Category: Television

Peter Jennings died 10 years ago today

There are certain moments in time, whether single acts or a series of familiar events, that help illustrate the story of our lives. Maybe it’s a national pastime like going to baseball games as a kid and watching your heroes play. Perhaps it’s a family vacation or nightly conversations at the dinner table. It could be watching any number of television sitcoms throughout their duration, reading a good book that had a profound impact on your life, or taking part in any number of time-sensitive fashion and music trends.

For me, I’ve experienced all of the above. But one more moment in time that I’d like to pay tribute to was that of Peter Jennings’ tenure at ABC News. Jennings died ten years ago today after losing his battle with lung cancer.

Jennings spent four decades with ABC and was a staple of not only the network but of the entire industry as well. Jennings’ sooth tones and demeanor are forever synonymous with television news for that period of my life, right up until the time his voice became raspy and gravelly and his health waned. His steady, on-air presence defined his poise and confidence in front of the camera, and was perhaps best exemplified by his live coverage of the terrible events of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Everybody of reasonable age remembers where they were when the planes hit the towers and the Pentagon. Me, I was a college sophomore, sitting at first in my dorm room and then later in my journalism class, eyes glued to the TV all day. What better real-life example of broadcast journalism for a communications major than witnessing live coverage of an ongoing national tragedy, narrated by one of our nation’s greatest anchors?

I was saddened by his passing a decade ago and cannot believe how fast time flies.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt to produce, star in ‘Fraggle Rock’ Movie

Dance your cares away,
worries for another day,
let the music play,
down at Fraggle Rock!

“Down At Fraggle Rock”, Fraggle Rock TV show

There’s good news for children of the 80s who grew up watching Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock. The live action puppet television series featuring Muppet creatures called Fraggles now will be coming to the big screen, in a movie adaptation of the television series, according to Variety magazine.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, perhaps one of my favorite actors, who has appeared in movies such as Angels in the Outfield, 10 Things I Hate About You, 50/50, and The Dark Knight Rises among others, will not only star in the new Fraggle Rock movie but he’ll produce it as well.

Those who grew up watching the television series — I often found myself running toward the bus stop in the morning to catch the school bus because I didn’t want to miss the end of the show — are now old enough to have children of their own. I expect many from that generation to take their kids to see this movie.

While I don’t personally expect to see this in a theater — I don’t have kids and probably would feel pretty goofy paying to attend a showing of this as an adult — you can bet I’ll try to catch it if and when it ever gets to television.

‘The Simpsons’ co-creator Sam Simon passes away at 59

If you once were, or perhaps still are, a fan of the long-running animated comedy, The Simpsons, then you owe a great debt of gratitude to one of the show’s most influential men, Sam Simon.

It’s with great sadness that we’ve learned that Simon passed away Sunday at the age of 59, following a long battle with colorectal cancer.

As most Simpsons fans know, the show began as a series of short cartoons on The Tracey Ullman Show, for which Simon was a writer and executive producer. Soon after, the show became a series and took off after that into one of the best television shows of all time.

It’s sad to see anybody pass on from cancer, especially those who are at a relatively young age, as 59 certainly qualifies to be. But we are forever grateful for the legacy he left and for his contribution to a show that most of us grew up with, and with which we associate so many great memories, quotes, and sound bites.

The Seven Dwarfs Names: ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant botches list

What are the names of the seven dwarfs from ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’? Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Dopey.

I think most Americans are well acquainted with the fairy tale, but reciting the dwarfs’ names by memory, however, might be a little trickier for everybody to do.

But what if all seven dwarfs’ names were listed in a row for you to see, each missing only a letter or two? That should be easy enough that you should still be able to recite them all, right?

Well, apparently not easy enough for everybody. A woman on the Wheel of Fortune game show elected to solve a puzzle from the category “Characters” in which the answer was the name of the seven dwarfs. She botched the name “Sneezy” with “Sneeky.”

Two things concern me about this. First, host Pat Sajak told her before she began her answer, “Carefully, go ahead.” But that didn’t stop the woman from nervously rushing through it. Secondly, the word “sneaky” is spelled with an A, not with two E’s, which was displayed on the game board.

It’s hard to say how I’d react if I were nervous and on TV, but I have a hard time believing I’d botch that one.

Adam Sandler and Bob Barker resume fight from 19 years ago

Adam Sandler is one of the most decorated actors and celebrities of this generation. He’s appeared in so many popular movies from Billy Madison to The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Big Daddy, Anger Management, 50 First Dates, Click, Bedtime Stories, Grown Ups (ignore the sequel to that one), Just Go with It — and many others.

But perhaps one of my favorite Sandler films of all time is Happy Gilmore, the story of struggling hockey player who takes up golf to help save his grandmother’s house.

In that movie, Happy — played by a much younger Sandler — plays in a Pro-Am tournament with celebrity Bob Barker. When Happy gets heckled by a bystander, he plays so poorly that Barker teases him mercilessly. It reaches a point where Happy loses his cool and gets into a fight with Barker.

That feud apparently isn’t over! Sandler and Barker paired up to film a segment for the Night of Too Many Stars, Comedy Central’s annual fundraiser for autism education programs.

Take a look at what unfolded…

Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock of ‘Star Trek’, passes away at 83

Leonard Nimoy, the Star Trek actor who played the role of Mr. Spock, who made famous the Vulcan salute and the phrase, “live long and prosper,” has died at the age of 83. According to his wife, the cause of death was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Nimoy was a cultural icon. Aside from his popular Star Trek role, he had parts in many movies, sadly, most of which were before my time. But he’ll be remembered most as Spock and he had a tremendous effect on many lives.

One more time, you can ‘Be Like Mike’

In honor of their 50th anniversary, Gatorade will be bringing back their iconic “Be Like Mike” commercial during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.

Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, signed an endorsement deal with Gatorade and started a revolutionary movement throughout the 1990s. This catchy commercial and jingle became the rallying cry for children all throughout the country, who sang the lyrics in their driveways and neighborhood playgrounds, with the hopes that they could fly as high as “His Airness”, hit game-winning jump shots, and “Be Like Mike.”

I get goosebumps every time I hear the song or see the commercial. It’s very nostalgic for me.

Jimmy Fallon, ‘Saved by the Bell’ cast return to Bayside High

For those of us lucky enough to be born in the 70s, 80s, and even 90s, we got to grow up watching the television show, Saved by the Bell, either live or in syndication reruns. We got to follow the gang of six as they pretty much owned Bayside High School and stuck their noses in every club, sport, or extracurricular activity one could imagine.

On Wednesday night, we got to relive a piece of the glory days as five members of the cast — Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez), Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley), Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen) and Principal Richard Belding (Dennis Haskins) — did a skit with Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2015 Super Bowl commercials

Once upon a time, “the big game at the end of the year” wasn’t just the championship contest between the National Football League’s two best teams. No, the Super Bowl was also a national platform for various companies to showcase their products via 30- and 60-second commercials in the most creative and ingenious ways possible.

If you can recall, remember the greatness of the Budweiser frogs and the Clydesdales playing football, the talking E-Trade baby, the Betty White Snickers, the McDonald’s Michael Jordan versus Larry Bird game of “horse”, the various talking M&M’s commercials (specifically the “Sexy and I Know It” parody), and so many more clever ones!

These days there is still a huge market for Super Bowl Sunday advertisements and they come at a premium. The cost for a 30-second spot was upwards of $4.5 million. This past Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Patriots was the most-watched Super Bowl of all time. There are a lot of eyes on the television and a lot of potential customers.

But what has become of the advertising message? The humor is either hard to come by or ceases to exist in many of this era’s Super Bowl commercials. Take Sunday’s slate of ads for example. The overall tenor of the commercials was one of raw emotion than light-hearted comedy. Many advertisers tried to pull at the heartstrings of their audiences rather than pitch their product in humorous fashion.

In fact, a lot of the commercials’ entertainment value and plot lines had little to nothing to do with the product itself. For instance, can someone explain to me what a few of the parenting commercials had to do with automobiles? As if the kind of car you drive means you’ll be a better father?

Here’s a look at some of the good, the bad, and the ugly from the 2015 batch of Super Bowl commercials.

The Good

  • ‘Lost Dog’, Budweiser

    I’m not sure what a dog who goes for a joyride and gets lost and has to be saved by a bunch of Clydesdales has to do with beer, but it was cute and emotional and gets props for that.

  • ‘Blue Pill’, Fiat

    An old man looking to make love to his woman goes into the bathroom to get his pill but misses tossing it into his mouth. It flies out the window and lands inside the gas tank of a Fiat, thus giving the Fiat more “virility.”

  • ‘Middle Seat’, Doritos

    A young man aboard an airplane, sitting in the aisle seat and not wanting to give up the middle seat to just anybody, fakes being sick and does everything in his power to prevent other passengers from sitting next to him. He then spots an attractive woman and offers her the middle seat next to him, but is disappointed when she winds up with a baby.

The Bad

  • ‘Like a Girl’, Always

    I’m not a sexist, but I had a problem with the feminism behind this ad. If I have a daughter, I will raise her to be the best she can be and support her in her endeavors. But the male and female bodies were designed by God physiologically different. That’s why they play different sports; the “majority” of women don’t have the same strength and motor skills that “most” men do. So, when men say to other men “you throw like a girl,” it’s not really meant to put down women (even though it may sound like that). It’s meant to say that that man is physically weaker than his male competition. That’s not an inaccurate statement. That’s Science and Physiology 101.

  • ‘When Pigs Fly’, Doritos

    A little boy on a farm asks a man if he can have some Doritos. The Man retorts, “When pigs fly.” The little boy then lays out a blueprint to strap a rocket jet pack to a pig’s back to send him “flying.” The boy gets some Doritos. This is one example of what I meant previously by saying some commercials try too hard and cease to be funny. This was a predictable plot and not very humorous.

  • ‘Invisible’, Nationwide

    Mindy Kaling, of The Mindy Project, has been ignored, leaving her to believe she is actually invisible. So she goes around doing things someone might feel like doing if they didn’t think anybody was watching. She later learns she really isn’t invisible, just ignored. The message from Nationwide is that they won’t ignore you. Not really funny, not really creative.

The Ugly

  • ‘Listen’, No More

    A 9-1-1 call is placed and the phone conversation occurs with shots of a disorderly home in the background. The operator is asking if the woman on the phone is okay and the woman is speaking in code to let him know something is wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the efforts of to bring attention to domestic violence and sexual assault, especially during the Super Bowl, considering there have been NFL players found guilty of such crimes. But for me personally, a man of God who shudders at the mere thought of domestic violence, I didn’t need or want to see the commercial. But I pray that domestic violence comes to an end.

  • ‘Boy’, Nationwide

    Nationwide has drawn a lot of criticism for this one. A boy narrates all the things that he’ll never get to do in his life … because he says he died from an accident. The camera then shows various common household accidents that could lead to such a tragedy. While I understand the message that is trying to be sent — beware of the dangers and hazards in your household you otherwise might overlook — I’m not sure this message had to be sent in such a manner.

  • ‘Game of War’, Machine Zone

    Frankly, I’m sick of these commercials. Supermodel and “actress” Kate Upton has been the spokeswoman for the video game, Game of War, for a while now. The idea that “sex sells” has been around for eons, so I’m not the slightest surprised that Machine Zone would hire Upton to promote the game. But the idea that Upton flaunting her chest in a skimpy outfit would somehow entice me to play this game is insulting as a man.

There are many other commercials that I found either good, bad, or ugly. Here’s a complete list of Super Bowl commercials for you to review.