The Weekly Pulse: Mr. Coogan's Groove Tube Update

This week’s Update has a strong Fox taste to it. Don’t worry though. No animals were harmed in the writing of this column (except that giraffe”¦he shouldn’t have been eavesdropping).

LOOK AT THIS”¦

** I FIRMLY believe that as good of a show Desperate Housewives is and as gorgeous as all its stars are, there is such a thing as overexposure. An example: The five women hosting The View? C’mon”¦

** EVERYONE is picking up and reporting this story this week. Why? Will a musical version of The Apprentice really catch on with Broadway goers? Somehow, I doubt it”¦

** My tribute to hard television news for the week: CBS considering going with the multi-anchor format for its CBS Evening News broadcast. Hey”¦it could work. Since it constantly finishes behind ABC (Jennings) and NBC (Brokaw and now Brian Williams), anything could help the cause. But if the people hosting aren’t (really) pretty, will it matter if they have one, two, ten or 88 people anchoring? Hmmm”¦”¦

** A great sitcom getting decidedly less fanfare in its final season, Everybody Loves Raymond, will say good bye forever (except the eight episodes per day available in various syndication packages) on”¦Monday, May 16th. I wonder If Ray and Debra’s children will actually be part of the episode or locked in their bedrooms like they usually are.

THE OPENING CREDITS: Mr. Coogan does his job and praises the IP TV staff

** This week, I tried to write profoundly as I talked about why I RESPECTED Unscripted, but why I also didn’t like it”¦

** To be honest, I liked parts of last week’s Groove Tube Update too, especially my review of Committed so I’ll link that too.

** No reality celebrity columns this week, but with Season 3 of The Apprentice debuting this week, I’m sure we’ll have lots of fun things to offer. In the mean time, here’s a link to the archive (again)”¦

** Speaking of reality show celebrities”¦our faithful editor Murtz interviews The Apprentice Season 2 contestants Chris Russo and Elizabeth Jarosz reveals a big announcement in each interview”¦.(Here’s a hint: both Chris and Elizabeth are joining InsidePulse.com!)

** I think we’ll have to call Cheri, “The Red Carpet Guru” as she’s the only person I know who managed to watch the Golden Globe red carpet coverage on the Style Channel, E! and the TV Guide Channel (the new home of Joan and Melissa Rivers).

** The Sarah Quigley quote of the week:

While I was happy to see that ABC’s leading woman is a real person and not some stick-thin space alien, I couldn’t help but sense that something about Jen was a bit off.

I chose this one because I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was about Jen (Schefft, The Bachelor) that was a bit off. Could someone help me with this? Sarah Quigley”¦.what were you talking about??

** Sarah comes back with her Survivor themed column looking at the confirmed gay players and those who may lean that way whether they realize it or not”¦

** Mike Lawrence recaps his birthday celebration and goes over some more of the broadcast network cancellations of 2004. What a nice boy.

** I was close to whipping out a P. Didey joke. But I wisely held back. Ms. Falconi’s latest column has a decided ABC flavor to it”¦

** The only problem with Mathan’s Remote Destination column is that it comes out the same day as mine, so I rarely get a chance to appropriately pimp it. I’m like a week behind here! Last week, 24 was the primary topic he covered. I’m feelin’ that action.

** I have a favor to ask of Brian McLoone. Brian, please write your column about cable television every week. We like it now, but we’d like it more if we saw it every week!

** I’m always late with Matt Romanada’s recaps of The O.C. too. By the time you read click this link to his Episode 8 review, Episode 9 will have already aired. DAMN IT!

TV NEWS

Surprise, surprise, American Idol comes back with a BANG!

According to reports from Reuters and the Associated Press, right around 60 MILLION people tuned in to the first two episodes of American Idol‘s fourth season this week.

The more impressive number came from the very first episode on Tuesday (Jan. 18), which was a two hour extravaganza against very little high profile competition (unless you consider a Gilmore Girls repeat and a reunion show for The Biggest Loser “high profile”). That night, the show attracted a whopping 33.5 million viewers, more than the 29 million that tuned in for the Season 3 premiere at the beginning of 2004.

Wednesday’s (Jan. 19) episode, which was only an hour and up against stiff competition in ABC’s Lost therefore resulting in a fairly steep drop off of viewers. Still, anybody working on a television series would be happy to attract 26. 4 million viewers, which is the number American Idol attracted on Wednesday night.

With two more weeks of just auditions, it will be interesting to see if the viewership will resemble the Tuesday or Wednesday edition of the show. Or maybe something different? My hunch is that the show won’t be able to maintain the momentum it built up in the last several weeks with tantalizing ads that likely got fans psyched up for its highly anticipated return. Then again, with the exception of the ABC Wednesday night lineup, is American Idol really going to see any significant competition?

As for the show itself, the audition process has become pretty standard. It’s getting harder and harder to really shock (and therefore really entertain) the masses with people who either can’t sing, have bad attitudes, or the magical combinations of both. So, it seems that two more weeks of this could get really old and tired.

And here’s a question worth considering: Is it me or do Paula, Randy and Simon just look tired on the show? They look tired of the audition process, tired of the idiots who think they’re better entertainers than they really are, tired of the American Idol juggernaut, just tired in general.

As rich and famous as the three judges have become thanks to the show, it almost seems like they’ve had enough. Does that mean this is the last season of the show, simply because I have a hunch? Certainly not. But it’s apparent the novelty has worn off for these folks and it’s only a matter of time they walk away. Let’s just see if it’s sooner rather than later”¦

* * * * * *

Family Guy news! A decent amount of it!

BEWARE FOR SLIGHT SPOILERS!

** The MAGICAL DAY: May 1st – It what could possibly be the funniest two hours in the history of broadcast television, Fox’s new Sunday night schedule will be the following as of May 1st.

8:00 p.m. – The Simpsons (mostly repeats)
8:30 p.m. – Arrested Development (mostly repeats)
9:00 p.m. – Family Guy (NEW EPISODES!)
9:30 p.m. – American Dad (NEW SERIES brought to you by Seth McFarlane)

Sure, you wish The Simpsons and Arrested Development broadcasted new episodes all year, but we’ll take what we can get. The big news is that Fox has announced that May 1st is when new episodes of Family Guy will debut and when American Dad will be added to the schedule permanently (its first show is actually Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 6th, after the game).

Zap2it.com reports that “the network has committed to a full season’s worth of episodes, so it’s likely that the show can run well into the summer without repeating.” Of course, in this day in age, it needs to be specified what a “full season” is since, thanks to cable, “full seasons” can be as small as 10-13 episodes. However, in broadcast television definitions, “full seasons” are generally defined as 22 episodes, not 10-13.

What does that mean?

I have no idea. The Zap2it.com report is remarkably vague. It’s as if they don’t to screw up their facts either. Can’t blame them really.

Nonetheless, get ready to rock on May 1st. It will be like Cinco de Mayo, but four days early”¦or just one big, long five-day long party. Whatever floats your Cheerios”¦

The news wasn’t all good as Fox originally decided to add American Dad to the schedule during the winter, like right around now. Instead, the network has decided to give the hordes of Seth McFarlane fans a taste on Super Bowl Sunday before making them wait almost three months before the series appears every week. They’re so mean”¦Better late than never though.

** Stewie’s adopted? – According to a Wednesday (Jan. 19) report on TVGuide.com, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has confirmed plans for a direct-to-DVD movie that “revolves around Stewie finding his real father.” It could hit stores as early as this summer.

Something tells me, this may sell as many units as the first two sets of seasons released (3.5 million) and could be a staple on TBS and the Cartoon Network.

* * * * * *

Super Bowl news”¦Fox style

** And the sports stars come out for the Super Bowl themed episode of The Simpsons – For those not aware of what the brand new, post-Super Bowl episode of The Simpsons is going to be all about, let me be the one to tell you.

Home’s had many jobs in his life on The Simpsons. Everything from Grammy winning music artist to super hero, to food critic to high ranking Springfield city official and beyond; Home’s done quite a bit. Well, in the episode set to air Feb. 6th, Homer will discover a new talent: victory dance choreographer to the stars of professional sports.

After getting discovered doing a crazy dance at a local carnival, Homer is (as usual) thrust into the limelight and is planning dances for sports stars including: New England Patriots pretty boy/super star Quarterback, Tom Brady, Oakland Raider personality, Warren Sapp, Houston Rockets’ Chinese basketball star, Yao Ming, Cleveland Cavaliers basketball stud, LeBron James and American figure skater, Michelle Kwan, who all offer their voices for the episode.

That is fun enough. The rest of the episode? Well”¦**SPOILERS** coming (not that it matters much, it’s an episode of The Simpsons): After Homer becomes famous for his choreography, he’s asked to plan the Super Bowl halftime show. When he gets overwhelmed, he asks Ned Flanders for help. The result? A show so DECENT, that America is offended. Screw you conservative America! YAY HOLLYWOOD!!

** Turf cam? Is this really necessary? – Gamblers everywhere will groan upon hearing this news. According to a Zap2it.com article, when Super Bowl XXXIX airs Feb. 6th, FOX will further “push the technological envelope” with 12 cameras embedded in the turf at Jacksonville’s Alltel Stadium. The network is hoping to capture groundhog’s-eye-view images of players slamming into each other or a ball carrier being tackled.

Of course, the obvious problem is that there are only 12 cameras being placed at various parts of the field and there’s a chance that no action will take place above these cameras at all, therefore making the technology virtually worthless.

Bill Brown, executive vice president for production at Fox Sports, said in a USA Today article:

A normal game has 150-160 plays. We’re hoping to get five plays within the view of these cameras. If the camera is at the line of scrimmage, after the ball is snapped you can see what it’s like to be there when NFL linemen collide.

But wouldn’t it be funny if they got none?

I say gamblers everywhere will groan over this one because with the billions of dollars wagered on various events of the game, the last thing a gambler is going to want to see is any part of the game shielded by Fox’s attempt to improve their broadcast technology. I get the feeling that if a network never “improved” how it airs a game again, people would be happy. They don’t need to be reminded football is a tough, jarring game. They just want to see the game clearly and not miss any plays that may cost them (or win them) money.

* * * * * *

Strange Alyson Hannigan news – Just a couple of weeks ago, I used this space to report what other TV/entertainment outlets were reporting, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/American Pie sexy sweetheart, Alyson Hannigan, was joining the cast of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s sports themed ABC sitcom, In the Game as Hewitt’s characte’s best friend. Then in his daily news report/column, TVGuide.com’s Michael Ausiello said the following:

Anyone care to join us in saying, “Thank heavens Aly bailed on playing second banana to Jennifer Love Hewitt on ABC’s In the Game!?”

Now, Mr. Ausiello likes to throw in jokes in his news coverage, which are often subtle and pretty funny. But with this one, I have to wonder whether he was kidding or not. My search of entertainment news coverage didn’t come up with anything about her leaving before the show even aired, only that she was joining the cast, so it made be believe he was kidding.

The reason she’s even being talked about this week is it was announced by several news outlets (including TVGuide.com) that she would be guest starring on UPN’s cult favorite drama, Veronica Mars. She will be playing Trina Echolls, the struggling actress/ daughter of Neptune, Calif. resident and big time movie star Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin), and stepdaughter of his wife, Lynn (Lisa Rinna, Hamlin’s real-life wife). This makes Trina the half-sister of Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), the high-school foe of teen sleuth Veronica (star, Kristen Bell).

Since it’s a good possibility you don’t know who any of those characters are, just keep in mind that Hannigan is stepping in to a fairly prominent role on Veronica Mars. Though she is only scheduled to appear in one episode now, she could become a recurring player in the series which, despite its fine writing and different kinds of storytelling, is saddled with a cast that doesn’t provide any real “homerun” stars that people might want to tune in to see. Plus the series is saddled with the fact that it’s on UPN too.

So, it could be a needed boost for Veronica Mars and considering the type of character she’ll be playing, could be a boost for Hannigan. It’s probably better than playing a saccharin version of a single woman in her late 20s on the ABC show. (And if you’re worried about the sexual fantasies, it’s appropriate to dream about her and Kristen Bell at the same time since Bell is 24″¦It’s OK guys”¦)

* * * * * *

** The definition of desperation — Letting That ‘70s Show go on without Ashton and Topher – What if Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox(-Arquette) had left Friends after”¦say”¦Season 7? Several intriguing (romantic) storylines amongst the main characters would have been out thrown out the window and the show probably would have taken a huge hit chemistry wise and it wouldn’t have been the great show it became.

Now you see why I’m a little despondent about the dramatic cast shake up to That ‘70s Show. Before this season started, it appeared it would be the last one as Topher Grace’s (Eric Forman) and Ashton Kutche’s (Michael Kelso) contracts were expiring and the show was perilously close to becoming That Early ‘80s Show. It would have been an appropriate ending to a show that’s had a good run. Maybe they could have even ended the show on New Yea’s Eve 1979, just for dramatic, but humorous, effect.

Alas, despite Grace and Kutcher still leaving the show, the show’s remaining stars and production team have, unwisely, gone ahead and signed on with Fox for an 8th season of the show. So, despite Eric leaving home, Donna (Laura Prepon), Hyde (Danny Masterson), Jackie (Mila Kunis) and Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) will continue to hang out in the Formans’ (Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith) basement and Donna will apparently have to find herself another suitor.

And who’s going to make us laugh with his bumbling ways like Kelso will? Fez is too much of a pervert to constantly bring laughs without getting freaked out and Hyde is so cynical and negative, it’s annoying in large doses.

It all just seems like a desperate attempt by all involved to keep one of Fox’s few successful live action comedies alive despite the fact that the heart of the show is leaving.

The report on Zap2it.com states that Grace and Kutcher will still make appearances on the show and they aren’t lost forever, but it’s a small consolation to a show that will flounder without them appearing in 85-90 percent of the show’s scenes.

Then again, I think I’d rather see a stripped down That ‘70s Show than another bad Fox reality show. Maybe I’ll keep my mouth shut. (But I’m still not happy about this”¦)

* * * * * *

So, is Tru Calling dead or not? The news sources can’t seem to decide either”¦

Both Zap2it.com and TVGuide.com confirmed that six episodes of the Eliza Dushku led supernatural/time travel drama Tru Calling and confirmed that when it was on the during the 2003-04 season, it didn’t do very well in the ratings (though we really didn’t need them to tell us that no one was watching the damn show”¦)

But beyond that, they don’t seem to agree. In a report this week on TVGuide.com, Michael Ausiello had the following to day about an encounter she had with Fox President, Gail Berman:

It’s the answer Tru Calling fans have dreaded. Gail Berman confirmed to me Monday that the Eliza Dushku thriller has been laid to rest, although she noted that “we finished six episodes… and we anticipate putting them on the air at some point.” So what the heck happened? Specifically, why would Fox renew Tru only to scrap it before a single episode of the show’s second season aired? Blame the new supernatural soap Point Pleasant, which Berman felt was a more compatible Thursday-night companion to The O.C.. Translation: If you wanna get back at Fox for axing Tru, don’t watch Point Pleasant.

So, the show is cancelled?

Wait”¦Zap2it.com’s story said the following in reference to Berman committing to getting the six episodes that were completed on the air at some point instead of just killing the show completely:

Although it may remain in limbo, FOX refuses to let the ink dry on the “Tru Calling” death certificate.

Sure, that doesn’t exactly sound positive, but that doesn’t sound as definite as canceling the show forever either.

So, which is it? My guess is that it will make a brief reappearance as part of Fox’s new, original programming lineup for the summer and if the six episodes are going to get aired, it’s going to be then. Will there be more episodes after that? At this point, I doubt it unless the six episodes get aired and they see some sort of mini-resurgence in the ratings, in which case they may revisit the issue.

That’s too bad. Not only is Eliza Dushku nice to look at, but the show had a pretty fun and exciting premise. I didn’t like it all that much originally, but compared to North Shore, Tru Calling is Citizen Kane“¦

* * * * * *

** This made me chuckle”¦ – TVGuide.com got some dirt from the WB about an upcoming storyline on the WB Friday night sitcom, What I Like About You.

According to the dish, former Beverly Hills, 90210 sweethearts Luke Perry and Jennie Garth will reconnect on the Feb. 25 episode of Garth’s WB sitcom, What I Like About You. (As reported in next week’s TV Guide magazine,) Perry plays Todd, a plumber too old to be a teen heart throb but attractive nonetheless, who had a spring fling with Garth’s character, Val, back in high school.

In a wink to their Beverly Hills, 90210 days, Val (Kelly) learns that Todd (Dylan) was seeing a girl named Brenda (yes, Brenda) when they had their one-night stand. A source told the publication: The producers are alluding to the Kelly and Dylan hookup when Brenda was in Paris. See”¦if The O.C. had this many dynamic characters of the same age, I’d probably do nothing but wonder about who was going to hook up with who next. You don’t get too far with The O.C. when all you can think of is whether Seth and Ryan end up hooking up with each other”¦

* * * * * *

THE CLOSING CREDITS: Gottfried and Coogan return to recap the TV portion of the Golden Globe Awards

We’re baaaack! Gottfried (IP Music columnist, movie reviewer and television recapper for the-trades.com and published author) and Coogan (me) are back with some fresh, new material to review last Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards. Let’s get right into it. I was surprised about a few of the awards. So, let’s ask Beth”¦

Coogan: Biggest surprise of the night in terms of the TV awards?

Gottfried: Jason Bateman. He’s not THAT funny. That and Teri Hatcher over Marcia Cross. That one just didn’t make sense. Bateman and Hatcher both got lucky. I feel they are solid actors, but both a little mediocre because they aren’t stretching too far with their characters or their range.

Coogan: I agree with both of those to be honest. Your point about them not stretching is a very valuable one. That’s why I figured Tony Shalhoub and Marcia Cross would win.

I was also surprised Nip/Tuck got the nod over shows like Lost and Deadwood. As great of a show it is, it’s more worried about being slick and telling the craziest of crazy stories.

Gottfried: Actually, I was going to mention Nip/Tuck because I watched this season and I found it awful. Its only selling point is that it pushes the envelope but that’s all it does. It’s like “Watch how shocking we can be without actually having any substance.” So terribly unimpressed.

Coogan: You’re funny. I like that it pushes the envelope and will continue to watch it but I wouldn’t ever consider it for a major award like this.

Gottfried: You watch because it’s sexed up and no one has any values so it’s interesting to see “uninhibited.” But it’s also shallow and just ridiculous.

Coogan: The thing I like about the show is that you never know what’s coming. Anything is possible with these characters and there’s an element of allure to that factor. But that doesn’t mean it deserves an award though. I would have thought Lost or possibly, but less likely, Deadwood would have won.

Speaking of Deadwood, how did you possibly predict Ian McShane would walk away with that award?

Gottfried: I’ve never actually watched Deadwood nor did I know who Ian McShane was. He just seemed like a least likely winner, which made him the likeliest for a Golden Globe. Also, I’m psychic. That character on Medium. That’s actually me.

Coogan: Now that I think of it, I’ve never seen you and Patricia Arquette in the same room together”¦Hmmm”¦.

You predicted and were happy to see Mariska Hargitay win the Lead Actress Golden Globe for her work in Law & Order: SVU. As much as I appreciate everyone on the cast of that show, I just thought that because of its largely formulaic show format, that an actor from that show would never win a major award. Obviously, I was wrong, but what are your thoughts about Hargitay and the show?

Gottfried: I love Mariska Hargitay. She’s talented and she’s a seasoned actress on that show now. I really just figured she deserved it and this was finally her year. I think the show is great. I don’t catch every episode, but she and (Christopher) Meloni are compelling to watch. The same can’t be said of Dennis Farina on Law & Order.

Coogan: Re: Farina – I agree. RIP Jerry Orbach. You will be sorely missed.

As much as I understand the strategy, I’m still somewhat disappointed that Desperate Housewives was in the “comedy” category and that they won as well when a hilarious show like Arrested Development gets left in the dust. Do you think the show belonged in that category and do you think it should have won?

Gottfried: The more I watch DH the more I think it belongs in the comedy category, although in some ways, since it reminds me of Twin Peaks, with its offbeat morbid quirkiness, it’s hard to pit it there. Arrested Development is clearly more of a comedy in some respects, whereas DH is more dramedy. I’m not a huge Arrested Development fan however, so I wasn’t really rooting for it. I do think it’s funny and well executed, I just don’t personally don’t enjoy it that much so it’s hard for me to judge.

Coogan: The Life and Death of Peter Sellers took home a double victory for Best Mini-Series/Movie for Television and for Geoffrey Rush’s portrayal as the title character. I remember you saying you hated it and found it nothing short of brutal. Do you think the movie and the actor deserved the awards they got?

Gottfried : I didn’t like the movie. As my dad commented most biographic films star actors/actresses that are better looking than the actual person they are portraying (dramatic license). This film decided to go the opposite direction. I think this was distracting. Rush may have gotten Seller’s mannerisms down, but aesthetically he was so displeasing, it was hard to sort of find anything redeeming going on. I know this might make me sound shallow, but we don’t go to see movies to see ugly people, whether or not we admit or not. Talent is key, but so is a level of visual appeal. Rush just didn’t do it for me, but I suppose he performed the role well and can’t help how he looks.

Coogan: William Shatner won and James Spader lost. Personally, I’m a big fan of Boston Legal so it’s somewhat disappointing that they didn’t sweep the acting categories since they both do such a fantastic job on the ABC series. Am I way off base here?

Gottfried: Entirely not. Boston Legal is phenomenal and Spader, Shatner, and now Bergen are what makes this show so deserving of an award. This is an ensemble cast and as such it should have been recognized as such. By giving Shatner an award, but snubbing the rest of the categories, to me, it says he’s the stand-out, when in fact they are all great and that’s what makes the show top notch.

Coogan: Looks like you predicted more winners right (four) than I did (two) of the ten we predicted. You win. Congrats. Will you be gracious and humble or rub it in my face?

Gottfried: Um, What do you think? Besides you can always seek revenge on me next year if you’re lucky.

Coogan: I’m surprised”¦You are remaining relatively humble in your victory (and in my ineptness to predict what the Hollywood Foreign Press was thinking). Kudos for being mature. You rock the house, just not as much as James Spader does and Jerry Orbach did”¦

Thanks Beth!

Have a good weekend all!

— Coogan

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