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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Idiot Box: Things I've watched and liked

Since we often find ourselves plopping down in front of it, while awaiting a new adventure to take form somewhere inside us, or around us, here is a list of the shows I've took an interest in over the years....

- while I was growing up, this was usually high on the watched list. Between Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce and Hotlips Houlihan, I guess it was a small microcosm of the Vietnam War, although it's approach was not quite what I think should have been. Still retains title as highest rated TV show ever in its finale...And no show nowadays will ever amass that sort of audience with Cable/Direct TV.
The Wonder Years - Fred Savage as Kevin Arnold was a top-flight casting decision. He brought plenty to the role of a teenager growing up in the late 1960's, early 1970's. Daniel Stern doing that classic voice over, like The Christmas Story Red Rider Bee Bee Gun guy, also was top flight. Since the story moved in the same period, Vietnam, it was interesting how it could take on that topic, then come back down to antics of growing up, figuring out girls and getting into trouble. Olivia D'abo (left) was also a then schoolboy crush. (She's 38, plays on a show I really want to watch, but can't, since it is on SciFi and my cable company sucks - Eureka - and probably still pretty good looking.)

Remington Steele - Pierce Brosnan (pre-Bond) and Stephanie Zimbalist formed a partnership that was chaotic and funny. As a detective combo, they both worked pretty well. With Pierce's English verve and Stephanie's understated hotness (left), the show did enough for my 12-13 year old attention span. Sorta of a Moonlighting without the funny, sharp and quippy language. Which lead us to...

Moonlighting - Bruce Willis (pre-Die Hard) and Cybil Shephard (post-The Last Picture Show) did what Remington Steele couldn't usually: laugh at itself on screen. Breaking through the "4th wall" of TVLAND and adding plenty of spice in the sack that Remington didn't. A typical quote from the series:

Petruchio/Addison: You see through me, Kate. No tuner I. But I wish it were within my talents to play piano for you.
Kate/Maddie: 'Tis a sad thing indeed. You're the only man I know who suffereth from pianist envy.

House - what better way to understand a pseudo-Sherlock Holmes than to watch a drug-addicted doctor ply his craft on the cases and medical team members of his choice. It sometimes makes a good statement; other times it stretches any medical ethics to the point of absurdity. Hugh Laurie (pre-House) though does an excellent job. His pop was a doctor from a few sources.

Psych - this is a pretty decent show, though it will have to step it up a bit to garner any acclaim like Monk did. The references to old TV shows, characters and plotlines though sometimes really funny, are getting a bit too much. The characters are all likeable, which is why the show works. Gus (Dule Hill) and Sean (James Roday) are a tight duo that works well on the weird cases they solve through the photographic memory of Sean and awkward smarts of Gus.

The Black Sheep Squadron: Based very loosely on the WWII heroics of Major Greg "Pappy" Boyington, Robert Conrad and John Laroquette led this show in a short-lived airing of 36 episodes. The dogfights staged as they were with 1970's technology was pretty good. Laroquette would go on to Night Court and his own show.

The Dead Zone - Even being based on a Stephen King novel, I was surprised to see the big 3 (ABC, NBC or CBS) did not take this on their airways. (Though USA Network must be owned by NBC.) Anthony Michael Hall (of Chevy Chase's Vacation & The Breakfast Club) has really done a unique job -- though the character has ran its course. The showdown with Vice President/President is coming...Hope it doesn't suck.

Hustle - Nothing like thieves in Londontown to make an interesting adventure. Led by Mickey Stone (Adrian Lester of Primary Colors) and Albert Stroller (top character actor Robert Vaughn, who was nominated for Oscar in The Young Philadelphians) in the con game played for the moral good of others (they get the really bad men) in a Robin Hood without-the-giving-to-the-poor always scenario, I like the backdrop and the action.

I don't always get to this one. I've like the 8-12 episodes I've seen, but alas, I forget AMC plays something other that movies like For A Few Dollars More or From Here to Eternity, which are both fine, but I've seen.
Burn Notice, Heroes, Family Guy, Law & Order original, Star Trek and plenty of others are things I've watched.

A very poor segway to more educational stuff:

Connections & Connections 2 & Connections 3: Englishman James Burke takes you on a ride to see the connections in history between divergent technologies and vastly different people. How one thing or item became instrumental to the fabric of another item, sometimes 500 years removed from each other. This series started in 1979...
The Universe - New show on how this thing called a Universe is created and shifting from place to place, and time to time. It is always interesting to learn about Physics and the crazy things that are capable in just one star 1 billion light-years away.
Cities of the Underworld - Nice to see 1,000,000 skeletons (Paris), drawings from 2000 years ago (Rome) and dungeons (London) in these places just 100 feet below your feet. Entire lives and streets exist just under the parking garages of your current existence.
Just about anything on the History Channel or Discovery, is pretty cool at times.

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