Monday, April 30, 2012

Paul McCartney on '30 Rock'

One of my favorite shows, '30 Rock', did a live episode last week. They had both an East Coast version and a West Coast version. Living in San Francisco, I got the West Coast one which had a guest appearance by Kim Kardashian. I enjoyed the show, but the next day, I noticed my 'On Demand' had both versions, so I said to myself, 'Self, you should watch that East Coast show'.

I'm glad I did, because in place of Ms. Kardashian was Our Paul. He did a brief walk-on in the opening, and he also closed the show with a small scene with Tina Fey. I won't ruin it for you, just go ahead and watch it yourself. I'm sure you can find it somewhere out there.

The two episodes had other changes in cast and jokes, so it's worth seeing both of them. Check it out, pilgrim!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dick Clark: I Liked Him On The $25,000 Pyramid

Dick Clark did a great job hosting the '$25,000 Pyramid'. He was polite, always on top of the game and interested. He knew how to move things along and took it seriously but not too seriously. It was a good game and fun to watch.

That said, everything else Dick Clark did left me cold. 'American Bandstand' was an absolutely horrible show. So bland. And all of the performers lip-synced everything and seemed uncomfortable being there. Dick seemed so out of place in that sea of teenagers. A real square.

It was torture. So why did I watch it? It was Sunday afternoons and there was nothing else on (except for football before I was interested in football or some religious program) so it was my only option. And besides, watching somebody I liked lip-sync was better than not seeing them at all.

His 'Rockin' New Years Eve' show was something I never watched except for a few moments here and there. It seemed unbearable.

I don't think Dick Clark was any great shakes. He was a DJ and a businessman who looked at rock and roll as a way to cash in. I never felt that he really loved the music.

And what about that run-in with Michael Moore? I don't recall the details. It was in Bowling For Coumbine and involved an issue about the lousy working conditions of a business Clark owned. Dick fled from Moore and came off as uncaring and greedy.

I suspect he regarded his workers like he did rock and roll music: Numbers on a spreadsheet.

Monday, April 16, 2012

How Does TV Work?

I don't mean the technology. I could care less about that. The mystery to me is the business of what shows get on air and stay on the air and which ones don't.

In the old days, it was simple. It was ratings and sponsors and sponsors and ratings. Companies would advertise their Corn Flakes or Tide soap on TV and if 'Gunsmoke' had twice as many viewers as 'Star Trek', CBS could charge the advertisers more money then NBC could charge them for 'Star Trek.

Like I said, simple.

And I do think the Nielsen ratings were accurate. I spent (or misspent) most of the 1960's and all of the 1970's watching a lot of TV. And I don't ever recall thinking, "Gee, I wonder why they cancelled 'Alias Smith and Jones'!? Everyone I know is watching it religiously!"

On the contrary. I knew certain shows I loved were flops just from the buzz generated by talking to my friends and listening to the adults in my life, and by reading magazines. And it was easy to gauge the popularity of shows because there were only three channels.

Yes, there were exceptions. Some shows had 'decent' ratings, but because of high production costs, they got the ax. 'Batman' is one that comes to mind. But shows in the Top 10 didn't get cancelled because they 'cost too much'.

During my peak years as a Boomer TV watcher, the networks had a formula. New shows and new episodes of old shows premiered right after Labor Day. They had a guaranteed run of at least 13 episodes, and if they had lousy ratings, they were gone by mid-January and 'mid-season replacements' appeared in their time slot. These shows also had a run of about a dozen episodes. YES, there were exceptions. But that's another blog.

Then came cable. And 'Premium' channels. And Netflix. And Hulu and streaming and OnDemand and watching TV on your phone. Shows on TV just appear willy-nilly. They change time slots, and the reruns, which we used to call 'summer repeats', start popping up after five or six new episodes. How does a show build an audience?

And the very people advertisers want to attract, people between the ages of 18 and 40, are the very same people who don't watch shows when they are actually on TV. Which makes the ratings and advertisements meaningless.

My only conclusion is that it goes back to my earlier mention about shows that 'cost too much'. But now it's flipped upside down. It's all about shows that 'don't cost anything'. Which would explain why things like 'Pawn Stars' and 'Invention' keep on truckin'. After all, how many people actually watch 'Intervention'? Not a lot. And apparently none of the addicts they get to appear on it have ever seen it either. Otherwise, they wouldn't keep being blindsided at the end of each episode and sent off the rehab.

Newsflash. If you're an alky or a druggie and some 'filmmakers' approaches you about being in a 'documentary about addiction', they are definitely from that 'Intervention' show.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek

'The Big Bang Theory' is a show I discovered a bit late. I tried a few early on, but it wasn't until the reruns, when it started to be on TV at least four times a day, that I realized what a smart and fun show it is.

I saw an episode the other day where Sheldon is showing an overnight guest around his apartment. Explaining his 'Emergency Preparedness Kit' to her, he mentions that it contains "a Hi-Def collection of Season Two of the original 'Star Trek'."

I thought that was an interesting choice, since Season One is regarded as the best season. But I, like Sheldon, prefer Season Two.

I think of it as the 'fun' season. Season One was a bit too intense and grim. A real paranoid vibe. Sorta like 'The Outer Limits'. But that second year, they found the characters and tone and it got more lively, more action oriented. And it also had three 'comedy' episodes: 'The Trouble With Tribbles' 'I, Mudd' and 'A Piece of the Action'. 'I, Mudd' is a bit of a clunker, but the other two are a blast. Not many shows could pull off the occasional comedy, though many have tried. I think I remember a 'funny' 'X-Files' that laid an egg. 'Bonanza' is the only one besides 'Star Trek' where the actors seemed comfortable playing the fool and the where writers came up with scripts that were actually funny.

Some of my favs from Season Two include 'Mirror, Mirror' (Spock with beard!), 'The Doomsday Machine' (William Windom as Commodore Decker who, like all Commodores takes command of the Enterprise and screws things up), 'The Ultimate Computer' (The King of Cartoons chewing up the scenery like nobody's business) and 'A Private Little War' (A anti-Vietnam War statement, 'The night of maddness' and a Mugato).

I also discovered 'Star Trek' during the second season during it's orignal NBC run. The first episode I actually watched was the aforementioned 'A Private Little War' (I was obviously aware of it and saw a bits of it here and there). So my preference of that season might be a bit of nostalgia on my part.

You can actually include the last ten or so episodes of Season One when it comes to the tone of the show shifting. They weren't shown in sequence and you'll notice that 'Court Marshall' with Elisha Cook seems out of place as Episode #20. It has that 'earlier' feel to it. But ignoring 'Court Marshall', the change comes around #15 with 'Shore Leave'.

I won't discuss Season Three. I still like them, but you gotta be a real Herbert to love them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

'You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)' LIVE!!!

I remember when the 'Let it Be'/'You Know My Name' 45 came out in the Spring of 1970. It wasn't the famous A-Side my friends and I were interested in playing over and over. That song got plenty of radio play. So much in fact, I remember my mom saying one day as we were probably listening to Portland's rock and roll station KISN ('Ninety-One-derful'), 'Not THAT song again!'.

No, it was that crazy B-Side we played and imitated and loved. And here's a live version by a group called Apple Jam who do all of the Beatles' 45s live.

Check it out. It's pretty Ninety-One-derful.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Nita Talbot - Mainy

A mainstay mainy for us boomers was the sexy Nita Talbot. Best remembered for her reoccurring role as a Russian Spy in 'Hogan's Heroes', she seemed to always be playing either street-wise types or girls with accents.

She played the star attraction of a strip club in my favorite Elvis movie, Girl Happy in 1965 and encourages Shelly Fabares to 'take it off, honey!'. She did a lot of comedies and was even a space alien in an especially weird episode of 'The Monkees' where she dances around a crazy space ship (at high speed of course).

She popped up everywhere in the 1960's and 1970's. Lots of westerns, 'Gunsmoke', 'Rawhide', 'The Virginian', 'Bonanza' and 'Maverick'. And tons of crime shows like 'Columbo' and 'Rockford Files'.

Nita was never a huge star, but all us boomers adored her. So sexy and funny. She's still alive but not working as far as I can tell. We miss ya, Nita!