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.