Author Archives: Allison Lips
There is absolutely no reason for Surviving Jack to be a good show. It has the same premise of half the sitcoms this season: kid with grumpy father grew up in the 80s/90s and is now reflecting on it. Television this season has basically been filled with a bunch of The Wonder Years wannabees. Despite starting from the same cliche, Surviving Jack uses the past as a tool to enhance the comedy, instead of as a distraction. There is no haha it’s the 90s, what were we thinking? It’s just a sitcom that happens to take place in the 90s.
Surviving Jack stars Christopher Meloni as Dr. Jack Dunlevy, who is a great doctor, but a rough parent. He love his kids, but doesn’t know how to get that across. Jack is forced to take over primary parenting responsibilities when his wife, Joanne, goes to law school, a move he fully supports. Like any mother, Joanne is afraid of what will happen. As it is, she has two teenage children, Frankie and Rachel, who are busy getting themselves into trouble.
In the premiere, Frankie and his friends George and Mikey steal dirty magazines from a homeless man. Not wanting to be found out, Frankie hides it in the backyard. Jack catches his son digging a hole in the backyard at 2am. He’s not mad that Frankie has the magazines. However, Jack disapproves of the fact that he stole them. A few days later, he takes Frankie, George, and Mikey to return the magazines. The homeless man jumps out from behind a tent, holding a shovel, and scares them. Jack fights the man until the boys are out of sight. Then, Jack pays the guy 20 bucks because that part was a set up. Of course, Jack would. He’s that kind of guy. Jack acts like a drill sergeant, whose convinced he’s actually a big softie. He’s not, but he cares.
Doll & Em is a lot like Hello Ladies. It’s quintessentially British, which somehow makes it really boring. In the case of Doll & Em, we’re watching two women navigate Hollywood. Everyone knows Hollywood is a strange place. Fiction likes to fill it with a bunch of self-absorbed jerks. So what happens when you take a town full of unlikable people and throw two more unlikable people into it? A very uncompelling show.
Dolly and Emily have an extremely close, but complicated relationship. When Dolly calls up Emily because she lost her job, Emily instantly hires Dolly to be her assistant. Since Emily appears to be a well-known actress, she is forced to go to Hollywood parties. After she comes home, she constantly complains about how terrible they are. You would think, by now, she would have found a way to get out of them. Secretly, Emily probably likes complaining about them because hanging around them makes it easier for her to ignore her own bad qualities. For example, Emily had no problem making out with a guy Dolly was interested in. The kicker: Emily has a husband, albeit one she never sees.
Game shows are my second favorite genre. There’s nothing quite like a contestants spontaneous response. Most of the time, contestant’s give normal answers. However, every once in a while you get responses that are either a joke or one that makes the contestant realize that yes, they did say that out loud. Here is a list of my favorites.
5. Jeopardy! – Ho
I’ve covered The Tonight Show a lot on Wait! What’s a Dial?. As the longest running late night talk show, it holds a special place in my heart. Regardless of what you think of Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, those who came before them: Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson were masters of the medium. Because Jimmy Fallon recently took over NBC’s signature late night talk show, here is a round up of the articles I have written about the hosts of The Tonight Show (with a video to make up for the lack of Jack Paar coverage).
If you’re over 30, you probably think of The Tonight Show as Johnny Carson’s show. However, Steve Allen was the first host of the show. He hosted it from 1954 to 1957.
As the first host of a national late night talk show, Steve Allen directly influenced David Letterman. Letterman has influenced Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon, so some of Allen’s attitude and antics can still be seen on current late night talk shows. For the rest of the article, see “TV Shows You Should Know: The Tonight Show Starring Steve Allen.”
I love Seth Meyers, but Late Night with Seth Meyers is mediocre. It’s so mediocre that I could only bring myself to watch two episodes for this review. That being said, the show has some incredible potential. Seth’s in the same situation Conan O’Brien was when he began hosting late night: having writing skills doesn’t translate into being a good performer.
Part of Seth’s problem is that he delivers the monologue like it’s a Weekend Update. Rapid fire one liners may work on The Tonight Show, but on Late Night we’re used to a monologue that’s delivered like a one-sided conversation. Seth understands it, but when he attempts to joke about a bombed joke, he just digs himself deeper. He’s trying his best, but he doesn’t know when to move on. Not helping things is that a lot of his jokes miss the mark. If I have to think about the logic behind your joke before I understand it, it’s not a good joke. Seth’s still has to figure out that a monologue full of “just for us” jokes doesn’t work for the 12:35 crowd.
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The Tonight Show fits Jimmy Fallon like a glove. It’s a perfect match that I wasn’t expecting. For me, Jimmy Fallon’s version of Late Night didn’t capture that show’s essence. During their times on Late Night, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien were the guys who came on after the show your dad watches. They were slightly edgy and a little left of the mainstream without completely alienating it. Jimmy swims in the middle of the mainstream and wholeheartedly embraces it. It wasn’t a good match for Late Night, but it’s exactly what The Tonight Show‘s about.
Unlike Dave and Conan, Jimmy was able to move his old show lock, stock, and barrel an hour earlier. There was no changing to appease middle America, but he acts enough like an overgrown frat boy to appeal to the college crowd. If Jay Leno is vanilla, Jimmy is vanilla with sprinkles. He’s inoffensive fun. Parents won’t have a problem having their kids stay up late Friday nights watching The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, whereas they shudder at the thought of a certain self-pleasuring recurring character from Conan.
Sid Caesar died earlier this week at the ago of 91. Unfortunately, most episodes of Your Show of Shows have been destroyed, so it’s impossible to watch from beginning to end how groundbreaking he was. Since there aren’t many full episodes, enjoy Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, and friends in This is Your Story, a parody of This is Your Life.
For those who want better commentary on Sid Caesar, David Zurawick over at The Baltimore Sun provides it.
Let’s get this out of the way, I’m a Conan O’Brien and David Letterman fan. For all intents and purposes, the media tells me I should despise Jay Leno. I don’t. He’s not my favorite comedian. I find what he did to David Letterman distasteful, but it’s been over 20 years and the two men now talk to each other again. I also think he should have left NBC after they handed The Tonight Show to Conan. However, things get nasty when two people are battling over their dream job. For years ago Jay came out looking bad, yet so did Conan. The real loser was NBC.
Instead of hating Jay, I understand that he’s vanilla. Something bland that the remains of an aging mainstream America falls asleep watching. I am not his target audience. In spite of it all, I watched the last Tonight Show with Jay Leno expecting something more than a typical show. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. NBC’s making a big deal about the changing of the guard at The Tonight Show, but Jay went out with a whimper. It was an average show that focuses more on the past than normal, which is saying something for a show hosted by a guy still making Monica Lewinsky jokes in 2001.
The episode began with John helping a neighbor find her son, who is a drug addict. Of course, he finds her son. What he doesn’t expect is to find Sherlock lying on the floor next to him. Because Sherlock has a long history of drug problems, no one believes him that he did it for a case. Even, the mild-mannered Molly Hooper smacks Sherlock across the face. Sherlock wasn’t looking for a high, at least not off of whatever drug he was using, he was luring Charles Augustus Magnussen onto his trail. Given Sherlock has a flair for the dramatic, it makes sense that Sherlock would pretend to resort to old habits just to get to the “one man he truly hates.”
Magnussen is basically Rupert Murdoch with a huge mansion and a malicious mind palace. Sherlock may like to call himself a sociopath, but Magnussen is one. Magnussen makes a living out of blackmailing people and publishing the results. Not even Sherlock is immune from Magnussen’s power. Granted, Sherlock gets himself into trouble and always manages to make it out okay, but Magnussen did have Sherlock good. He manipulated Sherlock via his pressure point: John. Specifically, Magnussen threatens to disrupt John’s life as he currently knows it. He can reveal Mary Watson’s darkest secrets- secrets she hasn’t told John because she loves him and doesn’t want to scare him.
In less than a month, Jimmy Fallon will host his first episode of The Tonight Show. While no one knows for sure what sketches will follow Jimmy to his new show, we do know that it’s time to say good-bye to The Tonight Show your parents and grandparents knew. The Tonight Show lost its prestige a long time ago, through a combination of botched handovers and the overcrowding of late night talk shows. It’s time to stop pretending that the spot after the 11 o’clock news is when everyone is watching and embrace the internet. Jimmy Fallon has proven he knows how to create synergy between his role as a late night talk show host and, in the realm of late night, a young web-savvy comedian.
Anyone who is younger than 35 thinks of The Tonight Show as another boring talk show. NBC needs to update it. The network failed miserably with Conan O’Brien because, while Conan understand his audience, he comes from a generation that still thinks of The Tonight Show as the gold standard. Jimmy never found that to be true, which will work for and against him.