Saturday, December 08, 2007

TV Rebels: The Dick Van Dyke Show; Solomon's Weekly Rant: Disappearing Tuesday Sitcoms on ABC; Frank TV Airs Too Late; Morning Show Wedding Dance

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for mini-DVD reviews and Solomon's Weekly Rant! But wait! This Saturday we won't have the regular mini-DVD review as we have a special for you! However don't worry, Solomon's Weekly Rant is still on in its regular day and spot.
We have gotten special permission to publish at least 6 different essays on TV shows that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by author Lou Orfanella. The book is still in the works and will be released in 2009. Once a month, each month (for the next six months at least) we will bring you one of his excerpts from his pending book. So, this is a little exclusive and will help you prepare for the book coming in 2009!
But first here is a little about Lou: Lou Orfanella's latest book is the fiction collection In a Flash: Twenty-One Short, Short Stories. In Excursions: Poetry and Prose he brings together many genres of literature including the direct address, fiction, collaborative writing, and a novella in poems. He is the author of the poetry collections Streets of New York, Allurements and Lamentations, Composite Sketches, The Last Automat, Permanent Records, How I Happened and Summer Rising, River Flowing and the work of nonfiction Scenes from an Ordinary Life: Getting Naked to Explore a Writer's Process and Possibilities. He contributed chapters to the books Reel Rebels, When Genres Collide, and Rationales for Teaching Young Adult Literature. His columns, essays, articles, reviews, and poems have appeared in many national and regional publications. He holds degrees from Columbia University and Fordham University and teaches writing at Western Connecticut State University and English in the Valhalla, New York school district. He has presented dozens of public readings of his work and offers individual and group workshops on topics including poetry, fiction, memoir, journalism, and family history. He can be contacted at LORFANELLA@hotmail.com.

So without further adieu, we bring you the first column of TV Rebels:

The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Sophisticated Ensemble Comedy
Two years before the 1961 premiere of The Dick Van Dyke Show veteran television writer Carl Reiner had created a series for himself called Head of the Family. The pilot failed to sell but was seen by producer Sheldon Leonard who suggested a casting change for the lead role. Although young comic and daytime TV host Johnny Carson was considered, the role of Rob Petrie went to the multifaceted entertainer Dick Van Dyke who had gained national recognition via his Broadway and motion picture performances in the musical Bye Bye Birdie. While Van Dyke's name graced the title of the series, it was an ensemble that relied as much on co-stars Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Richard Deacon, and occasionally Reiner as it did on the headliner himself. Additionally, it leaned on a more sophisticated humor than most of the comedies to that point.
Situations comedies had generally been produced as pure family fare with an attempt to cram in as many quick laughs as possible. Entertain the kids, don't offend the adults, and don't require too much thinking on the part of the audience. "Dick Van Dyke was the first sitcom that was rated A-for Adult. Rob and Laura Petrie were sensible, grown-up people. They were funny and they did funny things. They were not the Burnses, who were zany and did zany things. Nor were they madcap Margie and her foolish father or the warbling Partridges. Laure and Rob Petrie were not silly people. They didn’t act; they behaved. They were substantial-more so than Donna and the rest of the Stones. That's just it: the Petries weren't stone, they were...clay. They were like real people. Real people who made jokes, but weren't jokes." (Mitz 181). The Dick Van Dyke Show helped television grow up a bit.
A major change brought about by The Dick Van Dyke Show involved the way writers looked at their audiences. Audiences were given credit for more intelligence than had been the case in the past. While most sitcoms focused on a main character cooking up schemes and finding him or herself in ridiculous situations and took place primarily in one venue, be it the home or workplace, here in an almost literary style, Rob Petrie had both work and family lives and it was assumed that audience could accept the two "plot" lines. Sight gags and slapstick pratfalls were part of Van Dyke’s repertoire of comedic techniques, but were not, as was the cast with so many previous comedies seen as essential to getting a laugh from the audience. Good writing and intelligent dialogue were trusted to lead to the payoff. Another sign of growth was the deeper character development that was afforded others in the cast. What was happening to, and thought about by, wife Laura and coworkers Buddy and Sally was as significant as what Rob was experiencing.
"The show's unique blend of wit and warmth would prove beyond any argument that a situation comedy could be sophisticated and urbane-and still deliver a sizable audience. In the space of only five years, Carl Reiner and his company of actors, writers, and fellow producers had succeeded in creating a work of such consistent intelligence and invention that it would set a new standard for quality television-a standard that still serves as a benchmark for prime-time comedy to this day. As few television shows had done before, and very few have done since, The Dick Van Dyke Show would forever alter the way we watch television." (Waldron 300).

Works Cited
Mitz, Rick. The Great TV Sitcom Book. New York: Perigee, 1983.
Waldron, Vince. The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book. New York: Hyperion, 1994.

Stay tuned next month for another installment of TV Rebels as we take a look at the legendary Norman Lear! Should be fun!


Solomon's Weekly Rant
Saturday, December 8, 2007
"Disappearing Tuesday Sitcoms on ABC; Frank TV Airs Too Late; Morning Show Covers Wedding Dance"
By Solomon Davis

What's up with the disappearance of Caveman AND Carpoolers on Tuesday nights? It seems like its one preemption after another with no new episodes in sight. Are the ratings that bad for both shows? It's easy to just do a time slot change instead of leaving both shows in the timeslot to fail. ABC just go ahead and make the announcement that the two shows are not coming back because I already saw that next Tuesday in the 8pm Hour they will be preempted again for holiday airings of Shrek the Halls and Winnie the Pooh & Christmas, Too. The only thing the specials are doing is making viewers forget all about the the two comedies which is probably their plan anyway so they can have a reason to pull both shows.

Why does TBS have to put Frank TV in the 11pm slot on Tuesdays? I mean for me it conflicts with local news and SportsCenter on ESPN and even the re-airing is after 1am in the morning. How bout having Frank TV air between 8pm and 10pm and CUT DOWN some of the encores of Family Guy? Family Guy is on from 8pm to 10pm and I'm sure Frank TV being a new show can fit somewhere in there. I mean does TBS want people to see the show or not? But they do label it as a late night TV show.

There was a clip of a recently married couple on YouTube dancing at their wedding reception and the mornings shows like Good Morning America and The Early Show wanted to keep showing them dancing OVER and OVER. Who cares that they were dancing at their wedding reception? And did the wedding couple really need to be interviewed by the Early Show just because they were dancing and acting silly? The Early Show can't find any other story to talk about and have to discuss YouTube videos of married couples dancing to rap music? Is that all it takes to get a interview on TV these days? Clearly the DUMBEST feature story of the year. Maybe I should record a video for this blog with me laughing at Emmit Smith on ESPN while I eat nachos. I wonder if The Early Show would interview me?

My Weird TV Moment of the Week:
Thursday, December 6, 2007: During the Bears/Skins game on the NFL Network, a fan ran out of the stands and attacked a player on the field and NFL Network immediately CUT away from the situation. WHY?? Security Had already tackled him so what did NFL Network think was going to happen?


Agree or disagree with Solomon? Discuss it here.

DISCLAIMER: Remember, Solomon is not the voice of SitcomsOnline. He is just stating his opinions and does not reflect what SitcomsOnline says or thinks. It is just his 'View' but it is always quite entertaining.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, May 22

The Simpsons - "The Sound of Bleeding Gums" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Lisa meets the son of the late musician Bleeding Gums Murphy -- and attempts to improve his life.

Duncanville - "Plumbdog Millionaire" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
Jack and Duncan want to increase their wealth and status, so they make a local plumbing commercial.

The Simpsons - "Poorhouse Rock" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
After Bart humiliates him at church, Homer finally teaches his son to admire his dad -- until a visit from a magical, singing janitor changes everything.

The Great North - "Papa Don't Fiend Adventure" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The Tobins spend Father's Day weekend at an RV park and uncover the identity of the Fiend of Family Land; Moon meets a skunk; Judy thinks she's found a new love.

Bob's Burgers - "Some Like It Bot Part 2: Judge-bot Day" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Tina's family read her erotic friend fiction, they find out what she's up to and try to stop her.

Family Guy - "Jersey Bore" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Peter attends a business conference in Atlantic City with Preston; Stewie helps Chris prepare for his role in Adam West High School's rendition of "Romeo and Juliet."

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 16)

Friday, May 20

  • Glen Powell (Scream Queens) - Watch Glen on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Fred Armisen (Schmigadoon!/Los Espookys/Forever) - Fred appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Bob Odenkirk (The Larry Sanders Show) - Bob is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Bobby Moynihan (Mr. Mayor/Me, Myself & I) - Bobby appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Josh Gad (Central Park/Avenue 5/The Comedians/1600 Penn/Back to You) - Josh talks about the animated series Central Park on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Vanessa Lachey (Truth Be Told/Dads) - Vanessa guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep/The New Adventures of Old Christine/Watching Ellie/Seinfeld/Day by Day) - Julia appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Rapaport (Atypical/The War at Home) - Michael guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zoey will be on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Britt Lower (Man Seeking Woman/Big Lake) - Britt is a guest on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro (In the House/The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso appears on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (February-May)

ALT= Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release) Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)

02/08 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Ninth Season
02/22 - Everybody Hates Chris - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
02/22 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Eight
03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (DVD)
03/15 - Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season
03/15 - The Proud Family - The Complete Original Series - Anniversary Collection
03/22 - The Honeymooners Specials - The Complete Collection
03/29 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Blu-ray) (DVD)
03/29 - Young Rock - Season One
04/05 - Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
04/26 - The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season
04/26 - Jackie Gleason TV Treasures - 70th Anniversary Collection (including Honeymooners Rarities)
05/03 - No Activity - Season Three
05/31 - Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
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