Tag Archives: sitcom

That thing you do

Today the very funny folks at College Humor posed the question —

What if things we did religiously had their own religion?

They developed religions for things like…

  • The weekly TV dramas and sitcoms that we can’t miss
  • Our morning Starbucks run
  • The smartphone permanently attached to our hip
  • Workouts
  • Takeout

You get the drift.

I could add even more activities like making my bed (a holdover from my childhood), walking the dog and playing Candy Crush before bed.

And while I am definitely a member of the TV viewership religion, I participate in a more radical faction —

daily tv show fellowship


(The DVR made me do it.)

How I Should Have Met Your Mother

I was horrified by the series finale of How I Met Your Mother.

If you don’t know how it ended oh so many months ago, stop reading.  But suffice it to say, the last episode was like a sledgehammer to the very foundation of the show’s premise, crumbling its emotional center, its heart and its credibility.

It was awful.

Soon after the show’s creators and CBS were inundated with bad reviews and poor comments, it was revealed that there was an alternate ending that would be included on the DVD.  It has now been leaked.

It is perfect.


Whoever got to choose the version that aired?

Bad decision.


Is there an echo in here?

TV insiders have NBC’s Sean Saves the World on the not-long-for-this-world list. I’ve watched the series to date, and I tend to agree.

sean-saves-the-world-tcaIt’s not like the show is short on talent.  Sean Hayes.  Linda Lavin.  The ever whackadoodle Thomas Lennon.

Unfortunately, the writing is not at the same standard.  It seems familiar and dated…and the look on Sean’s face says he knows it.

That’s too bad…especially for the supporting cast members, who are so strong and deserve to be on television.

echo kellumI especially hope that Echo Kellum [left] finds a sitcom worthy of his talents.

He was so funny on the short-lived Ben and Kate on FOX, and now adds his unique comedic timing to Sean’s office.

Give this guy a good show, fates…and keep him around!

Crossing the cultural divide

I have taught students many concepts in my years as a trainer, but today’s lesson was one of my favorites:

“Shut up!”

shut up and trainNot the traditional ‘shut your mouth’ usage of the phrase — but the ‘you’ve got to be kidding, tell me more’ meaning.  My class of primarily native German speakers were not aware of this slang term, and they left my course very excited to try it out on their colleagues.

I’m sure it will be a big hit.

I just wish I could remember where the usage originated.  On TV?  In a movie?  Does anyone out there remember?  If you do,

Shut up!  (keep talking)

An empty chair at the table

Fifteen days into the new year, and I’ve finally come up with a resolution for 2013:

I wanna do a table read.

ABC-Modern-Family-Table-ReadCelebs are always tweeting photos of them now —

The whole cast gathered round the table, getting their first glimpse of that week’s episode.  Sometimes there are table tents identifying the major players.  Some folks are eating. Everyone appears to be having a good ol’ time.

I wanna go.  I wanna have fun.

It seems like I have enough friends-of-a-friend-of-an-acquaintance to make this happen.  Or, I can go grassroots and use social media to make my case.

Will I get invited to the table?  Is 2013 the year??

You gotta believe!!!

Russian revolution

I love Ray Romano.

And apparently, so do the Russians.

The sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which was loosely based on the lives of Romano and producer Phil Rosenthal, ran for nine seasons on CBS.  It was nominated for the Best Comedy Series Emmy seven times and won twice.

When they decided to end the series in 2005, it was still in the Top 10, a spot it had occupied since its third season on the air.

Exporting Raymond is a documentary that opened in very limited release in movie theatres last Friday.  It follows Rosenthal’s efforts to produce a Russian version of the sitcom… which is probably even more difficult than you would think.

And really, really funny.

This isn’t a documentary about Ray Romano.  He’s not in it, except in copious clips from the sitcom.   This is Phil’s baby, and he — who I had never seen on camera before — is hilarious in his own right.

He’s wide-eyed and nervous and tentative.  I definitely saw flashes of Woody Allen in his manner (thankfully without the annoying stammer).  But when it comes to Everybody Loves Raymond and helping it come alive for the Russian audience, he is strong and certain and somewhat single-minded.

Goodness knows he runs into obstacles.  The studios there look like bombed out buildings.  The writers and actors are doing two or three shows simultaneously and have extremely limited time and resources.  And the people ‘in charge’ bring somewhat questionable expertise to the table.

It takes a translator, vodka, a kindly driver, a real Russian family, more vodka, and a bit of give-and-take before the pilot episode is complete.   The entire process is really fascinating to watch.

So, how was the Russian version of Raymond received?  I shouldn’t tell you the end.  (Let’s just say it lives up to its name.)

What is a friend?

Dear Betsy Thomas:

I have been a fan of your sitcom “My Boys”  since it debuted four years ago on TBS.  I loved the concept — a comedy centered around a female character and her gang of predominantly male friends.  I’ve always had a lot of guy friends, so it rang true to me.

PJ, the female sportswriter at the middle of it all, has girlfriends, too — Stephanie is the one we most often see on the show  — but her male poker buds are the constants in her life.  Back in my Hallmark days, we called this a ‘chosen family’…and that’s exactly what they are.

I knew the show was on iffy ground this season just from reading the celebrity rags.  Jordana Spiro (PJ) has been tapped to star in a mid-season replacement sitcom on NBC, and the oh-so-funny Jim Gaffigan, who plays PJ’s brother Andy, has been written out of the show. (Whose idea was that?)  I’m not even sure “My Boys” has a deal with TBS beyond this year.


Did you have to turn this season into a big ol’ session of couples therapy?  For that matter, did you have to turn ’em into couples?

When the show began, all their banter was trivia at its best — poker, dating, petty work annoyances, and random silliness.  It was funny.   This year, they’ve been mired down in discussions about the future, financial planning and doing good for our fellow man.

Even the actors look bored.

Plus, this group of ‘good friends’ started inbreeding at the end of last season!  Now PJ and Bobby and Stephanie and Kenny have coupled up.  They didn’t look that comfortable with the arrangement, either.  And in the season finale on Sunday night, Mike, the lonest wolf of the bunch, suddenly married a woman he has dated a month because “we’re old.”

Who are these people?

If this is indeed the last season of the show, do you really want to leave this group of friends like this? Everyone oddly coupled up and settled…in this unsettled way?

Was that ever what “My Boys” was about?

I don’t think so.  In fact, I think you lost your way.  And they deserved a whole lot better.

Sell this

File this under “TV shows I should be starring in based on scripts I should have written inspired by books I should have penned…”

Sellevision,” a half-hour sitcom based on the book by Augusten Burroughs (of Running with Scissors fame) is in the works at NBC.

(That’s right — NBC!  They’re working on a scripted comedy for a change.  Good network.  Good boy.)

First of all, I’m not sure how this book got written without me.  It’s about home shopping, a concept that I discovered in its infancy in the mid-8o’s.  I was one of the early predictors of its success back when the show hosts were ridiculous, the products laughable, and the sets trailer park chic.

I still remember the first day I saw CVN (now QVC) on television.  I was stuck at home with the flu, running a 103 degree temperature, and this woman was trying to sell these jacuzzi jets that you put into your bathtub to make it bubble.  (I thought my fever was causing hallucinations.)

But I could still see the potential through the haze of my humidifier.  With the right products — I mean, now QVC is partnering with major brands — and solid marketing and salesmanship, home shopping is now a multi-billion dollar industry.  Heck, QVC’s website alone drives millions of dollars in sales each year.  They are practically printing money in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

But alas, I didn’t write a book.

Augusten Burroughs did.  He wrote “Sellevision” while he was getting sober.  He didn’t let sickness stop him.  He said it was the first thing to make him laugh in a long time.   Now he has a novel and a sitcom deal, and he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

Me? I have my health….and a membership in good standing with QVC.