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July 8, 2003


The Fourth of July weekend

The Fourth of July weekend gave me a chance to catch up on some TV-watching. Did you see Dolly Parton? In that Uncle Sam outfit? Jeesus. I haven't seen patriotism like that since the July 1985 cover of Playboy.

But, apart from Dolly, there was some other stuff worth mentioning:

  • TV Land was having a cross-over episode marathon. Before Angel ever jumped networks to visit Buffy, the Love Boat would head to Fantasy Island, or Arnold and Willis would head over to the Facts of Life. These episodes were some of my favorite moments growing up, so it was great to see TV Land giving them their due the other night. I caught two shows: Mork visits Happy Days, and -- this is incredible -- Charlie's Angels visits the Love Boat. I had seen the Mork one before, but the CA thing was new to me.

    The Happy Days episode features Mork back when Robin Williams was funny (February 1978). He comes to kidnap Richie because Richie is so average and the Orkians can't figure out humans. Classic set-up, right? Richie tries to get the Fonze to help him, and what follows is one of the greatest Man vs. Alien duels in history. What happens when Mork's finger squares off against Fonzie's thumb? I don't want to spoil it, and it kind of speaks to the idea that power comes from being cool, which is sort of the whole premise of Happy Days.

    Also, purists will point out that the episode isn't technically a cross-over, since Mork & Mindy hadn't actually started yet, but still.

    The Love Boat/Charlie's Angels episode begins as normal show, albeit a somewhat elaborate one: the prologue involves an armed car heist in which a Tom-Jones-lookalike carries the truck away in a helicopter and then smashes it open by dropping it to the ground from a great height. This is all shown on camera, so they didn't skimp. You start getting the idea you're in for something special, though, when Charlie reports that Kate Jackson is off getting pregnant and there's going to be a new angel. The script builds suspense for both the audience and the Angels by making it appear that the new Angel is a stereotypical dumb blonde. But then, in walks...Cheryl Tiegs. She went to the police academy in Boston! She speaks Latin! She has esoteric knowledge! Everyone is relieved, and they get to solving the caper. But, as Charlie explains, the biggest twist is yet to come: the robbers are fleeing to Puerto Vallarta or some place ON THE LOVE BOAT. Great! So the Angels head off to the Love Boat, and sure enough, there's Captain Stubing, and Julie ("I'll be your cruise director") Cruise Director, and Gopher and Isaac and all your favorites. It doesn't take long for Cheryl Ladd to get the inside scoop by seducing the Tom Jones-lookalike in her skimpy bikini, and pretty soon, there's brawls and chases and drawn guns. Great TV. I thought the Angels were pretty when I was younger (except Kate Jackson), but I missed how hot they were. That bikini. Man.

  • Later that night: Monk. I watched this show a couple times last year and was disappointed. Tony Shalhoub was good in it, but the writing was clumsy and obvious, so I stopped watching. The other night, though, there was this episode that takes place almost entirely on a commercial airliner. If you were a pretentious theater person, this is what you would call a box drama. And then you would sip your martini and adjust your beret trucker hat beret. Here's the setup: Monk thinks the guy sitting across the aisle from him murdered his wife. He deduces this through a string of observations of seemingly trivial things: inconsistencies in what the man says, debris on his shoes, and strange conversation with an old friend of the man's. But -- and here's what makes the show work -- because Monk is obsessive-compulsive and afraid of flying, he drives everyone around him crazy, especially the flight attendants, whom he needs to help him. So, we see Monk use all his detective skills while trapped in one of the worst situations imaginable for him. David Mamet, eat your heart out! The show was extremely tightly written -- little motifs show up again at exactly the right moment, to great effect, and the supporting cast was equal parts menacing and charming. Maybe that show has finally hit its stride?

  • Later that night, I saw an ad for a new show on FX called "Nip/Tuck". Have you heard of this? It's about an obsessive plastic surgeon who turns violent, apparently. It's the strangest premise for a non-reality show I've seen in some time...it's like American Psycho meets Chicago Hope. I'll be interested to see what happens when the show actually airs, but I feel queasy already.

posted by adm at 4:22 PM | #


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