Posts Tagged ‘television’


Posted in General on July 15th, 2014 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

I just came across a list of “Television’s 25 Most Shocking Deaths.” Of course, the list was purely subjective. In some cases, the shock was that I had never heard of the particular shows. So I decided to create my own list of traumatic demises,,,

‘Television’s 25 Most Shocking Deaths”

20-25: Botched experiments on “Mr. Wizard.” However, the subsequent shows on dissection were always interesting.

6-19: Arthur Chu eating defeated contestants on Jeopardy!

5. Riding home from their wedding and the BBC, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy are killed by Andrew Jackson. That does even the score for burning Washington.

4. On the series finale of “Gunsmoke” Marshall Dillon’s realization that Miss Kitty was a transvestite. You’d think in the series’ twenty years he might have noticed sooner, but that was television in its PG days.

3. Bennett Cerf strangling John Daly on “What’s My Line?” Mr. Cerf was enraged that he had spent five minutes trying to guess the identity of Soupy Sales. The jury would rule it a justifiable homicide.

2. The TARDIS landing on Matthew Crawley. The Doctor did provide the late Matthew an alternate life as a malpractice attorney in 1349 London.

1. Barney killing the three civil rights workers on the Andy Griffith episode “Mayberry Burning.”

Prequels and Premonitions

Posted in General on August 17th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – 1 Comment

Sex and the City’ Prequel on Its Way?

Xfinity TV

Will Carrie Bradshaw make a return to television? Talks are underway to develop author Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City prequel, The Carrie Diaries, for the small screen.

The Carrie Diaries starts with Carrie Bradshaw’s senior year of high school in New England in the 80s and leads up to her budding writing career in  New York City. Her love interest in the books is Sebastian Kydd, who comes from a privileged background and ultimately winds up betraying Carrie.

If Carrie’s first love is named Sebastian Kydd, I can guess the nature of her disappointment.  But at least he probably taught her all about Manolo Blahniks.

But I think that we could come up with better prequels than that…

The Pleisto-Scene“:  See how young Fred Flintstone learns to walk upright.  Watch Barney Rubble panic when he loses his tail; how will he explain it to his parents?  And watch the lads get into all sorts of trouble with that yellowish, burning stuff!

Mayberry Burning“, starring Lucy Lawless as Aunt Bea.  What she knows–and does–will keep Andy boss of the town.  And what happened to those three civil rights workers?  The reason why Deputy Fife now is trusted with only one bullet.

I Love Ethel“:  While Ricky is still beating the peasants on his father’s Cuban estates, and Lucy is fighting off the advances of Louis B. Mayer, see how Ethel meets Fred at an Alf Landon rally.

Endora the Teenage Witch“:  Imagine the fun of being a sorceress in the Middle Ages.   In the premiere, Endora dyes her hair black; the 14th century is a good time to look Gothic.  Unfortunately, her spell for “black dye” inadvertently causes “black die.”  Half of Europe’s population gets the Bubonic plague.  But with quick thinking, Endora blames the Kravitzes.   In subsequent episodes, we will meet Endora’s first love: Sebastian Kydd.  And doesn’t that explain it all….

Now I will just sit here and wait for my Emmys.



My Next Attempt at Fortune and a Pulitzer

Posted in General on May 25th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

Television certainly knows how to recycle.  Just recently, one of the major networks decided to do its own version of Larry David’s masterpiece of misanthropy  “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”  Of course, in keeping with the network’s standards and practices, the reproduction was diluted, homogenized, sanitized and–shall we say–Unitarian.  The show was cancelled after two episodes. 

And I can barely wait to ignore a new production of “Charlie’s Angels.”  For those of you who are too young to remember the original or had better things to do, “Charlie’s Angels” was most teenage boys’ “therapy” as well as many middle-aged men’s fantasy of a second wife.  The show’s appeal was two-fold, and they were both on Farah Fawcett.  (Really, no one watched for Kate Jackson’s acting.)  There actually was no more than a hint–a clinging outline–but that literal titillation, unprecedented in American television, had millions of males trying to peek down the blouse of a cathode tube.   But that was the Seventies….By today’s standards, “Charlie’s Angels” could be on Nickelodeon.  On cable, even “Anne of Green Gables” is R-rated.  (Do Canadian cows really have silicon implants, and did their national healthcare cover that?)   How can this revived “Charlie’s Angels” compete with that?  Perhaps, it should try a different tact, and loot two Seventies series instead of one.  How is this:  each week, a trio of gorgeous detectives try to save the remnants of an unworthy mankind from annihilation by morally superior robots:  Charlie’s Battlestars!

And if that idea doesn’t earn a fortune, or at least a gift card for Musso & Franks, I have an even better “concept”.  Imagine a series that combines the complacent charm of the Eisenhower Fifties with provocative BBC quality from the Eighties.  And they are practically the same name!  In the 1950s, William Bendix played a blue-collar bumbler in “The Life of Riley”.  Three decades later, Sam Neill portrayed a ruthless British spy of the early 20th century in “Reilly, Ace of Spies.”   So, in “The Life of a Riley, Ace of Spies” we have a series about the world’s most brilliant, deadliest plumber.

Imagine this as the pilot episode.  Riley is assigned to steal the Russian defense plans for Manchuria.  Needing an excuse to get into the Winter Palace, Riley kills Tschaikovsky and uses the corpse’s beard to clog the pipes.  Then free to roam about the Palace, Riley seduces the Tsarina, for both the exercise and to use her to steal the secret plans.  The information ensures that the Japanese will win the Russo-Japanese War.  However, Riley still has to unclog the Palace pipes:  “Wat a revolting development dis is.”

(Casting recommendations for this and future episodes:  Shannon Tweed as Tsarina Alexandra, Lucy Lawless as Edith Wilson, and Kim Kardashian as Eleanor Roosevelt.)

p.s.  Let’s not forget the literary significance of this day:

Convenient Amnesia

Posted in General on May 15th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

My Dark Secret

Posted in General on May 4th, 2010 by Eugene Finerman – 3 Comments

You may have suspected it, but you were too disgusted to say anything.  Perhaps you just didn’t want to believe it, and so you ignored the obvious.  But what else could explain my silence on a topic where I am usually less tolerant than Torquemada.  Why haven’t I denounced the historical inaccuracies on “Spartacus”, the cable series purporting to be the early life of the gladiator who led a slave rebellion against Rome.  Am I that grateful for Lucy Lawless’ nude scenes?  Yes…but that is not my only reason.

“Spartacus” does not affront my love of history because the series is not remotely historical.  “Spartacus” is little more than a toga party–and the characters rarely wear that much.  The series is really a black comedy on social climbing: the slaves want to be plebians, the plebians want to be patricians, and the patricians are bored.  As far as the main characters are concerned, the setting could be New Rochelle, and Spartacus is a comedy writer slaving for a tyrannical if droll master.  (One slight difference: in “Spartacus” Mel Cooley would have the right to kill Buddy Sorrell.)

But even allowing for my appreciation of the satire, isn’t the series making a mockery of history?  No, not really.  In “Spartacus” the history is merely a backdrop, an innocent bystander at the gratuitous orgies and histrionic intrigues.  Most of the show’s characters never existed; so history is uninvolved.  Even for those who were real, the plot takes place before history first took note of them.  They are still blank pages for the scriptwriters to indulge their mischief and prurience.  Yes, it is still an intellectual outrage but “no real history was harmed in the making of this program.”

Since “Spartacus” has proved a success, it no doubt will inspire other historical prequels.  I am going to suggest a series on Napoleon, but focused on his sophomore year at the Brienne military academy.  Of course, the dorm chambermaid will be a nymphomaniac, as well as his geometry teacher, music teacher, fencing coach, career counselor and the headmistress.  If HBO produces this series, we can arrange for Napoleon to have an affair with Abigail Adams, too.

Eugene’s Lunchtime Theater

Posted in General on July 17th, 2008 by Eugene Finerman – 6 Comments

Among Eastern Orthodox Christians, it is a custom to keep a votive candle always lit next to the family’s household icon. We Americans have a similar devotion of keeping the television perpetually on. As a child of my times, I couldn’t be expected to eat lunch at home without the accompaniment of the TV. And I can justify my habit by the cultural tutorial I gain.

At least, I am catching up on series that didn’t really interest me in the first place. For instance, by now I have seen every episode of “Crossing Jordan”, the adventures of a crime-solving, sexy coroner. (But aren’t they all?) Of course, after I have watched about five episodes, I had a pretty good idea what every show would be like. It seems our heroine–Jordan– has an unfortunate tendency to wake up drunk next to a corpse and there is always incriminating evidence against her. (The severed head in one hand and the bloody axe in the other could give people the wrong impression.) She then will spend the rest of the episode proving her innocence.

After a five-year run, “Crossing Jordan” was cancelled by NBC. I am surprised that the History Channel did not pick up the show. Think of all the historical murders that our heroine could solve. “Jordan wakes up in a car in Sarajevo. Next to her are the bullet-riddled corpses of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Archduchess Sophie; and our heroine is holding the murder weapon. Can she solve the crime before Austria-Hungary and Germany declare war on her?”

Of late, my lunchtime viewing is “Law and Order.” First, how can I avoid a series that been on the air for 230 years and has 98 spin-offs? But the show has a titillating appeal–its “ripped from the headlines” plots. The writers glean the news for names and storylines, and blends them into a sensational recipe–and two months later, there is an episode where Ben Bernanke kills Heath Ledger over incriminating photos of France’s First Lady Carla Bruni. So, two New York detectives have to first talk their way into the French Consul by claiming to be bidet salesmen. After beating a French attache into a confession, they then learn their mistake and that Bernanke was seen murdering Ledger. (Jerry Orbach apologizes to the semiconscious Frenchman by doing a Maurice Chevalier imitation.) And that is just the first 30 minutes. Then, you get to see amazing and horrifying machinations of lawyers. For example, 40 witnesses saw Bernanke strangle Ledger; but Bernanke’s lawyer suppresses their testimony on the grounds that they were violating Mr. Bernanke’s privacy. Although the murder indictment is throw out, the District Attorney manages to convict Bernanke of using the Federal Reserve Board as a front for a porn ring.

And if that particular episode had good ratings, Dick Wolf would plan a new series where Ben Bernanke kills another celebrity each week.

Our Yenta in Art in Heaven

Posted in General on June 21st, 2008 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

Notre Dame, NBC agree to 5-year deal through 2015

In what may be the hiring coup of the millennium, NBC will have the political insights, the theological gossip and the Jewish mothering of the Virgin Mary. The ancient lady will be NBC’s equivalent to Barbara Walters.

The introductory reception featured fish and loaves. “Jeshie used my recipe,” exclaimed His Mother who insisted that everyone called Her Miriam. “Virgin sounds much too formal. After all, I’m not Oprah.”

People noted her excellent command of English. She was asked if she had picked up the language from watching reruns of Fulton J. Sheen. “No, dahling. I was personally taught by Mr. Shakespeare. But first I made him apologize for that nasty “Merchant of Venice.”

Addressing rumors, NBC denied that Miriam would not have a talk show on CNBC.  “It just wouldn’t work,” explained a spokesman. “No one would want to lie to Her, so no one would come on the show.”

The stock market rallied on the news of the deal. Analysts noted that the Second Coming now definitely would not occur before 2015. “Jesus isn’t going to throw his mother out of work.”

The Gripes of Wrath

Posted in General on November 12th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

The writers’ strike has left us with this shocking realization: Larry King is the most intelligent man on television. He doesn’t need a staff of ventriloquists; he really knows every Esther Williams movie.

In today’s spam, along with the usual offers from billionaire Nigerian princes, was this advertisement:


Earn $200 an hour harvesting punchlines. Our workers’ camps have showers and Yoga instructors.

Yes, they tempt you with Paradise. But once you load the wife, the kinfolk and the pug into the truck, then drive to Californie (making a detour to push some of the kinfolk into the Grand Canyon), you’ll find the wages have gone down to $110 an hour. You struggle all day but then don’t get paid; the overseer doesn’t like your satirical commentaries on the Byzantine Empire. (Jay Leno has never heard of it.) So, rather than being beaten up by Ward Bond to the tune of “Red River Valley”, I’ll forego my career in migrant labor.

But without my scab wit, will Hollywood be forced to surrender? Not quite. The producers know the American public and the extent of our attention span. So, expect the networks to premiere such new shows as “I Love Lucy” and “Gunsmoke”. Thanks to computer technology, the shows can be updated to include profanity and nudity. (A nude Spring Byington might be hotter than you think.)

Even the gameshows can prove that they can do without writers. “Wheel of Fortune” now will allow misspellings. On “Jeopardy” the contestants will take questions from the audience.

Furthermore, the networks can buy television shows from abroad. For instance, Britain’s “Coronation Street” has 47 years of episodes, and it is in nearly intelligible English. (Someone from London can dub what they’re saying in Manchester.) Add Japanese samurai series and Mexican soap operas, and you have a full broadcasting schedule.

In fact, the networks may never again have to hire American writers. High school students in India are willing to work for extra credit. As television has repeatedly shown, you can write for any series with just two years of English, a subscription to Playboy, and a copy of “Yiddish for Dummies”.