Category Archives: Boston Legal

TV Age

I have loved television for decades. I’m unapologetic about it. I don’t watch “only PBS and the History Channel” either. I like commercial, sometimes trashy TV. I can still tell you the nights certain programs were on forty years ago. I have books about the Dick van Dyke Show, The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Colombo, Taxi, and JEOPARDY!, plus several general texts.

But a couple things have happened in the last couple years that seems to have lessened the allure of the tube. One was the writers’ strike. Ironically, I supported the writers on their position regarding the strike. But my TV mojo just got lost, just as it did for baseball after the 1994 strike, when it took about three years to get it back.

The other event took place in early December. I had recorded a number of television shows on my DVR that I had not had a chance to see. I was two weeks behind on the dramas (all on ABC). The comedies (all on NBC) were even further back; I had seen no 30 Rock, and the The Office and Earl were likewise five or six weeks behind, at least. The were a couple news programs, about three weeks of JEOPARDY! plus shows for Lydia to watch. The power in our house went out only for an hour on a Saturday night during an ice storm. But when the power surged back, it fried the DVR.

What I discovered is that I could watch the dramas on, and over a week or two, I caught up. Thank goodness for the Advent season, when those shows are either preempted or repeated. But going to find all of those comedies, presumably on felt like…work. So, it’s likely I’ll just catch a couple December reruns and move forward with the new programs, though I have caught some Office webisodes.

My friend Fred and I once had this conversation about TV shows. Generally speaking, he doesn’t give up on a show. Once he starts it, he generally finishes the run, with rare exceptions. I am a bit more willing to cut my losses; American Idol and 24 are just two shows I watched then decided that wasn’t enjoying them enough, but I am sympathetic to his POV, and don’t abandon easily.

Still, I imagine that once the shows I’m watching now go off the air, I may not necessarily pick up new ones. (Yes, I said that last year, and I picked up Life on Mars, but at least that was a one-to-one replacement for Men in Trees.)

One of my shows, Boston Legal, is already gone. (BTW, what’s with those folks writing to TV Guide complaining how liberal the show is? One was shocked, SHOCKED that they made fun of Sarah Palin. Why didn’t they just CHANGE THE CHANNEL? Or wait a week or two, when the show was kaput?)

Two more shows, Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money will soon be swimming with the fishes. This will leave Brothers and Sisters, Grey’s Anatomy (stop with the dead lover sex, FCOL!) and the aforementioned Life on Mars, plus the last season of Scrubs on ABC – starts tonight!, and the Thursday comedies on NBC. Once they go off the air, I may be down to news programs, JEOPARDY!, and in season, some sports events.

That is, unless Lauren Graham gets another series. Oh, and can somebody tell me when GSN starts rerunning the JEOPARDY! episodes from November 2008?

This is not to say I don’t enjoy what I am viewing. I recommend that you watch at least the beginning of last week’s Bill Moyers Journal, where he celebrates “The Onion”; my favorite headline, “Housing Crisis Vindicates Guy Who Still Lives With Parents”. He also notes that today’s economic and militaristic crises were foretold in the 1933 Marx Brothers classic, “Duck Soup”:
MRS. TEASDALE: Gentleman, I’ve already loaned Freedonia more than half the fortune my husband left me. I consider that money lost and now you’re asking for another 20 million dollars.
Also on the show: John Lithgow on poetry and Arthur Miller.

I watched the Kennedy Center Honors and there is usually one transcendent moment. This is the one for me:
After which, you may wonder Who is Bettye LaVette? And why is this video NOT on CBS?

So, I’ll be curious just what, if anything, will pique my interest in five years. I took Mad Men season 1 from the library last week, but it has only a two-day window, and I ended up seeing none of it. I can imagine to decide to catch this season of The Office or 30 Rock on DVD, perhaps skipping over the episodes I happen to catch on air. What is clear, though, is with online access, DVD and the DVR, TV viewing has most certainly changed for me.

One more thing. The loss of the DVR meant I was watching my little portable b&w TV more often (I could have rewired the cable to the TV directly, but that would have been, you know, work to do and then undo. So I’ve opted order one of those coupons so I can get a discount on buying one of those over-the-air converters, just at a point when the digital TV subsidy program is running out of money. I ordered my coupon a couple weeks ago online, but apparently, they are to arrive via passenger pigeon.
Postal Service lifts curtain on 2009 stamps, which will feature early, black-and-white TV shows: “Lucy and Ethel lose their struggle with a chocolate assembly line. Joe Friday demands “just the facts” with a penetrating gaze. A secret word brings Groucho a visit from a duck.”
“Folks who grew up as television came of age will delight in a 20-stamp set included in the Postal Service’s plans for 2009 recalling early memories of the medium.” This I will buy.
“Most of the commemorative stamps are priced at 42 cents, the current first-class rate. However, a rate increase is scheduled in May and the size will depend on the consumer price index.”
“The Early TV Memories stamp set is scheduled for release Aug. 11 in Los Angeles.”


The TV Season

I must admit that it was my intention not to add any new shows to my list of programs to record on my DVR and (presumably) eventually watch. From a DVR at 0% on Labor Day, the machine got filled up to about 77% on Halloween weekend, and currently is is the mid 50% range.

As always, we have shows that are hers, hers, theirs, mine and ours.

HERS (the wife):
Skating. Unfortunately, the ISU series, save for Skate America, is not airing on any TV network, broadcast or cable. Apparently, this is a particularly big deal since we’re leading into an Olympic year and it’ll be easier to handicap the skaters once you’ve seen them on the Grand Prix circuit.
Also one of those home improvement shows on HGTV.

HERS (the daughter):
Little Bear. A nice show on Noggin co-created by Maurice Sendak.

Dancing with the Stars. Even I know that 82-year-old Cloris Leachman stuck around longer than her talent would suggest based on her bawdy charm.

This Week/Meet the Press/ABC World News – current.
Everything else is at least a week behind, including JEOPARDY!, CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes. Also watching:
Boston Legal: yes, I know, but it’s the last season. There was actually a pretty good episode, one lacking with most of the supporting cast, in which Kyle Secor (Homicide) played the accused murderer and husband of Alan Shore’s former loves.
Pushing Daisies: frankly, I thought this show was too whimsical last season to survive, but ABC brought back virtually everything except Men in Trees. I expect it to get canceled THIS season. BTW, some kind person sent me this link to video content they had received directly from ABC, a new “Inside with the Stars” of Pushing Daisies
or here.
Dirty Sexy Money: my unapologetic soap opera trash, and I liked Peter Krause from Sports Night and Donald Sutherland from so many things, most recently, Commander in Chief.
Grey’s Anatomy: more tolerable since Grey and McDreamy have decided to actually have their damn relationship.
Life on Mars: One of the adds to the list. Jason O’Mara has intrigued me going back to a short-lived show called In Justice in 2006. Since then he was a love interest in Men in Trees and an arsonist on The Closer. Additionally, I lived in NYC albeit in 1977, not 1973, but it feels right. Interestingly, this is a short-lived British show that moved to a Los Angeles setting with the cast above to a disastrous result. It now has the cast pictured here and a different venue.
Brothers and Sisters: if you’ve ever had siblings…

With the exception of one Earl and one Office, we’ve watched NOTHING on this list- My Name Is Earl, The Office, and at the suggestion of my wife, an add, 30 Rock.

So I never complain about TV shows being pre-empted. There’s always something in the queue. Frankly, I looked forward to November 12, when the CMA Music Awards scuttled the entire ABC lineup for Wednesday.

And no, I’m not adding anything else. I’m sure there are perfectly good shows out there, like How I Met Your Mother (saw once) or Eli Stone or those geeky guys on that CBS Monday sitcom. I’m not going to get invested in Lost or Heroes or Desperate Housewives at this point. Hey, I added 30 Rock.


TV shorts

Boston Legal has dropped four cast members: Julie Bowen, Mark Valley, Constance Zimmer, and the woefully underused Rene Auberjonois have all been let go from the show, even as it adds John Larroquette. I don’t remember so many people leaving a show at once since the last season of Boston Legal’s predecessor, The Practice, when Dylan McDermott, Kelli Williams, Lisa Gay Hamilton and Lara Flynn Boyle got the boot, and James Spader was added.
For those who are already thinking about it, the Fall 2007 schedule.
Gordon’s right. Mr. Wizard IS a show both he and I watched as kids.
We are assured that Lost won’t end like The Sopranos did. I’ve never seen an episode of The Sopranos, but I’m convinced that Tony is dead; the screen going to black was Tony’s demise.
How Kellogg’s Limits on Kids Advertising Could Shake Up Industry
The The Hot 100 List


1st and 16th Amendments QUESTIONS

1. There’s been a lot of discussion about the rules of engagement on blogs and whether removing inappropriate comments is censorship. Initially, I think, the rules of engagement should be common decency, and if someone puts something inappropriate on the comments on this blog – and I alone get to decide what that is – then I will. But then , I came across a ning called Stop Cyberbullying, and I recognize cyberbullying can be disruptive in the victims’ lives. So I thought, maybe there SHOULD be some sort of rules of engagement. It may be like the speed limit, where many/most people drive over it, but maybe it’ll keep some people from doing 70 in a 35 m.p.h. zone.
So, do we need rules of engagement in cyberspace? What would it look like? And who gets to enforce them?

2. Paying taxes this weekend. Again. I suppose we could take fewer deductions, but then the government would have my money longer. I’m not always thrilled with the use. I can support a national defense, but not so much lucrative contracts to the Betchtels of the work that take the money and do shoddy or no work. I’m glad my taxes pay for schools, libraries (well, yeah), feeding the poor, clothing the hungry. Not so keen on the government executing people in my name.
So, if one could pick and choose: what taxes would you gladly pay, and which ones make you pause?
(Picture from
And while I’m in the question mode, a couple speculative modes about TV:
1. If Fred D. Thompson actually runs for President, will the networks that carry his various Law & Order shows have to broadcast only those episodes in which he does not appear? Otherwise, won’t his political opponents make a claim for equal time?

2. On last week’s Boston Legal, a very pregnant Denise (Julie Bowen) accepted a wedding proposal from the father of the child, Brad (Mark Valley). But in the preview for the next episode, Shirley (Candice Bergen) seems to suggest that Julie should not marry Brad. Is she saying that this single professional woman go it alone with her baby, a la Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen)?


Continued from Saturday, June 4.

So, all that effort to get on could come to naught, even though I passed the test?

I thought to keep a journal of my JEOPARDY! experience at the time, but, as it turned out, I made only one entry. Rob Owen was the TV/radio columnist for the (Albany) Times Union:

5-22-98: Read Rob Owen’s column about the successful Boston JEOPARDY! tryout contestants. On one hand, I was pleased that the Capital District fared so well. On the other hand, I regret not having made the T-U web page list. [Apparently, the people who passed the test in Boston were listed on the Times Union web page.] Also, the greater number of contestants (50) from the area minimizes my chances of getting on. (How generous of spirit, eh?) I believe the 50 contestants who passed were out of 150, rather than 75, as listed in the original ad, but it didn’t change the math.

After I got through the DC test, I tried to keep a good thought. I called my office, and told the folks that I had passed.

That was a mistake.

Nearly every weekday in the rest of the month, someone (and there was one person in particular) asked me whether I had heard anything from JEOPARDY! I had not. The same thing went on for all of June.

Meanwhile, WTEN did a story on a couple people who tried out at Crossgates Mall, went to Boston and passed the audition. The station went to their respective places of employment and surprised one man and one woman with the news that they would be on JEOPARDY! (Unfortunately, I do not remember their names or their JEOPARDY! fates.) I get through July and I hear NOTHING.

Thursday, August 13, I’m sitting at my desk, when our secretary Jeanette buzzes my phone. “It’s JEOPARDY!” The next thing I hear is: “Roger Green? ” “Yes?” “I’m Grant Loud from JEOPARDY! This is the call!”

“This is the call.” What an interesting choice of words. It was almost like he considered it a metaphysical calling. And maybe it was.

Grant explained that this would be a special series of programs filmed in Boston. They were taking only people who resided in the original 13 colonies for this week of programs. Would I be available on September 17 and 18? Yes! Would I be available for October 2 and 3 in Los Angeles? (If I had won the Friday game, I would need to continue in LA. I had to check. I was scheduled to be in a conference in San Diego sometime around then.) “Call me back in five minutes.”
OK, the conference was on October 6. I could fly to LA and have time to get to San Diego. OK, call me back, Grant.

And I waited. OK, it was only 22 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity before he called again. Grant and I talked about the logistics, how I would need to get myself to Boston on the 18th.

OK. I’m going to be on Jeopardy! I’M GOING TO BE ON JEOPARDY! I sat my desk, wanting just to savor the moment, absorb it, perhaps wallow in it a bit. This wallowing lasted perhaps four seconds.

“Well? Well?” hollers my colleague Anne, almost before she got to my office door. Undoubtedly, Jeanette had told her about the two calls. I told her the news. Rejoicing ensued.

Soon, I got in the mail a thick contact. (I’m sure I made a copy, but I can no longer find it.) It said stuff like they can use my likeness in their promotions, I can’t market the fact that I was on the show before it aired. I gave it to my friend Janna, who is a lawyer. She said it was standard release language.

I receive tickets for the show tapings. (I think I asked for three; I could have gotten six.)

I also got the JEOPARDY! Information Sheet that asked for five items that they would use for their “chat cards”. I wrote:
1. I own 1200 LPs, 1000 CDs, a few hundred cassettes, (but zero 8-tracks.) I had a 33 1/3 birthday party.
2. I introduced Rod Serling -almost. I met Earl Warren.
3. In our office, we used the JEOPARDY! calendar for team building. [I figured they might glom onto this one. They LOVE JEOPARDY!-related stories.]
4. I need to avoid mountains – I tore out my knee on one mountain and almost got blown off another.
5. The Heimlich maneuver works.

I return the form.

And now, I figure, I’ll just relax, study and wait.

But the next week, something happens quite distressing, which made relaxing nearly impossible.

Continued on Saturday, June 18.