Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Various Remarks on CBS, Monday, and Stuff Mondays on CBS

I sampled Courting Alex, Jenna Elfman's new show. Nope. Summary: Dharma Became Greg. I do note the presence of Dabney Coleman as Elfman's father, who is (in the words of the running gag in Network) "crusty but benign". Dabney Coleman should never be benign. Dabney Coleman should always be the guy in Buffalo Bill who, when his longtime lover confronted him with her pregnancy, asked her "Who's the father?" Then she punched him in the face. Anyway, there's not much here except for Elfman's babe appeal, but if I'm going to watch a sitcom for the babe, I'll just wish ABC hadn't cancelled Emily's Reasons Why Not, which was, I'll admit, far worse than this.

Oh, and the title is the same sort of title/joke as Judging Amy, which always confused me -- are we judging Amy, or is she 'Judging Amy', like 'Smiling Stan Lee'? And are we courting Alex, or is it about Alex-who-is-courting? (Both, at least in the second case.) And how about Crossing Jordan? Is Jordan crossing...something, or is somebody crossing her? And should they? That show should be called "Don't You Be Crossing Jordan [Girlfriend]". It's like a pun but it makes no sense.

Courting Alex also features Josh Randall, who was Ed's pal on Ed, where he played sort of a schmoe. Here's he's pretty much the same guy, but he's supposed to be a hunk. Acting! On Elfman's part, mostly. In the meantime, Ed himself, Tom Cavanaugh, stars on Love Monkey, also on CBS, Tuesdays. In this one, Ed's also the same guy as in his old show, but at least the show knows it. This one also didn't make the cut, but it was close. It's another show where the guy meets the girl in the first episode and then we watch nature take...its...protracted...course. I think we can blame Cheers for this whole thing, which was believe it or not was once not a cliche. (According to something-or-other, Newsradio went out of its way to deliberately avoid that structure by getting Dave and Lisa together almost immediately.) And this train of thought takes us back to Monday for...yes...How I Met Your Mother, whose pilot undercut precisely that expectation.

And as to HIMYM's "Drumroll, Please"...well, I cheered out loud at two payoffs -- one for Barney's season-long "Suit up!" bit, and the other for a writing move that always impresses me, which is when a recurring apparent throwaway bit turns out to be the key point of the show. (Aaron Sorkin in particular is golden at that; see also the Friends episode "The One With The Videotape", and Arrested Development's first season -- "Wow, Saddam's rape room looks a lot like our dining room.") If they'd added one final line of voiceover narration to the episode and then cancelled the show, I'd have stood and applauded. Please, just say it. We've earned it, and so have Future Ted's kids.

UPDATE: For a longer, funnier take on much of this that agrees with me in every respect, see here.

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