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

Thursday, December 2

Young Sheldon - "The Grand Chancellor and a Den of Sin" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Sheldon battles President Hagemeyer’s (Wendie Malick) mysterious boss over the university’s science requirements. Also, Mary discovers that Georgie is working at Meemaw’s illegal gambling room.

United States of Al - "Wisdom / Hikmat" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
While Al is heavily medicated following surgery on his wisdom teeth, he mistakenly insults Art, forcing Riley to choose sides. Also, Lizzie tries to broker a peace among Art, Riley and Al.

Ghosts - "Alberta's Fan" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Alberta is thrilled when a super-fan of her music visits the mansion to learn more about her. Also, Thor convinces Hetty to go on a walk with him in hopes that it will spark a special memory.

B Positive - "A Camper, A Compass and a Cannoli" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Gina brings her dog Cannoli to the retirement home where he bonds with the seniors. Also, Drew prepares for his new life driving cross country in a camper van.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 29)

Thursday, December 2

  • Nicole Byer (Loosely Exactly Nicole) - Catch Nicole on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Ana Gasteyer (American Auto/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) and Rachel Dratch (30 Rock) - Ana and Rachel are guests on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC. They also talk about A Clüsterfünke Christmas on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Paul Rudd (Living with Yourself/Friends/Wild Oats) - Paul appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Bill Burr (F Is for Family/Townies) - Bill is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Glenn Howerton (It's Always Suny in Philadelphia/A.P. Bio/The Mindy Project) - Glenn appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) - William appears on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Kathy Griffin (Suddenly Susan) - Kathy chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Skylar Astin (Ground Floor) - Skylar is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love/Love, Inc.) - Holly will be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Michael Keaton (Report to Murphy/Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Leah Remini (Kevin Can Wait/The Exes/Family Tools/The King of Queens/Fired Up) - Leah guest co-hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Maya Erskine (PEN15/Casual/Betas) and Anna Konkle (PEN15) - Maya and Anna are guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Son of Zorn/Suburgatory) - Cheryl will be on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kal Penn (Sunnyside/Deadbeat/We Are Men) - Kal appears on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michel Urie (Younger/Partners) - Michael is a guest on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Vanessa Lachey (Truth Be Told/Dads) - Vanessa talks about her book Life from Scratch on Access Daily, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October-December)

Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Mom - The Eighth and Final Season Punky Brewster (1984-88) - The Complete Series (2021 Release) I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

10/19 - Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
11/02 - The Honeymooners Specials - A Christmas Carol
11/02 - Mom - The Eighth and Final Season
11/02 - Punky Brewster - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
11/02 - Sex and the City - The Complete Collection (Blu-ray)
11/09 - Saved by the Bell (2020) - Season One
11/09 - Younger - The Complete Series
11/16 - Kevin Can F*** Himself - Season 1 (Blu-ray)
11/23 - Dead Pixels - Seasons One and Two
11/30 - I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) (2021 Release) (Blu-ray)
12/07 - The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
12/07 - Rick & Morty - Season 5 (Blu-ray) (Blu-ray Limited Edition Steelbook)
12/14 - The Abbott and Costello Show - Season 1 (Blu-ray)
12/14 - Letterkenny - Season 9
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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