Category: TV Opinions

Top 5 TV Mentors

Whether it’s marital problems, flunking out of school, or even being afraid of a simple trip to the dentist, television always gave us great Sages to guide our characters through the tough times.  The age of the TV mentor is nearly dead, as today’s television advice givers are seriously flawed individuals.  Look at Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation (Nick Offerman), or Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) on 30 Rock.  While they are mentors for the protagonist, they aren’t exactly the perfect human beings.  The days of Mike Brady are long gone.  But let’s look back at a time where television did give us those flawless human beings: My Top 5 Favorite Television Mentors

5) Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) – Growing Pains:

-Well, the man was a psychiatrist, so obviously he’s going to be able to dish out some good advice.  While I have him #5 on the list, he kind of failed more often than not.  Let’s be honest – his only challenge was against his slacker son Mike (Kirk Cameron).  How successful really was Jason with Mike though?  He barely graduated, and he remained lazy for much of his time at Alf Landon Junior College.  Eventually, he got it together, but it was a long battle for Jason Seaver.  In the end, Jason deserves a spot on this list because Mike was a tough adversary.  But I think the real evidence of his wise teachings came later in the series when Mike mentored troubled homeless teen Luke, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.  The student becomes the Master.  Well done, Jason.

Go to Method of Advice Giving: Jason often took the ‘you have so much potential’ approach with Mike.

Vintage Jason Moment: In the sixth season premiere, ‘Mike’s Choice,’ him and Jason have an epic showdown, where Mike is threatening to drop out of college, and move to New York to become a star on Broadway.  Jason really goes all out here, but the result is Mike’s room being completely emptied out the next morning.  Even though Jason failed, Mike eventually returns, and their bond is stronger than ever.

4) Master Splinter (Peter Renaday, voice) – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Original Series):

-You can’t have a Television Mentor list without Master Splinter.  When the ooze affected both him and the Turtles, Splinter knew there was a deeper purpose for why this happened.  Once known as the great Ninja Master Hamato Yoshi, Splinter teaches the four turtles martial arts, and the rest is history.  Splinter was always one for wise advice, but when it came to training the turtles, that’s where he really shined.  Oh, and Splinter was not averse to kicking some ass himself.

Go to Method of Advice Giving: Meditation was Splinter’s forte, as well as constantly trying to get the Turtles to eat sushi rather than pizza.  He failed on that one.

Vintage Splinter Moment: In the final episode, ‘Divide and Conquer,’ the Turtles have finally defeated the evil Lord Dregg.  At the end of the episode, Splinter tells his sons he is no longer their sensei, as they are now equals.  Wow…that’s some heavy shit.  I probably would have held Michelangelo (Townsend Coleman, voice) back though.

3) Wilson Wilson, Jr. (Earl Hindman) – Home Improvement:

-First of all, his name is Wilson Wilson…let’s reflect on that for a moment.  Out of everyone on this list,Wilson was probably counted on the most to give advice.  Seriously, if Tim (Tim Allen) wasn’t next door neighbors with this guy, he’d probably be divorced: No doubt about it.  But it wasn’t just Tim who relied on the eccentric weird-o. Jill (Patricia Richardson) also used him from time to time, and sometimes even the Taylor boys would drop by the famous fence.  I think Al (Richard Karn) even sought his advice later in the series.  But whether he was testing his maracas, or squeezing his apples late at night, it was never a bother for good ole Wilson.  And the fact that you never see his face just adds to the mystic…

Go to Method of Advice Giving: Very obscure philosophical references.

Vintage Wilson Moment: I can’t really pinpoint to one, they all kind of ran together.  There are a few episodes where we see the inside of his house, and that really sums up the character.

2) Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) – Full House:

-I think Danny had the benefit of being aided by really cheesy and sappy music.  This really elevated his legendary speeches.  Danny Tanner was a simple man.  He loved his family, wanted his house clean, and always appreciated a good hug.  Proof that he’s a wise sage is when the mom of Stephanie’s (Jodie Sweetin) friend asks him, ‘Do you always sound like a fortune cookie?’  Yup, that’s Danny Tanner.  Whether he’s giving his three daughters advice, Jesse (John Stamos) and Joey (Dave Coulier), or even a total stranger, Danny didn’t fuck around.  He wanted to solve any problem that came his way.

Go to Method of Advice Giving: He’s all about the love of a good family.

Vintage Danny Moment: Honestly, it’s the very first episode titled ‘Our Very First Show.’  This was really his first big test.  DJ (Candace Cameron) wants to move down to the basement, because she doesn’t want to live with Stephanie.  But Danny senses there are bigger issues at foot, including the loss of their mother a few months ago.  This is Danny’s first big speech about family togetherness…now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to grab a box of tissues.  I’m getting a little misty eyed.

1) George Feeny (William Daniels) – Boy Meets World:

-It’s not even close.  The guy has his own call (The Feeney Call) for crying out loud!  Feeney was more than just a teacher: He was a living breathing Master.  Plus, this guy by far had the biggest challenge.  He had to deal with Cory (Ben Savage) whining about his girlfriend all the time, Shawn (Rider Strong), who was just a complete mess, and then Cory’s brother Eric (Will Friedle), a total psycho-path.  Feeny strongly believed in the teacher/student bond, and in the last episode where he sends off all the main characters with one final speech, he is vindicated.  If everyone had a George Feeny telling them what to do, we’d all be kicking ass at life.

Go to Method of Advice Giving: He’s really a combination of all the previous methods.  Everything is in his repute. 

Vintage Feeny Moment: In the Season 4 episode, ‘Quiz Show,’ Cory, Shawn, and Topanga (Danielle Fishel) keep winning on a game show by answering useless pop- culture questions.  When their arrogance gets them in trouble in class while Feeny tries to teach them about Gutenberg and the printing press, Feeny goes on a glorious rant about their generation, and how they all use such great technology for useless information.  It was epic.

Well, there you have it.  My favorite TV Mentors.  As the great Feeny once said, ‘Class dismissed.’

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TV Review – 30 Rock Season 6 Premiere

Plot: In the sixth season premiere, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is acting carefree and happy, and Tracy (Tracy Morgan) is determined to find out why.  Meanwhile, Jenna (Jane Krakowski) plays a mean judge on the new hit show, America’s Kidz Got Singing.  Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) believes the rapture is coming.

If you’ve been watching 30 Rock from the beginning, you know exactly what you’re going to get with this episode.  It’s clear 30 Rock will never really challenge itself again, but there’s nothing wrong with that.  We can always rely on consistent laughs, and it’s pretty impressive they’ve managed to do this for 5+ years with so many one-note characters.

This episode pretty much rehashes elements we’ve seen before.  Liz is acting really happy, and taking on life with a positive outlook, which we can only assume won’t last.  Jack (Alec Baldwin) flirts with making big decisions with his heart, and not his business sense, which we can only assume…won’t last.  But, it’s still funny.  And Liz and Jack have always been the two characters that keep the show at least one foot grounded in reality, as everything around them is pretty much now a fantasy world of wackiness and absurdity.

This is especially apparent with the Kenneth plotline.  To be honest, I’ve never been the biggest Kenneth fan.  He and Tracy are truly the one-note characters, but Tracy still cracks me up, while I’ve been over Kenneth for three years.  Kenneth believes the rapture is coming, so Frank (Judah Friedlander) and company screw with this head.  I got a few chuckles out of this, but the end gets so nuts, that I think they were just trying to hard, and I lost all interest.

The absolute best part of the episode is Jenna’s new career as a Simon Cowell like judge on a rip-off of America’s Got Talent, appropriately titled America’s Kidz Got Singing.  Jane Krakowski has always been the funniest aspect of the show, and she is hysterical in this cheap knock off.  This is no surprise, as the best jokes from 30 Rock stem from the fake shows/skits.  The Queen of Jordan reality show was the highlight of last season, and I’m happy to say D’Fwan (Tituss Burgess) makes an appearance in this episode.

If you’ve never really been into this show, then this won’t change your mind.  If you’re a fan, get ready for more of the same.  It looks like we are in for another solid season of 30 Rock.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)

Top 10 TV Theme Songs

A great TV theme song can sometimes outlast the actual show in terms of legendary status.  In some cases, the theme song is the best part of the show.  When you’re watching an episode, maybe you’re disappointed the theme is over and everything else from there is just a let down.  Well I’m here to bring you my personal top 10 TV themes.  I’ve got a mix of no brainers and odd ones.  I try not to let the actual opening credit sequence influence me and just focus on the music itself.  Now, let me be very clear: I am no music expert.  I can barely tell a guitar from a bass.  I have no idea what’s going on in terms of actual notes.  These are just the themes that for whatever reason hit me hard.  Here we go…

Honorable Mentions: Ducktales, Cheers, Ren and Stimpy, and CHIPS.

10) The Simpsons Theme

-To be honest, I really had to shoe horn this one in.  I think it’s a really good song, but it’s more so the show itself that got it on the list.  But it ultimately makes the cut for the first five seconds of, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimpppppppppsons.”

9) The Saved by the Bell Theme

-When I hear that bell ring, I get all jittery.  The lyrics in general are amazing, but it’s really the chorus that drives it home.  “It’s allllright, because I’m Saved by the Bell.”  It’s also got that rocking guitar going.  I think of this song as an amalgam of post eighties/early nineties.  I think the Saved by the Bell theme is a symbol, bridging the music between the two decades.  But the song really goes crazy at the end where they repeat “It’s alright, because I’m saved by the…” three times before finally ending strong with “Bell.”  Amazing.

8 – The early 90’s X-Men Theme

-What can I say?  It’s just really bad ass, epic, and intense.  This one is a lot better though when watching it with the opening theme sequence, especially towards the end when you see Professor X and Magneto lead their respective teams and run at one another.

7) The 60’s Batman Theme

-The lyrics consist of one word if you don’t count the “da-da-da-da-da” at the end, but it’s all you need.  Even if you aren’t watching the opening sequence, you can imagine the “Bams” and “Pows” as you hear the music. 

6) The Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Theme

-First of all, more than any other TV theme in existence, it gives you the back story and character traits succinctly and flawlessly.  Everyone knows that “Leonardo leads,” “Donatello does machines,” “Raphael is cool but crude,” and “Michelangelo is a party dude,” because the theme song was so damn good.  They remixed it for the last three seasons, and it’s actually a solid rendition, but a little darker.

5) The NCAA March Madness Basketball Theme

-I have a love/hate relationship with this theme song.  Sometimes I hear it and get pumped up because I know it means 55 different basketball games are about to be played at the same time.  But other times it makes me want to rip up my terrible brackets.  Nevertheless, it truly is an amazing piece of music.  I can actually hear brackets being filled out as I hear it.

4) The Monday Night Football Theme

-It may be the most iconic theme on the list.  When I hear those horns blast, I can’t tell you the adrenaline rush I get.  And it just keeps building and building the intensity level as the theme goes on.  But at the end, they circle back to how it begins.  For some, the song may represent failed dreams and heartbreak, but one thing’s for sure; when you hear it, it’s time for football.

3) The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Theme

-This may be the best thing Will Smith has ever and will ever do.  I fricking love this song.  It’s sleek, funny, cool, and even suspenseful at times.  When he’s singing “When a couple of guys, who were up to no good,” there’s almost this chilling beat to it.  Now there’s both a long and short version.  I think the shorter is superior.  This one is enhanced a lot by watching the credit sequence, especially when he does that crazy head spin.

2) The People’s Court Theme

-I’m convinced this show was popular solely because of the theme.  Look, Judge Wapner was awesome, but the theme…holy shit.  This defines the word ‘intensity.’  I can’t put into words how awesome this song is.  It’s called ‘the big one’ which you can download on iTunes.  It’s over four minutes long, but honestly, it’s not long enough.  The thing turns into a horror song at one point.  But really, I consider this song all genres of music rolled into one super song.  I can dance to it, run to it, listen to it while I work, and just get generally inspired by it.  In fact, this theme inspired me to do the list.  So if this isn’t number one, what on earth could be…

1) The Seinfeld Theme

-I think it’s the only choice.  More than any other theme, you can instantly recall episodes, dialogue, character moments, just anything having to do with the show within the first two seconds of the song.  Seinfeld just floods your brain when you hear that bass kick in.  And let’s just think about the music in general.  Would Seinfeld have been the phenomenon that it is if this iconic music didn’t exist?  Probably…but it’s a legit question.  I think it’s only fitting that we end on the best theme that represents the best TV show ever.

Heroes Canceled

Over the weekend, NBC canceled Heroes, one of my favorite shows of the last few years.  Now as any fan of a tv show, when it gets canceled, the natural inclination is to go and blame the network.  That’s not what I’m going to do here.  In fact, I’m going to blame the people who watch the show.  The fans of Hereos.  That’s right.  What does this mean you ask?  I have a lot to say about this topic.  I’m not going to get really specific about the show itself.  I’m going to track its lifespan and just give you my personal feelings.  So let’s get into it.
 
Heroes premiered in the Fall of 2006.  For those unfamilar with the show, I will boil it down for you.  Basically it was ordinary and regular people discovering they had super powers.  It was X-Men, but more down to earth and less comic bookey.  For me, the first season of Heroes is the single greatest season of dramatic television of all time.  It has everything you want out of a tv show.  Countless great characters and intense storylines that had you salivating for the next weeks episode.  I loved every minute of it and I will never forget this season of great TV.  I was not alone.  Ratings were off the charts and everybody couldn’t stop talking about how awesome the show was.  So when the first season ended for the summer, naturally the anticipation and hype for the next season was ridiculous.  This is where the downfall of what could have been one of the greatest TV shows ever made began.
 
This is where internet hype and “fanboys” get me really pissed off.  The hype for Season 2 of Heroes was just to much to live up to.  There were unrealistic expectations.  So of course, Season 2 of Heroes did not live up to the hype and led its own fans to bitch and complain beyond belief.  This really ticked me off.  Was Season 2 as good as Season 1?  No.  But the heart of the show was still there, and I still enjoyed the season a great deal, and it was still one of the better shows on TV by far.  The characters and great storylines were still present.  It just moved a little slow and introduced a couple bad characters.  But the backlash it got from this season from all outlets was completely unfair and shocking.  It’s like condeming a sports team that won the championship the year before, but they just arent in first place during the regular season the following year.  Just give it some time.  And the second half of this season got amazingly good.  First season caliber.  But the problem is it started to lose serious viewership because of all the bitching and complaining that filtered down into a number of websites and magazines.  At one point, Entertainment Weekly did a cover story on how bad it got.  A cover story!  I’ve never seen anything like this.  For some reason, this became TV’s biggest new hit to absolute joke in the span of months.  I’ve never seen a television show fall this quickly from grace.  And it was so sad for me to watch. 
 
And then something happened that was not the fan’s fault.  The Writers Strike.  Out of all the shows to be effected by the strike, Heroes by far got it the worst.  Going back to a sports analogy, it was Mark Prior all over again.  Career injuries that the show never recovered from.  Because of the strike, Heroes had to endure a 9 month layoff before returning to television.  And when it finally did, things started to really go downhill.
 
First of all, because of the strike, the writers had to detract from its original storylines and plots.  That’s never a good thing.  But this really goes back to the fan complaints.  They wanted faster storylines.  More excitement.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.  The “fanboys” think they know better then the writers.  How wrong they are.  So the writers gave these fans what they wanted.  And what happened was a bad third season of complex storylines and characters constantly changing their peronalities and motives week to week.  There were some great moments, but overall, the show tanked in quality significantly.  I even admit that.  I really wish the writers just kept doing what they were doing from season 2, and fans should have just trusted it was going to get better.  But no.  People had to complain, so the writers had to adjust to these complaints, and it became worse.
 
I went into the fourth season with little hope.  But I was more than pleasantly surprised.  Season 4 of Heroes was very close to Season 1 caliber.  It made me excited to be a fan again, and I felt rewarded for sticking with the show.  The ending to the season left a great foundation for future seasons, but unfortunately we will never know what they are.  Season 4 was Heroes‘ last season.
 
So that’s the history of Heroes and my personal feelings on the show from season to season.  But aside from fans of the show demanding too much, this is not the reason it got canceled.  I want to get into my real frustration.
 
The ratings for Heroes became terrible the last two seasons.  NBC had no choice but to cancel the series.  But what really angers me to no end is that Heroes was the most illegally downloaded show of last year.  This is tragic.  I hope everyone out there who chose to illegally watch it are happy.  It’s all your fault Heroes has been canceled.  Because you chose to not watch it at its regularly scheduled time, Heroes is no longer with us.  What really astounds me though is that NBC lets you watch it for FREE legally online!  And people still chose to watch it illegally because they wanted to avoid a total of maybe 4 thirty second commericals!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!  At least if the NBC online downloads were better, maybe the show could have been more marketable for 1 more season.
 
So it’s not as if nobody watched this show.  Millions did.  They just did it illegally.  And not only that, DVD sales are great for Heroes.  People watch the show, it’s just nobody knows they watch it.  I guess if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears or sees it, it doesn’t really fall.
 
So that’s my eulogy on Heroes.  Supposedly there may be a TV movie to wrap the series up, but I doubt it.   I will always have the DVDs and remember the good times.  I think the ridicule this show got and the countless negative articles written about it were so unfair.  Even at its worst moments, the show still had solid entertainment value and interesting plotlines.  Why so many lashed out at it when there are so many other horrible shows out there is something I will never understand. 
And to all the fans out there; this show was canceled because you nitpicked and complained and watched it illegally.  I think this is the saddest end to a TV show ever.  Canceled because people were watching it.