Saturday, May 26, 2007

Theme Songs

By now, everyone knows how important opening theme music is to a show. The Sherpa gives extra points if a show has a good theme. I was just thinking about some of my all-time favorites.

A good theme is just so linked to a show that when one hears it, it immediately reminds one of the show itself. And for a great theme, the show reminds one of the theme, also.

First, what makes a good theme? Usually, it has catchy lyrics. I prefer those that tell a little story that can bring a new viewer up to speed. Think Gilligan's Island (A tale of a fateful trip) or The Jeffersons (Movin' on Up.) That's not to say that a musical opening isn't any good either (Sandford and Son.) Through the years, some opening themes have actually crossed over and made it to the radio airwaves. Welcome Back Kotter's theme, or at least a version of it, was the only real hit of John Sebastian's solo career. And, of course the theme from Cheers got loads of airplay. Another huge hit on top ten radio was the theme from Hawaii 5-0. Book 'em Danno.
Today's shows seem to be a little lacking in theme music. Sure, The Unit has that awesome cadence thing, and Two and a Half Men has a nice opening, but beyond that, is the King of Queens opening really any good? And the Simpsons? Sure it is identifiable, but rather blah.
I thought I'd make a top ten of my all-time favorites, but I have so many I like, I'll have plenty of "Honorable Mentions."
I'll do it David Letterman countdown style.
10. Speed Racer--It just sets the tone for a fast action cartoon.
9. Theme from the Sopranos--Woke up this morning, got yourself a gun. How could you not like a song that starts with gunplay? Song got a lot of airplay, too.
8. King of Cars--I just like it. They dooz it large.
7. Cheers--Decent showing on top ten radio.
6. Beverly Hillbillies-- Tells a story, and has some classic banjo music
5. Sandford and Son--Jazzy and distinctive instrumentals.
4. Addams Family --What Boomer doesn't know at least one alternate verse of this ditty? Also, first time we ever were exposed to sarcasm. Lurch --petite?
3. Spongebob Squarepants-- Unites the generations. Boomers know it because their grandkids are addicted, Gen Xer's because their kids either watch it now or grew up on it. Also, tells a little story. Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
2. Hawaii 5-0. --Great music. Just feels like an island theme.
1. Gilligan's Island --It has it all. Catchy lyrics. Backstory in a minute or less. And has legs. Ask any boomer to sing it, and he or she will know it better than their SS#.
In no particular order, the following receive "Honorable Mention."
Lone Ranger--Too easily confused with the William Tell Overture
Love Boat--Too sweet for diabetics
Hill Street Blues--I couldn't remember how it went well enough.
A-Team--I pity the fool who left this off the list.
Andy Griffith--It was called either the Fishin' hole or the Ol' Fishin' Hole. I don't like themes that use ' in them.
My Three Sons--Little too blah
All in the family--Too annoying
Lucy--I just don't love Lucy.
Good Times--Too ghetto-ey
Cookin' in Brooklyn--Too unknown
So, that's the list. The ten best and another 10 that didn't quite make the list.
Who said I have too much free time?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Moral Court

Most TV courtroom shows are pretty much the same. They have become very formulaic as one case involves an underage pregnancy. and the next will be something about room mates, followed by a case of property ownership.
Of course, a few of the dramas have judges with great personality, while one, The People's Court features Judge Marilyn Milian. She is hot. I have no idea how she is as a judge, but she would make a great Hooter's waitress, if the judge thing doesn't work out.
Lately, I have been watching an older court show on Ion. Ion is a station that features such quality programming as Alice, Amen, and about 18 hours of infommercials. To their credit, one of the infommercials is the 5 hour long Knife Collectors Show.
Back to Moral Court. It was a short lived show from around 2001. It is hosted/judged by Larry Elder.
These are not cases that you'd find on other TV court shows. Generally, they are cases with no legal precedent, and are based solely upon the morals of Mr. Elder. His decisions are: if he finds one party to be wrong, he'll award $500. If he finds it to be a more serious moral problem, he terms it offensive, and awards $1,000. If he finds it to be outrageous he awards the shows' maximum, $2,000. The accuser or the accused are paid by the show.
Mr Elder often will offer advice, but, since it isn't really court, it is non-binding. But the advice is still pretty good. It reminds me of the advice a good aunt or uncle would give a favorite niece or nephew.
One of my favorite parts of the show is when the studio audience is polled and they give advice ala Jerry Springer's audience to the accused or accuser. Or, they may ask questions pertaining to the "case." The audience is very well behaved, unlike on Springer. And I have yet to see anyone lose control, or physically attack another. This reminds me of a gentlemanly Springer Show, if such an animal could exist. I'm sad that this show only lasted for a short while. Enjoy it while you can.
It is on Ion at 6:00 p.m. for an hour. It has no real competition in this slot.
I rate it 4.58

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Colbert Report

I can feel confident when I refer to myself as "The TV Sherpa" because I have over 50 years of TV watching experience. I recently came across this photo of me when I was 1. I'm not even sure the TV was on. It's hard to tell because the TV wasn't the greatest, nor was the camera. I'm pretty sure the camera was a Kodak Brownie, but who knows about the TV. Anyway, I have been watching plenty of TV lately, keeping up my usual grueling schedule of 16 hours per day. Yes, I am willing to do all this to bring everyone the reviews of the best (ok, sometimes "best" is an overenthusiastic term for the dreck I often watch) of TV shows not on the major channels. TV was once described as a vast wasteland. I consider it a sun soaked beach, and I walk along it with a metal detector. I find a lot of rusty bottlecaps, but I also find some cash and fine jewelry.

One of my all-time favorite shows is The Colbert Report. This spin off of The Daily Show with John Stewart is a send up of various "newsy" type shows. I'm sure there is a term for these shows. Infotainment may not quite be it, but it works on some level. Colbert (leave off the "T" both in his name and in report) himself has a very dry, sincere, yet almost deadpan delivery at times that works well when doing a spoof type show. He will stare into the camera, and address the audience as "Nation." He refers to us, his audience as "Heroes." Other times, he just goes so over the top that he is hilarious. Colbert does numerous "threatdowns." These are various threats to America, such as nuclear proliferation and bears. And he ranks them according to severity. Bears are either at the top, or very close to it. He is right on any story involving bears vs. man.

Almost daily, he has guests on his show, and these interviews are instant classics. Stephan manages to spin whatever they say to fit his faux "agenda" and "wins" every debate. The live audience seemingly cheers every utterance. Another very funny addition to this show is the "Dead to Me" list. On it, he has several groups that are, well, dead to him. He also does a segment "Better Know a District" in which he meets with the representative of a district and focuses on some tiny, unimportant detail. Again, it comes off much better than I could describe it. My favorite segment is "The Word." He will give his take on some subject, which is the word for the day, and on the split screen will be text disputing whatever he says. No way could I ever accurately portray the effect with mere words on this page. It has to be seen to be experienced properly. Colbert keeps the show fresh by having a tremendous mix of different segments. He avoids letting things become stale by repeating them ad nauseum. Every show is familiar, yet fresh and new. A perfect blend for this Sherpa.

The Colbert Report is on Comedy Central Monday to Thursday at 11:30 EST, immediately following the Daily Show. It is reported the following day several times throughout the day.

I rate it a perfect 10.

It's been a while, so here's a quick review of my ratings system:

10--a prime show. The Sopranos or 24 would rate a 10.

9-- definately worth watching. Think South Park or Seinfeld re-runs. Not as funny as the first time, but still great TV fare.

8-- Pretty darn good stuff. If you can't be home, you'd consider setting up the VCR. Some solid 8's would be Earl, or Everybody Hates Chris.

7-- Not quite good enough to tape. But you can look forward to watching. The Office is the first show that comes to mind as a 7.

6--Now we get into the shows that are ok, but only a first choice if other shows are re-runs.You won't mind watching a 6 at a different time. Britcoms are 6's.

5-- Think of a movie you liked, but have seen a dozen times or more.You'd choose the movie over the program, then the program is a 5. Mash and almost everything on TVLAND has become a 5.

4--Crappy show, but with some redeeming quality, like it features hot chicks. Any show with Pam Anderson would be a 4.

3--Only worth watching if the only alternative is infommercials. Fishing shows are 3.

2-- About the same as a good infommercial. QVC is a 2.

1-- Infommercials, unless they are The Knife Collector Show. They sell swords!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Still A Yankees Fan

I've been a Yankees fan for a really long time. I'm not saying exactly how old this photo is, but the uniform is number 7, and the Caddy in the right rear looks to be a late 50's, early 60's model. It is pretty obvious I didn't just hop on the bandwagon. My first game was in '61, and the Chairman of the Board (if you think that's Frank Sinatra, stop reading now) was pitching for the Yankees against the hated Red Sox. That game set the tone for the rest of my life as a sports fan. I walked through the cold tunnels, and could peek down at the field. But when I first went through the entranceway that lead to our seats, I was overwhelmed. The grass was the greenest I had ever seen. More green than any crayon in my 64 count box of Crayolas. Our TV at home had been a black and white set, and I never even thought about how overwhelmingly green the Stadium grass could be.
As for the game itself, I remember a bunch of Yankees homers. I'm not sure who hit them, but I'm pretty sure Maris and /or The Mick belted at least one. And when it was all said and done, I remember leaving the Staium, and looking back at the scoreboard once more to see the final tally: NY 13 Boston 2.
Life was good. It was as it should be. Even today, I would rather see the Yankees win 13-2, than win 3-2. I thoroughly enjoy when they pound the snot out of the other team.
Now fast forward to today, 46 years later. Life kicks me in the 'nads rather regularly it seems.
But I still sit and watch the Yankees, my team, and feel somehow transported to a happier time and place. A-Rod makes what the entire team made back in '61. What am I saying? He makes about 10 times what the entire team made then. But it's not about the money. It's about the game. I don't remember a lot about what my Father ever bought me or said to me when I was a kid, but I remember that day when I went to see my first ball game at Yankees Stadium like it was yesterday.
Take a trip out to the ballyard today. And bring a kid. He or she may remember it, and you, forever.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A couple of maroons

Last night I was doing one of my favorite things. I was watching baseball. I can watch a softball game, Little League, high school, minor league, you name it. I'll even watch a men's beer league game. I really like the game. But the ultimate is watching Yankees games. I would be happiest in the right field bleachers, but due to so many factors, I haven't been at a game in a few years.

Anyway, while I'm enjoying what has become an all too infrequent Yankees win, I noticed some of the fans in the stadium. They were playing in Texas, home of the Rangers. And sitting in a prime seat, right behind home plate, first row, was a guy talking on his cell phone during the game. I have no idea what these seats sell for, but I do know they are among the most expensive in the park. And this maroon is on his damn phone! Seats like this are absolutely prime real estate. And this goof ball wasn't even watching the game. This really pissed me off, until I saw the guy behind him. Jumping up and down with a beer in his hand for most of the game, this guy was in the second row. Again, we are talking prime real estate. I'm guessing the tickets had to go for a hundred bucks a pop or more.
Why do I care about this drunken maroon? He was wearing a Mets Jersey. It looked to be one of the expensive Jerseys. Couple that with the seats he was sitting in, and the large number of rather expensive brews he quaffed, I can only assume this maroon has a few bucks.

So, I know he owns more than one friggin' shirt. To me, a baseball fan, it is pretty much the height of stupidity and rudeness to wear a shirt to a game from teams that aren't even in the friggin stadium. Ok, maybe if you had a classic shirt, like a Brooklyn Dodger Koufax, maybe I could understand that. As somewhat of a baseball history fan, I would probably enjoy seeing someone wear that. But, I can guaranfriggintee if some idiot shows up at Yankees Stadium, in the Bronx, anywhere near the bleacher section, wearing a shirt from any team that ain't in the building, said fan is getting a very well deserved beer shower.

I'm not advocating violence, but I am sure advocating using a little bit of sense and showing some respect for the game. If your team isn't in the building, wear a dayum Nike shirt, maroon.