Category Archives: Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In

“Lassie” and Television’s Progress

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On Friday, September 12, 2014, 60 years of television had passed by, since “Lassie’s”

first debut episode. The show was simple, meaningful and encompassed all areas of

rural living, (1954 – 1973). When they list the ‘longest lasting television series,’ they

place this show close to top of the list.

 

The years I remember the show, “Lassie,” best had June Lockhart as portraying my

favorite mother of all time. The father was genuinely well-acted by Hugh Reilly and

my favorite little boy, “Timmy,” was played by Jon Provost.

 

Although the leading “human” roles changed over the years, there was always the

faithful dog, “Lassie.” (Many dogs played this role, of course, through the years.) I

enjoyed the various transitions of “Lassie,” having family values and including life

lessons.

 

Fast forward to September and October, 2014 for the New Fall, 2014 television

season.

It would be nearly impossible to picture most of the newest additions to our current

television programming to last ten years, let alone 19 years.

 

The “CSI” and “NCIS” shows are still going strong and on this Fall’s t.v. line-up.

I am going to miss having the original show, “CSI,” with its location of Las Vegas,

when it moves to its new Sunday evening slot. Sunday is my favorite ‘catch up’ night,

with PBS, Hallmark and I still am a big fan of “Once Upon A Time” and “Revenge.”

The new Fall line up is already getting over-crowded on my own Sunday night.

 

I was talking to a good friend who thinks some of the shows sound “silly” and was

pointing out a Columbus Dispatch critic thought Debra Messing would be hard to

imagine being a cop, in the new show called, “”Mysteries of Laura.”

Since I would first respond, I love the silly show, “Mike and Molly.” I may be quite

blasphemous to say that “Mike” would NEVER make it on a real police force, due

to his large size…

Criticism from someone who loves all kinds of wild SyFy shows like, “Haven” and

“Eureka,”  and on regular network t.v., “Under the Dome,” should be wondering

about their own ways they stretch their imagination! I am laughing with you; not

at you, my friend!

 

Can you suspend your sense of disbelief and let your imagination go?

I remember the funny ways we learned, as children to open our ‘escape hatches’

and step into the Lands of Wonderment.

 

I shall try all the shows with female-driven plot lines. They have had ‘good fortune’

in the past. Imagine “The Good Wife” not being on,  not receiving another round of

Emmy Award nominations. I think it is nice to see women in professional situations,

not wearing an ‘apron’ and carrying out the character of a ‘housewife and mother.’

This is not to say that I don’t enjoy programs that have women who have chosen to

stay at home to do

this very important job and having this be part of the plot line, too. Choices are what

makes this a different world from the Fifties and Sixties’ television programming.

 

“We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!”

I like the characters in this sweet little show about a single mother with a son, you may

recognize him from big screen movies, I “About a Boy.” I am sadly not pleased with

where they tucked this show into a 9:30 time slot. It is ‘not cute’ but original and quirky.

We, if you are a viewer, are ‘rooting’ for the handsome neighbor man to become the single

mother’s date. Although it is about a boy, it is definitely about the mother, too. Having

raised 3 children on my own, I am particularly happy to watch this one. I also like the

upcoming role of Katherine Heigl getting another chance on television in “State of

Affairs.” While Katherine Heigl left “Grey’s Anatomy,” definitely getting better comedic

roles in movies, she is still sorely missed as the character of “Izzy,” on that show. I am

looking forward to seeing her as a CIA agent. She was funny in “One for the Money,” a

movie based on the hilarious antics of a bondswoman in more than 20 books by Janet

Evanovich.

 

If you liked Tea Leoni’s funny past roles you may have seen her show her acting chops

in serious dramas, too. We will see which direction she heads in, “Madame Secretary.”

She was one of the wackiest women on television for 2 years in a show called, “The Naked

Truth.”

 

I have read a decent review of “Red Band Society.” It is not a “Breakfast Club,” nor

is it one that will be all laughs, but will tackle diseases and illnesses with a touch of

humor and give it an uplifting spin. It is a group of young people who are ones who

have hospital experiences, who are dealing with personal challenges. I picture it more

like the movie, “Stand By Me,” in its tone and togetherness. It is about a ‘band

of young misfits.’

 

Critics are harsh when it comes to some and not so much with others. I remember

when I discovered, “How I Met Your Mother.” It was before the critics endorsed it,

awhile back. I am sad how they chose to end it, with the death of the mother but

happy the main gal, Robin, got her ‘man.’

 

The serious shows genre are tougher to predict. I would imagine Scott Backula will

knock the New Orleans’ version of “NCIS” out of the park. I happen to have liked his

‘goofy’ portrayal of character in “Quantum Leap.” I am not sure about, “Stalkers,” but

will support Dylan McDermott, since he is still okay after all these years since his role

as a non-supportive ‘husband’ for Julia Robert’s dying ‘wife’ role in “Steel Magnolias.”

 

Another serious plot line can be found in “Gracepoint.” (Not to be confused with the

CIA/FBI show about the safe house, “Graceland.”) David Tennant, from the British

show, “Broadchurch,”and Anna Gunn are two strong actors that will head up the

already critically-acclaimed and well-promoted television show. This show is set in a

fictional California coastal community.

 

I think that the “Forever” show that is listed on two consecutive days, for its kick-off

first two episodes sounds good.  Sadly, I lost “Journeyman” and also another traveling

through  time show just in the past two years. I will hope this one ‘sticks’ because I like

the concept. I used to enjoy “Time Tunnel” on television and “Back to the Future,” on

the movie screen.

 

I have been a fan of Josh Dushamel ever since the show, “Vegas.” I have enjoyed his

forte into romantic comedies, too. The actor, Dushamel will be on a new show called,

“Battle Creek,” This will be loosely based on likely crimes to be found in Battle Creek,

Michigan. His co-star/partner will be that of Dean Winters. You will recognize him,

but not necessarily ‘place’ him. I will check this one out simply because I love crime-

solving television series.

 

I will return to comedies. This is what a good friend in Lancaster, Ohio mentioned

when we turned 50: “Try to laugh more, watch comedies!”

I came up with a slogan, which I will hope no one else has coined:

“Humor is found in the ‘ear’ of the listener.”

(“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”)

So, if you liked “My Favorite Martian” did you ever try 2 seasons of “Neighbors?”

I think not, since it did not make it. This was clever, witty writing with four likable

adults, along with poking fun at Suburbia. I will miss this, unless it is on a later

schedule, it did not make the ‘cut.’

 

If you liked “Scrubs,” you probably followed the guy who was the janitor on over

into “The Middle,” who became the ever patient, sometimes ‘clueless’ Dad in this

sit-com. This also includes Patricia Heaton, who played the Mom/wife roles in

“Everyone Loves Raymond.”

 

If you liked “Taxi,” “Barney Miller” and “Psych,” you may have discovered last year’s

Emmy-awarding comedy, “Brooklyn 9-9.” Hilarious, quirky and goofy at times, but

watch out, you may laugh out loud anyway.

 

I am wishing that Nielson’s Rating chart were in my mailbox, because I had such a

lovely time about eight years ago, studying and analyzing the television Fall Season

Line-ups back then. The first time I had the full control of a remote control.  I wrote

some comprehensive and profuse notes for those receiving my multiple page Nielson

Ratings Report. I  am not a paid writer nor do I write for a newspaper. I was able to

honestly say this, it was all for the love of television and the future of programming

that I was inspired to carry out my ‘duties’ in this report.

 

My final thoughts on the Progress television has made since “Lassie” was on.

You are invited to ‘debate’ these comments, too. I love a good and lively discussion!

 

I personally feel current shows embrace more ethnicities, culture and show characters

with wider world views in our programming. They encompasses much more ‘diversity’

on television since my childhood days. This means the people who are represented

are not stereotyped as much, anymore.

 

I like that there are two children with special needs included in some popular shows.

I recommend, “Parenthood,” and if you have never seen this, start by watching the

first shows. It is cool to watch this fine young actor, “grow up” with two caring

‘parents’ who disagree about how to handle him, along with a supportive ‘family.’

I am not sure how they would ‘label’ the character, “Brick,” in the show “The Middle,”

but the family accepts him just as he is.

I feel the shows today give better examples of the way families really act, showing

varied relationships, how to handle or not able handle serious and controversial

subjects such as addictions, challenges and sexual orientations.

 

We have heroes and villains. The same as in the past, sometimes more graphically

(and honestly presented.)

 

World conflicts and images are horrifying.  We cannot ignore what is going on, bury

our head in the sand. Powerful, and yet maddening, events are daily depicted (some

consider, ‘bombarded’) on our television sets.

We are urged to ‘act’ and ‘choose’ which side of the dilemmas we will take, as a nation

and other countries must, too.

Along with this serious, somewhat negative impact of television’s immediacy to

situations, we have positives.

We have the opportunity to watch the Olympics, sporting events and international

specials, shown across the world. My coworkers and friends from the Philippines

were captivated by Pope Francis being chosen to be the Roman Catholic Pope.

Other friends were entranced by the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana. Then,

many followed the tragic ending to Lady Diana’s life. They were hopeful for the

more recent wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The baby’s birth and

now, the next one on its way, are subjects that many feel are happy bits of news.

 

History, social studies, geography and science are subjects of programs, for

everyone to  learn about, grow to enjoy and get more educated. There are so

many fascinating shows to watch. Nature, musical and art works may never be viewed

or listened to, first hand. Other countries and animals, places that may not be within

everyone’s budget or ability to travel.

 

Some people are not necessarily able to buy or read the newspaper. They find out

information about the world they live in, from the television news shows.

Hurray For National Geographic, Travel Channel, PBS, Weather Channel and

other quality network programming!

 

We have real and make-believe images still, with our magic carpet rides taking off,

from our own homes.

 

There are subjects and shows I may never care to watch. I embrace and support

those who like QVC shopping, cooking shows, reality shows and true dramas,

because they are part of the wide community of television watchers.

 

Many of the shows I choose to watch, you may not want to watch. I got hooked on a

soap opera, during our second break at work. For the past six years, I am ‘guilty’ of

watching, “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

All the years I stayed home and babysat, I did not watch any soap operas. I did in

college, much to the chagrin of my parents, when I mentioned I was scheduling my

courses around a couple of soap operas!

 

I was listening, the first year of American Idol, to all the animated conversations in

the teachers’ break room. They were talking about the ‘bad’ try-outs and the odd

characters. It was in the very beginning of the national search for those who would

make it to “Hollywood.” This caught my attention and I am so glad that I started

watching it.  I can say, “I remember when I first heard Carrie Underwood’s fantastic

voice, was medium built and had frizzy hair!” Along with several well-known singers

who made it to the Top Ten or higher.

 

I am grateful that I don’t have to sit on a sofa and listen to radio to imagine the

great radio characters of the “Green Hornet,” “Gracie Allen and George Burns,”

or how the President of the United States looks like as he is speaking. I enjoy

hearing my Mom’s excitement when she heard about Amelia Earhart’s trans-

Atlantic plane trip and her memories of the “Fireside Chats,” with President

Roosevelt, though.

 

I liked how we  used to watch to find out if we had school on Snow Days. Later,

if our children or grandchildren have school cancelled. I enjoy watching to see

how ‘my’ candidates or ‘my’ issues are doing, as the voting polls report in their

results.

 

I am saddened that there are blind people who cannot see, but grateful for the

inventions of special devices and increased equipment due to new technology

allowing them ‘to see’ the shows. The descriptions of the setting, characters and

other visual ‘clues’ are given. I have read about these and think the inventors are

brilliant for creating and providing this service. There are new creations in hearing-

impaired equipment, too.

 

Many people cannot afford to go to the movies or take a vacation with their families.

They may not go to Broadway but on PBS, they can see a Broadway play or musical.

They get their main form of entertainment from television.

 

There are others, lying on their back sometimes, healing from surgery or permanent

disabilities. My Dad liked to watch the comedies, while getting his chemo treatments.

Laughing made him feel so much better on those days he was nauseous.

 

The elderly in the nursing home I worked at for 4 1/2 years, liked to watch the shows

on TV Land, old reruns of “Lawrence Welk” and  “Bonanza,” along with their church

programming on Sunday mornings. The beauty of fireworks in our country and

celebrations around the world, brought big smiles to their faces. They enjoyed, as

I still do, the lovely creations in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

 

We get a sense of conscience from our ‘small screens.’  The night I watched, “Stand

Up 2 Cancer” impacted me, along with millions of other people watching. It moved

us to donate to some form of Cancer (Society) fund-raising, including Hospice Care,

research and local hospitals.

 

Remember “One Small Step for Mankind?” We now look forward to continued

space travel, inventions and research. When we hear of satellites making it to

Mars or other planets this gives us information that we may use in the future.

 

A quote about freedom from H.L. Mencken, American author and journalist

(1880-1956):

“We must be willing to pay a price for freedom,

for no price that is ever  asked for it,

is half the cost of doing without it.”

 

My soap box, put away for now. . .

 

 

 

What do you watch?

Have you heard about any new t.v. show compelling you

to ‘set your DVR’?

 

Originality is a Plus

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I have always enjoyed quirky, unique characters. I have had a lot of friends

who could not be ‘pigeon-holed’ into any certain group. One thing or another

led us to each other, some for a season, like a poem says, and others for Life.

I have very eclectic taste in my television and movie watching, as well as my

book reading. It takes only something different to pull me in!

 

Here are some criteria: eclectic characters, different settings, weird or unusual

plots, mysterious going’s on, along with some humorous qualities. In other words,

‘one of a kind’ television or movies.

 

I prefer the descriptive words, “Unique” over “Cute,” any day of the week!

 

When the show (or movie) is over, you may feel like you had a visit with distant

family members, who you will ponder upon for awhile. If the show really captures

your heart, you may miss the people when they are gone. . .

 

Examples from the past include, “Barney Miller,” “Taxi,” “Seinfeld,” and “I Love

Lucy.” When we remember Robin Williams, we can think of his earlier t.v. show,

“Mork and Mindy.” Ray Walston created an alien in “My Favorite Martian,” but

no one could do improvisational comedy and ‘wing it,’ like Robin Williams.

 

The “Mary Tyler Moore Show” along with its spin-off, “Rhoda,” included a

lot of diverse persons, along with strong female roles. For a mild, kind and

dry humored, soft-spoken man, I loved, “The Bob Newhart Show.” (Both of

them, in fact!) Bob, in his farmhouse Inn,  had some strange neighbors, 3

handymen (were they Darryl, Larry and Larry? Who remembers this trivia

fact? Let me know!), the dentist and his wacky receptionist in the first show.

Both wives (from the 2 shows) were beautiful and very patient with good ole’

Bob. Many fell in love with them, wondering how he managed to capture each

of them.

 

I liked movies like the Thin Man series, along with ones starring Charlie Chaplin

and Errol Flynn. Way too many of the ones from the black and white era, up to the

newer color ones, to list my ‘favorites of all time!’

 

For comedic variety shows, I enjoyed the “Carol Burnett Show” and “Rowan and

Martin’s Laugh-In.” Each one had a purpose: the first was to entertain families

and the second one was to be a ‘sign of the times.’ Many iconic quotations had their

roots in these shows. They managed to attract many famous comedians, for guest

appearances on both of these shows. Totally different styles, but both met my quirky

and strange criteria.

 

More recent favorite t.v. shows featuring quirky characters were:

“Northern Exposure,” “Still Standing,” and “Gilmore Girls.”

 

I finished one whole season of Robin Williams, with Sarah Gellar playing his character’s

daughter,  in “The Crazy Ones.” If you wish to see funny, then you want to go with the

‘best’ comic in his time. The episodes with the baby ducklings, promoting roasted coffee

and McDonald’s ‘feel good’ commercial which their father/daughter advertising agency

made were all hilarious. Now that he is gone, many of us will value the talent, energy and

unique ‘crazy’ characters, that Robin William created.

 

I have some favorites that I have wondered if anyone else out there is watching currently,

on their televisions?

1. I  have been watching and enjoying, on Sunday evenings, “Last Tango in Halifax.”

This PBS story that unites two outrageously different families in marriage, via two

characters who knew and loved each other over 50 years ago, is quite addicting.

The older couple is unsure which home to live in after marrying, one of their

children murdered someone, in self defense, there is a gay woman who longs for

her soul mate, another woman to fall for her, and other plot twists. The scenery

and the dialogue are quite interesting!

 

2. I have been watching and laughing at Amy Poehler’s writing and her brother,

Greg Poehler’s acting in, “Welcome to Sweden.” This is on regular television on

Thursday evenings. A bonus is Lena Olin, in the cast. Greg plays an accountant

who marries a gorgeous blonde Swedish woman and had to find a job, among

other things, in Sweden.

 

3. I have my dental hygienist and my youngest daughter watching, “Hart of Dixie.”

If you start on the first show, it explains how someone from the North, from a big

hospital  ends up in little “Bluebell” town. The characters are played by fairly

familiar actors/actresses, Rachel Bilson, Tim Matheson, with two handsome men

playing a lawyer named George and a bar keeper named Wade. The character of

the black mayor is well done, along with an uptight but sometimes sweet and soft

as a marshmallow is named Lemon.

 

4. “The Goldbergs” is hilariously about the 80’s. It is like another kind of “Wonder

Years.” It has George Segal, who always will be part of my favorite memories of an

ensemble cast in, “Just Shoot Me.” He plays a grandfather living with the family.

I like the intergenerational ‘feel’ to this show.

(In “Just Shoot Me,” also were comedians, Wendy Malick and David Spade.)

“The Goldbergs” is told from the ‘nerdy’ son’s perspective who has a big ‘jock’

brother and a popular big sister. He has different problems, with girls, with his

interests and sometimes within his family. The plot line that is a good example of

funny stuff is when the son wants to make a film, his dad being cast as, “Alien Dad.”

He requests lots of bottles of ketchup and other different stuff to help him make

this. His father has to adjust to this idea, it is a tough one, he is more accustomed to

his older two’s interests. In the end of each show, as this one does, you find out there

are ins to each episode to the climate of the times, like “Say Anything” movie, the

boy uses a big boom box, to help get a girl’s attention. In another episode,  how he

studies the movie,”When Harry Met Sally” to try and understand girls. The message

he gets from it is one that will bring chuckles.

 

5. On Hallmark Channel, I have fallen for “Signed, Sealed and Delivered,” and now

must wait a season for the continuing story. There are mail clerks, one boss and

the staff need to read letters that come down the shoot/chute from the Lost Mail

Department. Each letter holds a story, not all love ones, either. They have been to

different parts of cities, using partial labels on envelopes and other ways and means

to track down one or both parties on the envelope. It reunited a couple, it brought

death to someone who had hoped the other was alive, it brought parent with child

together, etc. The way I got started is, I had read the scripts were by the author of

“Touched by An Angel.” I also saw that good old Rhoda, from the “Mary Tyler

Moore Show,” Valerie Harper, was guesting in the first couple of shows. The main

boss was from the show, “Ugly Betty.” (My mother liked this one, due to the Spanish

connection and liked the way America Ferrara’s family used their heritage in their

decorating and there were sometimes chances for Mom to practice using her own

Spanish.)

 

6. When they come back there are a few female-driven shows, with interesting topics,

along with great ensemble casts like “New Girl,”  “The Mindy Project,” and “Rizzoli

and Isles.” My Filipino friends like the show with Cloris Leachman playing a silly and

forgetful grandmother in, “Raising Hope” and also the three families in “Modern Family.”

I still enjoy the show with Patricia Heaton in, along with the husband who played the

janitor in, “Scrubs,” in the show about mid-American incomes, homes and families:

“The Middle.”

 

I called my two friends who are dear to me, that have battles with depression, which

can sometimes lead to addictions last night. I asked them each had they heard about

Robin William’s death?  One said, “I’m good, at least for today. I know you are worried

about me. When Robin Williams decides this world is not where he belongs, it makes

you consider whether you need to stay here anymore. But, I’m good.”

The other one answered with a little sob, she was not so good. She had heard the news,

immediately knew I would be wondering whether she was taking it well, coping with

her life, as it is a struggle for her. She stopped her moment of crying, I could hear the

‘wheels spinning,’ and she finally let me in on her thoughts,

“I think I won’t take my medications tomorrow and clean the bedroom and bathroom,

then do the laundry. I need to ‘feel’ and action will keep me moving forward.”

 

If you would like to talk about Robin Williams, your favorite movie or anything, you

may do so.

 

If not, I had the idea of sharing our favorite television shows, current or past. . .

 

What are you watching on television that may be of interest to all of us? Do you

mind giving us an example of a plot or story line?