Sponsored by:
Green Bay Press-Gazette

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Reliving past pain and getting depressed is what Thanksgiving is all about."

Nothing says Thanksgiving like turkey, family and "Friends."

That's right, haters of the popular late 90s sitcom (God, was it seriously the 90s? I feel so old), although many worthy shows tried, no other show captured the spirit of this particular holiday year after year. In fact, there was a time -- and that time is still now -- where all our expectations of Turkey-day were based on various "Friends" Thanksgiving episodes. If someone doesn't accidentally make a beef 'n onions trifle tomorrow or fight over the Geller Cup, we're going to be a little disappointed.

Channel Surfing bloggers Malavika Jagannathan and Sara Boyd reminisce fondly about their top five "Friends" Thanksgiving moments.

"The One With Chandler in a Box"

Plot: Angry that Chandler kissed his girlfriend Kathy, Joey agrees to be less mad if Chandler spends all of Thanksgiving Day in a box. Wacky premise aside, it's kind of awesome and I've always wanted to inflict this punishment on someone.

Side-plots: Everyone ends up doing Secret Santa that turns into a mushy, sentimental side-plot about Ross and Rachel (that I generally ignore) in which Rachel proves she doesn't always exchange gifts by showing him all the things she'd kept from their relationship. Monica injures her eye, but doesn't want to see optometrist ex-boyfriend Magnum... er... Richard (Tom Selleck), so she sees the on-call doctor instead. Turns out he's "Alias"-hottie Michael Vartan, who is oddly enough Richard's son! (Seriously, this is the show's weirdest premise. There's no fricking way Tom Selleck has a kid that's as hot as Michael Vartan). However, it does spawn some of the episode's best lines.

Best lines
Ross: Hey, you know, Mon, if things work out with you and Richard's son, you'll be able to tell your kids that you slept with their grandfather.
Monica: Fine, judge all you want to, but... Married a lesbian; Left a man at the altar; Fell in love with a gay ice dancer; Threw a girl's wooden leg in the fire; Livin' in a box!

"The One With The Rumor"

Plot: Monica invites an old high school friend Will Colbert (Brad Pitt before Jolie-r times) for Thanksgiving, without realizing that he still loathes Rachel for taunting him in high school for his weight. The former fattie, now svelte and attractive, catches Rachel's eye, but she's still blissfully ignorant of who he actually is. At dinner, Will reveals that he and Ross formed the "I Hate Rachel Green Club" in high school and spread a rumor that Rachel was a hermaphrodite. Rachel is incredibly upset, but then is reminded that she was equally vicious when she spread the news that Ross made out with the 50-year-old librarian. (Miss Altman also made out with the exchange student from Thailand who was also in the "I Hate Rachel Green" club.)

Side-plot: Monica announces she won't be making a turkey because there aren't enough folks who want to eat it. Joey convinces her to make it anyway, swearing that he'll finish it himself. He comes in wearing Phoebe's maternity pants, now the "Thanksgiving pants" and does it. The End.

Fun fact: Chandler is pretending to watch a Thanksgiving game between the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers and Phoebe claims an affection for Green Bay because "it’s only like my favorite bay." Chandler yells, "Anderson just scored again" at one point to convince Monica he is actually invested in the game, then says there's no one by that name to Phoebe. Actually, both the Packers and the Lions had players with the last name Anderson -- Wide receiver Scotty Anderson for the Lions and safety Marques Anderson for the Pack in that season.

Best Lines
Phoebe: Well the Lions technically won, but it was a moral victory for the Green Bay… Mermen. (Fact-check: The Packers beat the Lions 29-27... oddly enough the Lions had zero wins that season going into the game) Also, the Mermen = way better name.

Will: Look at her standing there will those yams. My two greatest enemies, Ross. Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates.

Will: That's right. We said your parents flipped a coin, decided to raise you as a girl, but you still had a hint of a penis.
Monica: You started that?
Rachel: What, you heard that?
Monica: Well, everyone in our school heard it.
Chandler: Everyone in my school heard it. You were the hermaphrodite cheerleader from Long Island?

Monica: And Ross, if it weren't for Rachel's rumor, I mean, no one in high school would even know who you were. She put you on the map!
Ross: As a romancer of the elderly!

"The One With The Football"

Plot: Not only does this episode mark one of the best Thanksgiving Day specials for the show, but it could arguably be one of the best "Friends" episodes ever. In season three, during their annual preparations for the turkey dinner, the story comes out about Ross and Monica's family football game "The Geller Bowl" in which the winner receives "The Geller Cup" (aka: as Chandler puts it, a nasty troll doll nailed to a 2x4.) It was only appropriate that a 3-on-3 game occurred, headed by some serious sibling rivalry between Ross and Monica.

Side plot: In the midst of the game, Chandler and Joey meet a Dutch woman who is supposed to be smoking hot but I, personally, found to be just weird looking. The football game is no longer the competition for these two, now it's all about who can score the Dutch girl. (Sidenote: It's revealed that Joey believes the Netherlands are a made up place where Tinker Bell and Peter Pan live -- and Joey thinks the woman's name is "Dutch.") Also, Rachel sucks at football and is always told to "go long" and Phoebe uses "the ladies" as a distraction technique after the game turns into a guys vs. gals showdown.

Best lines

Monica: All right people listen, I’ve got exactly twenty-eight minutes before I have to baste again.
Chandler: Wow! Just like in the pros.

Monica: Losers walk!
Ross: Yeah, losers talk!
Chandler: No, no, no, actually losers rhyme.

Monica: No! Listen, I’m not gonna go through this with you again, okay. Just once I wanna beat when you can’t blame it on the broken nose, the buzzer, or the fact that you thought you were getting mono. Let’s just call this, tie score and it’s halftime.
Ross: Okay, first of all, I don’t play with cheaters, and second of all, you know I had swollen glands!

"The One Where Ross Got High"

Plot: It's Thanksgiving at the newly dubbed Geller-Bing apartment! The two lovebirds host their first big event and try to keep the cohabitating news -- ahem, and the whole "we're dating" news -- from Mom and Pop Geller after the hidden fact emerges that Jack and
Judy Geller aren't fans of the Chan man. Ross admits the reason for their disapproval stemmed from a time in college where the two caught a wiff of Mary Jane and thought Ross was smoking the reefer. Ross corrected them by lying and saying Chandler was puffin' the cheeba and had just jumped out the window. Smooth.

Side plot: Perhaps an arguably equal main plot, Rachel is given the chance to cook her very first Thanksgiving dessert and chooses a traditional English trifle -- complete with beef, sauteed with peas and onions. (The recipe book's pages were stuck together, giving half the recipe for English trifle and half the recipe to Shepherd's Pie -- a fact new cook Rachel was not aware of.) Meanwhile, Phoebe takes her annual Thanksgiving Day nap only to have a steamy dream about one Jack Geller -- no longer just Monica and Ross' dad, now dream hunk! Oh, and Joey's new hot roommate Janice (played by Elle MacPherson) is hosting a party with her dancer friends and invites Ross and Joey who clearly, want to hang out with hot drunken dancers rather than the typical crew, so try and hurry through dinner and er, Rachel's meat-custard dessert.

Best lines
Chandler: What about all that "friends forever" stuff?
Ross: I don’t know, I was all high.

Ross: It tastes like feet!
Joey: I like it.
Ross: Are you kidding?
Joey: What’s not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Gooooood.

"The One With All the Thanksgivings"

Plot: Two words: Fat suit. Ah yes, the fifth season's Thanksgiving special marked the second brilliant appearance of Monica as the heffer Geller, big fat goalie and "cheater, cheater compulsive eater." As the crew tries to digest their latest Thanksgiving feast -- and not having enough energy to turn on the TV -- the group looks back at their worst Thanksgivings of all time. Before the show got lazy and became the king of flashback clip shows, it brought a trip down memory lane like a champ. With a few wardrobe changes from the '80s (and in Phoebe's case, mid-1800s), the group brought viewers never-before-seen flashbacks including a young Chandler learning of his parents divorce ("More turk-eee, Meester Chand-a-lerrr?"), Phoebe's missing limbs from two Thanksgiving Day wars and a post-nose job Rachel and recently slimmed down Monica plotting against Chandler for calling Monica fat the Thanksgiving before. Let’s just say Chandler has a little less to be thankful for that Thanksgiving Day.

Side-plots: In the final flashback, we learn that slimmed-down Monica plans to get her revenge on Chandler for calling her fat by seducing him, then laughing at him while he's naked. It doesn't go quite as planned. Monica's attempt to be sultry with a various kitchen objects ends with a knife going through Chandler's wicker shoe, severing his toe. At the hospital, Monica brings a carrot instead of the toe to be reattached, giving Chandler the same name of "Sir Limps A Lot." But the best sideplots (in our opinion) are the two random Phoebe wartime flashbacks in which she loses her limbs while screaming "gauze!" Trust us, it's hilarious.

Best Lines
Chandler: I am so sorry. I really am. I was an idiot back then. I rushed the stage at a Wham concert for crying out loud!

The Doctor: This isn't your toe, this is a small, very cold piece of carrot.
Rachel: You brought a carrot?!
Mrs. Geller: Oh my God! There's a toe in my kitchen.

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving. Try not to wear wicker shoes and remember that trifle doesn't include beef and onions.

-- Malavika Jagannathan, and Sara Boyd,

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A 'Flights' return? Talk about being thankful!

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, I could not be more thankful that, finally, HBO is advertising the return of the Kiwi-hit "Flight of the Conchords."

Bret, Jemaine, Mel and Murray are headed our way in January. By the looks of the previews and promos, I'd bet that long-awaited vacation from television will produce a spectacular season two. Plus, after seeing the live show, I'm just itching to see how they use the brilliant new songs in actual plotlines.

Oh yeah, and let's pray that Jemaine keeps that sweeeeet mustache for season numero dos.

Check "Flight of the Conchords" out on HBO next year.

-- Sara Boyd,

Labels: , ,

"Oh, that one chef, that kind of looks like ... "

The new season of "Top Chef" means new challenges, favorite returning challenges and a heck of a lot of new chefs that are sometimes tough to keep straight.

In the midst of "TC's" second episode, this fact was abundantly clear to Channel Surfing bloggers Sara Boyd and Thomas Rozwadowski. Yes, even we have difficulties remembering who "that one guy with the crazy tattoos who looks like a gang leader" is.

So to help fellow "Top Chef" fans ... here's a sample of the "nicknames" we've given to certain contestants. Because let's be honest, these people could be eliminated next week -- who wants to waste the energy in learning their real names?

Fabio (aka: Ben Affleck ... aka: Luigi)

The man is a straight up rip-off. With a thick Italian accent from Mario Bros. (He's-a-Fabio! He's-a-gonna-weeeeen!) and "I didn't shave in a week" peach fuzz ala Ben Affleck, we suggest you refer to Fabio as "Luigi Affleck." -- Sara

Jamie (aka: D.J. Tanner from "Full House")

Clearly, not really young D.J. Tanner, but recent Donna Jo Tanner -- man, it's almost like they're long lost twins! Except one's a rainbow-pride lesbian and one's married to a hockey player. (If you're confused by the scary resemblance, real Jamie is in the middle, Candace Cameron is on the left.) -- Sara

If she calls Gene the Hawaiian Gangsta a "nerd bomber" during this week's episode, I might do a backflip in my living room. -- Thomas

Jeff (aka: John Tesh)

The only memorable thing about Jeff thus far is that he's apparently in love with his hair. Like, "Top Chef" chose to point that out about him before any mention of his culinary expertise. That makes him a prime candidate for Ryan "Mimbo" status, but we also couldn't help but notice his potential as a young, wispy-haired John Tesh. Though, even if Pretty Jeff somehow manages to win "Top Chef," he'll never top that time the Teshmeister toured with Yanni. -- Thomas

Radhika (aka: Kelly Kapoor from "The Office")

Argue that I played the "they're both Indian" card all you want -- but with their respective haircuts, they really do look alike! Plus, Kelly Kapoor is easier for me to pronounce. (Yeah, I'm all anti-cultural.) Let's hope for Radhika's sake she doesn't get duped by a Ryan Howard in any challenges. -- Sara

Stefan (aka: Our very own Packers reporter Pete Dougherty)

This one is a bit of an "Inside" joke (get it, Insider? Har har), but we get to see Press-Gazette Packers beat reporter Pete Dougherty everyday and we're pretty sure he wouldn't mind being compared to the most talented contestant -- well, for two shows, at least -- on "Top Chef." They're both bald. They both like vinaigrette (at least we're assuming Pete does. We didn't actually ask him to endorse this look-a-like nonsense.) And in an odd twist, Stefan actually used some Wisconsin cheese with his hot dog/sausage plate during last week's Quickfire. The man's from Europe! What business does he have using Wisconsin cheese as an ingredient? Freeeeeeeeaky! -- Thomas

Melissa (aka: David Lee Roth)


Melissa seems like a nice enough girl, even if she is kinda dead from the neck up. Cruel of me, I know. But as Boyd pointed out during a "Top Chef" viewing, "If you're on TV, you deserve to be made fun of." A bit "mannish" to be sure, her '80s look might not be so bad if she just did something about those ridiculous bangs. Which is why we can't help but see Melissa as "Just a Gigolo" ala Diamond Dave. Yikes, let's hope she at least ages better than the former Van Halen frontman. -- Thomas

Leah (aka: Vanessa Carlton)

To be completely honest, I totally thought Vanessa Carlton was Michelle Branch. In fact, I Googled the wrong name first, and the only thing I really know about Carlton is that she used to date that loser from Third Eye Blind. I also thought Leah's name was Jen, so go figure. Anyway, all we've really learned about Leah is that she can only place high in challenges when she's making Italian food. Bottom line: my lack of memory with this comparison isn't a good omen for Leah's culinary skills -- even if you think both subjects are sneaky hot. -- Thomas

Danny (aka: Turtle from "Entourage")

Before you get any ideas, this is about way more than just being "big-boned" with facial hair. Danny's a clear New Yorker -- Turtle is rooted in Queens. Danny's got that tough exterior but seems like a teddy bear inside -- Turtle, well, that's exactly what Turtle is. Now, if Danny starts wearing matching flat-brimmed hats and shoes then I may have to call up Johnny Drama and tell him to let Turtle fly off with Jamie-Lynn Sigler -- we've got a replacement. Though Johnny probably won't like someone new taking over the kitchen. -- Sara

Carla (aka: Miss Finch from "Follow that Bird" ... aka: freaky ostrich)

Ahhhh, the best for last. It occurred to me in the previous episode that one Miss Carla -- especially when she gets excited about something -- is one of the scariest looking contestants "Top Chef" has ever had. Her Sideshow Bob hair matched with huuuuuuge bug eyes forces me to shield the TV when she's being interviewed. It got me thinking: the last time I felt this sensation may have been as a youngster watching the all-time classic, "Follow that Bird." When Big Bird flew the coop, it was one, Miss Finch, who brought a similar reaction to my innocent child eyes. Seriously, they share the exact same mannerisms and instill the same fear. It's uncanny. I added in the freaky-looking ostrich because well, throw an afro on that thing and it's a dead ringer. -- Sara

Hopefully, this will provide you with a guide for watching this week's "Top Chef" episode -- or at the very least, give you extremely random references for deciphering each character throughout the show. If all goes as planned, viewers will sit and watch while muttering things like, "Wow, David Lee Roth really overcooked that risotto."

Are there any comparisons we missed? Comment now!

Catch "Top Chef" at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on Bravo.

-- Sara Boyd, and Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: , ,

Before the turkey and the pie, indulge in a little TV

Before that tryptophan-induced coma inevitably strikes you down on Thursday and the unwanted family members descend, give thanks to the time-honored Pilgrim-Indian lovefest by doing the most American of things -- watching TV.

Sure, Thanksgiving TV has become an amalgamation of badly-scheduled football games (seriously, folks, do the appalling Detroit Lions truly deserve a national spotlight for yet another year?) with a splash of the jaw-droppingly boring Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and some early Christmas specials. But there are other options to your holiday TV needs.

Start tonight with one of my perennial holiday favorites, "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," airing tonight on ABC at 7 p.m. Even if you have nothing but hatred in your heart, you can't help but feel the holiday spirit when Charlie and Snoopy serve a pre-Thanksgiving feast of toast, jelly beans, ice cream sundaes and pretzels. There's also a short cartoon that imagines the Peanuts gang on the Mayflower.

If watching crappy football is not enough on Thursday or you need to avoid an over-sharing family member, switch over to the Godfather marathon on AMC on Thursday. Or check out the following marathons: "Newhart" on WGN, "Dirty Jobs" on Discovery and "Jon & Kate Plus 8" on TLC.

"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" airs on ABC tonight at 7 p.m.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

Labels: ,

Monday, November 24, 2008

For 2 hours, Jack was back ... and now he's gone

Except for that moment toward the end of the second hour, when Jack Bauer started to feel like the leader of Boy Scout Troop 24 as he told the African boys he was rescuing to all hold hands as they made their way through the throngs to the U.S. Embassy, "24: Redemption'' was good stuff. Not knock-you-flat-on-your-back great like Season Five, but good -- good enough to get "24'' fans who have been lost, alone and CTU-less for 17 months fired up about Season Seven, which begins Jan. 11 on Fox. (In case you're counting, that's 49 days away.)

Last night's two-hour prequel was designed to set up the backstory going into the new season -- and to throw us slobbering "24'' freaks and geeks a bone, after the writers' strike robbed us of Season Seven in 2008 and a whole lot of "damnits!'' in the process. For those of us who got all goose bumpy and twitchy at the mere sound of the digital clock at the start of "Redemption,'' it worked on both accounts. What it did right:

No CTU. Thus, no cast of CTU characters who were wearing thin in the nearly shark-jumping Season Six (Chloe and Miles included). By moving the action to the African country of Sangala, the story felt fresh and the issue at hand definitely eye-opening and compelling.

New prez. Everybody on board with Cherry Jones as President Allison Taylor, raise your hand. Thought so. It's about time "24'' gets back to its honorable President Palmer roots by giving fans a Commander in Chief they can believe in. (Did someone say timely?). We got just enough of departing President Daniels (Powers Boothe) last night to remind us how reptilian he is -- and how creepy his noggin looks during close-ups. Plus, the new Madam Prez has a son (Eric Lively) with a history that sounds all nice and messy.

New baddie Jon Voight. I'm willing to bet "The Champ'' as a villain is still an easier sell than Farmer Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell) from "Babe'' was.

Same ol' Jack Bauer. The man has been through the ringer these last few years, er, days, but Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) is still in top form. Is there anything like the adrenaline rush when he takes on a whole band of armed revolutionaries, while still hauling around his backpack, and miraculously manages to escape relentless machine gun fire? Think not.

The torture scene that made our ears burn, however, seemed like a bit much, even for Jack. If there's a gripe about the show -- and a controversial one at that -- it's that it has made torture its gimmick. Over the course of 24 hours, yes, we expect it at some point. But throwing it into a two-hour movie felt forced, like the writers sat around the table and said, "And don't forget the cringeworthy torture scene!''

So where does last night's ending, with Jack heading back to the States to the Senate subcommittee that wants to grill him for his torture of terrorist Abu Fayed in Season Six, leave us? By the looks of the trailer for Season Seven (Tony's back from the dead! Jack wears suits! No signs of Audrey!), 49 days away from a helluva ride.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Charles in Charge

Sorry, to have fooled a few of you -- no, this is not a post about Scott Baio.

It's about that show that you're probably not watching but should? Remember? "Chuck?"

Not to beat you over the head with my subtle push for the 7 p.m. Monday night show on NBC -- or online at (wink, wink) -- but if you need another reason to tune in, I've got it for you.

Two words: Tony Hale. Yes, the lovable and awesomely strange man who made "Arrested Development's" Buster Bluth one of my all-time favorite TV characters, is back on TV and back to his quirky ways. In "Chuck," Hale plays Emmett Milbarge, the overly power tripping, uptight assistant manager Buy More brought in to help fix the store's crazy environment.

And the result is hilarious and fabulous. Hale's portrayal of the pretentious and overly nosy Emmett is perfect comedy -- he's still got the infamous Buster laugh but with a bit more cynicism. (Plus, it's well timed -- a look at shows a listing for Hale's performance as "Buster Bluth" in "Arrested Development: The Movie," for 2009.)

Check out a clip of Emmett's hilarity: (There was a better clip but the content wasn't exactly Channel Surfing-friendly.)

Check out "Chuck" (ahem, again) at 7 p.m. Monday nights on NBC.

-- Sara Boyd,


Friday, November 21, 2008

TV Potpourri: "Daisies" done, "Sunny" wraps, and a Colbert Christmas

Some random TV business to take you into the weekend ...

The rumors are true: ABC confirmed that it won't be ordering new episodes of critically-adored, ratings-challenged series "Pushing Daisies." While the dreaded c-word wasn't used, multiple sources told Entertainment Weekly that "Daisies," along with "Eli Stone" and "Dirty Sexy Money," were officially goners.

As Adam noted a couple days ago, "Life on Mars" -- which shows so much promise but is far too melodramatic and hokey -- got picked up for four more episodes (a Season One total of 17) and will follow "Lost" on Wednesdays beginning Jan. 28. While an enjoyable show for the most part, "Mars" is too incredibly flawed to get excited about this early in its run. For example, why hasn't "Spaceman" Sam Tyler raised the possibility that if he's really from the future, he could "predict" -- or at least not be surprised by -- actual events in the news that he should already know about? Don't you think that would get someone's attention at the police precinct if he was bringing some Biff-like sports almanac knowledge to that week's Knicks-Celtics game? Think, "Mars," think.

No more "Sunny": "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" ended its remarkably quick Season Four run last night with a grandiose ode to Dayman/Nightman via Charlie's ridiculous musical/marriage proposal for his long-beloved waitress. First, nothing will ever top the Dayman/Nightman introduction from Season Three's "Sweet Dee Dates a Retarded Person," so last night's season finale couldn't help but feel like reheated leftovers at the very outset.

And like most of "Sunny's" disjointed Season Four, "Nightman Cometh" had moments of sporadic greatness -- Frank's troll toll, Mac's cat eyes and lame karate moves -- but ultimately felt a bit too rushed and forced to match the series' greatest moments (especially when compared to last season's dance-off extravaganza featuring cough medicine coated brownies.) Save for last week's "Extreme Home Makeover" episode (who can forget the taco bed?), the gang's ode to poopies, and random brilliance in the form of gorilla masking and Charlie's wildcard, "Sunny" felt a bit off this season in terms of overall direction. It's still the funniest comedy on TV. But with Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney getting more "Sunny" episode orders, and more script work for a new series ("Boldly Going Nowhere" on Fox), there might have been too much on the ol' work pile this year to really flesh out the series.

Finally, a reminder: Stephen Colbert's Christmas special, "The Greatest Gift of All," with Elvis Costello, Feist, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson and Jon Stewart airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on Comedy Central. With bleak economic news all but ruining Christmas for a lot of folks this year, you may as well bank a few laughs before December doom kicks in.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bingo! Discovering the Greatest Commercial of All-Time

On the heels of Adam griping about annoying commercial spots (read post below), I thought I'd take this opportunity to point out that all is not lost if you're living in the Dark Ages without a DVR.

Of course, that's easy for me to say since I still have my DVR ... BUT ... for the first time ever, I recently used it to rewind a commercial, not fast forward through one.

That's easy to do when you stumble upon the Greatest Commercial of All-Time.

Now, I know what you're thinking: that's a lot of hype to place on a single, two-minute commercial. "You're just a brash youngin', T-Roz. Surely you wouldn't place YOUR commercial next to the 'Where's the Beef' lady or the 'time to make the doughnuts' guy in the all-time commercial canon."

I would. And I will.

Look, I didn't plan on discovering the Greatest Commercial of All-Time while watching late-night TV with my wife. But I'm fairly confident that if you invest the time to watch the YouTube clip below, you'll not only wholeheartedly agree with my designation, but you'll also never doubt my genius again.

As you've seen, the commercial starts off with the biggest of bangs -- a sweet, joyful, old lady shouting "Bingo!" to the rafters. I mean, she's literally so amped-up by the victory, you can see her body trembling with excitement. This is what we call "the hook," or the kind of immediate attention-getter than lets the viewer know, "Skip this commercial at your own peril." It also warms the heart to know that bingo is still played with such passion and commitment, though having once written a story on local bridge players for the Press-Gazette, I can confidently tell you, DO NOT mess with old people and their scheduled game times. I thought I was going to get the back of the hand from a few wrinkled ruffians who were more than a little upset that my silly questions were interrupting their intense strategy sessions. (For the record, I still don't understand how to play bridge.)

A nice, sentimental touch is added with the "Amazing Grace" scene, but in a brilliant tactic to avoid making it seem like "Loud 'n Clear" is only for "Matlock"-watching churchgoers, there's a hip, contemporary spin brought about with what we'll call the "eavesdrop" factor. Want to bask in the glory of your husband bringing home some serious bacon without rubbing your nosy neighbor's face in it? Bingo! Want to discreetly watch Cinemax After Dark while your wife drools on her pillow next to you? Bingo! Want to nod approvingly like a goon as you stand in an entryway by yourself as three hotties contemplate your bang-ability? Bingo times three!

Now, the skeptic in me wonders how, for the latter example, a sound amplifier can narrow in on a singular conversation in a room full of obvious chatter, but I guess that's why we're all supposed to get one. I mean, for every bit of praise coming from across the room, most certainly there's also someone muttering, "Man, who invited that douchebag with the earpiece? Dang, this is good taco dip!" I also wonder how much long term damage would be caused by firing a gun while wearing a sound amplifier, but I guess you take the good with the bad if it means you could potentially get laid or bag a prize buck.

Finally, we're left with a few more shots of a crazy bird lady wandering aimlessly in the woods -- they loop that three times in the two-minute commercial -- before "Bingo" lady delivers her trademark line one last time.

That's emphasis, folks. That's the Greatest Commercial of All-Time.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Five Commercials That Really Bug Me

I recently lost something very dear to me. No, I'm not talking about my 401(k). I'm referring to my DVR. Having recently moved, and looking for a way to cut corners, I took up my apartment complex's offer of free, limited cable. It saves me money, but has really been piling on the frustrations — my ability to gallop past grating and degrading commercials chief among them.

Maybe it's just because I haven't had to watch them in so long, but have commercials somehow gotten worse? If so, I realize I was part of the reason why: Advertisers desperate for viewers have upped the shock value of their 30-second spots, compelling people to slow down the DVR fast-forward function and pay attention.

But risque doesn't always equal good. Offbeat attempts at humor aren't always funny. And the following five ads prove it.

Alltell Wireless, "Lemonade Stand": I don't know anyone who uses Alltell Wireless. I don't think I've ever seen an Alltell Wireless store, or so much as a kiosk. What I'm saying is, I don't think a company called Alltell Wireless actually exists. But their commercials sure do, and they annoy me to no end. Thing is, every time I think about one of these screechingly unfunny ads — which feature hip metrosexual Alltell salesman Chad and four of his bumbling, dorky competitors — I can never recall the name of the company it's advertising. I actually had to Google "Chad phone ding dong" to help me remember.

The "ding dong" part comes from this particular ad, the umpteenth spot featuring these lunkhead phone pushers who make me want to go back in time and punch Alexander Graham Bell in the face. The humor relies almost solely on silly haircuts and making that guy who looks and sounds like Herbert from "Moonlighting" shout "You're still a ding dong!" at our hero. I've had to sit through this moronic ad so many times, that if I had an Alltell phone I would slam it repeatedly against my head to make the pain stop.

M&Ms, "Green M&M": Yeah, I get it. Green M&M's are supposed to be an aphrodisiac, right? So why not make an anthropomorphized green M&M spokeswoman and put her through a sexy photo shoot?

Because it's disturbing and wrong, that's why not. Seeing a pouty-lipped, high-heeled M&M go through a variety of poses that wouldn't be out of place in a porn video doesn't make me want to eat M&Ms — it makes me want to throw up every M&M I've ever eaten. And knowing that the voice of Green is actress Cree Summer, who also did the voices of Penny on "Inspector Gadget" and Elmyra on "Tiny Toon Adventures," only increases the ick factor.

Charmin, "Bears Playing Football": This commercial reminds me of the ancient proverb, "If a bear wipes his butt in the forest, and no one's around to see it, does the toilet tissue leave behind sticky little flecks of paper?" The answer, if the psychopaths behind this horrifying series of animated Charmin ads are to be believed, is a big hairy yes. Nevermind for a second that these bears are actually using toilet tissue, or that we have to see the bits of paper stuck to his ass. But why oh why, once the little bear gets his heiney fleck-free, does it have to sparkle!?

Axe Bodyspray, "Chocolate Man": Let's just get something out of the way right now: Axe body spray does not, has never, will never help scrawny little wimps attract the ladyfolk by way of their olfactory nerves. No matter how many demeaning, chauvinistic commercials those mad men throw at us featuring hot chicks hurling themselves at some spritzed schlub, it just ain't gonna happen that way in real life. Can we all just agree on that and move on?

But blatantly false advertising is not why this ad is on my list. I just think the chocolate golem dude is freakin' creepy looking.

Enzyte, "Bob": Have you met Bob? Middle-aged guy, brown hair, always smiling? Has a party in his pants and everyone's invited? Yep, that's Bob — the silent spokesman for Enzyte, the "natural male enhancement" drug. Unlike the knowingly absurd claims of the Axe ads, the jury's still out on the effectiveness of Enzyte. But somebody (and I'm guessing a very insecure somebody) must keep buying this crap, because they keep making these disturbing ads.

Again, it's not the product that bugs me. If a guy wants to jumbo-size his joystick, that's up to him. It's all the knowing wordplay and double entendres, the oh-aren't-we-clever winks and nudges and playfully innocent tone. It's not funny. It's not edgy. It's lame. Want to know the real reason Bob, played with zombie-like monotony by actor John Larson, is smiling? Because as long as poor suckers keep trying to double their dingies, he's got steady work.

Got a few of your own that bug you? Let's hear 'em.

Adam Reinhard,


Monday, November 17, 2008

Single ladies? or Single fellas? Who brings sexy back?

Who said you need the 2008 Presidential Election to bring the funny back to "Saturday Night Live?"

OK, I did.

But I take it back. I'll admit -- I was expecting a failure from "SNL" this week, not having Tina Fey's Sarah Palin or Darrell Hammond's John McCain to fall back on for laughs. But lo and behold, they truly brought the goods and had a laughtacular episode. Now, I honestly don't know if it was that my expectations were so low or if the comedy was just that good, but either way, it won't take presidential candidate bashing to get me to tune in.

Well, for now at least. I'm sure Lorne Michaels must've known he had to bring the big guns to retain post-election viewership. But if they can keep this magic going, it could be a new and improved "SNL" -- something that I've been waiting for ever since the diminished days after Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan left the show. Granted, the Jonah Hill-hosted episode was top notch and still remains on my DVR for a repeat viewing every-so-often, but besides that, it's been a tough road. Adding in Tina Fey's recent departure and now with Amy Poehler on baby leave, perhaps never to return, this weekend's episode really marks a gleam of hope to the show's success.

Many bloggers have said the most recent "SNL" -- full of homosexual references and on occasion, blatant displays of same sex undertones -- was a giant middle finger to California's Proposition 8, calling it the gayest episode of the show yet. Host Paul Rudd (of "Knocked Up" and most recently, "Role Models") kicked the show off with a family that is a bit too affectionate -- dad and son practically making out, then brother and brother playing tonsil hockey as a form of hello. The sketch was a bit uncomfortable, but all around delightful. Before you knew it, we were watching Andy Samberg paint a naked and appropriately blurred Rudd -- then vice versa, only to receive reactions of the uncontrolled-vomiting-and-eye-bleeding death kind, upon audience viewing of the paintings. To cap it off, what could be better than an exclusive interview from Snagglepuss on the good, the bad and the ugly of Prop 8?

Perhaps one of the best performances of the night came thanks to a cameo from Mr. Sexyback himself, Justin Timberlake. After revealing his missed-chance to host the show Thanksgiving weekend next to a lonely Seth Meyers, Timberlake returned for a post-Weekend Update sketch including Bootylicious Beyonce. The sketch -- a mockery of her newest music video of "Single Ladies" -- had Timberlake, Samberg and Bobby Moynihan as B's three unlikely dancing biscuits.

Here's hoping that "SNL" can keep this up even without the guest cameos -- and homoerotic plotlines. If not, the viewers may react to the writers' attempt at sketch comedy much like the art auction crowd did during Rudd and Samberg's digital short, "Everyone's a Critic."

Catch "Saturday Night Live" at 10:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

-- Sara Boyd,

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ryan off 'The Office'?

It's true. Ryan Howard, played by "Office" actor-writer B.J. Novak, is leaving his post as fill-in Pam for greener pastures. Well, at least for now -- and this time not to the slammer.

Entertainment Weekly is reporting the following:

Novak is taking a leave of absence from the show to appear in Quentin Tarantino's latest film, "Inglourious Basterds." NBC declined to comment, but a Peacock insider says Novak asked producers for the time off and they obliged. But exactly how much time off he'll be getting is subject to some debate.

According to one insider, Novak will be MIA for "several episodes" but will return later this season. Another source, however, says Novak may be done with "The Office" for good, at least as a performer.

I say good riddance. I think it's time for Ryan to go. I mean, let's be honest he barely has a role on the show now. It appears the writers -- Novak included -- aren't sure what to make of Ryan's character post-lock down. Once Ryan returned after his stint behind bars, it really seemed as though they didn't know what he should be. He started as the quiet "temp," appropriately weirded out by his new boss Michael Scott's antics but then slowly and a bit menacingly took the reigns as corporate's newest stooge. Before we knew it, he was Ryan the "coke addict" and then Ryan the orange jumpsuit prisoner.

Now, he's this Ryan "my life has turned a new leaf" and he's all part of the team and into Kelly Kapoor again and blah, blah, blah. Frankly, there's no where for his character to go from here except, well, off the show.

So, thank you Ryan Howard. We've enjoyed your presence on the show and we'll always remember your temp-like ways. All together now, one more time to the "Fire Guy" ...

"Ryan started the fire ... it was always burning, since the world's been turning. Ryan started the fire. Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television, North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe ... Ryan started the fire!"

Labels: ,

At this very moment, "Daisies" may be dead

Fresh off the news that ABC would be moving critical darling but ratings disappointment "Life on Mars" to a cushy, post-"Lost" Wednesday slot, comes word that the network will cancel further production on its similarly viewer-light delight, "Pushing Daisies."

According to TV Week, it's an industry insider putting the nails in "Daisies'" coffin, and there's been no official word from the Alphabet. However, the show wrapped filming on its 13-episode fall order yesterday; couple that with its ever-diminishing ratings and hearing a leak like this comes as no surprise.

Some small bit of relief comes from series creator Bryan Fuller, who has said that if "Daisies" were canned, he would fly back over to another struggling show, "Heroes,", which he wrote for during its brilliant first season.

But dammit anyway! Seriously! For those of you who have kept watching, "Daisies" has kept every ounce of the spring in its step it displayed during its first, strike-shortened season. After a two-week break, the show returns this Wednesday with an episode about a magician (the great Fred Willard) whose animal assistants keep getting bumped off.

Watch it while you can.

-- Adam Reinhard,

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Commercial Interruption: Get your bloody apples! "Top Chef" is back!

Sometimes there's just too much television for one Channel Surfing blogger to handle. That's when we need a break to sit back, relax and indulge in some friendly back-and-forth (via email of course, we don't actually like to speak to one another in person). Having extensively covered our hatred for Season Four's Lisa (read below post), Thomas Rozwadowski, Sara Boyd and Malavika Jagannathan are ready to turn the page and invite new "Top Chef" contestants into our hearts. So crack open a carton of bacon ice cream and ask yourself this: "Do you like burritos?"

Thomas: Before we digest last night's "Top Chef" bite of the Big Apple, I have to say, re-airing Season Four's "I really should have been congratulated" nonsense from Frumpasaurus Rex was a brilliant move by Bravo. I think I was more infuriated the second time around, but thankfully, all that anger melted away when the Blaiser re-issued his "congrats on winning the bronze medal" blast and ultimately, Stephanie was given the crown. Ah, good times.

So ... onto this year's feisty food happenings. These "Top Chef" fools aren't playin'! Straight off the plane and into a frenetic apple (har, har, Bravo) peeling contest? Yum. I like mine with extra hemoglobin, thank you very much, Queen Richard. Great tone setter, I must say, which is why "Top Chef" and "The Amazing Race" are my two favorite reality shows. We'll get to know these contestants and their personalities in due time. It's business first. Now get crackin', newbies!

Lots to talk about, including Team Rainbow, possible villain Stefan running away with the first two challenges, and Tom Colicchio looking as though he should have put down a cannoli or two in-between seasons.

So, Boyd, any thoughts on who caught your eye, how the ethnic food challenge played out, and whether there's a potential She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named among this group of ruffians?

Sara: Let me start off by saying, thank the Lord "Top Chef" hath returned!

That was a tough couple weeks between "Project Runway" and "TC's" glorious, triumphant season premiere, but I can safely say, we all held strong and didn't sink to watching "Top Design." Phew, that was close.

It's always tough for me to start picking favorites after the very first episode, but really, it doesn't take long at all to start weeding out those who -- based on first impressions -- already annoy me. So let's go straight pessimistic, shall we?

No. 1, I am not a fan of Team Rainbow. Through discussions with Malavika, we've come to the conclusion that creating a clique like Team Rainbow is about as daring as wearing an "I love Bono" T-shirt at a U2 concert. Point being, um, it's "Top Chef" -- there are always gays. And lots of 'em. No. 2, what's the deal with Fabio? First of all, change your name. Secondly, can I get some closed captions up in here? It's like listening to a bad imitation of an Italian accent. Also, can he please dress up like Luigi of Super Mario Bros. from now on? He's a dead ringer.

Not to get completely glass-half-empty, I do enjoy Gene, the Hawaiian. Only for the fact that he looks like he could kill me and fry me up as a delectable, delicious dish -- then claim he had no idea how to make me in the first place. Winner! I also enjoy his large gold chain.

MJ, since Roz peppered me (no pun intended) with questions and I barely answered them, what were your thoughts of episode one? And what did you think of the challenges?

Malavika: Like last night's episode, I'm going to dive right in.

(Sidenote: I'm glad I wasn't the only one who noticed that Chef Tom has grown portlier in-between seasons -- is that what jicama does to a person?)

On the challenges: I thought they kicked off the season well by introducing the chefs to New York City via the cuisine. I liked seeing the chefs actually going to the neighborhoods to find ingredients instead of wandering around Whole Foods in a daze. Many of them worked with cuisines they were completely unfamiliar with and flavors that are not easy to execute such as Russian or Indian.

In fact, major props go to Gene the Hawaiian gangsta for pulling off Indian food -- and, yes, Padma wasn't lying when she said yogurt and rice is the classic South Indian staple that you'll find in every house, but rarely in restaurants. (Sidenote No 2: If you ever want a good laugh, watch Padma in the 2001 trainwreck that is the movie "Glitter." Seriously, she plays a disco dancer. It's awesome).

On the episode: A great way to kick off the season by kicking off two of the more annoying contestants in the first round -- the woman who pulled out the pity "my husband is in Iraq" card way too soon and her partner in culinary crime, Pat.

On the cliques: Euro Duo? Rainbow Team? This isn't "Survivor," folks. Stick to the game, please. However, I do enjoy the potential sparks between Stefan the Finnish wonder and hometown boy Danny.

Thomas: That said, let's hope those two potential hotheads start spitting fire over something more exciting than vinaigrette. Lisa's cross-armed reactions and Dale's locker punching set the bar pretty high. Our Channel Surfing material is only as good as the tantrums that precede it.

Also, ENOUGH of the freakin' "Real Housewives of the O.C.," or whatever the stupid name of that god-awful reality show is. I could've really used one of those "Top Chef" knives by the time promo No. 855 with Gretchen and her sugar daddy rolled around during the 10 p.m. hour.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,; Sara Boyd, and Malavika Jagannathan,

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Top Chef" Lisa: Forever in our hearts and minds

It started with one brave soul.

And like Ronald Miller passionately performing the African anteater ritual to a stunned school auditorium in "Can't Buy Me Love," slowly everyone else got swept up in the domino effect and attempted to hang on for the wildest ride of their lives.

Ladies and gents, nothing else in the short history of Channel Surfing drew our bloggers' collective intrigue and ire like last season's roller coaster ride with "Top Chef" Lisa.

To look back on our Season Four posts is almost like reading the schizophrenic diary ramblings of a lovelorn teenage girl. We can't live without the show. We never want to see it again. We know its taking our devotion for granted, but we can't wait to forgive its transgressions while scribbling "Top Chef Forever!" in pink pen on our favorite unicorn folder.

It started with "Top Chef" pioneer Malavika Jagannathan laying out a few simple reasons why Channel Surfing readers should give the reality cooking show a chance. Slowly, Thomas Rozwadowski was indoctrinated, leading both he and MJ to mock original villain Spike's penchant for soup and fedoras before the knives really got sharpened for "I can barely make pasta even though I'm Italian" Nikki -- lovingly dubbed "blue-tinted glasses chick" by our highly-inventive staff. Snarky, fairly innocent jabs at Zoi (pronounced Zoy) and "Mimbo" Ryan followed, until the oven mitts really came off when Sara Boyd and Adam Reinhard joined the hate fest -- looking back, a restraining order really should have been required of Boyd -- as the Doo-Rag Wearing Fire-Breathing Hose Beast known as Lisa began crossing her arms, rolling her eyes and offering up "magenta drunk polish sausage" MINUS THE POLISH SAUSAGE to the stone-faced judges seemingly in her back pocket.

With our blood boiling like so many steaming pots of water during an Elimination Challenge, long overdue sanity finally prevailed once Too-Cute-For-Words Stephanie edged Richard the Baby Breeding Blaisinator in the ho-hum finale oh so many months ago. And now, a new class of culinary contenders and pretenders emerges -- this time with our collective feet in the frying pan from the very start.

So to celebrate the return of "Top Chef" -- tonight on Bravo at 9 p.m. -- we bring you our 10 favorite quips from last season's vicious, violent, and veracious post-a-thon. We wrote 'em, so of course we love 'em. But really, you kind of had to be there ...

Then re-join us here Thursday afternoon for a special "Top Chef" Commercial Interruption, the first of many in what we hope will be a deliciously demented, jicama-filled Season Five.

10. Thomas on “Mimbo” Ryan: “Look, if your 'California tailgate' concept is so terrible that it can't beat a chef who used store-bought sausage AND forgot to leave enough peppers and onions for the judges to accurately rate her food ... well, Ryan might want to become a Subway sandwich artist or start flashing his smile for 'Hottest Reality TV' calendars. He was like the Rex Grossman of chefs while in the Soldier Field parking lot.”

9. Sara on Lisa the Flabby-armed Devil-Woman Whose Mango Sticky Rice Tastes Like Dog Vomit: “The ‘chef who shall not be named’ continues to think people are out to get her and I can't remember the last time she made something that was appetizing to the judges. (With the exception of the wedding cake that tasted good but looked like a pyramid of poo.)”

8. Sara on anorexic host/judge Padma’s culinary “expertise”: “Yes, Padma is gorgeous, but girl needs to zip the lip when it comes to analyzing the dishes. She's a model and everyone knows models don't eat, so really, what credibility can she lend? For her to be a deciding factor at times is just ridiculous. I can't help but feel for the chefs who have to sit there and listen to her criticism on how the dish should've been made better, clearly based on her years of experience as ... ?? Exactly.”

7. Malavika on the Ultra-Defiant Frowny-Faced Cross-Armed Queen of the Damned: "Yes, Lisa is a great villain, but 'Top Chef' has produced villains in the past (Hung, the winner from last season, and Marcel from the previous season) who were both talented AND giant jackasses. Dale had villain-ish qualities, so why settle for You-Know-Who's pathetic attempts at arm-crossing and rice-making. Seriously, I think homegirl would screw up Uncle Ben's minute rice, given the chance."

6. Adam on the Too-Good For Polish Sausage Revolting Blob Who Must be Profusely Congratulated By Her Peers: "Her demands for acknowledgement from Richard and Stephanie bordered on the surreal, and reminded me a little of Glenn Close in 'Fatal Attraction' -- 'I'm not gonna be ignored, Dan!' But by that point, in my heavily discombobulated state, she could have ripped her face off, 'Mission: Impossible'-style, revealing herself to be, in fact, reality-show whore Danny Bonaduce and I wouldn't have batted an eye."

5. Sara on Croc-Man Richard's moment of truth: "When Richard said, 'I'm just going to come out and say it ...' I thought for shizz he was about to spit some Blaisin' fire at Miss I-Can-Make-Coconut-Soup-So-Give-Me-The-Gold-Medal-Ugface. There should've been a fight. Richard kept talking about how she shouldn't have been there ... my God man, get some danglers and say it to her face!"

4. Sara on Mayor Fatty McFatterson of Uglytown, USA: “It's ironic that last night's ‘Top Chef’ tested the chefs' skills at slaughtering full pigs, and even though Lisa had a clear advantage (being from the same family and all) she still ended up on the bottom.”

3. Malavika after Dale got voted off in favor of Jabba the Lisa: “I'm so angry, I want to eat everything with butterscotch as a giant middle finger to the judges.”

2. Thomas on Grumpy Sourpants McBulbousButt the Gross: "I'm past anger at this point. I find myself laughing hysterically while sticking plantains down my pants and contemplating a name change to Jicama McSweetbread. I don't even know what that means, but having been so thoroughly befuddled by Lisa's continued existence, it will have to do."

1. Adam on … yeah, you guessed it: “Stalin with a spatula. Hitler with a hibachi. Pol Pot with a ... pot. Lisa's the 'Top Chef' villain we love to hate. Or just hate."

-- The Channel Surfing staff and "Top Chef" Lisa Fan Club

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Amazingly stupid people on "The Amazing Race"

I've refrained from posting anything on "The Amazing Race" this season, because well, quite frankly it doesn't seem like people are into watching it all that much.

Or at least compared to other reality shows that have drawn Channel Surfing's collective interest -- "Top Chef" returns Wednesday, woo-hoo! -- "Race" kind of glides by season after season with a winning premise, but never boasts much in the day-after drama department. It just keeps winning Emmy's -- seven straight -- for "Outstanding Reality Competition," that's all.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't at least comment on the overwhelming glee as Kelly, the Texas divorcee, got pelted in the face with dye and water (see picture below) during Sunday's episode. You see, Kelly and her best gal pal Christy are typical pampered Americans who not only believe the world revolves around them, but love to make fun of people who aren't part of their glamorous social circle back home -- they're ex-cheerleaders/dancers, so you get the drift. They also just ditched (or got ditched by) their husbands, which means they're all "I don't have to iron shirts anymore, ya'll," leading to false feelings of empowerment as they prance around India in sports bras.

Now normally, those qualities wouldn't make Kelly and Christy true reality TV villains. But after Sunday's episode, they proved that not only are they super-insensitive to other cultures -- commenting that India smells bad while in a taxicab won't win you favor with locals who don't sip Mochachinos and go to the spa every weekend -- and other contestants -- ewww, what's grosser than gross, kissing Andrew or Dan? -- they're also really, really, really stupid.

During the episode's roadblock challenge, contestants had to run through a gauntlet of dye-throwing and water-spewing natives celebrating a re-enactment of Holi festival before climbing a ladder and pulling an envelope that read "AMAZING RACE" among a majority marked "TRY AGAIN." Get past that whole paint-in-your-nose nonsense, and it's pretty straightforward stuff, right?

Honestly, it was about as much fun as you're ever going to see on reality TV -- spoiled brats getting pelted in the face with dye and seeing their hair turn all shades of the rainbow while calling fun-loving Indians a bunch of a-holes. But watching the sheer stupidity of Kelly as she whined about getting dye in her mouth, and then climbing the ladder, only to pull down a random envelope instead of one marked AMAZING RACE AMONG A SLEW OF THOSE EMBLAZONED WITH THE WORDS TRY AGAIN only led to hysterical fits of laughter on my couch. This went on three more times until they finally re-read the clue, and naturally, the Texas Twosome found themselves on elimination row.

That these two brain surgeons also misread clues on previous challenges only made the paint-a-palooza that much sweeter to witness. Karma, girls, karma. Act like an ugly American and you'll look like one with purple paint splattered on the side of your dome.

Now go try out for "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" and show your insensitive ex-husbands what they're really missing!

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: ,

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Lost" sets return date

It's official.

The Season Five premiere of "Lost" is set for Jan. 21.

ABC will air a clip show at 7 p.m. CST, followed by the first and second episodes of the new season at 8 and 9 p.m.

The series returns to its normal 8 p.m. Wednesday slot the following week.

If you haven't seen the official "Lost" Season Five trailer, take a peek below. "Lost" blogger/author -- and friend of Channel Surfing -- Jon Lachonis has done some frame-by-frame dissection, only to determine (among other nuggets) that "there is a glimpse of Juliet uncovering the infamous door to the Swan hatch, which was blown off in the Season One finale. More interesting, is Daniel approaching the back door to the Swan and a svelte personage in a hazmat suit holding a gun on him. If they’ve traveled backwards in time, that person could be Desmond, or legendary hatch monkey Radzinsky."

"Another intriguing bit is the compass we see Locke holding. The compass appeared in the episode 'Cabin Fever' when Richard Alpert visited young Locke and laid out various objects, asking the lad to identify which belonged to him."

A hostile Dharma Initiative taking on the surviving Losties? Chaz Widmore trying to prevent the Oceanic Six from getting back to the invisible island? Sounds like Season Five is shaping up nicely.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Friday, November 7, 2008

Pick from Television's Best for Obama's Cabinet

Well, apparently TV Guide took a bite of our our Election-tinged greatest character contest to present a list of TV character possibilities for newly-elected President Barack Obama's cabinet.

I'll give it to them -- it's a list that spans the gamut from suggesting "Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan for Secretary List to "The Office's" beet-farm man Dwight Schrute as Secretary of Agriculture.

Other nominees include: Alan Shore of "Boston Legal" for Attorney General, Oprah Winfrey for Secretary of Commerce, Ben Linus of "Lost" for Secretary of Transporation, Jack Bauer of "24" for Secretary of Homeland Security ("Heckuva job, Jackie"). Read the rest of the list here.

While I don't overwhemingly disagree with any of the choices, here are a few suggestions the President-Elect should also consider if he's taking this approach to fill his cabinet:

Jack McCoy of "Law and Order" for Attorney General: On the season premiere of the show on Wednesday had a nicely edited-in sound bite where a reporter asks McCoy about the rumors that he might join the Obama administration. A veteran prosecutor with a penchant for pushing the envelope of Constitutional law, McCoy has worked with both Democrats and Republicans in office. He's a perfect addition to the Obama cabinet, even if he's only had one term in the district attorney's office. (The runner-up is Kevin Walker of "Brothers and Sisters" -- he just got fired from his law firm and he's a gay Democrat working for a Republican Senator).

Miranda Bailey of "Grey's Anatomy" for Secretary of Health and Human Services: As much as TV Guide's suggestion of Dr. House is intruiguing, Bailey's no-nonsense personality is much more in line with a management position like this. She's a great doctor, but a human being first.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs of "NCIS" for Secretary of Defense: I don't watch this show with regularity, but I can't think of a better option to head up the DOD than Agent Gibbs (plus he's already in with the Washington crowd). A former Marine with an obsession with detail and organization, Gibbs is exactly who Obama needs to lead the country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Besides, the former sniper is a quick shot. If ever you'd need that in a cabinet secretary.

Lorelai Gilmore of "Gilmore Girls" for Secretary of Labor: Ok, so she's not on the air anymore. Even more reason for this do-it-yourself, single mom, small business owner to take over this oft-forgotten cabinet position. Who else would understand the plight of the millions of unemployed and underemployed that will continue to grow if our economy goes in the tank? Her advice would be snappy and to-the-point.

Plus she's hot.

Any character I missed?

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election 2008 TV coverage: Holograms, History and Hi-Tech

Forget CNN reporter John King's fancy-schmancy movable map that has been so thoroughly mocked on "Saturday Night Live," Election Night 2008 brought out the big guns with holograms and 3D-studios to boot.

Sigh. Gone are the days when television anchors relied on a white board (RIP: Tim Russert) -- we've apparently entered the Star Trek/Star Wars dimension. CNN had reporters who were holographically projected into the studios, which seemed to serve very little purpose other than to show up the rest of the networks (according to one Thomas Rozwadowski, who spent most of the night watching CNN, "it was kinda cool"). Alas, I tend to agree more with Mo Ryan of The Chicago Tribune who said "IT’S TOTALLY WEIRD."

Now, I didn't get a chance to fully dissect any of the cable news and other networks coverage because I was working on election returns for the P-G, but what bits I caught seemed fairly benign. There were no faulty calls, no early projections or crazy sleep-deprived rantings (anyone remember Dan Rather in 2000?).

Anyone see something noteworthy in last night's coverage?

-- Malavika Jagannathan,


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Decision '08: And the winners are...

With 100% of precincts reporting... it's Murphy Brown and Homer Simpson!

Thanks to everyone who voted!

Malavika Jagannathan,, Adam Reinhard,


"Don't blame us. We voted for Kodos": Channel Surfing's favorite political TV moments

It’s Election Day, which means serious decisions about serious issues.

Not so in the TV world, which certainly uses politics as a backdrop, but does so without any real consequence – or at least one that doesn’t involve nuclear codes or pronouncing complicated last names like Ahmadinejad.

So after you’ve cast your real ballot for either Barack Obama or John McCain today, congratulate yourself on being a good patriot by enjoying our favorite bits of political theater from the small screen. We’re talking memorable TV moments that taught our bloggers important lessons about democracy in action, and perhaps more importantly, accurately predicted some 40 years earlier the ridiculous level of discourse you might expect from drawn-out, partisan campaigns overwhelmed by today's 24-7 news cycle.

Above all though, the rest of our selections promise to provide a healthy dose of levity once all the political blowhards on cable news start trying to out-scream each other tonight.

We're Channel Surfing. And we approve this message.

"The Simpsons"

Episode name: "Sideshow Bob Roberts," from Season 6

Original air date: Oct. 9, 1994

Synopsis: Sideshow Bob (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) is released from prison after a call to conservative radio talk-show host Birch Barlow (not voiced by Rush Limbaugh, but may as well have been) causes a swell of listener support. Bob is soon named the Republican nominee for Springfield mayor, and thoroughly trounces Mayor Quimby in the election. In fact, Bob wins 100% of the vote, and Quimby gets only 1%. ("We remind you, there is a 1% margin of error," reports Kent Brockman.) Lisa and Bart, however, suspicious of their nemesis' handy victory -- and threatened with homelessness after Bob decides to build an expressway through their house -- discover Bob and the Republicans committed voter fraud, and the red-haired menace is sent back to prison.

Why it rocked the vote: The parodies flew fast and furious in this satirical masterstroke, leaving heavily on "All the President's Men," as well as "Bob Roberts," "Citizen Kane," the Nixon-Kennedy debate, and George Bush's 1988 "Willie Horton" ad. The voter-fraud plot thread remains a particular hotbed of controversy these days, though we doubt even Karl Rove would stoop to giving The Big Bopper a vote.

Episode name: "Lisa's Substitute," from Season 2

Original air date: April 25, 1991

Synopsis: The B-story to this classic episode sees Bart running for class president against Martin Prince, and winning the support of his fourth-grade classmates through his outlandish promises and goofball antics. In the end, his reliance on the youth vote backfires as none of his supporters turn out to the polls.

Why it rocked the vote: Successfully aping one of the Democratic Party's major tactical flaws, this sidestory also wins points for Homer's comforting and oddly sensible words of wisdom to his defeated son: The class president just has to do extra work, and doesn't get to do anything really cool. So who cares?

"Northern Exposure"

Episode title:
“Realpolitik,” from Season 6

Original air date: December 12, 1994

Synopsis: Before we came to know Wasilla, folks in the lower-48 looked to the quirky residents of Cicely, Alaska for their “small town” fix. In this episode, free-spirited pilot Maggie O’Connell (Janine Turner) runs for mayor of Cicely – and wins! She’s a natural for politics, sparking a romantic interest from fellow councilman Chris Stevens (John Corbett).

Why it rocked the vote: Actress Janine Turner actually said Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska shares many characteristics with the independent, strong-willed Maggie (who “flew her own plane, shot her own moose, marched to the beat of her own drum”). Although Maggie was never one for stylin’ or dropping her g’s, all her boyfriends met somewhat impossible demises, leading the townsfolk of Cicely to label it the “O’Connell Curse.” Hmmmm. Palin Effect, anyone? Other than reflecting some aspects of our current political climate, the mayoral election of Cicely is about a surprise, last-minute win by a dark horse candidate who turns out to be a pretty good leader.

"The West Wing"

Episode title: “Election Day, Part II,” from Season 7

Original air date: April 9, 2006

Synopsis: If art imitates life, then the “West Wing’s” mock-election in Season 7 could be a case of life imitating art. In it, a little-known, eloquent Democratic Texas congressman goes up against an experienced older California Senator who is well known for being unpredictable. Sound familiar? The battle for the Presidency between Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) and Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) comes to an end in this two-part episode, tinged by the tragic death of Santos’ running mate and longtime “West Wing” staple Leo McGarry (John Spencer). Santos comes out victorious when the states of Oregon and Nevada swing in his favor and Vinick refuses on principle to ask for a recount.

Why it rocked the vote: Even though “The West Wing” had a definite leftist slant (it being the brain child of uber-liberal Aaron Sorkin), its underlying theme was unmistakably patriotic in that touchy-feely “I love democracy” way. This episode brings the narrative arc of the fake Jed Bartlet Administration to an end. The words of hope offered by President-elect Santos at the end of a prolonged campaign are applicable to the real-world election. “Our votes may have been divided but our country will not be divided. Because ultimately it isn't about left or right but about doing right.” Barring a recount in Ohio, of course, it’s a sentiment we can all agree on regardless of our political affiliation.

"Saved by the Bell"

Episode title:
“The Election,” from Season 1

Original air date: November 18, 1989

Synopsis: After overhearing that the winner of the student body election wins a free trip to Washington D.C., always-conniving Zack Morris throws his hat in the ring against longtime friend, real deal politico, Jessie Spano. Zack becomes an advocate for Joe Trapper Keeper by offering to do away with school rules and regulations, much to Jessie’s chagrin. Zack and Screech also create a propaganda video featuring Gorbachev and Castro to drum up support from the school’s apparent communist base, and in the biggest October surprise in election history, Jessie’s middle name is revealed to be “Mertyl” (leading to one of “SBTB’s” all-time great lines, “Mertyl’s the name of my turtle.”) Jessie flip-flops to gain majority support from a fickle electorate. Zack flip-flops when Mr. Belding, as part of a ruse to test Mr. Morris' seriousness about being president, announces the Washington trip has been canceled. In the end, a remorseful Zack can’t let Jessie’s dream of being a future Congresswoman die (though that’ll all go down the drain when she becomes a stripper in “Showgirls,” anyways) just because he’d like to be “sipping ale with the Quayles.”

Why it rocked the vote: Lots of Mr. Dewey, which is always good. And who can forget the memorable write-in tally for class president from a singing Mr. Belding: “These people got the following write-in votes: Jason Bateman, nine; Alf, seven; Gilligan, six; and the Skipper twooooooo.” Frankly, we think Alf got screwed.

"Arrested Development"

Episode title:
“The Immaculate Election,” from Season 2

Original air date: March 20, 2005

Synopsis: Speaking of Jason Bateman, when Michael Bluth gets wind that his son, George Michael (Michael Cera), is planning a run for school president, he misinterprets how popular (“Everyone likes George Michael”) the mild-mannered boy actually is. Michael also conveniently forgets his own doomed presidential run as “Mr. Two Percent,” which leads to an unwelcome epiphany and a desperate plea for help from brother/professional election saboteur G.O.B. (Will Arnett.) While George Michael has no chance against multi-term juggernaut Steve Holt (“Volt for Steve Holt!”), Michael hopes a few Swiftboat tactics will at least allow George Michael to beat “the Indian kid.” However, selling his soul to the devil leads to an embarrassing campaign video for light-saber wielding George Michael, and ultimately, only one more percentage point than Pops managed to grab back in the day.

Why it rocked the vote: The payoff is George Michael’s G.O.B.-produced election video, which could have earned the unsuccessful illusionist some major bucks as a Republican strategist. The politics of fear also come into play when G.O.B. is caught screaming “terrorist!” during a school pep rally as the Indian kid’s video airs. So glad that kind of stuff doesn't happen at political rallies in 2008.

"The Brady Bunch"

Episode title:
“Vote for Brady,” from Season 1

Original air date: Dec. 12, 1969

Synopsis: Greg and Marcia both decide to run for student body president, setting up one of those classic girl Bradys vs. boys Bradys storylines – an ingenious premise that the show only milked, oh, dozens of times. (See “A Clubhouse Is Not a Home,’’ “Kitty Karry-All Is Missing’’ and “A Camping We Will Go,’’ all of which ran prior to “Vote Brady,’’ which was just the 11th episode of the inaugural season.) Anyway, things get ugly when the sibs take sides at home and when Greg’s campaign manager, Rusty, comes up with an idea to spread a nasty rumor about Marcia (no, not the cocaine binges and wild parties at the Playboy Mansion – those came later … in real life). Let’s tell the school Marcia was seen making out with local creep Felix Brown (not to be confused with bug nerd Harvey Klinger or Doug “Something suddenly came up” Simpson). But Greg, being a Brady and all, objects, fires Rusty and threatens to beat him up if he doesn’t leave Marcia alone.

Why it rocked the vote: It was nearly 40 years ago, but the episode had everything this year’s presidential race has: smear tactics (think of Felix Brown as the William Ayers of his day), partisan politics (the girls heckle Greg, the boys heckle Marcia as they practice their speeches), reaching across party lines (Mike and Carol sit the whole gang down – we assume in the den but can’t recall for certain -- for one of those talks about Brady unity) and a strong woman who concedes (so impressed by Greg’s sticking up for her, Marcia drops out of the race and throws her support to her bro).

Runner-up: ‘Party Lines,’’ April 19, 2000 (Season Two of “Felicity’’). Because it’s hard to top Richard’s “Free Pizza on Fridays’’ platform.

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

Episode title:
“The Gang Runs for Office,” from Season 2

Original air date: Aug. 3, 2006

Synopsis: When the “It’s Always Sunny” gang discovers there’s rampant bribery in politics, it’s only fitting that they run for office. What office, you may ask? Doesn’t matter – but through a quick call to the County Clerk’s office, Mac discovers the race for Comptroller is the closest election, ergo the quickest way to start the bribes a-flowin'. Going off Politics 101 for their plan to win the election, they begin their campaign using only blazers, clipboards, “Kennedy hair,” American flags and a promiscuous Dee to lure other shady politicians.

Why it rocked the vote: Plain and simple – Charlie’s awesome, illiterate, dyslexic campaign speech script: “Hello, fellow American. This you should vote me. I leave power. Good. Thank you. Thank you. If you vote me, I am hot. What? Taxes. They’ll be lower. Son. The democratic vote for me is right thing to do, Philadelphia. So do.”


Episode title:
“The Wizard,” from Season 9

Original air date: Feb. 26, 1998

Synopsis: After Kramer announces an early retirement – seemingly from a life of earning nothing, but said to be from successful "coffee table book on coffee tables" sales – he heads where all the retirees go: Del Boca Vista. Jerry’s father, Morty – who was previously impeached as president of the condo association – decides Kramer would be a perfect candidate for presidency. Or more so, would make a perfect, pretty face front man with Morty running the presidency from behind the scenes. The episode just goes to show how powerful the media, er, the Boca Breeze Condo Newsletter, can be in an election.

Why it rocked the vote: For starters, the montage of Boca Breeze headlines are superb, among them: “Kramer: I will increase social security” (as a condo association president, totally realistic) and “Vacancy in building four” with a photo of Kramer slapping a “Vote Kramer” bumper sticker on the ambulance toting the latest senior who came to Del Boca Vista “to die,” as Jerry would put it. Also the scene of Kramer campaigning and cutting the meat of an older woman is classic. Ooh, ooh! Also, when controversy erupts from the Boca Breeze in the form of a front-page story “Candidate Cosmo caught barefoot in clubhouse” – which is clearly against the rules – the crew performs damage control to cover up the scandal.

"The Wire"

Episode title:
“Margin of Error,” from Season 4

Original air date: October 15, 2006

Synopsis: It’d be pretty hard to drop into just one episode of “The Wire’s” landmark Tommy Carcetti-Clarence Royce mayoral slugfest and grasp the sheer magnitude of its role in framing the series. But “Margin of Error” marks the end of a political showdown that began in Season 3, seemingly with the incumbent Royce (Glynn Turman) an untouchable force in Baltimore even as the wide-eyed “great white hope” Carcetti (Aiden Gillen) attempted to steal his thunder with a series of impassioned speeches. A last minute smear tactic by Royce threatens to pull down Carcetti’s underdog run on election day. But by finally securing the black vote through state delegate Odell Watkins – and even forking over some serious cash to the super-sleazy Clay Davis – Carcetti takes the reins of his beloved Baltimore, marking his momentum as a real agent of change. Or at least until the rest of Seasons 4 and 5 reveal just how quickly one man’s idealism can evaporate in a crumbling city come budget time.

Why it rocked the vote: With his introduction in Season 3, Carcetti became one of "The Wire's" most dynamic characters – the kind of politician you weren’t sure whether to love or hate, which honestly, leads to a little of both. The draining campaign brings about some hilarious, all-too human moments – particularly when Carcetti throws a hissy fit because he has to make more fruitless cold calls to donors. But he also displays real character and leadership when he attends the funeral of an African-American man who is killed while serving as a state’s witness. Originally there for political purposes, Carcetti turns down news coverage because the exploitation doesn't feel right after speaking to the murdered man’s grieving mother. It proves Carcetti's heart was always in the right place. But maverick or not, he never had a chance in the dirtiest game of all.

"Spin City"

Episode title:
“Goodbye, Parts 1 and 2,” from Season 4

Original air date: May 24, 2000

Synopsis: Nikki’s new boyfriend is a hit with the Mayor’s staff, which would be fine and dandy if not for the minor detail that he’s a big time mobster. When a snoopy reporter who has it in for Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty (Michael J. Fox) starts digging into the story, it’s revealed that the staff did minor favors for Nikki’s mob friend, including the Mayor giving away a no-bid construction contract. That it wasn’t intentionally shady doesn’t matter to Mr. Muckraker. Though Stuart offers up Paul as the office's sacrificial lamb, Mike shockingly falls on the sword during an impromptu press conference and leaves City Hall for good (it’s the only hand he can play, the spinmeister surmises) so the Mayor’s political career can remain untarnished.

Why it rocked the vote: “Spin City” never killed in the ratings, but this one did since it marked Michael J. Fox’s emotional exit from full-time TV due to his real-life Parkinson’s diagnosis. Even though it was a half-hour comedy, “Spin City” displayed a tremendous amount of heart throughout. “Goodbye” is particularly sentimental (even including Fox's "Family Ties" dad, Michael Gross, in a perfect cameo) as it examines the devotion Mike has for the Mayor -- a testament to the “take a bullet” kind of relationship a lot of people have for the politicians they serve. Well, except folks like Scott McClellan, who know a good book deal when they see one.

-- Adam Reinhard,, Malavika Jagannathan,, Kendra Meinert,, Sara Boyd, and Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: ,