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Archive for July, 2009

by Beal

5. Crossing Jordan and Las Vegas Cross in “What Happens in Vegas Dies in Boston” (2004)

NUP_105415_0701This is a prime example of NBC trying to boost ratings on two absolute B-list shows. Even I didn’t watch Las Vegas, but as the one and only fan of Crossing Jordan I was admittedly a little bit stoked when the powers that be decided to blend these two sort-of crime dramas into one big case that spanned two episodes, one of each show. Now, first of all, Jordan Cavanaugh (Jill Hennessey) is a medical examiner in Boston, where she has NO JURISDICTION outside of medical examination. 18845379Similarly Danny McCoy (Josh Duhamel) and Sam Marquez (Vanessa Marcil) who work in a Vegas casino, obviously have no jurisdiction anywhere outside of that casino, let alone in a different city, in a different state. Vigilante folks, vigilante. Anyway, some high roller from Vegas dies on an airplane headed towards Boston, and Jordan, Danny and Sam join forces with Det. Woody Hoyt (Jerry O’Connell, could this crime busting team get any better? I submit that it cannot.) and solve the crime. Also Woody and Sam hook up, and Woody appears in at least four more episodes of Las Vegas, which clearly did nothing for ratings, as both shows were soon canned. (Note: I seriously LOVE Crossing Jordan and will expand on this at a later date.)

 

4. Detective John Munch arrests the Lone Gunmen in on The X-Files “Unusual Suspects” (1997)

r_belzerDetective John Munch (Richard Belzer)  is a walking crossover. The role of Det. Munch originated on Homicide: Life on the Streets and nearing the end of its run, Munch appeared in a 1997 episode of The X-Files. Due to a busy shooting schedule (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were filming for both the show and the feature film) writers decided to do a special episode about the Lone Gunmen and how they met. To get to the flashback though, the oddball trio were arrested in Baltimore and questioned by none other than Detective Munch. A year later, Homicide was cancelled and Munch was transferred to New York City and the latest Law & Order spinoff, Special Victims Unit. While portraying the same character YET AGAIN, Belzer also appeared in two other L&W franchise programs (Trial by Jury and plain), The Wire and Arrested Development. I find it odd, that a character this nondescript could transcend space and time to appear in so many programs. I bet when SVU is cancelled the actual LAPD assign him to some kind of task force.

3. The Sitcom Moms visit Roseanne Conner in “All About Rosey” (1995)

lookalikeroseanne16496roseanneI’m not sure if this technically counts as a “crossover” since every character that crossed over’s show had long since been off the air, but still, this crappy clip show is what I will consider a crossover extravaganza featuring not one, but FIVE different crossed characters from FIVE different television shows including June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver, Ruth Martin from Lassie, Norma Arnold from The Wonder Years, Weezy from The Jeffersons and then that other lady who according to IMDB is from Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1965-1967). Yes I recognize that this was a lame gimmick during an otherwise not great era of my favorite TV show, but fine, uncle, I was totally pumped that these five TV mom’s came together in the Conner kitchen and were forced out of their comfort zones and into that of the “Domestic Goddess.”

Roseanne: One time, I found some old reefer in the basement.
June Cleaver: Reefer?
Roseanne: Ask Eddie Hascal…anyway I thought it belonged to David, he’s the boy who sleeps with my daughter. But it turned out it was MY old pot! 

2. The Jetsons Meet the Flinstones (1987)

There is no reason I should glean as much as much joy from this cheap stunt Hanna-Barbera pulled back in the late 80’s, but something about time travel and mixing the space age and the stone age with corporate intrigue entertains me. And as if it wasn’t enough that the futuristic gadget-laden Jetsons made their way back in time, wouldn’t you know it, an error in the time machine would bring the cave-dwelling Flinstones into the future! Imagine that! I also always love that upon first meeting both parties believed the others to be aliens, because that makes sense. The Jetsons don’t even know where they landed, wouldn’t they assume it was earth, especially when the “aliens” were speaking English? As for the Flinstones, they were barely bi-pedal, so I won’t fault them for their stupidity. The fact that Judy Jetson wanted to get away from her rockstar boyfriend because he was spending too much time with groupies only bolsters my opinion of this excellent MFTV crossover program.

 

1. Steve Urkel takes Al to the dance on Step by Step “The Dance” (1991)

I am a sucker for any episode of any show featuring a school dance and the requisite disappointment and self-esteem deflation that comes along with it. In this classic episode of Step by Step tomboy Al is asked to the dance by the hot pitcher on her baseball team. Guess what’s going to happen next. . .Oh yes, of course, he decides to go with a different, prettier, more popular girl, leaving Al dateless and depressed, that is until Steve Urkel steps up to the plate (enough with the baseball references already). I mean, who better to really stick it to the hot popular guy with, than some stereotypically nerdy, high-waters wearing, squeeky voiced friend of your half-brother’s whose affinity for cheese is tantamount to his ability to RUIN everything he touches, but in a hilarious slapstick kind of way of course? Well, the night of the dance, Al is dressed to the nines in a lovely early nineties floral number and she and Urkel are going to have some fun, show you how it’s done TGIF! (I totally just said that.) Bonus points for a guided dance-along!

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by Judi

Oh, the CROSSOVER. Jack Doneghy, I’m sure, loves the concept of the TV crossover being such a fan of things like “synergy” and “product integration”, “pro-menz” (that’s “positive mention” to you, little buddy) and “making lots of money.” After all, what better way to get your TV loving public to excitedly clap their hands and buy even more bags of Baked Lays than an episode of their favorite TV show starring people from their OTHER favorite TV shows. FUN FOR ALL, I dare say.

5. Dana from Step By Step helps Corey on Boy Meets World via dolphin in “The Happiest Show on Earth” (1996)

TGIF loved and I mean loved the crossover episodes. There was Urkel on Full House, Salem the cat from Sabrina running through all of the TGIF programs wreaking havoc on the sitcom space-time-continuum, and my favorite- Dana from Step by Step on Boy Meets World. True, she’s on for one scene and doesn’t say much but what she does say is enough to convince Corey that he’s still in love with Topanga. And she does this all through dolphins. Next to a dolphin tank. By telling him a story about dolphins. While they pet and feed dolphins. Dana sure is convincing. I hope she went into sales and is now so rich, she can by and sell JT. (And yes, I also hope she’s married to Cody. Shut up.)

4. Frasier Crane ruins Helen’s life again on Wings in “Planes, Trains and Visiting Cranes” (1992)

There were actually two Cheers and Wings overlaps, the other one being Cliff and Norm visiting Nantucket to go on a fishing trip but then they just go to the Sidecar and drink for two days. On “Planes, Trains and Visiting Cranes”, Cheers regulars Dr. Frasier Crane and his wife Lilith appear to do a seminar that Frasier’s devised about enriching your life (called amusingly The Crane Train to Mental Well-Being). The only problem is that Helen Chapel, recently back from a disastrous stint in New York City where she tried to become a cellist and ended up as a waitress as a strip club, took that same seminar in New York and blames it and Crane for all of her problems since then. The episode ends in a typical sitcommy way with all the Wings characters screaming at each other at the seminar and one of Frasier’s signature raspy “You people!” rants that we all so love. I enjoyed this episode so much when I caught the repeat last year, mostly because it reminded me of my sincere love for Lilith and her deadpan delivery.

3. George and Noah and Monica and Rachel on Friends in “The One With Two Parts” (1995)

It’s funny. I just realized a pattern here- the shows that used the crossover once more often than not used it several times. Friends is a solid example. We all remember (naturally- why would you be here if this were all new information?) that Mad About You‘s ditsy waitress Ursula is Phoebe Buffay’s twin sister, forcing a confused M.A.Y. Jamie and her friend Fran to mistakenly come to Central Perk and hassle Phoebe about getting them coffee.

Ok, so technically I’m cheating here. George and Noah weren’t playing their ER counterparts but really, come on. It’s a great episode, they’re CLEARLY playing off their ER characters and it includes one of my most favorite, rarely used sitcom gimmicks ever- Monica and Rachel have swapped identities because Rachel has sprained her ankle and lacks insurance so the cute doctors think each is the other. And then they get into a fight. (How did they pick who got George, btw? I mean, I love me some Librarian and all but being the one who gets George is cause enough for a fight to the death itself)

2. Lara Flynn Boyle tells Ally McBeal to eat a cookie in “Making Spirits Bright” (1998)

Usually, crossover happen because of a shared network but they tend to happen more frequently when they also share a creator. And no, I don’t mean the sweet baby Jesus. I mean David E. Kelley. Ok, to some of you, that IS the sweet baby Jesus, but around here he’s the guy who just really likes quirky urban lawyers and piano bars.

This nifty little cameo featuring Lara Flynn Boyle as her Practice attorney Helen Gamble sizing up bobble-headed Ally McBeal was inevitable, considering the media broohaha at the time regarding the fact that both actresses were in desperate need of a few trips to Arby’s and the aforementioned bags of Baked Lays. Oh yeah, and that whole thing about Ally’s skirts being too short. All wrapped up neatly in a thirty-second shot that really makes me want to get a cookie of my own.

1. Buffy drops in on Angel in “I Will Remember You” (1999)

It was a natural enough occurrence that the regulars on Joss Whedon’s Buffy would make an appearance on spin-off Angel. Angel would, after all, be nothing more than a glimmer in his big daddy’s eye if it weren’t for our favorite pint-sized slayer. In this episode, Buffy shows up for a reason I can’t remember off the top of my head and almost immediately helps Angel slay a big baddie, whose green slime accidentally turns Angel human.

The former couple agree that they won’t let this affect them, this sudden turn of events that they’ve both been wishing for since they met when Buffy was sixteen and Angel a spry 300 years old.  That naturally lasts about ten minutes and they end up going at it on Angel’s kitchen table. The ensuing scenes are pretty much everything we, the loyal Buffy audience (at least, those of us with girlie parts) have ever wanted- Angel discovering the joys of peanut butter and chocolate TOGETHER, ice cream, sunlight and being able to be with Buffy without turning into, you know, a total, murderous monster who likes killing her friends. Sadly, it doesn’t last. He’s a weak human now and can’t protect himself or her (not that she needs it but I guess after 300+ years, a sudden identity crisis would be pretty hard to overcome) so he goes to the Powers That Be and asks to be made vampire again. They agree to turn back the clocks, with the worst after-effect being that Buffy won’t remember their time together at all. And sure enough, even though she tearfully promises to remember everything, she doesn’t and soon stalks off the show back to Sunnydale.

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by Beal


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I can’t decide if this is entirely tasteless, or just classic Roseanne, but I never thought that I would have to mention Hitler on a blog about television, unless I was referring to what my old history professor (who also talked about Rin Tin Tin constantly) lovingly dubbed The Hitler Channel, a lame joke about how The History Channel is ever airing Hitler related programming. I was wrong. In case you were wondering what Roseanne Barr (she’s no longer a Madonna single name type) has been up to since her titular role on television, or why this Jewish grandmother is costumed as a Nazi dictator, well, you can find that HERE, where this outrageous photo came from.

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by Beal

Janeane Garofalo 220 JPG80I always love to find out that a celebrity is a fan of a television show. I’m not sure why I have always assumed that my favorite celebrities are too busy or too cool to enjoy television, but I guess maybe it’s because I also assume that all celebrities know each other intimately, and how uninteresting it would be to have to watch your next door neighbor engage in zany high jinx with your ex-boyfriend and your sister-in-law instead of actually just hanging out with them and hoping someone gets accidentally locked in a walk in freezer, or becomes the victim of mistaken identity.

Anywaaay, while on my recent My So-Called Life kick, I remembered a bit that  Janeane Garofalo performed in a  stand-up special she did in 1997 in which she made a reference to Jordan Catalano, Angela Chase and Brian Krakow. (Around 2:00)

Then, while perusing the “booklet” that came inside the box set of MSCL I noticed a piece that Garofalo had written about the show, that the creators were kind enough to include. I’m not sure if it’s because of the bit, or because both Janeane Garofalo and MSCL completely embody the early 1990’s for me, but it makes sense and me happy that she was such a fan of the show, and not just mocking it in a routine. I imagine that on Thursday nights in 1994, Janeane turned down the Soundgarden, kicked off her Doc Martins and snuggled down on the couch in her baggiest flannel to enjoy the latest happenings at Liberty High School. Here’s what she had to say about the show:

The Limbic Appeal

I’m not interested in any of those other ‘tween or teen dramadies currently airing on the N, the WB or Fox. No way, Jose. My pen hits this paper in praise of one very special hour of uncharacteristic quality in the form of a network television show. I’m write-talking about My So-Called Life or MSCL for those in the know. (I just used that abridgment for the first time, just now. So don’t feel like a latecomer to “the know.”) So deep and profound is my love for MSCL, I have memorized each episode: I can mute the sound, play all the parts and cry every goddamn time Rayanne does the scen from Our Town or Rickie shows up at Mr. Katimsky’s house, or when Patty and Danielle grace the stage at the Mother-Daughter Fashion Show! Oh yes, we are all beautiful. Claire/Angela. Possibly even me/you. 

139.x600.timein.tuningin.wilsoncEach episode is tucked away in a section of my brain known as the limbic region. The limbic brain is often referred to as the seat of our emtion, neurologically speaking. The limbic filing system is reserved for the things we are most fond or afraid of. In my case: Clive Owen (fond) and gas attack (personal or political) while I’m sleeping (afeared). I bring this limbic business up because I believe there is an emotional and visceral connection between this so-called “teenage” region of the brain and the devotion that fans have for My So Called Life. (I mean the above as a compliment.) The show never once insulted the viewers’ intelligence, and I thank the creators, writers, cast, crew and music director for that.

Claire Danes Embodies a certain early-Nineties Clinton/Nirvana forward-thinking “Riotgrrrl” Pacific Northwest vibe. A vibe that was brutally ravaged by the Rebulican revolution of ’94 and the Media Consolidation Act o ’96, but don’t get me started in on those Washington boneheads. Do let me get finished by allowing me to commend all the lovely people involved with My So-Called Life, as well as all the enchanting creatures at Shout! Factory who have the presence of mind to give this wonderful show another opportunity to enter the limbic brain of a grateful nation.

Sportingly, 
Janeane Garofalo

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by Judi

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A couple of things about this:

1) That’s kind of COLD for Jimmy Fallon. What’s next? He’s going to propose a reunion of Blue Oyster Cult, only to have them all show up at Horatio Sanz’s house instead?

2) Nice cropping of Screech and Mr. B. whose creepiness, indeed, has increased exponentially since SBTB: The New Class.

3) Can I just say it? They all look really GOOD. Like, remember when they reunited the cast of The Facts of Life and it was kind of horrifying? I say two thumbs way up. Or maybe I’ll just make a circle with my thumb and a peace sign instead. What exactly is that sign anyway, Turtle?

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by Judi

Show: Gilmore Girls

Character: Paris Geller

Played By: Liza Weil

Basically: The show Gilmore Girls kicked off its pilot episode with Lorelai Gilmore’s brainy sixteen-year-old daughter Rory getting accepted into essentially the most terrifying, formidable private school in Connecticut (forcing Lorelai to go to her estranged blue-blood parents for financial help in paying the equally formidable tuition but that’s another story). On her very first day, fresh-faced and eager for some book learnin’, Rory encounters Paris, the Tracy Flick of Chilton if Tracy Flick had been off her meds for some time. We first see Paris hiding underneath a windowsill outside the headmaster’s office with her two slutty friends Madeline and Louise, where she snatches the “new girl’s” transcripts and pores over the file, trying to guage just how much of a threat this Rory Gilmore will be to Paris’ plans to be the most brilliant and successful Chilton graduate in the school’s history. Later in the season, when Rory is having trouble catching up, Paris sidles up behind her before their huge English test and gives what has to be the most threatening, sinister Shakespearean monologue in high school history. She then leans in and whispers, “You’re going down.” She’s not playing around, people. Over the course of the show’s seven season run, Rory and Paris would be enemies then sort-of-friends then friends then college roommates and always, always intellectual rivals.

Love Fest: I believe we can classify Paris’ personality as Type F’n A. High strung to the point of insanity. While in high school, Paris is a bully and a manipulator but then little bits of her home life trickle in and damn it if we don’t start to feel sorry for her. Basically ignored by her feuding parents and raised by a doting Porteguese nanny named, well, Nanny (Paris is fluent in Portguese, we discover, only adding to our affection for her), she’s a lonely girl at heart, nothing hitting it home more so when a cute college boy named Jamie takes an interest in her and Paris can’t wrap her brain around why.  Paris only wants to get into Harvard where all Gellers have gone and she’ll let nothing stand in her way. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes she goes CRAZY in the process, her singular focus causing her to lose her marbles completely. Take her anger management issues (manifesting itself in her hiring a life coach and then becoming obsessed with crafts). Take the Yale Daily News. When she’s elected editor in college, she slowly turns the paper into a dictatorship- first, no one is allowed to speak. Then, everyone must wear a hat with a number on it so she doesn’t have to learn anyone’s name. Soon, she’s writing every piece herself. Then, the paper starts to fall apart, the staff discusses mutiny and what is Paris doing? She’s constructed a BUNKER out of NEWSPAPER in the middle of the newsroom where she sits at a little desk, muttering to herself about having to do everything herself. It’s like A Beautiful Mind, the CW version. CRAZY PANTS. And as a side note, I don’t know why the TV Powers That Be haven’t found another role for Liza Weil yet but someone should seriously get on that immediately.

Favorite Moments: Oh, boy. Paris is super sharp, super funny with some of the best, most biting lines on the show. A few of my favorites:

– Paris and Rory run into their Yale dorm, soaking wet from a rainstorm outside. A girl passes them.

Girl: Is it raining?

Paris: No, it’s National Baptism Day. Get your tubes tied, idiot!

– Paris has been having an affair with her very old college professor (played by Basil Exposition from Austin Powers). When Rory calls, Paris tells her that the professor has died. Rory worries that he died while they were having sex.

Rory: It wasn’t- I mean, he didn’t, you know, during-

Paris: No, Rory. This great man wasn’t brought down by my vagina.

– But this is by far my favorite. After four years of working herself to the bone, Paris doesn’t get into Harvard. Unfortunately, her rejection letter coincides with her having sex with her boyfriend for the first time and also, um, her having to give a speech with Rory on CSPAN for Chilton’s big centennial celebration. It does not go well.

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You’ll notice that there was no Top Five Friday last week. This was my fault as I was on the Jersey Shore last week with my family, staying at my aunt’s beach house. Upon arriving, I had dropped my bags, let the dog run outside in the backyard and did what any sane person does when they arrive at someone else’s house for a week-long vacation. I turned on the TV to check out the cable situation.

When I was a kid, my friend Meg didn’t have cable. I would go down to her basement and turn on the TV and go to my usual channels but past 13 it was nothing but fuzz. I still get a little flicker of panic when that fuzz appears. It’s a mixture of panic and pity for the people who have to live in such a place. A life without Three’s Company reruns? HOW DO YOU GET UP IN THE MORNING?

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In retrospect, it was much better when I was a kid because, I don’t know if you realize this, network TV has recently disintegrated into little more than reality dating shows and fare for obese people. Especially in July. If you’re not interested in seeing a mailman run through an obstacle course for a cash prize, you’re shit out of luck in the summer programming department. At least when I was ten, the worst thing about a sleepover at Meg’s house was no Nick-At-Nite. Now, a week without cable means no USA, TNT, Bravo and The Family Channel- the four tent poles of my regular TV watching. No Burn Notice, no Leverage, no West Wing or Gilmore Girls or Charmed reruns. It’s enough to send you running into the freezing Atlantic Ocean, dragging half of the shore with you. (And as a side note, I’m officially creating a Men of the Shore calendar, featuring several of the cast members of The Sopranos in the more prominent months. You guys need to get out of the sun for a while. I’m not kidding.)

But now, I’m back. TiVo has graciously awaited my arrival with no less than 31 episodes of West Wing saved, a couple of Burn Notice eps, a smattering of Nigella and Cybil and a few movie gems like Kindergarten Cop. With the world just as it should be once more, we now return to our regularly scheduled programming already in progress.

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