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Tag Archive: Spin City


night court

More than fifty years ago Newton Minow, the first FCC commissioner, called television a vast wasteland.  The prospect of 500 channels available and nothing to watch was forecast back in the 1970s and today it sometimes seems like it’s a truism more often than not.  But if you get tired of new programming–and make no mistake plenty of great television shows are airing this year–a few recently added channels to your local line-up may remind fans of classic TV why they jumped onboard in the first place.

Three channels: MeTV, COZI TV and LAFF, are a destination for those who just want to pop in now and then for a dose of the past.  Even pay channel Starz has begun broadcasting classic television series.  No doubt much of the programming may not hold up to current audiences.  Clothes, hairstyles, and stale, formulaic half-hour and hour plots may not keep your 21st century attention.  Yet many shows seem to hold up quite well.  As time goes on two of my favorites, Simon & Simon and Magnum, P.I., seem to drift farther and farther away, yet the comedy of Night Court and Cybill remains laugh-out-loud funny.

Simon & Simon

Classic TV gold, like The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, may be a bit much in big doses.  Only a diehard fan would stream these beginning to end.  Yet, try popping in once in a while and it’s like visiting an old friend.  M*A*S*H and The A-Team hold up quite well.  In particular, the formula established by The A-Team, no doubt based on decades of series that came before it, can be found continuing on to this day in series like Leverage and Burn Notice.  Even series like Wonder Woman and Charlie’s Angels can be fun, if you don’t take their 1970s approach to TV too seriously.  And you may find yourself engrossed in Quantum Leap all over again.

So what’s playing, where, and when?

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michael-j-fox-wnbc

What would it take to get me to watch a family-centered network sitcom?  Apparently, Michael J. Fox.

When I previewed the new NBC series The Michael J. Fox Show this May here at borg.com I was worried the show about a “TV personality who left TV when he got Parkinson’s disease and was making a comeback” would be cringeworthy.  Lucky for fans of Fox, the series pilot wasn’t cringeworthy at all, but just plain funny.

If you’re going to be risky, if you’re going to blatantly mirror reality and poke fun at every aspect of what you’re trying to do with a series, from “a very special” appearance on a morning show, to characters laughing out loud at the daily trials of the family of a guy with a disability, to that NBC promo showing the heroic slow motion return of a celebrity named Mike, well you damned well better nail it.  The tight writing and comic timing of the writers for The Michael J. Fox Show as well as Fox himself and a strong supporting cast of fresh new faces accomplished all they needed to: Get the audience to stay around for Episode 2, which aired immediately after the pilot.  Last night’s two half-hour episodes are a case study in the rewards of walking a tightrope and the big payoff you can get from that success with so much at stake.

Fox is back

When Michael J. Fox left Spin City it was a major downer for everyone–beyond our compassion for him as a person for his rough road ahead–it was like the guy was being snuffed out from entertaining us anymore, way too soon, like when Christopher Reeve was injured in his horse riding accident.  Fox, Canada’s number one gift to the world, defines what it means to be loved by audiences.  I don’t think it’s about Family Ties or Spin City so much as that quirky kid Marty McFly in Back to the Future.  We lost Fox to some disease, but now we get him back, and more than just as a guest character on someone else’s show.

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If you haven’t voted yet.  Go do it.  Longer than usual voting lines are expected today.  But who knows long lines better than Comic-Con fans?  Today is your day.  You can show the others how it’s done.  And why not drag your comic book-toting friends along?  Heck, bring along a stack to read.  It’s going to be a long day.

If you’re like me, you get a bit annoyed in the weeks prior to Comic-Con with people trying to hand out tips for your first Comic-Con.  Like we can’t figure it out.  So, in return, here’s a list you can send to your non-comic book-lovin’, non-genre-lovin’, the “who the heck is Buffy the Vampire Slayer voters” you’ll be stuck with all day.  Here’s a modified advice list snatched from lists of advice for first-timers at past San Diego Comic-Cons, a list which seems to apply well to your neighbors who think they know long lines but don’t:  Continue reading

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