On May 6 at 9:00 p.m., NBC will air Saturday Night Live in the '90s: Pop Culture Nation. The special, as evidenced in the title, will look at the late night mainstay and the actors who called the show "home" during the '90s. Having gone to high school and college throughout the '90s, this is the era that sticks in my memory the most, when folks like Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Norm MacDonald, Phil Hartman, David Spade, Chris Farley and Dana Carvey were just funny guys no one had ever heard of before.
The special will include interviews with former cast members, insight from repeat hosts Alec Baldwin and John Goodman, plus interviews with writers Tim Herlihy and Adam McKay, who went on to successful careers as film writers. If you're a fan of Saturday Night Live, it's probably worth checking out, but especially if you happen to be around my age and these episodes were the ones you quoted and discussed with your friends the next day in school.
Mankind has come up with a lot of ways to shorten life: there's war, murder, parachute packs filled with kitchen utensils rather than a parachute, etc. However, prolonging our life span is still somewhat of a mystery, though there are new ideas always being put to the test.
On April 14 at 8:00 p.m., CNN: Special Investigations Unit: Chasing Life will look into these methods, including calorie-restriction diets, stem cell treatments, dietary supplements, and human growth hormones. The special will examine the benefits, drawbacks and controversy surrounding these different approaches. The special will be hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and is based on his book, also called Chasing Life.
Tonight at 9:00 p.m. on the Food Network, Al Roker will host Childhood Obesity: Danger Zone, a special that delves into the obesity epidemic that now affects more than 12 million children in America. The special will focus mostly on children, including: a teenager who weighs 500 pounds; the public policy initiative put in place by Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to help overweight children; and a doctor who teaches kids how to shop for healthy food.
In interviews, Gervais had been going back and forth on doing a third season, but I think most people knew what he and Merchant were really thinking all along. The two of them like the British format of short seasons that air whenever the creators get around to writing a new series, and they both seem like they like spending their careers doing different projects (Gervais is currently touring England with a one-man show called Fame). So hearing that Extras isn't getting a third season isn't a big surprise.
In advance of that special, Woodruff spoke to reporters about the bombing and his recovery. He described what he saw and felt right before the explosion, and what he said to cameraman Doug Vogt -- who was also severely injured -- right afterwards. He talked about being in a coma for 36 days, and having to put his memory back together as he recovered. "I couldn't remember my two young daughters - not their names but their existence," he told the reporters. He did say he may not ever be 100% recovered from his injuries, but "maybe if I get somewhere in the 90s, that would be pretty damned good."
Woodruff will be interviewed by Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America tomorrow morning, and Oprah Winfrey will also interview him on her show tomorrow.
On February 19 at 9:00 p.m., Leonard Nimoy will host Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier on the History Channel. The documentary will look back on the franchise's forty-year history and feature interviews with several actors from various Star Trek series including Avery Brooks (Deep Space Nine), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek Voyager) and Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation).
The special will also feature footage from Christie's auction of Star Trek memorabilia, costumes, props and set pieces from last October that took in over seven million dollars.
Unfortunately, our resident Star Trek insider Wil Wheaton won't be part of the documentary. No matter, at least here you can read his Star Trek: The Next Generation reviews, which are probably funnier than anything you'll see in this new special. What's equally as upsetting as Wil getting the shaft is that I also wasn't asked to participate in the documentary, despite being Nichelle Nichols' stunt double* on the original Star Trek.
*I was never Nichelle Nichols' stunt double.
Ever since Moral Orel creator Dino Stamatopoulos told me Robot Chicken and LucasFilm were joining forces for a kick ass Star Wars-themed special (Moral Orel and Robot Chicken use the same production space), I've been keeping my eyes peeled for when the special might air. It was originally included on the schedule grid on February 4 at 11:30 p.m., but later that section of the grid was blacked out. Now, it looks likes an episode of Family Guy has taken over that timeslot.
That doesn't necessarily mean the special isn't going to air, and most likely the schedule will change, as it always does. Currently both Moral Orel and Boondocks have reruns listed in March, the month when both of those series are actually supposed to return with new episodes. I've learned not to rely on Adult Swim's schedule too far into the future, for she is a mercurial beast.
In the special, Woodruff will not only talk about his long recovery process from his injuries, but he'll also speak to the medical personnel that helped him, as well as eyewitnesses to the roadside bomb attack. He'll also profile military rescue teams that work to get injured soldiers out of harm's way and to various field hospitals.
As was also announced this past fall, Woodruff and his wife Lee will also write a memoir on his recovery, to be published by Random House.
Back in June I mentioned that comedian Demetri Martin had a one-hour special coming up early next year. Well, it's now early next year, and the special is called Demetri Martin. Person. That seems accurate enough. If you're a fan of Martin, you won't be surprised that the comedy special will include animation, drawings and music all culled from the mind of Mr. Martin. It will air on January 14 at 10pm.
Demetri attended law school briefly but dropped out to get into comedy. I'm not sure why he thought he couldn't do both. I mean, you've got the jury sitting right there, it's like a captive audience. Sure, you'd probably lose every case and innocent people would go to jail for life, but you would have made people laugh, and that's what it's really all about.
To say the least, this past year has been insane for Duane "Dog" Chapman, star of A&E's reality series Dog the Bounty Hunter. His eldest daughter was killed in a car accident right before his wedding, and later he was arrested on charges of illegal detention along with his son Leland and his work partner Tim Chapman stemming from their capture of convicted rapist and Max Factor heir Andrew Luster in Mexico in 2003. The Constitutional Hearing, which began on December 22 in Guadalajara, Mexico, will start up again in January (the courts are closed for the holidays).
A&E will air a one-hour special, The Year of the Dog, that will look back on the past year in the life of the Chapmans, including the aftermath of Dog's arrest. The special airs at 9pm on January 2.
A Charlie Brown Christmas will always be about eight billion light years above all other holiday specials in my mind, but that's not to say I don't enjoy those other old standards that pop up on TV this time of year. How the Grinch Stole Christmas remains one of my favorites: a perfect blend of all things Seussian and Jonesian.
To be honest, from a visual standpoint How the Grinch Stole Christmas is pretty much a Chuck Jones special. The only characters who really resemble Dr. Seuss' graphic style are The Whos, and even the precocious Cindy Lou Who (who was no more than two) is given the doe eyes and adorable but dopey face that made Jones' characters instantly recognizable. Jones did much the same thing when he took over the Tom and Jerry shorts for MGM which were originated by William Hanna and Joe Barbera: he redesigned the characters and made it his own thing.
Reader James left this link on a previous post of mine, a clip from A Charlie Brown Christmas overdubbed with a song by heavy metal band Tourniquet. Sorry, I don't listen to a lot of metal, so I couldn't tell you the name of the song, but I'm sure one of you will tell me in the comments. I usually break out my Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack album around this time of year, but maybe I should download this song from iTunes as well and add it to my Christmas playlist. I don't know what's being sung, exactly, but I'm sure it has something to do with loving Jesus, goodwill towards men, and sipping apple cider around the fireplace ... with SATAN*.
Just for fun, I also included the Charlie Brown / Outkast mashup that hit the Web some time ago. Dance your pants off.
*Some readers pointed out that Tourniquet is a Christian metal band, so my joke doesn't really make sense. I will try to do a better job in the future of pretending I care about Christian metal and its place in the annals of modern music.
A whole world of nostalgia was brought back for me a few years ago when the Island of Misfit Toys were introduced as plush dolls at CVS. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Rudolph special because it glorifies the plight of the misfit. Rudolph is the beta-kid Christmas special. Hermey, the dentist elf, and Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, are heroes to anyone who has ever been picked on for being a little different. Rudolph is for us - the geeks, the queers, the fat kids, the short bus riders, the loners and the AV crew.
Just like last year, ABC is airing A Charlie Brown Christmas twice this year. If you missed it when it aired late last month, you can catch it again on ABC on Sunday, December 17 at 7 pm. I recorded the special when it aired in November but haven't yet gotten around to watching it. When I do finally get time to sit and watch it, I'll do my usual ritual of dousing the lights, unplugging the phone and immersing myself in the special as I've done every year since I was a kid. I could purchase the DVD, but I have no interest in that. I like keeping this special tied to the holiday season, it's like a gift I get to unwrap and enjoy at the end of every year. I only wish ABC had also re-aired It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, since my local station moved it to 3 am so they could air some insipid midterm election debate.
Oh man, does this bring back memories. My fellow Gen Xers surely remember the album and television special Free to Be You and Me, featuring a ton of stars, including Marlo Thomas (who produced the special), Mel Brooks, Alan Alda, Harry Belafonte, Shel Silverstein and many others. My sister and I used to listen to that album all the time, and hearing that title song again brought back a lot of memories.
Right now you can watch the complete TV special on TVLand.com, along with full episodes of That Girl. The series, along with the Emmy-awarding winning Free To Be You and Me special, will air as part of a 48-hour marathon the weekend of December 9. I'm going to watch the special now, since I didn't even know until recently there even was a TV special, I always thought it was just the record album. I guess I was too engrossed in our little Fisher-Price record player to pay attention.
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