Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blog Update, Secret Life Spoiler, Pop Up Video

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

First, a blog update: Okay, so in continuing to create a better blog, I deleted 50+ entries from 2008-2009. They were all on topics that are no longer related to what this blog is about. But, if, for some reason, you wonder where they went, I put them over here for now.

Now, onward to the latest television news: Gary from Teen Mom was arrested for driving with a suspended license. The focal point, however, seems to be that they needed to use two sets of handcuffs on him. 

Charlie Sheen won't be on Entourage after all. And, although Two and a Half Men produced enough episodes this season to qualify for "Best Comedy" at the Emmys, it will not be submitted as a nominee because of Sheen's antics. I don't know that I agree with that logic. I think you're kinda punishing a bunch of other people.

Remember Pop Up Video on VH1? I used to love that show! Well, they're bringing it back with 60 new episodes!

Roseanne Barr may be part of Are you there, Vodka? It's me, Chelsea with Chelsea Handler.

What do you think of the possibility of the show The Real Housewives of Vancouver? Personally, I think there are far too many varieties of that show already!

Remember a year ago or so when Cougar Town tried to change its name? They're going for it again.

George Lucas has already filmed 50 hours of scripted material for a new Star Wars television show, set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Unfortunately, he's sitting around waiting for a technological breakthrough, so it could be a while until the show hits thr airwaves...

********SPOILER BELOW********






AND, on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Adrian and Ben have a stillborn baby next week. As we mentioned on Twitter last week, we participated in a Q&A with the actors playing Adrian & Ben, so stay tuned for a recap of that soon!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Is that Your Final Answer?

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I've mentioned before that certain shows have a lot of meaning to me (like Full House causing me to choose Tuesday as my favorite day of the week), and I'm sure that you can single out meaning from other shows just as well. But I think it's a little more difficult to say the same about game shows here. Perhaps Wheel of Fortune makes you think of a grandmother with whom you always played. Or you might remember watching The Price is Right on sick days. But, of all the game shows I can think of, the one that means the most to me is Who Wants to be a Millionaire. You see, it was rising to fame as my now-husband and I began dating, and we'd watch it while on the phone with one another. Silly teenagers, I know. And he didn't have cable, so he only had a handful of channels, not super-clear or anything. But, he knew I enjoyed playing with him, and so we'd talk about the answers and whatnot, learning all sorts of bits and pieces of trivia. There's a bit more to the story behind the meaning, but let's leave it at that for now. Today, I present Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

Brief history: The show originated in Great Britain, with Chris Tarrant as the host. The name of the show comes from the Cole Porter song of the same name. You have to answer multiple-choice questions, winning a possible million pounds at the end. Most international versions have you win a million of that currency, unless the exchange rate is way off. The big difference between Who Wants to be a Millionaire and most game shows is that only one contestant plays at a time, and speed isn't a factor. Similar to The $64,000 Question, the potential winnings doubled after each question, with the potential to lose it all with an incorrect response. It first aired in September 1998, and the first board game rolled out in 2000. There was a 12-episode Who Wants to be a Super Millionaire in 2004 that featured 15 questions with higher dollar values. Tournaments and other spin-off type shows have also been seen. You can find old Regis episodes on GSN, and the syndicated episodes are still going.

The game: Ten people are introduced, then given four items to put in a certain order. The first person to get the order correct gets to play the actual game. This round is called the Fastest Finger segment, and in early episodes was a regular multiple-choice question with the person to give the fastest correct answer moving on. The player then moves on to answer one question (with four choices) at a time. The level of difficulty generally increases, and after the first few questions, the host asks if the response the player gives is their "final answer," since the players have unlimited time to make their decision and often ponder several options before deciding. If the player doesn't think that they know the answer, they can walk away with the money they've won so far, rather than risk losing it. There are a few safe areas - after you pass the $1,000 and $32,000 marks (questions 5 and 10, respectively) you are guaranteed to win those amounts. There are also three lifelines available to you: you can Phone a Friend (you've given a list already of possible friends and you pick one when you see the question. you get thirty seconds with them on the line), 50/50 (remove two wrong answers, leaving you with two to pick from), and Ask the Audience (poll the audience to see what their guesses would be!). You get to use each one once, whenever you want. Regis Philbin was notably the first host for the show in the US, from 1999-2002. His version was explosively popular, even leading ABC to put the show on 5 nights a week for a while, with episodes only taped a single day before they aired. It was also famous at that point because you could call in, take a phone quiz, and be entered for a chance to be on the show. There would be another phone round, then you'd be flown to NY to compete if you passed!

Notable changes to the way the game is played: In the US, the Fastest Finger segment does not exist in the daytime syndicated version. In some countries, the number of questions vary - like 11, 12, 14, 15, and 16. In 2008, the US also changed the format to make time matter... you only got 15 seconds for questions 1-5, 30 seconds for questions 6-10, and 45 seconds for questions 11-14. Any leftover seconds with every question bought you extra time on your final question - you also got to know the category of each question before it was asked in this version. In 2010, the format changed again - removing the clock and shuffling the questions. This meant that you didn't know how much the question was worth until you gave your final answer. The level of difficulty was not tied to the value of the question. A new lifeline was added - Jump the Question, which allowed you to skip a question... once you skipped it, you found out what it was worth. This is how the first 10 questions are played, for a maximum $68,600 win - if you chose to leave early you won half of what you accumulated so far. The final four questions are done like the older versions - each worth an increasing amount and increasingly difficult - no categories given, either. The biggest change has been the lifelines. In the US, the 50/50 and the Phone-a-Friend were discontinued. (the Phone-a-Friend was removed because people were googling the answers). Ask the Audience was expanded to include any AOL IM user who wanted to participate. 2004-2008 had a Switch the Question option, which let you swap out a question after the 10th correct answer. There was a Double Dip for a while, which allowed you to give a second "final answer" if your first choice was wrong (I've personally never seen an episode with this lifeline!). And, there was a Ask the Expert, where you could call a pre-arranged expert for advice, though their expertise was not always related to the question.

Special contestants:  Actually, there are both special contestants and special hosts. On the syndicated version, there have been a plethora of guest hosts, including Al Roker, Steve Harvey, DL Hughley, and even Regis Philbin. There have been celebrity editions, brides-to-be games, college weeks, family teams, and teacher versions, among other specialties. Regis was even a contestant during the 10th Anniversary special. And, fun fact: on the US versions, only one person has ever gotten to the $1,000,000 question and gotten it wrong. Everyone else has either walked away or gotten it correct! AND, that one person was during that 10th Anniversary special! I think my favorite contestant was John Carpenter, back in '99. You may remember him as the first person to win the million, and he did it without getting help through lifelines, though he did Phone-a-Friend his father on the final question to tell him he was going to win!

Favorite Rounds: First, I'm a classicist for this show, so I definitely prefer the old, primetime Regis episodes. Also, I really enjoyed the episodes that were part of those 10-episode gigs, where the show would then disappear for a few months... it really added to the excitement for me. And, like most people I believe, my favorite rounds are the later ones... the suspense is just so much higher!

My take: I'd compete if given the opportunity, and I think I'd do well. I actually know someone who has been on the syndicated version, and he did well. Of course, I'd need to get different questions to do well, but they're all so random there's no way to know, LoL. My downfall would completely be in the fact that I don't always trust my instincts, and that I have a difficult time walking away.

What about you? Did you ever watch Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Did you watch the original Regis episodes, or just the syndicated ones? Are you sad that they changed the lifelines?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Random Thoughts: A Commercial Prop

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I go through periods where I really enjoy watching commercials, and then periods where I can't stand to watch them. Sometimes, I'll only watch things I've recorded so that I can fast-forward through commercials if I'm just not in the mood. When I was a kid, I thought the smartest thing that I could do was pop a tape into the VCR in the fall, and then record the toys I wanted when their commercials came on, so I pretty much had a video Christmas list. My mom didn't like the idea, so I wrote out my list year after year, though I remember lobbying for my "video list" more than once.

I don't talk about commercials often here, but the subject of today's post comes from an abnormality that my husband and I saw while watching television last week. He noticed it at first, though I was more disturbed by it. It's a commercial for Ross that came out at least a month ago. There are two separate shots of a specific boy with a skateboard. Doesn't sound that unusual... until you consider the surface of the board. It looks like yellow shag carpet. on a skateboard. What's that about?? Have you seen such things? Does it remind you of other strange props in commercials?

If you haven't seen the commercial, here you go... the skateboard kid is between seconds 8 and 12.
cropped with SnipSnip

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Just some Pregnancies...

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Reviews & [Commentaries] for "unscripted" shows this week include: Pregnant in Heels and 16 and Pregnant.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ned & Edna; House AWOL; Slash as Santa

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Reviews & Commentaries for "scripted" shows this week include: Simpsons, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, House, The Middle, and South Park.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Throwback Thursday: Elaine's Airport Route

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Seinfeld
peppers the syndication world on several different channels these days. I feel like I see it on the guide at least once a day. It's one of those shows that I came to long after it ended, and I enjoy seeing a funny episode every now and then when reruns are the best thing that's on the tube. 

Not long ago, "The Busboy" episode was on, which is about how George gets a busboy fired, then makes his life pretty crappy before everyone realizes that he really saves his life. But, in a sidestory, Elaine's boyfriend is visiting from Seattle, and she gets sick of him. They oversleep when he's supposed to leave, and she drives like a maniac to get him to the airport. Her monologue about the way she drove amuses me to no end. I'm almost on the edge of my seat each time I hear it. So, I thought I would share it with you today. I couldn't find a clip of the show, but here's a sketched version someone did, the monologue still in place:  
cropped with SnipSnip


If you'd like to see the entire episode, go here, the monologue beings about 16:30.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oprah's Final List of Favorite Things

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I've seen several blogs that do "Thankful Thursday" once a week (and others that do "Wordless Wednesday" for that matter), where they list things that they're thankful for. I haven't jumped on that bandwagon on any of my blogs (which, by the way, I'm up to four. might I throw in a quick plug for my Restaurant Review Blog - www.thecasualeater.com), but I often think about specific things that I love and want to recommend to others. Similarly, Oprah does this every year. I heard about it a few years ago when she famously gave away a car to everyone in her audience. Since today is the final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, I thought that I'd take a look at her last list of "Favorite Things" from November 2010. 

A watch: I hate it. I think it's ugly. The oval face is okay, but the two clocks is weird to me.

Set of candles. I think that candles are overpriced in general, but if I can get 18 Oprah-recommended candles for $55, I'll call it a success. Good move, O. EXCEPT, those are $55 EACH, which is probably the most extreme thing I've seen in a while! 

A tote and ballerina flats
: okay, take them or leave them. But it disturbs me that a flannel tote can cost $250.

A camera. The Nikon D3100, to be specific. I'm not into fancy cameras, but I'll call this one a winner.

A sweater & throw from Ralph Lauren. another annoying item, in my opinion. I love a fancy sweater as much as the next gal, but I'm not willing to drop $500 on one, so I'm a bit bothered by choosing it as a "favorite thing."

Brownie & Lasagna Pans. The kind that allow you to have all edge pieces. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to try this for lasagna. And, for $35-50, I think that she chose some reasonable options. And, I totally support her Ghiradelli mix for the brownie pan!

Earrings. I love earrings. I feel like I wear them well. I have three holes in each ear, so I have plenty of options, LoL. But, again with the $500 per item thing... no.

Haircare products from Andre Walker. I know nothing about this line. But, at a modest price of $65, I'll celebrate it. Maybe even look into it.

Panini press. eh. We got one for our wedding and have never even opened the box. We had a George Foreman grill (which, you know, is kinda similar), but sold it since we never used it. So, $100 on a panini press isn't something I'd go for, but I do think that others may enjoy it.

Cutlery. A good knife isn't always easy to find. We LOVE our cutlery, so if Oprah supports some, I'm glad people will have a standard to branch from.

Macaroni & Cheese. This is one of my husband's favorite foods. We buy it from Costco, LoL. We've gotten it at restaurants on more than a few occasions. But spending $29 for one package seems a bit extreme to me. However, if it is truly Oprah's favorite mac & cheese, I'd be glad to receive it!

Books. One by Jay-Z and one weight loss book. no comments from me.

Netflix. I have it. I love it. But, 5 years is a long time, why not just get people a 1-year subscription? Kinda flaunting money, I say.

A 52" TV with a Blu-Ray Player. Cool. 100% support this one.

Kiva Gift Card for $100. Pick a small business to support, for as little as $25. Pretty cut-and-dried. Good job on letting others choose who to help!

Closet System. I've had two now, both were installed before I had the rooms. And, I've hated both. I support the idea, but think that it's such a personal thing that one person's closet system doesn't work for another. But, if you're figuring out your own decision, cheers!

T-Shirt. you know, to commemorate the final year of the show. cool.

Pants. Well, I would argue that $98 is awful high for lounge pants (I'd believe it for jeans or dress pants), but I bought the softest pair of lounge pants in the world last year. They were on clearance and were like $7, marked down from $88. And I wish I had bought more. So, $98 pants sound good to me!

Nike Sneakers. I like Nike. After Adidas, they are my preferred sneaker. My last two pairs of running shoes were Nike. But, at the same time, one pair at a time is plenty. Two if you're a big athlete. Oprah gave our FOUR pairs to each person. Excess.

A Royal Caribbean cruise with airfare on United. I'm in love. I wish I was in the audience just for that. My husband and I have taken four cruises and can't wait for our next!

A CD. from the Black Eyes Peas. Love them. Love CDs. Done deal.

iPad. While I personally haven't figured out what I'd use a tablet for (I mean, I am already checking email before I get out of bed on my phone. I'm thinking an additional internet device is overkill!), I have come to understand why other people enjoy them. And so, kudos to Oprah on this selection.

Uggs. Specifically, the ultra-sparkly kind. While I find them a bit garish, at least she only got 1 pair per person (they come in three colors). Acceptable.

A Purse. from Coach. not in love with it, but I know people pay $400 for such items. I mean, if it was a kate spade, I'd probably be thrilled, LoL. Thumbs up.

A Tunic and Leggings. Simple in concept. And, $300 for the tunic isn't that outrageous. But, I draw the line at $260 leggings. #FAIL.

Hope in a Jar. It's a moisturizer. 8 oz is over $100. A bit pricey for my tastes, but if that's what Oprah likes, so be it.

Lingerie. More specifically, a $500 gift card to buy lingerie at Nordstrom's, PLUS another $500 card to pass on to a friend! That's a lot of money for lingerie. But, it ain't cheap, and I'm sure that Nordstrom's has pricey items, so it probably balances out in the end. Hoorah for good bras!

Herb Savor. A great idea. It keeps herbs fresh for weeks. And, it's reasonable. approved.

Chicken Pie. I love a chicken pot pie. I was surprised to learn that this one is all meat, no veggies. And it's $20. But, if Oprah prefers it to Marie Callender's, okay.

Tin of popcorn. When I was a kid, we got a tin of popcorn every Christmas. And, the cheese flavor went the quickest. Well, Oprah chose Garrett Popcorn from Chicago, and the tin was filled with the cheese kind and the caramel kind. Sounds like a great choice... and then you find out that it costs $135. I'm pretty sure the tins we got were more of a $10 (maybe $20) deal.

Cookware. As someone who had a larger wedding (175 in attendance), one things I was hoping to open the next day was the pots and pans we registered for. They weren't there, amongst the piles of wonderful things. But, we got gift cards a-plenty, and now have a very full line of pots and pans (I say "very full" because we ended up with "bonus items" because we bought the big set and stuff). And, we adore our set. We mention is once a month or so to one another. And, our pans weren't cheap. So I fully stand behind Oprah's selection of $600 Le Creuset cookware.

Jeans. Miraclebody Jeans. $110, and they claim to make you look 10 pounds slimmer. I'd be willing to try them on, and though $110 is a bit more than I'd want to pay, you could convince me to if they lasted! Nice choice.

A Jewelry Box. Not my style, but I can see the appeal. Not cheap, but for the design, probably not too overpriced, either. Moving on. 

$100 donorschoose.org giftcard. This I can definitely get behind. I donated some money through donorschoose last year, since I enjoyed the fact that I could choose exactly who got the money and what for (and I could judge their entry based on grammatical coherence, haha). They also emailed me a couple times to let me know when they reached their goal, how the project worked out, and (my project helped a specific classroom) some notes from the children who were aided by my gift. Yay.

Croissants. $40 for 24 minis. Sounds like a bit much, but if they're really fantastic, I'd believe it! We have a good french bakery near us, and since it's not cheap to buy delicious pastries ready-made, I totally believe that $40 would be worth the price if those croissants are that good!

Teas. I'm not a tea person (I'm a hard-sell on most hot drinks, though I never turn down hot spiced cider!), but my husband's family enjoys it quite a bit. And, while we tend to keep some tea in the house, it's certainly not the kind that Oprah chose ($150? really?), but I respect her pick.

Earrings. Another pair. These are much pricier, just under $2,000. But, they're definitely cute! If they weren't that much, I'd add them to my Christmas list!

Another book. This one is full of inspirational bits, meant to give you daily doses of hope. Okay, cool.

And that's the list. Which items would you want? Do you disapprove of any of the selections like I do?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vote on Nedna; Oprah Finale

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

On the season finale of The Simpsons this week, Flanders got together with Bart's teacher, Mrs. Krabappel. Fans can now vote on whether that relationship will last. 

Katie Couric is close to signing a deal for an afternoon talk show on ABC.

TVLine offers some spoilers for next season's How I Met Your Mother if you're interested.

Nurse Jackie was renewed; United States of Tara was not.

Ashton Kutcher's contract with Two and a Half Men is only for one season.

Sometime in 2013, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will air on television, specifically on the ABCFamily network.

I can't stop being excited about the new Muppet Movie coming in November. If you haven't seen the trailer yet, go here!

In a clever move, Oprah's network will be dark during her finale tomorrow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Win, Lose or Draw

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

In the second grade, I tried to draw out something for the first time. Remembering the episode of Full House where Becky tells Jesse that she's pregnant (this clip, start at 1:41), I decided to announce to my parents that I was going to identify the 50 states by drawing it out (you may remember that I mentioned my first elementary school's focus on geography last week). I thought it would be easy, since "She's naming the 50 states" began the same as "She's having a baby." Well, I sat my parents down on the couch and drew the "cheese" for them. They didn't get it. Actually, they did figure out it was cheese, but they didn't get to the "she's" part. They made me stop, actually. I was quite upset that they weren't playing my game, but they did seem thrilled at my geographical ambition, so I moved on. I caught Win, Lose or Draw a few times, and liked the "living room set," since it encouraged me to play it at home, and my grandmother bought me a Pictionary game that reminded me of the show.

Brief history: The show didn't have a long run, just 1987 to 1990. But, over the course of those three seasons, nearly 600 episodes aired. Burt Reynolds came up with idea ("charades on a sketchpad," essentially). There was a daytime version and a syndicated version, and the syndicated episodes have also run on USA (1990-1992) and GSM (2002-2004). The concept was based upon Pictionary - drawing a word or phrase, and others try to guess.The show did well enough that Milton Bradley came out with a couple versions for at-home play, and there were also DOS and Nintendo versions. The Disney Channel also did Teen Win, Lose or Draw in 1989. And, since it didn't run all that long, I'm thinking you might not have seen it, so I've included an episode below (which is called the "pilot" but I'm not 100% sure on that...).




The game: There were two teams of three, one team of boys and another of girls. Two celebrities played with each contestant. You had a couple of markers and a large pad of paper to draw on, and one person drew a title, thing, or phrase, with the others guessing. You couldn't draw numbers, letters, or symbols, and you couldn't talk about what you are drawing. If one of your guessers got a word correct, you could write it down. In the first three rounds, you had a minute to win the puzzle, valued at $100. After 30 seconds, you had a chance to pass off to a teammate if you didn't think you could draw it, but the prize was only worth $50. Similarly, if you messed up and used a symbol or a number or a letter, the other team won half of the prize for that puzzle. If nobody guessed it when time ran out, the other team got one guess to steal the prize money. After the first three rounds, one drawer was nominated from each team to do the drawing in a 90-second speed round. You tried to do as many as you could, and could pass twice. Each correct guess was worth another $100. Whichever team had accrued more winnings at the end won another $1,000. If it was tied, both teams won $500 more.

Notable changes to the way the game is played:  In 1989, a change to the first three rounds... you had to wait 25 seconds to start guessing! You also couldn't hand off the marker, and the longer it took you to guess, the less the win was worth. An opponent steal was also devalued to $50. The speed round was cut to 60 seconds, each correct guess only being worth $50. AND, you got to move on to a bonus round at the very end. In the case of a tie, one team drew a single clue and the time counted up until it was guessed. The other team had that same counter tick down and if they guessed their word in time, they won. The bonus round was 90 seconds, trying to get as many correct as possible with each answer doubling the money won, from $50 on up. If you passed, you lost the bank. If you got seven right (regardless of passes) you won $5,000. You also stayed on the show until you won 10 games, or another team beat you. In syndication, the first round required the drawer to do a series of clues, and each had to be guessed, but they won $200.

Special contestants: Well, being one of those shows that already has celebrities playing, it's difficult to figure out who "special contestants" would be. However, some of the celebrities who appeared include Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson, Jason Bateman, Sally Struthers, and Richard Simmons.

Favorite Rounds:  Honestly, I can probably count the number of times I've seen this show on one hand. And, being a young kid, I didn't know many of the phrases or people that were being drawn. I also didn't really understand drawing multiple clues and then guessing a movie or person or whatever from those clues. But, I did like the excitement when the players had to draw fast and guess faster, so I'm going to say that the speed round was my favorite (though I suspect I probably liked the bonus round, judging from the years and such).

My take: My favorite board game is Cranium. Within the game, there is a category of question where you need to draw out something for your teammates, and there's another where you have to draw it with your eyes closed. I'm a fair drawer (really depends on who is guessing), but I'm a great guesser. Ergo, I would have loved to be a contestant on Win, Lose or Draw. And I'd want Betty White on my team! As for the other celebrity, it's hard to say... I guess I'd hope that perhaps Jane Leeves was on the show? Or maybe Joanna Garcia, I think she'd be fun! oooh, or Alyson Hannigan, she strikes me as someone who would be on it.

So, what about you? Did you ever watch Win, Lose, or Draw? Did you see it in the original run or in reruns later? Who would you hope to have as partners if the show was still on the air and you were competing?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Random Thoughts: "Maci" and "Bentley"

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

How do people come up with baby names? They look at books, of course. They figure out meanings and look for names that sound nice next to one another. They choose to repeat family names out of respect or remembrance. They create new names based on words and blends and special places. And, of course, they utilize names that are currently popular.

It should come as no surprise that Jacob and Isabella are pretty popular, since Twilight has been sweeping various areas of pop culture in recent years (though "Jacob" has been extremely popular for more than ten years now). But, it was announced last week that the names with the highest trending (meaning that they've grown by the greatest margin) are Maci for girls and Bentley for boys. [Complete data available here] Now, Maci (or Macy) is a name that's been around a long time, though I've never met a Macy. A girl I went to school with named her baby Macy a few months ago, and that's my only personal familiarity with the name. Similarly, I've never met or personally known a Bentley, though it certainly has the feel of trendy names these days. And, it's memorable. My husband doesn't watch Teen Mom, but when I have it on, he knows it as "The Bentley Show."

Now, of course you can argue that the popularity of the names and the popularity of the show are not related. I mean, Jacob was popular before Twi-hards had babies. Similarly, Isabella has both royal and godly ties. But, at the same time, Bentley didn't even make the Top 1,000 Names in the country before 2007, and Maci's first appearance on MTV wasn't until the summer of 2009 (though Bentley was born in October 2008).

So I leave you to ponder... of all the names on all the television shows... why do you think Maci and Bentley rose to popularity?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Babies Share a Room; Another Crappy Dad; Engaged Wipeouts

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Reviews & [Commentaries] for "unscripted" shows this week include: Pregnant in Heels,16 and Pregnant, and Wipeout.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lily Pregnant; Adrian Lonely; Axl a Lifeguard

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Reviews & Commentaries for "scripted" shows this week include: Simpsons, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, House, How I Met Your Mother, The Middle, and South Park.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Television Characters with Disabilities

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I got the idea for this post about a month ago, when I was surfing the internet. I came across an article on Geri Jewell, who was the first disabled person to have a recurring role on a television series. And, while I knew that she had cerebral palsy when she played Blair's cousin Geri on The Facts of Life, I did not know that she was the first disabled person have such a role. I started watching the show when I was fairly young, and remember being fascinated with how different Geri was, yet how normal she was treated much of the time. Of course, like many children of average ability, my exposure to those different from myself was pretty limited. Unfortunately, while I have learned about dozens of disabilities through meeting people over the years, many people don't know much about different issues that others cope with. Television doesn't help... there is a severe lack of attention paid to the disabled.

This post was difficult to create for two reasons... first, there are not that many disabled characters that I know of on television. Some basic searching pretty much confirms that fact. The second reason is that many of the disabled "characters" appear on reality-type shows (um, TLC much?), and I decided that it's too difficult to narrow down all of those characters. There are a half-dozen dwarfs alone that have had substantial coverage on the network (and not just the Roloffs on Little People, Big World). Another problem I found is that there are characters "written off" once they become disabled. Like Shane West's character from ER... after an accident leaves him a double-amputee, he pretty much left the show, though we do see him guest with prosthetic limbs. So, the list compiled below focuses on characters that are regulars, have disabilities of one sort or another, and are non-reality programs. This actually means that I left Geri Tyler from The Facts of Life off this list, since she only appeared in twelve episodes over three years. And, the first entry is really a two-in-one.  

Timmy & Jimmy, South Park. (not related) This may be an odd choice, since the cartoon tends to make fun of everything in the world. And, Timmy & Jimmy may not be portrayed in the best light. However, at the same time, the characters do give a little light as to 4th grade disabled children. Timmy has mental and physical disabilities, including having a very limited vocabulary (less than ten words, I believe). His exact condition has not yet been mentioned. One reason I included him is because South Park struggled to get him on televison - Comedy Central wasn't sure how their audiences would respond to a character with cognitive disabilities. Jimmy is added later. He stutters and has a muscular disorder that requires him to use crutches to move. His parents blame themselves, thinking that their child is disabled because they used to make fun of disabled people. Jimmy has a very positive outlook on life, his peers often come to him for advice, and he is actively trying to create his future as a stand-up comedian. He also competed in the Special Olympics (though he did have a steroid problem, but that's a separate issue).

Corky Thatcher, Life Goes On. Many people remember Corky as the first major television character to have Down Syndrome. The show began with Corky struggling to enter mainstream high school, having been in special classes up until then. His parents fight for him, counsel others with Down Syndrome children, and face various issues because of their children (though only Corky has Down Syndrome, Becca falls for a guy with HIV, Paige deals with commitment issues, and they have new baby Nick in the middle of the series). They even lose out on a restaurant because the owner felt Corky would lower business. Corky deals with finding a job (he becomes an usher at a movie theater), having a girlfriend (and then wife), and wanting a baby, among other things. The show didn't have the best wrap-up, but it may be assumed that Corky went on to lead a life like he wanted, albeit near his parents and others who could keep an eye on him.

Artie Abrams, Glee. Perhaps the most popular disabled character currently on television, Artie is a paraplegic who uses a manual wheelchair. Artie wasn't born disabled but was in a car accident when he was eight that injured his spinal cord. Artie is played by an able-bodied actor, and that has been the source of criticism from many. Although it is a younger show, we've already had several plotlines devoted to Artie and his disability, like how he needed to come to terms with the fact that his dream of becoming a dancer would need to be altered. He also deals with the same things that the other teens are encountering - from his first kiss to his first intercourse. 

Martin Crane, Frasier. Marty was able-bodied for most of his life. He only became disabled when he was shot in the hip while on duty as a policeman, in his late fifties or very early sixties. However, he walked with a cane before Frasier began, and for the entire run of the show - he did not regain full use of his leg. While it's a minor disability to some, it drives a good deal of Martin's storylines on the show. The entire reason that his character exists is because he became unable to live alone, so Frasier takes him in. And, his disability is the reason that Daphne's character is there, too. She began as a home healthcare worker, to help Martin with his physical therapy, among other things. We see Martin's cane affect his love life, we see him go to the hearing for his shooter's parole, and we hear him talk about how his lifestyle changed. 

Joe Swanson, Family Guy. Joe has a successful career as a policeman. He has a loving wife and a young daughter, along with plenty of friends. His son died in Iraq. If there's a disabled character on television who does everything that those around him do, it's Joe. Of course, he is animated, but he still goes waterskiing, takes out the trash, and fights crime, among other things. It's unclear how he came to be in a wheelchair, as one episode shows him falling off a roof fighting the Grinch, but others show him much younger and still in a wheelchair. Joe isn't completely a great guy, and suffers from anger management issues, which sometimes surface as a result of him being unable to do some everyday tasks.

Dr. Kerry Weaver, ER. Kerry was on ER for twelve years, first appearing as Chief Resident and eventually becoming Chief of Staff at County General. Kerry has a limp that causes her to need a forearm crutch to get around. She was very secretive about her personal life, in fear of discrimination. It is later revealed that Kerry was adopted, and she feared that she was given up for adoption because of her disability, congential hip dysplasia. Turns out, her birthmom (who Kerry meets in Season 11) knew nothing of the disability, but remains distant to Kerry because Kerry was openly lesbian by that point. Kerry suffers a miscarriage, her partner births a son, and Kerry fights for custody after Sandy dies. Notably, she has surgery to aid her hip dysplasia in Season 12, and later appears to move around without needing the crutch. Although she was an ambitious and professional doctor, Kerry leaves the series to go into news reporting in Miami.

Jake Malinak, Becker. Jake is a blind man who sells newspapers in The Bronx. He's the best friend of the main character on the show. He gets taken advantage of on more than one occasion, notably when his girlfriend of two and a half years takes all of his possessions and moves away. He's also robbed at gunpoint. Jake grew up sighted, only becoming blind due to a car accident that wasn't too long before the show began. The friend that caused the accident shows up at one point, begging forgiveness. One of the shorter storylines involves Jake contemplating the idea of breaking up with a girlfriend because she is also blind. His disability often causes him to question his actions, such as when he accidentally held the door open for a bank robber. He is an excellent Scrabble player, and when the show ends, his character moves to Chicago to go to college. 

Stevie Kenarban, Malcolm in the Middle. Stevie is Malcolm's best friend, though they aren't always on the same side on things. Stevie uses a wheelchair, but also has a pulmonary issue that causes him to only be able to speak a few words between breaths. He's in accelerated classes with Malcolm, and they share an interest in comic books. He keeps up with the other kids, going to fairgrounds and into sewers, and flirts with girls just like Malcolm and Reese. When his parents divorce he turns to a computer to speak for him, though that doesn't last forever. All in all, Stevie is well-adjusted, even using his wheelchair to his advantage in getting attention and enacting revenge.

Gregory House, House. As with Martin, House was born without a disability. However, when he was around forty he ended up requiring surgery, and before long he suffered from muscle death in his leg. Much of that muscle was then removed, leaving him hobbling around, his leg unable to bear weight. However, while Martin was ultimately able to accept life with a cane, House does not. Throughout the series he tries multiple things to regain use of his leg. And, all the while, he deals with a Vicodin addiction, a divorce, and various legal troubles that stem from his negative attitude toward life because of his leg. While it's not clear that House was ever a "nice guy," it is implied multiple times that he became embittered following the loss of use of his leg, and that is the drive behind every move he now makes.

Tom Bowman, The Secret Life of the American Teenager. We have not yet learned too much about Tom's childhood, other than the fact that the Bowmans adopted him. Tom has Down Syndrome. When the show began, Tom was already done with school, but didn't appear to have much of a life, though he lives at home. Though only 67 episodes have aired thus far, we have seen Tom think about life in a larger way several times. Tom longed for a girlfriend, had one, but she eventually left him and is now married to someone else. He also tried to solicit a prostitute, but that didn't work out. Then, Tom got a job, though I'm still not sure that anyone realizes what it is he truly does... he's supposed to be in charge of firing people for the city, but everyone who comes into his office ends up quitting instead. Now, Tom is in search of another girlfriend, and has moved into his mother's guesthouse to become more independent, and he has started taking the bus to work, rather than relying on his sister and her friends.

So, who's missing? I'm honestly intrigued to find out more about how television is portraying people of all ages with disabilities. With Switched at Birth premiering next month, bringing an actress with degenerative hearing loss playing a deaf characer to the small screen, I hope that next season finds a few more disabled characters to television.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cancellations all Around!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

ABC canceled Brothers & Sisters, No Ordinary Family, V, Detroit 1-8-7, Better with You, Mr. Sunshine, and Off the Map.

FOX canceled Lie to MeHuman Target, The Chicago Code, Breaking In, and Traffic Light.

Hugh Grant was yet another name that was thrown out to replace Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men. But, Ashton Kutcher got the role in the end!

Jenelle from Teen Mom 2 went to rehab. She may be "clean" and just wanting to get her life together, but who knows.

Matthew Perry is also in rehab. Maybe it's needed because his show got canceled, LoL.

House will move to 9pm on Mondays in the fall, to make room for Terra Nova at 8pm. But, it will be without Cuddy, who chose not sign a less-money-than-previously contract.

Seth MacFarlane is going to reboot The Flintstones. Don't get too excited... we're looking at Fall 2013.

If you want to take a look at everything that was canceled and renewed, try here.

Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe - Review

by Jonathan Bredemeyer

So, as we continue to wait for Blogger to find the missing post and draft content, I figured I'd post an entry that was written last week, even though Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe originally aired last month. 

After the last, much anticipated season of Burn Notice, USA Networks decided to keep the Burn Notice fever alive with this USA original movie Burn Notice: The Fall Of Sam Axe.

The movie opens with a bit of comedy in the opening montage, a bit different from the feel of the show, probably due to Sam's character being the focus. Sam seems to have been involved in a mission that went south and is asked to share his side of the story.

It all started with Sam ignoring Michael's advice about an affair he had, which lands him in Columbia on short notice. Sam's mission was to track down a terrorist group that was near a clinic in the middle of nowhere. After being blown-off by the local group he had been assigned to, Sam scouts on his own and learns he's about to be betrayed by his new teammates. Sam heads to the clinic to warn the doctors there, but they basically tell him to leave. After Sam's turncoat team discovers he's gone, they move their plans up to destroy the clinic. Sam get tipped off by a female teenage thief and heads back to clear them out. At this point, it turns into an episode of Burn Notice. Sam effects rule #1: Build a bomb. "We're building a bomb, so you do the opposite of what the warning label says." The distraction succeeds and the group makes it away before their would-be killers notice.

Having nowhere to go, Sam takes the suggestion from the teenage girl to take the clinic patients to the real terrorist camp, which turns out to be a small farm. More than a little disappointed and after getting nicknamed "The Chin," he heads back to his betrayers to try and sneak a phone call to his CO to get support. On his way out, a lady doctor confronts him about keeping his word to return.

Sam does reconnect with the real bad guys and gets off his phone call. Unfortunately, they listened in on the call and force him at gun point to identify the location of the farm. The 'goat-herders' show up and save Sam (who promises not to make fun of them anymore...). After returning to the farm, Sam's new plan is to recruit the goat-herders for help and hit-up a CIA outpost for help. After a rousing, translated speech, Sam begins training the group with defensive football formations. Some brief practices and they take off in trucks to the outpost. Sam saves the group from an ambush with the very well-placed throw of a chain saw. The rag-tag group gets to the outpost to find absolutely nothing but 2 guys and some radio equipment. After calling the closest base for help, it turns out they won't send anything without seeing Sam in person first. He and the 2 CIA agents leave on a chopper promising to return. Once in the air, the agents confess they were lying, at which point Sam forces them to land at gunpoint. This doesn't go over well during the official 'inquiry.' At this point, the questioner asks Sam if he wants a lawyer and reveals they are dragging everyone involved in for questioning.

Back on the ground, Sam fires a fires rounds to inspire the CIA boys to call for help. With help three hours away, Sam, doctors, and goat herders set up to hold off Veracruz and his men. Using a landslide and the high ground, the small group starts the half hour they need to hold out for help. Sam uses the "Don't get cocky" line from Star Wars... slightly random. The goat-fighters are forced to retreat after they run out of ammo. Back at the CIA outpost, Sam picks the alias 'Chuck Finley' from a magazine cover to bullshit the person sending help into telling him an arrival time. Realizing help is too far away, Sam heads out to distract the bad guys to buy some time. After getting beat up a bunch, the bad guys don't buy his ruse and open fire on the outpost. In the best narration of the movie, Sam monologues while he watches the bullets hit the outpost: "In my experience, prayer is pretty iffy as a battle plan. But I'll also say this, if you need a miracle, there's nothing like it." The 'police' roll over the mountain top and save the day. Sam gets one last kiss from the doctor, saluted by the goat herders, and then is escorted via helicopter back to base.

That concludes his recount of the story. Back in the 'courtroom,' Sam gets threatened with a court martial and then reveals that he had the teenage girl photograph everything and head to Columbia's biggest newspaper where she knew people from previous work. Sam negotiates an honorable discharge in exchange for keeping the information secret. Under the terms, he gets a full pension, a beer, and of course, a first-class ticket to Miami...

... and the rest is redacted history...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Do It, Rockapella!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

A friend told me not long ago that she remembers the first lie she ever told her parents. I was intrigued. I have no idea what the first lie I told my parents was. I'm not even sure how old I was... I know I was lying somewhat regularly by age 9... because I lied a lot. My siblings did, too. Psychologists would probably attribute our lying to the fact that our parents lied all the time. And, we knew they lied... some were too obvious not to see through. And, one specific lie I told was about Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? I remember telling my dad that I was supposed to watch it for school. I said this so that I got to watch what I wanted, which meant my brother didn't get to see his show. This was only the second grade or so, as I followed it near its inception, which was September 1991. But I loved this show.

Geography was "my thing" in second grade, as my elementary school gave prizes and great recognition to those who knew their American geography. I was very jealous of one specific girl, Katie, who was in my Brownie troop. She had more geography stickers than anyone else in school... her map (which was in a corridor) showed that she knew all of the state birds, trees (it might have been flowers), and nicknames, among other things. I only had marks for geographic location, capital, and abbreviation (though I was pretty proud of capitals). In 7th grade, we learned geographic locations and capitals throughout Europe, Africa, and Australia as well... though I wasn't the biggest fan of that teacher, I loved the class. Geography hasn't gotten me anywhere (I didn't know geography bees existed until well after I would have been too old to compete), but I must attribute a good deal of my knowledge to bits I learned on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? That, and the fabulous glowing globe that my grandparents got me when I was eight or nine. :) 

Brief history: This was a kids' game show that ran on PB from 1991-1995, with reruns continuing only a year afterward. 296 episodes were made, and one remains unaired... apparently the original girl in the final round broke her arm during taping. The show was created partly because National Geographic found out that Americans were bad at geography... one in four people apparently couldn't point out the Pacific Ocean! So, this show promoted geography to youngsters... kids aged 10-14 made up the majority of the contestants. And, the winner got to go with a parent and a guest to another location within the US for a week... sweet prize for a kids' show! After five years, the show was revamped to Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? and several games were made based on the show as well. Oh, and perhaps one of the neatest things about the show... the theme song was sung live, by an a capella group, Rockapella.

The game: Three rounds, like many shows are. Three contestants, called "gumshoes" since they were technically solving a crime committed by one of Carmen's henchmen (like Vic the Slick or Double Trouble). Early episodes required contestants to reside in the NYC metro area, and was shot in Manhattan, then Queens. Later on, there were nationwide competitions to find contestants. The first round started each player with $50 in ACME Crime Bucks. Then, we'd see some sketches to describe how a member of Carmen's gang stole something (generally things that would be impossible to steal - like convention centers or islands), and where it might be. There'd be some multiple choice questions worth 5 points each, and later we'd have "The Chase" where the clues would be about places near one another, "chasing a path," as it were. There'd be a map with three locations, and the contestants guessed where the crook was, winning 10 bucks if they guess correctly. The round ended kinda like Jeopardy!, with contestants making a wager (in increments of $10, up to $50), and answering a question based on another skit. The two people with the highest monetary amount moved on to the next round. There, you'd see a board with fifteen landmarks. 12 of them had nothing behind them... the remaining ones had "the loot," "the warrant," and "the crook." On your turn you called out a landmark, and the space behind it was revealed. If it had one of the key items behind it, you got to guess again. Otherwise, the other person went. The goal was to reveal the loot, the warrant, and the crook in that exact order to win (and yes, someone actually won once without the other person even getting a chance!). The winner of the round went on to The Map. The crook would call the contestant on the phone (since s/he was in jail by that point, they were ratting on Carmen), and say what continent she was in. Then, the Chief would give give 13 possible locations that Carmen may have traveled to. Greg, the host, would read off a location and the gumshoe would run to it with a post and place it there. If it was correct, the post lit up with a siren and the gumshoe ran for another. If it was wrong, they moved it and tried again. After two misses, they were forced to move on. They need to get 8 right (only 7 in the first season) in 45 seconds (sometimes 60 if they were doing the GIANT Asia map) to win a trip of their choice. If you didn't win, you got consolation prizes, like an atlas, a watch, a subscription to National Geographic, a camera, a pocket translator, or a boombox. The amount of Crime Bucks you had earned became spending money for the trip. Here's a clip of the second and third rounds, complete with the winner (sleuth) and Greg shouting the famous "Do, It, Rockapella!" to start off the live end credits. (Remember, it's 1992, so quality isn't the greatest)


Notable changes to the way the game is played:  In the first season, winners could only go someplace throughout the continental United States, but later it was expanded to allow for anywhere in North America. In seasons 4 and 5, you could pick your hotel, too. You got a rental car after the second season. The maps in the final round changes as well. Landmarks and bodies of water were added as placed you might need to identify. The US map changed to North America in Season 3. The prize money also increased several times. And, not to the way it was played, but in the way it was aired, they had to add in a little disclaimer about the "geography being accurate at the time of taping." I mean, after all, the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union were hot geographical topics back then!

Special contestants: One episode in Season 2 had celebrity pairings, featuring Ben from Growing Pains, Ashley from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and the title character from Blossom. Otherwise, I can't say there there were any "special contestants," per se.

Favorite Rounds:  I loved "The Map." I think a lot of kids did. It was a thrilling 45 seconds, and I was often impressed with the knowledge that others had about where the teeniest countries were (like the kid that beat Africa above). I thought that the posts looked kinda heavy, though I guess they couldn't have been, in retrospect. It always upset me when the kid would fail at big US states... those should be super easy!!

My take: So, while I was pretty well-versed in geography as a second-grader, by the time I could compete, I don't know how I'd compare to others my age. At 10 or 11, I was probably just above average. At 12 or 13, I could probably have been a good competitor, but I couldn't tell you for sure. My map skills for Asia and Africa in particular were weaker... I was better at knowing capitals, general locations, etc. If the game was available for adults, bring it on! I adored the geography games that were popular on facebook for a while a couple years ago, and played for hours, trying to beat the scores of my friends. Geography is undervalued in game shows... it would be nice for something similar to come on again! What about you? Did you watch Carmen Sandiego? Did you have the computer game? (I didn't, since we didn't have a pc until 1998 and it was out of style by then.) Would your geography skills have served you well on the show when you were 10-14?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Random Thoughts: Cancellations

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

So maybe this question isn't as random as some of the others that I have posed. But, since there have been many, MANY cancellations this past week (including three shows that appear in the reviews on this site), I thought I might ask which cancellation YOU are most disappointed in. And it doesn't have to be a show that was cancelled just recently - if you were in love with a show that was cancelled earlier in the season, share that one!

Regardless of whether we saw it coming, whether the ratings were bad, or whether it just wore out its welcome, the networks cancelled a ton of shows this year. ABC's cancellations were referred to by many as a "bloodbath," for starters. As the fall lineups roll out (for the major networks. the cable ones have their own thing going on) and pilots get picked up, I'm most upset about Better with You. Although I liked Mr. Sunshine, it had its flaws. My husband was a fan of Lie to Me, of course, and is a bit sad to see it go. I wasn't really into The Paul Reiser Show, so I'm not complaining on that one. Plenty of people are mourning everything from Smallville to All My Children, though those both had long runs. So, what are you sad about? If you haven't been following all of the sources that are covering renewals and cancellations, here's a limited list of shows that have been cut from future lineups...

All My Children
Better with You
Big Love
Brothers & Sisters
The Chicago Code
The Closer
Glory Daze
Human Target
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Law & Order: Los Angeles
Lie to Me
Medium
Mr. Sunshine
No Ordinary Family
Off the Map
One Life to Live
Outsourced
The Paul Reiser Show
Running Wilde
$#*! My Dad Says
Smallville
Terriers

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sorry, Folks

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

In case you haven't been following Blogger's problems, they had some issues a few days ago that required them to restore back to Wednesday. This meant that we lost two posts on our site and most of a draft. One post has been restored, the other has not. And no sign of the text from the draft, which was supposed to become the post for today. If it returns, I'll post it when it shows up. If it doesn't, I'll post a shorter version from what I can remember. I do have a back-up of last Wednesday's, so if that doesn't restore on its own, I'll re-do that one. This is affecting many blogs published through Blogger, so if you've seen some funky things on other sites as well, that's what's going on. Anyway, thank you for bearing with us!

Minimal Summaries this Week...

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Reviews & [Commentaries] for "unscripted" shows this week include: Pregnant in Heels,16 and Pregnant, and Wipeout


Note: Complete reviews were written for Pregnant in Heels and 16 and Pregnant, but Blogger's outage erased them. So, I jotted down a few notes from what I can remember at this point (I was hoping that they'd come back like they were supposed to, but apparently not), and Wipeout still has a full review.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Homer a Barber; Arcadian NOT a Landmark; Charlie Born

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Reviews & Commentaries for "scripted" shows this week include: Simpsons, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, House, How I Met Your Mother, The Middle, Better with You, and South Park.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Throwback: Recycled Footage

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

It should come as no surprise to anyone that television shows and movies alike tend to recycle some clips in order to save money. Nothing major, but bits and pieces appear again. You've probably heard of the youtube clip that shows a bunch of Disney films with the same dance moves in multiple movies. But today, I want to direct your attention to some Beverly Hills, 90210 recycling.

Now, I'll admit... I love Beverly Hills, 90210... and I've seen every episode, as I've mentioned here before. But, every day they show two episodes on SOAPnet, and I DVR them. Currently, I started doing this just after season 4 started, and we're currently in season 8. I first thought about the idea for this post at the end of season 6, when I saw a few seconds of footage that looked strikingly familiar. I thought about it for a moment and remembered where I saw it... and that's what I'm addressing today.

One of my favorite episodes in the series is Season 4, Episode 3's "The Little Fish," which opens with Brenda coming home from Minnesota, having dropped out of college. Immediately afterward, the gang registers for their classes, and we see bunches of students on campus. Memorably, there's a girl on rollerblades wearing clothes that resemble an American flag. It was a very strange thing to see (since I didn't watch it in its original 1993 setting... more like 2008), and stands out in my memory. Therefore, when Season 6, Episode 27's "Strike the Match" shows the same girl on campus, I knew I had seen it before! I mean, it's pretty hard to believe that they filmed the same girl on rollerblades and the same outfit more than once. I can't necessarily pick out any other random kids that are the same in both scenes, but I'm fairly positive that they shot all sorts of footage for the opening scenes when the kids go to California University, then just use some more of it later. And, in first run, I bet it would have been very hard for someone to remember that one girl, who only appears in a grand total of several seconds. But, in reruns, the episodes are shown only a couple months apart, making it easier to recognize the recycled filming.

If you want to see the actual clips, you can look at this video, starting at 4:40, and then this video, starting at 3:28. Below, I screen-captured the girl side-by-side, with her first appearance on the left and her second on the right.
So, I leave you wondering... what recycled footage can you think of in television shows?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Top 10 Single TV Moms

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Since Mother's Day was this past Sunday, I thought that it would be nice to take a look at some great television moms. And, not just any moms, specifically single moms on TV. There are quite a few out there, and in order to excel, they have to work much harder than mothers with more of a support system. I had a fun time thinking of single mothers, and then choosing which ones to feature today. Since I undoubtedly missed some candidates, feel free to suggest other fabulous single moms!

10. Millicent Torkelson, The Torkelsons / Almost Home. Raising five children (three in the second series) is a great deal of work for any parent. Millicent works hard to give her family what they need, and takes on the odd job here and there to make ends meet. She tries to be creative about their issues (like altering thrift store dresses, using recycled bottles to serve bottled water at a party, etc.), and is rather proud to be able to make it on her own (she was shocked that the community donated a box of canned goods to her family). While they do have a boarder to help with expenses, and they later move across the country (Pyramid Corners, Oklahoma to Seattle, Washington!) and move in with another family to keep things going. While the kids weren't in love with their situation, they appreciated everything that their mother did for them, time and time again.
9. Lisa Cuddy, House. Now a mother to Rachel, Cuddy tried for a while to have her own child through IVF, with donor sperm. Then, she tried to adopt with unsuccessful results for a while. Finally, she got Rachel, and she has been an overly caring mother to her. When Social Services came to inspect, Cuddy was so afraid that she'd lose custody because of an old diaper that hadn't been disposed of. Cuddy genuinely cares about her daughter's health and well-being, and despite having such a high-profile job, still makes a lot of time to spend with Rachel, though she does have a part-time caretaker for the toddler.

8. Christine Campbell, The New Adventures of Old Christine. Though she was technically married to her best friend, Barb, in the fourth season, (to keep her in the country) Christine was a singe parent throughout the show. She tried hard, making sure her child went to a good school, that the school was diverse, and that she wrote down everything that might help her son through life. She even volunteered for multiple programs at the school, though she sometimes had to push her ex-husband or her brother to fulfill those obligations if she got slammed at work. 
7. Angela Bower, Who's the Boss? The situation here is a bit different. Though Angela does have her mother living with her, and she hires a live-in male housekeeper, she is still a single mother to Jonathan. Parenting isn't the biggest topic in this series, but Jonathan has his share of issues that Angela must deal with... stolen hubcaps, being bullied, trying to get a girlfriend, etc. Luckily, when Angela knows that she isn't the best person to deal with her son's troubles, she has Tony there to help her out and lend a manly ear to whatever is going on.
6. Jackie Harris, Roseanne. Jackie was a doting mother to little Andy. She was paranoid about what he'd eat and how he'd play, which was a big change from the way her sister raised her own kids. Jackie wanted Andy to have a good life, and that even meant breastfeeding at the altar. But, the marriage (to Andy's father) didn't last long, and Jackie went back to being a single mother, who continued to pay much closer attention to her child than anyone else paid to theirs on that show (with perhaps the exception of David & Darlene's little Harris, since she was so premature).
5.  Amy Juergens, The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Of all the women on my list, this one is the hardest to argue for, since she has a great support system when you look at it. Peers at school found a daycare for her son, a job for Amy, and throw her a shower. Her family provides her with a car, helps her with household chores, and even gives her the opportunity of a lifetime to attend a summer music camp - by watching her son while she's away for several weeks. Nonetheless, Amy started the ninth grade pregnant, and conceived during her very first intercourse, so she definitely faces a difficult life ahead of her, as her child will practically be reading when she starts college!

4. Murphy Brown, Murphy Brown. It would be wrong not to include Murphy Brown, as she made such strides for single mothers both on and off the screen. While it was heavily criticized for a woman to willingly take on becoming a single parent (perhaps you remember Dan Quayle's issues with Murphy Brown?), Murphy did it in stride. She chaperoned field trips, hunted down the hot Christmas toy, stressed over how to talk to her son about death, and even dealt with having cancer while being a single mother.
3. Ms. Tonitini, The Weekenders. Tito's mom doesn't have a first name from what I can remember. Her ex-husband lives on the other side of the country, and only appears once throughout the run of the series. She has some very great characteristics for single motherhood... she's really into cooking healthy meals (tofu and seaweed often appear in their household), she has a very open relationship with Tino (it's clear that she knows a lot about his past problems, as she finishes sentences for him when he tells stories), and she gives very sensible advice without sounding overbearing and matronly. While she's not a major character, she appears frequently, and is always saying or doing something interesting.
2. Reba Hart, Reba. She is perhaps one of the most memorable single moms out there. It's not a bed of roses for her, as she deals with her oldest daughter's teenage pregnancy immediately after getting left by her husband for a younger woman, but she tries. Nobody knows how bad things are (she takes out a second mortgage on the house that nobody knows about for a while), and she eventually takes a job working for her ex-husband before starting a business with her son-in-law. While parenting Jake isn't a problem often, Reba often has to deal with helping Cheyenne to make good decisions and steering Kyra in the right direction. And, she does this all while her ex-husband's new wife continually pops in on her and her family.
1. Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls. Clearly, Lorelai is a wonderful single mother. She left home as a teen mom, and made her entire life out of nothing. Her wealthy parents offered her support, but she chose to ignore them completely for many years. Instead, Lorelai worked as a maid while she a Rory lived in a small guest house. She eventually bought a jeep and a house, and eventually went to night school, got a degree, and opened an inn. Rory is delightfully well-adjusted, an ambitious academic, and very cautious in all of her endeavors. The relationship that Lorelai and Rory share is enviable in many ways - from hanging out on weekends watching movies to sharing bits of personal experiences to just being a phone call away at all times. Lorelai Gilmore, winner!

For those who missed this post when it was first published, my apologies. It was one of the many lost in Blogger's maintenance problems. I was waiting it out for Blogger to correct the problem, but it's been a week and I'm just going to move on.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More FOX Renewals; Charlie Sheen on Entourage?

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

There will be a Glee 3D movie.

Negotiations didn't work out, so Katie Couric won't have her own CBS talk show.

Ted Nugent will be running for President next year... on The Simpsons.

Teen Mom got renewed for a 4th season... and, bonus.... season 3 will begin July 5th.

House faced a lot of potential issues in getting renewed, like the licensing fees, but it ultimately was renewed. However, the actors who play Foreman and Cuddy likely took a pay cut.

Some people think that maybe Netflix will come in and pick-up Lie to Me, which still hasn't been cancelled or renewed.

As we reported earlier this week, Jerry Seinfeld can't stand to watch Seinfeld.

Charlie Sheen wants to do a show on another network, since things aren't working out well over at CBS. Entourage wants him for their final season.

Bristol Palin will get a reality show on BIO.

I've been enjoying the new show, Pregnant in Heels. Crazy things like this are fun for me. Parodies are even starting to develop.

Family Guy and The Cleveland Show both got renewed.

MTV UK is going to have Geordie Shore, a British adaptation of Jersey Shore. Read this in Entertainment Weekly, and I must share their commentary with you! "Finally, a version of Jersey Shore in which people speak English!" hahahaha.