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Two Tivos To Paradise 11.03.06
Posted by Al Norton on 11.03.2006

Two Tivos To Paradise

Hello friends! I am back in action, fully rested after a MUCH needed vacation in Florida. While Disney is a regular destination point for Mrs. Tivo and I, this was the first time we had been to the Animal Kingdom, which was fantastic and a must-visit for children of all ages.

Somehow I managed to clear out all my Tivo storage space before we left, which was a first. Then thanks to a marathon couch session this past weekend, I went into Monday night totally caught up, which is why this week's column is the biggest Two Tivos of all time!

Got the chance to read Michael Lewis' new book, The Blind Side, while on vacation and absolutely loved it. I thought it was better than Money Ball, which I also thoroughly enjoyed, if only because there is much more of an emotional connection to the story; there were multiple occasions on the plane where I was laughing out loud, and others where I checked to see if anyone could tell I was misting up a bit. One of the better books I have read in some time, sports or otherwise. Speaking of excellent sports books, the passing of basketball legend Red Auerbach made me go back and reread Let Me Tell You A Story, the book he wrote with John Feinstein several years ago. Anyone with even a passing interest in Red or the NBA should pick up wonderful collection of anecdotes from one of the sharpest and most colorful characters the sports world will ever know.

Don't you think we should get to the news? Time is on my side, yes it is.

You Make Up Your Mind, You Choose The Chance You Take
TV legend Bob Barker announced on Tuesday that he will retire next June after 35 years as host of The Price Is Right and more than 50 years in network television. Barker started in television by hosting Truth Or Consequences for NBC in 1956 but will always be associated with Price, which he has been with since its debut in September of 1972. CBS has run primetime editions of the show the last few summers to celebrate its various milestones, and was working on one to celebrate Barker's five decades in television that will now become an official goodbye next spring.

Who doesn't love The Price Is Right? I make a joke with "plinko" in the punch line at least once a week, and the idea of the winning guess at anything being the one that is "closest without going over" has become ingrained in our culture. There is no question that Barker's fantastic cameo in Happy Gilmore went a long way towards his achieving icon status, although my favorite pop culture reference to the sliver haired fox is when Spike told Glory that Barker was the key. I suppose this is not the time to bring up the sex scandal that rocked the show – former employees accused Barker of sexually harassing them, or to wonder who it is the CBS will get to take over the show after he retires, so let's just congratulate the man for an incredible career in a field where consistency and longevity rarities.

Who's Gonna Tell You When It's Too Late? Who's Gonna Tell You Things Aren't So Great?
Fox has ordered 13 episodes of Drive, an hour long action/drama that creator Tim Minear calls "Magnolia on wheels." A mix of The Amazing Race, The Game, and Cannonball Run, the show focuses on an illegal cross-country race where each competitor has urgent reasons to win. Minear, who wrote for Firefly, Angel, and Wonderfalls, says the tone of the show is "deeply action, deeply funny, and deeply emotional." The pilot, filmed last summer, featured Ivan Sergi, Alan Ruck, and Kristin Lehman, although any/all of the roles may be recast before the show hits the airwaves. Fox has Drive on the fast track, hoping to use the all powerful American Idol to launch the show in the spring.

We've got a writer from Angel, a comparison to Magnolia, and a reference to Cannonball Run – I am sold!!! I read some rave reviews of the pilot on the web last month so I was keeping my eyes out for any more info. I am hoping the plan is to follow the 24 model, with a different race each season, giving them the ability to turn some of the cast over on a regular basis and frequently introduce new stories/characters.

Hold On Till You Feel A Little Stronger, Hold On To Me
Tori Spelling and husband Dean McDermott have a new, currently untitled, reality series debuting on the Oxygen network in the spring of 2007. The couple, who are expecting a baby, will have the cameras follow their every move as they invest all their savings (including Tori's $800,000 inheritance from her late Father's estate) into a wine country bed and breakfast that they will also manage.

I know that Tori Spelling's new reality show is not exactly breaking news, but I have been dying to use that Jamie Walter's song as a headline for a while now. I am still in shock that her rift with her family is so great that she only ended up with $800,000 in Aaron Spelling's will. That's big bucks to you and me but not even a drop in the bucket of the TV legend's riches. So NoTORIus, her short lived VH-1 show that enraged her Mother, was actually kind of funny and she showed a decent sense of comedic timing. I am assuming she is hoping to use this as a stepping stone to get back to real network programming. Otherwise she is a year or two away from the cover of Playboy.

The Road Is Long, With Many A Winding Turn
MTV announced that Road Rules will return to their lineup in 2007. Cancelled in 2004 after a 10 year run, the new version of the show will have a huge interactive component. Six of the show's more infamous former cast members will return for the new season, and here's where it gets a bit tough to follow: at that end of each weekly challenge, the contestants will vote on who the feel are the two weakest members of the team, and viewers will select one of them to compete in a head-to-head competition with a new participant, also chosen by viewers via the MTV web site that will features bio's and video blog's of potential RR'ers. That challenge will appear in an episode shown on Overdrive, MTV's broadband channel, and the winner will be announced on the following week's show. Got all that?

Sure, it's a bit confusing – at least it was for me – but it really is kind of cool in that the audience has a huge say in who they get to see, especially in terms of the new participants. No reality show has ever allowed it's viewers to have such a large say in the casting process, and the week-to-week changes will give the show a fresh feel, as opposed to many such programs where seasons are fully filmed and edited before episode one debuts. Of course I have never watched a full season of Road Rules, so the return of alumni doesn't mean much to me, but I will rely on Two Tivos reader and big RR fan Dennis Ng to get me up to speed.

I'm Wearin' Fur Pajamas, I Ride A Hot Potata'
VH-1 is set to debut a new block of reality programming next year which they have dubbed VH-1's Wild Life. These new shows will all have a music base, and include

-Man Band: former members of Color Me Bad, LFO, N'SYNC, and 98 Degrees live together while they form a new band and record an album.
-ego trip's White Rapper Show: MC Serch and Paul Prince oversee a contest to find America's next great white rapper.
-Bridging The Gap: two established musical artists work together for the first time to create a new song. The first episode features Eve and Queen Latifah.
-Rags To Riches: Celebrities guide the audience through their life story, from humble beginnings to superstar status. Snoop Dog was the focus of the first episode, which has already aired.

My first reaction is to wonder if we really need more shows like this and wouldn't VH-1 be better served actually playing music of some sort, but these shows are cheap to produce, and with the success of their "celeb-reality" programming, I can see the appeal. Of these new ideas, the White Rapper Show is the one that will get the most buzz – the audition montage their first episode is bound to feature has "most viewed" on You Tube written all over it.

Call It What You Want But I Call It Messin' With The Kid
Wednesday was not a good day for fans of Kidnapped; the already cancelled show was pulled from it's new Saturday night time slot for November sweeps, and then later in the day NBC reneged on its r promise to air the 13 episodes necessary to wrap up the storyline, saying that the show will not return to the lineup but the unaired episodes will be available to download at a later date.

So basically NBC lied. The Saturday night ratings were not that bad at all, but they would rather show Law And Order reruns, which is great because just the other day I was remarking to Mrs. Tivo that there just weren't enough Law And Order reruns on TV. But this is not about L & O, this is about NBC getting credit last month for doing the right thing with the show and providing a payoff to the millions of people who invested time in Kidnapped, and then changing their minds for what I imagine will amount to very few actual dollars. And this is also about a very good show not finding its audience. I hope that when the full 13 episodes are released on DVD and/or when Delroy Lindo gets an incredibly well deserved Emmy nomination, more of the general public will realize what they missed out on.

But You Were Up To Your Old Tricks In Chapters Four Five And Six
All you need to know about the Nielsen's…I don't want to say there is a direct cause and effect, but the week I had Brothers And Sisters as my TV pick, there were an additionally 200,00 pairs of eyes that tuned in, and another 600,000 new viewers for last week, although that last number may simply be the rollover from Desperate Housewives getting it's groove back to the tune of 21 million viewers and the # 1 overall spot for the week…Bad news for ER – last week's rerun of the Shark pilot topped the rerunning of their season premier by over 3 million viewers. This means that many more people got to tune in and see what the buzz was about. While ER may end up losing the total viewership battle this season, their lock on the key demos remains strong, while Shark has the oldest average audience for a "hit" show…Help Me Help You continues to surprise the experts by holding its own on ABC…One Tree Hill fans got the message from last week's column as ratings were up this past week…The same can not be said for The Nine, although ABC did just order four more scripts. College football is doing well for ABC on Saturday nights but I wonder if they would have been better used using that slot like the other networks do, giving viewers the chance to get invested in shows they may have missed during the week…Heroes hit for it's highest ratings ever this past Monday, and Friday Night Lights improved on Studio 60's showing the previous week in the same timeslot. Of course FNL was up against a rerun of CSI: Miami, so that has to be factored in, but the truth is that rumors of Studio 60's demise abound. The next step may be giving it a new time slot, like Wednesdays at 8:00…Everybody Hates Chris continues to build on it's numbers, a great sign that people are finally catching on to just how good this show is…It's not a happy time for Veronica Mars fans as the lack of a new Gilmore Girls for a lead-in translated to a pretty major drop in the numbers from last week…ABC was pleased enough with the numbers for What About Brian to order four more scripts…This Just In – while Lost still won the demographic battle, this week's total viewer was won by Criminal Minds…Wednesday's Bones was down only 4% from their last new episode, which was a strong showing considering its been off the air for the last four week.

All The Young Dudes Carry The News
Industry Notes, Pilot Updates, & Casting News…Rob Lowe is joining the already impressive cast of Brothers And Sisters as a new love interest for Calista Flockhart…USA is going all out for their upcoming To Live And Love In LA; Shiri Appleby and Tim Matheson were previously cast as the leads and now are joined by Frances Fisher and Ivan Sergi…Great year for character actors; first David Morse signs on for six episodes of House, Bill Duke shows up as a prison warden on Lost, and now Powers Boothe has been elected the new Vice President on the upcoming season of 24. It's doubtful but I am hoping he will get a scene or two with James Cromwell, who will be playing Jack Bauer's Dad…Clay Aiken will perform a private concert for Patch And Kayla during November Sweeps on Days Of Our Lives. What, Chris De burgh was busy? Am I the only one who remembers that Lady In Red was their song?!?!...Bryan Cranston's guest spot as Ted's boss on How I Met Your Mother has been turned into a recurring role…Your weekly Everwood update Part One – Tom Amendes guest stars on the November 24th episode of Numb3rs…Part Two – Everwood creator and current Brothers And Sisters show runner Greg Berlanti has teamed up with writer (and former attorney) Marc Guggenheim (The Practice) for an ABC drama pilot titled Eli Stone, about a lawyer who discovers he may be a prophet…Saturday marks the start of filming for the Comedy Central pilot, Not Another High School Show, which as the title implies, is a spoof of shows like 90210, The OC, and Buffy. The case is mostly unknowns to give it a more realistic feel…

Well Now, Home Entertainment Was My Baby's Wish, So I Hopped Into Town For A Satellite Dish
Quick thoughts on the new fall shows…Not making Yonk a total jerk is one of the things I like about The Class. He is the third wheel in a love triangle going on and is not the one you are rooting for; usually shows make this character totally unsympathetic but here they have given him some heart. Yes, he is an ass, but he really does love his wife. Having David Keith play the part helps, but it's the little things like this that make it stand out, although so far they have not followed suit with Sara Gilbert's character. I did love the FDR Halloween costume!...This past week's Studio 60 was all that is great about the show while at the same time validating some of the criticism lobbed at Aaron Sorkin. Amanda Peet trying to make friends and Steven Weber picking a fight, both while their characters were drunk, were great examples of the spectacular dialogue he writes, and having the older, middle-American couple be so uncultured as to have never heard of Abbot & Costello (and Who's On First) was a prime example of the stereotyping he can engage in as well. Its one thing to aim your show at a highbrow audience and it's another to openly insult those who you don't feel fall into that demographic…Is there any doubt that Heroes is fast becoming the most exhilarating show on TV? It doesn't have the character depth of Lost, or the gritty, powerhouse acting of Battlestar Galactica, but it more than makes up for it with sheer enthusiasm. Am I the only one who thinks the Cheerleader's Dad is not evil? He may work for the government in some fashion, but his reaction to hearing about Hiro's power told me that he is not the villain of this story…Jericho did well by introducing a new villain/storyline to the mix – now viewers have someone to root against on a smaller scale, as opposed to the yet-to-be-named country that started a nuclear war with the US…Caught two pretty good episodes of Justice, both standing out as they were civil cases instead of the murder trials that were the focus of the pre-playoffs portion of the season. Two Tivos regular Chuck Silverston informed me that I missed an episode while away where the boys at TNT & G finally lost a case, which is a smart move as it keeps things from becoming too predictable…Mrs. Tivo has taken to watching a VH-1 show called Celebrity Paranormal Project that she says is pretty bad but still added to our season pass…

People Say I'm Crazy Doing What I'm Doing. Well, They Give Me All Kinds Of Warnings To Save Me From Ruin
What's flashed before my eyes the last seven, I mean 14 days…Some of this may be confusing as I have watched two weeks of shows over the last few days, but last week's Veronica Mars was far and away the best episode of the season. The dinner with Keith, Veronica, and Logan was fantastic, and Laura San Giacomo's entrance – "remember me?" - was well done…Andy Richter made another great appearance on a very funny New Adventures Of Old Christine this past week. The show isn't breaking any new ground but that doesn't make it any less funny…Best Week Ever is always among the highlights of my weekend TV viewing, and it was how I got introduced to Criss Angel last year, too. Mrs. Tivo does not understand its appeal to me but I catch her smiling more than a few times while I watch….The return of House did not disappoint, although I am betting that most of the audience looks at David Morse's character as a villain where as I view him as a much needed antidote to the more-harsh-than-usual Dr House. I look forward to seeing where they go with the arrest as Morse is signed for five more episodes…Speaking of the crabby Doctor, how could Hugh Laurie host SNL last week and there be no House sketch?!?!...Wow, the climax of the big murder case on Boston Legal really creeped me out, but I am guessing that was the point when they had a mother and son making out. Speaking of BL, the joke about Denny Crane looking down to discover his midget girlfriend standing there never, ever gets old…Two different shows (Desperate Housewives & One Tree Hill) celebrated the spooky holiday by having characters fall through a bedroom window onto the house's front lawn, only to disappear moments later, a cute homage to the horror classic Halloween…Not sure about this past week's Lost just yet – usually takes me a full 24 hours to process everything - but I do know Eko will be missed, and I am really excited for next Wednesday…

TV Pick Of The Week
At this point anyone with even a passing interest in pop culture has heard all about the gay slur and resulting fight that took place on the Grey's Anatomy set a few weeks back. Everything appears to have been smoothed over now, but this week is the chance to see what started it all; the cast chalked the brouhaha up to a overflow of testosterone caused by all the male leads spending too much time together while filming an episode the features them on a camping trip, an episode that airs Thursday on ABC. Keep a close eye out and see if you can see and tension beneath the surface!

Honorable TV Pick Of The Week mention goes to tonight's episode of Law And Order featuring guest star Chevy Chase as a Hollywood executive who goes on an anti-Semitic rant when pulled over for drunk driving by the cops. All real life similarities end there as further inspection of the car finds a dead body in the trunk. Nobody rips from the headlines like Dick Wolf.

Since we are in November Sweeps, there are more TV highlights than usual, so here a several more "must-see" selections for the next seven days:

-The Simpsons annual Tree House Of Horror Halloween special on Sunday, featuring the voices of Richard Lewis and Dr Phil.

-John Goodman making a guest spot on the first of a two-part Studio 60. The last Goodman appearance of note was on Sorkin's The West Wing, so hopes are high that this role as a small-town judge won't stoop to the geography/intelligence baiting excess that can sometimes mar an otherwise high quality program.

-The last new Lost episode until February on Wednesday promises to ask more questions than it answers, and true fans wouldn't want it any other way.

Two Tivos To Paradise, Weekly Update
30 Days, The 4400, The Apprentice, Battlestar Galactica, Best Week Ever, Big Love, Bones, Boston Legal, Brothers And Sisters, The Class, Criss Angel Mindfreak, Curb your Enthusiasm, The Dead Zone, Desperate Housewives, Entourage, Extras, Eureka, Everybody Hates Chris, Fast Inc, Ghost Hunters, Grey's Anatomy, Hex, Heroes, The Hills, House, How I Met Your Mother, Jericho, King Of Cars, Laguna Beach, Last Comic Standing, Law And Order, Law And Order: Criminal Intent, Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, Life On Mars, Lost, Medium, My Name Is Earl, The New Adventures Of Old Christine, The Nine, Nip/Tuck, The Office, One Tree Hill, Project Runway, Psych, Real Sports, Real Time With Bill Maher, Rescue Me, Saturday Night Live, Scrubs, Shark, The Sopranos, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, Supernatural, Two-A-Days, Top Chef, Ugly Betty, Veronica Mars.

Additions : Celebrity Paranormal Project
Deletions : Kidnapped

Here ends another edition of Two Tivos To Paradise. Hope you are all settled in on the couch with your Halloween booty, ready to enjoy one of the best TV times of the year; I live for Sweeps! See You Real Soon!


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