Friday, August 25, 2017

Fri-Yay: TV on Other Platforms; Remembering Jay Thomas

It's time for another edition of Fri-Yay! That means we will take a look back on some sitcom happenings in recent days or weeks or other fun sitcomy stuff. It's a sitcom lover's paradise! Happy Fri-Yay!

Snapchat

by Vincent

Yesterday, there was an announcement that Snapchat would begin making scripted content for their platform. This shouldn't be especially surprising, given that nearly every website and app has expressed a desire to create scripted content, from YouTube to Vimeo to even DirecTV. But it continues to pose an interesting question as we loom deeper into this "Peak TV" era: how does the availability of content everywhere affect the "sitcom" as we know it?

Many people are constantly waxing nostalgic about how sitcoms have changed, and how they wish they could make them like they used to. Some of this may just be looking at things through rose-colored glasses, but there has been genuine change in the television industry. After all, until the 1980s, there were only a handful of television networks, so it was much easier for a sitcom like All in the Family or The Mary Tyler Moore Show to completely dominate conversation like they did during their runs. Television was a shared experience with an entire culture, and sitcoms were often the most popular television there was. If you watched an episode of Three's Company last night, chances are all of your friends watched it, too. This even continued after the advent of cable, with shows like Cheers and Frasier and Friends rising above the increased options cable provided to become genuine mass media experiences.

However, as choices continue to grow into streaming platforms and, well, mobile phone apps, it's hard for a TV show to make a splash across the entire culture, and if they do, it's usually a live reality show event or a live-tweeting-friendly drama with big twists - events that demand to be watched live. Sitcoms, then, have become much more catered to specific niches - hence why most of the big, acclaimed sitcoms of the past ten years haven't been huge hits but more fan-beloved cult hits such as Parks and Recreation or Broad City. Not to mention many people who might have been watching sitcoms in the past may be moving onto other buzzy mediums like YouTube. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it shows that sitcoms - like television - have evolved, and the big, mass appeal hits of years past may be just that - a thing of the past.


Jay Thomas

Emmy award-winning actor Jay Thomas, who was known for his roles in Mork & Mindy, Cheers, Love & War and Murphy Brown, has died. He died of cancer on August 24 at his Santa Barbara, California home. Mr. Thomas was 69.

Jay Thomas and Robin Williams - Mork & Mindy

Thomas' television career began with his role as Remo DaVinci in Mork & Mindy. He appeared in the second and third seasons from 1979-1981. Reno and his sister, Jeanie (Gina Hecht), owned the The New York Delicatessen in season 2 and DaVinci's Restaurant in season 3, where Mork (Robin Williams) and Mindy (Pam Dawber) spent a lot of their time.

Jay Thomas - Cheers

He had a recurring role as Eddie LeBec in 9 episodes of Cheers from 1987-1989. Eddie LeBec was a Boston Bruins goalie who began dating Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman). They later married, and had twin boys named Elvis and Jesse. In 1989, Eddie was killed by a Zamboni when he saved the life of another member of the ice show.

Jay Thomas - Murphy Brown

Thomas appeared as Jerry Gold in 9 episodes of Murphy Brown from 1989-1998. Jerry Gold was a tabloid talk show host, who became a friend of Murphy's and an occasional love interest, despite their significantly different journalistic values. Thomas won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 1990 and 1991 for the role.

Married People

He starred as Russell Meyers in the 1990-1991 ABC sitcom Married People. Russell was a freelance writer and house-husband who was married to Elizabeth (Bess Armstrong), who worked as an attorney. The series also starred Ray Aranha, Barbara Montgomery, Chris Young and Megan Gallivan.

Love & War

Thomas starred as Jack Stein in the 1992-1995 CBS sitcom Love & War. Jack Stein was a columnist for the New York Post. He had an on-again, off-again romance with Wallis "Wally" Porter (Susan Dey), a Chicago restaurateur. Dey was dropped from the show after the first season. Annie Potts joined the cast as Dana Palladino, who bought Porter's restaurant and also became a love interest for Jack. The series also starred John Hancock (1992), Charlie Robinson, Joel Murray, Michael Nouri, Suzie Plakson and Joanna Gleason.

In 1999, Thomas starred in the short-lived WB sitcom Katie Joplin. He played Glen Shotz, a radio station general manager. The series also starred Park Overall, Jim Rash, Jesse Head, Ana Reeder, Simon Rex and Majandra Delfino.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included The Love Boat, Family Ties, The Golden Girls, Open House, Cybill, Bless This House, Ink, Working, The Simple Life, Run of the House, Retired at 35 and Shake It Up.

He had a recurring role as Marty Grossman in Ray Donovan. Some of his other drama credits included Spenser: For Hire, Almost Grown, Freddy's Nightmares, Hercules, Fantasy Island (1999), The Education of Max Bickford, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Joan of Arcadia, Boston Legal and Cold Case.

Thomas starred as Bill Meister in Mr. Holland's Opus. He played the Easter Bunny in The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. Some of his other film credits included C.H.U.D., Straight Talk, A Smile Like Yours, Labor Pains and Underdogs.

Thomas also worked as a radio talk show host. He was heard in New York in the mid-1970s on Top 40 station 99X, and in Los Angeles beginning in 1989 on KPWR "Power 106". He began hosting The Jay Thomas Show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio in 1999.

Survivors include his wife of 30 years, Sally, and his sons, Sam, Jake, and J.T.

Mr. Thomas was a talented and funny actor. His annual appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman where he told the story of how he met Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) were always memorable. We thank him for the many laughs he brought us in his career. He will be greatly missed.

Share your memories on our message board. View photos in our galleries.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, February 20

LA to Vegas - "The Yips and the Dead" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The flight crew is forced to figure out how to keep the passengers feeling comfortable after they discover the body of a deceased person aboard the plane.

The Mick - "The Matriarch" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Mickey and the children celebrate great grandmother Rita Pemberton's 100th birthday at her mansion.

Baskets - "Sweat Equity" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Bakersfield gets a frozen yogurt machine.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 19)

Tuesday, February 20

  • Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Catch Allison on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Zach Galifianakis (Baskets) - Zach drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Katy Mixon (American Housewife/Mike & Molly/Eastbound & Down) - Katy visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly guest co-hosts The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Constance Zimmer (Entourage/Good Morning, Miami) - Constance talks about UnREAL on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Lamorne Morris (New Girl) - Lamorne talks about his new film Game Night on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Deon Cole (grown-ish/Angie Tribeca/black-ish) - Deon guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Tom Cavanagh (Ed) - Tom is a guest on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Christine Lakin (Hollywood Darlings/Step by Step) - Christine appears on Steve, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December/January)

The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Third Season Living Single - The Complete Third Season Alice - The Complete Sixth Season One Day at a Time - The Complete Series Fuller House - The Complete Second Season

11/07 - American Dad! - Volume 12
11/07 - Family Guy - Season Fifteen
11/07 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Third Season
11/14 - D.C. Follies - The Complete Series
11/21 - Living Single - The Complete Third Season
11/24 - Grandfathered - Season 1
12/05 - Alice - The Complete Sixth Season
12/05 - One Day at a Time - The Complete Series
12/05 - The Simpsons - The Eighteenth Season
12/05 - South Park - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
12/12 - Fuller House - The Complete Second Season
12/19 - South Park - The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray) / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11
01/09 - Girlfriends - The Complete Series
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest