Tag Archives: Alf

Introducing: A Newsroom A Day

Having wrapped up its first season this past Sunday, there was a lot to like about Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. And a lot not to like. But we’re going to get to all (or some) of that in another post. Whether or not you liked the show, found the writing brilliant, whip-smart and incisive or hackneyed, cloying and self-indulgent, found the female characters to be hysterical, underwritten, overacted cartoons or relatable, well-rounded representations of women balancing breaking news with breaking hearts, there’s one thing about The Newsroom about which you can’t argue: the opening title sequence is really, really long. One minute thirty seconds long. Clearly, Sorkin was eager to take advantage of every additional minute afforded to him by cable, and, perhaps, we should be grateful that instead of another Will McAvoy soliloquy (a McAliloquy?) we’re offered a montage of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite and the unimpeachable giants of broadcast journalism set to the epic and strangely melancholy strings and piano of  Michael Newman’s grand musical theme, and it seems as if every single crew member gets their name up on-screen in that 90 seconds. We immediately felt that this dramatic opening and score was the direct successor to Sorkin’s The West Wing, and that, perhaps, the two openings were interchangeable. And then we began to imagine what The Newsroom opening credits would feel like if those striking and symbolic images (and Jeff Daniels) were paired with some of television’s other memorable themes.

And, thus, A Newsroom A Day was born. Over at our new Tumblr, we’re making that idea a reality, each day presenting The Newsroom opening titles with a different – perhaps popular, perhaps not – theme song (which has proven much more difficult than presumed, mostly because the majority of themes – even the most campy, expository, interminable ones from the 80s – are no longer than a minute). We started with the genuine article, then followed up on our initial West Wing hunch, and today we bring you The Newsroom if it met one of our favorite furry visitors from outer space.

We’ll be uploading these remixes here as well, but perhaps not as regularly, so feel free to go ahead and bookmark that Tumblr page.

Good night, and good luck.

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Filed under Slow News Day, We'll Get It In Post

‘Saved by the Bell’ Season 1

Season 1, Disc 1, Episode 1: “Dancing to the Max.

1:03pm: And we’re off!!!

Here we go. No turning back now…

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Filed under Masochism, Saved by the Bell, Saved by the Bell Project

Nostalgia Corner: ‘Valerie/Valerie’s Family/The Hogan Family’

Every era has its own specific genre of TV show, and within that genre there’s a hierarchy: the forerunners, the second-rate but solid middle class and the imitators.  For example, in the late ’90s you had shows like Friends and Seinfeld at the forefront of the “good-looking single young people in NY” genre, and then a second tier, with shows like Mad About You, that were good, not great, but still run for over 100 episodes, and then you had outright copycats like The Single Guy and It’s Like…You Know that burn out after one or two seasons.  Or in the 1970s (as you can read much more about in the AV Club’s70s Sitcom Primer), you had the top dogs like All in the Family and Mary Tyler Moore, then a second level with series like Maude and Rhoda, and then the bottom rung with shows we’ve never heard of because we’re too young (but possibly including Bridget Loves Birney).  Likewise, the late ’80s/early ’90s was the golden age for saccharine, safe, wholesome family sitcoms, a genre which basically dominated the airwaves from about 1986 until Seinfeld and Friends changed the game in the mid-’90s.  Your preeminent shows in this era included The Cosby Show, Growing Pains and Full House, who were a cut above other successful shows like Who’s The Boss?, Family Matters and Major Dad; and then you had the bottom layer, cheap xeroxes and flashes in the pan like Baby Talk, Getting By, and Day By Day.  Right there, in that second tier – the shows that never set the ratings world on fire, programs that are not looked back on as innovators in the genre, and yet ran for many seasons in first run broadcast and in syndication – you can find The Hogan Family.  Premiering in 1986 as Valerie, starring Valerie Harper (of MTM and Rhoda, mentioned above), and morphing into Valerie’s Family and ultimately the Hogan Family after Harper left the show due to creative differences following the second season (killed off via car accident on the show), the show ran for 6 seasons with 110 ten episodes across two networks.  It never won any major awards, was never critically acclaimed, and was never atop the Nielsens.  And yet it was a staple on NBC for many seasons (paired with ALF, natch), and could be seen for years in reruns on local channels and basic cable networks.  Buoyed by Sandy Duncan, who stepped in for Harper as Aunt Sandy (creative!), it was a workhorse; a dependable, middle of the road sitcom that perhaps defines the era.  Also, no other show featured Edie McClurg and Willard Scott.

Before he was Michael Bluth, Jason Bateman was David Hogan, and if not for the brilliance of Arrested Development (which couldn’t be further from The Hogan Family on the sitcom scale) that could have been his most memorable role (besides Teen Wolf TooAnd this).   But The Hogan Family is where he cut his chops (and for which his work as director qualified him as the youngest ever member of the DGA), and you can see a little bit of oldest brother David Hogan in most responsible brother Michael Bluth, both of whom often had to play the father figure in their respective TV families.

Indeed, one could argue that Bateman’s finest work can be found in the Hogan Family episode “Burned Out, as the Hogan clan, still reeling from the loss of their matriarch, must watch helplessly as their house burns down, the result of a rogue lamp in the attic (because that sort of thing happened in those days).  Scroll to approximately 6:00 to see Bateman work his magic.

Interesting bit of trivia about this episode, courtesy of Wikipedia:

The episode had a commercial tie-in with the McDonald’s Corporation, who financed the expenses accrued in damaging the set for the fire. As a sponsor that evening, McDonald’s commercials aired promoting fire safety.

Because that makes sense.

McDonald’s, we know we speak for Jason Bateman  when we say thank you.  Thank you.

And, because it’s somewhat relevant, let us again remind you about Justine Bateman.

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Filed under Bob Loblaw, Good Humor, Growing Pains, Lists, Nostalgia Corner, Seinlanguage, TGIF, Wake Up, SF!, Who's the Boss?

SNL Sketches Basically Just Mad Libs

Another ho-hum effort from SNL this past weekend.  Beyond the fact that Drew Barrymore has now hosted the show more times (6) than any other female (breaking her tie with Candice Bergen.  However, unlike the recent trading back and forth of the all-time host crown between Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, I don’t think Ms. Bergen will attempt to regain a share of the female lead anytime soon, especially as she hasn’t hosted in 19 years), there wasn’t much of import from this outing.  Over at EW, Ken Tucker has a pretty spot on assessment of the show, noting the best moments were Bill Hader’s guest spot on Weekend Update as the ragin’ cajun James Carville, and an ESPN Classic broadcast of a billiards tournament.  This sketch found Barrymore and Kristen Wiig in the authentic attire of the early 90s billiard world, loud shirts and well-coiffed pompadours, with Barrymore looking more like a black jack dealer than a billiards star.  However, the sketch was focused on the overeager commentators, Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte, and Sudeikis’ frequent plugs for the event sponsor, Tampax.  Maybe not great on a paper, but Sudeikis has a way to elevate the thinnest of material (not a Tampax pun).

Vodpod videos no longer available. More: Please, not another Gilly

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Filed under Good Humor, Must See TV, Saturday Night Live, Tex Wasabi's