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 ...
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
The Eye Network resoundingly won Thursday, the first night of the November sweeps ratings period, as Survivor: Guatemala's 18.5 million torch carriers beat out NBC's Joey and Will & Grace (netting about 8 mil each) and Fox's The O.C. (6.6 mil). At 9 pm, CSI's 28.5 million loyalists had an easy victory over runner-up The Apprentice (albeit with a season-best 11 mil), while at 10 o'clock Without a Trace's 20.3 million viewers bested ER (14.3 mil), though the two were almost neck-in-neck in key demos. And ABC, you ask? Its airing of Pirates of the Caribbean didn't capture much booty, averaging just 8.4 million for the night.
Question: I've got a theory about why so many people are down on sitcoms nowadays. It seems like ever since Seinfeld ended, half-hour comedy series have become increasingly mean-spirited. Will & Grace isn't about situational comedy; it's about making fun of other people. It's not about laughing with the characters; it's about laughing at them. Mean-spirited comedy certainly has its place, and there were times I found shows like Will & Grace, Malcolm in the Middle etc. funny. But now they just wear on my nerves. What do you think? And do the new comedy shows you've been praising fit (or not fit) into this theory?
Answer: What's so great and encouraging about the early success of My Name Is Earl (most notably) and Everybody Hates Chris is that they manage to be both edgy in tone and somehow sweet-natured, and they're not drowning in self-conscious irony. Earl pokes fun at its lowbrow characters (see my recent Review), but is inherently good at heart. Chris benefits from Chris Rock's
Question: I know NBC will probably see it as admitting defeat, but Joey is just so dull and awful, why not just put it out of its misery and let Scrubs have a good slot on Thursday? I would much rather see Scrubs come back now than one more second of Joey. I watched only a smidgeon of the premiere and thought it just as banal and unwatchable as I did last season. I worry that NBC just won't make the tough decision.
Answer: This is the question of the moment. If Joey looked like a dud last season, it's a full-blown failure now. NBC needs to grow a spine and fix this problem. Even more essentially, Scrubs needs to get back on the air sooner than later — November sweeps would be a nice time to start, if not earlier — but the question is whether to pair it with My Name Is Earl on Tuesdays, move an Earl-Scrubs combo to Thursdays, pair Scrubs with Will & Grace, or even maybe welcome more comedies back to Thursday and find another perch for Trump's Apprentice (although the last option i ...
I was very excited to be able to write about attending tonight's West Coast season-premiere live broadcast. I've been anticipating this for weeks, ever since I knew I was going. A good friend works on the show, so I've been to approximately 40 tapings. But I was extremely nervous, so you know I was really looking forward to this night. Due to the multiple takes, normal tapings take about four hours. The writers often rewrite the scenes to make them funnier, so the actors flub their lines and director Jimmy Burrows is a perfectionist. So knowing this was live, I wondered how they could possibly do it ,since they couldn't do scenes over and over and only had a half hour — twice — once for each coast. Truth is, they've been rehearsing this for four weeks to get it down pat, and the script had gone through so many changes, it had to be perfect. Well, you didn't have to be in the live studio audience to be able to enjoy it, but it certainly made it even better. I c
So after going to the live Will & Grace taping and getting a bite to eat at the after-party, where I told the cast how fabu they were, I was really in the mood to go home to watch my favorite Chicago-based medical drama. Actually, I wasn't — I had it TiVo'd, so I would have preferred to watch it at a later time, but an assignment is an assignment, right? Luckily, I got all my laughs out of my system at the taping, since this was an especially intense and depressing ER. You can't get much sadder than an injured surrogate mother who gives birth to a baby with toxic brain defects, causing the new parents not to want it anymore. Nice to see Amy Aquino back guesting on the show, but this was the second episode in a row without Kerry Weaver. At least Laura Innes directed it. Interesting how Sam and Luka chose to spend time away from each other, thus giving Goran Visnjic more screen time with Maura Tierney, which hasn't happened in ages.
Ready for NuCassie?
As previously reported by TVGuide.com, Guiding Light is recasting Cassie Winslow, Reva's ex-stripper sister who married into Caribbean royalty. The role was abruptly vacated when Laura Wright jumped ship to play General Hospital's new Carly. As a result, Nicole Forester will make her daytime debut as NuCassie on Nov. 4. Who the heck is she? Well, Forester has previously guest-starred on prime-time shows like Two and a Half Men, Monk, Will & Grace and Beverly Hills, 90210. She also costarred with Michael Madsen and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, The Young and the Restless) in the 2003 straight-to-DVD fright-flick Vampires Anonymous. Keep reading for another juicy nugget of Cassie-related casting news....
Remember when sitcoms were more about the characters than the wacky premise that brought them all together? Yeah, me neither. But I will say this about Twins, WB's stab at opposites-running-a-lingerie-biz: While there was definite overkill on "It's funny because she's only wearing undies" gags in the pilot (good rule of thumb: "Buttpucker" gets less funny every time you say it), I suspect the writers may be able to strike a balance as the season goes on. Mitchie the brains (Roseanne's Sara Gilbert) and Farrah the beauty (Passions' Molly Stanton) do have a light and entertaining chemistry, one that I hope won't be murdered in its sleep by the supercontrived love triangle we've got going on in Episode 1 with Jordan, the supposedly charming new marketing guy. Come on, KoMut, the brains-and-beauty behind Will & Grace; I know you can do better than that. I want to see some of the inventiveness that made
Everybody Loves Raymond
On Monday CBS aired its last rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond. Last year Friends and Frasier left NBC. In the new TV season that starts next week, Will & Grace will be heading into the prime-time sunset, and we'll all wonder what happened to the network sitcom.
According to a new study from media ad-buying firm Magna Global, people are watching more comedy on TV than ever. In the 1994-95 season, a TV household watched an average of 4.14 hours of sitcoms per week. This past TV season, that average was up to 4.58 hours, but compared to 20 years ago, the bulk of that viewing is now on cable. Viewers are spending an average of 2.19 hours a week watching comedy on cable and less than an hour per week on the broadcast networks. They're also spending more ti
Will & Grace
How do you breathe new life into aging TV shows? By going live! At least that's the plan for two Emmy-nominated NBC series, The West Wing and Will & Grace.
The West Wing is planning to do a live special during November sweeps that will revolve around a heated debate between presidential hopefuls Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) and Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda). "We are in negotiations with NBC to do a live debate," confirms the show's executive producer, John Wells. "We would actually film the hour leading up to the debate, the on-stage [action], all the backstage [stuff] and the aftermath."
Meanwhile, on Sept. 29 Will & Grace will kick off its eighth and final season by doing t