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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Cult TV A-Z: 26 Semi-Obscure Shows We’d Like To See On DVD

Three years ago, I did a piece for Bullz-Eye entitled “TV (No-)Shows On DVD,” where I took a look at the top 15 shows that the Bullz-Eye staff had wanted to see released onto home video in full-season or complete-series sets. From the series cited on that list, we’ve gotten “Newhart: The Complete First Season,” five seasons of “Family Ties,” seven seasons of “Beverly Hills 90210,” and “WKRP: The Complete First Season” (a laughable title, given how much was excised from the original episodes), with “The State: The Complete Series” scheduled for release on July 14. We’ve also been pleased to see that a couple of the kids shows we cited – “Groovie Goolies” and “Josie and the Pussycats” – have made it into stores, and we were beside ourselves at the emergence of a couple of our pipe-dream series, including “Quark,” “Fastlane,” and “Andy Richter Controls the Universe.”

Quark“? Really?

I’ve got to be honest with you: I loved that show with a passion when I was seven years old, but not in a million years would I have bet on that series ever coming out on DVD, and yet you can order a copy from Amazon at this very moment. That’s what led me to compile this A-to-Z list of shows that I’d like to be able to experience again…or, in some cases, for the first time. Yes, some of the series on this list are obscure, and it’s likely that almost none of them will ever make their way to home video, but I felt the same way about “Quark” three years ago, and…well, look what happened there. I’m sure you’ve got your own favorites, and I’d love to know what they are, so please feel free to leave your picks below. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my list…and the accompanying YouTube clips, too.

A. “AfterM*A*S*H” (1983 – 1985): Given that all of the seasons of the original “M*A*S*H” series have long since made it to DVD and proved to be a rousing success, it’s a little surprising that we haven’t seen the release of the post-war exploits of Sherman Potter, Max Klinger, and Father Francis Mulcahy. Few would claim that the show ever lived up to its predecessor, but there were only 31 episodes produced; you’d think that a complete-series set would be a no-brainer, since the diehards would surely snap it up, what with the additional guest appearances by Col. Flagg and Radar O’Reilly. Indeed, should such a collection ever come to pass, let’s hope someone also thinks to tack on the failed pilot for “W*A*L*T*E*R,” where Radar moves from Ottumwa, Iowa, to St. Louis, MO, in order to become a police officer. And, yes, I’m serious.

B. “BJ and the Bear” (1979 – 1981): Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I just can’t imagine that there’s not a connection between the fact that, in December 1978, a movie about a trucker with a monkey (“Every Which Way But Loose”) was a huge success, and in February 1979 this series – which is about a trucker with a monkey – premiered. Some may say that Greg Evigan’s most lasting pop culture footnote is co-starring with Paul Reiser on “My Two Dads,” but he’ll always be B.J. McKay to me.

C. “CPO Sharkey” (1976 – 1978): With the amount of appreciation Don Rickles has gotten in recent years, most notably with “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project,” it’s hard to believe that no-one’s tried to make a buck or two by offering up the release of this series. Maybe it’s because Rickles’ comedy in the series wouldn’t exactly come across as politically correct nowadays. Sharkey’s company consists of an African-American, a Polish-American, a Jewish-American, an Italian-American, and a Hispanic-American, and…well, suffice to say that he probably didn’t need nearly as many hyphens within his preferred choice of terms for them. Frankly, though, I just want to see the episode which features a guest appearance by the Dickies!

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