Saturday, January 31, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"Look, Mallory. I don't go out with girls who have an IQ lower than room temperature, or have contagious diseases, or friends of yours. And there's certainly some overlap in those categories."

-Alex P. Keaton

Friday, January 30, 2015

TV Jury Duty

Let’s face it; nobody likes being forced to serve on a jury. Nobody knows this better than the folks out in Hollywood who have featured juries in countless television projects. In just about every plot that is centered around a jury, one is likely to see the following stereotypes:

STEREOTYPE: The Gruff Jury Foreman

MOTTO: “Let’s just wrap this up and go home.”

You’ve seen this type of character a million times. Typically a man and almost always gruff, this type of jury foreman is always convinced that the defendant is unequivocally guilty or absolutely innocent. In any case, he typically has a good reason why he’d like things to be wrapped up quickly and only takes a vote as a formality. Despite wanting to get everything over with, he’ll stubbornly stick to his first impression and will be the last person to change his vote. (And only after the evidence overwhelmingly acquits or convicts the defendant.)

STEREOTYPE: The Conscientious Juror

MOTTO: “Let’s go over the evidence a fifth time.”

There’s always someone who takes his or her civic duty seriously and (to the chagrin of everyone else) always votes against the commonly accepted verdict. This person is almost always the star of the program (Or another series regular.) and will always butt heads with the gruff jury foreman who thinks going over the evidence is a waste of time. This jury member is always right and slowly but surely convinces everyone else by doing what the prosecutor or defense attorney was incapable of doing- proving guilt or innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt.

STEREOTYPE: The Guilty Grandma

MOTTO: “I thought a ho was something to use in the garden.”

When the defendant is someone who looks innocent or isn’t the stereotypical “criminal”, he or she is most definitely guilty. The guilty defendant is often a kindly grandmother type who bakes cookies for the judge, bailiffs, prosecution and the jury. (Even though it isn’t ethical for these folks to accept the cookies, they always do.) The grandmother character is often accused of horrendous charges like pandering or ordering a murder. Everyone will fall for her innocent act, except for the Conscientious Juror who noticed the glimmer of evil in Grandma’s eyes when Juror #6 grabbed two cookies instead of one off of the plate. While the Conscientious Juror was planning on going along with everyone else, the moment of malice in Grandma’s eyes causes him or her to rethink his or her decision. After the juror has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Grandma is indeed guilty of all charges and the verdict of guilty is handed down, the Guilty Grandma will nearly always turn psychotic and begin threatening the jury. After this uncharacteristically profane and violent tirade, everyone will now realize beyond a shadow of a doubt that Grandma is 110% guilty of all charges.

STEREOTYPE: The Innocent Thug

MOTTO: “Sure, I’m guilty of other crimes- but not this one.”

It appears that the law has finally caught up with this reprehensible criminal. We know that he’s reprehensible, because he kicks several puppies on the way to the courthouse, steals from the blind and pushes several nuns out of his way. This means, of course, that he is entirely innocent of the crime he’s being charged with. Everyone, even the judge thinks this guy is guilty. (Everyone, that is, except for the Conscientious Juror) After several attempts to curry favor with the jury that hopelessly backfire, the Innocent Thug will make the mistake of testifying on his own behalf. Not only will his testimony backfire, making him look even guiltier than before, but he’ll probably end up shouting down the prosecutor, typically with his motto, as mentioned above. When all appears to be lost and it appears that The Innocent Thug will be sent to jail for the one crime that he did not commit, justice will rule the day and he will be acquitted of all charges.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Springfield Workers Unite!

One of the more interesting subjects that The Simpsons has made fun of is the workplace. It seems that most everyone in Springfield hates his or her job or is borderline incompetent. Workplaces are nearly always depicted as hostile, soul crushing environments where employers are only too eager to take advantage of their employees and provide little motivation other than a steady pay check. The longer someone is in his or her job, the less he or she seems to care about it.

One of the more soul crushing workplaces in Springfield is, of course, the Nuclear Power Plant. The owner of the plant, C. Montgomery Burns, cares little for his employees and provides them little motivation to go into work each day. In fact, when Homer once crawled back to Mr. Burns to get his job back, he was personally presented with a “De-Motivational” plaque. When Marge takes a job at the power plant, we actually get to see how unmotivated the staff is; one worker is shown with a blank expression on her face and continuously downs shot after shot of whiskey. Another employee dementedly sits at his desk, polishing a rifle.

This general workplace malaise is evident just about everywhere in Springfield. At Springfield Elementary, Mrs. Krabappel and Miss Hoover practically define the term “unmotivated employees”. Even at the local TV Station, where one would assume everyone would be happy, one employee sadly tells anyone who will listen that he wishes he were dead.

Strangely enough, the people who seem most enthusiastic about their jobs are the ones we would least expect. Springfield Elementary might have an unmotivated workforce, but Principal Seymour Skinner seems to really enjoy his job, despite the indignities he must face being a low paid educator with a staff who cares little for their work. The manager of the Springfield Box Factory has what appears to be the most boring job in the world, yet he seems enthusiastic about it. (The only time he seems upset about his job is when he overhears Krusty mock it.)

Another group of workers who are unexpectedly happy are those who seemingly can’t keep a job for long. Both Gil and the “Squeaky Voiced Teen” are Springfield’s most dedicated workers; Gil once did a dance to try to get someone to buy a newspaper subscription from him, even though the person couldn’t see it because he was on the phone. In fact, it seems that Gil can’t keep a job primarily because he is too honest and too willing to please his customers. The Squeaky Voiced Teen (or SVT) has also shown dedication to his many jobs. Despite being asked for outdated services by the completely old fashioned Mr. Burns, SVT lugs out the Post Office handbook and tries to figure out what exactly Mr. Burns is asking of him. (Other Springfielders might have just asked Mr. Burns to leave.) The one exception to the “Most Employed/Most Dedicated” rule is one of our “Unsung Springfieldians” Raphael The Sarcastic Voiced Guy. Anyone who has a run in with him, regardless of where he’s working this week is sure to be treated rudely or mocked. (Must be why he can’t keep a job…)

So what is the one thing that is consistent about the good workers who like their jobs? From Frank “Grimey” Grimes to Marge Simpson herself, it seems that everyone who is new to their job enters the workplace with enthusiasm and a desire to do their best. This is even true of Bart Simpson, who began his job as Krusty’s assistant wide eyed and excited. It wasn’t until he realized that Krusty was a disgusting, cruel and lazy oaf that he began to dislike his job. In fact, when Bart takes an after school job with the mafia, it isn’t dissatisfaction with his work that ruins things for him, but the fact that he gets blamed for unspeakable crimes by his employers.

The ultimate employee in all of Springfield, however, works for the most undeserving person in town. Waylon Smithers, assistant to Mr. Burns, goes above and beyond the call of duty to help his selfish, greedy boss. While the special attention that he gives Mr. Burns could probably be traced to some unrequited feelings he has for him, he still deserves the title of “Greatest Employee Ever.”

Incompetence is evident just about everywhere you look in Springfield. Since we’ve already discussed the Power Plant, we’ll look at number two on the list of “Most Incompetent Springfield Workplaces”- The Springfield Police Department. The police force is a corrupt joke, headed by the worst Police Chief you’ve probably ever seen- Police Chief Clancy Wiggum. Clancy Wiggum is fat, lazy and corrupt. Among his most egregious offenses:

* He accepts a bribe while testifying in a court of law.

* He leaves his service revolver next to a cake at a wedding party attended by children.

* He tells Marge Simpson that Homer is DOA, when he meant DWI. (He always gets those two mixed up.) When another woman shows up to bail her husband out for being DWI, (We can probably assume that he is really DOA) he cowardly points her to another officer for assistance.

*He leads his officers to a raid on a cattle rustler’s house, but ends up knocking down the door of Reverand Lovejoy instead. When Lovejoy points out that the criminal lives next door we see the presumably stolen cattle grazing on the next door lawn while the cattle rustler (who happens to be perennial criminal Snake) making his getaway.

These are just a few of Wiggum’s offenses; there are hundreds more. All are proof of the Springfield Police Department’s complete incompetence.

So what can we learn from The Simpsons when it comes to the American workplace? Well….

*People who are in the same job forever learn to despise their job and are probably just going through the motions until they retire.

*Most employers care only for the money that their various enterprises generate and don’t really worry about the safety or welfare of their employees.

*The good workers always leave their jobs, frustrated by the lack of recognition they receive and the laziness or corruption of their co-workers.


*Exaggerating the problems with the American Workplace makes for some pretty funny situations!

So let’s end with a classic conversation between Homer and Bart about the nature of working for a living:

Bart: I am through with working. Working is for chumps.
Homer: Son, I’m proud of you. I was twice your age before I figured that out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Love Boat: A Has-been Cruise

Celebrities who had outlived their expiration date had a slightly less embarrassing place to go in the 1970's than a cheesy reality show - The Love Boat!

The Love Boat was always making another run, stacked to the rafters with actors and actresses who had seen better days.

Mrs. Ingalls was far from the prairie:

Ray Barone's mother must have been trying to find herself:

Um, Halston? Whatever....

Linda Blair, fresh from The Exorcist, ready to raise a Ruckus:

Gloria Vanderbilt, possibly out for revenge:

Andy Warhol? His fifteen minutes were long gone.

Compared to cheesy embarrassing celebrity reality shows, however, The Love Boat is looking better and better every day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Leave it to Harry

In the Leave it to Beaver pilot, there were many unfamiliar faces among the cast; the character of Ward Cleaver was played by Casey Adams (AKA Max Showalter) instead of Hugh Beaumont and Wally Cleaver was played by Paul Sullivan, not Tony Dow. However, the most fascinating guest star of the show was playing Frankie Bennett, a character who would become known as Eddie Haskell. The boy playing the role was named Harry Shearer.

Harry's parents decided that the life of a child star was not something they wanted for their son, so they pulled him from the show. It would be decades before the world would get to know Mr. Shearer, who has starred in such films as This is Spinal Tap:

and lend his voice to The Simpsons, voicing Ned Flanders and Mr. Burns.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Lifetime Supply of Rice-A-Roni!

In the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's, no game show contestant went home empty handed. They may not have gone home with the big prize, but at least they'd go home with something- like a lifetime supply of Rice-A-Roni! Certainly it was better than winning a real prize, right?

The era of the consolation prize ended in the 1990's as companies stopped wanting to associate their products with losing contestants.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"Kelly, when I was a kid, there were lots of parties I wasn't invited to. I showed up anyway. I stood there with a big smile on my face and said, 'I'm here.' and headed right for the food. Sure, they didn't want me there, but I had a great time. And if they didn't, so what? The point is if you want to be there, be there. Even if they hate you. You're a Bundy. Start acting like one!"

-Al Bundy

Saturday, January 24, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"You know, I'm a television personality. It's not like I'm a famous hooker or something!

-Brett Somers

Friday, January 23, 2015

Twilight Zone Classics: "What You Need"

Originally airing (appropriately) on Christmas Day in 1959, What You Need was about a kindly old peddler who always seems to have "what you need". You may not understand why you need the item at first, but he's always right.

For example, he offers a bus ticket to a washed up baseball player looking for a second chance and a bottle of cleaning solution to a down on her luck dame. As luck would have it, the baseball player gets a call about a minor league opportunity and the bus ticket is just what he needs. His only blazer is soiled however and he's embarrassed about wearing it to his interview. The lovely dame has just the thing he needs to clean it up. They walk off together, presumably to brighter days.

This amazing feat is noticed by a two bit hood who threatens the elderly peddler into helping him out. The partnership is successful until the old man offers the thug a new pair of shoes. He puts them on instantly and quickly slips on the slick street, hitting his head on the hard concrete. As it turns out, the shoes were what the old peddler needed; he realized that the thug planned to murder him and chose to take the criminal out first. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Five More Things You Can Do on TV But Not in Real Life

Recover From A Misunderstanding!

The wacky folks on TV are always getting into misunderstandings. Whether it is the husband who mistakenly gropes the wrong woman’s ass, (She looked like my wife from behind!) the guy who accidentally goes into the women’s restroom (I was blinded by the lemon my buddy squirted in my eye!) or the fool who somehow finds himself naked in a public place, TV misunderstandings always seem to work out in the end. The embarrassed culprit often gets away with just a shrug or at worst, a slap across the face. Sometimes the victim even loves the attention! (Typically this person is revealed to be extremely ugly or desperate.) In real life, the culprit would most likely find himself locked away in jail for quite some time, his claims of it being a misunderstanding falling on deaf ears.

Shoot your gun indiscriminately!

In the world of TV, undercover agents, private investigators and just about anyone, actually, can indiscriminately shoot their gun just about anywhere without ever having to worry about the legal repercussions. Bystanders duck and run away, but never actually summon the police. Despite endangering innocent people and causing untold property damage, the “hero” can just walk away quickly and never have to answer for their misbehavior. In real life? The “hero” would become a wanted man, eventually finding himself in a nice little jail cell.

Be a huge pain in the ass without alienating your friends!

On TV even the most annoying jerks are surrounded by tons of friends. Anti-social? Shut in? Obnoxious? Despite behavior that would seemingly make sane people run for the exits, every eccentric, annoying, disgusting person on TV is surrounded by fun friends who tolerate all their quirks. In real life? Mr. and/or Mrs. Annoying would live their life alone, eventually being discovered dead by a mailman who noticed their piled up mail.

Operate a business with no customers!

A disproportionate number of people on TV own their own businesses. And a disproportionate number of those businesses seem to be doing well despite their lack of customers. Staffed by snarky employees who continually harass the customers and chase away business, it seems that these businesses might be on the brink of failure, yet despite all of these problems, their doors stay open. In the real world? After the smartass employees chased away all the customers, the doors would quietly close, leaving a bankrupt and ruined businessperson.

Live well with no discernible income!

Many people on TV live great lives in comfortable homes, surrounded by loving family and friends. Despite their apparent wealth, however, these TV residents have no apparent job that would explain their lavish lifestyle. Even if they do, they are rarely shown actually working, though they may occasionally mention “the office” as an abstract concept. In real life? Yeah, they’d probably be homeless.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Five Things You Can Do on TV, But Not in Real Life

Slap a Cop!

Grieving parents are always welcome to slap any cop they want to on TV with no repercussions. That’s because they are “mourning”, “not themselves” or “still dealing with their grief”. Often, the heroic police officer or detective will wave off his or her fellow cops who begin to intervene in their defense, taking the blow ‘like a man’. However, if the officer tries to defend him or herself and promises to press charges, he or she will quickly become the villain and won’t find one witness willing to assist in the arrest of the slapper. (Despite the offense having taken place in a crowded squad room full of witnesses that stopped to watch the proceedings.) In real life? The slapper would be on a bus to jail in time for a free dinner on the taxpayers.

Act Like A Total Jerk At Any Business!

On television commercials, people get away with the most annoying and obnoxious behavior. Want to run over a store’s employees to get to a ‘sale’? Why not? Want to treat sales assistants and fellow customers with no respect? Sure! Customers on commercials can act like complete jerks and their behavior is often rewarded with special sale prices, extra service and smiles. In real life? Try acting like one of the morons in a fast food company’s commercials and you’ll get something extra alright, but we’re pretty sure it will be a “special sauce” that you won’t actually like. Act like a jerk in a bank or a store and you’ll probably find yourself getting not a smile and a shrug, but a nice ride downtown with a police officer.

Dress For Work Any Way You Want!

On TV, there’s no such thing as a dress code for any workplace, so you can dress any way you want, no matter what job you have! That’s why women crime scene investigators can wear low cut tops and high heels while the guys can dress like total slobs or night club lounge lizards if they so choose. In fact, most television crime scenes look like a night at the Roxbury, with the investigators looking more like prostitutes and pimps than the actual prostitutes and pimps being investigated. In real life? Dress like any random TV man or woman and you’ll probably find yourself with plenty of time on your hands after you get fired.

Sass Back To Your Boss!

It’s a time honored tradition on television; the sassy employee who lets his or her boss know how stupid he or she is every moment of the day. Quick with a one liner, these outspoken employees rarely get fired because their bosses appreciate their quick wit and sense of humor. In real life? Sass back to your boss and he or she will certainly make sure that you have tons of time to come up with new one-liners – especially after you get fired.

Stalk Your Favorite D-List Celebrity And Get Rewarded For It!

Every 80′s sitcom eventually used the following plot during Sweeps Month: a character suddenly decides that he or she is a huge fan of some D-List actor, actress or rock star who coincidentally is in town this week. He or she vows to track down the celebrity to his or her hotel room to get an autograph. They scheme with a friend and their plan is almost successful until hotel security apprehends them. As the stalker gets carted away, the celebrity just happens to walk by and orders the fan released and invites him or her for an amazing after party. Of course, by next week’s episode, the extreme fan conveniently forgets that he or she ever loved the celebrity and never mentions the encounter ever again. In real life? Well, we’re pretty sure that law enforcement and restraining orders would probably be involved were you to even think about trying this.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rest in Peace, "Uncle Bud" Paxson

Lowell "Uncle Bud" Paxson, founder of the Home Shopping Network passed away last week at the age of 79.

While television had been used to sell merchandise in the past, prior to HSN's debut, no television network was solely devoted to it. Soon the network would become a mainstay of television, offering Capodimonte figurines and cubic zirconia jewelry at low, low prices.

Mr. Paxson eventually sold HSN and started up the PAX Network, which was purchased by Universal Studios and became ION Television.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bizarre TV Guide Ads: "Bonnie & the Franklins"

No offense to Ms. Franklin, but was there ever a time when this was considered an audience draw? I suppose having a top show must have come with a few privileges back in the day.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"He's all lip and let's have a look at your knockers!"

-Canteen Manageress from Are You Being Served?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"If Robin and I were to remove our masks, the secret of our true identities will be revealed."


Friday, January 16, 2015

The Spinoffs of "Happy Days"

The television classic Happy Days spawned many Spinoffs during its legendary run on ABC.

There was the equally famous Laverne & Shirley...

The infamous Joanie Loves Chachi...

The anachronistic Blansky's Beauties...

The little known Out of the Blue...

And the mega-hit that launched a superstar- Mork & Mindy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Charlotte Rae's "Facts of Life"

For actress Charlotte Rae, The Facts of Life was a family (and friends affair.)

The character of "Natalie" was named after a childhood friend of Charlotte Rae.

The character of "Andy" was named after Charlotte's son.

And the character of "Beverly Ann" was named after Ms. Rae's sister.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

1980's TV: "She's the Sheriff!"

The 1980's were a simpler time; a time when it was still acceptable to air a show whose premise revolved around the novelty of a woman doing so-called "men's work." One of the more notorious shows that used this premise was the Suzanne Somers sitcom She's the Sheriff!

A more accurate title for this syndicated stinker could have been Get A Load of this Broad Who Thinks She's A Cop! While wearing skimpy clothing and spouting double entendres, Ms. Somers skated through 44 episodes before even the lower tier stations wouldn't carry her show anymore and she was canceled. Compare that to the 96 episodes that the creepy Small Wonder managed to eke out. Maybe the television viewers of the 1980's had some good taste after all.

They never made Columbo wear different outfits when he fought crime...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

House MD's Original Title

The original working title for the hit Fox show House, MD was Chasing Zebras, Circling the Drain. The phrase "Chasing Zebras" refers to a medical team looking for answers that may not exist, while "Circling the Drain", of course, refers to the patients being near death. The network, of course, quickly changed the name to a more marketable one that didn't sound like an Animal Planet special.

Monday, January 12, 2015

From Guest to Star

S. Epatha Merkerson is best known as playing Lt. Anita Van Buren on Law & Order, but before she took on the longest running role of her career, she played a victim during the first season of the show:

When show producers needed to cast the role of Lt. Van Buren, they remembered how much of a pro Ms. Merkerson was during her guest stint and the rest was history.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"What are you doing out there Mr. Humphries? Practising to be a faerie?"

-Old Mr. Grace

Saturday, January 10, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"Another lady on the phone for Captain Peacock!"

-Mr. Humphries

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bizarre Batman Guest Stars - Chad & Jeremy and Jay Sebring

The 1966 Batman had many bizarre plot lines and guest stars. One of the most bizarre was a December 1966 episode that featured Catwoman attempting to "steal" the voices of British pop stars Chad and Jeremy.

As if that wasn't strange enough, famed celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring appears (for no apparent reason) as "Mr. Oceanbring". See? It's funny!

Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Out of Grace Brothers

During the entire run of Are You Being Served? the staff of Grace Brothers is only shown outside of the store in five different episodes.

In Closed Circuit, the staff leaves Grace Brothers to escort Miss Brahms to a fancy restaurant as part of a scheme to trick a wealthy suitor. 

The Erotic Dreams of Mrs. Slocombe finds the staff attending an opera in yet another scheme designed to make Mrs. Slocombe stop obsessing over Mr. Humphries.

In Monkey Business, the gang visits 10 Downing Street to meet with the Prime Minister.

The staff visits Mr. Humphries at his second job in a theater of ill-repute to watch their filmed commercial gone wrong in The Night Club.

And in the final episode called The Pop Star, the staff is shown at the BBC Television Centre performing alongside Mr. Spooner.

In The Hold-up, the staff calls Mr. Rumbold at his house, but he's technically the only person shown outside of the store. (So it doesn't count.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Banned From SNL: Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase holds two dubious distinctions- he's the only former SNL cast member who has been banned from appearing on the show and he's also the only person who has been taken off the list. (Only to get back on it again.)

His first banning occurred when he returned as a host in the 1970's and picked fights with the other cast members. He especially singled out Bill Murray for his venom.

When Lorne returned to the show in the 1980's after a five year absence, he took Chevy off of his list and invited him back. Chevy ruined his reprieve by being obnoxious to the new cast members and making vicious, homophobic comments. He was banned yet again.

Amazingly, the ban was lifted yet again in the 1990's. Chevy mostly behaved himself that time, but he has never hosted since then.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

ABC Movie of the Week: Blood Sport!

If you happen to find yourself in or near Woodland, CA and have several minutes to spare, take someone over the age of 50 aside and mention Danny Thomas. If they are longtime residents of the town, they will mention the time that Mr. Thomas swept into town to produce the now forgotten ABC Movie of the Week Blood Sport.

Filmed at various locations around Yolo County, but mostly at Woodland High School's football stadium, it appears that everyone in town at the time tried to get involved in some way.

Just about everyone in town was probably sitting in the stadium bleachers here.

Long before he was scaring small children, Gary Busey was playing the poor high schooler forced into football by his domineering father.

The coach might look familiar; it's Larry Hagman.

The film has never made it to home video in any format, but its memory lives on in the hearts of those who remember the time when Hollywood went to Woodland.