Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CBS fall 2015 schedule thoughts

In the past two or three years, network television's quality has both declined and increased. I have The Walking Dead) being shown on AMC -- a cable channel.
seen a number of great ideas with an almost infinite amount of potential completely squandered and left to wither and die. I have also seen dreck and lowbrow, low-concept programs become middling hits. To find a hit nowadays, though, is a challenge as television viewing is more fragmented than ever before with the continuing rise of Netflix, Amazon becoming a player and the most popular series (

CBS (aka The Tiffany Network) had been able -- until the past year or two -- to avoid the sliding ratings and rarely had more than two series which turned out to be complete dogs. They continually churned out crime dramas which pulled in steady ratings and spawned spinoffs. On the comedy side, their multi-camera shows followed a formula of set-up, easy joke, laughter. It worked and they built on their Monday comedy success with a solidly watched Thursday comedy block. That new Thursday block quickly laid waste to NBC's once-popular Thursday comedy block.

But the success of the CBS Thursday comedy block came at a price. Failing to find a big hit after How I Met Your Mother began its decline and eventually ended its run, the two-hour Monday comedy block was scaled back to a mere hour for the 2014-15 season. The anchor 2 Broke Girls  failed to improve or even maintain its viewership levels.

The schedule for the fall 2015 season on CBS is the most disappointing and lackluster of all of the networks -- and that says a lot given the bottom-of-the-barrel crap NBC is rolling out.

(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)
8-8:30 PM The Big Bang Theory
8-9 PM SUPERGIRL (Starting in November)
9-10 PM Scorpion
10-11 PM NCIS: Los Angeles
9-10 PM NCIS: New Orleans
8-9 PM Survivor
9-10 PM Criminal Minds
8-11 PM, ET/ NFL Thursday Night Football (Premieres Sept. 17)
5-8 PM, PT
8-8:30 PM The Big Bang Theory (RTP) (Starting in November)
8:30-9 PM LIFE IN PIECES (Starting in November)
9-9:30 PM Mom (Starting in November)
9:30-10 PM ANGEL FROM HELL (Starting in November)
10-11 PM Elementary(Starting in November)
8-9 PM The Amazing Race
9-10 PM Hawaii Five-O
10-11 PM Blue Bloods
8-9 PM Crimetime Saturday
9-10 PM Crimetime Saturday
10-11 PM 48 Hours
7-9 PM 60 Minutes
8-9 PM Madam Secretary
9-10 PM The Good Wife

 The biggest shock is that beginning in November, CBS will have no comedies on it Monday night lineup for the first time in over 60 years. This is not just the end of an era, it also marks the continued slide of sitcoms on network television. There will be a mere 12 hours of comedies each week on network television when November rolls around. I am sure that the number has been far lower before but when spread across four major networks it is definitely a low point for televised comedies.

The one series that sticks out like a sore thumb for CBS is Supergirl. It's not geared towards the silver hair crowd. It features a female lead. It could also be the beginning of CBS actively trying to attract younger viewers with the cheesy but young-skewing Scorpion pairing well with Supergirl. Two hours of dramas which could actually appeal to people under 50 years old. Or Supergirl could be a complete failure and vanish by February. Just wait and see.

Monday, April 06, 2015

How not to mess up Easter

Easter is one of those holidays which brings all parts of the family together. The host family spends hours cleaning their home, preparing food and planning this only to have it turn to shit in mere minutes.

 For us, hosting Easter dinner for the third time in ten years, we partially remodeled both our kitchen and living room, meticulously cleaned our money pit of a house and planned a pretty kick-ass meal. Of course, as luck would have it, the electricity had gone out when we arrived home from an excruciatingly long Easter morning mass. We hauled what we needed to my sister-in-law’s house and the wife cooked what she could there. I stayed home and minded the rugrats and waited for guests to show up.

 The guests showed up in a trickle. The electricity came back on at ten minutes before noon and we hustled to get everything on the table by noon. We missed the mark by about ten minutes but that was, by far, the most timely holiday meal which had been served in over a decade for this particular family by anyone hosting it.

 The problem, though, was that eleven people had yet to show up. I graciously waited five minutes and, after that time, calmly proclaimed “screw ‘em” and told everyone to eat. The food was as good as could be expected but where in the holy hell have people’s manners gone? I know that life gets in the way and kids can be a total bitch to get out the door in a timely fashion but it’s not like this was sprung on you a few hours ago. We told people months ago, followed up by a reminder a few weeks ago and a reminder about what to bring about two weeks ago.

So, why can’t people show up at a designated time? Everyone lives within ten minutes of our house. The wife’s dad showed up 50 minutes late. One of her brothers and his family showed up over an hour late. Her sister and family rolled up thirty minutes late. That accounts for a whopping fourteen guests showing up late. I get that holidays should be fun and relaxed but, shit, plan your time a bit better. While this isn’t a fucking job interview, have some respect for those who have the kindness to invite you lazy, untimely bastards into their house and feed you for free. Showing up on time is the least you can do.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Bunnies and eggs, an Easter question

Why are the two traditional symbols of the commercialized Easter holiday entirely unrelated?

Bunnies don't come from chicken eggs and chicken eggs don't come from bunnies. Sure, if my science here is correct, bunnies do in fact come from eggs but that involves freaky bunny sex which, amazingly, I know nothing about except that 'fucking like bunnies' is a popular term when describing your friends who have insane amounts of sex.

Great, I went off on a twisted tale involving humans fucking like bunnies while trying to decipher the symbols of easter. Just give me the ticket to hell, please.

Where is the relationship, folks? Why must we surround ourselves with an Easter basket full of varying types of eggs and fill the fucker out with an Easter bunny? Which came first, the bunny or the eggs? Huh? Wait a minute.

That old tale is about a chicken and an egg, two things which are related. Chickens come from eggs and vice versa. Not the same with bunnies. Bunnies are born alive, they are not hatched.

Maybe bunnies, in some corner of the world, give birth to eggs where pollution runs rampant and thus began the tradition. Or maybe they swim underwater at the Mall of America like Scuba Bunny does...

Enlighten me, please.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Last Man on Earth WAS promising

FOX comedy “The Last Man on Earth” started out with an explosion of greatness. A stunning and almost dangerous concept starring but one actor, the under appreciated Will Forte who was the bumbling MacGruber in numerous SNL sketches. The concept was risky but played out wonderfully — one solitary man leaving a bleak if not interesting existence after a virus wiped out 99.99999999% of humanity. It was a wonderful one-man show. Forte’s Phil Miller traveling the country in search of any glimmer of humanity.

I even liked the second episode where the moderately grating Kristen Schall was introduced. She is wonderful as the voice of Louise Belcher on another FOX comedy, the animated and overlooked “Bob’s Burgers” but just like  her role as Hazel Wassername on NBC’s “30 Rock” a few years ago, her acting simply rubs me the wrong way. Her characters are grating and borderline annoying but I suppose that’s why she is playing the characters she is playing.

But a comedy starring even two characters was too good to be true and too good to last for long. Future episodes saw the addition of two more characters. Hopefully that’s where the character additions stop because what quickly became a multi-faceted show focusing more on Phil Miller’s desire to be with the more attractive of the last two apparently living females in America showed just how much of a dickhead he is — even to the only other apparently living guy in America. Everyone needs friends, no matter how much they deny having such a need, and pushing them aside in an effort to have the more desirable of two women possibly shows why Phil Miller survived. He was left behind to suffer through a miserable and incomplete life.

He could choose to be a better friend and a better husband but instead he continually finds ways to alienate those around him. That is, until the most recent episode. Forte’s character chose to change his life to make a better life for those around him. He decided to clean up his poop pool, he reluctantly allowed his wife to move into his house and is beginning to realize that, for better or worse, this weird existence is his new life and that he needs to make the best of it or continue to be a self-loathing and shallow dickhead.

I know that even after a short while that television shows change and evolve but I hope to see more of the weirdness that comes with what is now a small group of  survivors left as the last people in America — possibly Earth — and less of the relationship drama. Check out “The Last Man on Earth” Sundays at 8 PM and/or 8:30 PM (C/T) on FOX.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The string of family deaths has begun

It happened last Wednesday. My mom called in the middle of the day to inform me that her sister’s health was worse than previously expected. Her sister, the youngest of three siblings from my mom’s family, had never married and lived alone in the same apartment for over thirty years. Her health, though, had gone downhill rapidly over the previous six weeks.

I offered to come after work and visit them as they waited for news at the hospital. With her brother from out of state on his way, though, my mom opted to wait for him. She is both an open and closed-off person — at least emotionally speaking. I have rarely seen my mom show her emotions. It’s the way she was raised, I suppose. They grew up with little, thrived on hard work and long hours and survived on little. It’s a generational thing.

I knew, though, that when my mom declined my offer to visit her, her brother and my dad (as well as my aunt) that things were not good. Nobody want to be seen when they are in rapidly declining health by members of even the extended family. As it stands, I am the only nephew my aunt and uncle have. My uncle, married twice, never had children and my parents have only me. Small families are typically close-knit and I suppose ours is no different. I arrived home form work that evening and further discussed with my wife what was going on. I flatly explained that this is just how my mom is. My wife knows it and has seen it. A hug is a rarity but the love, often unspoken, is still there.

When my phone rang on my way to work the following morning I already knew what it was about. My aunt, at the age of 63 years old, had passed away at 2:23 AM at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. After only one day in the hospital in Mankato, she was airlifted when bad became worse. They contemplated surgery but with the medication my aunt was on she would have likely bled to death. If medical attention, and a consensus between doctors at the clinic and the hospital in Mankato, would have been sought out earlier, the trio of conditions could have likely been treated. Instead my aunt passed away due to complications from a kidney disease, a possibly ruptured colon and a nerve disorder. All of which stemmed from a poor diet and a lack of medical attention.

When this happened, I wondered how my mom would deal with it. Separated by about 100 miles, the two spoke weekly via phone. My mom is the oldest in the family and she is the glue that holds not only her family but my dad’s family together, too. They visited in person regularly and my mom looked out for her as plenty of older siblings do for their younger siblings.

My mom, though, described what she was experiencing only as “a bit tough”. That’s who my mom is. She can talk for hours but when it comes to anything remotely personal, the conversation is quickly steered away from that topic.

The troubling part for me is that this was the first death of a close family member. The first aunt to pass away. Sadly, it marks what will likely be a regular occurrence for years to come. My dad is one of seven siblings and he also has two step-siblings. That leaves around a dozen family members when you factor in spouses. The next twenty-five years will be full of losses for my extended family.

But instead of thinking about the losses, I like to focus on the positives. My daughter will have her first of probably many boyfriends. My son will start school and slay plenty of ladies with his good looks. Things will continue to change and evolve for my wife and me. Our friends and family will continue to grow. We’ll have far more good times than bad.

The inevitable changes will happen but the memories will last forever.