the highest ever for the two shows,) but also beating the big wigs of Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman and of course, the evil Jay Leno.  Point awarded to Team Coco.

But getting an audience after a much hyped premiere is easier than getting an audience on day two.  The first show was filled with F-U’s to Jay Leno and NBC, many jokes about getting fired, and funny thoughts about being on network cable.  But then, the second show was filled with the same thing… as was the second, and third show.  Conan is becoming Taylor Swift and NBC is looking like Joe Jonas.  But at this point, we get it.  You got dumped in a 27 second phone call; time to write a song about something else.

On top of weak and redundant jokes/sketches this week, the opening week guests were lack luster.  As per usual, Tom Hanks was a great guest.  I enjoyed Conan’s Wednesday bit on having the stars of basic cable stop by:  Bruce Jenner, a hoarder and the Alaskan crabs from “Deadliest Catch.”  But I could live without seeing Michael Cera and Charlyne Yi be their emo/awkward selves/characters two days in a row.  Are they really a great “get”?

We all know Conan’s potential.  We all remember the great things that came out of his NBC late night show, such as Triumph, the masturbating bear, hornymanatee.com, etc.  They are all still with Conan so as soon as he gets his sea legs over at TBS we should be able to see Conan and his characters be funny again, right?

It’s almost like when Conan got moved to 11:30, the funny in him got sucked out and now he’s got to find it again.  Hopefully, he finds it soon because the Jay Leno jokes are getting old.  The last thing we want to do is to have to watch Jay Leno to avoid hearing about Jay Leno.

I understand that not everyone comes bursting out of the gate at full speed.  Especially when you’re used to network executives breathing down your throat, so I am pulling for Conan to really pick up steam as his run continues.  I’ve already had to deal with a losing season for my Yankees (yeah yeah I know, I’m a spoiled Yankee fan, we spend a lot of money, yadda yadda yadda,) but I can’t handle another loss!  Team Coco needs to be a winning team.

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So, I’ve heard that TNT knows drama.

TNT’s slogan claims “we know drama.” With a schedule that includes a hefty dose of “Law and Order” and “CSI,” not many are likely to argue with that statement. It doesn’t get more dramatic than cop, law and investigation shows. It is for this reason that the addition of “Southland” to the TNT roster is the perfect fit.

Originally aired on NBC, “Southland” takes a gritty look at what life is like for the officers of the LAPD. Packed with suspense, action and reality; “Southland” was not the best match for the happy-go-lucky time slot of 9pm, (you know, right before Jay Leno “brought comedy” to 10pm.) When NBC pulled the plug on “Southland,” just after ordering a second season and 6 more episodes, TNT stepped in and picked it up. NBC’s loss is TNT’s gain.

“Southland” is the police version of “ER.” This is not a bad thing. I remember watching “ER” every Thursday night and wondering how these patients landed in the hospital, how the doctors will help them, if they deserve to be helped, how the doctors can stand being around each other in such intense situations and, of course, which doctors will hook-up. Similar questions pop into my head while watching “Southland.” How do these cops deal with such delinquents? Do these cops get scared? Do they ever blink or back down? Can they stand another minute in the cop car with each other? And is there a connection between coworkers?

The show’s drama is intense. The show opens with Detective Clark (Tom Everett Scott) in a hospital bed. Given Clarke’s circumstance and Officer Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) returning to work after being put on probation, there are some shake ups in the force. New partners and new assignments kick things off. In what pans out to be the best scene of the episode, Officer Chickie Brown (Arija Barekis) has to really swallow the pill that is her new partner. Besides being a pain in the ass (i.e. stopping for dry cleaning while patrolling) the man actually shoots a kid in the middle of a crowded area. The incident leads to a beautifully shot riot scene and an intensity that makes your heart race while watching it.

The show’s scenes cover a wide range of powerful moments. There are simple scenes that just remind us of people’s natural fears about cops, like when a man is pulled over for stopping at a yellow light. But there are also emotional scenes, like when a prisoner is stabbed in his “mama tried” tattoo. I found myself shaking at the end of the show from the range of emotions I experienced while watching it. And yes, I am the person that cried at the P&G commercial about mothers watching their Olympic athletes, but that should not take away from the strength of this show.

“Southland” creates intense moments, but there are gaps in the development of the characters in the ensemble. Season 2 has already done a better job of beginning the character development process than season one. We’re given a glimpse into the personal lives of the officers briefly at the end of the show and when that is delved into further, we will feel a stronger attachment to the ensemble. I look forward to seeing more of that in the next five episodes this season.

Cop shows tend to become so abundant that people feel the need to just choose one and have that be their “cop show of the week.” But with a network like TNT, why limit yourself? TNT is handing you the investigating (“CSI”), the legal process (“Law and Order”) and now, with the addition of “Southland,” you’re also getting the real nitty gritty. I guess they do know drama.

Surf dudes with attitudes… kinda groovy.

Let me take you back to 1993. It’s Brooklyn and it’s a Saturday morning around 11 a.m. An 11 year old girl is sitting on her couch, still in her pajamas, waiting until 12p.m to get dressed (I mean it is Saturday after all.) She was up at 10 to watch the Bugs and Daffy show, had breakfast at 10:30 and then heading back to the couch to watch NBC. 11 a.m was “Saved by the Bell” time. Everyone watched “Saved by the Bell” and everyone loved Zack Morris. She was no different. But after “…Bell” was over, she stayed put. There was another show she loved and another guy. The show was “California Dreams” and the guy was Sly Winkle aka Malibu’s answer to Zack Morris.

It’s been 17 years since that time. There have been numerous attempts at a “Saved by the Bell” reunion not to mention E! True Hollywood Stories, syndication and tell all books. People just cannot move on from that fantastic show (myself included.) But everyone is forgetting the show that came on after. Nobody is trying for a “California Dreams” reunion or wondering what happened behind the scenes of that show.

Until now.

In case you missed it, Jimmy Fallon reunited the cast on Thursday night. The entire cast showed up, said what they were up to and performed the opening theme song. People went crazy for this reunion. Kudos to Jimmy Fallon and their entire staff- it was an original and exciting reunion. The Fallon crew knows exactly what audience they are targeting and guess what? It’s working. My vote for the next reunion… Hang Time.  Anyone… anyone… “Hang Time?” Well whether you loved Saturday morning NBC television in the early 90’s or not, here is the “California Dreams” reunion. And may I just say, Sly Winkle still has it.

Watching this makes me feel 11 years old again. BABOOM!

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Don’t tweet about hating Parenthood just yet.

If you turned on the Olympics at any point these past two weeks, you must have caught an ad for NBC’s newest show, “Parenthood.”  The commercials for it ran constantly.  So often that when the Olympics ended my friend tweeted “Remember, Parenthood airs on Tuesday.  #olympicmemories.”  (Is there anything more enjoyable than passive aggressive tweets against network TV?)  Well, when Tuesday night rolled around, as promised over and over again by NBC, “Parenthood” premiered.

The concept of the show is exactly how it was portrayed during its massive advertising.  It’s about being a parent, wanting the best but dealing with the worst and how to handle it.  While the kids on the show are an intricate part of the storyline, the focus is (not surprisingly) on the parents.  We look at how it makes a parent feel when the child is being pressured, bullied, rebelling, retreating or sick.  A typical primetime show will focus on the relationship between the parent and the child; how they both feel.  “The Parenthood” centers on mainly the parent’s emotions and struggles.  It takes on an interesting perspective.

Most of the parents on this show are siblings (with a few spouses mixed in) and their parents are played by Craig T. Nelson (who you may remember from one of my all-time favorite sitcoms, “Coach”) and Bonnie Bedelia.  Nelson plays Zeke, the more intervening, dominant parent. His relationship with son Adam is brought to the forefront immediately.  Adam, played by Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) seems to have the most heart wrenching story line in the pilot episode.  After trying to keep his overbearing father from meddling with his parenting decisions with son Max, (played by Max Burkholder) he learns that Max’s struggles to be normal are being caused by more than just outside pressure.  Max is diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.  In a scene outside Adam’s niece’s chorus concert, Zeke demands that Max comes into the concert and attends with everyone else.  Adam then defends his son, saying he will not be able to attend if the candles are present so they will remain outside.  Adam and Zeke butt heads on this issue until Adam breaks down and admits his son is sick.  He requests his father’s help and already in the first episode, we realize that the father-son relationship is very powerful.

The show has a few sappy moments that can over power the interesting stories that are happening.  The constant celebratory family dinners are forced and the family bonding at the end of the episode, in celebration of Max wanting to play baseball suddenly, is a bit nauseating.  There are also characters that are bland and cliché, such as Crosby, played by Dax Shepard (“Punk’d.)  Must there always be a fear of commitment/womanizer on every show?  (Is there even one in every family?)

For a pilot episode, it was surprisingly emotional.  Most shows take longer to develop that kind of attachment from their audience, but this show hits home quickly.  The clips for future episodes seemed much more intriguing than the pilot episode; causing a viewer to get sucked in.  If the show can continue to deal with real-life parental issues, and stay away from the easy sugar-coated family sitcoms that we have all grown tired with, the potential to be great is there.

Initially, I wanted to dislike this show.  I wanted to come onto my blog and say that even Ron Howard and Brian Grazer couldn’t get me behind this show.  I didn’t want to enjoy a show that NBC was forcing down my throat while I was trying to enjoy a simple game of curling.  I even wanted to write a tweet about how bad this show was… well, thank goodness Twitter has a delete button.

The Marriage Ref gets TKO’d

I am a big fan of stand-up comedy.  I’m pretty knowledgeable about it, I work with stand-up comedians and I even dabbled in it a bit myself.  I’d like to think that I know what I’m talking about when I say that stand-up comedy is very similar to boxing.  You get in the ring, put your all into the punch you throw and hope it connects.  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.  The great boxers have mastered the art,  can almost always land their punches and get a knockout.  But don’t let that fool you.  Even the great ones miss a punch from time to time.  The same rules go for comedians.  The hilarious Kevin James made “Mall Cop,” the always funny Rob Corddry made “the Winner” (anybody remember that show?) and even the great Chris Rock made “I think I love my Wife.”  Sometimes, your punch just doesn’t connect.  That doesn’t change the fact that you’re still a great comedian.

I have never in my life seen Jerry Seinfeld throw a punch that couldn’t connect.  He is one of the funniest, smartest, most talented men to ever grace stand-up comedy and the entertainment business.  His documentary, Comedian, was an enlightening look at the work behind the funny and even post-Seinfeld; he’s been nearly perfect with his endeavors.  So, it wasn’t a bad move on NBC’s part to hand him his own show, that he produces and makes with his friends in the industry.  He’s the champ, right?  When does Jerry Seinfeld miss a punch?  Don’t be fooled.  Everybody misses a punch.

“The Marriage Ref” is a concept that, according to the opening to the show, Seinfeld came up with when he got into a fight with his wife one night.  Rather than letting his guests leave and hashing it out, he decided to let his friend stay and be the referee in their fight.  Each side stated their point, and a winner was chosen.  Seinfeld took this notion and turned it into the television show that NBC is now banking on to fill the time slot that “ER” left behind.

Seinfeld, along with a few celebrities and his friend/fellow stand-up comedian, Tom Papa (who you may remember from the shot lived NBC sitcom, “Come to Papa”) take real life couples’ arguments, listen to both sides, and make a decision.  The group decides who the winner of the fight is.  It is never said whether or not the couple follows this celebrity panel’s decision on their marriage.  There is no follow-up after the winner is announced and there is no guarantee that the fight is over.  But nonetheless, a decision is made and the fight suddenly has a winner or loser.

In the first episode (which debuted to high ratings thanks to the Olympic closing ceremonies) we meet two couples.  The first couple is the Radolphis from Long Island.  Kevin and Danielle (don’t act like you didn’t just giggle thinking of the Jonas Brother and his wife…. No?  Oh.) are soul-mates.  The only riff in their perfect life stems from Kevin’s wacky way of memorializing his favorite pet dog:  it’s stuffed.  He would like to keep it on display in the living room, but she “can’t.”  She repeats the fact that she “can’t” over and over again, giving much fuel to host Tom Papa.  The case is brought to Mr. Seinfeld (who broke up a marriage after only 4 weeks), Alec Baldwin (who had a notoriously bitter divorce) and Kelly Ripa (no beef with her marriage, it seems perfect.  No really, it does.  Have you seen those Electrolux commercials?  What a life!)  So… three random celebrities that have no reason to be giving anyone else advice…  what do you say?  The wife wins.  Yay?

The second couple is dealt with pretty much the same way, only their issue is that the husband wants a stripper pole instead of a stuffed dead dog.  When I say this couple is dealt with in the same way, I mean even the jokes are repeated.  The way Danielle from our first couple kept repeating “I can’t,” Diana from this second said the line “what is it,” and host Tom Papa decided to replay that line over and over again, thus making it a similar bit to the “I can’t” repetition.  The couple’s case is brought to the celebrity panel and, again, the vote is in favor of the wife.  Woo?

The problem with the show is that when you attach a name like Jerry Seinfeld you expect knee slapping funny.  Unfortunately, the show is so basic, that it rarely allows Seinfeld the chance to play off the couples or the celebrity panel.  He says his response and hardly has a chance to offer up funny wisdom.  It’s not as bad as when the cast of “the View,” talks over each other; it’s more organized than that.   But, it is hard to get a joke in when all of the funny points have already been pointed out by the host and the rest of the celebrity panel members.  Aside from Seinfeld struggling to get his jokes in, Papa who I have seen live and find extremely entertaining, is very clean cut and toned down for network TV.  The laughter by the panelists seems forced and the random cameos by Natalie Morales and Marv Albert are just random.  Actually those appearances may just be the most laugh out loud thing about the show.

The real appeal of the show is the celebrity panel.  While this episode’s was on the weak side, we’ve been teased with future appearances from Larry David, Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Madonna.  But is a celebrity’s opinion on some one else’s marriage, worth your 10p.m. slot on Thursdays?  My guess is no.  I’ll catch that same celebrity when they are the guest judge on “Project Runway” or make an appearance on “Burn Notice.”

Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield eventually experienced a knock out in their careers.  Unfortunately for Mr. Seinfeld, he seems to be headed towards one too.  He better start landing some punches and making us laugh, or else he’ll have his first TKO.