Friday, October 21, 2005


With the November 8th, episode of 'Commander In Chief', the titles change from "First....." to "Saving the Century".

I hope they get back on track with the "First" titles. ("First Dance", "First Strike", etc. Maybe the "Pilot" should have been called "First Episode"!) I don't know if they could have made it through the full season with such titles, but it would have been worth the gamble. (And next season they could run with "Second" titles.)

It's a time-honored tradition in TV production going back to at least the 1960s. 'The Wild, Wild West' episodes were always "The Night Of....", 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' always had episodic "Affairs", and each show of the little-remembered 'Dundee And The Culhane' was a "Brief". (And so was its time on the air.)

'Commander In Chief' isn't the only one using the gimmick this season. 'Everybody Hates Chris' continues that theme of "Everybody Hates" - 'The Pilot', 'Keisha', and 'Sausage' among the first batch.

And 'Joey' works that dolt's name into every title.... as if we haven't suffered enough. 'Remington Steele' played the game of the name as well, working "Steele" into the titles and usually as a pun - "Steele Trap", "Steele Of Approval", "Beg, Borrow, or Steele".

Each 'Nip/Tuck' episode is the name of the client of the week, so unless you can remember that info ("Mama Boone" sticks in my mind!), or if it's otherwise noteworthy ("Joan Rivers", "Sean McNamara", or "Derek, Alex, And Gary" - two guys with their face cheeks glued to the butt cheeks of the third), it might be tough to find a particular episode to watch again.

Some of the series choose a theme, such as musical titles, but there can be drawbacks. For example, each episode of 'Desperate Housewives' uses the name of a Stephen Sondheim song. But if it remains as inexplicably (to me) popular as it is, Marc Cherry might run out of Sondheim's songs - no matter how prolific the composer might be.

'NewsRadio' was using Led Zeppelin titles for awhile even if they had nothing to do with the episode's content. But that apparently didn't last too long. 'Grounded For Life' used rock song titles, but every so often they had to be reworked to reflect the storyline. ("Mrs. Finnerty, You've Got A Lovely Daughter", and "I Fought The In-Laws", for example.)

The worst theme ever used, in my opinion, would be that from 'Boston Public'. Each episode was a chapter, and they ran numerically with nothing else to differentiate them or describe their contents.

The best use of a theme was in 'Blackadder The Third'; each of which played off the title of Jane Austen's "Sense And Sensibility". Among those titles from the limited series are "Sense And Senility", "Amy And Amiability", and "Nob And Nobility".

So if 'Commander In Chief' returns to the "First" theme, then more power to them, I say. In fact, here are a few suggestions, free of charge:

"First Monday In October"
"First Off"
"First Pitch"
"First And Ten"
"First Mistake"
"First In Line"
"First Down"
"First And Last"
"First In The Hearts"

I must sound like a real First F*%&er.....


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