Lisa’s Week In Television: 5/2/21 — 5/8/21


Another week, another list of television programming. Here’s a few thoughts on what I watched this week:

9-1-1 and 9-1-1: Lone Star (Monday Night, FOX)

I watched both of these shows this week and yet, I don’t remember a damn thing about them. If you don’t remember a show, did it actually air?

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

This week, the latest daring plan to get the British airmen out of France came to naught. The plan was to use a lawn mower motor to power an antique airplane. Rene said it wouldn’t work and, not surprisingly, it didn’t. I will admit that I laughed so hard at the end of this rather frantic episode that I nearly fell off the living room couch.

Baywatch (Weekdays, H&I)

Life on the beach continues!

On the first of Sunday’s two episodes, Kathleen Kinmont played an FBI agent who went undercover as a lifeguard. Unfortunately, despite the fact that she was supposed to be keeping an eye on the girlfriend of an escaped convict, she was also expected to do lifeguard stuff. This led to some conflict with Mitch. For the record, Mitch was right in that it made absolutely no sense for an FBI agent to pretend to be a lifeguard. The second episode of the night featured a phony treasure hunt, one that attracted real crooks and brought chaos to the beach! Jeff Garlin appeared as a radio DJ who fell in love with CJ. Both episodes were thoroughly silly, though the one with the FBI agent was a smidgen less silly because Kathleen Kinmont appeared to be taking her role more seriously than Jeff Garlin took his.

Monday’s first episode was an odd one. Apparently, there was some sort of weird “red dust wind” blowing over the California coast and, as a result, everyone on the beach was a little bit stranger than usual. Geraldo Rivera guest-starred as a man whose fiancé was secretly in love with Mitch. (In order to get her to fall out of love with him, Mitch took her on a date and acted like a dorky jackass. It didn’t work.) Meanwhile, John O’Hurley (of Seinfeld, Family Feud, and Dancing With Stars fame) played desperate father who was searching for his daughter. This was followed by an episode the featured jet ski training and plenty of beach volleyball action. I’ve noticed that every season of Baywatch featured at least one episode that featured someone getting jet ski training.

Tuesday brought us a Christmas-themed two-parter. Santa’s elves took a vacation on the beach. Hobie befriended yet another homeless girl. Mitch tried to help a homesick lifeguard. And Pamela Anderson fell in love with a priest but sadly, his commitment to God came first. “Y’know,” he told her, “we’re in the same business, saving lives.”

On Wednesday, Logan married a rich widow so that he could get his green card and then, during the second episode, Stephanie was held hostage by an environmental terrorist. It’s amazing how often the lifeguards ended up getting held hostage. I would probably be so traumatized after being held hostage just once that I would look for a new job. These lifeguards somehow manage to handle it happening on a twice-a-month basis.

On Thursday, Mitch asked Tracy to marry him, just to discover that she only had two weeks to live. He spent those weeks trying to make her as happy as possible. The second episode dealt with Mitch trying to recover from Tracy’s death. These episodes were surprisingly effective. Baywatch‘s total lack of irony and willingness to embrace the melodrama really paid off.

The first of Friday’s episodes found Mitch coming to terms with having never lived up to the expectations of his dead father. This was followed by an episode in which Logan needed Stephanie’s help to keep him from being deported back to Australia. In the end, it all worked out and everyone had fun. That’s the important thing.

On Saturday, CJ’s blind ex-boyfriend showed up and help Mitch break up yet another crime ring. This time the master criminal was played by Richard Lynch, who appeared to be having fun. Again, that’s the most important thing!

Court Cam (Wednesdays, A&E)

Dan Abrams’s replacement for Live PD continued the A&E reality show tradition of exploiting people’s misery. I had the show on while I was cleaning the house on Wednesday and I still feel awful about it.

Friends (Weekdays, Channel 33 and HBOMax)

During the episode that I watched on Tuesday night, Rachel and Monica got new jobs while Ross, Chandler, and Joey spent a night hitting the clubs and discovered that they weren’t young anymore. If I remember correctly, it seems like this was something that happened rather frequently on Friends. That said, I enjoyed this episode more than the one I watched a few weeks ago because Matthew Perry looked much healthier.

Hill Street Blues (Weekday Mornings, H&I)

Tuesday morning’s episodes of Hill Street Blues started with Public Defender Chapman (played by future 3-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand) getting fired from her job when it was discovered that she was hooked on cocaine. Meanwhile, Gina (played by future Oscar nominee Jennifer Tilly) was gunned down in a restaurant while having dinner with her boyfriend, Lt. Henry Goldblume (Joe Spano). The episode that followed that found Goldblume going a bit off the deep end as he obsessively investigated Gina’s murder. It’s was all very well-acted by Joe Spano, even if you do have to wonder if there anyone who worked on the Hill who did not, at some point during their service, see a friend or a loved one gunned down in front of them. Judging from what I’ve seen of the show, it was apparently a fairly regular occurrence.

Wednesday morning started off with an episode in which massive police corruption was uncovered, Henry finally started to properly grieve for Gina, and Captain Furillo admitted that he had started drinking again. It also featured an appearance from James Cromwell, speaking in an exaggerated Irish accent, in the role of an animal trainer. The second episode, however, had an entirely new credits sequence, one that featured some new faces in the cast, and — even more importantly — no longer featured half of the cast from the previous episode. In other words, a new season had begun! According to Jeff, I’ve now entered season 6 of Hill Street Blues, which is when the show starts to go downhill. So, we’ll see how long I stick with it, I guess. Anyway, the second episode took place at night and featured a now fully recovered Henry getting held hostage by a militant cult leader, who was played by Yaphet Kotto.

Thursday morning saw two episodes dealing with the death of Officer Harry Garibaldi. Played by Ken Olin, Harry was a regular during the pervious season but his disappearance from the opening credits left little doubt that he would not survive being stabbed by a bookie. Of course, the show still milked the question of whether or not Harry would die for all the drama that it could. (The main problem, of course, is that Harry was never a particularly likable character to begin with.) Kiel Martin, who was consistently one of the best actors on the show, had an amazing scene after Harry died, in which his character, recovering alcoholic J.D. LaRue, had a complete meltdown.

When I watched Friday morning’s episodes of Hill Street Blues, I came to understand what Jeff meant about this season being the beginning of the end. The first episode featured the arrest of Harry Garibaldi’s murderer. The suspect, who only confessed because he had suckered Furillo into giving him an immunity deal, was then gunned down by Harry’s father. So, yes, the murderer was dead but unfortunately, Harry’s father was going to prison for life. In previous episodes, this would have led to some serious reflection on the part of the characters. However, this time,, everyone just shrugged off the fate of Harry’s father. The bad guy was dead and nothing else mattered. The second episode featured a mentally ill man who thought he was the movie character Rambo. It was all fun and games until he tragically died at the end of the episode. Again, this is a trick that Hill Street Blues played so often that, from the minute the guy showed up, I knew what was going to eventually happen to him. If you’re quirky during the first half of an episode of Hill Street Blues, you’ll be dead by the end of the second half.

Things continued to go downhill during the first of Saturday’s episodes as a new character, Lt. Norman Buntz (played by Dennis Franz), went on a personal vendetta against a petty thief. Buntz eventually ended up executing the thief during a liquor store robbery. Previously, Hill Street Blues would have held a character like Buntz in contempt but, during this new season, apparently the show’s moral compass was reset. The first episode of the morning also featured Detective Neal Washington getting shot for what seemed to be the 100th time. I have to admit that I didn’t pay much attention to the second episode, beyond noting that Michael Richards (a.k.a. Karmer from Seinfeld) was playing a crook. Otherwise, life on the Hill suddenly felt far less interesting than it did at the start of this week.

Judge Jerry (Weekdays, Syndication)

Jerry Springer is a TV judge now! Nobody in the courtroom fights or yells. In fact, due to COVID, the gallery is empty and all of the cases are “virtual.” Somehow, Jerry comes across as being even more sleazy when he’s being respectable than he did when he was hosting his circus of a talk show.

The Office (All the Time, Comedy Central)

On Tuesday, I watched several episodes from season 4. I started with Dinner Party and I ended with Goodbye Toby. As a result, I had both Hunter’s song and Michael’s rendition Goodbye Toby stuck in my head for several hours. I’ve also spent this week telling random people, in my best Holly Flax voice, “Kevin, I’m really proud of you!”

The Old Guys (Sunday Night, PBS)

This week, Tom’s daughter nearly married Sally’s son. It didn’t work out, naturally. The main theme of this episode seemed to be that old people are clueless about new technology but that young people are just stupid in general. As with the previous episodes that I’ve seen, the jokes weren’t extremely clever but they were very well-delivered by Jane Asher, Clive Swift, and Roger Lloyd-Pack. Apparently, this was also the last episode of The Old Guys and, starting this Sunday night, PBS will be airing a different British sitcom in its place.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

On this week’s episode, Arkwright continued to abuse Granville and Granville continued to hate every moment of his existence. This is one bleak show.

The Rookies (Sunday Morning, H&I)

H&I aired two episodes of this old 70s cop show on Sunday morning. I watched both but I only remember one. It dealt with an older cop being driven crazy by the stress of the job and the feeling of being underappreciated. The Rookies were able to talk him down.

Saved By The Bell (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

I watched two episodes of this classic show on Sunday morning. The first episode featured Zack skipping school because he was apparently too exhausted after the summer to handle class. It was his mother’s idea. On the one hand, I could full sympathize with skipping school but, on the other hand, who asks for permission beforehand? I guess that’s what happens when you’re making a show about high school in which the lead character is expected to be both a rebel and a role model. Anyway, the various members of the Saved By The Bell cast came by to visit Zack and they thought about everything that happened over the summer. Is there anything more creatively bankrupt than a clip show?

The second episode was the one where Zack and Slater get into a physical brawl in the school hallway because they both like the same girl. This episode is a personal favorite of mine. If Belding hadn’t intervened, Slater would have totally kicked Zack’s ass.

Seinfeld (Weeknights, Channel 33 and Hulu)

I watched an episode on Tuesday night. Elaine was confused by her new boyfriend’s love for the song Desperado. George was confused the fact that the local cult was willing to brainwash everyone but him. Jerry destroyed a valuable chest of drawers and Kramer nearly killed some tourists. It made me laugh. That said, at the end of the episode, it was kind of implied that Elaine’s boyfriend died because the ER doctor was distracted by the song Witchy Woman. That was dark!

Storage Wars (Tuesday Night, A&E)

To be honest, the only reason I watched the two latest episodes was to see if there was any new Brandi/Jarrod developments. There were not. In fact, Jarrod was not in any either of the episodes and Brandi was only in one. Unfortunately, neither of the episodes were that interesting. With the exception of Ivy, I’ve never cared much for any of the replacement buyers who have shown up on the show over the years. I like the old crew — Barry, Hester, Darryl, and Bradi & Jarrod. Oh well. The past is the past.

Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix)

On Wednesday, Case, Leonard, and I watched an episode about a group of people from the same Massachusetts town who all say that they were abducted by aliens in 1969. As a passionate skeptic when it come to all things paranormal, my theory is that hippies spiked the town’s drinking water with LSD.

Upstart Crow (Sunday Night, PBS)

While traveling back to Stratford, Shakespeare and his friends run into three witches who provide him with three cryptic prophecies. Later, Shakespeare fears that he may have accidentally killed his neighbor, a Scotsman named MacBuff. Haunted by guilt and what he mistakenly believes is a ghost, Shakespeare is relieved to eventually to discover that MacBuff did not die. Shakespeare resolves to write a comedy about the whole thing. This was another brilliantly funny episode.

The Voice (Monday Night, NBC)

On Monday night, the show took a look back at the “road to lives.” I didn’t pay that much attention but still, I wish everyone the best of luck. (Come to think of it, I also didn’t pay much attention to 9-1-1 and 9-1-1: Lone Star when I watched them on Monday. What was going on at the start of the week that had me so distracted? Hopefully, whatever it was, I resolved it.)

Yes, Minister (Monday Morning, PBS)

This week’s episode was brilliant. After finding out that a defense contract had been rewarded as a result of bribery, Jim was determined to reveal the truth regardless of the consequences. Then, he discovered that his wife had accepted a very expensive present from the same contractor and he quickly changed his mind. Last week featured Jim getting the better of Humphrey. This week, things got back to normal as Humphrey and Bernard got the better of Jim (even though it was kind of Bernard’s fault that Jim’s wife received the potentially problematic present in the first place). Paul Eddington’s performance in this week’s episode, alternating between self-righteous pomposity and desperate sputtering, was a work of comedic genius. Despite the fact that this show is older than I am, Yes, Minister is definitely my favorite of the shows that I currently watch on a regular basis.

Lisa’s Week In Television: 4/18 — 4/24


Jeff and I finally got to go to the lake this week! This was something we had been planning on doing since Valentine’s Day. Our plans were originally put on hold by the big winter storm and then after that, we decided to wait until Spring Break was over so that we could have some peace and quiet.

We went up to the lake on Monday and, though we have a TV up here, we decided to watch it as little as possible. As a result, there’s not a lot listed below but that’s okay. Sometimes you need a break from all of that!

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

Bit of a disjointed episode this Sunday but Allo Allo appears to have been a show that was at its best when everyone was scrambling around for various reasons. Herr Flick was looking for the painting. The Resistance stole a lawnmower engine. Rene just tried to keep things calm at the café. It was a funny episode, even if I did find it next to impossible to follow what was actually going on.

Baywatch (Weeknight, H&I)

Because I was on vacation, I only watched Sunday’s episodes of Baywatch this week and I have to admit that I was busy packing at the time so I didn’t really pay much attention. The first episode featured David Hasselhoff being stalked by a psychotic Australian lifeguard. Oddly enough, the first season of Baywatch also featured a self-centered Australian lifeguard, who Hasselhoff was constantly reprimanding. You have to kind of wonder what Baywatch had against Australian lifeguards.

The second episode featured Mitch’s son falling in love with a terminally ill girl. That was sad but, then again, that also seems like something that happened fairly frequently on Baywatch. There was one episode, if I remember correctly, where Mitch’s son fell in love with a homeless girl and then another where he was in love with a babysitter who was being stalked by a gangster or something like that.

The drama never ends on the beach.

The Floor Is Lava (Netflix)

I watched three episodes of this silly Escape Room-style game show on Netflix. Then I realized that the contestants weren’t actually falling in real lava and I lost interest.

Hell’s Kitchen (Fox, Thursday Night)

Even though we had a general no network TV rule in effect for most of the week, Jeff and I did watch the finale of Hell’s Kitchen on Thursday. Unfortunately, the supercool Mary Lou lost to the superbland Kori. I’m guessing Kori won because she’s older and has more experience than Mary Lou but it was still an extremely disappointing way for an otherwise good season to end.

The Old Guys (Sunday Night, PBS)

On Sunday’s episode, the old guys were extremely excited when Sally had to temporarily move in with them while some work was being done at her house. They even bribed the man who had been hired to do the work to drag things out so that Sally would have to stay with them for more than a week. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work out as Sally found the old guys to be too formal and the old guys were upset by Sally’s habit of blurting out the news after reading it online, therefore spoiling the 10 O’clock News. Finally, the old guys tried to finish the work on Sally’s house themselves and things got screwed up even further. As usual, the performances of Jane Asher, Roger Lloyd-Pack, and Clive Swift did a lot to make up for a generally predictable storyline.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

Another episode, another 30 minutes of waiting for Granville to snap and kill Arkwright. This time, Arkwright deliberately misspelled the word “special” to encourage people to come into the shop. Granville looked like he was on the verge of snapping but he stopped himself at the last minute.

The Rookies (Sunday Morning, H&I)

This week’s episodes were a bit boring. The first one dealt with four cops going undercover at a singles complex to catch a serial killer. Unfortunately, the identity of the killer was revealed during the first minute of the show so there wasn’t much suspense. The second episode featured Andy Robinson (he played the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry, which came out a year before The Rookies started to air) as a criminal trying to harass the wife of one of the police officers. One of the things that I’ve noticed about The Rookies is that each episode is self-contained. There’s no continuing storylines, like we’ve come to expect from television shows today. Instead, every episode is some new, huge drama that will last an hour and will never be mentioned again. The main characters are continually getting shot at, kidnapped, and threatened but apparently, it has absolutely no effect on their psychological well-being. It’s good to be them, I guess.

Saved By The Bell (Sunday morning, MeTV)

A girl named Christy wanted to join the wrestling team! GASP! Zack helped to get her a spot on the team but then got embarrassed when she beat up two Valley High bullies who were giving him a hard time. Jessie went from supporting Christy to condemning her when she thought Christy was trying to seal away Slater. Fortunately, by the end o the episode, everyone had learned a valuable lesson and had become a better person. Christy was never seen again.

South Park (Sunday Morning, Comedy Central)

The gang went to the rain forest and discovered that it totally sucked! I know people who actually find this episode to be incredibly offensive. Personally, I think it’s hilarious because being trapped in the rain forest probably does suck.

Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix)

On Wednesday, me, Case, and Leonard live tweeted an episode of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries. It was about whether or not people in Japan were being haunted by ghosts following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. It started out a bit depressing but, by the end of it, it was actually rather touching and life-affirming. Personally, though, I don’t believe in ghosts.

Upstart Crow (Sunday Night, PBS)

William Shakespeare was nearly humiliated by his rival, Robert Greene, and Kit Marlowe stole another play. All in all, it was just another day in Elizabethan London.

Yes, Minster (Monday Morning, PBS)

Poor Jim Hacker! On this week’s episode, Jim again tried to cut back on government waste and Sir Humphrey again conspired to keep him from doing that. This time, Sir Humphrey’s scheme was to distract Hacker by telling him about the sorry state of the UK’s nuclear fallout structures. Jim went on another crusade, one that was going well until he accidentally insulted the Prime Minister during a television interview. The thing that makes Yes, Minster such an interesting show is that you’re natural inclination is to be on Jim Hacker’s side (he means well) but, at the same time, there’s something delightfully entertaining about watching Sir Humphrey thwart all of those good intentions.

Lisa’s Week In Television: 3/28/21 — 4/3/21


Twonky

Welcome to the first ever edition of Lisa’s Week In Television!  Because of the holiday weekend, there’s a lot of streaming shows that I haven’t gotten a chance to watch yet.  And I will also admit that I watched a lot of old TV shows over the previous few days.  Then again, I always end up watching a lot of old shows, if just because I always enjoy seeing how people dressed and spoke in the past.

American Idol

American Idol (Sunday and Monday Night, ABC)

I was recently trying to remember when the last time was that I was emotionally invested in American Idol and I think it was way back in 2007.  That would be the sixth season.  I thought Blake Lewis was totally adorable and I was actually really upset when he lost to Jordin Sparks.  That’s nothing against Jordin.  At the time, I just had a weakness for beat boxers.

Ever since then, American Idol has mostly been background noise to me.  It’s one of those things that I watch out of habit and it’s rare that I ever pay that much attention to it while it’s on.  When the show started, it was always interesting to see how brutally frank Simon Cowell could be but, after Simon left, no one was willing to play the villain and the show’s gotten rather bland as a result.

Anyway, on Sunday and Monday’s episodes, the judges announced the top 24 singers.  I have no idea who any of these people are.  I just know that none of them will ever win my heart quite like Blake Lewis performing Time of the Season.

Baywatch

Baywatch (Weekday Evenings, H&I)

Yes, the show about lifeguards is now airing on H&I.  Hopefully, Baywatch Nights will eventually follow.  There’s always been a lot of debate about whether or not David Hasselhoff is self-aware in the style of William Shatner or if he actually took Baywatch seriously.  Having watched a few episodes of the show, I still have no idea.  On the one hand, Hasselhoff certainly seemed to be taking thing very seriously.  On the other hand, how could anyone actually take a show like Baywatch seriously?  I mean, you would have to have somewhat of a satricial spirit to just be involved with the show, wouldn’t you?

Speaking of taking Baywatch seriously, Tuesday’s episode featured Danny Trejo as the father of a gang member.  Trejo wanted his son to stay in the gang and was upset when Billy Warlock tried to recruit him into a lifeguard program instead.  However, when Trejo subsequently fell in the ocean just to be saved by his own son, everyone learned an important lesson.

City Confidential

City Confidential (Sunday Afternoon, CI)

This show, which originally aired on A&E 20 years ago, is actually two shows in one.  The first half of every episode always deals with the history and culture of an American city.  The 2nd half always deals with some crime that happened in that city and which, we’re told, changed that city forever.  Each episode was narrated by actor Paul Winfield, who always sounded somewhat amused no matter how heinous a crime he was describing.

I watched two episodes, one about Milwaukee and one about Carlsbad, New Mexico.  My family briefly lived in Carlsbad when I was growing up so I found that episode to be interesting.  What can I say?  I have a weakness for true crime shows hosted by sardonic narrators.

Distirct

The District (Weekday Mornings, H&I)

The District is a fairly predictable cop show that aired for four seasons at the start of the century.  I had totally forgotten about it until I stumbled across it on H&I during a bout of insomnia.  It’s about Jack Mannion (Craig T. Nelson), the hyperactive police commissioner for Washington D.C.  Pretty much the only interesting thing about the show was Craig T. Nelson’s frequently bizarre lead performance.  Nelson’s not exactly a low-key actor to begin with and The District cast him as a frequently married, show tune loving cop who enjoyed yelling at people.  The show’s producers basically gave Nelson a license to overact and he took full advantage of it.  With each episode, you think that Nelson can’t possibly go more over-the-top and, with each episode, he proves you wrong.

Tuesday’s episode featured him crashing a meeting of the Washington D.C, city council and, when he felt they weren’t paying attention to him, climbing up on a desk so that he could better yell at them.  Later, when Mannion had to interrogate a young child who had witnessed a crime, he got her to answer his question by having a tea party with her.  That’s Jack Mannion for ya!

Hell's Kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen (Thursday night, FOX)

Even though I’m not really a huge fan of yelling at or insulting people, I’ve always liked Hell’s Kitchen.  Some of it is because of those moments (which usually happens towards the end of the season) when Gordon Ramsey reveals that he’s not quite as fearsome as he pretends to be.  (He actually does seem to get emotionally invested once there’s only 6 or 5 chefs left.)  Plus, since I can’t cook, I guess I find it interesting to watch people who actually can.  This latest season, which is drawing to a close, has been one of the better seasons.  Myself, I’m totally cheering on Mary Lou!  Go, Mary Lou!  You got this!

King of the HIll

King of the Hill (Hulu)

This is still the best and most authentic TV show ever made about Texas.  Watching it today, it’s also a nice alternative to the more mean-spirited programming of Seth MacFarlane.  Let it never be forgotten the Fox cancelled King of the Hill to make room for The Cleveland Show, of all thing.  Fortunately, King of the Hill can currently be watched at any time on Hulu.

Saturday morning, my sisters and I watched three episodes while we were preparing for the day — the episodes where Hank goes down Aisle 8A, where Hank goes to New Orleans, and where Dale thinks he’s rabid.  We agreed that Boomhauer is one of the greatest characters of all time.

law & Order

Law & Order: Organized Crime (Thursday Night, NBC)

I reviewed the first episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime here.

Law & Order: SVU (Thursday Night, NBC)

I used to watch SVU religiously when I was in high school and college.  However, as I got older, I kind of lost interest. That said, I did watch it this week because Elliott Stabler (played by Chris Meloni) was making his first appearance on the show since leaving 8 seasons ago.  Thursday’s episode also served as a backdoor pilot, of sorts, for Law & Order: Organized Crime.

The episode was …. okay.  The mob stuff was predictable but it was nice to see that Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay still had their old chemistry.  That said, Stabler seemed to be even more tightly wound than he did during his time as a regular on SVU and that’s really saying something as Stabler always seemed like the cop mostly likely to beat a suspect to death during interrogation.  (Of course, Stabler’s wife was injured by a car bomb and later died during the episode so Stabler had good reason for being wound up.)

A lot of people on twitter freaked out over the fact that no one on the show was wearing a mask.  Calm down, people, it’s a TV show.

Love Boat

The Love Boat (Weekday Evenings, Decades TV)

Ah, The Love Boat.  If there’s any show from the 70s and 80s that deserves a revival, it’s probably this one.  Movie and television veterans play the passengers of a weekly cruise, falling in love and taking part in other hi-jinks.  Every episode that I’ve ever seen of The Love Boat has been charmingly silly and, quite frankly, I think that’s what we need more of in the world.  Add to that, the cruise ship industry took a hit with the pandemic.  A Love Boat revival might help revive it.

Monday’s episode featured Zsa Zsa Gabor and a bunch of people who I didn’t recognize but who all appeared to be having a great time on the boat.  Zsa Zsa was determined to win back her ex, even though he was planning on marrying someone else.  The other stories dealt with a kleptomaniac who kept accidentally stealing stuff and a TV actor who feared that he would never be able to live up to his heroic image.  In the end, for all the passengers and crew, love won.

Wednesday’s episode was a Christmas episode from 1980.  Dorothy Lamour was one of the passengers.  Father and son entertainers ran into each on the boat after having not spoken to each other for years.  A stowaway pretended to be the child of a wannabe womanizer.  In the end, for all the passengers and crew, love won.

My Evil Sister

My Evil Sister (Sunday Afternnon, CI)

I watched this on Crime and Investigation on Sunday morning.  As the youngest of four sisters, it’s hard for me not to be intrigued by the fact that there’s so many evil sisters out there that they could actually produce an entire TV series about them.  The episode I saw featured two stories, one about a sister who killed her lazy sister and then tried to frame local drug dealers and the other about a girl who shot her adopted sister because she felt her sister was keeping her from being popular in high school.  Scary stuff!  I’m glad my family likes me!  (I say this as I nervously glance over my shoulder.)

The Office

The Office (Comedy Central)

I watched a few episodes of The Office on Thursday and Friday.  I always feel like I’m taking a risk whenever I watch The Office on Comedy Central because there’s always a chance that they’ll be showing episodes from Seasons 8 or 9.  Fortunately, on Thursday and Friday, they were showing episodes from Season 5.  Jim and Pam hadn’t gotten unbearably smug yet.  Andy and Angela weren’t quite as cartoonish as they would later become.  Best of all, Michael was still on the show so I got to watch him once again fall in love with Holly Flax.  Though The Office was pretty uneven after the third season, the few episodes of season 5 were all gems.

parking_wars

Parking Wars (Monday Morning on A&E)

I wrote about this annoyingly addictive show a few years ago.  I watched two episodes of the show on Monday morning, as I was getting ready for my day.  Even though I mostly had it on for background noise, I still couldn’t help but think about how this show, which aired its last original episode nearly ten years ago, feels like the perfect show for the current era.  A bunch of self-righteous bureaucrats make life difficult for their fellow citizens and, whenever they’re challenged on it, they respond with a bunch of “If you had followed the rules” bullshit.  Watching this show always makes me want to park in front of an expired meter and then rip up the ticket.

The Rookies

The Rookies (Sunday Morning, H&I)

The Rookies is a cop show that aired from 1972 to 1976.  H&I just recently started showing the show.  It airs on Sunday morning at 2 in the morning.  I decided to set the DVR to record the show, just because it was a show that I’d never heard of.  I’m like a cat when it comes to being curious about stuff.

Anyway, The Rookies is about three cops who are …. can you guess it? …. rookies!  One is black.  Two are white.  One has a wife, the other two single.  Whenever they drive their car around the city, 70s wah wah music plays in the background.  From what I’ve seen so far, it’s pretty much a standard cop show.  One of the cops is played by Michael Ontkean, so it’s possible to view the show as being a prequel to Twin Peaks, if you’re so inclined.

I watched Sunday’s episode off of the DVR.  The first episode featured a criminal turning into an informant and putting his life at risk.  In the 2nd episode, Ontkean was shot in the back and had to undergo an experimental surgery to regain the ability to walk.  The stories were, in no way, surprising but it was a chance to experience how people talked and dressed in 1972.

Rome Chariot

Rome’s Chariot Superstar (Monday Morning, Smithsonian Channel)

This docuseries took a look at the ancient Roman chariot races.  It was actually pretty entertaining.  I enjoyed the descriptions of life in ancient Rome and, even better, they showed how to build and steer a chariot!  As I’ve said many times on the site, I’m a history nerd.  I love stuff like this.

sbtb

Saved By The Bell (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

Ah, Saved By The Bell, the oddly popular and incredibly dated high school sitcom from the early 90s.  Don’t ask me to explain why Saved By The Bell remains so watchable, despite being terrible in almost every way.  It’s just a part of the culture and, perhaps more importantly, there’s never been an extended period of time when it hasn’t been on TV somewhere.  One of the many places where it can currently be found is as a part of MeTV’s Sunday morning lineup.  I always seem to end up watching it, even though the show makes me cringe in so many ways.

For instance, on Sunday morning, I watched three separate episodes.  First off, I watched the infamous Running Zack.  This is the incredibly problematic episode where the blonde, blue-eyed, and very pale Zack Morris discovers that he’s a direct descendant of the Native American Chief Joseph and he responds to this news by putting on an elaborate headdress and then giving a speech to his class.  It’s really …. not good.  Zack, however, does subsequently win the big track meet.  If I remember correct, his Native American heritage was never again mentioned on the show.

Running Zack was followed by a far more entertaining episode, Jessie’s Song.  This is the “I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so scared” episode, in which Jessie gets hooked on caffeine pills.  Everyone always laughs about the scene where Jessie freaks out but I think the extremely 80s music video is even more memorably weird.

Jessie’s Song was followed by The Fabulous Belding Boys, in which Mr. Belding’s supercool brother, Rod, showed up as a new substitute teacher at Bayside.  After getting all of his students excited about going rafting for the senior class trip, Rod ditched them all for two stewardesses.  Fortunately, Mr. Belding stepped up and took Rod’s place, showing Zack what being a hero is all about.  This is actually one of the few episodes of Saved By The Bell that actually works as something more than camp, with the normally underappreciated Dennis Haskins getting a chance to show what he could actually do with some halfway decent dialogue.

YesMinister

Yes, Minister (Monday Morning on PBS)

This is a BBC series, which originally aired back in the 80s.  It’s about a government minister named Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington) and two civil servants, Sir Humphrey (Nigel Hawthorne) and Bernard (Derek Fowlds), and their efforts to help Hacker run his department while also making sure that Hacker doesn’t actually accomplish anything.  It’s a hilarious show, one that Jeff recently introduced me to.  Even though the show is very British and 40+ years old, it’s still easy to see parallels between the show’s portrayal of the British government and the realities of Washington, D.C.  I guess bureaucracy is universal.

This show airs on Monday, usually at midnight.  I always set the DVR for it, though I’ve lately been staying up to watch it just because PBS is so inconsistent about keeping to their posted start and stop times.  Back in February, when Texas got hit by that winter storm, an episode of Yes, Minister was the last thing that I watched before the rolling blackouts began.

This week’s episode found Jim Hacker going to a farm for a photo op and essentially screwing everything up.  The show is at its best when it pokes fun at Hacker’s self-righteousness by revealing him to be just another clueless politician and this episode did just that.  (In all fairness, though, Hacker also consistently means well and, occasional pompousness aside, actually is the type of person you would want in office.)  Though the show may be an old one, it’s kind of what we need right now in the Age of Big Government.

Watched But Not Reviewed:

  1. ‘Allo ‘Allo (Sunday Night on PBS)
  2. America’s Most Wanted (Monday Night on Fox)
  3. Fear Thy Neighbor (Saturday Afternoon on ID)
  4. Hill Street Blues (Weekend Morning on H&I)
  5. The Killer Beside Me (Saturday afternoon on ID)
  6. The Masked Singer (Tuesday and Wednesday on Fox)
  7. Open All Hours (Sunday Night on PBS)
  8. Temptation Island (Tuesday Night on USA)
  9. Tough as Nails (Wednesday Night on CBS)
  10. The Voice (Monday Night on NBC)
  11. Your Worst Nightmare (Saturday afternoon on ID)

12 Good Things I Saw On Television In 2020


What to say about television in 2020?

It’s hard to come up with much, largely because there really wasn’t a whole lot of television to watch.  With the pandemic shutting down several productions and even knocking out stuff like the Olympics, network television was even more of a wasteland than usual.  As far as the major networks were concerned, 2020 was a year of rerurns and overproduced celebrity-themed game shows.

I’m sure that some would say that the presidential election livened things up and I have to admit that I did enjoy snarking on Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and MJ Hegar, all three of whom seem to be competing to see whose campaigns could put out the most cringe-worthy commercials possible.  But, with Trump on one side and Biden on the other, there was little about this election that was enjoyable to watch.  Indeed, I’ve reached the point where just thinking about hearing someone say, “Fake news” or “Come on, man,” makes me want to throw something across the room.

Even my old reliables failed me this year.  Survivor halted production.  The Amazing Race and Big Brother both featured the least likable cast imaginable.   It’s hard to get excited when bullies are winning your favorite shows.

As usual, the streaming services did a bit better than the networks but, in the end, it feels as if I spent most of 2020 watching the retro channels.  Whenever the real world got too stressful, annoying, or stupid, I would go out to my private office and I’d watch a channel like MeTV, AntennaTV, ForwardTV*, or maybe even CoziTV.  To be honest, it really didn’t matter what old shows they were showing.  All that mattered was that watching those shows of the past provided an escape from all the bad stuff happening in the present.  They provided non-threatening background noise and there’s something to be said for that.  They’re televised time capsules, perfect for a history nerd like me.

(*To be honest, I’m not sure that there really is a network called ForwardTV.  I do know that I frequently watch Ghost Whisperer on one of the retro channels and I’ve never actually caught the name of the channel.  Maybe it’s ForwardTV.  Who knows?)

So, this year, my list of good things that I saw on TV is going to be shorter than usual.  Who knows?  It could be for the best.  I usually watch too much TV as it is.

  1. A Teacher

This miniseries, about a teacher who has an affair with a student and how it continues to determine the shape of their lives long after the affair ends, was an unusually intelligent and thought-provoking show.  As the teacher and the student, Kate Mara and Nick Robinson both gave realistic and empathetic performances.

2. Bad Education

One of the best films of the year premiered on HBO.  On the one hand, it’s sad to think that the film would have been eligible the Oscars if it had only been bought by Netflix.  On the other hand, though, it’s totally possible that more people saw it on HBO than would have seen it otherwise.  Hugh Jackman didn’t win an Emmy and he’s not going to get an Oscar but he still gave one of the best performances of 2020.

3. Michael Bloomberg blowing it during his first Democratic Debate

Considering how obnoxious and ever-present his commercials were (“Mike will get it done!”), there was something deeply satisfying about watching this smug technocrat totally blow it when he actually found himself on live TV and having to deal with actual human beings.  There wasn’t much to enjoy as far as politics went in 2020 but seeing Bloomberg get booed after trying to explain away all of the HR complaints against him was a joy.

4. Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult

There were two high-profile NXIVM series last year.  HBO had The Vow, which was a lengthy series that was produced by a bunch of former NXIVM members and which tried to make the director of What The Bleep Do We Know into some sort of hero.  Seduced, meanwhile, was an honest look at life in the cult, one that pulled no punches and which made The Vow look worse and worse with each episode.

5. Saved By The Bell: The Reboot

The Saved By The Bell reboot turned out to be a 100 times better than it had any right to be.

6. 9-1-1: Lone Star

This show is a guilty pleasure for me, I’ll admit it.  On the one hand, it does a fairly good job of capturing the feel and attitude of my homestate.  On the other hand, I don’t know that there’s as many volcanoes in Texas as this show seems to think.  No matter, though!  It’s over-the-top and fun.

7. The Mandalorian

I’m not even into Star Wars and even I had to admit that The Mandalorian was pretty damn cool.  I’m among the many people who started watching for Baby Yoda and who stuck around because the show itself turned out to be so unexpectedly entertaining.

8. Better Call Saul 

Saul Goodman never lets us down.

9. The Queen

Neither does Queen Elizabeth.

10. Ghost Whisperer Reruns

And neither does Melinda!  Eve when she’s appearing in reruns airing on Hulu and whatever ForwardTV actually is.

11. Coronation Sreet

They have a ton of episodes on Hulu!  Considering that it often seemed as if I might never get to leave the country again, there was something nice about being able to go on Hulu and watch something as British as this show.

12. I learned to appreciate the Daytime Dramas

When you’re working from home in the middle of a pandemic, there’s something oddly comfortable about turning on the TV and seeing something like the Bold and the Beautiful or General Hospital.  Those shows are always there, they’re always dealing with same stuff that it’s been dealing with for decades, and they are also the shows most likely to get interrupted by a breaking news alert.  So, as long as I turn on the TV at 12:45 and I see The Bold and the Beautiful instead of Norah O’Donnell looking somber, I know that the day’s probably going to be crisis-free.

TSL Looks Back at 2020:

  1. Lisa Marie’s Top 8 Novels of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  2. Lisa Marie’s Top 8 Non-Fiction Books of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  3. Lisa Marie’s 20 Favorite Songs of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  4. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  5. My Top 20 Albums of 2020 (Necromoonyeti)
  6. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems That I Saw In 2020 (Valerie Troutman)
  7. Top 10 Vintage Collections (Ryan C)
  8. Top 10 Contemporary Collections (Ryan C)
  9. Top 10 Original Graphic Novels (Ryan C)
  10. Top 10 Ongoing Series (Ryan C.)
  11. Top 10 Special Mentions (Ryan C.)
  12. Top Ten Single Issues (Ryan C)

Here’s The Trailer For The Saved By The Bell Reboot!


Good God, this looks awful.  When is Mario Lopez going to start aging?  I swear, the man has to have a Dorian Gray-type painting up in his attic or something.

Oh well.  As bad as it looks, I’ll probably watch a few episodes.

2014 In Review: 20 Good Things That Lisa Saw On TV In 2014


So, I’m sitting here and I’m trying to make out my annual list of good things that I saw on TV over the previous year and I’ve just realized something.

I did not watch as much TV as usual last year.

It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part.  Up until this very moment, I was actually thinking that I watched too much TV last year.  But, honestly, 2014 was a busy year for me.  Between work and dance and family and romance and writing and seeing movies and shopping and being sick and getting well and the manic states and the depressive states, I just didn’t have as much time as usual to devote to television.

In fact, the only shows that I always made it a point to watch were two reality shows and that was mostly because I write about them over at the Big Brother Blog and the Survivor Blog.

That takes me by surprise because I love television.  I’ve never made any secret of that fact and I’ve never felt guilty about it.  When I’m writing, I find it helps to have the TV on in the background.  As well, knowing that a certain show is always going to be on at a certain time tends to help me deal with my Obsessive Compulsive tendencies.  I’ve always felt that, in a perfect world, I would have my own TV network.  It would be called the Lisa Marie Network (LMN) and I would be in charge of programming every single minute.

But, for whatever reason, in 2014, I didn’t watch as much as usual.  So, don’t consider the list below to be a comprehensive list of everything that was good on television last year.  Instead, consider it to just be 20 good things that I was lucky enough to see.

So, here’s the list!

1) Too Many Cooks on Adult Swim

You knew that I’d have to start out with this one, especially considering that I still find myself randomly singing the theme song.  “When it comes to the future, you can never have too many cooks!”

2) Figure Skating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

I actually enjoyed watching most of the 2014 Winter Olympics.  (Except, of course, when Bob Costas was there with his fucked up eye.)  But what I especially loved was watching the figure skating.  How couldn’t you love the chemistry between Charlie White and Meryl Davis or the amazing grace of Yulia Lipnitskaya or Ashley Wagner’s refusal to hide her disgust with the judges?

Figure Skating - Winter Olympics Day 1

3) Veep

Without a doubt, the funniest show on television.  Anyone who idolizes a politician should be forced to watch it.

4) Community ended its network run on a decent note

After a rough fourth season, Community made a comeback of sort during the fifth season.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep NBC from canceling the show but still, it was good to see a few more decent episodes of Community before the show moved over to Yahoo.

5) True Detective

True Detective has been praised so much that I really don’t have much more to say about it, beyond the fact that I found it to be endlessly fascinating.

6) Sharknado 2!

So, I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of the first Sharknado.  (I was even less of a fan of the way the media seemed to believe that Mia Farrow was the first person to ever live tweet a movie, especially considering how lame most of Mia’s Sharknado tweets were.)  But I loved Sharknado 2!  Sharknado 2 was everything that the first Sharknado was supposed to be and more!

IZ in Sharknado 2

7) The Old People TV Networks

This is the year that I really made an effort to explore all of the channels that I have available to me.  What I discovered is that there are a lot of stations that are apparently dedicated to exclusively showing shows that were made long before I was even born!  For a history nerd like me, coming across these networks is a bit like accidentally digging up a time capsule.  Add to that, I’ve discovered that old TV shows make for perfect background noise.  I call these networks the Old People TV networks but I do so with affection.

8) Seeing my friend and fellow movie blogging Irish gal Kellee Pratt in the audience whenever TCM rebroadcasts that interview with Maureen O’Hara.

9) Opposite Worlds on SyFy

Opposite Worlds was a reality show that was broadcast on the SyFy Network.  Contestants were divided into two tribes.  One tribe lived in the luxurious future, complete with a fully automated house.  The other tribe lived in the past, which basically meant wearing furs and staying in a cave.  The two tribes competed every week.  Many contestants were seriously injured.  I was hoping that Samm would win, mostly because I share her struggle.  But I was okay with Frank eventually winning.  He turned out to be a nice guy.

(By the way, SyFy, I’m still waiting for a second season…)

10) Bates Motel

Bates Motel got better and better during its second season.  I still think Olivia Cooke needs a spin-off where she solves crimes.

bates-motel-season-2-freddie-highmore-600x412

11) True Blood ended before it totally went the way of Dexter.

To be honest, True Blood was definitely showing signs of its age.  I wasn’t really happy with the final season but I was relieved to see that it still ended on a better note than Dexter did.

12) Flowers in the Attic

2014 got off to a great start with Flowers in the Attic, one of the best movies to ever show up on Lifetime.

13) Lizzie Borden Took An Axe

In fact, the only that kept Flowers in the Attic from being the best Lifetime movie was the fact that Lizzie Borden premiered a week later.

Lizzie

14) The Way The Saved By The Bell and Aaliyah Movies Brought Us Together As A Nation

For two nights, our often troubled country was united by the power of mass snarkiness.

15) Coverage Of The Fact That Paul Rosalie Was Not Eaten Alive

There was something greatly satisfying about how, after spending weeks promising that he would be, Paul Rosalie failed to be eaten alive by an anaconda.  I think one reason I especially enjoyed this fact that I didn’t actually watch the special.  I thought the whole thing sounded stupid and crass.  That made the subsequent ridicule all the more satisfying.

16) Key and Peele

Without a doubt, the funniest sketch comedy program on TV today.

17) Talking Dead

To be honest, the only reason I watch The Walking Dead is so I’ll be able to understand what they’re talking about on The Talking Dead.

18) Daft Punk At The Grammys

It was great to see the Robots enjoying themselves.

Pharrell Williams, Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers

19) Weather On The Local News

“Folks, we’ve got a storm system approaching but don’t worry.  Channel 4 will keep your 4warned…”  Some things never change.  I’ve reached the point where I can find the humor in watching our local meteorologists panic every time that it starts to rain.  This past year, whenever I was stuck inside while a light drizzle fell outside, I knew that Pete Delkus, Larry Mowery, and David Finfrock would be there to amuse me with their dire warnings of a weather apocalypse.

"A storm's coming!"

“A storm’s coming!”

20) Degrassi!

Degrassi endures.  And we’re all the better for it.

Degrassi_Season_13_title_card

On one final note: GetGlue, R.I.P.  For five years, I enjoyed checking into tvs, movies, books, and emotions on GetGlue.  Sadly, GetGlue (or TV Tag as it came to be known) went offline on January 1st.  Goodbye, GetGlue.  It was fun while it lasted and I’ll always remember that week when me and that guy from Indonesia were violently fighting over who would get to be the guru of pepper spray. (GGers will understand.)

Tomorrow, my look back at 2014 continues with my ten favorite novels of the year!

Previous Entries In The TSL’s Look Back At 2014:

  1. Things Senor Geekus Dug In 2014 Off The Top Of His Head
  2. 2014 In Review: The Best of Lifetime and SyFy
  3. 2014 In Review: Lisa’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2014
  4. 2014 In Review: 14 of Lisa’s Favorite Songs of 2014
  5. 2014 in Review: Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2014

What Lisa and Megan Watched Last Night #96: Saved By The Bell 2.9 “Jessie’s Song” (dir by Don Barnhart)


Last night, my sister Megan and I watched the classic 1990 Saved By The Bell caffeine pill episode, Jessie’s Song.

Why Were We Watching It?

I was visiting Megan and her family for the holidays, she has every episode of Saved By The Bell on DVD — seriously, how could we not end up watching it?

What Was It About?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times and things at Bayside High were pretty messed up.  Self-declared genius Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) was failing Geometry so she started taking caffeine pills.  Then, her sociopathic friend Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) decided that Jessie should also launch a musical career as a member of the disturbingly generic girl group Hot Sundae.  And who can blame him with all of this talent of display?

 And so, Jessie started taking more and more pills.  And then, this happened…

Fear not!  Jessie recovered from her drug addiction in time to be featured in Johnny Dakota’s No Hope With Dope ad campaign.

What Worked?

Jessie’s Song is like The Room of Saved By The Bell episodes, 22 minutes of television that is just so wrong and oddly executed that it becomes oddly fascinating.  For that reason, it’s impossible to judge this episode by standard definitions of quality.

The idea that Kelly, Lisa, and Jessie (a.k.a. Hot Sundae) could get a recording contract, the fact that Jessie ends up getting hooked on the equivalent of can of Red Bull, the fantasy sequence where Jessie imagines having to go to Surf U. because she failed Geometry, the fact that a few pills transform Jessie overnight, and the overly optimistic ending; none of it works.  And, for that reason, the entire episode works.

Consider this — before I had even seen this episode, I knew that Jessie Spano ended up getting hooked on caffeine pills and singing, “I’m so excited!  I’m so excited!  I’m so …. SCARED!”  For better or worse, this episode is a part of our culture.

On a personal note, I loved the extremely earnest way Mario Lopez delivered the line, “Hold on, Jessie — it says right here that these may be habit-forming…”

What Did Not Work?

As Megan pointed out to me, there’s a huge continuity error in this episode.  Back in the glee club episode, it had been established that Kelly couldn’t sing.  Now, suddenly, she’s on the verge of getting a recording contract.  Was there no such thing as a consistency at Bayside?  No wonder Jessie ended up addicted to drugs.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Jessie Spano, I have a tendency to push myself.  Whereas Jessie pushed herself to attend an Ivy League college and to try to destroy the patriarchy, I push myself to post a certain amount of film reviews each month.

For instance, earlier this year, I decided that I would post at least 120 reviews in October.  And so, much like Jessie, I pushed myself and pushed myself and, when I felt like I couldn’t go on, I took every pill that I had in the medicine cabinet and then I danced around my bedroom going, “I’m so excited!  I’m so excited!  I’m so … scared!”

And some people though that was silly on my part but you know what?  This October, the TSL posted 137 new reviews so, obviously, I was doing something right.  And I’ve already decided that next year, we’re going to break all previous records.  That’s right — 200 posts in October of 2014!  You read it here first.

And, to think, I owe it all to caffeine.

Lessons Learned

There’s no hope with dope!  Wait … no, actually, that was a different episode.  In this one, I guess I learned not to abuse caffeine but I really didn’t learn that because I’ve seen this episode a few dozen times and I’m still addicted to caffeine and, for that matter, I’m still pushing myself and having trouble accepting that I can’t always be the best at everything so maybe I didn’t learn anything from this episode…

Oh wait!  I did learn something.  Geometry leads to drug addiction and causes you to let all of your friends down.

Seriously, geometry sucks.

(For another look at drug abuse in the 1990s, please be sure to check out my review of the California Dreams steroid episode, Tiffani’s Gold.)

What Lisa And Megan Watched Last Night #61: Saved By The Bell: The New Class S2E9 “Belding’s Prank” (dir by Don Barnhart)


Last night, as Christmas came to a close, my sister Megan and I continued to celebrate the holiday week by bonding over yet another episode of a bad (yet oddly addictive) 90s sitcom.  Last night, we watched “Belding’s Prank,” an episode from the 2nd season of Saved By The Bell: The New Class.

Why Were We Watching It?

You can read the full details here but, long story short, I’m spending my holiday week in Ft. Worth with my sister Megan and Megan (because she’s the best) has every episode of Saved By The Bell: The New Class on DVD.  When I learned this, I naturally became super excited because, when I was too young to know any better, I used to watch SBTB: TNC every Saturday morning.  Anyway,  for the past few days, Megan and I have been bonding over bad sitcoms from the 90s.

(For the record, Megan claims that, if she ever saw a single first-run episode of SBTB, it was just because she was waiting for California Dreams to come on.)

Last night, we watched several episodes of SBTB: The New Class but the one that made the biggest impression on me was the 9th episode of the 2nd season, Belding’s Prank.

(Before anyone asks, yes — we both would have rather been watching Django Unchained or Les Miserables but yesterday, it snowed!  Needless to say, we were all excited to look out the window and see snow falling on Christmas.  We had fun playing in the snow but there was no way that any of us we were planning on trying to drive in it.  Seriously, we live in Texas, where 80 degrees is considered to be a cold front.  We don’t know the first thing about driving in the snow.)

What Was It About?

SBTB: TNC was infamous for changing its cast of characters almost every season.  When I first saw the show, the main character was Ryan (played by the adorable Richard Lee Jackson) but what I didn’t realize was that Ryan was actually the third main character.  He was preceded by a guy named Scott and another guy named Brian Keller.  Belding’s Prank is a Brian episode.  When we first started watching this episode, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to follow the episode because I didn’t know much about Brian (played by Christian Oliver) as a character.  However, I quickly discovered that Brian had absolutely the exact same personality as Ryan (and, I assume, Scott) and therefore, it really didn’t matter.

Anyway, in Belding’s Plot, it’s prank week at Bayside!  Brian is encouraging everyone to engage in increasingly elaborate pranks.  Bayside’s principal, Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins), thinks that it’s all a lot of fun.  However, Belding’s assistant, Screech (Dustin Diamond) is concerned because there’s a new district superintendent and he could drop by the school at any minute.  It appears that Mr. Belding has yet to meet (or even see) the new superintendent (which is kinda odd when you think about it) and when the superintendent does show up, Belding assumes that it’s a prank.  The superintendent, meanwhile, sees that Bayside is in chaos and he promptly fires Mr. Belding.

This is where things get weird.  The superintendent holds a school assembly to introduce the new principal.  Since this is Saved By The Bell, there’s only about 20 students at the assembly.  Anyway, before the superintendent can announce the new principal, Brian stands up and shouts, “We don’t want a new principal!  We want Mr. Belding back!”  Now, instead of suspending Brian for disrupting a school assembly, the superintendent replies that the students should have respected their principal if they liked him so much.

“Here’s your new principal,” the superintendent announces, “Mr. Richard Belding!”

Mr. Belding steps out on stage.  The 20 students at the assembly go wild.  So, was Mr. Belding really fired or was he just playing a prank on the students?  Or did Brian’s words sway the superintendent?

Seriously, what the Hell’s going on?

What Worked?

Say what you will about this episode overall, it’s here that Dennis Haskins gave perhaps his best performance in the role of Mr. Belding.  When Belding came out of his office and told the assembled student, “I’ve been fired,” you truly felt both the man’s pain and the disappointment he felt towards the entitled students who had just ruined his life.  I may be wrong but I’m pretty sure that Haskins even had tears in his eyes as he delivered the line.

What Did Not Work?

Okay, let’s ignore the obvious flaws.  I won’t go into the odd logic of the film’s plot.  I won’t mention the fact that the student body at Bayside High appears to be abnormally powerful and influential for a bunch of public school students.  I won’t even talk about the fact that Dustin Diamond is in this episode.

However, I am going to point out one of the most glaring continuity flaws in the history of this show.

As you may remember, in the original Saved By The Bell, Belding’s office was this tiny and depressing room with ugly wood paneling and a window that was never opened.  Starting with the second season of The New Class, Belding got a new cheerful office.  This office was much larger, much more colorful, and it had large windows that showed off the green campus of Bayside High.  A good deal of this episode took place in Belding’s “new” office and, watching it, I couldn’t help but think about how much more cheerful Belding seemed to be now that his office was less oppressive.

However, if you’ll remember, there was a flash forward episode of the original Saved By The Bell that took place in 2003.  This was the episode where a bunch of students gathered in the principal’s office so that they could watch a video time capsule left behind for them by Zach, Slater, and Screech.  In this episode, it’s established that Mr. Belding is still principal of Bayside in 2003…

AND HE’S BACK IN HIS OLD OFFICE!

But that’s not all!  When SBTB: TNC ended in 2000 (3 years before the time capsule episode), it was established that Belding was leaving Bayside so that he could take a job as dean of a college in Tennessee.  It was also suggested that Screech (despite never having graduated from college) would be his replacement as principal…

So, what happened during those 3 years that led to Belding returning to Bayside and moving back into his old office?  And why did Belding pretend like he barely remembered Screech while watching that time capsule video?

Seriously, this was really bugging me last night.  Fortunately, it turned out that it was really bugging Megan as well.  We spent about half an hour trying to figure out what had happened and we came up several possible scenarios, all of which concluded with Belding returning to California and murdering Screech in one grisly way or another.

Seriously, we had a lot of fun with it.

“OH MY GOD!  Just like me!” Moments

None.  Everyone in this episode was just too stupid.

Lessons Learned

It’s fun to come up with grisly ways to kill off an annoying character.

What Lisa Watched Last Night: Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas (dir. by Jeff Melman)


Recently, I spent the night watching a bunch of commercials for Everest College that had been recorded onto my DVR.  Occasionally, the Everest commercials were interrupted by 1994’s made-for-tv movie Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas.

Why Was I Watching It?

Back when I was like 10, I used to always watch Saved By The Bell: The New Class every Saturday morning.  Even at that age, I knew that show was kinda stupid and that Dustin Diamond’s Screech Powers was one of the most annoying television characters of all time.  But I still watched it and occasionally, I would catch a rerun of the Old Class as well.  (Quite honestly, up until a few years ago, there was never a time that reruns of Saved By The Bell weren’t being broadcast somewhere.)  By the time I was in high school, I appreciated Saved By The Bell as being almost a type of performance art.

As of late, it’s been difficult to find Saved By The Bell reruns on television and that made me a little bit sad because I felt like my childhood was disappearing and that I might be turning into an adult.  So, imagine how happy I was when I discovered that MTV2 now shows a two hour-block of Saved By The Bell every afternoon and, thanks to the wonderful thing that is the DVR, I can watch them without having to quit my job to do so.  Yay!

Two weeks ago, MTV2 showed the final Saved By The Bell movie, 1994’s Wedding in Las Vegas.  Though I knew, of course, that Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Kelly (Tiffani Amber Thiessen) had gotten married at the end of the original series, I had never actually seen the wedding.  And I have to admit that I really didn’t have much desire to see the wedding until it suddenly showed up on my DVR…

What Was It About?

This is one of those rare cases where the film’s title truly tells you everything you need to know.  Zack and Kelly get married in Las Vegas while their friends Screech, Slater (Mario Lopez), and Lisa (Lark Voorhees) have wacky adventures of their own.  Zack has $1,200 dollars to try to put on his dream wedding but, as often happens in the world of Saved By The Bell, there are countless complications that are largely the result of Zack being a sociopathic pathological liar.  Zack loses all of his money but, instead of telling Kelly the truth, he attempts to win the money by becoming a male escort.  Meanwhile, Slater falls in love with a girl who is being pursued by the Mafia and Lisa (Hey, I just noticed that we have the same name!  Yay!) ends up flirting with a hot guy who has a pony tail and who, fortunately, happens to be as rich as everyone else that she went to high school with.

What Worked And What Did Not Work?

Normally, I separate this into two separate questions but that’s kind of pointless when you’re dealing with something like Saved By The Bell: Wedding Las Vegas.  The main thing that works about a show like Saved By The Bell is that absolutely nothing really works.  It’s all very silly, shallow, predictable, dated, occasionally cringe-worthy, and, in its way, very calming.  Despite the film’s many flaws, it’s difficult to really justify criticizing it too harshly because you know what you’re getting into when you decide to watch something called Saved By The Bell: Wedding In Las Vegas in the first place.

Almost everyone in the cast is really cute in a 90s kinda way and even the usually horrible Dustin Diamond (who I hated even when I was ten years old and watching him on the New Class) is tolerable in Las Vegas.  Though the film — much like the series — is focused on Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack, I’ve always felt that Zack was overrated.  Mario Lopez, with his confident smile and perfectly chiseled body, was (and still is) the hot one.   Whereas Zack always seemed to have an off-putting air of entitlement, Slater knew what he wanted and he took it.  That trend continues in Wedding In Las Vegas where Slater won’t even let the Mafia stand in the way of getting a date.

This film is technically a comedy though you don’t so much laugh with it as you laugh at it.  However, there was one moment that made me genuinely laugh out loud and that was the scene where “the gang” visits a 24-hour wedding chapel and director Jeff Melman gives us a quick tracking shot of the long line of couples waiting to get married.  Along with the expected Elvis impersonators, there’s also a very pregnant girl standing next to a scared-looking boy who has an old man pointing a shotgun at him.  That made me laugh.

This is yet another one of the shows where every single problem could have been avoided by the characters just not acting like idiots.  Seriously, I don’t know what’s worse — that Zack felt that it would be better to become a male escort as opposed to just telling Kelly the truth or that Kelly so quickly forgave him.  (Me, I would have been so mad at him but it doesn’t seem to bother Kelly that her future husband lied to her on the night before their wedding.)

As I stated before, there’s a lot that technically doesn’t work about Wedding in Las Vegas but it is Saved By The Bell, after all.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

If ever get married in Las Vegas, I imagine it’ll be quite a bit like Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas, in that I fully expect that 1) I’ll stay at a nice hotel, 2) I’ll get a mani/pedi with my best girlfriend, and 3) the Mafia will somehow be involved. 

That said, Dustin Diamond will not be invited to my wedding.

Lessons Learned

Nothing can stand in the way of true love.  Especially when you’re rich and white.