To TV or Not to TV??

Okay, so…y’all know I’m not above borrowing a concept I’ve seen on social media and putting my own special spin on it for The Manoverse. This time the inspiration comes not from Pinterest but from Facebook. A former co-worker of mine posted it, and basically one is supposed to just indicate which of these television shows we’ve seen more than ten episodes of with a lil heart emoji. That’s a cool idea, but I think I can improve upon it with pithy comments and my own unique wit. I don’t watch as much television as I used to, and this exercise not only proves that but shows exactly why. Enjoy.

 

 

 

My 600LB Life

I’ve been overweight my entire life. There are legit reasons for that (the main one being that I really like food), and so I sympathize with the struggle of others. But no…I have no desire to watch a reality show about the topic and be “entertained” by other peoples’ problems.

  

911

I don’t know…is this another reality show?? Does it follow first responders to 911 calls?? Or is it a fictional show built around such situations?? Either way, I am not entertained by such things.

  

13 Reasons Why

I remember hearing about the show. Something about teen suicide. No thanks. I’m not a teenager and have no teens in my family. If it’s a good show with an educational message that can positively impact the lives of young viewers that’s great, but it’s not for me.

 

 

A Million Little Things

Almost. I nearly got sucked into this ensemble drama because the ads had a very This Is Us kind of vibe and I am familiar with some in the cast. However, I chose not to become interested because I knew it’d be the kind of show that demands a heavy emotional commitment and that’s just not where I am in my life right now.

  

American Horror Story

Nah…horror just isn’t my thing.

  

Angel

Wasn’t it a spinoff from Buffy the Vampire Slayer?? I didn’t watch the first show, so no…I didn’t care about the spinoff.

 

 Bates Motel

I assume it is loosely based on Psycho?? Once again…not my cup o’ tea. I prefer to laugh.

  

Bitten

I have no idea. It’s either about snakes or vampires. Either way I have zero interest.

  

The Blacklist

I dig James Spader. He’s quirky…kind of a knockoff Jeff Goldblum. But spies & intrigue & the whole “let’s rip off Hannibal Lechter” vibe I got when previews of the show first aired a few years ago just don’t frost my cupcake.

 

 

Bloodline

No idea

 

 Blue Bloods

Tom Selleck is cool, but police procedurals rarely interest me and I’ve never watched a single episode.

  

Bones

I don’t even know what the show is about.

 

Breaking Bad

I see it constantly lauded as one of the best TV shows of the 21st century, but I never understood the popularity of a story about a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a drug dealer.

  

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Nope. Vampires. Zombies. Werewolves. I don’t find any of it the least bit interesting.

 

Californication

Wasn’t that a Red Hot Chili Peppers album??

  

Castle

No…just…no.

 

Castle Rock

I assume it is somehow connected to or inspired by Stephen King?? I don’t know. I’ve enjoyed some of King’s books, but have no interest in a TV show.

 

 

Catfish

I enjoy eating catfish, but knowing what the word means outside of that I don’t believe the show would interest me.

 

 Chicago Fire / Chicago Med / Chicago P.D.

I vaguely recall watching an episode or two of one of these shows…not sure which one. But again…medical dramas & police procedurals have never been something I enjoyed all that much.

  

Criminal Minds

Nope

  

Dexter

I’ve heard people say it’s a good show, but a serial killer?? I’m telling y’all…I need to laugh!!

  

Dr. Pimple Popper

Eww. Is it a medical thing?? A kiddie show?? I have no clue, and I don’t care to know.

 

 Dr Who

I have several friends who really dig Dr. Who, and it seems like the kind of nerdvana that I should be into. It is my understanding that there’s time travel involved, which is cool. But here’s the thing…the original incarnation of Dr. Who premiered a decade before I was even born, and it was a British show. By the time it was revived and available in America (16 years after it had originally ended) I already had preconceived notions and never even thought of checking it out. Don’t misunderstand…people can change and should be flexible. However, I think by the time we are in our 30s the die is cast as far as what kinds of entertainment…TV, music, books, movies…we tend to gravitate toward, and Dr. Who seems to have come along both too early and too late for me.

 

 

Empire

I hadn’t given a second thought to Empire until last year when that idiot actor was in the news for faking an attack on himself. That whole story makes me thrice as glad that I never watched.

  

ER

Once upon a time it was thought to be the best show on television. It launched George Clooney into superstardom and jumpstarted the careers of several others. But it’s a hospital drama, and I don’t do hospital shows. I did watch a handful of episodes in the course of the dozen seasons ER was on the air, and it was a well written program with a top notch cast, but it’s just not my thing.

  

Family Guy

There was a time in my life when Family Guy might have been right up my alley, but apparently by the time the show premiered in 1999 that time had passed. I’m probably missing out on something I’d enjoy, but it seems a bit late in the game to give a rat’s petoot now.

 

 

Friends

Yes yes yes…I loved Friends and still watch the occasional rerun. I am amused by things I read about how offensive Friends is to millennials. I suppose GenX wasn’t all that woke back in the day, and that’s fine by me. We know how to chill out & have some fun without getting offended by every damn thing.

 

 

Fuller House

Yes…I like Fuller House. There, I said it!! Is the acting bad & the storylines cheesy?? Sure. But that’s okay. Not everything has to be award-winning, ripped from the headlines, or deep & meaningful. Pointless fun is alright on occasion.

 

 

Game of Thrones

I tried to read the first book in the Game of Thrones series and made it less than ten pages before realizing that I’d rather take a nap, therefore I never even bothered with the television show.

 

 

 

Gossip Girl

Nah…cause I’m a dude.

 

 

Ghost Adventures

I just can’t get into anything ghost related. I don’t find it compelling entertainment.

 

 

Grey’s Anatomy

I actually did watch the first season…maybe two…of Grey’s Anatomy. It was good…and I’m sure it still is 15 years later. But I drifted away early on and just never got back into it.

 

 

Gilmore Girls

Nah…I don’t think I was the target demo for that show.

 

 

Glee

No, because I have taste. I always imagined Glee as kind of the love child of Cop Rock & Beverly Hills 90210.

 

 

Hart of Dixie

Never heard of it.

 

 

Hawaii Five-0

I assume we are talking about the reboot that premiered in 2010 and not the original that aired in the 1970’s. In that case, yes I watched the first season of the new show, but after that lost interest and have no idea what’s been happening the past 8 or 9 years.

 

 

 

House of Cards

Surprisingly enough, no…I’ve never seen a single episode. I don’t care what the PC Police say…Kevin Spacey is freakin’ brilliant, so I’m not sure why I never bothered with this particular show.

 

 

House

Nope. I’ve been told that I’d enjoy it. I’m not sure if that’s because the main character is loosely based on Sherlock Holmes (who I adore), or because he is a grumpy old curmudgeon (which I am too), but for some reason the show was recommended to me more than once. Unfortunately, my aversion to medical dramas is like a shield on a starship that’s only down every once in a great while.

 

 

How I Met Your Mother

Oh boy…where do I begin?? I LOVED HIMYM. It was right up there on par with Friends. I love a good mystery so I was highly invested, especially in the last few seasons. But then came one of the worst final episodes in television history. After finally meeting The Mother (portrayed by the enchanting Cristin Milioti) toward the end of the series we are given a quick fast forward with the highlights of Ted & Tracy’s relationship, ultimately finding out that in the “present” day of 2030 (when the framing device is set) The Mother is dead and Ted is ready to revisit his long dormant relationship with former flame Robin. Oh yes…Robin. HIMYM spent the last few seasons building up an unlikely romance & eventual marriage between Robin and lecherous Barney Stinson, only to throw it all away in a “blink & you’ll miss it” hot second in the finale. All the character growth that we experienced with Barney is flippantly discarded when Barney & Robin divorce and he embarks on a quest to sleep with 31 women in the space of a month, a plan that goes awry when the final conquest gets pregnant. Look, I’m a sucker for happy endings, but I also know that life doesn’t work like that. To some degree I almost understand what the show’s creators were going for. My father always says that death is part of life, so writing that aspect into the show would be understandable…except for the fact that HIMYM is a freakin’ half hour sitcom. We don’t need deep & meaningful. Just give us our damn happy ending…Ted & Tracy and Barney & Robin all live happily ever after. But nnnnooooooo…they couldn’t do that!! I swore in the immediate aftermath of the finale in 2014 that I would never watch a rerun of the show, and for six years I’ve kept that vow.

 

How to Get Away with Murder

Not the least bit interested.

 

I Zombie

Is that like an iPhone for dead people?? I don’t know.

 

 

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I’ve read alot of comments about it thru the years, but have never given it a whirl. The cast looks top notch (I rather enjoy Danny DeVito’s work), but it’s just something I’ve never given a chance, probably to my detriment.

 

 

Law & Order SVU

Nope. I’ve never watched any of the Law & Order shows. I mean really…why the hell would I be entertained by a program with the word “victims” right in the title??

 

 

Lost Girl

I mean, I hope they find her…but no.

 

 

Making A Murderer

Our culture’s fascination with killing & death mystifies me.

 

 

Manifest

Isn’t that one of those Lost knockoffs that the network will lose patience with and cancel, leaving fans with no resolution?? No thanks. That’s one of the reasons I’m so hesitant to become invested in much on television nowadays.

 

 Mom

Sorry, but I just don’t understand how generational substance abuse can be sitcom fodder.

 

Nailed It

Is it one of those home improvement/renovation shows on HGTV?? I honestly don’t know.

 

NCIS / NCIS New Orleans / NCIS Los Angeles

Nope. Just like the Law & Order shows and the CSI shows the whole NCIS thing has never frosted my cupcake.

 

 

New Girl

I’d love to meet a new gal. Hell, I’d like to meet any gal (within acceptable parameters). But in real life…not on television.

 

Once Upon a Time

In a land far, far away…

I have no idea.

 

One Tree Hill

I was really into One Tree Hill for 2 or 3 seasons. It reminded me of Dawson’s Creek, which is meant as a compliment. Unfortunately, TV shows about high school students tend to grow stale when the characters graduate, and I have no idea what went on with the show in its last half dozen years.

 

 

Orange is the New Black

Women in prison. No thanks. And please don’t take that as a sexist remark. I have no interest in any kind of show centered around prison.

 

Ozark

Never heard of it.

 

Parenthood

In 1988 there was a film called Parenthood with an all-star cast…Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Keanu Reeves, Rick Moranis, & a very young Joaquin Phoenix, all directed by Ron Howard. It was a good flick that garnered two Academy Award nominations: Best Song (Randy Newman) and Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest). In 1990 Parenthood was adapted for television with the same characters but a whole new cast, including David Arquette, Ed Begley Jr., Thora Birch, & a young Leonardo DiCaprio (portraying the character played by Phoenix in the film). That show only lasted for one season, which is a shame because it wasn’t bad. Then in 2010 NBC decided to revive the general concept of Parenthood, albeit with a whole new set of characters and a more 21st century angsty kind of vibe. I really liked the original film, and enjoyed the first TV show, but by the time the second show came about I was almost 40 years old and not all that entertained by angst anymore. I have enough anxiety & torment in my real life…I’m not amused by it in movies or on television. The cast (Craig T. Nelson, Bonnie Bedelia, Monica Potter, Peter Krause, Lauren Graham) was terrific, and I did watch a few episodes in the course of six seasons, but it was never something I was going to invest in completely.

 

Pretty Little Liars

I don’t think I’m the target demo, and that’s fine with me.

 

Reign

I have no clue. I’m guessing there are dragons, swords, & kings battling over…whatever it is that they battle over. Those kinds of stories can make interesting books, but they don’t seem to translate well to television.

 

Riverdale

On the surface a live action, soapy reimagining of the comics starring Archie, Veronica, Jughead, & Betty sounds intriguing, and perhaps if I’d known about it before its launch a few years ago I may have checked it out. Alas, I had no idea it existed for two years because it’s on The CW, and let’s be honest…most of us forget The CW exists because they do a terrible job of promoting their network and its TV shows. So now we are four seasons in and the ship has likely sailed.

 

Roseanne / The Conners

I didn’t care for the original incarnation of Roseanne back in the 90’s, and a couldn’t possibly care less about the reboot that launched a couple of years ago, despite the titular star bucking the Hollywood lockstep and “coming out” as a Trump supporter. I wasn’t going to get sucked into that tug-of-war. Like everyone else I had my opinions when Roseanne Barr was fired from her own show for a completely innocuous tweet, and that debacle just reinforced my lack of interest in the whole thing.

 

 

Santa Clarita Diet

I’ve battled weight issues my entire life, to the point that I’ve kind of given up. Diets just don’t seem to work for me. I’m almost certain that the show has zero to do with food or weight loss, but I have absolutely no desire to research what it is about, what channel it’s on, or who it stars.

Scandal

If I was going to get into a political soap opera I probably would have chosen House of Cards, but I chose neither. I think the truth is that The West Wing spoiled all political dramas for me because nothing can ever live up to that level of greatness.

 

Secret Life of the American Teenager

Okay…confession time. I actually watched this show for a bit during its first season in 2008. It’s from the same folks who’d created 7th Heaven, a show that I loved in the late 90’s thru its decade long run that ended shortly before Secret Life premiered. The two programs shared a similar vibe, and I was drawn in by the cast, which included 80’s Brat Pack queen Molly Ringwald (as a Mom!!). But I quickly lost interest somewhere in the midst of the second season.

 

Shameless

That was a really underrated song released by Billy Joel in the late 80’s, with a popular cover performed by Garth Brooks a few years later. Oh…it’s a television show too?? I had no idea.

 

 

Sons of Anarchy

That’d be an excellent name for a wrestling tag team. As far as the television show goes, I’ve never seen it and have no plans for that to change.

 

Stranger Things

I’ve heard good things. I had every intention of checking it out. But now, with the show preparing to release its fourth season, I am 24 hour long episodes behind and that just seems like too big of a mountain to climb at this point. Never say never though…maybe I’ll get into it long after it’s over, which isn’t my normal modus operandi.

 

Station 19

I have no idea.

 

South Park

I gave South Park a whirl back in the day, believing it to be a worthy heir to the throne abdicated by Beavis & Butt-Head. I suppose my entertainment palate matured just a bit in those years, so I quickly lost interest.

 

Supernatural

I used to believe I was a sci-fi fan, but I’ve come to realize that I am very selective about the kind of sci-fi in which I invest my time, and Supernatural just didn’t make the cut.

 

Teen Mom

Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t believe that teenage pregnancy is appropriate fodder for reality television. I am not a fan of reality TV in the first place, and shows like this are among the worst offenders. I don’t understand people who are entertained by the very real & difficult circumstances of others.

 

The 100

100 what?? I need more information.

 

The Tudors

The only Tudors I care about is Tudor’s Biscuit World, home of The Thundering Herd, a delicious breakfast biscuit with scrambled egg, cheese, sausage, & a hash brown.

 

 

The Big Bang Theory

Yes, yes, yes!! I LOVED The Big Bang Theory. I faithfully watched new episodes for a dozen seasons on CBS, and for the past several years reruns on TBS a few nights a week for 2 or 3 hours at a time helped fill some lonely nights for me. I was sad when CBS cancelled the show, but if I’m being honest the quality of the writing had dipped noticeably in the final few seasons. The finale was well done, and surprisingly I haven’t been all that interested in the TBS reruns since last spring.

 

The Fosters

Is it on Freeform?? I believe it’s on Freeform, and for me Freeform is a place to watch old movies, especially during the Christmas season. It is not a channel I click on for original programming.

 

The Good Doctor

Okay…so he’s a doctor, but he’s autistic. That’s nice. But it’s yet another medical drama, and I just can’t do it. I nearly gave it a shot only because of the presence of Richard Schiff in the cast. Back in the day Schiff brilliantly portrayed Toby Ziegler on The West Wing, and I loved that show. But at the end of the day I decided to leave the memories alone and pass on The Good Doctor.

 

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

I know very little about the show, but from what I’ve been able to glean it seems like kind of a downer, the kind of thing that critics fawn all over and awards shows shower with praise, but regular folks in flyover country just don’t see the big deal.

 

The Last Kingdom

I have no idea.

 

The Office

I’m way late to the party on this one. First, I have to explain something. I grew up in the 70’s & 80’s, a high water era for multi-camera sitcoms, which is the more traditional format. In the past decade we’ve seen the rise of single camera sitcoms, meaning there is no live audience or laugh track. Since I came of age with multi-cams as the norm that’s what I’m used to. I need a live audience and/or a laugh track. I have had a difficult time adjusting to single camera sitcoms and oftentimes reject such programs right out of the box. Perhaps I need to be a bit more flexible, but I’m just being honest about my experience up until now. It is for these reasons that I never even gave The Office a second thought when it premiered in 2005. I adore the 1999 cult film Office Space, so The Office would seem to be right in my wheelhouse, but I never gave it a chance. However, a few things happened in the ensuing years. Steve Carell became a movie star in films that I rather enjoy. Other stars of The Office went on to have solid careers in movies & television…folks like Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms, & John Krasinski. Internet memes became a thing, many of them featuring characters from The Office. Friends & family began making references related to the show. And now…finally…nearly seven years after it ended its run on NBC, I have begun watching reruns on Netflix.

 

The Originals

Original what?? I don’t know, and it shall remain a mystery.

 

The Simpsons

I may have missed the boat on The Simpsons. I was 17 years old & in my senior year of high school when it premiered in 1989. Perhaps I thought I was too cool for an animated show. Maybe there was something else in that time slot that I preferred to watch (this was way before DVR). I don’t recall exactly why I never got into The Simpsons, but at some point, as I heard more & more about its sardonic humor and funny characters, I began to realize that maybe I’d misjudged it. However, by that time it was way too late. I’m the kind of person who is either all in from the very beginning or not in at all. I may lose interest in a show a few years into its run, but rarely do I begin watching something that I’ve already missed multiple seasons of. I also don’t think that anyone would have ever predicted that The Simpsons would still be going three decades later, which is another reason why I feel like I may have missed out on something I might have liked.

 

 

The Sinner

I am assuming it’s either preachy or dark or both. Either way I’m not interested.

 

The Vampire Diaries

Vampires?? Nope.

 

The Walking Dead

Zombies?? No thanks. I realize that a lot of folks are really into it, but I’m not nor ever will be one of them.

 

The Witcher

Never heard of it.

 

This Is Us

Once upon a time I adored This Is Us. For the first two seasons I was glued to my television every Tuesday night. The mystery of when & how Jack Pearson died was riveting. The show was well-written with a top notch cast. I’ve had a Mandy Moore fetish for many years. Back in the day my friend Stacy would call me whenever A Walk to Remember was on television and I was usually already watching it. At any rate, something happened in the fall of 2018. This Is Us began a story arc about Jack’s tour of duty in Vietnam, and I decided to change the channel to WWE Smackdown. I DVRed This Is Us and told myself I’d catch up eventually, but before long I had about a dozen episodes recorded and knew I wasn’t going to invest that much time in getting up to speed, so I just decided I was no longer interested in the show. Perhaps someday I’ll revisit it.

 

True Blood

Vampires?? No.

 

True Detective

Nah. I’ve got a few friends who are really into this new wave of true crime, but it’s never interested me.

 

Twilight Zone

The original was way before my time. There have been a few revivals I believe, but I’ve just never been into giving any of them a whirl.

 

 

Two Broke Girls

I tried. I wanted to like it, but the humor was just so crude & sophomoric and the characters poorly constructed. I’m stunned that the show lasted six seasons.

 

Vikings

You mean the Minnesota Vikings?? Those are the only Vikings with which I am familiar.

 

The Ranch

The only reason I’ve even heard of it is because it stars Ashton Kutcher. However, I have no clue what the show is about, when it airs, or on what channel I could find it. And I couldn’t possibly care less.

  

Flip or Flop

I actually enjoy the occasional home renovation program, usually on HGTV (I especially like The Property Brothers). However, I don’t think I’ve ever watched Flip or Flop. I believe it’s the one where the hosts were married and now they are divorced, which seems like way too much drama for a fix-up show.

 

The Rookie

It’s a cop show, right?? Nah, not my thing.

 

 

Deputy

I’ve seen ads for it, but have no interest.

The 2018 Sammy Claus Wish List

In the 1974 Rankin/Bass stop motion classic The Year Without a Santa Claus the Jolly Old Elf isn’t feeling quite so jolly and decides that he’s going to take a vacation from delivering gifts. In much the same way Sammy Claus seriously pondered cancelling this year’s wish list, not due to any kind of illness or cynicism, but…well…for no real reason outside of a general malaise. Sammy Claus isn’t feeling ill nor particularly depressed, but does experience the occasional funk. Unfortunately there is no Mrs. Sammy Claus to broker a deal with the Miser Brothers, and neither is there access to elves to go out & drum up some Christmas spirit. Having said all of that, Sammy Claus has decided to power thru and deliver the Ninth Annual Wish List. As always, being Sammy Claus wields no special power. I will not be flying around the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer on Christmas Eve. I will be spending the evening with family and then put in a bit of quality time with Ralphie Parker & George Bailey. However, my fervent hope is that a certain inhabitant of The North Pole reads The Manofesto on occasion and might see fit to…at some point in the future…bestow these gifts upon the entities named here. And of course my biggest & deepest wish is that everyone will step away from the gifts & the food & the movies & all of the wonderful merriment accompanying this most wonderful season to praise The One True Reason that we even celebrate Christmas to begin with:

 

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men”! So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into Heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  –  2nd Chapter of The Book of Luke

 

 

 

 

The State of Florida: Remedial Voting in Elections & Counting Ballots 101

 

 

 

 

CNN reporter Jim Acosta:       an ounce of class & professionalism

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:          an ounce of common sense

 

 

 

Valerie Jarrett:  all nine original seasons of Roseanne on DVD, and a Planet of the Apes boxed set

 

 

soon-to-be former Ohio St. football coach Urban Meyer:

improved health & a happy retirement

 

 

David Hogg:      a conceal carry permit & a 9mm

 

 

 

President Trump’s Border Wall:

proper funding and beginning of construction

 

 

Facebook:                   legit competition…we’ve had just about enough of their shenanigans

 

 

Harry & Meghan:        a healthy baby

 

 

 

 

 

James Shaw Jr.:        free waffles for life

 

 

soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:         a big bottle of skunk pee

 

 

 

Star Wars:                    a fitting conclusion, and once & for all an end to the franchise…leave the memories alone

 

 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

good health, but also the good sense to finally retire (it’s way past time)

 

 

SNL’s Pete Davidson:

improved mental health, maturity, & a better idea of what is actually funny

 

 

 

United States Unemployment:

a continued lowering trend (the current unemployment rate of 3.7% is the lowest in almost fifty years)

 

 

 

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford:

an adult voice, restraint is spending the huge amount of money she was undoubtedly paid to destroy Bret Kavanaugh, & a window to truth & honesty right beside that second front door on her house

Justice Brett Kavanaugh:

a voice of reason that opposes any attempt to destroy Constitutional rights and judicial restraint in deciding such cases

 

 

Michael Rotondo:      a job & a place to live…you’re 31 years old – time to grow up & be a man

 

 

Southern California:  deforestation

 

 

 

Stormy Daniels:                   dolla dolla bills y’all

 

 

#MeToo:   an end…it has outlived its usefulness & become a joke

 

 

former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens:                 

much happiness & success with any opportunities that come his way

 

 

The Conners:    cancellation…ABC knows they made a mess out of the whole situation, so do the humane & intelligent thing and put the wounded bird out of its misery

The Big Bang Theory:        a fun & well-written conclusion to 12 wonderful seasons, and long life in syndication

 

 

 

Per established custom I shall end with the traditional quote from the Rankin-Bass animated classic Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town:

 

“Lots of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give…of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.”

100 Memorable TV Characters…The Top 25

Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home.  –  David Frost

 

 

 

I am easily distracted and have a short attention span. In years past I could easily finish a 500 page book within a week, and not that long ago I would have completed a fun & frivolous project like this in 3 or 4 days, but the older I get the less I seem to be able to focus and the more time it takes me to complete a task. Perhaps I’m just bored with life in general. I don’t know. Anyway, y’all didn’t stop by for me to lay on the couch and have you analyze my neuroses. If you need to get caught up with how we arrived at this point please click here. Today we reach the summit and discuss the Top 25 most memorable television characters of all time (in my humble opinion). I don’t think there are too many surprises in store, but I could be wrong. I still believe that there are writers out there creating great characters in all forms of entertainment, but sadly I think nowadays those writers and thus their characters frequently embrace a gloomier, more solemn & complex vibe. There’s nothing wrong with complexity, but for pete’s sake most of us are just trying to relax, laugh a little, and escape from the tedium of the daily grind, not join a crusade about serious worldly issues. Hollywood has become far too enamored with promoting various agendas and has forgotten how to chill out & have fun. That’s my viewpoint anyway. Your mileage may vary and that’s alright. For now though let’s recognize & give kudos to times when those left coasters got it right. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

25     Alex P. Keaton (Family Ties)

Okay okay okay…I suppose Family Ties did have a quasi-political premise. It was the 80’s and Ronald Reagan had cast his spell on a huge portion of the country, which didn’t sit well with aging 60’s radicals. And so we got a sitcom about middle-aged former hippies raising a family in Columbus, OH, with their eldest son being a right leaning yuppie Republican. However, despite that general theme the show itself didn’t deviate much from standard nuclear family fare, except that it was funny and extremely well-written & performed. Alex Keaton isn’t your typical teenager. He wears a suit to school, carries a Richard Nixon lunchbox, reads the Wall Street Journal, and actually enjoys studying economics. While Alex is depicted as somewhat uptight and often disagrees with his parents’ opinions he is never shown to be a bad guy or antagonistic, and he’s actually rather comical. He loves his family and they love him. There is a reasonably fair-minded presentation of differing worldviews, which has become all too rare just a few decades later.

 

 

24     Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Star Trek)

Dammit Manoverse…he’s a doctor, not a writer!! Admittedly my love for Bones McCoy began with the half dozen Star Trek movies produced in the 1980’s because that was my first exposure to Trek, but rest assured that he’s the same cantankerous curmudgeon even in the original series…just a few decades younger. He’s the voice of reason that tempers the reactionary passion of his captain and injects humanity into the detached analysis of the ship’s science officer. He’s also really funny and has some of the best one liners.

 

 

23     Luke Spencer (General Hospital)

Lucas Lorenzo Spencer emerged as one of the more provocatively popular leading men in soap history a few decades ago, a real accomplishment for a character that was intended to disappear after a few months. Instead, Luke’s stay in Port Charles lasted…off & on…for nearly four decades. He famously falls for beautiful young Laura Webber and rapes her at a college disco, a deed that would normally brand a character as a villain. However, Laura loves him, so Luke is redeemed and becomes a good guy. Luke & Laura’s wedding in 1982 had 30 million television viewers, which still has to be some sort of record. Over the years Luke evolved into a beloved scoundrel, always ready for an escapade or hatching a scheme to proliferate his bank account. He is the quintessential soap hero, constantly engaged in battle with the dastardly Cassadine clan while exhibiting fierce loyalty to his family, especially son Lucky, Aunt Ruby, & sister Bobbie. Luke & Laura both die and return to life a couple of times as soap characters tend to do, and eventually end their marriage. Luke moves on with bitchy socialite Tracey Quartermaine, which is arguably a more enjoyable pairing. He is a restless soul and always finds himself in hot water, but somehow makes it thru. Alcoholism becomes an issue, as well as horrible childhood memories that had been repressed for decades, both of which add layers of complexity to Luke but weren’t well-received plot points by GH fans who prefer their fun-loving scalawag instead of a depressed, broken, suicidal old man. Luke left Port Charles a few years ago and is presumably living a life of adventure somewhere in Europe.

 

 

22     Shaggy Rogers (Scooby-Doo)

Actually his given first name is Norville. Of course he is Scooby’s owner/master (or whatever title you prefer), and the two are inseparable. Shaggy is the prototypical slacker, an animated homage to Bohemian beatnik Maynard G. Krebbs from the early 60’s sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Unlike his friends, who bravely seek to solve mysteries they encounter, Shaggy is a chicken who runs at the first sign of trouble. He mostly prefers to hang out with his dog and take it easy. Oddly enough they both seem to always have the munchies, though I have no idea what that’s all about. Well-known radio personality Casey Kasem voiced Shaggy for four decades.

 

 

21     Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the world’s foremost consulting detective in 1887, writing four novels & 56 short stories about Holmes and his trusty wingman Dr. Watson over the course of four decades. Since then Holmes has had a long life in films, television, radio, stage plays, & any other entertainment outlet imaginable. At one time Guinness had Holmes listed as the most portrayed fictional character in history, though I believe Santa Claus & Dracula are right there with him. At any rate, though (surprisingly) I have never seen Benedict Cumberbatch’s well-regarded interpretation of the treasured detective in BBC’s series Sherlock, I do fondly recall the late Jeremy Brett’s depiction in an 80’s series that ran here in America on PBS. There were 41 episodes of Sherlock Holmes, each rather faithfully adapting one of Conan Doyle’s stories. I’m sure that all 60 would have been produced had it not been for the untimely death of Brett at the age of 61. Most rankings & polls out there rate Brett’s version of Holmes as one of the 2 or 3 best, and I wholeheartedly concur.

 

 

20     Mork from Ork (Mork & Mindy)

Robin Williams was a force of nature (and cocaine)…a legendary comedian who evolved into one of the most significant actors of a generation. His acting career was launched on a 1978 episode of Happy Days in which he portrays a goofy alien from outer space who wants to take Richie Cunningham back to his home planet as a human specimen. Mork got his own spinoff in which he lands in Colorado and befriends the young & beautiful Mindy, even telling her the truth about his identity. Mork lives in Mindy’s basement for four seasons, with the two eventually falling in love, getting married, & having a “baby” (hilariously played by legendary comedian Jonathan Winters). The show itself was never great, but it was a showcase for Williams’ peerless talent and an indication of great things to come.

 

 

19     Les Nessman (WKRP in Cincinnati)

Persnickety newsman Les Nessman is probably the most overlooked part of WKRP’s greatness. Johnny Fever & Venus Flytrap are cooler, receptionist Jennifer Marlowe is sexier, & clueless boss Mr. Carlson gets a lot of laughs, but Les is the comedic gem of the ensemble. Unlike his laid-back colleagues Les is super serious about his job, approaching it as if he is an important journalist breaking momentous news on a major media outlet, whereas in reality he’s the newsman for a smallish radio station at which rock n’ roll pays the bills and news is not essential at all. Despite his erudite demeanor & professorial appearance Les is a total dufus and completely incompetent. His only area of expertise seems to be husbandry, for which he has won a Silver Sow Award and multiple Buckeye Newshawk Awards, accomplishments for which he is quite proud. He amusingly likes to imagine that his cubicle is an office, putting tape on the floor where walls would be and demanding that his co-workers knock on the imaginary door. Les Nessman’s shining moment is the 1978 Thanksgiving episode Turkeys Away, during which he gives dire news updates on a promotional gimmick initiated by Mr. Carlson that goes horribly yet hysterically awry.

 

 

18     Cliff Clavin (Cheers)

Actor John Ratzenberger originally auditioned for the role of Norm Peterson, but when he didn’t get the part he asked the producers if they had a bar know-it-all in the cast, and thus the part of blowhard mailman Cliff was created. Cliff is a middle-aged momma’s boy who is terrible with women, and like the rest of his cohorts he’s a loveable loser that would come across as sad & pathetic in reality, but somehow works as a sitcom character. The funny thing is that we’ve all known people like Cliff that are mostly full of bull and try our patience when we’re in their presence for any length of time, but despite their faults we kind of like having them around.

 

 

17     Chandler, Monica. Ross, Rachel, Joey, & Phoebe (Friends)

In retrospect Friends was better than most of us realized at the time. Oh sure it was popular, ranking as a Top 5 hit in nine of its ten seasons, and the cast became superstars, but if you watch it now in syndication almost fifteen years after the final episode aired what you realize is what a well-written & performed show it was. I can’t single out any one character from the ensemble because I feel like each was a vital part of the program’s success. Monica Geller is an OCD fussbudget, a chef by trade who acts as the de facto glue that holds the group together. Monica’s brother Ross is a neurotic paleontologist whose ex-wife became a lesbian. Ross’ best friend is Chandler Bing, a sarcastic business executive. Chandler lives across the hall from Monica with Joey Tribbiani, a dimwitted yet kindhearted struggling actor who is a bit of a ladies’ man. Monica’s childhood friend Rachel Green, a self-absorbed rich girl who left her fiancé at the altar, shows up and becomes Monica’s roommate in the inaugural episode. Rounding out the group is hippy dippy massage therapist & quirky songwriter Phoebe Buffay. They mostly assemble in Monica & Rachel’s apartment, Chandler & Joey’s place, or at the local Central Perk coffeehouse. Ross’ unrequited love for Rachel and their subsequent on again/off again relationship is a principal focus of the show thru the years, and in later seasons Chandler & Monica become involved & get married. I’m not sure it’s fair to say that any of them are accurate illustrations of real 20/30-somethings, but some of their issues do ring true and did so at a time in my life where I really appreciated that connection.

 

 

16         Fred Sanford (Sanford & Son)

For some reason Fred, an elderly black junk dealer from south central Los Angeles, always reminded me of my paternal grandfather, a retired Italian-American coal miner from West Virginia. Perhaps it is because my Papaw was a fan of the show. Fred is a widower who lives with his middle-aged son Lamont and runs his business out of his home. Fred is a feisty old dude, never hesitating to mix it up with sister-in-law Esther, next door neighbor Julio, or Lamont’s best buddy Rollo. Though he & Lamont appear to be close he is quick to belittle his son, often calling him a big dummy. Fred is oftentimes shown to be bigoted, which is played for laughs but probably wouldn’t fly with the modern day PC Police, and he is rather lazy as well as a bit of a manipulator. By far Fred’s most enduring legacy is when he would find himself in a tight spot or on the verge of having one of his harebrained schemes exposed, at which time he’d fake a heart attack and proclaim “This is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth?? I’m coming to join you honey!!”.

 

 

15     Louie DePalma (Taxi)

Danny DeVito has had a moderately successful film career, appearing in movies like Romancing the Stone, Ruthless People, Throw Momma from the Train, Twins, Batman Returns, & Deck the Halls, but his first taste of fame came via 80’s sitcom Taxi. Louie is the dispatcher at the Sunshine Cab Company and acts as if he’s the boss, although in retrospect I’m not sure if he had any kind of authority or just likes to pretend that he does. He is a misogynistic & unscrupulous schemer who shows zero respect for any of his colleagues and is rarely at a loss for words, usually of the demeaning & insulting variety. His diminutive size coupled with an arrogant, abrasive attitude are indicative of a classic Napoleon complex. However, despite his faults Louie oftentimes does the right thing, and, in contrast to his coarse exterior, deep down there’s a big ol’ soft heart that makes an appearance on occasion.

 

 

14     Ari Gold (Entourage)

I have no idea if life in Hollywood is as…colorful…as it is depicted on Entourage, but if there really is an agent like Ari Gold I’m not sure if an actor should sign with him without hesitation or run away as fast as possible. He is ill-mannered, foul-mouthed, arrogant, belligerent, & somewhat deceitful, but is also shown to be really good at his job and truly concerned about his clients, especially rising star Vincent Chase. In contrast to Vince & his buddies, who enjoy basking in the party lifestyle like a bunch of wealthy & carefree delinquents, Ari is a faithful husband & father whose biggest fault just might be hardcore dedication to his career. Ari is one of those rare characters that demands attention, stealing every scene in which he appears.

 

 

13     Dr. Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)

Far be it for me to fall into the “prisoner of the moment” trap, but after a decade on the air I don’t think it is an overreaction to consider Sheldon one of the best characters in television history. While TBBT writers have done a good job of remaining faithful to the ensemble dynamic of the show and still give a fair amount of screen time & storyline to everyone, it is undeniable that Sheldon is the breakout character, especially since the 9 year old version of him is already starring in a spinoff even as the original show remains one of the highest rated programs on television. I watched the first episode of Young Sheldon, but it just didn’t pique my interest. In TBBT thirtysomething Sheldon is a theoretical physicist, a genius with an eidetic memory and a total lack of social skills or emotional intelligence. He is egotistical, peculiar, somewhat irrational, & oftentimes childish. He & his pals are classic geeks who love comic books, technology, & sci-fi but know next to nothing about sports, pop culture, contemporary music, or current events. His mother is a devout Christian, and Sheldon’s devotion to science causes him to view her faith with derision, a foible that has troubled me a bit on occasion. Sheldon is an extremely well-written character whose physical comedy is an underrated portion of what has been an award winning performance.

 

 

12     Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (The Dukes of Hazzard)

Is he a bad guy?? Not really. Is he corrupt?? I suppose, but not in the traditional sense. It’s more accurate to say that Rosco is a weak-minded follower who is easily led astray by his greedy brother-in-law Boss Hogg. It is initially revealed that Rosco had served with integrity for 20 years, but got screwed out of his pension just as he was on the verge of retirement (Dukes was a show ahead of its time). He joins in Boss’ schemes in order to get back the money he lost. All traces of bitterness soon fade away though, as Rosco evolves into a simpleminded, inept, & comical lawman. His constant companion is a lethargic basset hound named Flash, and despite his own foolishness he consistently calls deputies Enos & Cletus dipsticks. He enjoys “hot pursuit”, but it usually doesn’t work out well as he oftentimes seems to “scuff his vehicle”. Rosco genuinely cares about Boss Hogg but is also intimidated & taken advantage of by him, rarely getting more than a small fraction of whatever windfall the duo earns from their deceitful plots. He doesn’t seem to have any genuine beef with the Dukes but is regularly ordered to chase them by Boss Hogg, though they rarely get caught & easily escape when they do end up in jail. Much like Hogg, Sheriff Rosco is portrayed as far more sinister in the 2005 big screen adaptation, which is another strike against that film.

 

 

11     Gomer Pyle (The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle USMC)

Television viewers have a love/hate relationship with spinoffs. Sometimes they work, but oftentimes they fall way short of expectations. Gomer Pyle USMC lands somewhere in the middle, which isn’t intended to be negative…it’s just that it’s almost impossible to measure up to TAGS. Gomer appears in Seasons 3 & 4 of TAGS and was introduced because the actor who portrayed Floyd the Barber had a stroke and was off the show for awhile. Like most residents of Mayberry Gomer is an unsophisticated bumpkin with a friendly & gentle disposition. He works at Wally’s Filling Station and is alternately shown to know nothing about automobiles or to be an expert mechanic (TAGS had issues with continuity). He is always willing to help out when needed and is deputized by the police on several occasions, though he proves to be a totally incompetent lawman. On a few occasions Jim Nabors is able to show off his real life singing talent. Any episode of TAGS with Gomer is even more of a delight than usual, which is probably why he was given a spinoff. That show lasted for five seasons and features Gomer as he enlists in the Marine Corps and clashes with hard-nosed drill instructor Sergeant Carter. It’s a classic fish-out-of-water story, with a bit of an Odd Couple vibe thrown into the mix. I like the TAGS version of Gomer much more than I like him in the spinoff, but that probably has more to do with the overall quality of the two shows rather than the character. When Gomer leaves Mayberry the void is filled by his cousin Goober, but I’ve never enjoyed Goober as much as Gomer.

 

 

 

Television is like a library. There are a lot of library books in it, and you have to pick and choose what you take out of it.  –  David L. Wolper

 

 

 

10     Rev. Jim Ignatowski (Taxi)

The third member of the Taxi cast to make the cut is a spaced-out relic from the 60’s who might be the most entertaining dopehead not named Cheech or Chong. Iggy grew up wealthy, but his Mom died when he was very young and his father was a busy doctor, so he was mostly raised by servants. He was extremely intelligent and attended Harvard, but in a comical twist on the whole Adam & Eve/forbidden fruit concept is goaded by his girlfriend into eating a marijuana laced brownie, which leads to him permanently becoming an eccentric & absentminded burnout. Jim’s random tangents that have nothing to do with the topic of conversation are hysterical, especially when he completely forgets whatever point he thought he wanted to make. Occasional glimpses of his former intellect & deep thinking skills sneak thru the fog and he says something profound, which of course takes everyone by surprise. Iggy once opined “You know the really great thing about television? If something important happens, anywhere in the world, night or day… you can always change the channel”, which kind of sums up how I feel about TV nowadays. In an early Season 2 episode titled “Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey” the cabbies get Jim a job, but first they must take him to the DMV so he can pass the driver’s test and get his license. It is quintessential Iggy, and quite possibly one of the best sitcom moments of all time.

 

 

9       George Costanza (Seinfeld)

For some reason I really identified with George. He is Jerry’s best friend since junior high school, and becomes pals with Jerry’s other quirky cohorts. Jerry opines that George could have been normal, but isn’t mostly because of his crazy parents. He is a self-described “short, stocky, bald man” who is alternately bombastic & self-loathing. He always looks for the easiest way to do something, or even avoids doing it altogether. He’s awkward, impulsive, insecure, narcissistic, high-strung, occasionally devious, & not good at all with women. He has several relationships throughout the series, but always manages to screw it up. I am reminded of the 1999 film Office Space, in which the main protagonist states that “it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care”, except in George’s case he actually is lazy, though not necessarily stupid. Jerry Seinfeld made a brilliant choice when he decided to play straight man and let his co-stars be the wacky oddballs with most of the comedic moments.

 

 

8       Dr. Frasier Crane (Cheers and Frasier)

Frasier Crane has the distinction of being one of the two longest running live action characters in television history, appearing in nine seasons of Cheers and, of course, all eleven seasons of the eponymous spinoff Frasier, for a total of twenty years on the air. He’d probably deserve a spot on this list for that alone, but there is so much more to love. Dr. Crane first appears in the third season of Cheers as the new beau of waitress Diane Chambers. The two are kindred spirits…pretentious intellectuals that don’t really fit into the working class pub dynamic. Alas, Diane can’t fight her attraction to bar owner Sam Malone and eventually leaves Frasier at the altar. Even after Diane departs Cheers at the end of the fifth season Frasier sticks around and becomes a regular part of the group, eventually marrying then divorcing aloof fellow psychiatrist Lilith and fathering a son with her named Frederick. When Cheers concludes Frasier moves back to his hometown of Seattle to help his brother Niles care for their father Martin, a police officer forced to retire after being shot in the line of duty. In Seattle Frasier hosts a radio talk show, so there is interaction with eccentric callers & quirky work colleagues in addition to the familial relationships. Frasier is a bit more masculine than his brother, but is just as much of a pompous elitist. He is passionate about theater, fine art, literature, & gourmet food, but because of his time in Boston is considerate toward his blue collar father’s lifestyle & hobbies, though he by no means shares those proclivities. It almost seems as if he might be bipolar because he can transition from eloquently helping a caller on his radio show in a soothing & melodious tone into an indignant fit of rage just minutes later, something that happens in nearly every episode. Despite being an alleged expert in helping other people solve their issues Frasier does not understand his own complexities and doesn’t have a great track record with the ladies. In addition to the doomed engagement to Diane & divorce from Lilith he dates a plethora of women in Seattle, but nothing ever seems to work out.

 

 

7       The Dynamic Duo (Batman)

Nearly every incarnation of Batman stays true to his gloomy origins as an orphaned billionaire who becomes a crime fighting vigilante after his parents are murdered in the gritty, violent, & sinister milieu of Gotham City. Robin is originally a young boy in a family of acrobats who witnesses his parents die in an accident arranged by a mobster, and is afterwards taken in by Bruce Wayne who becomes his legal guardian. But all of that melancholy stuff is set aside in the 1966 action sitcom that aired for three seasons on ABC. Dick Grayson (aka Robin) is still the “youthful ward” (now a teenager) of billionaire Bruce Wayne (aka Batman), and the two team up to fight crime in Gotham City, but the atmosphere is bright, the dialogue is cleverly corny, the villains are hardly intimidating, & the end result is delightfully absurd. Adam West’s interpretation of Bruce Wayne/Batman is funny because the character takes every situation so seriously, delivering his lines in a solemn & melodramatic tone. This incarnation of Robin is enthusiastic & peppy, but not annoyingly so. The entire show is cheeky & whimsical, a definite departure from the norm and a risky choice that paid off. Joel Schumacher’s 1997 film Batman & Robin starring George Clooney as The Caped Crusader attempted to borrow the cheesy vibe, but it fell flat because…well, let’s face it…Clooney isn’t Adam West.

 

 

6       Archie & Edith Bunker (All in the Family)

Contrary to popular belief the idea of Hollywood idealists using their entertainment platform to promote an agenda and talk down to the masses about issues that common folks in flyover country are allegedly ignorant about isn’t a brand new concept conceived in the 21st century…it’s just that they used to be much better at it. Norman Lear did a lot of it in the 1970’s and did it quite well, creating shows like Sanford & Son, One Day at a Time, Maude, Good Times, & The Jeffersons. By far his greatest creation was All in the Family, centering on a working class family in Queens, NY. The head of the household is Archie Bunker, an ill-tempered, opinionated, & narrow-minded loading dock foreman. He is an equal opportunity contrarian who insults just about every minority, religion, & nationality. He is especially dismissive of his ultra-liberal son-in-law, who he calls Meathead. However, despite his gruff exterior, deep down Archie is a loving & decent man who cares about his family and friends, though he often becomes impatient with wife Edith, who he calls Dingbat. Edith is rather ditzy, but she’s usually quite jovial & compassionate, the sort of person who might get on one’s nerves but you just can’t help but like. She’s a bit of a throwback…a submissive & dedicated wife, mother, and grandmother that would be scoffed at by modern day feminists. The Bunkers are extreme caricatures certainly created to make a point. Archie is intended as a mean-spirited dig at conservative values, while Edith’s kindhearted yet naïve subservience is meant as negative commentary on the traditional but allegedly outdated idea of the stay-at-home housewife. But an odd & unexpected thing happened…the audience actually liked & identified with them. Fans understood that conservatives aren’t really evil racists and easily dismissed many of Archie’s more exaggerated traits while realizing that some of his views had merit. They were able to chuckle at Edith’s comical zaniness while recognizing that being a traditional housewife isn’t a horrible thing. People saw thru the self-righteous poppycock of Meathead and agreed with Archie’s assessment of him. Decades later folks who are now much more aware of media bias can clearly see how Lear attempted to manipulate the conversation…and how he failed miserably.

 

 

5       Arthur Fonzarelli (Happy Days)

Fonzie was never intended to be a significant part of the Happy Days cast. He is introduced as a local mechanic who Ritchie & Potsie occasionally bump into at Arnold’s Drive-In. He didn’t even wear a leather jacket at first because the powers-that-be were concerned about him looking too much like a hoodlum (which is old school slang for what we’d now call a gang member). But Fonzie is too awesome to be held down by The Man, and eventually became a central part of the show. He’s all about being cool and chillin’ with the ladies. He has the ability to make a jukebox work with the pounding of his fist, and women flock to him with the snap of a finger. Richie, Potsie, & Ralph Malph all look to Fonzie for advice about various issues, and the Cunninghams treat him like a member of the family. In the beginning he is a high school dropout, but eventually completes his education, and at various points owns a garage, is part owner of Arnold’s, & even becomes a high school teacher. Fonzie’s oddest contribution to pop culture is the 1977 fifth season opener in which, after helping a couple of Hollywood producers passing thru Milwaukee deal with mechanical issues, he finds himself in Tinseltown for a movie audition. While there he is challenged by an obnoxious jerk to a water skiing duel (a laughable idea at best). During the competition Fonzie literally leaps over a tiger shark in the water. Though Happy Days would continue for six more seasons that episode was cited by some as a moment indicative of a decline in quality, therefore popularizing the term “jumping the shark”. Fonzie became so popular that some wanted to rename the show Fonzie’s Happy Days, but actor Henry Winkler adamantly refused and insisted that Ron Howard continue to receive top billing. I believe that, even to this day, more than thirty years after Happy Days went off the air, one can still see Fonzie’s leather jacket on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, which is a pretty cool legacy.

 

 

4       Captain Kirk & Mister Spock (Star Trek)

This may be the strangest variation on the Odd Couple formula ever seen on television. James Tiberius Kirk hails from Iowa and is Starfleet’s youngest & best yet most rebellious officer. While a student at Starfleet Academy he is the only person to ever overcome a training exercise called the Kobayashi Maru, a moral dilemma and no-win scenario that Kirk defeats by reprogramming the computer. Though his solution is what most would consider cheating he is actually commended for original thinking. That one story sets the stage for everything we see afterward from Captain Kirk. He is brash, passionate, bold, dedicated, & extremely smart. He thinks outside the box and doesn’t back down from a fight. The yin to Kirk’s yang is his science officer Mr. Spock, a half alien whose mother is human while his father is Vulcan. Spock exhibits many Vulcan traits, primarily the predisposition to rely on logic & reason and leave emotion out of their thought process. It is this ability that enables Spock to balance Kirk’s intensity and inclination to jump in with both feet. Spock can present all the options to Kirk along with every possible outcome. Conversely, since Spock is essentially a computer with legs it is Kirk that oftentimes explains concepts like feelings, humor, & emotions to him, helping him to make sense out of the foolish & illogical things that human beings tend to do. The two men don’t always understand each other, but have immense respect & admiration for one another and might have been television’s first bromance.

 

 

3       JR Ewing (Dallas)

Entertainment used to be very clear about the differences between heroes & villains. In old westerns the good guys would literally wear white cowboy hats, while the bad guys would wear black hats (an idea some would undoubtedly consider racist nowadays). However, somewhere along the line the concept of the anti-hero became prevalent, wherein a character might not necessarily be evil but certainly has dubious ethics & selfish motives. JR Ewing is the eldest son of a wealthy oil baron who eventually takes over the family business. He loves his family, but tends to love his money just a little bit more. Dallas originally intended to focus on the Romeo & Juliet-esque romance of JR’s younger brother Bobby and his new wife Pam, the daughter of patriarch Jock Ewing’s most bitter enemy, but JR’s penchant for screwing over everyone…business rivals, his family, his wife…with a sly grin on his face made him the character everyone loved to hate. It was always a treat to see who JR was going to cheat, shake down, intimidate, & defeat next. He is always a few steps ahead of everyone else, especially the honorable & benevolent Bobby, as well as Cliff Barnes, Bobby’s inept brother-in-law and JR’s spirited but overmatched nemesis. Dallas reached its pinnacle at the end of Season 3 when it popularized the concept of the cliffhanger after an unknown assailant tried to murder JR Ewing. During the entire summer of 1980 America was abuzz with the question “Who shot JR??”, a mystery that was solved that November in what remains the third most watched television episode in history, bested only by the series finales of MASH & Cheers. I was a kid when Dallas was on the air, and one of my most cherished memories is what a kick my Dad got out of it whenever JR was revealed to be the dastardly mastermind behind a scheme that had vanquished Cliff, Bobby & Pam, JR’s wife Sue Ellen, or one of Ewing Oil’s many adversaries. Dad was genuinely entertained by JR Ewing in a way that few people seem to be by anything on television these days.

 

 

2       Cosmo Kramer (Seinfeld)

Seinfeld has four of its characters on this list…two of them in the Top 10. Kramer lives in an apartment across the hall from Jerry and has been described as a “hipster dufus”, although I’m not exactly sure what that means. He has a unique fashion sense, as well as peculiar tastes in things like food, sports, cigars, & women. He is neurotic in a way unseen on television before or since, fearing clowns & mice and having seizures whenever he hears the voice of Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart.  In nearly every episode Kramer busts into Jerry’s apartment with a combination smile & look of perpetual amazement. He doesn’t seem to have a job and supports himself with get rich quick schemes & wacky entrepreneurial ideas, sports betting, publishing a coffee table book about coffee tables, & a brief but lucrative gig as an underwear model. To call him quirky or eccentric would be an epic understatement. His philosophies & perspectives aren’t by any means normal, yet they oftentimes make sense in a way one would have never imagined to be possible. Kramer really isn’t comparable to any other character in any form of entertainment. He is a unique creation, with credit given to Seinfeld’s stellar writing as well as actor Michael Richards’ flawless physical comedy.

 

 

1       Deputy Barney Fife (The Andy Griffith Show)

TAGS can easily be separated into two eras…its first five seasons and then its final three. While it’s true that those two time periods are most easily distinguished by the fact that Seasons 1-5 were broadcast in black & while before switching to color in the latter three years, a more significant difference is the departure of Barney Fife at the end of the fifth season. Barney is the excitable & ham-fisted deputy in Mayberry. Early on we are told that he is Andy Taylor’s cousin, but that relationship was only alluded to a couple of times and from then on the two are merely lifelong best friends & co-workers. Barney reminds me a bit of WKRP’s Les Nessman in the sense that he takes his job very seriously and is hilariously overzealous. There are also shades of Cheers’ Cliff Claven, with Barney’s incompetent attempts to present himself as a know-it-all when the truth is that he has no clue what he’s doing or talking about. Barney’s bravado is poorly disguised window dressing for tremendous neuroses and low self-esteem, and Andy selflessly goes above & beyond to save his deputy’s fragile ego on multiple occasions. Everyone likes Barney but few respect him, and respect is what he craves. He tends to overreact, while Andy is laid-back & steady. Barney is emotional, anxious, & easily taken advantage of by others, but despite his numerous shortcomings he is the heart of TAGS, and his absence during the program’s latter three seasons left a hole that was never quite filled. In Season 6 Floyd the Barber’s nephew Warren Ferguson becomes Mayberry’s new deputy, but he only lasted 11 episodes before the character was never heard from or spoken of again. Immediately following actor Don Knotts’ exit TAGS played with the idea of making a character who’d been introduced as a banjo player at a carnival the new deputy, but actor Jerry Van Dyke declined the opportunity. In hindsight the plan might have actually worked out for the show, but obviously that didn’t occur. Gomer Pyle’s cousin Goober was given the primary role as Andy’s sidekick, but I never really warmed up to Goober. As I’ve stated previously the final three seasons of TAGS were just dandy and it is still terrific TV, but it just isn’t the same, and I can’t think of any better example of a character’s exodus so significantly altering the fabric of a show.

100 Memorable TV Characters…Part 2

I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can’t stop eating peanuts.  –  Orson Welles

 

 

 

Welcome back!! If you haven’t checked out Part 1 yet please do. I think you’ll enjoy it.

As I’ve been working on this project I’ve been amazed just how varied & wide-ranging my television watching habits have been, and the span of time we are covering. I certainly have a preference for comedy and am an undeniable child of the 80’s, but have been fortunate to have been exposed to a wide variety of things in my lifetime. Syndication has helped me to appreciate programs that I may have otherwise been too young to have seen, and I can’t help but think about how kids growing up today have the advantage of streaming, which is cool on many levels. At any rate, we reach the halfway point today. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

75     The Castaways (Gilligan’s Island)

Gilligan’s Island is probably best remembered these days for its catchy theme song, but a funny show has to have more than that, right?? However, that tune does do a great job of introducing us to the group of folks who are aboard the SS Minnow for “a three hour tour” when they become shipwrecked on a remote Pacific island after a tropical storm. The eponymous Gilligan is the ship’s first mate, a bumbling screw-up (FYI…remember Jerry Van Dyke?? He also turned down the role of Gilligan. Oops.). Captain Jonas Grumby…simply known as The Skipper…served in the Navy with Gilligan, who once saved his life. The Skipper often becomes exasperated with the other castaways, especially Gilligan, but he’s also a good friend and big brother figure who affectionately calls Gilligan “Little Buddy”. Thurston Howell III & his wife Lovey are eccentric millionaires who hilariously try to retain their affluent lifestyle despite being stranded on an island. Ginger Grant is a famous movie star clearly based atleast somewhat on Marilyn Monroe. She insists on wearing expensive gowns at all times. Mary Ann Summers is a beautiful Kansas farm girl who won her “three hour tour” in a contest. She is the classic girl-next-door, much more practical & less haughty than Ginger. Professor Roy Hinkley…referred to as The Professor by the others…is a high school science teacher who joined the “three hour tour” to do research for a book about botany. He has a list of college degrees a mile long, and uses bamboo & coconuts to construct all kinds of creature comforts for the group…but can never come up with a way to get them rescued.

 

74     Denny Crane & Alan Shore (Boston Legal)

Boston Legal is an underrated dramedy that aired on ABC more than a decade ago. It was a spinoff of The Practice, which was another overlooked show. Two of the attorneys on Boston Legal are Denny Crane & Alan Shore. This was William Shatner’s big TV comeback after the 80’s cop show TJ Hooker, and James Spader’s initial foray into television after a mildly successful film career that included 80’s classics Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, Less Than Zero, Wall Street, and Sex, Lies, & Videotape. Denny Crane is a senior partner and a self-proclaimed legend in the legal profession. He’s also nuttier than a damn fruitcake, which he attributes to mad cow disease. He has questionable ethics, enjoys shooting a pistol in his office, and loves to say his own name. Alan Shore is a brilliant legal mind who, like his colleague, also has dubious ethical standards. He is neurotic and routinely finds himself in hot water for his unconventional courtroom antics. At the end of each episode Alan & Denny relax on the balcony outside of Denny’s office smoking cigars, drinking scotch, & discussing the events of the day. Alan & Denny are one of the most peculiar duos in television history, but despite the show winning its fair share of awards it never got great ratings and only lasted five seasons. That’s a shame, because even to this day I’d enjoy seeing more of Alan & Denny.

 

73     Jack & Rebecca Pearson (This Is Us)

I am violating my own rule. Usually, when compiling a list such as this, I refrain from being a prisoner of the moment. I typically opine that greatness takes time and we shouldn’t assign hyperbolic superlatives to something that is still in the present, that hasn’t had time to percolate and be viewed thru the unforgiving prism of time. However, if you aren’t watching NBC’s This Is Us…only in its second season…then you are missing out on one of the finest television programs of its generation. The premise is brilliant, the performances reside in their own stratosphere, & the writing is superb. Jack & Rebecca are the parents of three children that we get to know both as children & adults. The show time jumps between different intervals from 1980 thru the present…and on occasion even provides a glimpse of the future. We know that Jack is dead in the present, but in the past he is seen as an ideal husband & father. Yes he does battle alcoholism, but seems to successfully tackle the problem when faced with the prospect of losing his family. Rebecca in the present is reserved & tough, while in the past she is extroverted & approachable. Viewers are just beginning to understand her evolution, which is kind of the point of the whole show. Why are we the way we are?? How do events…big & small…in our childhood/youth/young adulthood shape who we become later in life?? Jack & Rebecca aren’t extraordinary. They aren’t wealthy. They don’t have cool & exciting jobs. They are average middle class parents from Pittsburgh who adore their children and do the best they can navigating the obstacles of life. And that’s exactly why we love them.

 

72     Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)

HIMYM and I suffered a bad break-up. Many fans were angered & felt misled after the series finale in 2014. I vowed to never watch a rerun and have abided by that, which is a damn shame because it was a cool show up until that horrific dénouement. Having said that, I will reluctantly give proper credit. Viewers of a certain age may remember Neil Patrick Harris for his early 1990s portrayal of Doogie Howser, a prodigious 16 year old doctor, but Barney is no Doogie. He is a thirtysomething bank executive in a clear state of arrested development, described by his best buddy as a high functioning sociopath. He’s a suit wearing, catchphrase spewing, manipulative & self-absorbed ladies’ man who fancies himself an expert on women. In reality most people would hate a guy like Barney, and within the context of the show even his friends aren’t too sure about him. However, as a sitcom character his outlandish shtick is entertaining, and NPH’s performance is all the more remarkable given the fact that he is actually a flaming homosexual in real life.

 

71     Coach Ernie Pantuso & Woody Boyd (Cheers)

Cheers had a true ensemble cast so it is difficult to choose some characters over others. However, each is so different that it seems natural that fans would have their favorites. One of the cool things about the show is that even when there were departures new arrivals plugged right in and kept the laughs coming for 11 seasons, making Cheers one of the longest running sitcoms of all time. Coach is an original cast member. He is a former baseball coach & current bartender who is an amusing blend of senile & naïve. Nicholas Colasanto passed away after Season 3, therefore Coach also died and was replaced with the equally simpleminded Woody, an Indiana country boy whose charming innocence is in direct contrast to the neurotic cynicism of his colleagues. Whether intentional or not casting directors pulled off a neat trick. They filled the void left by Coach’s death with a character who is by no means a carbon copy but nevertheless retains many of the quirky traits that fans loved about his predecessor.

 

70     Dan Fielding (Night Court)

Smarmy. That’s the word that comes to mind about Dan Fielding, the night shift prosecutor for Manhattan’s criminal court. Dan is a greedy, narcissistic horndog who looks at his colleagues & the criminals they all encounter on a nightly basis with contempt. Dan is always quick with an insult and constantly seeking opportunities to make easy money or score with easy women. He’s the kind of guy few would want to deal with in real life, but as a sitcom character he adds a layer of joviality to what is obviously meant to be good old-fashioned slapstick.

 

69     The Church Lady (Saturday Night Live)

Her name is Enid Strict. Did you know that?? Dana Carvey’s interpretation of an elderly, sanctimonious, pejorative congregant has its basis…like all of the best impersonations…in truth, or atleast our preconceived notions of it. Thankfully most churchgoers I’ve known in my life aren’t quite as harsh as The Church Lady, but one can choose to see the character as a cautionary tale. The sketch…in which Enid hosts a show called Church Chat…also serves as a vehicle to poke fun at various celebrities with dubious scruples & the assorted scandals they find themselves in. I’m a little surprised that there was never a Church Lady movie, but that’s probably just as well. Too many SNL based films have proven that a little bit goes a long way, and I’m glad the legacy of this particular character wasn’t besmirched that way.

 

68     Toby Ziegler (The West Wing)

Toby is the Communications Director in the Jed Bartlet White House. He is a soft-spoken, morose, idealistic, prickly man with a profound sense of morality and extremely high standards. He is one of the President’s most trusted advisors and rarely backs down from an argument. I’m not sure I could be friends with Toby because we would likely clash over contrasting bedrock principles and he’s way too tightly wound for my taste, but he’s the kind of person one can’t help but deeply respect.

 

67     John Walton Jr. (The Waltons)

One of the cooler aspects of The Waltons that many might forget is its framing device. The series is essentially a reflection of the past by John Walton Jr….aka John Boy…whose older incarnation does a rather lyrical opening & closing narration for each episode. Depression Era John Boy is who we see onscreen, and he is the eldest of six siblings that live with their parents & grandparents at the foot of a mountain in rural Virginia. John Boy is quietly ambitious and eventually leaves Walton’s Mountain to pursue a career in writing. Amongst the most endearing traditions in television is the end of each episode when all of the various family members lay in their beds in the darkness and tell each other goodnight. To contrast wholesome, sentimental shows like The Waltons with much of what passes for entertainment nowadays is like comparing filet mignon to scrapple. Goodnight John Boy…thanks for the memories.

 

66     Arnold Horshack (Welcome Back Kotter)

Who remembers Welcome Back Kotter??

Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh!! I do!!

Horshack is the nerdiest Sweathog, the class clown always ready with the perfect one-liner. In contrast to the others, who like to believe they’re way cool & above it all, he is kind of whiny and not really a hallmark of machismo, but that’s okay because he’s seems genuine and, rather than beat him up like tough guys usually do nerds in high school stories, at James Buchanan High School in Brooklyn, NY Horshack is just one of the guys.

 

65     Howard Wolowitz (The Big Bang Theory)

I suppose I’m going against my own philosophy again, but since TBBT is in its 11th season I think it’s fair to say that we have a big enough sample size for a knowledgeable analysis of the character. Out of everyone on the show Howard is the one who has undergone the greatest amount of growth, evolving from a clueless lecher, mama’s boy, & wannabe ladies’ man to a devoted husband & father. Oh sure he still has quirks (I don’t understand why any man would voluntarily wear a dickey) and he’s still one of the most idiosyncratic & comical parts of the ensemble, but I like the fact that he has developed & matured instead of playing the kind of oblivious buffoon that never grows up. With TBBT certainly in its last couple of seasons I would be all in on a Wolowitz spinoff.

 

64     The General Lee (The Dukes of Hazzard)

Yes, I know…it’s a car. Yet I submit to you that The General Lee is just about as important as any other character on The Dukes of Hazzard. I was part of one of the key demographics…pre-teen boys…that made the show successful back in the early 80’s because guys love fast cars, especially ones that can leap over things like Superman. Plus it had that really cool horn!! And let’s not overlook the fact that it’s the car and only the car that has made the show “controversial” the past few years, decades after its original run. There is absolutely nothing else that anyone can point to about The Dukes of Hazzard as being “offensive” since it is about the least provocative television program ever produced. I read somewhere that 300+ General Lees were used in the course of seven seasons, and that only about 17 still exist. PGA golfer Bubba Watson owns one of the 17, but during the “controversy” a few years ago he indicated that he was going to paint the American flag over the Confederate flag. I don’t know if he actually followed thru or was just saying the politically correct thing in the midst of the storm, but either way he’s a moron that I haven’t cheered for since and never will again.

 

63     Dwayne Schneider (One Day at a Time)

One Day at a Time was a preachy sitcom…sporadically funny, but the kind of show that took itself way too seriously, an afterschool special with a laugh track about a single mother starting over in the big city with bratty teenage daughters. Of course I was in grade school when it was on, so it’d be reasonable to assume that I just didn’t “get it”. At any rate, levity (and testosterone) was provided by building super Schneider, whose pornstache & tool belt make him look like the love child of Clark Gable & Batman. He’s an affable windbag, the kind of neighbor that can be annoying but you miss him when he’s not around.

 

62     Felix Unger & Oscar Madison (The Odd Couple)

The Odd Couple is a 1968 Neil Simon play that begat a 1968 feature film starring the incomparable Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau. The concept came to television for five seasons beginning in 1970, with Tony Randall & Jack Klugman in the lead roles. Though its original run ended before my 3rd birthday the magic of syndication allowed me to appreciate Felix & Oscar throughout my childhood. Felix is a persnickety fussbudget who works as a professional photographer. Oscar is a laid-back disheveled sportswriter. When Felix gets tossed out by his wife he shows up at Oscar’s door needing a place to live. The two are oil & water…they couldn’t be more different. The word sitcom is short for situation comedy, meaning that the laughs are theoretically generated by the situation, but it is clear to anyone who’s ever watched much TV that characters matter more than the situations they are put in, and The Odd Couple is a prime example. The legacy of Felix & Oscar is a formula that screenwriters for television & movies have been trying to copy for decades, but it really is difficult to measure up to the original.

 

61     Sam Malone (Cheers)

The foundation of Cheers is bar owner Sam, a former Boston Red Sox relief pitcher and recovering alcoholic. He is supposed to embody the dumb jock stereotype, but doesn’t appear to be all that unintelligent. He’s a somewhat vain ladies’ man who uses his fading celebrity to score with women. The first five seasons of the show focused largely on Sam’s antagonistic romance with erudite waitress Diane Chambers, and her departure freed him up to grown ever so slightly in the latter half of Cheers’ decade+ on the air. In hindsight one may choose to look at the show’s regulars as kind of sad…losers who waste away hours of their hollow & futile existence in a bar. Sam is their pack leader, a lonely man desperately holding on to remnants of past glory and trading in alcohol for sex to satisfy an unhealthy addiction. However, since I was a teenager the majority of the years Cheers was on I remember it as a funny, well-written show and recall Sam Malone as a cool & amusing guy who is good to a group of friends with whom he engages in humorous hijinks.

 

60     Larry, Darryl, & Darryl (Newhart)

Vermont isn’t typically the first place that comes to mind when one ponders rednecks, but three of the funniest to ever appear on television lived there…and two of them never uttered a word in 8 seasons (until the legendary series finale). They always introduce themselves the same way…”Hi, I’m Larry. This is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.” I believe the characters were supposed to be a one shot deal, but were such a hit with the audience that they became a regular part of the cast, even running the neighborhood café. They remind me a little bit of The Darling Family, who guest starred in several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show back in the 1960’s.

 

59     Major Frank Burns (MASH)

Frank Burns was originally portrayed by Robert Duvall in the 1970 film, but I think the character is actually funnier on the TV series. Frank is an uptight & inept surgeon who doesn’t appreciate the sophomoric antics of some of his colleagues, and he is on the receiving end of a lot of insults & practical jokes. He carries on an allegedly secret affair with Hot Lips Houlihan that pretty much everyone at the 4077th knows all about. When she gets married to another soldier Frank has a nervous breakdown and is discharged from the army, eventually landing an administrative gig at a veteran’s hospital in Indiana. After Frank’s departure at the end of Season 5 I feel like MASH lost much of its wit and became a little more sanctimonious than originally intended.

 

58     Vinnie Barbarino (Welcome Back Kotter)

It is really easy to blur the lines between character and actor, especially when that actor is a megastar. Kotter is responsible for launching John Travolta’s career into the stratosphere. His role in the show led to being cast in Saturday Night Fever, which of course led to Grease. The rest is history. Vinnie is the apparent leader of the Sweathogs. He’s cool, good looking, confident, popular with the ladies…and dumb as a box of rocks. After Travolta’s film career took off he didn’t completely leave the show, but was only in about a third of the final season’s episodes. High school shows are tenuous anyway because eventually the characters are no longer credible as teenagers, but many such programs have found a way to evolve. However, losing Travolta meant losing Vinnie, and Kotter couldn’t survive without him.

 

57     George & Weezie Jefferson (The Jeffersons)

The Jeffersons was a spinoff of All in the Family that approaches racial issues from a slightly different perspective. George is a prosperous businessman who owns a chain of dry cleaning stores, and his success allows he & his wife Weezie to move from their house in Queens to a swanky penthouse apartment on the upper east side of Manhattan. They even have a maid. George is a fast-talking smartass, while Weezie is the classic exasperated wife who understands her husband’s faults and is often irritated by his antics, but loves him anyway.

 

56     Gordon Shumway (ALF)

The titular Alien Life Form from the planet Melmac has a name…Gordon Shumway. The show is a unique fish-out-of-water story, and Gordon is a sardonic yet good-hearted jokester who looks like some sort of Dr. Seuss/Jim Henson mashup. He’d really like to eat the family cat, but of course never does, and is purportedly working on fixing his spaceship so he can return home, but that process takes the entirety of the show’s four seasons. In what ended up being the series finale we get a cliffhanger in which Gordon is captured by the government before he can escape to Melmac, which is a pretty crappy conclusion for a memorable character.

 

55     Johnny Drama (Entourage)

By far my favorite HBO series was Entourage, about a Queens, NY born actor and his buddies living the high life in Hollywood. The movie star in the show is loosely based on the life of Mark Wahlberg, aka early 90’s hip-hop rapper Marky Mark, who of course went on to star in movies like Boogie Nights, The Perfect Storm, & The Departed. You may recall that Mark has an older brother named Donnie, who achieved success as part of 80’s boy band New Kids on the Block but then fell into relative obscurity before starring in the TV show Blue Bloods, which has been a modest hit at best. It is fair to say Mark’s stardom eclipsed that of his older brother long ago. The older brother on Entourage is Johnny Chase, aka Johnny Drama. He found success starring in a sci-fi fantasy show called Viking Quest, but then his career stalled as his little brother Vince’s star rose, and now he is ostensibly employed as Vince’s personal chef & bodyguard. Johnny outwardly displays bravado & confidence in his ability as an actor, but he is obviously insecure and all too aware that his brother is much more talented. He loves Vince and isn’t really jealous of his success, but hilariously seizes every opportunity to ride his coattails. Johnny, as my grandmother used to say, has more BS than a Christmas turkey, so while everybody likes him no one really takes him seriously.

 

54     Dick Loudon (Newhart) & Dr. Bob Hartley (The Bob Newhart Show)

How can anyone not love Bob Newhart?? He is quietly & subtly hilarious, as opposed to many loud & obnoxious comedians. He essentially played himself…or comparable versions of his stage persona…in two different sitcoms. In the 70’s he was Dr. Bob Hartley, a mild-mannered psychiatrist dealing with a zany group of patients & colleagues. In the 80’s he was Dick Loudon, a mild-mannered writer & innkeeper dealing with an entire town of eccentric oddballs. I think I like the second show a little more than its predecessor, but that’s probably because I was a little older when Newhart was on and remember it better.

 

53     Latka Gravas (Taxi)

Andy Kaufman was more of a performance artist than a stand-up comedian, and he definitely marched to a different drumbeat than everyone else. His most enduring creation is a character called Foreign Man, a staple of his comedy club act. That persona was the basis for Latka, a timid mechanic at the Sunshine Cab Company who has multiple personalities, a concept that allowed Kaufman to portray different characters. Kaufman was famously reluctant to sign on for Taxi and didn’t really enjoy playing Latka, but nevertheless created an enduring character that was a welcome addition to the ensemble.

 

52         Dawson Leery & Joey Potter (Dawson’s Creek)

I am not ashamed to admit that I loved Dawson’s Creek!! High school shows are a tried & true television staple, and occasionally they appeal to age groups other than teenagers. The early seasons of Dawson’s Creek overlapped with the final years of the ostensibly cooler and unquestionably glitzier Beverly Hills 90210, a program to which I never really became all that attached. The kids in Capeside, MA seemed much more relevant & grounded than their left coast counterparts, and the writing was crisp & astute. The eponymous Dawson is an aspiring filmmaker whose hero is Steven Spielberg. Joey (a female for those not in the know) is the beautiful yet shy & awkward girl next door. Their relationship is the cornerstone of the show, and it’s one of those on again/off again will they or won’t they deals. Ultimately Joe ends up with Dawson’s best friend Pacey (and boy did that relationship cause some angst), while Dawson finds happiness with his true love…a writing gig in Hollywood.

 

51     Jack Tripper (Three’s Company)

Could you imagine a show like Three’s Company in the 21st century?? It would never fly. First of all, a guy and a couple of women living together is something most people wouldn’t raise an eyebrow about these days. And secondly, the idea that Jack has to lie to his landlord and say that he is gay to be allowed to stay in the apartment wouldn’t be politically correct now, no to mention the reactions of Mr. Roper & later on Mr. Furley to Jack’s alleged orientation. But this was four decades ago and the world was a different place. At any rate, Jack is the comedic cornerstone, an aspiring chef who hangs out with his lascivious pal Larry down at The Regal Beagle (a local watering hole), but respects the boundaries set within his living arrangement with roomies Janet & Chrissy (and later Cindy then Terri). Jack is a clumsy screw-up whose pratfalls provide many of each episode’s laughs.

 

 

 

Let’s take a break. We’ll dive into Part 3 tomorrow. Or the next day *lol*.

The 2017 Sammy Awards – Part 2

Welcome back to the 2017 Sammy Awards. If you missed Part 1 of the show please take a few moments to go back & catch up. We’ll be right here waiting patiently for your return, and then we will continue taking a fun look back at the previous year.

 

 

 

After a few brief comments from our host Andy Cohen it’s time for our next award. Please give a warm welcome to a 70 year old man who still thinks an app is something one eats before the main meal. He’s a legendary comedian and star of films like The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, & City Slickers, as well as the nine time host of The Academy Awards and a former host of The Sammys. The man is a national treasure, and we are happy to welcome back Billy Crystal!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

App of the Year

 

Words with Friends

Basically it is Scrabble, and I’ve always loved Scrabble. I’m all about word games rather than shooting/war type games. I almost always have three or four games going, and though my record isn’t as good as I’d prefer I enjoy it tremendously.

 

Pinterest

I always thought Pinterest was something thru which women traded recipes, but I was wrong. There are tons of “pins” available on a plethora of subjects…almost anything you can imagine (books, food, history, religion, humor, & a bunch of others). I’m not sure about how much people actually get out of the whole thing since it’s pretty easy to scroll thru stuff, pin something to one of your “boards”, and then move on. That describes my process anyway…others may actually take time to go back and study what they’ve saved. Pinterest atleast has the potential to be useful, and it’s pretty user friendly, which are two great qualities in an app.

 

HQ Trivia

HQ is the new kid on the block, and it’s a bit different than other games one might play on a smartphone. HQ is a live game show that offers its players the opportunity to win real cash. The game is played twice daily…3pm & 9pm EST, and is usually hosted by the self-proclaimed Quizz Daddy, Semitic Sajak, Woke Woolery, & Regis Trill-bin…comedian Scott Rogowsky, who refers to the audience as HQ-ties and seems familiar to me for some reason. There are twelve questions of increasing difficulty, and the prize is generally $1000-1500, which sounds awesome until you realize that there are a couple hundred thousand people playing, which means that even if you win the payout might not even be enough to buy a popcorn & soda to snack on during a matinee. Plus, you only have a very rapid ten seconds to choose the correct multiple choice answer, and the questions are pretty tricky. I love trivia and feel like I’m reasonably intelligent, but I don’t think I’ve gotten past Q6 or 7. HQ & I are on a break right now because the game is rather wonky, with noticeable lag time and occasional crashes. I became dismayed when I answered a question correctly but was nevertheless disqualified, so the app was deleted from my phone in a fit of irritation, but I kind of miss it and will resume playing soon.

 

Word Cookies

In my world there’s not a much better combination than food & word games. The App Store describes Word Cookies as “a fun & exciting word puzzle game” in which the object is to “find hidden words” with the benefit that it will “improve vocabulary, concentration, & spelling skills.” It’s a modern spinoff of Boggle, and you aren’t playing against anyone but yourself. I can amuse myself for hours with Word Cookies, though what usually happens is that I play for a few minutes at a time at halftime of the game or during commercial breaks if I’m watching television.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Word Cookies. One of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed watching the game show Jeopardy! is that I feel like I might have learned a thing or two in that half hour. I’m not sure that Word Cookies improves vocabulary since most of the words you find are rather short & very basic, but I’m on board with the spelling & concentration benefits. It’d be unfair to call it mindless fun. However, it doesn’t feel like there’s unnecessary effort involved…I actually find playing it very soothing. Word Cookies is exactly the sort of time waster that’s not a complete waste of time that all phone apps should aspire to be.

 

 

Before we continue with the awards we have time for another exciting musical interlude. We are turnt to welcome to the stage a five time Grammy winner who has raised the roof during two Super Bowl halftime shows. Get up on your feet and show some love for Bruno Mars!!

 

 

 

That was da bomb diggity!!  Thank you Bruno!!

 

Presenting our next award is a highly regarded comedian and occasional actor who has been known to go off the grid for long periods of time. But now he’s back with two brand new comedy specials on Netflix, which we are contractually obligated to mention as recompense for his appearance on this show. Please give a warm welcome to the allegedly funny Dave Chappelle!! And the nominees are:

 

 

The DB Cooper Award (For the Person Who Most Needs to Disappear)

 

Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, & Seth Meyers

It wasn’t that long ago when I adored late night television. There was nothing better than winding down after a long day with some funny jokes, amusing comedy bits, & vapid celebrity interviews. But things steadily began to change a few years ago. Letterman started going political, but I was willing to overlook it because he was a lifelong institution. And then he retired. After that the incomparable Craig Ferguson left the late night arena and was replaced with James Corden, who just doesn’t cut it. Letterman was replaced by Stephen Colbert, while Jimmy Fallon had been replaced at 12:30 with SNL alum Seth Meyers when Fallon took over The Tonight Show. Jimmy Kimmel has been hosting his show since 2003 and had been reasonably amusing. He was growing on me. And then Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Colbert’s show was straight up political propaganda from Day 1, which is why I’ve rarely watched. It didn’t take Meyers long to become a liberal hack, on occasion campaigning in such a way that one knows that he isn’t even trying to be funny. It’s like watching CNN or MSNBC. In 2017 Kimmel went completely off the rails, using his show to expound on issues like health care & gun control, complete with crocodile tears. Look, I’m sorry that his baby was born with a heart defect and sincerely hope the boy will be okay, but I don’t watch late night comedy shows for political discourse. If I’m in that kind of mood I’ll tune into one of the 24 hour news channels. Fallon was the last holdout…until Monday August 14, 2017. Following the tragic events in Charlottesville, VA The Tonight Show did a cold open in which Fallon went all in on the divisive rhetoric that has infested our nation. I haven’t watched his show since, and I don’t foresee that changing in 2018. These men killed late night TV with their sociopolitical agenda, and Johnny Carson must be doing somersaults in his grave.

 

The Ball Family

I’m sure Lonzo Ball is a talented enough basketball player, otherwise the Los Angeles Lakers wouldn’t have selected him with the #2 overall pick in the NBA Draft. But is he transcendent?? Is he on the same level with Magic, Bird, & Jordan?? Is he as good as Kobe, Lebron, & Durant?? I don’t believe he is, and if he’s not then is he worth the hassle since the entire family is a cancer?? Younger brothers LiAngelo & LaMelo have already been banished to Lithuania. LiAngelo was arrested back in November when he was a freshman for UCLA after shoplifting in China. He’d still be rotting in jail there if President Trump hadn’t bailed him out. LaMelo is only 16 years old but has already dropped out of school to play pro ball in Lithuania, and last summer used the “N Word” during an appearance on WWE Raw, although since he used the “street” version of the word ending in “a” instead of “er” perhaps it was socially acceptable. Who knows the rules nowadays?? And of course the patriarch of this clown show is LaVar Ball, a man that makes Darth Vader look like Father of the Year. It baffles me that outlets like ESPN continue to give that man any sort of coverage.

 

Bill Nye The Science Guy

Not only does this “scientist” think anyone who doesn’t buy the climate change hype should be put in jail, but a few months ago he produced a bizarre video promoting the transgender agenda, saying that “sexuality is a spectrum and everyone is on it”. The truth is that Nye has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, making him less of a “science guy” than Star Trek’s fictional Mr. Spock.

 

Steve Kerr & Gregg Popovich

Not only are actors & talk show hosts doing it, but now NBA coaches feel the need to contribute their wisdom to the political discourse. The issue I have with these people is that a) their fanbase consists of people of varied ideologies, so it makes zero sense to alienate a big chunk of them, & b) their opinions are full of ignorance. Kerr, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, and Popovich, longtime coach of the San Antonio Spurs, clearly think they’re smarter than the average bear and enjoy lecturing those they feel are beneath them. Here’s the thing…both coaches are actually good at what they do for a living, and their teams will be amongst the heavily favored title contenders, but unfortunately I and many others will be rooting against them because they refused to keep their big mouths shut.

 

Maxine Waters & Sheila Jackson Lee

Waters has been representing California in Congress since 1991. Lee has been representing Texas in Congress since 1995. My question is…how?? Lee once said “I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen”, and complained that hurricane names were “too lily white”, opining that “all racial groups should be represented” while suggesting future natural disaster names like Keisha, Jamal, & Deshawn. Waters has plainly stated that “this liberal would be about socializing, basically taking over and the government running all of your companies”, a disturbing idea to say the least. She also called the 1992 race riots in Los Angeles “somewhat understandable”, and said that “calling it a riot sounds like it was just a bunch of crazy people who went out and did bad things for no reason…so I call it a rebellion”. These are just a few examples of the stupidity these two have exhibited. It seems like every time they’re in front of a microphone they say something that makes one legitimately question their sanity. Look, folks can elect who they want, but come on California & Texas…I’m pretty sure you can do better.

 

Commissioner Fidel Goodell

Roger Goodell became NFL Commissioner in 2006. In the ensuing decade+ we’ve seen his “personal conduct policy” issue a plethora of random fines & suspensions for off field issues, which is kind of like your boss holding you accountable for what you do with your free time off the clock. On the field the game has become a shell of itself, with what used to be perfectly legitimate tackles now resulting in penalties and even more fines & suspensions, and instant replay becoming an albatross that has redefined what used to be the fairly simple process of catching a football. Goodell has bungled things like DeflateGate and the Ray Rice investigation, among other things. In 2017 he lost total control of the league as a bunch of spoiled rich thugs decided that they hate the country that has given them the freedom & opportunity to make a fantastic living using their God given athletic skills. It is simply time for Goodell to go. He has become the story, and the league commissioner should never command that kind of spotlight.

 

The Hollywood Elite

I love television & movies. I always have & always will. But good Lord do they make it difficult. I’ve been aware for many years that morality is in short supply in Tinseltown and made my peace with it, but in 2017 the hypocrisy became too much to overlook. They lecture the masses about gun control while making a ton of violent movies and having armed security protect them at all times. They whine & cry about equality & respect for women, and then we find out that sexual harassment has been rampant in their “community” for decades. They promote the “LGBTQ” agenda while being totally dismissive of anyone who might believe in a book you may have heard of called The Bible. They allegedly stand up for the little guy, but live a life of opulence so out of touch with those in flyover country that it’d be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic. They make speeches about environmentalism & climate change but then hop on their private jets to go home to their mansions, in the process making a larger “carbon footprint” than any ten people. They want you & I to give up our rights & live without modern conveniences while they enjoy the high life and sacrifice nothing. They believe that we should open up the floodgates and welcome all kinds of criminals & miscreants from all over the world into our nation, but rest assured none of them would let a family of refugees sleep in one of their spare bedrooms. And then Donald Trump happened, and the entire Hollywood community has had a yearlong hissy fit that I assume will continue into the foreseeable future. Just like pro athletes that have expressed their strong opinions in the past twelve months these actors, actresses, directors, producers, etc. have every right to their beliefs, but given their hypocrisy and lack of ethics we have the right to not give a damn what they think.

 

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

All of them!! Y’all know the drill by now. These people just need to shut their pieholes. Go away. Get out. Good riddance. Don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you.

 

 

 

To present our next award it is our pleasure to introduce two of our favorite performers. She is the star of films like Mean Girls, Wedding Crashers, & The Family Stone, while he is an SNL alum who has hosted talk shows, been in a few movies, and has had a long & successful career as a stand-up comedian. Please welcome Rachel McAdams & Dennis Miller!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Most Entertaining Program (Radio or TV)

 

The Big Bang Theory

Is it showing its age after eleven seasons?? Yes. But is it still a well-written & funny show?? Absolutely. It’s odd to think that we’ve now spent over a decade watching this group of characters and all of their zany adventures.

 

The Young and the Restless

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but a year ago I did seriously ponder giving up my soap operas. Alas, I just can’t quit Y&R. My father watches it too, which makes me chuckle. The writing isn’t always as tight as I’d prefer, but the performances are mostly outstanding given the material with which the actors are working.

 

Designated Survivor

I knew when Designated Survivor premiered that it might have a limited shelf life. Once the initial mystery that was the entire foundation of the show was unraveled it had no choice but to morph into a 24/West Wing hybrid in which there’s a different crisis to resolve each week. That’s not necessarily bad, but it’s not as compelling as the original premise. I began to lose interest early on in the current second season and actually need to go back and stream the episodes I’ve missed.

 

MetroNews Hotline

From 3-6pm each weekday afternoon here in WV we have the opportunity to listen to a statewide radio talk show that covers everything from current events & sports to pop culture & the financial markets. It’s comfort food radio, which in my book is a great thing. A year ago the original host stepped down to pursue other opportunities, but the new guy has grown on me. I don’t listen to all three hours every day, but if I happen to be in my truck when the program is on I’ll usually listen. God knows it’s better than the garbage the music stations are playing.

 

WWE Raw

Monday night is still wrestling night in The Manoverse. Sometimes I’ll flip back & forth to the Monday night game during football season, but generally I am all about my wrasslin’ for a few hours, although these days I actually doze off occasionally, mostly because my internal clock is jacked up for various reasons. WWE has made a concerted effort to become more family friendly in recent years, which is a blessing & a curse. Pro wrestling has always had its ebbs & tides, and right now seems to be a bit of a lull. Still though, there are weeks when it’s really fun to be a wrestling fan.

 

Highly Questionable

Dan LeBatard & his Papi (along with whoever is co-hosting) have slowly risen up to become my favorite ESPN talk show. If I’m home I’ll watch, and if I’m not going to be home I utilize the DVR. It’s irreverant, occasionally silly, sometimes informative, & always easily palatable.

 

General Hospital

I can’t seem to quit GH either. I’ve been watching since grade school. There are certainly better things I could be spending time on, but I suppose there are worse things as well.

 

The Rush Limbaugh Program

El Rushbo is still going strong after three decades on the radio. I’m not as into politics as I once was and don’t listen often, but always enjoy the show when I do. I understand that he doesn’t frost everyone’s cupcake, and that’s alright. It’s rather amusing to me that two decades ago he was thought to be so provocative, but these days, amongst the plethora of contentious sociopolitical rhetoric from so many media outlets, Rush Limbaugh has actually morphed into the “harmless loveable fuzzball” that he has always proclaimed himself to be.

 

Jeopardy!

Some may disagree, but I contend that Jeopardy! is the best game show of all time. It actually rewards people for being intelligent, and really, who could have an issue with that??

 

This Is Us

Entertainment Weekly calls This Is Us “a refreshing respite from the relational violence and pessimism that marks other buzz soaps that have bubbled forth from a culture of divisiveness”. In other words, it’s not about violence, sex, or a social agenda. The show is an old-fashioned family drama with a unique twist that is particularly well-written & performed.

 

Pardon the Interruption

In contrast to its ESPN brethren Highly Questionable, PTI is proudly & audaciously cantankerous. Hosts Tony Kornheiser & Michael Wilbon like to shout at each other for no apparent reason, but it kind of works. It’s appointment TV for me, and I usually record it if I’m not going to be home. Every once in a great while Tony & Mike will go political (Wilbon loves to talk about “plantation mentality”), and sometimes I have to change the channel. However, thankfully that doesn’t happen too often so I’m willing to overlook it.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

This Is Us. I rarely get excited about anything on television anymore. Perhaps that is indicative of age, maturity, & refined taste. Or maybe it’s just that Hollywood truly has gone to hell and rarely produces anything worth one’s time & effort. This Is Us is an exception. To call it a home run somehow feels inadequate. The cast is top notch, and the writing is unrivaled.

 

 

Our next award is a very special honor for a long time presence on our show. To make the presentation please welcome comedian & master impressionist Frank Caliendo!!

 

 

 

The Duffer-Herrell Lifetime Achievement Award

 

Mike & Mike in the Morning

November 17, 2017 was a gloomy day for sports fans. For 17 years many had spent atleast part of their weekday mornings with former NFL defensive lineman Mike Golic and nerdy sportscaster Mike Greenberg, as well as an immensely deep roster of in-studio & call-in guests. It began as a radio show and at its heart remained so, but from fairly early on in its run was simulcast on ESPN2. I was a little late to the Mike & Mike party, first becoming aware of it somewhere between 2006 & 2008 (my memory is a little fuzzy), but quickly became hooked. I’ve heaped plenty of praise on the program over the years, and offered some constructive criticism as well. Rumors of its demise began as far back as two or three years ago, but this past spring it became official. Whether it was ESPN’s decision to break up the duo and attempt to double their success with two shows instead of one, or Greeny felt compelled to spread his wings and do something different is unknown to the masses. Perhaps the truth is a concoction of those and other reasons. Greeny & Golic publicly put to rest any rumors of a rift between the two of them, and unless they are gifted actors on par with Al Pacino & Tom Hanks I have no reason to doubt that claim. I think they were more upset about how the situation was handled, which isn’t surprising given how poorly ESPN has dealt with various other matters recently. At any rate, Mike & Mike was nominated for six Sammys over the years, winning four straight at one point. I believe I once called it “comfort food television”, because watching two guys discuss sports (with a healthy dose of pop culture & general merriment on occasion) for four hours was a fantastic way to begin the morning. Golic is now doing essentially the same show with Trey Wingo, while Greeny will be getting a TV only program called Get Up beginning in April with co-hosts Michelle Beadle & Jalen Rose. I like Golic & Wingo just fine, though it is…thus far…a tepid reproduction of Mike & Mike, while I’m not at all excited about Get Up since neither Beadle nor Rose frost my cupcake. It’s all about chemistry, and Mike & Mike was lightning in a bottle. Greeny & Golic complemented one another spectacularly. There were times when the first thing I did when I woke up or returned home from my midnight shift was turn on Mike & Mike to get their take on the latest sports news. Since it ended a couple of months ago my television now usually stays off until much later in the morning. Kudos to all involved for creating great memories and producing something entertaining & informative enough to spend time on at 6am. Mike & Mike is greatly missed, and I feel like ESPN made a huge mistake.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s take another break. Stay tuned for the sensational conclusion of the 2017 Sammy Awards…coming soon!!

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 2.16

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

A few thoughts on the sad death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia…
No, I don’t believe he was murdered. However, one can’t blame conspiracy types for atleast pondering the idea. The Obama scaliaAdministration has proven itself to be untrustworthy and vociferous opponents of the kind of traditional American values & Godly principles of which Justice Scalia was such a staunch guardian. Secondly, despite what many of my Republican friends have advocated, I do not think President Obama needs to step aside and let the next President fill the vacancy. The Constitution gives the President the power to nominate someone and so he shall. That being said, it is then up to the Republican majority in Congress to block anyone who would tip the scales of justice to the left. That’s how this is supposed to work. It’s how it’s always worked. Unfortunately, conservatives have absolutely no confidence that Congress will hold up its end of the bargain. If another radical liberal is somehow confirmed then the only chance our nation has to weather the storm is to elect the correct person to The White House in November and hope that President will get an opportunity to swing The Court back in the right direction with as many as three nominations (Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 82 years old, Anthony Kennedy is 79, & Stephen Breyer is 77). The big question is how much damage would be inflicted in the meantime. THAT is why the 2016 Presidential Election is SO important. It is not the economy, it isn’t immigration, it’s not tax policy. Those things are important, but the key to the election is deciding who we trust to fill up to three vacancies on The Supreme Court. Barack Obama is black, and lots of people think he’s cool…but the fact is that the idea that he now has the opportunity to make such a monumental impact on the nation’s highest court is scaring the crap out of people. Think about that. We can’t make that same mistake again.

 

 

Time for a little shameless self-promotion…
Awhile back I had an idea for a March Madness-esque tournament involving movies from the 1980’s (you know…the era of John Hughes, teen angst, The Brat Pack, synthesized theme music, & Tom Cruise before he lost his damn mind) called 80s Movie Mania. I published the intro not long ago and there are some quick polls that need votes (as there will be throughout the process). So if this is your first visit to The Manoverse or if you’re someone who only occasionally pops in and may have missed that introduction please take a gander and cast some votes. I really want The Manofesto to be interactive and this is a fun way to get involved. Thanks in advance.

 

 

jebPart of me feels bad for Jeb Bush. He seems like a good guy, and by most accounts he was a fine governor in Florida. His downfall was twofold…bad timing & being third. Let me explain. In almost any other election in American history Donald Trump would be seen as a fringe candidate and his run wouldn’t have lasted more than a few months. But in 2016 people are SO fed up with politics as usual and “the establishment” that being an outsider, thinking outside the box, & being non-PC really resonates with the masses. Couple that with Trump’s deep pockets and his brash attitude (a quality celebrated now rather than shunned as it would have been in the old days) and you’ve got a formidable entity that is difficult to defeat. Secondly, Jeb Bush is following in the footsteps of both his father and brother…one a former VP & one term President who people like but doesn’t necessarily stand out as being one of our best leaders, and the other a recent President who received much harsh criticism & derision (whether it was justified or not is a legitimate argument). A Bush has been President or Vice President 20 out of the past 36 years. In a political climate where being amongst the Washington insider elite is seen as such a negative Jeb’s last name was an inescapable albatross…fair or unfair.

 

 

Dear writers of The Big Bang Theory:
I love your show…have since Day 1. I appreciate how you have developed the characters over the years. Leonard & Penny are now p1a married couple and Penny has grown from a blonde bimbo with a pipe dream of becoming an actress to a p4young professional with a solid job. Howard Wolowitz has went from a lecherous horndog to expecting a child with his lovely wife Bernadette. Raj has had some romantic ups & downs but atleast now he is able to talk to women. The inexplicable romance of Sheldon & Amy has blossomed and both have become more at ease interacting with other human beings. The fact that TBBT is in its 9th season but still gets fantastic ratings and most fans have not expressed any significant fatigue or desire to move on from the show is remarkable. However…having said all of that…I do have a bone to pick. I understand that TBBT is a sitcom and alcoholism probably isn’t a subject y’all want to take on. That’s understandable because alcoholism isn’t funny. So, why then does Penny…a 30 year old woman…have such an obvious drinking problem?? Why is she constantly drinking alcohol, talking about drinking alcohol, or joking around about alcohol?? I repeat…it’s not funny. 18-22 year olds who drink a lot are fodder for comedy because they are college students (or atleast in that demo). 30+ year olds that are still getting wasted on a regular basis are just kind of sad & pathetic. Drunk Sheldon Cooper (even though he is in his 30s) is amusing because we know that he didn’t have a normal p2childhood or youth and doesn’t really grasp the concept of partying like most young adults have done at p3one time or another. But I can count one hand the number of episodes in nine years where Sheldon became intoxicated, whereas Penny drinks wine and makes some kind of smartass remark about getting drunk in nearly every episode. It’s almost tragic and needs to stop. Come on folks…you’ve proven you can do better.

25 Favorite TV Theme Songs…..Part 1

I feel sorry for today’s youth on a variety of levels. I just don’t think their childhoods are nearly as cool as mine was. Of course I am sure parents said the same thing about our generation. Anyway, one of the things that kids miss out on these days is memorable TV theme songs. The powers-that-be figured out a decade or two ago that they could add 30 seconds or a minute to a show (well…okay…let’s be honest…it’s all about additional commercial time which means more money) by trimming down or eliminating the theme song and having the opening credits run during a show’s first scene. And even if a program does still have a theme song I’m not sure how memorable it becomes since everyone is watching things online or recording stuff on their DVR and fast forwarding thru the show. Certainly tvmusiccommercials have lost their value, but that’s a topic for another day. We’re here to talk about TV theme songs…the ones that were attached to shows that have been off the air for decades but we can still hum the tune and remember the catchy lyrics. These songs set the mood and in many cases explained the entire concept for the show. They will sometimes creep into your mind for no apparent reason and stay there for days, like an eel from Ceti Alpha V. The tunes listed here are, more often than not, affiliated with an equally awesome show…but not always. There are cases where a theme song is way cooler than the television program itself ever was. As with any kind of subjective ranking like this the choices are obviously influenced by the era in which I grew up as well as my personal preferences. Readers who may have perused my 50 Favorite TV Shows a few years ago will…understandably…recognize a lot of crossover.

 

 

 
Honorable Mentions: Peter Gunn (I never saw the TV show, and associate the song more with the movie The Blues Brothers), MASH (hauntingly beautiful but kind of a downer…I mean come on…the song is called Suicide is Painless), Mission: Impossible (I’ve never seen the show or the Tom Cruise movies), Barney Miller (a cool, jazzy tune that just didn’t make the cut), American Bandstand (an infectious song for sure), The Munsters (I’m not sure why a show about monsters had a catchy surfer theme song), Taxi (simple, elegant, but not as memorable as many others)

 

 

 

25 Happy Days
Happy Days actually had two theme songs. For the first couple of seasons it was Bill Haley & The Comets’ classic 1954 anthem Rock Around the Clock. hdAfter that an original song was recorded that is close enough in vibe & style that the difference between it and Clock is almost imperceptible.

 

 

 

24 Three’s Company / Full House
3This is our first tie…but not the last. Both shows…as well as their theme songs…are guilty pleasures. Many won’t admit that they full_houseenjoyed them but we all know that enough people did that they were each on the air for 8 seasons.

 

 

 

 

23 Star Trek / Star Trek:TNG
TOS’s theme is a bit…spacey & operatic, as if you are in the midst of an acid trip while intoxicated on champagne (not that I have trekany kind of personal experience, atleast with acid). It was composed during the 60’s after all. TNG’s theme, on the other hand, is orchestral & bombastic. Both include the familiar voiceover about space being the final frontier and explaining the mission of the starship Enterprise. I hear TNG’s theme often, as it is the personal ringtone assigned to my friend The Owl when he calls.

 

 

 

22 Night Court / Growing Pains
Growing-Pains_610Whatever happened to BJ Thomas?? I really enjoyed his 1970’s songs Hooked on a Feeling and Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head (which won an ncAcademy Award). Anyway, he teamed up with duo queen Jennifer Warnes (Up Where We Belong from An Officer and a Gentleman with Joe Cocker and I’ve Had the Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing with Bill Medley were two other hits) to sing a slightly sappy, very 80’s-ish theme for Growing Pains. Night Court’s theme song is an upbeat jazz tune with a really cool bass line. It is vaguely similar to the Barney Miller theme only kicked up a few notches. This makes perfect sense when you know both were composed by the same guy.

 

 

 

21 Dallas / The Big Bang Theory
TV Nayyar 104902TBBT is still on the air and going strong, so I hesitate to include its ebullient theme song, but I will, a) because I think it’s cool, and b) the show has been on long enough for me to fairly assume that the tune will stand the test of time. It was composed and is performed by the fringe 90’s rock group Barenaked Ladies, who I think may have had a couple of semi-recognizable hits about 20 years ago. The lyrics are more about the actual Big Bang Theory that we all learned about in science class and don’t really tell us anything about the show, but it’s still a fun song. The Dallas theme is a funky orchestral-disco fusion thing. Unique and unforgettable. Fans of the show dallassurely have memories flood their brain when hearing it…Who Shot JR??, Pam’s dream season, The Oil Barons’ Ball, Ewing Oil, South Fork. Puts me in the mood for power, money, & BBQ.

 

 

 

20 Batman / Sanford & Son
batmanBatman has had multiple theme songs over the years, from animated TV shows to the superb score by award winning composersson (and former Oingo Boingo frontman) Danny Elfman for the Tim Burton films a couple of decades back. However, my favorite remains the simple yet catchy theme for the campy 60’s TV show starring Adam West as The Caped Crusader. Minimalism works. My late paternal grandfather loved Sanford & Son, a show that was cancelled before I started kindergarten. God bless syndicated reruns, right?? The theme song is entitled The Streetbeater and was composed by the legendary Quincy Jones.

 

 

 

19 The Golden Girls
Okay…a serious question. When did The Golden Girls become a cultural touchstone for homosexuality, and why?? Maybe I’ve missed something ggobvious, which is entirely possible since the show was originally on when I was a teenager. It’s no skin off my nose…I’m just curious. At any rate, the theme song belongs in any 80’s time capsule that one might conceive, alongside The Brat Pack, acid washed jeans, MTV, & big hair. It is all about friendship, and really, who could dislike a song like that??

 

 

 

18 The Greatest American Hero
I don’t think I ever watched a single episode of The Greatest American Hero. It only lasted for three seasons and during most of that time was on Friday gamnights at the same time as Dallas, and in my house we did not miss Dallas. If I had been a fan of the show there is a good chance the theme would have ranked much higher on this list because it is among the coolest & most unforgettable songs in television history. It was memorably lampooned on a classic 1997 episode of Seinfeld, which just adds to its credibility. Believe It or Not actually became a hit on the radio (which might explain its familiarity even to those of us who never watched the show) and peaked at #2 on the charts. One thing I do find interesting about the program itself: In 1981 a show was conceived about a high school schoolteacher who becomes a superhero. It got, at best, so-so ratings and was cancelled after three seasons. Almost 30 years later a show (Breaking Bad) was conceived about a high school teacher who becomes a meth dealer. It lasted 5 seasons and is often trumpeted by some as one of the best television programs of all time. That, ladies & gentlemen, is the living, breathing definition of going to Hell in a handbasket.

 

 

 

17 Saved by the Bell
I can’t recall exactly how I became a Saved by the Bell fan. That might be because it was on in the early 90’s and my memory of those years is a bit sbbfuzzy…for reasons I won’t go into. I certainly wasn’t the target demographic. I was a guy in college, not a junior high school girl. But for whatever reason I always liked the show, even though it was so cheesy it made the 60’s Batman show look like Shakespeare. The theme song is peppy and briefly encapsulates a lot of the angst of being in high school. Interesting trivia…the Saved by the Bell and Golden Girls themes were composed by the same person. That’s some impressive range.

 

 

 

16 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Is there a cooler 90’s theme song than The Fresh Prince?? It is still the best thing that Will Smith has ever done. I’m not into rap/hip-hop at all, but if I fresh-prince-outfits-9were 25 years younger and still into getting gooned on Jägermeister it wouldn’t be hard to persuade me to karaoke the heck out of this song. I’m surprised that never actually happened. The tune basically sets up the premise for the entire series and everything that followed for 6 seasons on television evolved from that.

 

 

 

 

That’s it. That’s all you get…for now. Please stay tuned for Part 2…coming soon!!

The 2014 Sammy Awards – Part I

SammyAwardBefore we get too far into 2015 it is time to take one final look back at the year that was 2014. Welcome to the 5th annual Sammy Awards, an introspective review of the previous year, as well as the world’s coolest imaginary awards show. I like to think of The Sammys as an eclectic remix of real awards shows…classier than anything MTV offers, not as pretentious as The Oscars & Grammys, and more engaging than the plethora of offerings (The SAGs, The Tonys, The ESPYs, The People’s Choice Awards, etc.) that no one watches. There are no acceptance speeches and many of the nominees aren’t even in the audience (for obvious reasons). The pace is brisk because shows like these tend to drag on and no one pays attention if the event lasts too long. I have always said that the show would be broadcast on HBO, but I would be open to options like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Show me the money!!

 

Please give a warm welcome to the host of the 2014 Sammy Awards. He is an actor, comedian, & veteran of hosting awards shows. He has won Emmys, crystalGrammys, Golden Globes, & Tonys in the course of a legendary career that has spanned four decades. It is a deeply sincere honor to introduce Billy Crystal!!

 

 

 

 

After an inspiringly funny song & dance number by our host it is time for our first award. Please welcome the cast of one of the most underrated sitcoms of the late 70’s/early 80’s…WKRP in Cincinnati. Give it up for Howard Hesseman, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid, Jan Smithers, Gary Sandy, Frank Bonner, & Richard Sanders.

hessmanandersonreidsmitherssandybonnersanders

 

 

 

 

And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Favorite TV Show

The Big Bang Theory
Not only does CBS continue to air original episodes (the show is currently in the midst of its 8th season), but TBS airs multiple repeats several nights per week. One can see how the series has evolved. I realize that there are some that believe that the quality of the writing has gone downhill and that the original nerd concept has somewhat softened into what is essentially a Friends rehash. That idea isn’t completely off base, but I feel like TBBT is still performing at a high level and is better than any sitcom that’s come down the pike in the past decade.

 

Gotham
I am a certified Batmaniac!! I love everything Batman. The concept of this show however is less about Batman and more about Gotham City as a lawless wasteland. It shows us James Gordon as a young, fresh, idealistic cop that is partnered with cynical veteran Harvey Bullock. It just so happens that the first case the duo is assigned is the murder of Thomas & Martha Wayne (aka Batman’s parents). Along the way we are given origin stories for some of Batman’s most infamous foes…Catwoman, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Riddler, & Two-Face (so far). We also meet young Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred, but they are in the background. In some ways Gotham is not unlike your typical police procedural…Law & Order, CSI, NCIS, etc…but with the framework of the Batman mythology, solid performances, & fantastic writing it stands out from the crowd. It is a bit too violent at times for my taste, but I can live with that if the stories are great.

 

Mike & Mike in the Morning
The four time winner of this award has secured another nomination. However, I must say that it’s been a tough year for Greeny & Golic. The sports world has had more than its fair share of controversial, sociopolitical issues and oftentimes while the guys are discussing these kinds of topics I find myself realizing that they lean pretty far to the left. I understand that it is tough for the talking heads on ESPN and elsewhere. They can’t just ignore stories like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Donald Sterling, or the Washington Redskins nickname. But I found myself changing the channel a lot in 2014. I’ve curtailed my exposure to politics and other kinds of stressfully provocative programming, and when that stuff seeps into my sports I find it even more important to seek alternative entertainment. The Mikes are still very funny & enjoyable much of the time, but I don’t find myself getting up early or otherwise going out of my way to watch the show like I did in the past. Maybe 2015 will provide less contentious sports stories and we can all go back to relaxing and having fun with Mike & Mike. I hope so anyway.

 

The Herd
Everything I said about Mike & Mike applies to Colin Cowherd as well. However, I do find Colin to be less…weasely…than Mike Greenberg and much more intellectually stimulating than Mike Golic. I don’t always agree with his opinions, but I respect the thought that goes into them and the articulate way in which they are presented. Cowherd can be a funny dude too, and he mostly does the show himself, with minimal help from guests.

 

Highly Questionable
Thankfully ESPN has settled on a time slot for this show (4pm on ESPN2), but I still feel like it gets pre-empted an awful lot. Hosts Dan Lebatard & Bomani Jones are acquired tastes that may not appeal to everyone, but I find them rather entertaining in small doses. And I love Dan’s father Gonzalo (aka Papi), a 70 year old Cuban immigrant who inexplicably reminds me of my 100 year old (if he were still alive) Italian grandfather. The show is briskly paced, which means the hosts don’t have time to dive too deep into controversy, a fact that serves them well (especially during a weird sports year like 2014). It’s informative & fun, kind of like a mid-afternoon snack that won’t curb your hunger completely but will tide you over until dinner.

 

Girl Meets World
I wasn’t the target demographic for the parent show Boy Meets World in the 1990’s, so I am most certainly not the audience this program is going for, which I am assuming is young teenage girls. However, I always liked Boy Meets World. It was the kind of lighthearted, family friendly show that ABC specialized in at the time (other examples: Step By Step, Perfect Strangers, Full House, & Family Matters). Girl Meets World re-introduces us to Cory & Topanga Matthews, who have now been married for 14 years and have two children. One of those kids…young teenager Riley…is the focus of the show. I think Girl Meets World…like its predecessor…will evolve & mature over time. There is a nostalgia factor right now, which is why people like me tune in. But that can’t last forever. The acting is a bit over-the-top, I don’t know what the heck Ben Savage did to his nose, & one can certainly tell the difference between a program airing on a broadcast network like ABC and a show like this that is on The Disney Channel. We’ll see where Girl Meets World is at in a year or two, but at the moment I am giving it a tentative thumbs up.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 
The Big Bang Theory. Kudos to TBS for the abundant re-runs. I have probably seen every episode of the show’s first seven seasons atleast 2 or 3 times. I can’t tellbbt you how many lonely & tedious evenings in the past year have been made tolerable by the presence of TBBT on my television. Oh I still like the new stuff that airs on CBS each Thursday evening, but it was the repeats that secured the award.

 

 
sternTo present our next award The Manofesto is pleased to welcome the world’s foremost “shock jock”. Give a warm welcome to radio & TV personality Howard Stern.  And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest Non-Sports Sports Story

Michael Sam
Defensive end Michael Sam is gay. Did you know that?? If you watched ESPN this past spring you surely did know since the entire cast of talking heads yapped about it every 5 minutes for months. Sam was the only 7th round draft choice I have ever seen that had cameras in his house when he got the phone call. And then all the way thru training camp with the St. Louis Rams his every move was reported by the press. Sadly the liberal narrative took a hit when he proved himself not good enough to play in the NFL. But then Jerry Jones came to the rescue and the Dallas Cowboys signed Sam to their practice squad. Eventually they released him too but by then the sports media had moved on and last I heard the young man was whining that he didn’t receive a fair shake because he is gay. Dear liberals: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say it’s no big deal when a Democrat manwhore President cheats on his wife in The White House because “it’s just sex” and then turn around and act like the world owes someone fame & fortune because of their chosen sexual preference. Michael Sam was ultimately judged on his talents & abilities on the football field and he simply didn’t have what it takes to make it at the highest level.

 

The Washington Redskins
I have no doubt that someday owner Dan Snyder (or whomever he eventually sells the team to) will be forced to change the team’s name, and that will be a sad day. I detest political correctness and that is all this “controversy” is. I never heard of anyone having an issue with the term Redskins back in the 80’s when Washington was winning Super Bowls, and multiple polls have shown that only a very small minority of the general population as well as an equally small number of Indians…oops, I mean Native Americans…have a problem with the name. This is a media driven story that a handful of glory seeking politicians leech onto occasionally when they get bored. It’s idiotic.

 

Tony Stewart Kills A Man
Tony Stewart has been my favorite race car driver ever since the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. over a decade ago. Smoke is brash & outspoken but is rarely a jackass about it like Kyle Busch. He’s a throwback to when racing wasn’t quite so corporate and isn’t a polished pre-fab pretty boy like Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon. However, this past summer he found himself at a low point when he was moonlighting at a dirt track in central New York. Things got a little heated on the track (as they sometimes do) and a young driver got out of his car and walked into the middle of the track where he was inadvertently struck by Stewart’s car. The young man died and for awhile it looked like Stewart may face criminal charges. I never for one second believed that the incident was intentional, and it was later discovered that the deceased driver had been high on ganja. Smoke took a few weeks off and a grand jury found no cause for an indictment. Tony Stewart finished the NASCAR season, but unfortunately he will have to live with what happened for the remainder of his life, as well as deal with the judgment of those who think they know more than multiple levels of a legal establishment that decided this was nothing more than a tragic accident.

 

NFL Thuggery & Ineptitude
It all started last February when Baltimore Ravens’ RB Ray Rice knocked his wife out in an Atlantic City elevator. A video was released showing Rice dragging the young woman out of the elevator and the NFL responded by suspending him for three games. Several months later additional video footage from inside the elevator was released and all hell broke loose. The NFL & the Ravens acted stunned by what the video showed, even though Rice had admitted what he’d done and what the second video showed was 100% totally NOT a surprise. In a purely PR move the league suspended Rice indefinitely and the team released him immediately. As if that wasn’t enough, at around the same time that the NFL was completely bungling the Rice fiasco Minnesota Vikings RB and noted manwhore Adrian Peterson was arrested for beating his 4 year old son with switches to the point that the child had multiple bruises and lacerations. This is the same guy who has six children by multiple women. One of those children died when he was two years old in 2013 after the babymomma’s boyfriend beat him up. No big deal for AP though. He’d never even met the kid and didn’t know he even existed until shortly before the child’s death. A few days after the infant died Peterson was treated like a conquering hero when he overcame his “grief” and played on Sunday. At any rate, the NFL acted swiftly…kind of…this time, suspending Peterson for the remainder of the season. Almost as noteworthy as the incidents themselves is the complete incompetence shown by NFL Commissioner Roger “Fidel” Goodell, one of the most evil people in the history of sports. There was brief talk that Goodell may lose his job, which would have been awesome. Unfortunately for the game that will eventually be flag or two-hand touch football he retained his position and will likely continue on his path of destruction for several years.

 

Jim Kelly’s Cancer Battle
Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 90’s. Losing all four of those games might have been tough, but Kelly has dealt with worse. In 2005 his 8 year old son Hunter died of a rare nervous system disease. And then in 2013 he was diagnosed with jaw cancer. After treatments Kelly was cancer free, but in 2014 the cancer recurred. The sports media followed the story closely and the way Jim Kelly and his family handled the situation was inspiring. In August, after more chemo & radiation he was again declared cancer free. I have never met the man, but he seems like a solid guy. We should all say a little prayer occasionally that Jim Kelly remains healthy and gets to enjoy a long & happy life.

 

Donald Sterling
At the beginning of 2014 Donald Sterling was the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. However, due to his own stupidity he no longer retains that title. Last spring Sterling was caught on video saying some disparaging things about NBA legend Magic Johnson specifically and black people in general. It didn’t take long for the story to blow up, especially since Sterling has previously been sued for racial discrimination and sexual harassment. The NBA has long known that this isn’t a good person, but now they were obliged to do something about it. The league banned Sterling for life and likely would have eventually voted to make him to sell the Clippers, but he agreed to sell without the league formally taking that step. I am somewhat uncomfortable that a business owner can be forced to sell his property simply because people disagree with something that he said in a private conversation. The Clippers employ black players, coaches, and management personnel, so there wasn’t any outright discrimination. It is a slippery slope that we must be cautious of in the future. However, Donald Sterling is the kind of out-of-touch whack job that is easy to root against. And we shouldn’t feel too sorry for him. The team that he bought for $12 million in 1981 was sold for $2 billion. Of course since we are talking about an 80 year old man the real winners are his family that will eventually inherit that fortune.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 
The NFL. Times are tough for football at all levels. Increased education & awareness about the effects of the sport on players’ health combined with the ever nfl-footballgrowing PC Police in America has the entire industry against the ropes. The last thing football needed was this kind of drama. Let’s be honest…there have always been thugs in sports. Just because a guy can run fast and do athletic things with a ball in his hand doesn’t automatically make him a good person. Fame & fortune not only doesn’t always translate into decency, but we have learned over the decades that it oftentimes has the opposite effect. We also know that people look at various crimes differently. Had Ray Rice & Adrian Peterson been caught smoking pot or speeding no one would have cared. Even if they would have held up a liquor store or ran someone down while driving drunk there might have been a collective yawn from the masses and some measure of sympathy. But one guy punched a woman in the face and the other physically abused a child. We aren’t quite as forgiving when it comes to those crimes. The NFL wasn’t blameless either, as they showed a shocking level of ineptitude in handling the situation…especially the Rice case. It seems as if the league suits are more contemptuous of cornerbacks & linebackers who might (GASP!) tackle a “defenseless” receiver (whatever that is) or sack a quarterback just a bit too hard than they are toward hooligans like Rice & Peterson.

 

 

 

This seems like the appropriate place to take a break. Please join us again soon for Part II of the 2014 Sammy Awards!!