Question: Last Monday you had a letter in which the writer decried the quality of today's comedies. He noted that the networks are at a disadvantage compared to HBO because of censorship. Here's my problem. The writer noted great comedies from the past 20 years, like Seinfeld, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, The Cosby Show. I can add other great comedies: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart, M*A*S*H, Taxi, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy and many more. None of these great comedies needed a lack of censorship in order to be funny. Why do so many people think there has to be foul language and sex in order for a show to be good? All that's needed is quality writing, truly funny situations that people can relate to and some good acting, and you know what? You have a classic sitcom. What do you think?
Answer: I think you're right, of course. But try convincing today's generation of tone-deaf program executives to go with class over crass. You'd think
Question: I have always wanted to know which comedy series on TV has had the largest single-episode audience in the U.S. Was it M*A*S*H, Seinfeld, Friends or another show?
Answer: That would be M*A*S*H, Johan. When CBS aired the final episode, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," on Feb. 28, 1983, 106 million U.S. viewers tuned in to watch. Compare that with the final Cheers episode, which pulled in 80.4 million a decade later, or the Seinfeld (76.3 million) and Friends (52 million) finales, and you can see how truly impressive the M*A*S*H number is.
Question: Since the heyday of Friends, Seinfeld, Will & Grace, Frasier (or even going back further to The Cosby Show, Mad About You, Cheers and many others), the sitcom format has become nearly obsolete and the networks have clearly reached a point of desperation. In the last few years, only The Simpsons, Scrubs, Arrested Development and Family Guy have succeeded in making people laugh while watching network TV. HBO has a distinct advantage due to its lack of censorship. This year, however, the networks seem to be improving with the additions of Kitchen Confidential and the close-to-being-very-funny How I Met Your Mother. Once Mother finds its true voice (Ted and Robin are simply not funny) and NBC brings Scrubs back from its inexplicable hiatus, we might finally be able to enjoy a few amusing comedies. Notwithstanding the dissertation above, my question is about Freddie. In my not-so-humble opinion, Freddie Prinze Jr. is not funny. His family on the show is not funny. The concept of ...
In an interview airing tonight on CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, headline magnet Jennifer Aniston says today's tabloid journalism is "at a bizarre all-time high," but luckily she is able to dodge the muckraking. "I don't live in a city where I'm walking by newsstands; I'm in a car driving by them. So, unless I'm going to hurt myself while driving or p--s a lot of people off, I just don't pay attention." (Lindsay Lohan's recent fender-bender just made a lot more sense.) In semirelated news, David Hesterbey, the man caught breaking into Aniston's Malibu home on Aug. 25, has been sentenced to a year in jail and ordered to stay away from the actress for 10 years, or until the Friends alum resorts to guesting on Joey, whichever comes first.
You've got male: the men of The Ponderosa
Question: I've been watching Bonanza reruns and was wondering why it was eventually canceled. My dad says it was because Dan Blocker died. Is that true? Thanks for your help and keep up the good work!
Answer: Aw, heck — t'ain't nothin, but thanks for the kind words, Tim.
It's true that when Blocker died at 43 from surgical complications, many felt the heart and soul of the show went with him. But the show also dropped in the ratings after NBC moved it from its longtime Sunday-night berth to Tuesday night. The truth is that Bonanza most likely perished because its time had simply passed. Next to Gunsmoke, it was the longest-running Western on TV (from September 1959 to January 1973) and for much of that time it turned in phenomenal ratings. From 1964 to 1967, it was No. 1 and it only began to slip out
First I need to correct the handful of people who last week thought I was saying that Jessica Hecht played Ross' ex-wife on Friends. If you go back and check, you'll see that I wrote "Ross' ex-wife's wife." Had to get that out of the way. So tonight was another episode that hit home for me. My dad had prostate cancer just like Dr. Dubenko, and had the same risky surgery. My dad survived, but he is unfortunately in that 25 percent group Dubenko was mentioning. It was so sweet that Abby wanted to be such a friend to him. But just a friend. The scene where she politely rejected his request to help him with his problem before and after the surgery ("I'm gonna have to take a pass on that") was priceless. Boy, do I love me some Maura Tierney. But I also love me some Linda Cardellini. So glad Sam finally spoke up for herself against Cruella De Vil, or rather, Kristen Johnston as Eve. So funny to hear Luka whine to Kerry as he complai
My Name Is Earl
The state of returning comedies has not been pretty in the new TV season. Consider the year-to-year decline in these shows:
— ABC's According to Jim, which moved from 9 pm to 8 pm on Tuesdays, is off 26 percent compared to the first three weeks of last year. Its 8:30 companion, Rodney, has dropped 22 percent.
— CBS' Two and a Half Men has had an uphill battle trying to the big shoes of Everybody Loves Raymond. The network is down 20 percent in the time period from a year ago.
— As for NBC's much-maligned Joey? Ugh. It's off 46 percent compared to last year and has taken the Must-See TV network to new lows on Thursday nights.
But before this turns into another "Is the sitcom dead?" column, let's look at the bright side: Last week N
Does this show have room for two beeyotches? They already have Kerry Weaver, and now there's Kristen Johnston as Eve, the new nurse manager that everybody hates. I started out loving her, since I tend to flock toward the "female dogs," and then when she was mean to my Luka, I hated her. I briefly forgave her when she and Luka seemed to patch things up. But when Eve told Sam she didn't want her to work the same shift as Luka, I was back to hating her. Loved when Sam compared her to Yoda. Johnston does a great job regardless. I was never a 3rd Rock fan, but she was nice to me the one time I met her.
Very freaky beginning, with the unidentified burn victim running into the hospital. But nothing was scarier than the abusive father lunging toward his ex-wife after realizing their son was probably dead. Poor Luka. It was bad enough he didn't go back to the boy sooner, but it was even worse that Eve was right. Nice work from Jessica Hecht
Question: I have watched Survivor, Alias and The O.C. from their respective beginnings. I was always a fan of Friends, so I was giving Joey the benefit of the doubt. I have two TiVos and a VCR, but I still cannot fit Everybody Hates Chris into my list. With all the buzz the show is getting, why doesn't UPN try to fit a repeat showing into its less-than-stellar lineup? I have to be able to see Chris before I can move it up in the pecking order.
Answer: Sucks, doesn't it? Believe me, if you're torn between Chris and Joey, don't think twice about opting for UPN. It's the right thing to do. But this logjam is an impossible dilemma for those with strong prior allegiances. Whatcha gonna do? I know some people are planning to watch Chris and watch the second half of Survivor, which sounds like a partial solution. But you can't watch Alias halfway. What a mess. I like your idea about double-running Chris. UPN, are you listening ...
David Hesterbey, the homeless man who scaled a 9-foot fence and entered the Pacific Coast Highway home of Jennifer Aniston in late August, has been ordered by a judge to stay at least 100 yards away from the Friends alumna for a period of three years. But hey, at least he can still can surf the Internet.