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, November 21

The Middle - "Eyes Wide Open" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Axl heads to Chicago to visit Hutch for the weekend but discovers that his friend, who has his own apartment and a job, is now acting more like a responsible adult than the free-spirited college student he once knew. Meanwhile, Sue’s excitement over having the apartment to herself over the weekend turns to horror when she is unable to sleep after watching “Silence of the Lambs”; and Brick enlists Frankie and Mike’s aid to help convince Lilah, a new student who doesn’t know anyone at school yet, that she and Brick would make a cute couple.

Fresh Off the Boat - "The Vouch" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Louis gets himself into a sticky situation when he lies to Jessica and tells her that he loves her newly finished horror novel. When news that Kenny Rogers is paying a visit to Cattleman’s Ranch, Jessica insists that Louis give him a copy of her book for his agent, making him extremely uncomfortable. Eddie and his friends purchase a 300-disc CD carousel to play all of their music, but Eddie thinks he is the only one in charge and becomes a tyrant.

The Mick - "The Homecoming" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Mickey and Jimmy decide to take the gang back to their hometown in celebration of Jimmy's high school baseball jersey number being retired; Chip and Sabrina become caught in a difficult situation with a group of spoiled teens.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Two Turkeys" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jake and Amy hope to have their parents bond over Thanksgiving dinner, but the family's first holiday together doesn't go as well as they planned; Capt. Holt searches for the person who stole an important Thanksgiving pie from him and Kevin.

Teachers - "Dire Straights" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Ms. Feldman struggles between her budding romance with Fillmore’s new anti-drug officer and her love of marijuana. Ms. Watson becomes addicted to bingo; Mrs. Adler wreaks havoc when she tries to quit smoking.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 20)

Tuesday, November 21

  • Paul Shaffer (A Year at the Top) - Paul is a musical guest on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • John Leguziamo (The Brothers Garcia) - Catch John on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Daveed Diggs (black-ish) - Daveed visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Jay Pharoah (White Famous) - Jay appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Carly Chaikin (Suburgatory) - Carly is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Jim Jefferies (Legit) - Jim appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Michael Rapaport (Atypical/The War at Home) - Michael is a guest on a repeat of Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) - Drew visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Sofia Vergara (Modern Family/The Knights of Prosperity/Hot Properties) - Sofia stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Mario Cantone (Sex and the City) - Mario appears on The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Suzanne Somers (Three's Company/She's the Sheriff/Step by Step) - Suzanne talks about her new book Two's Company on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Kim Fields (The Facts of Life/Living Single) - Kim talks about her book Blessed Life and the Lifetime movie Wrapped Up in Christmas on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Tatyana Ali (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Love That Girl!/Second Generation Wayans) - Tatyana talks about the Lifetime movie Wrapped Up in Christmas on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim) - Kimberly talks about the Hallmark Channel original movie The Christmas Train on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Alicia Witt (Cybill) - Alicia talks about the Hallmark Channel original movie The Mistletoe Inn on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Bob Saget (Full House/Surviving Suburbia/How I Met Your Mother) - Bob is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House/Full House) - Candace will be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Tim Meadows (Son of Zorn/Marry Me/Mr. Box Office/The Bill Engvall Show) - Tim appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest