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

LOOK AT THIS”¦

** Well, it’s a shame to see a good drama go, but the buzz around NBC’s Third Watch disappeared long ago. We’ll remember you fondly and we’ll you see in syndication reruns I’m sure”¦

** If you want to read about the mess that was the American Idol voting this week”¦I’d say start with this and then move on to this one. If you’re feeling really frisky, read what Idol producer, Ken Warwick had to say”¦

** Speaking of scandals surrounding American Idol, What were you thinking Paula? You gotta use your head!

** R.I.P. Morty. (You should click on the link to see what else he’s done too. He’s had a magnificent career”¦)

** Remember to check out the debut Ving Rhames as Kojak this Friday (3/25) on USA!

THE OPENING CREDITS: Time to pay tribute to the IP TV staff”¦

** Jonathan Baker and I “chased the dragon” so to speak with our latest column. Jonathan liked it so much, he pumped it up on his own Web site. Sweet!

** Speaking of The Amazing Race, another former competitor shares her views too! Check it out!

** Jake, our resident former Survivor contestant/columnist, offers his views on the show’s latest episode.

** Dan and Sarah Quigley discuss Survivor related stuff. Dan actually wrote a book”¦Well, it seemed that way anyway. If you want analysis, HE’S got analysis”¦

While we’re talking Survivor, I have to ask”¦Why in the bloody hell haven’t the tribes been merged or at least reshuffled? Ulong consistently losing is ridiculous and Koror consistently having to sit out half its team for challenges is even more ridiculous. I don’t care if it’s not the way the game is played normally. Even if means keeping the two tribes apart, the producers should at least be evening up the teams somewhat.

** Cheri asks the question: Joey or Jake? She then proceeds to make the wrong choice. I just thinks she likes her men more charming and less goofy.

** While we’re talking about Cheri”¦make sure you check out her American Idol recaps (along with the recaps of Survivor, The Apprentice and The Amazing Race that are there too”¦)

** Hey”¦look! Another The Amazing Race column! This one is from Romo the Great. I just wish there was something else to talk about instead of Rob and Amber”¦

** Mike Sage comes up with his own Top 10 TV Shockers. Though, I’m not sure why he’d do that if he doesn’t watch that much television”¦Hmmm”¦.

** Any time I get to plug the lovely Gloomchen, it’s an honor and a pleasure. Read her recaps of The Shield.

THE CLOSING CREDITS: Mr. Coogan’s 5 Questions

1. A Jake in Progress question: Is it a comedy or a drama? – OK, the answer to this question is probably a bit obvious. It’s been positioned as a comedy. It comes off as a comedy. And it’s obvious that the intent of the show is to make people laugh and treat (somewhat) serious situations as humorously as possible.

But the problem that I see with the show is that it’s a comedy that isn’t very funny. That isn’t to say the writers are throwing out jokes that are obvious or are so bad, they crash and burn so loudly, it’s reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s hair on the set of Pepsi. But after watching three of the first four episodes of the new ABC sitcom, I don’t really know what to make of it.

It’s evident that the writers are trying to make light of such topics as celebrity culture, youth culture, marriage, dating, pregnancy, and sex. But I’m not laughing. But at the same time, I’m not so insulted by the attempt at comedy that it makes me search out HBO 8 for an old George Carlin special longing for the “good ole’ days” of comedy either.

What’s going on here? I’m not completely disgusted by sitcom that doesn’t make me laugh?

I guess it’s because the show could probably be classified more as a “quirky” than it is really a “comedy.” Stamos playing the lead character, New York City hot shot entertainment publicist, Jake Phillips is a ladies man who’s charming in a quirky way. Ian Gomez (Felicity, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, plays Jake’s former college roommate Adrian, who’s a dentist living in the suburbs stuck in what appears to be a miserable, is pathetic in a harmless, fun quirky way. Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me) plays Jake’s boss, Naomi, a bitter, single, pregnant middle-aged woman in a way that’s more quirky than mean and annoying. And Rick Hoffman (Bloodwork, The Practice) plays Patrick, a weird, magician friend who befriends Jake in the pilot when he takes out Patrick’s ex-girlfriend out for a date and doesn’t get anywhere with her. He may be weird, but again, it’s more quirky than disturbing.

So, when they all come together in some way, it creates this strange dynamic that is kind of fun, but in a”¦maybe I should stop saying this”¦quirky way.

After all, Jake’s penchant for rubbing talcum powder on his hands before meeting people because he’s worried abouy having sweaty, clammy hands is less funny, more weird. Patrick’s obsession with magician David Blaine is less funny, more weird. Adrian’s obsession with seeing strippers when his wife is out of town is kind of normal, but less funny, more weird. You get the picture”¦

Where does that leave us? Well, the writers and actors have provided strange characters that live somewhat normal lives in their own unique ways”¦It’s not all that funny, but the characters are endearing enough that I’m willing to overlook the fact I’m not laughing to watch these characters develop and watch their lives unfold.

That’s why I ask the question, is this a comedy or is it a drama? Comedies are supposed to make me laugh with shallow characters meant more to deliver punchlines. But with Jake in Progress, they’ve tried to commit to a more intelligent form of joke telling, focusing heavily on quirky, but deep, personalities than sight gags and one-liners.

But the comedy doesn’t work all that well because I’m not laughing. I’m more interested in the characters developing, which is more of the mark of a drama (whether daytime or primetime) than a comedy.

I doubt the show will ever “switch up” from being a comedy to a drama. And that may be a mistake too. But while those in production are writing scripts that aren’t funny, I hope they continue to develop the characters too.

My answer: It’s a comedy, but its character development, which is more of the earmark of a drama, is really what is worth watching about this show”¦

* * * * * *

2. A Carnivale question: Is it coming back next season?
The odds seem stacked against it big time to be frank. Creator Daniel Knauf and his writing staff have used Season 2 as the take-off point to the “final battle” between Brother Justin (Clancy Brown) representing “evil” and Ben (Nick Stahl) representing “good.”

Considering how abstractly Season 1 went, giving very few hints about exactly what was coming up the pike, it appeared that it would be Season 3 or 4 before any of this came to a head. Instead, as Season 2 ends, the carnivale has pulled into the religious camp that Justin and Iris (Amy Madigan) are running, setting up what is supposed to be the final, grand mythical battle that has been set up through the first 23 episodes up to Sunday. Whether the battle actually happens or is left to possible Season 3 or not, the show has still changed forever. The world of the carnivale and the world Justin and Iris have merged together at this time. Once they separate again, the two won’t look the same again.

Also, key plot points such as Scudde’s appearance and eventual death, the existence of “management” and the carnivale discovering Ben’s power as a healer and as more than just a young man brought in to lug materials around. All of these major plot points made the show intriguing and now that they’ve been revealed, it’s almost as if they’d have to start from scratch if they came back for Season 3.

Two other points not related to the storylines of the show. First, news came out this week that Knauf has signed a development deal with Showtime and will be developing at least one comedy for the premium network. If he’s busy working with Showtime, then that casts doubt on whether he’d come back to work on Carnivale for a third season. Also, Carnivale dealt with unenviable task of trying to be different while also attract viewers with interesting storylines that carry over from week to week. Unfortunately, while they were busy being different, that (apparently) turned off many viewers. Those that did stay were treated to a great show, but because it was close to impossible to join in later and catch up with the action, it was hard to attract new viewers, despite the swift moving storylines of the second season. The result? Ratings have not gained any momentum and are still pretty low.

So, considering the storytelling and its constant revelations of Season 2, the future of Daniel Knauf with HBO and the constantly low ratings, we could be seeing the last of Carnivale.

My answer: I hope I’m wrong, but it looks like it’s time to say good bye to the freaks and the evil preacher”¦

* * * * * *

3. A Veronica Mars question: If you were UPN, would you bring it back for a second season? – Classified as “The best show that no one watches” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Rob Owen, Veronica Mars is in some serious trouble as its first season is due to wrap up in the next couple of months. Securing a shockingly low 2.6 million pairs of eyes per episode, that’s a pretty poor number even for UPN, the sixth network that only produces eight hours of original programming per week (no weekends and Smackdown on Thursdays).

But the problem isn’t the show, it’s the fact that no one has really discovered yet despite lavish praise from the media since the fall season started last year. And the praise is well-deserved. With the exception of everyone involved being much too old to play the high school students they are playing (and it being obvious), the show borrows from a couple of already successful formulas that make it worthwhile.

First, there’s a little Law & Order (or more accurately, Nancy Drew since teen-aged Veronica solves crimes and such). Also, there’s a little of The O.C., except darker. After all, the show takes place in a rich California community and the important storylines involve both the teens and the adults of the show. There is the “Who killed Lily Kane?” angle. There is the “Where did Veronica’s mom go and why did she leave?” angle. And several other fairly interesting storylines developed in the last few episodes regarding the rich and famous Echolls family and the new romantic connections that Veronica and her ex-boyfriend Duncan (Kane) are forging.

Yet, no matter what happens, Veronica Mars continues to languish deep in the ratings on Tuesday nights behind shows like Scrubs, The Amazing Race and the constantly improving House.

If I were UPN, I wouldn’t let the show go yet. It’s hard to please the critics and just because it isn’t doing as well in the ratings doesn’t mean they should give up on it. If I were a network executive, I’d simply move the show to a more high profile slot. Maybe Mondays at 8 p.m.? UPN seems in love with its sitcom block that’s been there for God knows how long. Maybe it’s time for a change so it can salvage one of the network’s real gems.

From there, the more marketing the better. Why is it that I never see ads for Veronica Mars? Sure, I rarely watch UPN. But it’s a Viacom property, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be advertised more on its sister cable networks (MTV, VH-1, etc”¦) or even CBS! The bottom line is that UPN can’t let the show go without a fight. That would be the worst thing they could do.

My answer: No. Don’t cancel it. Nurture it, love it and appreciate it. The critics do”¦

* * * * * *

4.A question about no show in particular: InsidePulse.com’s Matthew Michael brought this to the staff’s attention this week on our super secret staff message boards:

(Originally from Kristen Veitch of E! Online).

Blind Riddle of the Week: The consensus is that most of you guys do like these. But listen, I won’t ever be revealing the identity on this one, so if that will drive you crazy, please, DON’T READ!

On a well-known, well-loved, well-played series, one actor, whom we’ll call him Ego Boy, left for what seemed like a fantasy gig, only to watch it flop in a matter of weeks. Now, he’s back, and driving the entire cast and crew insane with his self-consuming antics, including issues with wardrobe, scripts and well, life in general. A few of his costars have put a bug in the producer’s ear to cut E.B. loose.

My answer(/guess): My guess (though I could be way off) is Sharif Atkins who left ER for “Hawaii” and is now back on ER. But I don’t know if his return was temporary or permanent. Considering the budding romance between Gallant and Neela, I would assume he’s coming back as a regular player, but I suppose we’ll have to see.

* * * * * *

5. A PoweR Girls question: Is this new MTV offering absolutely disgusting? – The premise of the show is fairly simple. Since the general public is fascinated by the entertainment industry and the celebrities it produces, MTV has found an interesting new way to show off how shallow the industry can be, in this case it’s entertainment and celebrity public relations.

The show follows Lizzie Grubman and the staff of her glamorous PR firm, Lizzie Grubman Public Relations around as they prepare for club openings, celebrity parties and other assorted entertainment related stuff. I’m not sure how big the firm is but it primarily follows around Lizzie and four of her cute, equally obsessed with money, fashion and celebrity underlings, Ali, Kelly, Millie and Rachel. There might be other people who work there but if there are, the audience never sees them.

Naturally, the show follows the women around as they plan these luxurious events and deal with all the “stress” that comes with it. You know”¦when Ja Rule gets pissy when he has nothing to sign at autograph session. Or when Lindsay Lohan goes to a club opening and skips the red carpet and the press looking to devour her with their cameras and bloodcurdling screams hoping for a quote or two. The REAL stresses in life”¦

I can deal with the complete superficiality of the show and the people who are on it. I can deal with these dopes who honestly believe their jobs are stressful. I can even deal with Lizzie Grubman’s face, the same face that looks like it was smashed with a bag of hot nickels and fixed up by a plastic surgeon without a medical degree”¦

What I can’t stand is the fact that Grubman, the publicity princess, has her own show about living the good life when she BACKED AN SUV INTO A CROWD OF PEOPLE at a luxurious club in the Hamptons (on Long Island, N.Y.) in 2001. There were 16 injuries! 16! She spent 60 days in jail in 2002! The only reason she didn’t get more than 60 days is because the prosecution couldn’t prove she was DRUNK at the time of her”¦ahem”¦indiscretion.

And yet, she’s as popular, if not more so, now than before she spent time in the joint? O.J. gets acquitted and is blackballed from ever appearing in public again. Yet, this twit gets to be more popular after mowing down 16 people?

Couldn’t MTV find someone…ANYONE”¦else to build this show around? Or at the very least, couldn’t they acknowledge it instead of painting her life looking like the greatest modern masterpiece of public relations? So, my answer is simple.

My answer: Yes. This show is disgusting.

I’m getting bitter. Time to wrap this up”¦.Have a good weekend!

— Coogan