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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Squeaky Clean Sopranos?

Would sponsors line up to buy commercials in The Sopranos? Even if the shows were edited of much of their blood, gore, and potty-mouthing?

Initially, you'd think not- what company wants their product associated with a show that regularly features rapes, beheadings and assasinations, even if it's a sanitized, watered down version. But here at TVGeekSpeak, we feel that advertisers are missing a huge opportunity. Why not try pitching these products:

- Tide or Shout, to help scrub out those "hard to remove stains"

- Boar's Head, to plug "pro-shute" and "gabba-gool"

- Cadillac Escalade, "The SUV killing machine the pros use!"

- Any funeral parlor chain, who could then offer customers volume discounts

Media planners, you can thank me later.

Ratings Roundup

Buoyed by two big football games, Desperate Housewives, and a powerful Lost/Alias combo, this week's ratings winner is ABC, which tallied its best ratings week in four years.

Mixed results for a couple of new offerings at NBC: supernatural drama Medium premiered strongly; Committed, not so much.

Two new CBS reality entries shit the proverbial bed: Wickedly Perfect pulled in less than half of what Survivor usually draws on Thursday, and The Will wheezed badly on Saturday.

For Fox, Sunday night's two hour 24 had its biggest audience ever for a season premiere.

In the evening news race, Brian Williams continued to dominate.

Network Rankings
1. ABC, 15.9 million viewers (10 rating, 16 share)
2. CBS, 12 million viewers (7.9, 12)
3. NBC, 10.4 million viewers (6.9, 11)
4. Fox, 8.7 million viewers (5.4, 8)
5. UPN, 3.2 million viewers (2.2, 3)
6. The WB, 2.8 million viewers (1.9, 3)
7. Pax TV, 800,000 viewers (1.0, 2)

Top 10 Prime-time Programs
1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 28.9 million viewers
2. AFC Playoff Game: N.Y. Jets at San Diego, ABC, 25.8 million viewers
3. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 25.2 million viewers
4. Without a Trace, CBS, 23.8 million viewers
5. AFC/NFC Showcase, ABC, 23 million viewers
6. Lost, ABC, 21.6 million viewers
7. Orange Bowl: USC vs. Oklahoma, ABC, 21.4 million viewers
8. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ABC, 20 million viewers
9. Wildcard Post Game Show, Fox, 19.5 million viewers
10. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 18.8 million viewers

Evening News
NBC Nightly News, 12.1 million viewers (8.4, 15)
ABC World News Tonight, 10.8 million viewers (7.6, 14)
CBS Evening News 8.6 million (4.8, 10)

Why Was Rather Spared?

After yesterday's dismissals in the Memogate scandal, many are wondering why the buck stopped where it did? The Tiffany Network's King Shit of Fuck Mountain, Les Moonves, declined to axe CBS News President Andrew Heyward or anchor Dan Rather, whose face was attached to the story and who also vociferously defended its accuracy.

Moonves felt Rather stepping down from his CBS Evening News anchor chair was discipline enough.

The one hilarious finding of the independent panel: that they found no evidence of political bias. Puh-leeze. Rather (and fired producer Mary Mapes, for that matter) have a long history of presenting their slant as fact (as do all network newsrooms), and this instance crystallizes it.

Hmmm... think his reports will be scrutinized much when he scoots over to 60 Minutes full-time?

Also: looks like CBS is considering ABC's Kate Snow and PBS' Margaret Warner to replace Rather. Connie Chung will be happy to hear it.

Related link: TVGeekSpeak: Chung Asks, "Where The White Women At?"

Turkey Baster TV: Coming This Fall!

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse: a couple of European companies are pitching a reality show that would have men competing to be a sperm donor for a woman looking to get pregnant.

The most shocking part of this story: Fox hasn't ripped it off yet?

A Simple No Will Suffice

A New Jersey school has decided to just say no to The Simple Life, refusing to let them shoot an episode of the soooooo-last-year reality show in their halls.

The J.P. Cleary Middle School had initially agreed to let Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie pose as cafeteria workers and substitute teachers, but faced outrage after sending the kids home with permission slips. Apparantly the thought of Paris "teaching" their kids anything (especially the "skills" displayed in any of her circulating porno tapes) made parents more than a little nervous.

At this point, my charitable side would like to volunteer my "classroom" to the girls for a very special "lesson." It's for a good cause, right?

CBS Neckties Order CSI:NY to Lighten Up

The dark, dark, moody, dark CBS quasi-hit CSI:NY has been ordered to soften the dark tone by CBS entertainment chief Nina Tassler.

Initially strong ratings have softened to the point where former time slot victor Law & Order topped the show last week. It's anybody's guess whether the show has leveled off, or if it will continue to decline.

Chung Chung!

Winnie Cooper is Back!

Former Wonder Years star Danica McKellar will guest star on N.C.I.S. next month, but I won't be watching.

I've really never forgiven her for breaking young Kevin's heart. Healing takes time, you know... and for me, it's still just too soon.

Cameraman Takes High Heat From Big Unit

New York cameraman Vince Everett got a peek into the dark, ugly soul of new Yankees pitcher Randy Johnson yesterday, as he was nearly mauled by the surly lefty. Johnson was en route to his physical, and Everett was dispatched to obtain some innocuous b-roll. Instead, Everett found himself in the center of a major story, when Johnson grabbed the camera and rudely berated the cameraman. What a guy!

We can only hope Johnson provides the media with feel-good moments like this all season. Plus, it gives us Yankee haters one more reason to exist. Meanwhile, we applaud Everett for his witty retort: "Welcome to New York!"

For a (somewhat) different perspective, our resident sports expert (and Yankee fan) Uncle Buster had this to say:

"There's no way Johnson didn't know NY media would be like this. And if he didn't, then he's as naive in his everyday life as he is dominant on the mound. His reaction was uncalled for.

"But the video itself has no redeeming news value. It's only a story if he FAILS his physical. Is this all WCBS has to cover? If they sent someone just to get that kind of charge out of him, mission accomplished, but it's another sorry entry in the journal of NY media bullying."

Will he soften up to the media? Time will tell. Meanwhile, some advice to you folks assigned to cover the Yankee locker room: wear a cup.

What do you think? Post your comments below!

Tonight's Tube

Tuesday: I'll be skipping two season finales tonight: The Biggest Loser and Celebrity Blackjack. I'm still trying to determine why anyone would ever watch blackjack on TV. Without a pile of casino chips and a free drink in front of you, it's like watching paint dry. Zzzzzz.

24 in 99: Hours 3 and 4

If you missed last night's double shot of 24, never fear: JoeVideo's here to recap each episode in a tidy 99 words.

Episode 3
Keeler thinks the kidnapping of Heller is a “trigger” for bigger attacks. Curtis tortures Richard for the truth about dad’s kidnapping. Chloe works with Jack to track down abductor Kalil and hostage Andrew. Bauer saves HackerAndrew just as he’s about to die, and Andrew’s injured critically. Jack follows Kalil to a convenience store. Heller signs the “Charges” against him. Sara is suspicious of Chloe’s wack-job behavior. Marianne Taylor joins CTU over Curtis’ “old-flame-pillow-talk” objections, and she figures out how gullible Edgar is. Chloe needs time to get the satellites tracking Kalil, so Jack stalls by robbing the gas station!

Episode 4
Jack removes his mask and chills his hostages in the fridge. Driscoll figures Chloe’s helping Jack and bugs her computer, but Chloe works thru GullibleEdgar. Driscoll’s schizo daughter calls her, then goes next door and bugs the neighbors, who call the cops. More cops converge at the store when Jack kidnaps a fuzz, but Jack escapes with Kalil. Driscoll orders Chloe arrested for helping Jack. “TerrorMom” Araz orders Behrooz to kill his girlfriend, he can’t, so she kills Debbie! CTU picks up the call between Kalil and Omar, turns out Jack was right… until HE’s arrested by Local cops!

Tuesday's 99 Word Review: Unscripted

Here's the Geek-In-Chief's latest 99 Word Review. This time, Unscripted gets the full write-up.


A show where actors act like they’re not acting, search for acting gigs, and let cameras catch them in the act? That sums up Unscripted, the new venture from Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney following three “actors” playing “themselves:” Krista Allen (modest hottie), Bryan Greenberg (earnest newbie), and Jennifer Hall (undertalented cutie), all taught by Frank Langella’s schlongy acting instructor.

The performances are credible; the characters, likable. Sure, there’s nothing new here (“Hollywood is cruel!” “Actors are shallow!” “Everyone’s full of shit!”) but it’s an entertaining way to spend a half-hour.

Or, at least, I’ll act like it is.

TVGS rating: 3 test patterns out of 4.

Unscripted
airs Sunday nights at 10 et/pt on HBO.

Tuesday Trivia: The Brady Bunch, Redux

One of the following statements about The Brady Bunch is faker than their Jan's afro. Which is it?

1) The living room’s telephone was green.
2) The refrigerator was green.
3) Jan was voted most popular girl.
4) Greg was also known as “Scoop” Brady.

Answer tomorrow.

Monday Trivia Solved: The Brady Bunch

Which statement about The Brady Bunch isn't true?

1) The Brady’s cat’s name is Fluffy.
2) Alice's last name is Nelson
3) Carol's maiden name is Martin.
4) Sam's last name: Franklin

Tha answer: 3) Carol's maiden name was actually Tyler.

Geek/CounterGeek: Star Trek Enterprise

I've known our newest contributer, Vito, for 15 years now- and I'm don't recall him making one clear-cut decision the entire time. Which, coincidentally, is why his new column, Geek/CounterGeek is perfect for him. Each week, he'll detail both sides of a pressing tube-related issue that's keeping him awake at night (well, along with thinking of new ways to organize his Micronaut collection). Here's Volume 1.

Geek: Put Enterprise Out Of My Misery

As the ratings keep sliding, it seems that TV will soon finally be free of the alternately mediocre/downright crappy Star Trek franchise. Who would have thought there would even be another series after the dismal Voyager left the airwaves, when Mrs. Columbo and crew finally returned from the depths of... oh, who cares? Despite promises of radical change and a return to form, Enterprise writers rehashed the same lame-assed plotlines: alternate futures, alternate pasts, the ridged-nosed alien of the week that could only be defeated by inverting the plasma relays or some other made-up tech garbage. This dead horse has been beat, dismembered, processed and used to hold together our kids' construction paper projects. Enough already!

CounterGeek: Give Enterprise Another Shot

Admittedly, Enterprise has stumbled in the course of its 3+ year run. Despite this, it has one of the strongest casts of any of the series. Sure there's no Shatner, but that's a good thing. The biggest mistake the writers have made is not coming up with more reasons for Jolene Blalock to have to rub her mostly naked body with "decontamination gel." Despite the ridiculous "Aliens helped the Nazis win WWII" season opener, this has been the best season yet. The idea of having short, three-episode story arcs gives time to develop interesting situations and characters without getting boring. The writers have finally figured out what the show should do, fill in the blanks of and expand on the rich Star Trek mythology that has been built since 1966. Another year or two of that sounds good to me.

Vito's Geek/CounterGeek appears every Tuesday.

Which side do you agree with? Post a comment now!

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