Posts Tagged ‘TV’


Two and a Half Men 2.0 1/2

February 26, 2011

Breaking news from a gutter in Hollywood seems to indicate Charlie Sheen has quit his hit sitcom, Two and a Half Men, in order to celebrate his month of rehab by nailing porn stars in the tropics. This probably has nothing to do with his radio call-in rant.

Jon Cryer has issued a terse “no comment.”

But if CBS plans to move ahead with the show, and you know the network will, because it’s a cash cow and probably the only show with a laugh track still pulling in watchers, here’s how to do it:

  1. Have a Very Special Episode in which Charlie dies in a fire while saving his son. Charlie won’t be available, so the part can be played by that Estevez brother who isn’t working much lately, whatever his name is.
  2. Oh yeah, Charlie has a son. And his name is Chuck. And he’s a piano prodigy. I know this only because I watched a rerun last night to see what all the fuss was about, and it was that episode. I may be wrong on some of the facts, because I was also reading the Wikipedia page about Two and a Half Men while it was on. I like the obnoxious housekeeper. She’s funny.
  3. Jon Cryer’s character, whatever his name is, inherits the nice house while his gigantic half-man son moves in full-time and they team up to raise Little Chuck in order to help him avoid the pitfalls that faced Charlie Sheen. See? Now the title makes sense again. The Duckman was always the best part of the show, I think, but I might be basing that more on Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home.
  4. Jenny McCarthy joins the cast as the new nanny, and she has some unusual ideas about how to raise children, leading to another Very Special Episode.
  5. Once things settle down and he’s out of jail, and everyone is done sucking up and telling the media “it’s all behind us,” Charlie Sheen can do cameos as an Obi-Wan like character, glowing green and hovering in the air. Chuck Lorre probably won’t even need a special effects crew for that, actually.

Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen can purchase a small country in the Balkans and build an entire society devoted to pornography. Total cost: Nine bucks. At the end of the next season, Two and a Half Men will move to ABC, and then to the USA Network, and then fizzle out. It’s how things work, nerds. I know, because I read it on the Internet.

  • Thanks to for the video and for the gracious offer to showrun the new take on the series, but sorry, I’m busy working on a reboot of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda.

Randolph Mantooth Shirtless

February 22, 2011

I’m writing this as a favour for the person who typed “Randolph Mantooth Shirtless” into Google today. It somehow led here, as my stats page tells me; I do have a post somewhere here that has Randolph Mantooth (star of Adam-12 and Emergency! and John Jakes’ The Bastard: The Next Generation) in it, but that post also has David Hasselhoff shirtless, which is kind of an interesting combination, like mayo on a hot dog.

Anyhow, in the interest of professional journalistic googling, I found the photo this person was looking for. Click on it and thank me later.


Almost Famous: Hart Hanson

August 20, 2010

I have been following Hart Hanson on Twitter lately. He’s really good at it. The TV producer and writer (Bones is his current project, but I remember the days of Street Legal and Neon Rider, when I used to tell people “Hey, I know that guy,” and they would say “Ew, you watch Neon Rider?“) uses Twitter like the Neon Rider used his eyebrows: fast and funny, and occasionally confusing, but only if you’re stupid.

Here’s how I know Hart Hanson.

In 1982 or so, the bossman at The Toronto Sun, a friend of our family named Peter Brewster, called my mother at our weekly newspaper in small-town Northern Ontario. “I have this guy,” Peter said, “who wants to ride across the country on a bicycle, and has somehow talked me into paying him to do so. He’s going to write about the towns as he passes through.¬†When he gets to Nipigon, could you put him up for a day and introduce him around?”

And in rides Hart Hanson, this kid with crazy blonde hair, who proves to be one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. Also, he has a last name for a first name, so I could relate. Right off the bat, he told us a story about how he once farted in church; I was 14, and this was comedy gold. He ended up staying for quite a while, and we had some pretty cool adventures.

I asked my mother about this a few days ago.

“Well, he was this hilarious guy riding his bike across the country, and you boys, with no father, just glued yourselves to him,” she said. “He was a major role model. He came along at exactly the right time.”

She’s right. Looking back, I have to acknowledge how much of an influence Hart was on my life. My sense of humour, my need for adventure, my years attached to a bicycle, riding across the country, and my habit of being kind of irreverent … a lot of that comes from Hart Hanson. Let’s not forget the journalism side of things; I grew up newspapering, so it was “the family business,” but meeting a cool guy on a bike who was getting paid to ride around, meet people and get into adventures, made it much more appealing. That’s why I do what I do. Right there.

Hart Hanson went on to a career in TV and he’s kind of super-famous now. I haven’t seen him since those days. But I’ve always wanted to tell him something: Hart, we can never fully understand the mark we leave on this world, and on its people; passing moments can leave permanent legacies. And also, you forgot your green Speedo at my house.


Science Fiction Theatre

June 24, 2010

Here’s an episode of a science fiction TV series from 1955 that was broadcast in colour. Shows how much I know … I didn’t think colour had been invented yet. Hey, the photos of my parents from that era are all in black-and-white. This is the sort of thing that gets me in trouble for being stupid, like the time in Grade 8 when I asked the teacher if people floated around before gravity was discovered.

Science Fiction Theatre was the precursor to The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. This episode explores time travel, a subject we talked about recently on the podcast. There’s also a really interesting article at that explores the weird serendipitiness of this program and a kid from Canada, which is how I ended up watching Science Fiction Theatre this morning. Luckily, as a professional science fiction talker-abouter, I can write this time off as a business expense.

Note that the actor playing the weird neighbour is Warren Stevens, who played Rojan the Kelvan in the Star Trek: TOS episode By Any Other Name, in which he wore an orangey-pink jumpsuit.

I like the fact that there’s a robot vacuum cleaner in this. Of all the things to predict … the sonic broom? Awesome.

Hear more about this sort of thing here at Starbase 66, the International Star Trek and Science Fiction podcast, featuring two Americans and me.


Gary Coleman: Still Making Kids Laugh

May 29, 2010

My kids love Diff’rent Strokes. We have a few seasons on DVD, and they can always be trusted to generate plenty of laughs … and plenty of discussion.

The laughs come mostly from Gary Coleman, the kid actor for whom the show was created. His star burned bright in those days, then dimmed and flickered until finally going dark yesterday. When I showed the kids a newspaper article about his death, they said “He still looks the same.” And he kind of did. But the pocket-sized comedians’s skills from those days did not keep him well in his adult years; his last two decades have been a confusing blend of scandal, weirdness and odd, a classic example of what awaits child actors after puberty.

I mentioned discussion. This began when my oldest son first watched the show and realized that, like him, the Jackson boys were adopted. This is something my son has known for only two years, and he’s still exploring the idea. He really liked watching Arnold and Willis gradually begin calling Mr. Drummond “Dad,” and thought it was neat that his situation is a reversal of theirs — he’s a blue-eyed blonde kid adopted into a family of Afro-Indian mutts.

This is a reflection of how groundbreaking Diff’rent Strokes was for its time. Hiding behind Coleman’s apple cheeks and saucy asides were some serious messages, primarily about race relations. Key episodes in the first two seasons include Kimberley’s boyfriend breaking up with her because her brothers are black, or the one in which the boys are rejected from Mr. Drummond’s posh private school alma mater.

It’s 30 years on, and the show that made me think about those things when I was a kid is now challenging my own children to the same questions … and making them laugh, laugh, laugh.

Whatever other messes Coleman got into in later years, he gave us Diff’rent Strokes. And this family is thankful for that.


Lost: It Only Ends Once

May 24, 2010

Please don’t read this if you haven’t seen the final episode of Lost, or if you ever intend to watch the show.

My island has been divided into two warring camps today, two groups of hostiles with opposing viewpoints and opposite philosophies.

On the other side of the island, by which I mean my house, is a person who thinks the finale of Lost is a colossal copout, a cheat, clear evidence that the producers and writers have been flying blind from the start. All their talk of having mapped the show out and “everything will make sense” is bullshit, she now argues. “I don’t ever want to watch or even think about that stupid show again,” she said a few minutes after Jack’s eye closed.

On this side is me: happy, content, moved and a little weepy over the gorgeous final notes of the series, those last scenes in the church, and Lost‘s vision of connectivity, love, loss and redemption.

  • Honestly, this final episode was filled with characters reuniting with their long-dead loved ones. How could I not find peace in that kind of story?

Elizabeth hated it. But she is a pragmatist, and I am a dreamer, something that makes our relationship work very, very well. We’re like the black rock and the white rock on Jacob’s cave scale. We are order and chaos, yin and yang, and together we are an effective force.

If I were to say that to her, she would laugh at me.

I understand why she didn’t like the finale. She wants answers. She has wanted answers since the island started skipping through time. And she didn’t get them. Not the ones she really wanted, like “Where’s Walt?” and “Who was in the other outrigger?” and “What exactly is the damned island?”

I’m okay without the answers. I didn’t realize this until The End had ended, and I knew there would be nothing more. I let the message of Christian Shephard wash over me for a moment, and I let Jack’s realization of what had happened sink in. I thought about Hurley and Ben’s brief exchange outside the church and understood what that meant.

And I wished for a moment to be in the Lost world … not to be able to time-travel, or to live on a fantastic deserted island, but to be able to erase death and move forward, move on.

Lost was never about the action and mystery for me. Those trappings helped sell the program to me, and kept me engaged — really, how was I not going to watch a TV show about people stranded on an island where the rules of physics don’t apply and ancient conspiracies are woven into the tapestry, with time travel? It’s like it was made for me.

But from its first episodes, Lost was more than that. It was about the connections we make in life, how we lose them, and what that means. It’s about the things we’ve lost, not being lost. And it’s about being broken, and getting fixed.

Life doesn’t always provide answers. That’s something I’ve slowly come to accept. And Lost is like life in that respect. We didn’t get the answers. We got a message of hope, of love, of faith and of trust, one that was well-hidden in a powerful narrative that kept me engaged for six years.

I’m happy with the ending. In fact, with 24 hours to think about it, I will say that it exceeded my expectations and moved me on an emotional and spiritual level.

I’m content to let Lost go, now that I have that last five minutes.

Come to think of it, though, I guess I would like to know who was in that other outrigger.