A day at the TV Land Awards

Cast Of The Love Boat

The TV Land Awards are not an “and the winner is…” kind of award show extravaganza. They’re more a series of honorary nods to the very popular shows of television’s illustrious, time-killing past with an emphasis on glitz. And so a bunch of us media types were invited to add to the hub-bub at the Sony Studios back lot on a breezy April, waiting on a red carpet for whichever celebrity was escorted to our assigned spots, with those from famed print and broadcast outlets obviously getting the first dibs. In the case of this lowly pixel stained wretch, I felt honored to chat with a few really terrific performers who, each in their own way, had made quite an impression on me personally.

That most definitely applies to Jane Leeves, the comedically gifted actress best known as Daphne, Niles Crane’s Manchester-born one-true-crush and eventual wife from “Frasier.” After confessing that I’d had a crush of my own on her since before her famed “Seinfeld” turn as “Marla, the Virgin” her response was typically blunt-yet-charming. “I’m not that old!”

“Neither am I!,” I blurted. (I later learned that Ms. Leeves birthday was the following day. My own birthday was two days prior. I guess age was on both of our minds.)

Aside from being no non-TV star herself, Ms. Leeves was there to promote her now show, coincidentally to be aired on TV Land in a rare foray into original programming, “Hot in Cleveland.” The show teams Leeves with Wendy Malick (“Just Shoot Me”) and Valerie Bertinelli (“One Day at a Time”). The three play “very L.A.” career women with show business-related backgrounds of various types. (Leeves plays an “eyebrow plucker to the stars.”) Feeling a bit aged out of the L.A. game, they attempt a trip to Paris, but instead find themselves marooned at the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They quickly realize that beautiful, middle-aged women who can refer to celebrities by their first name are actually in fairly short supply in the midwestern metropolis and they decide to stay and be big fish in a smaller glamor pond. Betty White costars as a neighbor, perhaps a wacky one. Cue the glib comparisons calling this a “younger ‘Golden Girls.'”

Nevertheless, fans of Ms. Leeves should rest assured that her character is no retread of Daphne Moon. “She’s focused her whole life on her career and has forgotten to have a life. She’s the sort of smart aleck, wise-ass of the group, so it’s very different.”

janeleeves2

Then, perhaps feeling a bit star-struck, I went with the fallback question I frequently steal from our esteemed Will Harris. What project has she done that she doesn’t feel has gotten enough attention.

“It’s my cooking, quite frankly.”

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‘Til Death: The Complete Second Season

When I think of Fox’s “‘Til Death,” I always think of Philip Baker Hall. When he and I discussed how his series, “The Loop,” never had a fighting chance with its second season, Hall groused about how Fox head Peter Ligouri threw all his energy into keeping “‘Til Death” on the air, “in spite of the fact that its numbers are among the lowest in the history of TV. He’s just pushed the hell out of that show, he just can’t stop talking about how great it is and how funny it is, and he can’t stop pouring money into it. He can’t stop taking whole sections of the newspaper as ads! But the fact is that the numbers are really bad…and he’s still pushing it!” Perhaps these comments from Mr. Hall colored my opinion as I sat down to watch “‘Til Death: The Complete Second Season,” but after screening the set, I was left wondering why Ligouri has battled so hard to keep the series on the air. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not worth waging a war to save.

When Season 2 of the series begins, the premise has not changed appreciably: Eddie and Joy Stark (Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher) are a long-married couple who live next door to Jeff and Steph Woodcock (Eddie Kaye Thomas and Kat Foster), a pair of newlyweds. In addition to the various lessons about marriage that the naive Woodcocks learn from the jaded Starks, Eddie and Jeff both work at the same high school, though the only time their employment really comes into play is when Jeff gets a temporary promotion to principal and suspends Eddie for a few days for inappropriate behavior. In what can only be viewed as a desperate attempt to figure out how to bring new viewers into the show, the halfway point of the season finds the show adding a new character: Kenny Westchester (J.B. Smoove), a recent divorcee who, due to some clerical error, is selected as Eddie’s “little brother” when he joins a “Big Brother” program. Married couples will certainly recognize a lot of their more cynical moments in the adventures of the Starks, but the problem with “‘Til Death” has always been its interest in going unnecessarily lowbrow, and that remains the primary issue. You’ll laugh, to be sure, but at least half the time, you’ll feel guilty about it.

Click to buy “‘Til Death: The Complete Second Season”

  

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