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Sitcoms: Still an Alien Concept for ABC

September 7, 2012

On September 26th, ABC will roll out its newest addition to its Wednesday night line up, “The Neighbors.” The show will first premier right after “Modern Family,” at 9:30PM, and then shift over to its permanent home after “The Middle” at 830PM. It’s an important premier for ABC, because with the network’s current Wednesday night line up of “The Middle,” “Suburgatory,” and “Modern Family,” they’re only one half hour away from accomplishing something that has only been achieved once before. In fact, the marketing slogans have probably already been flushed out behind closed-door strategy meetings,

“How about, ‘hilarious Hump Day?’ or ‘Really Witty Wednesday?'” 

because, if “The Neighbors” is successful, a “Must See” night of sitcoms won’t just belong to The Peacock.

1984 was when NBC first got their magical ingredients right, combining “The Cosby Show,” “Family Ties,” “Cheers,” and “Night Court” into one entire “No Flipping” 8-10PM Thursday night block of television. Since that time, NBC’s “Must see TV” line up has not lost much. It’s wave of funny has safely surfed hits like “Wings,” “Seinfeld,” “Friends,”Will & Grace,” and “Scrubs” to lucrative syndicated successes. Today, the sitcom portion of NBC’s Thursday night, which is currently “30 Rock,” “The Office,” “Up All Night,” and “Parks and Rec,” remains as highly viewed for the network as ever (compensating for cable disbursement, of course).

So, now it’s time for us to “Meet the Neighbors” on ABC, an occasion that the alphabet network hopes will solidify their very own “Gotta Watch All Four Shows” night of television. So, will this be the one that does it? Will it be able to complete the full two hours, something that “Happy Endings” and “Don’t Trust the ‘B’ in Apartment 23” fell just short of, forever banished to Tuesday nights. The quick answer is, YES! It is more than likely that “The Neighbors” will achieve the minimum required success that ABC needs to fulfill its Wednesday night line up and hit syndication. Unfortunately, according to TV history, its success will be short-lived. Approximately four seasons to be exact. 100 episodes. Of course, some will offer opinions that say it will have less success and some will say it will have more, but if Las Vegas were to put a line on the lifespan of “The Neightbors,” that line would be 4.

The show is funny enough. A group of aliens comes to Earth and purchases an entire gated neighborhood subdivision, allowing for their alien day-to-day lives to remain private. It’s a living situation that seems to adequately secure their secrets until one of the alien families decides to go back to their home planet, leaving one of the units available for sale. Instead of pooling monies together and buying up the property themselves, however, the aliens throw up their hands (or tentacles) and leave their fate up to the market. Enter “The Neighbors.” The rest of the pilot episode is then made up, almost entirely, of the same joke that goes something like this,

When one of the human neighbors notices green stuff pouring out of one of the alien neighbor’s ears, the alien replies, “This is how I cry. You should have seen me when I was pregnant.”

The show’s got enough of the sitcom staples, there is a slob husband with a way too attractive wife, an ingredient that first proved to work in “The Honeymooners.” There is also the snarky adolescent, which has yielded duplicated success time and time again since 1989 gave us “The Simpsons.” But, the most obvious, and tellingly familiar theme that this show boasts is the, “fish out of water” story of an alien trying to secretly exist in suburban America. This theme is why Las Vegas would know that this show will get exactly four seasons.

In 1963, CBS started the trend with
“My Favorite Martian,” starring Ray
Walston and Bill Bixby. It lasted
107 episodes.

In 1978, ABC ran an alien show from a fictional
planet called Ork. “Mork and Mindy” starred
Robin Williams and Pam Dawber. It made
it just 95 episodes

ALF landed on NBC in 1986. This time
the alien who lived among us was played by
a puppet. He lived on cats, but couldn’t ever
catch one. He only survived 102 episodes.

“Out of This World” premiered in 1987 on NBC, and was
basically “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” except she was alien.
Maureen Flannigan starred in 93 episodes before
it was cancelled.

Then came 1996’s “3rd Rock From the Sun,” the
concept that is most like “The Neighbors,” about a
whole family of aliens trying to pretend to be like us.
With the star power of John Lithgow, French Stewart,
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jane Curtin, this show saw two
more seasons than all its predecessors. It ended at 139 episodes.

The humor in ABC’s quirky alien family reboot will be familiar to you. You know, It’s funny because they’re like us and it’s funny because they’re not like us. It’s pretty much all Hollywood has figured out how to do with aliens with a laugh track behind them.  Of course, if you’re an alien and you don’t have a laugh track, then you’re necessarily a full hour long, and either hunting humans or being hunted by them. Either way, I give “The Neighbors” three episodes until one of the characters  tries to have a conversation with an inanimate object like a mannequin or a gas pump.

As predictable as the jokes and the lifespan of “The Neighbors” is, it’s worth a look.  Lord knows this futuristic alien family will have more success than the network’s more archaic (and fairly racist) sitcom attempt back in 2007.

Evil Daddy

June 4, 2012

I’m forty years old, and do you know that I never once utilized facial hair till last week?  I did try not shaving one summer back in my early twenties, but it was not attractive.  Nothing was growing evenly, and that area under my lips failed to create the cool little upside down Eddie Munster hair line that tends to give the beard that clear and distinguished look. 

The thing that made me give bearding another try was the birth of my son.  Well, technically it was the two weeks that I took off from work to be with him and my wife, mixed with the exhaustive nature of that time, that incited the reemergence of thick, patterned hair on my face. When I finally did grab a razor, all I had the energy for was shaving the front and back of my neck, so by the second weekend, I clearly had a scruffy beard thing happening. 

It wasn’t until Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, that I had finally begun contemplating a good, clean shave.  That, however, was also the day that my son’s heart rate shot up, checking into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at over 250 beats per minute.  A condition called SVT had triggered in him, which essentially meant that his heart came equipped with an extra electrical pathway that decided to fire up and begin intercepting the right ventricle’s impulses to the atria, shooting them right back up, which doubled his heart rate.

The next five days were not fun for any of us.  My son, who was born full term, now laid in the PICU looking like a preemie. Wires and tubes were stuck to and in his skin. Hoses flowed oxygen into his tiny nostrils, and instead of lovingly watching my son, I found myself nervously watching a heart monitor, while praying that each drug they shot down his throat would drop his little thumper back into a normal range (110-160 BPM).   In spite of some of the phrases that the cardiologist used like, “You have a very stubborn child,” and “There’s no book on this, we’re just making it up as we go,” we received great care at the hospital, especially from our daytime RN, Catherine.  If there was any blessing that came from that whole experience, it was her. 

I struggled, watching my son cry from all the discomforts that were forced on him, listening to him scream with unrecognizable sounds as the doctors and nurses shot electricity through his tiny body, and methodically pulled incredibly adhesive tapes from his brand new skin. I saw a bewildered lack of understanding in his eyes when he stared at me in the times that were calm.  Many of the doctors and nurses were quick to remind us that our baby “won’t remember any of this,” which seemed to help them justify doing any and every procedure, regardless of the pain that it would incur.  However, since I wasn’t sleeping at night anyway, I didn’t require these excuses.  I was free to wonder what was going on behind those little eyes as he stared at me. He was already jolting in his sleep, his little arms shooting straight up and his back tightly stiffening every time he went down for a nap.  Obviously, he was reacting to the things that were going on in his dreams.  He was clearly capable of remembering.  In those memories, was he also attaching my face to these experiences? 

The mind has shown amazing ability to repress life’s early and most traumatic events, but it has also shown remarkable abilities to associate visual cues with instinctive fear.  These images are kept in some base area of the brain, a place that only extensive therapy or a mirrored  traumatic event has ever been able to uncover.  On the second day in the PICU, when I went home to fetch some fresh clothes and feed the dogs, I also took a shower. As I dried off, I looked myself long and hard in the mirror.  I picked up the razor, and began to sculpt my face. 

That Was Evil Daddy

In every TV show I ever watched, evil characters donned facial hair and the most common mark of a bad guy was a goatee.  Whenever there was an evil twin or alternate version, he always wore a goatee.  Evil Michael Knight from “Night Rider” — goatee; Evil Spock from Start Trek — Goatee; Evil Tiger Woods from the PGA — goatee.  And, so it would be for my son.  Whenever he stared at me during this time, I would not let his repressed memories attach the real me to these awful experiences.  I would force his subconscious to remember that these things were done by an Evil Daddy.   Surely, so many campy television shows and movies would back up this theory if the memories ever came closer to the surface.

My son has been home for a week now.  He’s on the right cocktail of medicines that will keep the SVT from resetting, and will be on them for at least a year untill he outgrows the condition or undergoes one more procedure to fix it for good.  Evil Daddy did come back to the house for a while. During that time, he continued to regularly tick off  the boy with his attempts to find a method of getting the medicines down his throat that was not irritating or distressing.  Once that was accomplished, however, it was time.  I took Evil Daddy into the bathroom, and showed him a fresh, sharp razor that I had specifically selected the day before. I stared at him, momentarily remembering the awful things he had done to my son, and I cringed.  Then, I pushed those thoughts out of my head, and focused on what had to be done.  I looked him in the eye, and without another moment of hesitation… I killed him.

The Jimmy Effect

May 9, 2012

My name is James, but only a handful of people have ever called me that, mainly because my parents just always called me Jimmy.  In fact, the entire first half of my life, I was only ever introduced as Jimmy. At some point in high school, some friends started shortening my name to Jim, but I’ve still really always preferred Jimmy. There’s something about the sound of that version of my name that simply appeals best to my ears. That being said, there is almost no one left in my life who still calls me Jimmy. These days, I’m just Jim, mainly because that’s the way I introduce myself. Even when people ask, “Do you prefer Jimmy or Jim?” I tell them “Jim.”

Then, about ten years ago, I began thinking about my old Jimmy self.  Why did I let myself become a Jim?  At the time, I think that I thought that Jim just sounded cooler, more grown up.  But, did that mean that Jimmy sounded uncool and childish? As this quandary rambled through my mind over the course of many years, I began to notice and collect a veritable mound of evidence that led to a theory suggesting the answer to that question may very well be, yes.

Now, after years of research, I am ready to present my shocking theory that Hollywood itself has gone out of its way to attempt to bastardize the name Jimmy using a series of character portrayals that spans decades. I realized that my theory needed be positioned in front of someone who was on the inside before I released it to the world, and since I don’t personally know any celebrities, I once called in to Dennis Miller’s radio show to have him toss my theory around in his head, maybe do some digging, but he quickly dismissed my hypothesis saying,

“Aaahh, I think it’s just a trend that carries over from mob movies.  You know where it’s always ‘Jimmy Bones’ or ‘Jimmy the Wiesel.’  I mean, I see where you’re going with this, but I think you’re making too big a thing out of it.  Lighten up, Jimmy boy!”

But, if Dennis had taken a moment to dip even an inch into the rabbit hole with me, he would have immediately realized how deep this sucker goes, because there are almost no characters named Jimmy, in movies or TV, that aren’t stereotyped into one of two single dimension personality traits: complete arrogance or absolute simplicity.

Of course I understand that on the surface, this all comes across as far-fetched to suggest that an industry that owes such a debt of gratitude to so many famous Jimmys over the years, would be simultaneously trying to pull off such a scheme, but the evidence speaks for itself.  What follows are just the top ten of the most damaging Hollywood characters to the name Jimmy (and in consideration of Mr. Miller’s point, I didn’t include any that were mob related).

Karate Kid (’84) – Jimmy was the best friend of the main protagonist, Johnny Lawerence

Quantum Leap Episode 17 (’89) – In “Jimmy,” the named character is mentally retarded. Jimmy and Timmy are two of most popular Hollywood names for portraying this condition.

Road House (’89) – Jimmy was the right hand man for the evil competing bar owner. He blew up Patrick Swayze’s house.

A League of Their Own (’92) – Played by Tom Hanks, Jimmy is likable onscreen, but to the other characters, he’s a complete prick and a drunk.

Seinfeld Episode 105 (’95) – In “The Jimmy,” the named character was so cocky that he referred to himself in the first person.

Independence Day (’96) – Played by Harry Connick Jr., Jimmy was the simple-minded comic relief who “tried somethin’ crazy” and got blown up by the aliens.

That Thing You Do (’96) – The lead of the Beatles-like boy band, Jimmy was the cocky boyfriend that you hoped Liv Tyler would finally dump.

The Spanish Prisoner (’97) – Played by Steve Martin, Jimmy is the early friendship made by the main character. Because his name was Jimmy, the entire plot line was ruined for me since I immediately knew he had to be a bad guy.

Yes, Dear – (’00 – ’06) – Granted, no names win out in a sitcom, but on “Yes, Dear,” Jimmy was the slobbish idiot security guard.

Superman (’40 – current) – Jimmy Olsen, the notoriously child like photographer for the Daily Planet, who in every version is always in the dark.

If you’re like most, your mind is whirling with an example or two that disprove my theory, and I absolutely welcome them with the following clarifications.  This phenomena does not exist in real people named Jimmy, only characters. It also does not apply to characters who are named James or Jim.  In movies, a Jim is a stud.  Jim is a hero.  Hollywood loves a Jim!  In addition, the music industry has a crush on both Jim and Jimmy.

So, who was it?  Who was the Jimmy that offended Hollywood so severely? Or am I over thinking it as Dennis Miller suggested?  Could it just be a complete lack of creativity by all screen writers, that they can’t come up with an original name for their simpleton character or their bad guy?  More importantly, can it be reversed?  I hope so, because I miss Jimmy.

Akismet May Call it SPAM, but I Call it Traffic

April 16, 2012

This One is For My Readers:

As some of my blog entries have received a bit of readership, I’ve begun to notice WordPress’s “Akistmet” spam blocker is grabbing up some of my comments.  Although, I have transferred most of these into a “permanently delete” file for safe keeping, I was so tickled to get any comments at all, I read each one of these clearly personal addresses.

It’s true, I typically did not let these “SPAM” comments through to their respective pages, but my appreciation for them is real, and I think each one is absolutely great, even if the translation software the authors used to write them was not.  This entry is in tribute and response to a few of my favorites.

In response to  Happy National Sourbread Day, No Hands SEO Sale wrote: “I feel this is among the such a lot significant info for me. And i am satisfied studying your article. But should remark on some general issues, The site style is wonderful, the articles is in reality excellent : D. Good job, cheers”

No Hands SEO Sale, I am happy that my take on sourbread was such a lot significant for you, and although your general issues of criticsm were a harsh and unexpected deviation from the first part of your comment, I feel they’ll help me focus more on honing my words to capture my thoughts.  Thank you.

In response to Happy Bagels and Lox Day, Jeffery Howman wrote: “I like this web site very much, Its a really nice billet to read and find info. “Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live.” by Henry Van Dyke”.

Jeff, I was so appreciative and touched of your comment that I actually posted it, after looking up the word billet.  Although the intent of the blog was not to lodge soldiers, I am a big fan of my country’s troops, and certainly do hope they are all very comfortable here.

In response to Half Ass Cinnamon Crescent Rolls, Darin Harden wrote:  “hi!,I like your writing very so much! proportion we keep up a correspondence more about your article on AOL? I need a specialist on this area to unravel my problem. May be that’s you! Having a look forward to peer you.”

Oh Darin, I’m sorry! I don’t have an AOL account, but I definitely understand needing an expert to consult with on cinnamon crescent rolls, and would be happy to do what I can.  Maybe I will peer you as well.

In response to Happy National Empanada Day, Printabale Tampax Coupons wrote: Is it only me or does it seem like a few of the responses come across like they are coming from brain dead people? :-P

Printable Tampax Coupons, what’s made you so grumpy towards the other comments? You weren’t acting this way earlier in the month.  It’s like your mood changed over night.

In response to Happy National Cheese Fondue Day, Pillsforall Information wrote: “Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice at the same time as you amend your web site, how could i subscribe for a weblog site? The account aided me a applicable deal. I were tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered vivid clear concept”

No, Pillsforall Information, you’re an excellent beat!  But you really don’t need to apprentice me.  The WordPress applications are pretty simple.  If I can do it anyone can.  If you are going to start a blog, however, I would recommend beginning writing in your own native language.

In response to Happy National Peach Cobbler Day, e Cigarette wrote: “A lot of ecigs are meant to are like genuine cigarette smoking implements, including cigs, pipes, or maybe water lines, but the majority of carry the way of ballpoint dog pens or maybe screwdrivers due to the fact the ones models will be more handy to deal with your parts included.”

e Cigarette, thank you so very much! You’re comment has meant the most to me of all of them, and I couldn’t agree more about ecigs that carry the way of ballpoint dog pens.  Finally someone has the nerve to get out there and say it!

Finally, a quick and very special shout out to Sexdating, Rank 1 on Search Engine and What is the Treatment for Lymphoma!  You guys are great.  Please keep checking in and putting up the comments! 

My 10 Favorite Articles of Trash

April 3, 2012

Storage Wars


Pawn Stars

With shows like Storage Wars, Pawn Stars, Trash Pickers and Hoarders, cable television networks have made a lot of money creating a new spectrum of psychosis. On one end of the spectrum sits the “avid collector,” on the other, wallowing in his own filth, is the pitiable “hoarder.” Before the invention of this new A&Eism, “hoarders” were likely lumped in with the collectors, only inside a sub-classification like “eccentric.”   The shows can be immensely addictive, either because of the boastful pride that coincides with learning new and interesting facts, or from the relief that attaches itself to the realization, “Maybe I’m not as screwed up as I thought!”  Watching these shows has actually caused me to reassess my own accumulations from over the decades, analyzing their worth, function, and the severity of the emotion that influences my decisions to keep them.  To that end, my house is now arranged into a 4-classification system that I use to determine an item’s place and necessity in my home.  They are:

Functional – items that may perform a necessary function in the immediate future (i.e. tools, clothes, toys)

Sentimental – items I have attached a reasonable emotional value to that can not be achieved with another item (i.e. personal gifts, photos)

Collectible – things that are intrinsically valuable, whether it be aesthetic or monetary (i.e. figurines, air looms, coins)

Trash – everything else

After mentally rearranging everything into its proper category, it came time to begin the ugly process of ridding myself of everything that was in the “trash.”  After all, the ability to actually get rid of it is the defining skill that “hoarders” seem to lack.  Except for the garage (that’s definitely a real problem in there!), there really wasn’t much left in the “trash” category, just a few things… Well, ten things to be precise.  Ten things I just can’t seem to get rid of!

10) Flourescent Light Bulbs:  I’m not holding on to them because I like them, I just can’t throw them away because of the stupid mercury inside.  I also can’t seem to organize the effort to collect them all together in my car to drive them down to a hazard waste center.

9) Various Cables and Chargers:  This box contains the accessories that came with many past cell phones, computers, cable/stereo hookups and the like.  My retaining them is a bona-fide disorder.  But what if I need one of them one day?
8) Ticket Stubs:  These date back to 1989.  I don’t know how I know that, because I never look at them.  How they keep fitting into this tiny cube I have no idea. In my head, I think I’ve always considered them between “sentimental” and “collectible,” but I know they’re really trash. Fortunately they take up almost no room, so I don’t think I have to deal with them today.

7) VHS/Audio Tapes:  Almost every single one of these VHS tapes is available on DVD. The only one that I should possibly even justify is “The Little Mermaid” because it’s one of the ones with the recalled dirty cover.  Even that’s a tough sell, though, because I can buy it today on Ebay for less than $20.  The audio tapes, I actually am throwing away, only I have to listen to each one all the way through first.  Well, there might be something important somewhere on one of them!  It’s an especially slow process because my only tape player is in my ’98 Tahoe, which I can’t afford to drive with today’s gas prices.

6) Mardi Gras beads:  They’re not even Mardi Gras beads anymore because every local parade throws them off of their floats.  We all bring them home and none of us ever does anything with them. You know how I know that no one is even throwing them away?  Because if they were, we’d be hearing about all the birds and dolphins getting tangled up in them.

5) Crown Royal Bags:  They’ve got themselves a marketing gimmick, boy! Don’t they?  Sure, on the rarest of occasions, I’ve found things to keep in them. At one point I was even using them as golf club covers till I realized how much like a dirt bag drunk I looked.  Still, anytime I buy Crown Royal, I keep the bag, regardless of how many I already have stored.

4) Playboys: I haven’t had a subscription to Playboy since 2003, but still I have all these magazines!  This is another item that has hidden itself inside the “collectible” category since they are issues containing celebrities.  Of course, by celebrities I mean people like Pamela Anderson, Cindy Crawford, and Belinda Carlyle.  I think each issue is valued at half the cover price.

3) Elvira’s Night Brew Beer: I don’t even know how I acquired this “sentiment.”  It’s an arguable collectible.  There is a moron on Ebay who’s trying to sell an empty six-pack of it for $1K, but I don’t think I could get $10 for my bottle.  I’m basically just waiting for someone to bang into the shelf it’s on, at which point I’ll clean it up off the floor and throw it away.

2) Plaza Hotel Football Beer Cup:  This thing is awesome, or at least, it was awesome.  The giant football beer cup is from one of the most filmed casinos in all of Las Vegas, and has not served a purpose for me since that day, almost a decade ago, when I finished the beer.

1) My iPod’s Case: As great as Crown Royal’s marketing is with their little purple bags, Apple is ten times their superior.  I got my iPod over a year ago (I won it in a Sobe “Under the cap” game), and this stupid box now sits on a shelf like some kind of trophy.  I don’t use it to house my iPod.  I don’t use it to house anything. I mean, look at it! It can’t possibly serve another purpose, yet I still have it.  It’s not like I’m some Apple crazed guy, either. I don’t even have an iPhone.  Just amazing.

There they are, the ten things I just can’t seem to get rid of. Well, except for the audio tapes. I’m throwing them away at a pace of about one every three months.  Thanks A&E for pointing out this sickness that’s been manifesting in my head.  Jerks!

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