Saturday, May 28, 2005


"Life is nasty, brutish, and short.
Ecce homo
'Northern Exposure'

Here's another series which I never watched on a regular basis and yet I tuned in for the season finale.
I only caught one episode this year - and that was because of the guest star, Danica McKellar.
But I did follow along throughout the year via the episode guides to be found online, and as the season's end approached, I started seeing all of these behind-the-scenes stories pop up. And they were all concerned with only one topic.....
One of the regular cast members was going to die.
Right away, I eliminated two people from consideration - Mark Harmon and the guy who plays the newbie.
The reasoning behind eliminating Harmon seemed sound - I think Harmon had no beef about staying with the show; he may have wanted the steady employ for awhile. And he offers an equal balance of interest for both sides of the gender gap among viewers. So that would give pause to the producers in thinking about offing him.
As for McGee (?) the newbie, all season long that character was set up to look like a sacrificial lamb and/or patsy. And I believe Mr. Bellisario and his staff are too smart to be that obvious.
So it had to be one of the other four.
Personally, I figured it would be David McCallum as Ducky Mallard. Maybe he was ready to take it easy; maybe he was ready to get back to New York and the theatre. Or maybe "Belisarius" found his cult status a bit too expensive on the bottom line to maintain.
I also considered Tony. But I admit it - I never had Caitlin pegged as a possibility.
And even as the seconds ticked away for anybody to be the casualty before the hour ended, I figured they'd go back to HQ and find either Ducky or the Goth Girl dead. After all, everything was fine at the crisis point. Caitlin had taken a bullet, but thank goodness she was wearing the vest.
And then - whammo!
Too bad they don't make vests for the forehead.
Shot rings out; Caitlin falls back with that nasty stomach-churning hole in her forehead and pooling blood under her hair. (And if you've watched these procedural shows in the past, you know what the exit wound in the back of her head must have looked like.)
And that was it. A shot like that left no time for any good-byes, no fading p.o.v. gazes by Kate. Nasty, brutish, and short.
And then the fireworks began online.
In various bbs which I frequent (Ain't It Cool? News, TV Squad, Lee Goldberg's blog), the talk-back threads had lots of complaints by the viewers outraged not only to have lost such a favorite character, but also because it was so nasty and over so quickly.
Like I said, I'm not a fan of the show, but it wasn't too difficult for me to find the story behind the decision to kill Kate. Hell, I practically stumbled over it looking for something else.
The actress, Sasha Alexander, felt burned out by the rigorous filming schedule for 'NCIS' and wanted to be let out of the series. And Bellisario saw this as an opportunity to throw the sonic screwdriver into the works, shaking up the dynamic between the remaining cast members.
(He probably also figured they had gone just about as far as they could with the love-hate relationship between Tony and Kate without the deadly Dave&Maddie curse striking the show's energy.)
But even those angered fans who knew of Alexander's willingness to leave weren't happy. They wanted her character to live happily ever after off-screen even though they'd never get the chance to see it. (Unless there would be an 'NCIS' reunion movie ten years down the road, and really, how likely might that be? It's not like the show has a guaranteed after-life like the 'Star Trek' franchise.)
But just leaving the show safe and sound wouldn't be a guarantee that she would get the fairy tale ending. In the Toobworld timeline, Caitlin could have left her home the first day of "retirement" and get killed in a car crash. Hey, you'd never know.
So I applaud this startling story-telling decision by the show's producers. Now they can not only bring in a fresh character, but also examine the effects of Kate's tragic death upon those she left behind.
For instance, most likely Gibbs would harden his resolve to bring down Ari; he could become as fanatical in the hunt as Ahab for Moby Dick, blind to all else. The Goth Girl might make the decision to put aside her punkish trappings and finally grow up. It's possible Tony could go too deep into the dark place after such a loss.
Who knows but the show's creators, and wouldn't the fans want to see them explore all the possibilities? (Although I'm afraid we are a culture that only wants the "illusion of change" as Stan Lee once described it.)
It might even intrigue me enough to tune back in this coming Fall to see how these characters fared. And since it is a business to the network suits, ultimately that's the main reason for all the creative decisions.
"Ars longa, Vita brevis as they say:
'Art is long, but Life is short'
Dr. Miguelito Loveless
'The Wild, Wild West'


Friday, May 27, 2005



House Majority Leader Tom DeLay wrote NBC to complain that Detective Eames (Kathryn Erbe) on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" invoked his name in a story line about the shooting death of a federal judge.

"Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt," the fictional police officer said.

Remember, the character is FICTIONAL. It has to be fictional. In my very self-centered universe*, somebody wearing a Tom Delay T-Shirt is straight out of fantasy.

"Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf shot back with his own statement:

"Up until today, it was my impression that all of our viewers understood that these shows are works of fiction, as is stated in each episode. But I do congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a TV show."

Nice one!


*Your universe may vary.


Here be the latest additions to the Toobworld DVD library:

'Keen Eddie' - the complete series

'Wonderfalls' - the complete series

'Have Gun Will Travel' - first season

'Tales Of Tomorrow' - with an adaptation of "Frankenstein" starring Lon Chaney, and Thomas Mitchell and Leslie Nielsen in "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea"

'I Spy' - two episodes including "It's All Done With Mirrors" featuring Carroll O'Connor as an almost pixieish Soviet brainwash expert.


Thursday, May 26, 2005


I always knew I'd never be able to make the commitment to a full season of '24'; there are so few shows that can get that guarantee from me. But for the last four seasons I have been keeping track via epguides, TV Tome, TV Guide etc, and I would always tune in for the last hour. Or in this case, the last two hours.

One reason it never could hook me was because I am so deeply into this whole connected TV Universe idea of Toobworld. And '24' just doesn't fit in there except as an alternate dimension. The main Toobworld will always have the Real World's president and Palmer, Logan, and the guy in between them all throw their monkey wrenches or cosmic spanners into the works.

I really did think going into the season finale that this would be it for Jack Bauer. I thought the producers would have gone for that audacious an ending, with the intent of recasting an entirely new character into the lead trouble-shooter for CTU in the next season.

Of course, such a ploy has not really been successful before - I'm thinking of 'Wiseguy' and 'Murder One', specifically. 'Nichols' did something similar in their series ender. But since James Garner would have been just returning as the main character's twin brother, it doesn't really count (even if the personality would have been totally different.)

I can't wait to see how 'The West Wing' handles regime change on a larger scale next season. Even if the Democrats win in their alt. dimension, to be believable they all should be shown the door and a new team brought in to serve at the pleasure of the new President.

But it looks like Jack has survived and yet it's still possible that he may not be a factor for the next go-round. Actually he may still be on the run and living undercover.

Maybe he'll team up with the '24' dimension's counterparts to the Mulder and Scully who must still be on the run no matter which universe you're in.

Those final moments of seeing Jack as he "walked the Earth" like Kwai Chiang Caine, I expected to hear the theme music for 'The Incredible Hulk'. Maybe even see him hook up with David Banner as his traveling companion.

I'd say that if President Logan can keep from getting the country screwed over in some international crisis, the people will still see through him and realize they could elect somebody better to the job.

But then again, I thought the same thing over here and was proven wrong.

I've liked Mary Lynn Rajskub since I first saw her on 'The Larry Sanders Show'.

But Chloe spells her last name WRONG! The ever-growing clan of TV O'Briens (latest - and last - member? Lady Cassandra O'Brien in episode two of the new 'Doctor Who'.) must deny her membership.

Sorry all you other O'Brians and fans of Hugh.



Just to warn you... I have a few predictions that will come up near the end of the essay...

I don't watch 'Desperate Housewives' on a regular basis. I only checked in if I knew of a special guest star or a particular plot point in advance: the premiere, Ryan O'Neal as a Rodney (but not THAT Rodney!), the death of Mrs. Huber. That sort of thing.

So I watched the finale for the chance to learn a few secrets, true. But mostly it was because my "twin", Shirley Jordan, played a small role in the opening scene.

Shirley played the nurse at the rehab center in a flashback with Mary Alice Young. She admired the calendar provided by Mrs. Huber's sister which gave Mary Alice the idea about moving to Fairview.

(Don't review your tapes to get an idea of what I look like from scoping out Shirley. Like Joni Mitchell wrote, "We are twins of spirit, no matter which road we take or what we forsake."

You want to see what I look like, go to Quahog, Rhode Island and check out Peter Griffin on 'Family Guy'. ::sigh::)

It makes me laugh now to think that a couple of competing newspapers in Chicago got all snippy with each other over whether or not 'DH' took place near Chicago or not.

(Here was one snipe: "Recent speculation that life on Wisteria Lane could be based on a Chicago suburb -- ignited after a certain self-absorbed broadsheet in town suggested the show could take place here, since a newspaper delivered on Wisteria Lane looked vaguely familiar -- came to an end during Sunday's episode.")

Well, the scene where Mike drove Paul into the wilderness to kill him should put that argument to rest. That hell-blasted place had the look of one of those alkali flats, didn't it?

It looked like the kind of desolate location where the Arrow One spaceship crashed in "I Shot An Arrow Into The Air" episode of 'The Twilight Zone'.

I'm hoping that now that we've learned the secret behind Mary Alice's suicide, we can finally send her on her way and be rid of her voice-over narration from beyond the grave?

I have nothing against her for having killed herself - except for the fact that she may have escaped her problems but dumped them (and so much more!) on her husband and son. And her son Zach was already in that messed-up teenage wasteland. To have done this to him was incredibly selfish.

And I had no problem with her killing Deirdre either. Oh, not that the ex-junkie deserved it, but then again.... Deirdre could have gone the legal route and not been such a bitch about it. Didn't she ever watch 'Columbo'? Oh, that's right..... The Lieutenant exists in her universe.

Still, Deirdre could have watched mystery shows like 'Mustang PI' (from 'Matlock') and learned a very simple fact - you never confront someone like that without any witnesses or backup!

Besides, the actual murder was more a defensive reaction and accident. MacKenzie-Brackman might have won Mary Alice an acquittal. Chopping Deirdre up like she was choppin broccoli probably wouldn't have helped her case though.....

At any rate, where would we be for TV content if we didn't have all these murderers on the loose supplying the basic storylines? Not every show can be 'The Waltons', after all.

No, my only complaint against keeping Mary Alice around is that I'm sick of her voice as well as her snarky comments. Now that we know her big secret, she doesn't deserve to be taking such a haughty attitude.
I say consign her soul to Hell and be done with her.

But if you do need a voice-over to provide a narrative overview, why not have Rex Van De Camp do it? In fact, bring in a new voice from beyond the grave each season to keep the perspective fresh.

We also got to meet the new family on the block, but something tells me that Alfre Woodard's Betty Applewhite is not really that young man's mother. There's something else going on there....

So I think it's likely we saw one of next season's subplots when Edie met the young man of the Applewhite family. It seemed evident to me that Edie's got herself some jungle fever.

Why not? They've already touched on just about every other plot device known to soaps in this one season alone. At the pace they're racing through these storylines, I keep expecting to read that the scriptwriters burned up in spontaneous combustion!

Well, that was one prediction. Here's my favorite bit o' speculation.....

In the first few minutes of the first episode next season, one of the regulars will die.

You may leave the site now if you don't want to know my idea.

I think Mike will walk into that house and Zach will shoot at him. But Mike's Dog will jump into the fray to save his master and attack Zach; and the dog will take the bullet instead.

Frozen by shock over the unintended circumstances, Zach hesitates and that's when Susan clobbers him over the head with... oh, I don't know... let's say a Purex pitcher! And she disarms the boy.

If I was running Toobworld, that's how it would go down, anyway.....


And I'm also hoping that there's no way Mary Alice might narrate an episode of 'Lost' during Sweeps Week, for a special crossover with 'Desperate Housewives'.

I'm not THAT crazy about TV crossovers!


Did you ever turn on the TV or just flip through the channels and land on something at precisely the right moment?

I hit upon "Hud" once just in time to hear this bit of dialogue:

"It's a lonely old night."
"Ain't they all?"

Up until then, I had no clue Mellencamp was such a fan of the movie. That's a fave song lyric for me.

Sometimes I turn on the Toob at precisely the wrong moment - like when I got a screen full of Jason Alexander's little tail stub full-screen in "Shallow Hal".

Not good when you're just about to dig into a bowl of cereal.

Well, I had another bit o' synchronicity this morning. Whether it's good or bad depends on whose interpretation.

Flipping around, I landed on 'The Carol Duvall Show' on HGTV.

"I use it on my piece, and it gets a nice deep penetration."


Beavis would have liked that one!


Tuesday, May 24, 2005


It's been a sad week for fans of Classic Television. We lost Frank Gorshin and Howard Morris, both of whom embodied iconic TV characters The Riddler and Ernest T. Bass respectively.

But we also lost two men known more for their vocal talents. You probably couldn't even play "Place That Face" with these gentlemen until they started speaking.

First there was Henry Corden, who had been making a nice career for himself as a bad guy in the movies, foreign diplomats, and various cartoon voices when he became the heir to the role of Fred Flintstone after the passing of Alan Reed in 1977.

I can only picture him in one TV show - an episode of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' in which he was a guest waiting for the Armenian wedding that was going to take over the auditorium after the Teddy Awards ceremony.

And then today we learned of the passing of Thurl Ravenscroft. Is that one cool name or what? It sounds almost like it's a title of nobility.

Th' Earl of Ravenscroft.

As distinct as that name is, perhaps you don't recognize it. You might know Mr. Ravenscroft better by the name of Tony. As in Tony the Tiger. He was the Kellogg's spokesman since 1952, responsible for making "It's grrrrrrRRRRRREAT!" such an integral phrase in all of our lexicons.

And he was also the singer of "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" in the Chuck Jones version of Dr. Seuss' classic "How The Grinch Stole Christmas".

I've been moved to tears by plenty of songs and singers over the years, but Mr. Ravenscroft's delivery of the songs in this annual holiday classic is probably the only time I got chills up the spine.

Gentlemen, thank you for your contributions. May you both rest in peace.



Andy Taylor: If you were to ask me, this Ernest T. Bass is a strange and weird character.
Briscoe Darling: Just plain ornery is what he is.
Barney Fife: He's a NUT!
('The Andy Griffith Show')

There are not that many characters who can make just a handful of appearances as a guest star in a TV series and yet still make a lasting impact on one's memories of that show.

By the very nature of their appearances, several of the "Special Guest Villains" of 'Batman' fall into this category. Out of all the Number Twos faced by 'The Prisoner' in The Village, only Leo McKern remains almost as vital to the success of the series as Patrick McGoohan as Number Six.

(Almost. It could be argued, but it's all... one with me.)

For me, the best example is Doctor MIguelito Loveless who appeared in only nine episodes of 'The Wild, Wild West' throughout its run. And yet can you picture any other characters apart from the two main heroes who truly defined that show?

As far as I'm concerned, not only did Dr. Loveless unofficially appear in at least three more TV shows (under several aliases), but that he was the power behind the shown for many events throughout the TV Universe.

At any rate, we've lost another great character - and an even better character actor, - with the death of Howard Morris.

His first truly big claim to Toobworld fame was as a member of Sid Caesar's troupe of players on 'Your Show Of Shows'. He also appeared in episodes of other shows like 'The Twilight Zone', 'The Bob Newhart Show', 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', and even 'Baywatch'.

And he made a name for himself as a vocal artiste in many cartoons like 'Winnie The Pooh', 'Duckman' and as Mr. Peebles in 'Magilla The Gorilla'.

Howard Morris also worked a lot in that rival universe of Man's creative energies, the Cineverse: 'Boys Night Out', 'Splash!', and Mel Brooks' 'High Anxiety' stand out among the lot. He also directed several theatrical films like 'Don't Drink The Water'.

But as anybody who wandered into Mayberry, North Carolina, over the years, it was his five appearances on 'The Andy Griffith Show' (plus the reunion tele-movie 'Return To Mayberry') as expert window-breaker Ernest T. Bass that will endear him forever to TV fans.

Think of it. Only five episodes out of the long run for Andy Griffith's sitcom, and yet his voice still echoes in the mind: "It's me, it's me, it's Ernest T.!" and "I love you, Miss Crump!"

And that laugh!

Such was the comic power of Howard Morris that we never stopped to think about how dangerous Ernest T. Bass might have been in real life. It wasn't until the 1970s - and especially because of the movie "Deliverance" - that we saw how deadly such a backwoods eccentric could really be.

But luckily for us, Mayberry was a town that was never meant to have a dark underbelly. And it was its roster of lovable residents like Ernest T. Bass that keeps us returning to reconnect with a simpler, happier time.

Rest in peace, Mr. Morris.


"You ain't heard the last of Ernest T. Bass!"
Ernest T. Bass
'The Andy Griffith Show'


I asked readers of my blog as well as the Iddiots of the Idiot's Delight Digest as to whether or not I should watch 'Veronica Mars' when it came out on DVD if I already knew the solution to the Big Mystery.

Here were some of the replies:

I don't watch "Veronica Mars," but knowing the basics of how the final Star Wars movie will end based on what we know from the first three movies all those years ago doesn't reduce my interest in seeing it. Watching the journey can be interesting even if you know the destination.
- Tom Ucko
Yes -- even knowing the answer it is worth it to watch the season.

As I recall you were a "Buffy" fan and this does a spin on the teen genre similar to how Buffy did - here though it's film noir crossed with high school. How she goes back and forth between teen and private detective is fascinating -- and how the characters aren't silly but are revealing. All are multi-dimensional. I love how she can go undercover by playing a bubble-headed teen to gather info, then turn around and be a smarty.
- Nora Lee
I haven't gotten involved in Mars, but I am obsessed with "24" and "Alias." I own season one and two of 24, and just ordered season 3 last night. My wife and I often pull out an episode or disc of 24 and think nothing of watching it many times. Even though I know how the episodes will end, I usually find a few details that I missed the other many times I watched. So, my take on this is: if you like the show, you should get the DVD (or, god forbid, DL it through various ToRrenT sites). I'm in the process of "acquiring" the first season of La Femme Nikita, one of my fav series.
BeeSeeingU, Big T ;>)
I'm a huge Veronica Mars fan, and I think the show will be very entertaining for you even if you know the ultimate answer to the "whodunit." Each episode has its own "case of the week," and the show is so exceptionally well-written and engaging, that it stands up to repeat viewings very well.
--Posted by Anonymous at 5/23/2005 09:04:16 PM

Well, then, it's settled. I'll definitely check it out once it's joined the ranks of DVD box sets.

Thanks for checking in everybody!


Monday, May 23, 2005



The Crossover of the Week may not seem like such a big deal at first. It was shabbily written, badly acted, and poorly directed. But in its own way it represented a big achievement - a character from prime time was appearing in a daytime soap opera.

Mary Connell, a hostess with the mostest at the Montecito Hotel and Casino, was at a private party in the Capistrano Casino when she espied Ned at the roulette table. Quickly she called her erstwhile boyfriend Danny and warned him that the guy he found suspicious was now at another casino.

But after a few moments of observation, Mary called Danny back and said that the guy seemed okay.

Of course, there was no way for her to know that Ned had stolen his invite to that private party.

And that was it. At least until later this afternoon when Mary Connell appears one last time on 'Passions'. (I have no idea if this will ever be referred to in any future episode of 'Las Vegas', however.)

If I'm stuck, I may call on today's crossover to be the highlight for next week... even it it is as dismal as this one turned out to be.


Sunday, May 22, 2005


My thanks to "Hercules" from Ain't It Cool? News for the following preview of the networks' line-ups for this coming Fall TV season.

I'll be examining it some more and let you know what I thought in an O'Bservations essay.


7 p.m.
Dateline NBC (NBC)
60 Minutes (CBS)
America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC)
reruns (Fox)
Reba reruns (The WB)

7:30 p.m.
King of the Hill (Fox)

8 p.m.
The West Wing (NBC)
Cold Case (CBS)
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC)
The Simpsons (Fox)
Charmed (The WB)

8:30 p.m.
The War at Home (Fox)

9 p.m.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC)
Movie (CBS)
Desperate Housewives (ABC)
Family Guy (Fox)
Blue Collar TV (The WB)

9:30 p.m.
American Dad (Fox)

10 p.m.
Crossing Jordan (NBC)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

8 p.m.
Fathom (NBC)
The King of Queens (CBS)
Wife Swap (ABC)
Arrested Development (Fox)
7th Heaven (The WB)
One on One (UPN)

8:30 p.m.
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
Kitchen Confidential (Fox)
All of Us (UPN)

9 p.m.
Las Vegas (NBC)
Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Monday Night Football (ABC)
Prison Break (Fox)
Just Legal (The WB)
Girlfriends (UPN)

9:30 p.m.
Out of Practice (CBS)
Half & Half (UPN)

10 p.m.
Medium (NBC)
CSI: Miami (CBS)

8 p.m.
The Biggest Loser (NBC)
According To Jim (ABC)
Bones (Fox)
Gilmore Girls (The WB)
America’s Next Top Model repeat (UPN)

8:30 p.m.
Rodney (ABC)

9 p.m.
My Name Is Earl (NBC)
The Amazing Race (CBS)
Commander-in-Chief (ABC)
House (Fox)
Supernatural (The WB)
Sex, Lies & Secrets (UPN)

9:30 p.m.
The Office (NBC)

10 p.m.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC)
Close To Home (CBS)
Boston Legal (ABC)

8 p.m.
The Apprentice: Marth Stewart (NBC)
Still Standing (CBS)
George Lopez (ABC)
That ‘70s Show (Fox)
One Tree Hill (The WB)
America’s Next Top Model (UPN)

8:30 p.m.
Yes, Dear (CBS)
Freddie (ABC)
Stacked (Fox)

9 p.m.
E-Ring (NBC)
Criminal Minds (CBS)
Lost (ABC)
Head Cases (Fox)
Related (The WB)
Veronica Mars (UPN)

10 p.m.
Law & Order (NBC)
CSI: New York (CBS)
Invasion (ABC)

8 p.m.
Joey (NBC)
Survivor (CBS)
Alias (ABC)
The OC (Fox)
Smallville (The WB)
Everybody Hates Chris (UPN)

8:30 p.m.
Will & Grace (NBC)
Eve (UPN)

9 p.m.
The Apprentice (NBC)
The Night Stalker (ABC)
Reunion (Fox)
Everwood (The WB)
Cuts (UPN)

9:30 p.m.
Love, Inc. (UPN)

10 p.m.
Without A Trace (CBS)
Primetime Live (ABC)

8 p.m.
Three Wishes (NBC)
Ghost Whisperer (CBS)
Supernanny (ABC)
Bernie Mac (Fox)
What I Like About You (The WB)
WWE Smackdown! (UPN)

8:30 p.m.
Malcolm in the Middle (Fox)
Twins (The WB)

9 p.m.
Dateline NBC (NBC)
Threshold (CBS)
Hope and Faith (ABC)
The Gate (Fox)
Reba (The WB)

9:30 p.m.
Hot Properties (ABC)
Living With Fran (The WB)

10 p.m.
Inconceivable (NBC)
Numb3rs (CBS)
20/20 (ABC)

8 p.m.
Movie (NBC)
Repeats (CBS)
Movie (ABC)
Cops (Fox)

9 p.m.
America’s Most Wanted (Fox)

10 p.m.
48 Hours (CBS)