Saturday, September 24, 2005

Alas, poor 'Head Cases'

Wow, that was fast.

The Fox comedy "Head Cases," with Chris O'Donnell and Adam Goldberg, has been canceled after only two episodes.

I'm trying to make my way through the new season, with little luck. My ability to remember to Tivo things is just as good as it was when I had to rely on my VCR. I forgot about "My Name is Earl" until it was almost over. I had just gotten back from Del Taco (minus an order of fries -- fie!) and turned it on.

Gregg Binkley, who plays Dan the Del Taco Guy in commercials, was in the episode, which was a strange coincidence.

I managed to catch "The Office," only because it came on right afterward.

I forgot to record "Everybody Hates Chris," and I have yet to watch the season premiere of "CSI."

This, after I managed to get a copy of the Fall Preview edition of TV Guide.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hey, TV programmers, free ideas!

Well, the new fall TV season is well under way; by the end of the week, I expect to have a backlog of stuff to watch.

I've learned to not get too attached to shows this early. It's usually much better if I catch a show after it's already started.

Scrubs, for example, I didn't catch until just before the second season started. If I had liked it from the first episode, it likely would've been canceled.

As it is, NBC saw fit to leave this Emmy-nominated show off the fall schedule, penciling it in as a midseason replacement. Why? Because they found out I liked it, that's why. I'd be willing to bet, though, I don't have to wait that long before it's on again. I'm sure at least one of NBC's new shows will bomb in only a few weeks.

That's fairly common these days. But 20-25 years ago, your show had to suck spectacularly to get axed that quickly. Manimal lasted for two full months. Manimal! B.J. and the Bear lasted more than two years and gave birth to a spin-off!

I think TV Land or someone should have a show that spotlights TV's failures. Stick it in a late-night timeslot, but just cycle through 60 years of misfires. I'm sure they can spare one rerun slot to accommodate this. I'd bet it would be popular with those weirdoes who are fascinated by bad movies and TV.

Trio has shown shows under their "Brilliant But Canceled" umbrella, which is cool to a certain extent.

To my way of thinking, that's almost like rubbing salt in the wound: Here's a show that was really good, and it got canceled for no good reason.

It's more interesting to me to see these train wrecks that someone actually put on the schedule; someone thought it was a good enough show to be seen by the viewing audience.

I'd use a special and a mini-marathon to kick it off. The special could highlight the variety of shows and the various reasons they got canceled. The mini-marathon would consist of the quickest-canceled shows Рthe cr̬me de la crap, so to speak. If these shows are too bad to bear, you could have behind-the-scenes information, a la Pop-Up Video to keep people watching.

Here are my picks for what's on the special (in countdown order; feel free to imagine Casey Kasem reading this part):

3. Co-ed Fever

"Inspired" by the success of National Lampoon's Animal House, this frat comedy premiered and ended on Feb. 4, 1979. It starred David Keith (who I think should star in a movie with Keith David), Heather Thomas and Hamilton Camp, who also appeared in one other show in the countdown.

2. You're in the Picture

A game show starring Jackie Gleason, this famously bombed after its initial episode, prompting Gleason to apologize to the audience on the next show. I always thought that was pretty cool. Did anyone apologize for Manimal? I didn't think so.

1. Turn-On

I must see this show someday. I finally saw a few clips of it when Trio had a special on canceled shows, but I want to see the whole thing.

On Feb. 5, 1969 (almost 10 years to the day Co-ed Fever premiered), this Laugh-In-esque show (it was also from Laugh-In producers George Schlatter and Ed Friendly) featured guest Tim Conway and a collection of skits and blackouts. One of the other people on the show was Hamilton Camp, who would later be on Co-ed Fever. That's got to be some kind of record in itself.

The first episode fared so poorly, I've read, that some ABC affiliates canceled the show in the middle of broadcast.


That would've been interesting. I wonder how that looked. Did they cut to a different program or cite "technical difficulties"? Did Jackie Gleason come out to take back his apology for You're in the Picture?

Those aren't the only shows that were canceled after only one episode, but I think those would be the most interesting to watch, just to get some kind of glimmer as to what went wrong.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Did you hear about the new pirate movie?

As I'm sure you all well know, today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

I feel as though I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't suggest you annoy the bejeebus out of your co-workers by talking like a pirate all day.

Unless you have a big presentation.

Well, maybe even then.

My pirate name is:

Morty Rackham

You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from

And just so you're not left hanging:

The pirate movie?

It's rated Arrrrr!

Hey, kids! Comics!

I haven't written much about comic books, which is a little odd, as I've been collecting them since I was really little.

Of course, in the early days, the comics were an occasional treat -- people knew I liked superheroes and would pick up a comic if they happened to pass a rack and wanted to get me something.

My dad brought us home a few comics from a trip he went on, and that was pretty cool. They were all Marvels (I was a staunch DC kid), so it took me a little bit longer to figure out what was happening because I didn't know Thor or the Avengers as well as I did Superman or the Justice League of America.

But once I turned about 8, I really started getting interested. It helped that the local comic shop at the time, Quake Comics, also has a sizable selection of paperbacks. My dad is a voracious reader, and we were both able to find cool stuff by going there.

Eventually, they phased out the paperbacks, and my brother and I started digging through all the back issues, marveling (so to speak) at the old comics from previous decades.

"12 cents for a comic!" we'd say. Because comics by then were a lot more expensive. I believe they were making the transition from 65 to 75 cents. To this day, I can multiply by 75 without having to do much thinking. For a measly six bucks, you could get eight comic books.

Now you're lucky to get two or three for that much.

Aside from the insanely goofy covers and interiors, my brother and I liked old comics because they smelled good. I don't know if you've ever smelled an old comic book (I'm referring to anything up through the mid- to late '70s), but it's one of those things that you never forget. It's similar to the smell used bookstores often have -- the almost sweet smell that gets stronger the closer the pages come to your nose.

By the time I hit junior high school, we tried to hit the comic store every week. Even now I think of Wednesday as New Comics Day. We'd moved by then, and while there wasn't a comic shop in our new hometown, if we were willing to drive 25 minutes to Modesto, we could pick up everything we wanted.

In fact, almost 20 years later, I go to the same store. Except now I bring my son with me. He's only 2, but he knows who Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman are.

Even if he calls all of them "Am-pan" (Batman).

He's hooked already. My job is done.