These fictional blocks of television programming creep up in a variety of situations -- a character may work as a TV personality in the narrative, or we may just see characters watching the tube while they're chilling on couch. They may fill up just 30 seconds of screen time, but shows within shows have to be flawless in order to drive the story and serve their often-comedic purposes. So here's our attempt to recognize the best TV shows within TV shows.
May I have the envelope, please?
The show features a blue collar loser trapped aboard a massive ship -- lost in space with an android, an uppity hologram and other assorted defective folks.
It ran for eight series on BBC2 between 1988 and 1999 before returning for a one-off Easter special in 2009 (Red Dwarf: Back to Earth).
The show ran on PBS affiliates and briefly on BBC America. Now, all eight seasons are available on iTunes. If you dig The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Blake's 7 and The Mighty Boosh, give Red Dwarf a try and see if its quirky sci-fi sitcom style stick with you.
Ah, the office holiday party - it's a delicate operation. After all, you know these people - in fact you probably spend one-third of your life with them - but do you really know them? Do you want to? If my experience is anything to go by, it's only sheer effort that's kept your opinions of how the boss really ought to run the company quiet. Ditto your feelings on your cube neighbour's BO, ugly baby or sloppy work.
And yet, every December the powers that be decide to round up this unruly group in a hall or hotel conference room, serve them drinks and expect them to get along without embarrassing themselves.
If it wasn't for television, it would be impossible.
Not only is The Lola Falana Show on DVD now, I didn't even know there was a Lola Falana Show. I knew that there was a Lola Falana (that's a fun name to say: Lola Falana Lola Falana Lola Falana). She was a dancer and actress who was pretty well known back in the 70s, but her TV show escaped my radar. This set includes guest stars Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cosby, Sonny and Cher, and Muhammad Ali.
There's also a Heeere's Johnny: The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson "Holiday Set." It looks like the same set that I've owned for a couple of years (several DVDs split up into different categories: Timeless Moments, Standup Comedians, Carson Country, and the original Ultimate Collection disc), but with a special Christmas disc thrown in, with three classic episodes.
- Ally McBeal - Season 1 and Complete Series
- Astroboy - Vols 1 and 2
- Blood Ties - Season 2
As I mentioned before, it was nice to see the crew back and their usual callow banter. The episode, however, seemed more of an attempt at a relaunch of the franchise than a conclusion to the series. Nothing seems to actually get resolved.
I wasn't a big fan of Season 8 of Red Dwarf (or the previous few seasons before that, but mostly Season 8) which changed the whole premise and I'm hoping this television special will wrap up the series in a way that is more personally satisfying.
There are spoilers and video after the jump, so if you're not interested in either I recommend to stop reading now.
It got me thinking about other replacement profanities used by scripted television to replace the normal curse words that the FCC bans from televised broadcasts. We have previously posted about made-up words on television (including the profanities "Smeg" from Red Dwarf and "Frell" from Farscape), but I have a few to add to that list:
This may be a mistake. On one hand, eight seasons of the show was beating a dead horse. It stopped being good after season three. On the other hand, nine years is certainly enough time for creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (or whomever they designate) to write an hour's worth of new quality material.
It's also possible that enough of a nostalgia vibe would exist to make the one-hour special successful. I call it the Star Wars effect. It is where bad entertainment is accepted as good and sells like mad because a certain name is attached to it (see Star Wars Episode IV: The Phantom Menace for a good example. Or better yet, don't).
- The Abbott and Costello Show - 100th Anniversary Collection
- ALF - Season 4
- The Bob Newhart Show - Season 4
- Broken Trail
- Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Curse of the Hellmouth
- Charlie and Lola - Volumes 1 and 2
- Combat! Best of Espionage and Best of the Color Episodes
- Commander-In-Chief - Season 1, Volume 2
- Doctor Who - The Web Planet and Inferno
- Family - Seasons 1 and 2
- The Flintstones - Season 6
- Fraggle Rock - Season 2
- Hustle - Season 1
- Lost - Season 2
- Oz - Season 6
- Red Dwarf - The Complete Collection
- Silk Stalkings - Season 5
- Supernatural - Season 1
Okay, this one is for the sci-fi geeks. There's a few "space" shows I've watched and enjoyed, but there's far more I haven't seen, so help me out and let me know what your favorite television spaceships are. Below are five television spacecrafts I wouldn't mind being beamed onto, as long as they gave me a laser gun to protect myself, and maybe a large bucket of deep-fried tribbles ( I hear they taste like shrimp). Let's cruise:
The USS Swinetrek: This was the pig-shaped spacecraft from one of my favorite Muppet Show segments, "Pigs in Space." I always found myself intrigued by the adventures of Link Hogthrob, Doctor Strangepork, and first mate Miss Piggy. The episode with Mark Hamill where he appears on the spaceship as Luke Skywalker and Miss Piggy won't let him leave until he "rescues" her is one of my all-time favorite Muppet episodes.
- 3rd Rock from the Sun - Season 4
- Andromeda - Vol 5.5
- Dinosaurs - The Complete 1st and 2nd Seasons
- A Fall of Eagles (mini-series)
- Hee Haw - Collection Vol 6
- I Love Lucy - The Complete 6th Season
- Kate & Allie - The Complete 1st Season
- King of the Hill - Complete 6th Season
- Leave It to Beaver - The Complete 2nd Season
- Life in the Undergrowth (mini-series)
- The Nanny - The Complete 2nd Season
- The Omega Factor
- Red Dwarf - Series 8
- The Red Green Show - 1997 Season
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