Tag Archives: television

TV Show: The Andy Griffith Show

Everyone has a favorite episode. Mine is "My Fair Ernest T. Bass," in which Andy tries to change the wild Ernest T. into a presentable gentleman. The mountain man courts the lovely "Romeena" and says to the hostess, "How dew you dew Miss-us Wi-lee?" Uploaded by tvsquad.com.

Start with Barney Fife, only the best sitcom character ever. Add the sweetness of Aunt Bea, the innocence of Opie, the absentmindedness of Floyd, the foolishness of Gomer and Goober, and you get — well, you get the most grounded, most heartwarming sitcom in TV history.

Of course, the show would have gone nowhere without the down-home wisdom and  ever-genial personality of Andy Griffith. A native of nearby Mt. Airy, NC (which styles itself as the model for Mayberry), Andy is the father/friend we all wish we had. I know he later played Matlock, but I don’t think of them as the same person. I think Andy’s dad came along to play that role.

Uploaded by kansasmediocrity.wordpress.com.

Everyone has a favorite episode of the show. Mine is My Fair Ernest T. Bass, in which Andy tries to change the wild Ernest T. into a presentable gentleman. The mountain man courts the lovely “Romeena” and says to the hostess, “How dew you dew Miss-us Wi-lee?” Hard to believe, but Ernest T. only appeared in five episodes of the series.

Wait — I think I hear the theme song being whistled. Time to catch another episode. Maybe I’ll hear Ernest T. wail, “She called me a creachter!”

Originally posted April 20, 2009.

TV Show: Hill Street Blues


Its first season, Hill Street Blues received poor ratings. But then it received 21 Emmy nominations. It didn't have rating problems again. Uploaded by dvdtimes.co.uk.

From the moment the great Mike Post theme song came on, you knew you were going to see a different kind of show. Hill Street Blues wasn’t just a great cop show, it created the template for ensemble dramas to come. So N.Y.P.D. Blue, E.R., L.A. Law, St. Elsewhere – the least you can do is send Hill Street Blues a Christmas card each year.

Uploaded by peterjurasik.com.

HSB ran on NBC from 1981 to 1987. Most episodes began at roll call, when Sgt. Phil Esterhaus would admonish his team, “Hey, let’s be careful out there.” The show usually went through a day in the lives of officers at a single precinct in an unnamed Midwest city. The language was gritty, as realistic as TV would allow at the time. And like most successful shows, the casting was outstanding, no small feat considering that the cast consisted of 15 or 16 regulars each season.

This is one of those times when network executives rewarded quality in spite of low ratings. The show’s first season would normally have let to cancellation, but NBC renewed it for a second season. Or at least, for 10 episodes of a second season. One factor that may have rescued the run is that it dominated the Emmy Awards. People wanted to know what was this program that got a record 21 Emmy nominations, and won eight. They tuned in, the ratings rose, and we got to have 132 episodes of the Blues.

TV Show: House M.D.

He's a drug-addicted, misanthropic perfectionist. Which makes him the most interesting doctor in television history. Uploaded by wallpaperweb.org.

You have to admire any show that defies the stereotypes, and House accomplishes what many would have thought impossible – making the lead character a thoroughly rude and unlikable doctor. Gregory House’s mission is to “diagnoses the undiagnosable” – while being one of the biggest egomaniacs in television history.

It’s a great premise, and Hugh Laurie brings it to life brilliantly. He was unable to try out for the part in person because he was in Namibia filming a movie. So he made an audition tape in the hotel bathroom (the only place with enough light) and sent it to the producers. They were taken right away with this “quintessentially American person,” only to learn later that he was, in fact, British. Laurie credits his American accent to “a misspent youth watching too much TV and too many movies.”

Uploaded by house.download-tvshows.com.

House is not only given a physical handicap in the show, but is also addicted to Vicodin. He takes only the cases he finds interesting, much to the chagrin of hospital administration and fellow doctors. And he comes within a breath of killing all his patients (who he treats with general disdain) before finally finding the amazing cure at the last moment.

House M.D. premiered in 2004, and has been a consistent favorite of both fans and critics ever since. It has been a top 10 show for several seasons, and a top 20 show the rest of the time. And it’s been the most-watched show on the Fox network.

Aside from American Idol, of course. As Dr. House said, “I’ve got to start pretending to care.”

Kid Stuff: Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

Fred put on his cardigan and changed into his sneakers for 895 episodes spanning parts of five decades. Uploaded by pre.cloudfront.goodinc.com.

The changing of the shoes. The putting on of the sweater. The singing of the theme song. All these images are part of our cultural history – the sweater is now in the Smithsonian. But what we all remember most about Fred Rogers is his gentle and patient spirit, which made his show a safe place for kids to visit.

Uploaded by cjmorgantraining.com.

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (originally Misterogers’ Neighborhood) originated in Pittsburgh, and appeared on television from 1968 to 2001. PBS broadcast all but the first couple of seasons, which originated on the defunct National Education Television network.

Rogers wrote the theme “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” in 1967, and sang it to his audience as he changed his suit and shoes for 895 episodes. Wouldn’t you like to hear it just one more time? Take it away, Fred:

TV Show: 60 Minutes

The longest running prime time show in America. Uploaded by newvaluestream.com.

The longest running prime time show in America. Uploaded by newvaluestream.com.

It’s hard to believe that this show has been on the air for 41 years! It’s currently the longest-running prime time TV program. To give you an idea of how amazing that is, the lead story that first night (Sept. 24, 1968) was a behind-the-scenes look at the convention suites of the presidential candidates. Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. Whoa.

The current (I think) line-up of hosts. Uploaded by zap2it.com.

The current (I think) line-up of hosts. Uploaded by zap2it.com.

Now you need a scorecard to keep up with all the hosts, but that first night featured Mike Wallace and Harry Reasoner. Morley Safer came in 1970. Here are the others who’ve been hosts (more than this have been correspondents). See how many you’ve forgotten: Christiane Amanpour, Ed Bradley, Steve Kroft, Scott Pelley, Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer, Bob Simon, Lesley Stahl, and Meredith Vieira.

It used to scare the wits out of people when Mike Wallace would show up at their door unannounced. Sometimes people turned him away, which was good TV, but more often they thought they could outsmart him, which was even better TV. The show was much more about investigative journalism in its early years, and is more feature oriented today. But then, isn’t that true of the whole news business?

One of the popular early segments featured conservative James Kilpatrick and liberal Shana Alexander debated issues in a format that probably gave other network shows a format for debate, notably Crossfire. It led to one of the earliest hit parodies on Saturday Night Live, with Dan Ackroyd telling Jane Curtin, “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

And no discussion of 60 Minutes would be complete without a few minutes with Andy Rooney:

TV Show: The Twilight Zone

William Shatner from a classic Twilight Zone episode. Uploaded by greenballoon.net.

William Shatner in a classic Twilight Zone episode. Uploaded by greenballoon.net.

Offered for your consideration. A blog post about a classic TV show. An introduction in clipped tones you can still hear after all these years. A post that you might pass by without noticing. But not this time. Not today. Because this blog post has just brought you into…The Twilight Zone.

Think how conventional and conformist America was during the 50s. Then imagine the impact when The Twilight Zone arrived in 1959. In a sense, though, it came along at the perfect time, during an era in which Americans were fascinated with robots, space travel, and UFOs. Rod Serling captured that mindset perfectly in his series, which ran for five seasons.

Uploaded by 3.bp.blogspot.com.

Uploaded by 3.bp.blogspot.com.

Serling contributed most of the scripts – 92 of the show’s 156 episodes, but other famous writers pitched in as well. Earl Hamner, Jr. of The Waltons fame, Harlan Ellison, and Ray Bradbury contributed to the anthology series. And look at some of the actors who appeared on the show, many before they became famous: Lee Marvin, William Shatner, Carol Burnett, Robert Duvall, Robert Redford, Dennis Hopper, and Charles Bronson.

Most of the episodes used a classic short story technique of misdirection. Serling would set you up with a premise, then knock you down with a twist.

The iconic atonal guitar and bongos theme didn’t become part of the series until the second season. And Serling changed the introduction every year till the last, when he must have liked season four’s intro well enough to keep it: You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into the land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas; you’ve just crossed over into The Twilight Zone. Today’s video shows that prelude and a classic Serling introduction:

TV Show: Seinfeld

The Seinfeld gang. Uploaded by fxuk.com.

The Seinfeld gang. Uploaded by fxuk.com.

Seinfeld is one of only three shows that went off the air while still number one in the ratings (The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy). Who knows how long a “show about nothing” could have continued its run?

All it takes is a few words or a catchphrase to bring back an entire episode. “Yada, yada, yada”…”The puffy shirt”…”The contest”…”No soup for you!”…”Art Vandelay”…”Maybe the dingo ate your baby”…”Hello, Newman”…”Festivus”… “The mansiere”…”Bizarro Jerry”…”Man hands”.

I had to stop myself. Seinfeld captured the zeitgeist of a generation, and took off after a slow start to become can’t miss TV. Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer were people we knew – or at least, people we believed really existed.We knew that if we made it to the Upper West Side in New York, we’e probably run into them on the street.

Flickr photo uploaded by popartdks.

Flickr photo uploaded by popartdks.

The show stayed on for nine seasons, from 1989 through 1998. It wasn’t a show about “nothing,” but about the minor turbulence of daily life, like waiting in line at the movie theater and renting a car that had an odor.

Almost as funny as the four leads were the minor characters who moved through the Seinfeld landscape. Pardon another list, but it’s just fun to remember Jerry’s and George’s parents, Newman, J. Peterman, Kenny Bania, David Puddy, and Jackie Chiles.

All right, before we get to the video, here’s my favorite quote from the show:

GEORGE: That’s pie country. They do a lot of baking up there. JERRY: They sell them by the side of the road. Blueberry blackberry. GEORGE: Blackberry boysenberry. JERRY: Boysenberry huckleberry. GEORGE: Huckleberry raspberry. JERRY: Raspberry strawberry. GEORGE: Strawberry cranberry. JERRY: (pause) Peach.

Kid Stuff: Superman

Uploaded by Xurble

Uploaded by Xurble

“Faster than a speeding bullet…More powerful than a locomotive…Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Everyone knows that was the opening to Adventures of Superman, the TV series that ran from 1952-58. Although Superman came to this planet involuntarily, he clearly belongs on our list for preserving “truth, justice, and the American way.”

Superman made his first comic book appearance in Action Comics #1 in June, 1938. (By the way, if you happen to have an original one up in your attic, I’ll be happy to buy it from you for, oh, say $20. I want to be fair.) The Man of Steel was an instant hit, becoming a daily strip the following year, and a popular radio program the year after that. It was on the radio series that cub reporter Jimmy Olsen and Kryptonite were introduced.

George Reeves portrayed Superman in the TV series, filmed in black and white the first two seasons and in color the final four. The tone of the series seemed to shift with its color, from an almost film noir look with lots of action and violence to a softer series with caricatured villains and an almost campy humor.

Uploaded by carola hoo

Uploaded by carola hoo

After years in the cultural background, Superman came to the fore again thanks to the movies starring Christopher Reeve. Reeve starred in four films about the Kryptonian, the first two of which were quite good.

Since those years, Superman has been featured in another TV series, this one starring Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher. He’s still to be found saving the planet in continuing comic books, as well as in the adventures of others (Supergirl, e.g.).

Will there ever be a better opening to a television series than this:

TV Show: I Love Lucy

uploaded by rightyblog.com

uploaded by rightyblog.com

Do you realize many of these episodes are nearly 60 years old? And yet they’re still funny, still relevant, because they create a group of friends we believe are real. Ricky really does put on shows. Fred and Ethel actually do live upstairs and hang around the apartment.

And Lucy. Our brilliant, scheming,  wonderful Lucy. She knew her strengths, and used them perfectly. Whether she was angling to get into show business, or buying a freezer with 700 pounds of beef, or stomping grapes at an Italian winery, she used her gift for physical comedy that had America in the palm of her hand.

I Love Lucy is one of only three shows (The Andy Griffith Show and Seinfeld are the others) to go out while still number one in the ratings. Even now, the show is syndicated and watched by millions. Old/young, rich/poor, red state/blue state, we don’t see eye to eye on much. But there’s one thing we all agree about.

We all love Lucy.

Actors: The Three Stooges

Photo courtesy of Flickr, posted by artiefacts.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, posted by artiefacts.

Moe. Larry. And Shemp. And Curly. And Shemp again. And Joe Besser. And Curly Joe. The makeup of the Three Stooges evolved, as did their career through vaudeville, to movie shorts, to feature films, to television, to animation.

Some people think the Stooges are a guy thing. And it certainly seems true that men find them funnier than women. (Uh, I mean men find them funnier than women do.) They were masters of slapstick, and were among America’s highest paid entertainers later in their career.

Now it’s reported that the Farrelly brothers (There’s Something About Mary) are planning a new Three Stooges movie. All you need to know is that Sean Penn is scheduled to play Larry, and Jim Carrey will be Curly. If the movie is funny, it’ll be a first for the Farrelly brothers.

Nyuk nyuk nyuk.