*This article has previously been published on The Word ... like a lot.
by Julian Spivey
There have been a lot of great and memorable Thanksgiving episodes in television history ranging from classics like “Bewitched” and “The Brady Bunch” to newer classics like “The West Wing” and “How I Met Your Mother.” However, there isn’t a single doubt in my mind that the Thanksgiving TV episode is “Turkeys Away” from the first season of “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
Not only is this ‘WKRP’ episode the Thanksgiving episode of all Thanksgiving episodes, but it’s also one of the 20 greatest TV episodes of all time, in general.
The episode originally aired on Oct. 30, 1978 on CBS and centered around a promotion that the fledgling Cincy radio station was doing for Thanksgiving. Mr. Carlson, played by Gordon Jump, has this great idea to give people turkeys on Thanksgiving by dropping them out of a helicopter and having people catch the turkeys. One big problem … turkeys don’t fly.
The funniest part of this episode is the utterly hysterical play-by-play of the event on their radio station by station newsman Less Nessman, played by Richard Sanders. The coverage by Nessman is actually a clever parody of Herbert Morrison’s famous Hindenburg disaster coverage.
The episode ends with one of the most recognizable and greatest quotes in TV history with Carlson saying: “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”
“Turkeys Away” is a must watch for anybody who’s never seen the episode and has become a Thanksgiving tradition for me personally. Luckily for those that haven’t seen this wonderful classic it can be viewed on Hulu by clicking: here.
by Aprille Hanson
When ABC finds a niche their audience loves, they run with it. Recently, it’s diversity. ABC released “Black-ish” (about a black family), “Cristela” (a Hispanic family) and “Fresh off the Boat” (an Asian family).
Unfortunately, “Cristela,” a truly hysterical show, got the axe way too soon after just one season. Luckily, “Black-ish” and the funny, but not near the caliber of “Black-ish” or “Cristela,” “Fresh off the Boat” have thrived.
So, it was not a big leap for ABC to premiere “Dr. Ken,” a show about an Asian doctor and his family, starring the hilarious Ken Jeong (“The Hangover” movie trilogy and the TV show “Community). What makes this show work better I think than “Fresh off the Boat” is the stellar cast led by Jeong, who in fact was a doctor before becoming a comedian.
It’s your standard 30-minute comedy which finds Dr. Ken Park trying to balance his career as a physician, who’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder -- think CBS’s “Becker,” which ran from 1998-2004 -- while spending time with his family: his wife Allison Park (Suzy Nakamura) who is a psychiatrist, which leads to fun banter between the couple; and his children, young teen Molly (Krista Marie Yu) and Dave (the funny-beyond-his-years Albert Tsai from “Trophy Wife”).
The show doesn’t try to do anything cutting edge like “Black-ish” or “Fresh off the Boat,” but it’s merely set up in that “Everybody Loves Raymond” sitcom format that’s been around for a long time. It helps to have two extremely funny leads in Jeong and Nakamura, who also have undeniable chemistry. What also works are the child actors, which can be very hit or miss in sitcoms. In the pilot, I thought Molly would be the most annoying part of the show, as the ungrateful teenage brat. However, it’s nice to see the writers not constantly making her the brooding one and that makes Yu and Tsai feed off of each other well.
The “annoying” distinction goes mostly to Dr. Ken’s work place cohorts. His boss Pat (Dave Foley) is the stock overbearing, unfair boss who views the doctor’s office as a business above all else. Then, there’s Damona (Tisha Campbell-Martin) who is the sassy black head nurse who doesn’t elicit near the laughs she should. Clark (Jonathan Slavin), Dr. Ken’s ever faithful gay nurse who just adores him like a father is worth a smile, but again, viewers need more. But by far, the most irritating character on the show is Julie (Kate Simses) who is a physician-in-training. Her mouse-like voice and demeanor and jokes that are not funny, like the time she gave herself a hug and the laugh track blared on, are just puzzling. In the pilot, we saw Dr. Ken giving a vegan/all-natural patient hell for not taking her thyroid meds and it was terribly funny, but since then, the show has gotten away from him actually meeting with patients. It’s a shame because that was easily the funniest part of being at his workplace. Either the writers have to bring it back or they need to make his coworkers funnier and more likable to make it work long-term.
But again, what saves the show is Dr. Ken’s family, from his stereotypical Asian parents to his sister Dr. Wendi, the masterful comedian Margaret Cho, who hopefully will make more appearances in the future.
It’s not a show that’s changing TV or treading on a new ethnic group because ‘Fresh’ already did that. But it’s a show that after a long day you can feel good about watching and laughing along to.
by Julian Spivey
I have a DVR filled with mostly dramas that I desperately need to watch before they pile up into an insurmountable number that will make television watching seem more like a chore than fun. I had planned on watching a bulk of these dramas – almost all of them cop or crime shows – on Friday night, when both my wife and I could stay up late and eliminate a good chunk of DVR space.
Then around 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon while walking my dog around the neighborhood I started to see tweets about a shooting at a Paris restaurant. The tweets quickly started to mention explosions heard outside of a soccer stadium during a live match between France and Germany, as well. I decided to forgo a second trip around the block to go inside and watch the breaking news on CNN. Unfortunately, the situation only got worse with a massacre at a concert from the American rock group Eagles of Death Metal that turned into a multiple hour long hostage situation and ended with over 100 dead, the bulk of those killed in this terrorist attack that ISIS has reportedly taken credit for.
The next thing I knew I had been following the tragic news out of Paris for over four hours. My head was aching from the horror of it all. I had seen a Variety report online that the broadcast networks were considering preempting their regularly scheduled primetime programming to broadcast coverage of the Paris attacks. I didn’t feel like that was a good decision. The cable news networks had the story covered as well as they could and CBS, NBC and ABC adding on would just be more dissemination of the exact same updates. Paris was the biggest story, no doubt, but I felt like it was right for the networks to offer families a respite from the tragedy for a few hours and let them watch “The Amazing Race” and “Blue Bloods” or “Last Man Standing” and “Dr. Ken” or “Grimm” like they would every Friday night. The cast and crew of “Undateable,” a NBC comedy that airs all of its episodes live did decide to forgo its episode for the night, which was probably appropriate. Otherwise the networks wisely chose to stay with regular programming.
Some of us just needed an escape from the pain. I turned off the television and talked my wife into going out for some ice cream after our dinner. We loaded the dog into the car and all went out. Even ice cream and our first listen of Eric Church’s new album Mr. Misunderstood, which had arrived in the mail earlier that day, couldn’t really keep me from thinking about the attacks or from keeping up with them on Twitter on my phone.
When we returned home we watched the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Phoenix, like we would do on many Friday nights throughout the year. It was an action-packed race that actually served me well in keeping my attention off of the tragedy for a little while.
But after the race ended the TV returned to the news, MSNBC this time just for hopefully different information, it was all the same except for the rising death total.
I needed to watch those dramas. Multiple episodes of “NCIS,” “Blue Bloods,” “Castle” and “The Blacklist” all piled up there on the DVR. But, I knew what would happen during those episodes. Fictional people would be shot and murdered in graphic ways and I couldn’t bring myself to watch even fake dead bodies and fake graphic blood spray on this night. And, so we watched nothing but hours of sitcoms for the few hours before we went to bed: “The Muppets,” “Modern Family,” “Grandfathered,” “The Grinder,” “Last Man Standing,” “Dr. Ken” and “The Mindy Project.”
I didn’t mention anything to my wife about not wanting to watch dramas after such a horrific night because I didn’t want to see dead bodies wrack up on fictional television programs. I don’t know whether or not if she wondered why we were on such an epic comedy binge when we had so many dramas on the DVR needing to be watched. She might have felt the same exact way as I, though she’d been saved from the hours of horrific news watching due to finishing up her shift at work.
The comedies were exactly what I needed. I laughed a few times throughout each one and was able to forget about the horror in Paris for a few hours before finally making myself so tired I may have nodded off a few times while watching “Dr. Ken” to end the night. I slept about as well as I could – I don’t sleep very well period, anyway.
Then I woke up this morning to an even higher death toll and misguided bigotry spattered all over the Internet at a group of individuals that have no more to do with terrorism than we do. It was nice to get away for a few hours on Friday night and even laugh a bit, but the real world – which is a mighty scary and disappointing one – will always find you fast the next day.
by Julian Spivey
Donald Trump hosting “Saturday Night Live” on Saturday night (Nov. 7) wasn’t the worst episode of ‘SNL’ I’ve ever seen, but it was the first time I’ve ever seen the show sell out for ratings over artistry or integrity. As a huge fan of the show’s history and importance in pop culture I sincerely hope it never happens again.
We knew since the moment it was announced that Trump would be hosting ‘SNL’ that it was a ratings play and the show would essentially be horrible when it came to making us laugh – which is the entire point and goal of the show. We knew this because Trump is not capable of reading lines and getting laughs from doing so as he’s not an actor or comedian – despite the fact that he hosted an episode once before in 2004. You know every time either a politician or athlete is tapped to host ‘SNL’ that it’s going to be a rough week.
There’s really no point to break the episode down sketch-by-sketch because pretty much all of them were incapable of being funny from the start. They were incapable of being funny because they featured someone in the main role who’s incapable of providing laughter and because the show was forced to play it safe this week.
‘SNL’ was forced to play it safe, because the host is unable to actually joke about himself without getting butt-hurt over it and doing so would’ve run the risk of Trump walking out last second and refusing to do the show (something we’ve seen him do on a small-scale on late night talk shows).
‘SNL’ is at its best when doing biting political satire and despite having the biggest political figure in the country right now (which is truly asinine when you think about it) as host they were unable to do that. And, don’t think it would have been the same with any political figure, because when Hilary Clinton appeared in a sketch in the season opener last month she stood there and let Kate McKinnon impersonating her make incredibly funny jabs at her to her face. It’s pretty bad when the famously staunch Hilary Clinton can be in on the joke, but the man who connects with much of America seemingly can’t.
So ‘SNL’ was set up to fail comedy-wise from the very start. NBC and ‘SNL’ executive producer Lorne Michael decided to sacrifice humor for the sake of massive ratings, which is pretty embarrassing, but just wait and see how huge these ratings are going to be when released on Sunday. I guarantee it’ll be the most watched ‘SNL’ episode in many years – possibly even an entire decade.
There were some highlights of the episode – Leslie Jones doing her always funny relationship expert bit on Weekend Update, in which she’s able to rip and roar on the trials of modern day dating in a bit taken directly from her stand-up style and Bobby Moynihan reprising his most famous character of Drunk Uncle (which has been away for far too long) as Donald Trump’s biggest fan. Drunk Uncle being Trump’s biggest fan was absolutely perfect and you can’t help but feel that Trump has actually based his Presidential run off of Drunk Uncle. Without Leslie Jones and Bobby Moynihan’s impact on Weekend Update this entire week’s episode of ‘SNL’ would’ve come off like a 90-minute Trump campaign ad featuring musical performances from Sia.
Hiring Donald Trump to host ‘SNL’ was a smart and shrewd business move by Michaels and NBC, but I can’t help believe it could prove to be dangerous. ‘SNL’ made Trump out to be your fun uncle that never quite grew all the way up when his views are frequently racist and his policies are seemingly non-existent. Making Trump into a likable figure could impact whether or not he’s elected as our President less than a year from now and that’s a joke that could never possibly be funny.
by Julian Spivey
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is hosting “Saturday Night Live” this weekend and there’s nothing any of us can do about that – so it’s time to stop bitching about it, internet.
I wasn’t pleased when I found out Trump would be hosting ‘SNL’ for many reasons: 1) he’s a buffoon 2) he doesn’t deserve the airtime because of the racist stuff he’s spouted (which actually led to him being fired from NBC in the first place) 3) the exposure could help his chances at becoming President 4) him hosting the show will more than likely mean a lackluster episode.
But, I’m absolutely in no way surprised by the fact that Trump, who previously hosted an episode in 2004, has been brought on to host ‘SNL’ this week. Trump is the most famous person in America right now – for better or more likely worse – and thus will bring in massive ratings for the show and network, potentially the biggest audience in many years. Television is an entertainment business, for sure, but it’s also a business still driven by ratings and this is a terrific ratings move.
People will be tuning in to ‘SNL’ this weekend whether they love or loathe Trump just to see what he does and says. ‘SNL’ and NBC honestly can’t go wrong there and the controversy the decision to allow Trump to host will just make people want to watch the episode even more.
Again, I’m not thrilled that Trump is hosting this week – I expect it to be a terrible episode humor-wise, but there’s absolutely nothing that can or will be done about the decision at this point in the week. Hispanic activists are demanding ‘SNL’ dump Trump from the episode, which is set to air in less than 48 hours. I can’t blame them for the reasons they want Trump off the show, but it’s a fool’s errand at this point to demand such a thing. ‘SNL’ begins preparing a show on Monday of the week it’s set to air and dumping Trump would either mean cancelling this week’s show altogether or trying to find a last second replacement host (for material that’s already been written specifically for Trump). It’s not going to happen – plain and simple.
Boycotting the episode is probably the only true way activists can get to ‘SNL’ at this point and even that’s likely not going to have any impact on the episode’s predicted mass ratings. Although, there is one form of protest that could be interesting come Saturday night. The group DeportRacism.com has announced that they will pay $5,000 to any studio audience member who shouts either “Trump is racist” or “Deport racism” during the live telecast. I actually hope this happens, but sincerely doubt it will.
Saturday night’s episode of ‘SNL’ is likely going to be a train-wreck, but it’s a train-wreck that’s pretty much already in progress. The best we can do as viewers at this point is sit back, watch and hope for the best or simply not watch at all. I’ll watch, as I always do, and hope for a few laughs and that one audience member (or even cast member) has the guts to collect that $5,000.