A real man makes his own luck.
-Zane, Survivor: Philippines
A few days ago, on the cusp of the premiere of Survivor: Filippines: The Rise of Skupin, we were asked if Survivor as a series (not the Survivor Series) is still entertaining after twenty-four seasons. “How could it possibly be?” they wondered. But we told this person that the show, against all odds, manages to be fresh and new almost every season, that although the game uses essentially the same format that it started with back in Borneo, each season and its cast members offer something new and different, something that makes the show worth watching. Case and point, in the first episode of our new season, we are blessed with Zane, who once again proves that no matter how long this show goes the players will continue to be stupid. And that, my friend, is why, twelve years later, Survivor is still very much worth watching.
But, in our normal fashion, before we get to end and Zane’s stupidity, let’s start at the start. And we start with Jeff Probst channelling Bruce Willis in Striking Distance and rolling up in a speedboat, looking as confident and determined as ever, putting to rest any worries that one might have had that he’d be preoccupied with this just premiered daytime talker (and, perhaps, in another post it would worth discussing just how much Probst has meant to Survivor, and how much it owes its success to the man in blue). And we get our first look at the new cast, which in addition to the returning players that we’ve already discussed – Mike “Two Scoops” Skupin, Jonathan Penner, and Russell Swan (who, apparently, came directly from a jazz performance) – includes former Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel and former Major League Baseball MVP Jeff Kent.
A few hundred words on why we hate Jeff Kent and then the game is afoot…
With the proper premiere of Go On this week and its promising ratings, it seemed like the appropriate time to revisit our Groaning Pains series, specifically Go On star Matthew Perry’s short stint as Carol’s ill-fated boyfriend, Sandy. In other words, it’s time to discuss how we learned about drunk driving (and that a guy could be named “Sandy”).
When Friends premiered back in 1994 we may have been the only eleven-year-old in the country who thought to himself “there’s the guy who was in the Married with Children backdoor pilot and there’s the guy who was Carol’s boyfriend on Growing Pains that died from drinking and driving.” The former is Matt LeBlanc, whose Married With Children character Vinnie Verducci – Joey Tribbiani’s spiritual predecessor – was spun off with his father Charlie (the immortal Joseph Bolonga) into the very short-lived series Top of the Heap, and the latter is, of course, Matthew Perry. For years, Matthew Perry stuck in our mind because of his role on Growing Pains – 1) because his arc ended so tragically, and 2) because we never could quite wrap our heads around the fact he was named Sandy – and it would take a little while for us before we thought of Perry as Chandler Bing and not as Carol Seaver’s love lost, a cautionary tale.
We’ve admittedly, regrettably, been remiss with our recaps and analysis of NBC’s Thursday night comedies. There was a time when we provided weekly thoughts on ‘The Office’ (luckily our neglect kicked in just around the time when Friday morning post-mortems on that show would have been unbearable) and periodic temperature checks on ‘Parks and Recreation.’ With the season already complete for half of these shows, and the other two concluding their runs this week, we thought it was high time that we put aside some real estate to check in on these programs, starting today with a discussion about ‘Community’ (whose season (and not series) finale airs Thursday night (preceded by two other new episodes and the ’30 Rock’ closer).
NBC announced their Fall 2012 pick ups last week and, despite lots of rumors and hand-wringing, Community will return for a fourth season. That much wasn’t quite a surprise to us. Could NBC have axed the criminally low-rated comedy? Sure, and they would have the cold, emotionless Nielsen numbers to back it up. But, at the same time, they know what they’re getting with Community. Will it ever break out into a Friends or even These Friends of Mine sized hit? Unlikely at this point. But does it have a devoted, die-hard fan base? Absolutely. Attractive cast? You bet. A smart, discerning, relatively affluent audience? We guess. Close to reaching enough episodes for lucrative syndication? Definitely. So the renewal, especially for the 13-episode order it received, is not all that shocking to us. What was unexpected, however, was the announcement at the NBC Upfronts that come this fall Community will be found on Fridays, as the lead-in to…Grimm?
Read on: Go ahead and step back from that ledge…
The legendary, lovely, luminous Justine Bateman appeared on this week’s Urly Show, the podcast hosted by our dear friend Eliot Glazer and his team over at Urlesque, and she basically blew our minds. We thought we spend a lot of our time looking at Internet junk, but Justine has got us beat. Sure, you could argue with all the money she’s making off of Family Ties residuals she has nothing but time to look at animals in casts Tumblrs and Cigar Guy memes and fake Christine O’Donnell broomstick Twitter feeds. But she actually makes us feel like we’re not doing a good enough job of looking at Internet junk. Like, she wants it more. To us, her relative wealth would have led us to believe that she’d think of herself above the web fray, and instead of checking out the latest Sad Keanu photoshop job or post about spaghetti tacos she’d be using the New Yorker app on her iPad while sitting by the pool, possibly being fanned by a young Filipino boy. Turns out that she’s not above the fray, but instead thoroughly in the midst of it, and we have a new-found admiration for her because of it.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
The best part is that Eliot played a few clips from How Can I Tell If I’m Really In Love, a full length PSA from 1986 that features Bateman (as well as Ted Danson) educating teenage girls about the evils tricks adolescent boys use get into their pants. Eliot unearthed this time capsule when we were in high school, and we spent several nights watching the VHS in his parents’ basement, completely fascinated and confused (questions like: why did they insist everyone sit in such uncomfortable positions? And: Is this a joke?), so it’s unbelievable to see Bateman watching and commenting on it now (although, she has little to no recollection of shooting it. But we can’t really blame her for that). See for yourself!
Speaking of Family Ties and things that blew our minds, let’s take this opportunity to remind you of this and this.