Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour: Top 10 Quotes from Day 2

The first half of the second day of the Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour belonged solely to the Turner networks, who had been notably MIA from the summer tour. Although there were unconfirmed reports that they were not entirely thrilled with the dates that had been set for that tour, as most of their summer programming had already premiered by the time the tour kicked off, but during the opening remarks, we were assured that “we ask for time on the critics tour schedule when we can make it worth your while.” Fair enough, then.

After an “Adventure Time”-themed breakfast from Cartoon Network, Adult Swim brought on a plethora of panelists for “Childrens Hospital” (everyone in the above photo was in attendance, plus executive producers Jonathan Stern and David Wain), TNT followed with “Franklin & Bash,” “Falling Skies,” and “Men of a Certain Age,” then HLN and CNN wrapped things up by getting real and presenting the new talk shows from Dr. Drew Pinsky and Piers Morgan, respectively. Given that I ended up pulling one-on-one interviews with Malcolm McDowell, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Breckin Meyer, Garcelle Beauvais, Ray Romano (and Jon Manfrellotti), Scott Bakula, and Henry Winkler, I am hard pressed to have an unkind word to say about the Turner experience…except, that is, the fact that I diligently and politely contacted publicists for both networks and studios in an effort to nail down interviews in advance but was still ultimately left to fly by the seat of my pants and spend the morning in catch-as-catch-can mode.

Our working lunch was brought to us by the unlikely tag-team of BET (“The Game,” “Let’s Stay Together”) and Playboy TV (“Brooklyn Kinda Love,” “Swing”), and from there it was on to the Discovery family of networks: Animal Planet (“Taking on Tyson,” a look into Mike Tyson’s love of pigeons…yes, seriously), Science Channel (“An Idiot Abroad,” with Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and title character Karl Pilkington), Investigation Discovery (“The Injustice Files”), and the mothership, the Discovery Channel (“Gold Rush – Alaska” and “Kidnap & Rescue”).

By then, the excitement / cynicism in the room was palpable: it was time for the OWN Network presentations. We’d been promised a welcome from Oprah, but we didn’t get one. Instead, we got an introduction from network CEO Christina Norman. She’s a very nice lady, but it wasn’t quite the same, and she admitted as much when she came onstage after a lengthy series of clips featuring Ms. Winfrey, saying, “I know: after all that Oprah, I am a massive disappointment to all of you.” Her Majesty did indeed deign to participate in a Q&A with us, but not until after we sat through panels for “Your OWN Show” (10 finalists compete to get their own series on the network), “The Gayle King Show,” and “Our America with Lisa Ling.” After Oprah held court, using what my esteemed colleague Bill Harris of the Toronto Sun referred to as the George W. Bush Technique, which involved offering incredibly lengthy answers in order to minimize the number of questions actually asked.

After the Q&A came to a close (and you can believe that it only ended when Oprah wanted it to end), we were all invited to attend the evening event which, although it was ostensibly brought to us by the OWN Network, nonetheless featured attendees from shows throughout the Discovery family of networks. This resulted in my having close encounters with Mike Tyson, author James Ellroy, and…well, I didn’t actually get to talk to Oprah, but I did stand very close to her (along with Carson Kressley and Nancy O’Dell, hosts of “Your OWN Show”) and breathe the same air as Oprah, so my understanding is that I will now never get cancer…which is nice, of course, but, damn, I really could’ve used a new car.

I know, you wish I’d gotten a new car, too. Don’t be sad, though, as I’m already sad enough for both of us. Besides, I’d much rather you read my selections for the top 10 quotes of Day 2 and leave me wallowing in my own car-less misery. No, don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine…just as long as you don’t forget to come back for my coverage of Day 3.

1. “The one note we did get (for ‘Children’s Hospital’), it was from Warner Brothers…I hesitate to even tell you this, but when we turned in our first script for the web series, Warner Brothers called us up and said, ‘Um, do you think you could cut the shot where we actually see the Twin Towers burning?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, do you know what? That’s a great note.’” – Rob Corddry, “Children’s Hospital” (Adult Swim)

2. “I actually improvise all my own parts. I don’t know why they hire writers. I enjoy ad-libbing greatly, because I…basically, I can’t remember what the hell I’m doing. What’s the show called?” – Malcolm McDowell, “Franklin & Bash” (TNT)

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Greetings to the New Show: “Men of a Certain Age”

As I settled in to watch TNT’s new series, “Men of a Certain Age,” starring Ray Romano, Andre Braugher, and Scott Bakula, I was struck by a thought: when’s the last time TV offered us an hour-long about guys that was just about guys? The last one that leaps immediately to my mind is ABC’s “Big Shots,” which came and went within the span of a few months in the fall of 2007, but that series springboarded off the premise that all four guys were CEOs. Not bad a concept, perhaps, but by upping the income bracket of the characters, you’re significantly cutting into the number of people who can relate to it. How about a series that’s just about average guys doing average guy things? When was the last time we got one of those?

Beats me, but we’ve got one now…and it’s good.

The press release for “Men of a Certain Age” kicks off with the classic John Lennon lyric, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” and although it’s been quoted plenty of times, it’s decidedly apropos for this series, which explores the lives of three guys in their 40s – one single, one married, one separated and likely headed for divorce – as they begin to examine who they are, how they got where they are, how the future looks, and what they can do to change it. If the acknowledgment that there are indeed things in their lives that need changing sounds like a spoiler, think about your own life and consider whether or not there’s anything you might like to change about. If there isn’t, then I envy you, but I can’t say the same, and I seriously doubt if I know anyone who can. At the very least, none of these men of a certain age can’t.

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Designing Women: The Complete First Season

When you work for a web magazine which has trumpeted itself as “The Guys’ Portal to the Web,” you have to learn that, despite your best intentions of covering a diverse amount of TV-DVD releases, your bosses aren’t always going to be as enthusiastic about your review picks as you are. After having suffered through a slight chastising over my decision to praise “Blossom: Seasons 1 and 2” on Bullz-Eye, it seemed like a wise move to avoid an argument and just do my review of “Designing Women: The Complete Series” over on Premium Hollywood instead. This is, after all, practically the antithesis of what the average Bullz-Eye reader would be watching…and given how many times the episodes have been rerun on the Lifetime Network over the years, one wonders if even the show’s fans really need to own it on DVD. (That’s a joke, of course: “Designing Women” fans have been clamoring for the show to come to DVD for years, so you can only imagine their excitement.)

The back of the box boldly declares that the cast members of “Designing Women” – Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, and Jean Smart – “brought a new kind of Southern spirit to American television. Smart, ambitious, and outspoken, they embodied the ‘new’ Southern woman.” That’s as may be, but it doesn’t feel terribly groundbreaking…and if you check your ’80s sitcom timeline, it’s pretty obvious that CBS’s interest in picking up the show stemmed from a desire to entice some of the women who were watching NBC’s “The Golden Girls.” To be fair, however, creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason devised the show mostly because she wanted to see the four actresses, each of whom had worked with her in the past, teamed up in a show together.

“Designing Women: The Complete First Season” might as well cause estrogen to come billowing forth from your DVD player, so much is it geared toward the fairer sex. Not that that isn’t to be expected from a show with a title like that, but it really needs to be underlined, lest any guys find their girlfriends or wives asking them if they’d like to check out the set with them. God help you if you end up in such a position, but if you do, then you can at least request that you watch the following episodes, which have solid guest stars: “Design House” (Stephen Tobolowsky), “Grand Slam, Thank You, Ma’am” (Gregg Henry), “I Do, I Don’t” and “Reese’s Friend” (you can never go wrong when Hal Holbrook turns up), and the two-parter entitled “Old Spouses Never Die,” which features Michael Jeter and Scott Bakula. There’s also the occasional saving grace of Meshach Taylor, who pops up as ex-con Anthony Bouvier once in awhile, but he’s not a regular in this season, so he’s certainly not around every episode.

Lastly, if you are a fan of the show but you can’t imagine any need to actually own the set (seriously, every episode must’ve been aired on Lifetime at least a thousand times), you might be swayed into a purchase by “Designing Women: A Reunion,” a 36-minute retrospective of the show which took place at the Paley Center for Media in 2006. Taylor is conspicuous in his absence, but it’s nice to see Burke, Carter, Potts, and Smart together again, along with Bloodworth-Thomason, as they discuss the legacy of the show.

Click to buy “Designing Women: The Complete First Season”

  

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