Television, Part 2: November 2006

I’m waiting in front of my bank Monday night for some bank officials to fix the ATM when I see the local ABC affiliate, WTEN-TV – Channel 10, taping a segment with some folks from an ambulance company. It took at least a half hour to get what was likely a 90-second segment. What struck me, though, was the ambulance pulling out with the siren going and the lights flashing JUST so the cameraman could get a good shot! The siren and lights came off a block later.
I’ve been enjoying the continuing saga about Tom the Dog trying to get onto a game show called 1 Vs. 100. The first and only time I’ve seen the show was for 20 minutes on CNBC on Thanksgiving night. Hey, Tom, how do those lifelines (or whatever they call them) work?
A show I HAVE seen once or twice, JEOPARDY!, finished their celebrity tournament last week – I finished watching it only yesterday – which was fun because I had strong rooting interests daily. In order:
R-rooting to win; T-thought would win, W-won
Carson Kressly R (who only lost because he bet poorly)
Regis Philbin TW
At least the dreadful Nancy Grace didn’t win

Jane Kaczmarek RT
Curt Shilling
Doug Savant W -I guess I shouldn’t underestimate someone named Savant

Sam Waterston RT
Kathyrn Erbe
Christopher Meloni W

Neil Patrick Harris TW
Bebe Neuwirth R
James Denton

Isaac Mizrahi
Harry Shearer RW
Soledad O’Brien T

Miguel Ferrer W
Steve Schirripa
Harry Smith RT

Brian Stokes Mitchell R
Drew Lachey
Dana Delany TW

Martin Short R -who was a TERRIBLE player
Mario Cantone W
Joely Fisher T

Scott Turrow TW
Susan Lucci
Paul Schaffer R

Hill Harper
Margaret Spellings
Michael McKean RTW

So two of my rooting interests – both from “Spinal Tap” – won, though I’ve always liked Dana Delany and Neil Patrick Harris as well. Five of the ten I thought would win actually won.
The folks who do the advertising rates haven’t been able to get an agreement with advertisers over how to count viewing via DVR, according to the November 13th Ad Age magazine. For adults 25 to 54 in DVR homes – comprising at least 10% of the viewers – on the prime TV battleground of Thursday at 9 pm ET, Grey’s Anatomy gets a 7.9 rating in real time, but if one adds the real time viewers PLUS those who watch it within seven days, the number jumps to 18.2. Likewise, the numbers for the original CSI are 6.2 and 14.2, respectively. For non-DVR homes, the numbers are 10.4 and 9.4, respectively. This means that viewing for this audience segment is 75% higher for Grey’s and 51% higher for CSI in DVR homes. I watch probably 95% of TV timeshifted, even the evening news, which I watch after Lydia’s gone to bed.
I saw 60 Minutes from a week and a half ago, all about Ed Bradley, and the ABC News piece on Bradley’s funeral, and got sad all over again. He was good friends with Jimmy Buffett? Makes me respect Jimmy Buffett a whole lot more.
I noticed that Elizabeth Vargas has filled in for Charles Gibson on ABC’s World News on a couple Fridays and Thanksgiving Day. I wonder if it’s awkward. If Bob Woodruff hadn’t been injured in Iraq, it’s likely he and Vargas would still be co-anchors, even with her difficult pregnancy, rather than her being the substitute anchor.
There are a number of DVDs out this fall. The most intriguing to me is M*A*S*H – Martinis and Medicine Complete Collection of the 11 seasons. This was one of my Top 10 shows. But it’s not the $200 (or slightly less) that’s the sticking point, it’s whether I would actually watch it enough to make it worth my while. I just haven’t watched most of my DVDs or VHS tapes much in the past three years. Surely, if I did, I’d also be inclined to get another of my Top 10 shows, Homicide: Life on the Street – Complete Series Megaset, which is retailing for nearly $300, though available for about half that.
I’ve been watching less and less television, still something north of 10 hours a week. But I started the season thinking: “Well, this looks interesting, and THAT looks interesting, and so-and-so recommends the other.” But the winnowing has begun, and I’m surprised by two of the dropped programs.

The one I’m not is The Nine. OK, the bank is robbed, then they get out, and live their lives. Their post-hostage lives aren’t very compelling, and I just don’t feel like being drawn back into that bank again and again, where I KNOW the guard and one of the tellers will be killed.

30 Rock: Lots of people whose opinion I respect like this show. Oddly, the best way to explain my disdain for it is to describe a scene on the OTHER Saturday Night Live-inspired show, Studio 60. Simon and Danny, at the former’s urging, go to a club to see a black comedian. Simon, who is a black performer on Studio 60, sees the schtick for less than a minute, then walks out. Watching Tracy Morgan on the second or third episode of 30 Rock doing some jivin’ riff, I said, “I don’t need this,” shut it off in mid-episode, deleted it, deleted the next yet unwatched episode, and removed it from the DVR recording schedule. I thought Tina Fey, who I really like, was pretty undefined as a character, and whatever charm Alec Baldwin brings was not enough to stay with it.

Ugly Betty: I REALLY wanted to like this show. The local TV critic likes it, Lefty likes it, Mrs. Lefty likes it. I was…bored. I think it was that I didn’t LIKE anyone on the show, really, except Betty. Her boss was a boor, her neighbor who got into a fight over a proof that Betty took home was obnoxious, her family members were cyphers. Then there are the folks we’re SUPPOSED to not like, the Vanessa Williams character, her henchman, and Betty’s office nemesis.

Conversely, my favorite show, surprisingly, is Men in Trees. It’s less because of Marin, Anne Heche’s character, who may be the least interesting major character on the show, but it’s the rich crew of supporting folks, with very interesting backstories. ABC’s moving it from the Friday night desert to Thursday after Grey’s Anatomy, at least for a while. Of course, if they move it AGAIN, as is rumored, it’ll be three time slots in one season, a good way to kill off a show.

This means that Six Degrees, which I’m still watching, is on hiatus until sometime in January. The local TV guy described this thusly: “The cast (including Jay Hernandez and Erika Christensen and several unfamiliar faces), but this series doesn’t do enough to make us care how or why these people are crossing paths.” I would say “The cast (including Hope Davis and Campbell Scott and several unfamiliar faces)…” And it is the two cast members of The Secret Lives of Dentists that have kept me interested enough, so far.
The other new show I’m watching is Brothers and Sisters. It’s a real family values program.
The youngest is an Iraq war vet with a drug issues and a problem with relationships.
Another brother is a gay lawyer with a problem with relationships.
The other brother is married, nags his baby brother, but uses the sperm from both his brothers to get his wife pregnant because he’s “shooting blanks”
Republican talk show host who supported the war, but who tried to get her brother out of going back again.
The head of the family company with a VERY patient husband and a couple kids.

The father of this tribe, who owned the company, died in the first episode, and the kids try to protect their mom from her late husband’s flaws (fiscal impropriety, a long-time mistress with whom he had a child).
Oh, the widow’s brother now has a romantic feelings for his late brother-in-law’s mistress.
Can you say soap opera? Yet, the family members do love each other, try to protect each other. I’m watching it mostly for Sally Field as the matriarch.

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