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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On vacation and on location: a Television Tour of the Big Apple

Chances are at least one of your favorite shows is either set or shot in New York, even if all you watch is TV Land. The Big Apple plays a significant role in any number of iconic shows because producers and writers love using it to represent the mythic "city." And, why not? After all, would "Seinfeld" be the same had it been set in Omaha? Would we glamorize the girls of "Sex and the City" if they lived in San Diego instead of Manhattan?

With a week to kill in New York -- yeah, I know, it's exhausting to be me -- I decided to go on the mission to find a few of the places I had only ever seen on my 20" TV. Given the depth of pointless information on the Interwebs, it wasn't hard to find locations and addresses, but I decided to one step further and rate my initial reaction on a scale of one to five. Was I wowed at seeing the famed Monk's Diner from "Seinfeld?" Would the hallowed steps of the New York Supreme Court, so often seen on "Law and Order," make me look over my shoulder for Jack McCoy? Read on and find out.

Tom's Restaurant, 112th and Broadway
You've Seen It In: "Seinfeld" as Monk's

Just a few blocks south of Columbia University, this was my first stop on my self-guided TV tour of New York. Only the exterior of Tom's was used on "Seinfeld" -- most of the interior shots of Monk's Cafe were done in a studio -- so there's no 70's-style diner decor when you peer in. As one of the few 24-hour joints in the area, Tom's is always hopping, but I didn't feel obliged to go in and order a big salad.

Rating: Three


160 Riverside Drive
You've Seen It In: "30 Rock" as Liz Lemon's apartment

I didn't get a chance to head up to Apartment 3B, where Tina Fey's semi-fictional Liz Lemon supposedly resides, but I'm pretty sure the grim looking dude I assumed was the doorman wasn't going to let me in even if I tried. Plus, they're apparently remodeling. Because of said doorman, I had to take this photo sneakily from the side, rather than from across the street as is most often the shot we see on "30 Rock." Either way, this is a great neighborhood to live in -- with vantages of Riverside Park and the Hudson River -- and I am inclined to feel less sorry for Lemon now that I've seen where she lives.


Rating: Two, but only because of aforementioned possible doorman and construction




232 E. Broadway
You've Seen It In: "Flight of the Conchords" as the New Zealand Consulate

Thanks to the folks at jaunted.com (an online travel guide), I was easily able to locate the center of the "Flight" universe -- the New Zealand consulate. Actually, this fine building is home to East Broadway Medical Associates, but I half expected an impromptu band meeting to occur. With the real Kiwi consulate in another part of town, this Lower East Side location took to me to a part of New York I had yet to explore and the possibility of getting my annual physical if I had some time. The building looks exactly as it does on the show, perhaps even a bit more rundown, and the folks in the neighborhood are almost exactly like those you see in the show. Minus the racist fruit vendor, sadly.

Rating: Four



New York Supreme Court, 60 Centre St.
You've Seen It In: "Law and Order," "Law and Order: SVU" and other members of the Dick Wolf family of shows

Maybe you just have to be an "Law and Order" fan, but I felt like I was stepping on hallowed ground as I ascended the steps of the Supreme Court. Since it was a Tuesday afternoon, lawyers and their clients poured out of the doors, many of them stopping on the columns to take phone calls or chat with other lawyers about motions (hopefully not bowel-related) and dismissals. I half expected Jack McCoy to come bursting through, followed of course by one of his female ADAs and perhaps Jerry Orbach's Det. Lennie Briscoe, fuming about a judge's decision to withold evidence. It was pure, unadulterated, dhung-dhung bliss.

Rating: Five

By no means is this an exhaustive list. I didn't make it to the Greenwich Village house that served as the Brooklyn residence of the Huxtables on "The Cosby Show." I didn't get a chance to stuff my face with cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery as Carrie and Miranda did on "Sex and the City." I didn't stop by the New York Palace Hotel for cocktails with the Van der Woodsens. And, no matter how hard I tried to get into every minivan-taxi between Harlem and Battery Park, I didn't get a chance to be on "Cash Cab." I did, however, get a brief glimpse of Leah Cohen of "Top Chef" fame in the kitchen of her West Village restaurant. Let's hope she wasn't serving fish.

Now it's your turn -- has anyone else seen places from any of their favorite TV shows? Did it live up to your expectation?

--Malavika Jagannathan, mjaganna@greenbaypressgazette.com

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3 Comments:

You know, I visited the Supreme Court in March but didn't make the connection. Thanks for the primer on NY TV locales!

By Anonymous Anonymous, At May 26, 2009 at 5:43 PM  

Is the Cash Cab really a surprise cab call? Or does it have a special cab number that potential contestants can ring?

By Blogger Ms. Quarter, At May 27, 2009 at 3:19 PM  

Actually, "Cash Cab" contestants hail the cab, so I figured my chances were decent if all I did was hail minivan cabs. However, I'm not sure they're even filming now -- perhaps I should have paid attention to Roz's Q&A with Ben Bailey.

--Malavika

By Anonymous Anonymous, At May 28, 2009 at 8:43 AM  

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