Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Brilliant Television

I rarely watch t.v. these days because there's so little of value on the telly and the amount of advertising is mind numbing and frustrating.

Occasionally, though, there is a gem that bears Netflixing and enjoying sans commercials. Recently, I've been watching episodes of Boston Legal and I have to say, that has to be some of the most intelligent, witty writing out there. James Spader and William Shatner are brilliant!

Another show that was a gem is The Carol Burnett Show. The talent of Carol Burnett, Harvey Corman, Tim Conway, and Vicki Lawrence was superlative. The Bob Mackie designs were amazing. Who can forget that scene where Carol Burnett, in spoofing Gone with the Wind with a sketch called Went with the Wind, descends the staircase of Tara wearing a velvet drapery with the rod still attached mocking Vivian Leigh's drapery-made dress? As she gets to the bottom of the stairs and Harvey Corman compliments and asks her where she got the dress, Carol replies, absolutely deadpan, "I saw it in the window and I just couldn't resist it." Brilliant!

Monday night, I was watching a PBS series called American Masters and they featured Carol Burnett. At one point, Bee turned to me and asked, "Do you ever think the variety show will make a comeback?" I thought for a moment and then said, "I doubt it." In a country where instant gratification, soundbites, skankiness, and crude repartee are the hallmark of so much television and entertainment, a show like Burnett's wouldn't have a chance in today's world. Which is really lamentable.

Did I mention that what's missing from television is brilliance? Oh, I did? Just wanted to be sure.

So, what shows do you think are brilliant?

Video clip courtesy of YouTube.


Cele said...

Oh mi gosh thank you for a wonderful 8 and a half minutes to start my morning. I always loved Carol Burnett's show, and never thought to buy it on DVD. I now know it's a must.

A brilliant show? Is there one? I do have shows I like watching, but have realized in the last few years most are reality shows. Especially the ones that feature dancing and singing. I do enjoy the psychological aspects of Survivor and Big Brother (but usually for about 4 episodes and then they grow hateful and old.)

I could live without tv for the most part and not really miss much. Well except sports.

janeannechovy said...

Friday Night Lights. You can watch full episodes at NBC's website, and the first season is now available on DVD. And hey--with the writer's strike, you should be able to get all caught up! Anyway, yes, I think this is a great show, and one that you might like, even though you won't react in quite the same way I do to Tim Riggins.

New shows I'm watching and liking: Pushing Daisies, Gossip Girl and Reaper.

A reality show even non-reality show lovers can enjoy: Beauty and the Geek. Should be able to watch full episodes on I also like The Biggest Loser and Dancing with the Stars (though I don't watch the DWtS results show, as it conflicts with the two other shows mentioned in this paragraph--who was eliminated this week?).

I also watch and enjoy Boston Legal. And I'm one of those rare people who still watches ER!

That's just what I'm watching and liking right *now*--other shows will return later, and you know I can't miss a single second of American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance.

brad and kimberly's family said...

I love "Friday Night Lights" too, janeannechovy! And I'm 40 years old! I love Coach Taylor - yum, and his wife and their relationship, and of course yummy Tim Riggins! "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel is a great show, and Mike Rowe is hilarious! On Food Network I love Iron Chef America. And I'll always love "Little House on the Prarie."

Anonymous said...

Yay! somebody else who appreciates the genius of Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and of course Carol Burnette!! Nobody has surpassed them since, and I mean nobody.

I almost shed tears of sentimentality when I think of Carol tugging her ear when she says good-bye.

- Phoebe

I don't watch TV much -- P.S. I'm a big disgruntled grump about TV.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Cele: Glad you enjoyed that. Watching Carol Burnett & Co. is always so cathartic. I think that's what's missing in American t.v. these days: shows that really make us laugh hard and to the point of breathlessness. I could use more laughter in my life.

JA and B&K: Friday Night Lights, huh? I kept seeing previews for this and it just doesn't grab me, but you're also among several people to tell me I should give it a try. (I think I've avoided it because football is a viewing event in this household during the weekends. As for ER, I love(d) that show, but haven't watched it in a few seasons now and can't bring myself to catch up. Is Sally Field still showing up on that one? I liked those episodes.

Phoebe: I'm with you on that. Too much bad t.v. makes me grumpy, too. So I blog instead... I think I'm asking for Carol Burnett DVDs for Christmas.

Holly said...

Carol Burnett was my idol when I was little. I remember watching that skit one Saturday night with my dad when I was a little. Truly, it was indeed brilliant.

Of shows that are actually still on the air, one of my favorites is "The Closer," even though I usually hate murder mysteries. But Kyra Sedgwick is just so good, and the show really does tackle important gender issues.

janeannechovy said...

Sally Field's too busy with her own show (which I don't watch, so I'm not sure the name of it--I think it's the one that also stars Calista Flockhart) to make appearances on ER these days.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Holly: I don't watch a lot of t.v. these days, but I did catch an episode of The Closer a while back and I liked it. Kyra Sedgwick is quirky and intelligent in this show. It's always nice to see strong, smart women portrayed on t.v. You don't see it often, but when you do, it's gratifying.

JA: Yeah, I can't think of the new name of the Sally Fields' show. The moment I saw Calista Flockhart was in it, it was over for me. And when is Rob Lowe going to stop trying to have a career in acting as a guy who's a politician? That is so West Wing. Personally, though, I think Rob is highly overrated as an actor, while his brother Chad is egregiously underrated.