Category Archives: Office

August Ramblin'

Tuesday night, I couldn’t sleep, so I got up to use the computer. I was startled by my wife entering the room – the fan drowned out any noise she made – and we decided to go downstairs to watch the NBC show The Office. We got through the March 19 episode where [SPOILER WARNING] Michael Scott quits Dunder Mifflin [end of warning]. This got me thinking about spoilers. There was a review of some sci-fi TV show, now on DVD, and the reviewer mentioned a significant character development. A commenter complained that he hadn’t seen the season yet, as he was waiting to watch it all on the DVD; the reviewer apologized. So what IS the rule for spoilers these days for a TV show or movie? Is it three months after the DVD comes out? What if the DVD NEVER comes out?

We’re now down to the last series we watch together. First we saw Scrubs, because we had all the episodes recorded. Then we got through 30 Rock; saw the season finale just last week, then a couple December shows in rerun that we’d missed when the DVR got fried in a late autumn lightning storm. I know what happens on The Office – chances are I read it in someone’s blog – but I have no expectation that the plot points remain a secret, though, in fact, my wife does not know, so DON’T TELL HER.

Since JEOPARDY! is in reruns, I’d decided to tape the Regis Who Wants to Be a Millionaire primetime episodes. A much better game with the 15-, 30- and 45-second clock. Of course, I saw the Patricia Heaton math meltdown; she really psyched herself out that she couldn’t get the answer to this question: “If a Euro is worth $1.50, five Euros is worth what?” Her choices are A.) 30 quarters, B.) 50 dimes, C.) 70 nickels, and D.) 90 pennies.
I’m reading the New Yorker for August 7 online this week, when I come across this: It’s big news in France and Germany that Willy DeVille, a founder of the band Mink DeVille, died yesterday in New York. The death of the director, producer, and screenwriter John Hughes is unmentioned in the major newspapers there. Nothing travels worse than the local rites of adolescence.
I totally missed that story. I wasn’t a huge fan of the band, but I do own some Mink DeVille on vinyl.
Yesterday, someone in my office was talking about the “famous” Doobie Brothers episodes of the show What’s Happening; I had no idea what he was talking about. But it was easy to find clips here and here and even each of the whole episodes on Hulu here and here. I DID see the series from time to time, but it was not appointment television for me.

Someone commented on why the show didn’t pick a black artist instead. I was instantly reminded of a 1977 Warner Brothers Loss Leader called Cook Book, “focusing on Warner’s black acts.” The only predominantly white act on the record was the Doobie Brothers. The song on the album was the same as the song on the What’s Happening episode of the same time frame, “Takin’ It to the Streets.” The Michael McDonald version of the group must have had some cred.
From the July 7, 2009 Fortune magazine comes this review of the book Cooperstown Confidential, by Zev Chafets. It addreses the inconsistencies in the process of getting into the Hall of Fame. Reviewer Daniel Okrent writes:
Sure, numbers count — RBIs, ERAs, etc. — but Chafets demonstrates that cronyism, prejudice, and financial self-interest play a huge part as well.

He addresses a variety of factors that have influenced the people who make (and unmake and remake and unremake) the rules. In 2009, in the looming shadows cast by Clemens and Bonds, the rule that matters most is No. 5, the one about character. It’s been used to keep out witnesses to gambling (Joe Jackson) and gamblers themselves (Pete Rose) but has somehow not been applied to cheaters (Gaylord Perry), racists (Cap Anson), sociopaths (Lefty Grove), and cheating racist sociopaths (Ty Cobb). Nor to a quantity of drunks, drug users, and other lowlifes that could fill the reservation book at Hazelden.

About those druggies: Most people who follow baseball closely suspect that a large share of Hall members from the ’70s and ’80s got their games up with the help of amphetamines. But Chafets has turned up evidence that steroids go back as far as the 1950s.

I guess it solidified my sense that the hysteria over the latest revelation from the (supposedly secret) list of 2003 users of substances that would become banned in 2004 just doesn’t disturb me as much as it does others.
And now, a message from movie maker Tyler Perry:
I’m back from Vegas and had a great time at the Hoodies, but I gotta give a quick WARNING to all my Facebookers, Twitters and TylerPerry board members: I’m so pissed right now!

I’m sitting in my den writing, minding my own business, when I get an email from my staff saying that someone put an ad up on Craigslist saying that I was casting a movie in L.A., and in order to be considered for this (FAKE) Tyler Perry movie, you have to join their club for $29.95. THAT IS A LIE, don’t fall for it. These folks are trying to rip you off. I hate for people to prey on people’s dreams and hopes. Why don’t people get a job and stop trying to steal folks’ hard-earned money….Ugh, that makes me mad; let me breathe.

Okay listen my dear folks, if anyone asks you to pay in order to do an audition or pay a fee to join a club to put you in a movie, please don’t fall for it. That’s not how it works in this business. It’s free to audition for any film. I’m calling my lawyers about these THIEVES! You’re my best help here, so please do me a favor and send this out to all your followers and friends.




TV Observations

Being sick has allowed me to slowly catch up with the backlog of TV shows I’ve been recording but not watching. The DVR’s gone from 80% full Thursday night to 40% full after last night’s JEOPARDY!
I’ve watched The Sunday morning news programs. Meet the Press (or was it the Today show?) showed a dapper Brian Williams in James Bondian mode, probably a segment from Saturday Night Live, which I didn’t see, but now wish I did.
That recent 60 Minutes (CBS) segment about French President Nicolas Sarkozy I’d seen before, on one of those 90-minute 60 Minutes shows earlier in the season – strange.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS: Yes, it’s a soap opera, but a good one. This Sunday’s show, featuring the confrontation of Justin’s post-Iraq drug addictions, has gotten kudos already from TV Guide.
Carol and I are loving Aliens in America (CW). She is an ESL teacher with many Pakistani students, but I’m liking it on its recognizably painful humor built on adolescence.
Samantha Who? (ABC) is funny in parts. I like Jean Smart, e.g. as the mom, but it’s just not holding together for me.
Boston Legal (ABC), a bad habit.
Whatever that sitcom is with Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton on FOX; oh, yeah, Back to You. Subsequent shows were better than the pilot, but not good enough to keep watching.
Pushing Daisies (ABC) I like it, but I swear I’ve seen Ned and Chuck graze each other. Right on the edge of too quirky and cloying, but hasn’t crossed it yet.
Private Practice (ABC): the side plots, involving the medical issues are OK, even compelling at times, but the stories surrounding the characters’ personal lives are AWFUL, just awful.
Dirty Sexy Money (ABC): I was afraid it was going to go all Dynasty on me, but the murder mystery is engaging enough. I really enjoy Peter Krause and Donald Sutherland working together.
My Name Is Earl (NBC) – the prison stories are surprisingly effective.
The Office (NBC) – good, but those hour-long stories were overloaded. Also, I’m now seeing those Bee Movie promos many people ODed on. There was one, actually the first one I saw, that I actually enjoyed, because I had the exact same conversation with my wife about Super Chicken. It seems that the only people who remember SC are me, Seinfeld, and the writers of JEOPARDY! who have posed the question at least twice in recent years with no one even GUESSING at the question:
April 6, 2001 LET’S PLAY CHICKEN, $500 Created by Jay Ward & Bill Scott, his secret identity was Henry Cabot Henhaus III
December 11, 1998 TV THEME SONGS, $500: “When it looks like you will take a lickin’….just callllll for” him.
Scrubs (NBC)- I said was catching up, not that I’m caught up.
FRIDAY: nothing.
SATURDAY: nothing.

I’m actually glad the Country Music Awards were on last night so I can forgo the ABC shows in favor of trying to catch up on the backlog.
Ken Levine picks the worst TV shows ever. He’s right about Life with Lucy. But my #1 worst show, because it had such a fine lineage, is AfterMASH, the spinoff of M*A*S*H, that was boring as all get out. At least Cop Rock tried to be interesting.
I missed recording the Carol Burnett American Masters on my local PBS station (WMHT) this week but it’s being rebroadcast on WMHT2 (cable) Saturday at 9 pm. The Charles Schulz episode – which I enjoyed – is rebroadcasting thrice more on the WMHT HD. So check here to see if either is being rebroadcast in your area.


The New Television Season QUESTIONS

1. What new shows are you most looking forward to checking out?

For me, it’s that nighttime soapy-looking Dirty Sexy Money on Wednesday nights on ABC, not because of the premise, but because of the cast: Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland, and Jill Clayburgh.

The show with the most buzz: Pushing Daisies, also on Wednesdays on ABC. Of course, “buzz” doesn’t always equal quality.

What else is on Wednesdays on ABC, anyway? Oh, yeah, the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, Private Practice, which has a buzz too, but not such a good one. I’ll have to watch it at least once, because of the luminescent Audra McDonald, pictured, before I bail; I’ll probably end up watching Bionic Woman on NBC, if anything.

There’s a show on Mondays on the CW (The CW?!) called Aliens in America, about a Pakistani Muslim exchange student, which will either be very good or very bad, but which I’ll at least try. It has reviewed surprisingly well, so far, and it’s got to be better than a show about the Geico Cavemen.

Finally, there’s Back to You,b Wednesday on FOX. It actually started last week, and Ken Levine liked it, though Tom the Dog did not. I’ll have to at least watch the premiere episode

There are probably others – better check my TV listings for the time and channel in my area.

2. What returning shows are you looking forward to seeing?

NBC Thursday night comedies: Earl, Scrubs, The Office. I’ll probably even give 30 Rock another go. Last year I wrote: Watching Tracy Morgan on the second or third episode of 30 Rock doing some jivin’ riff, I said, “I don’t need this,” shut it off in mid-episode, deleted it, deleted the next yet unwatched episode, and removed it from the DVR recording schedule. But I also noted that lots of people whose opinion I respect like it. And it did get some Emmy love.

Oh, and that dysfunctional family – I relate to dysfunctional families – on ABC’s Brothers and Sisters Sunday nights. I’m not saying Sally Field deserved the Emmy more than, say, Edie Falco from The Sopranos, but I like her, I really like her in this show.
Upright Citizens Brigade on DVD, “The Return of America’s Best Sketch Comedy Group”.
Mr. Brown posed his own three TV questions, one of which hit on one of mine: What show will be canceled first? Entertainment Weekly picked Viva Laughlin, a “musical-dramedy”, and I’m thinking it’ll go early, but it’s not even premiering until October 21, by which time that show with the Geico cavemen, I’m hoping, will have bitten the dust.