The point of this edition of The Five, besides giving me yet another chance to talk about cartoons, is to examine those weird quirks that set certain cartoon characters apart from their constituents. That is to say, something beyond the usual bulging eyes, springing hair, unraveling tongues, mallet-induced head lumps and stars and birdies that twirl about the head whenever they crash through a wall. I'm interested in quirks and traits a character possesses that no other character does. Some of these are easy: Fred Flintstone's "Yabba Dabba Doo!," Bugs Bunny's various catchphrases like "What's up, doc?" and "Of course you know, this means war!," so I tried to delve a little deeper and come up with some oddities only incredible nerds like myself would notice.
Maybe this will make more sense if I just jump right into it:
The intention was to air Grey's in that slot for a few weeks, help it get an audience, then move it to another slot and bring BL back to Sundays at 10. Of course, we all know what happened: Grey's ratings surpassed those of BL, rendering William Shatner and James Spader temporarily homeless. And the audience just kept steadily building until it became the top-rated show on television.
In the free time I have between watching TV, reviewing TV shows, previewing upcoming shows on DVD, and posting articles about television in general, my thoughts tend to wander . . . to television. And women (because, you know, I'm a man and men are pigs). During these wanderings I've come to question a few things about what we see on the magic picture box that I can't seem to find any answers for. So, I come to you, the smart and beautiful readers of TV Squad, for answers to five of the queries that have come to mind.
1. How can Dora the Explorer walk upright with such a huge head? Have you ever seen a picture of her? Her oval-shaped head is enormous! I'm surprised that it doesn't wobble uncontrollably like a bobble-head doll. I guess the reason she wears that talking backpack all of the time is for ballast. If she doesn't wear it she probably ends up toppling over to one side or the other.
When I'm bored, which is often, I like to poke around Google Video's selection of lengthy interviews from the Archive of American Television. The other day I found there's a lot of interviews of some really great television personalities who have since passed on to that great cathode ray tube in the sky. Here are five I think are worth checking out:
Fred Rogers: Several years ago, despite the fact that he hadn't really done anything besides what he had done most of his life, host a children's program, Esquire magazine named Fred Rogers their Man of the Year. It was one of the best profiles the mag had ever done, and it's because nobody on television was as kind and genuine as Fred.
Bob's recent post about Madame got me thinking about all the puppets that have appeared on television over the years, and specifically the ones that creeped me the heck out. If you're like me and some of those characters that were meant to entertain you only left you with nightmares and a life-long fear of anything even remotely puppet-like, share your tales of woe in the comments. Think of this as group therapy. Let's get started:
Madame: This aging diva may have been hilarious, but as a very young child when I saw her on shows like Hollywood Squares and Solid Gold she only managed to send me cowering behind the sofa. That jutting chin! That piercing voice! Those horrible satanic eyes! Clearly, she was the Banshee of Celtic lore, and I imagined that after every show she returned to her real occupation: flying around screaming to portend the death of Irish family members.
Okay gang, here's what I'm looking forward to in the new fall season. Slip on your reading socks and enjoy:
1. The return of South Park: Many shows have a tendency of starting off strong and then entering a slow decline if they stay on for too long. South Park is one series that I think has actually improved with every season, and last season's episodes, most notably the two-part "Cartoon Wars," contained some of the most hysterical and vicious jabs at every religion, political affiliation and societal norm you could think of. As Stan so rightly points out, either everything is okay to make fun of, or nothing is. That mantra is what makes South Park still one of the best shows on television, even as it enters its tenth year.
2 and 3. New Adult Swim shows from the creators of Home Movies and Sealab 2021: Brendon Small created one of my favorite shows of all time, Home Movies. His new Metalocalypse, which he created with Tommy Blacha (a writer for Conan and TV Funhouse) won't have the same poignancy of Home Movies, but that's just fine with me. Also, the crew behind Sealab 2021, an Adult Swim "classic" if it's not too early to use such a term, are also returning with Frisky Dingo, the tale of a super hero named Awesome-X whose secret identity is that of Xander Crews, a billionaire who makes money from the toys based on his alter ego. He battles Killface, an evil mastermind who wants to plunge the Earth into the sun, but only if he doesn't lose interest in his plan. I'm anxious to see how both of these shows fare.
The Simpsons receives plenty of well-deserved praise, but I think people take for granted the great music in the series, all composed by the great Alf Clausen. Clausen worked on several other TV series as well, including, funny enough, ALF. His contribution adds a great dimension to the show, so I thought it would be cool to use this episode of The Five to talk about our favorite musical moments from The Simpsons. Here's a few I like:
Jasper sings the theme from A Summer Place: This is possibly my favorite Simpsons moment of all time, or a least in my top five. During the episode when Homer is telling his family how he was once in a popular barber shop quartet, there's a scene where they're auditioning new singers. Jasper chooses to sing the theme from A Summer Place, which doesn't actually have words, so he just keeps singing the words, "theeeeeme, from a suuummer plaaaaaace...." It cracks me up every time, but unfortunately I think that segment is cut out when the episode airs in syndication.
Okay, kids, for this addition of "The Five" we're going to talk about those voices we love so much. I'm going to focus entirely on television announcers, but I'm expanding the topic to include anyone whose job in television is (or was) centered around their vocal cords. That's why you won't see Mel Blanc or Daws Butler on my list, though they most certainly would have been on it otherwise. Everyone on board? Okay, let's do it:
Here are five series that used to be on in reruns all the time, but I don't seem to see them anymore:
I like the shows that follow a pattern when naming their episodes. Why? Because I want to see if they can keep it up! Some shows, like Friends and Seinfeld, painted themselves in a corner very early on with episode names, not thinking the show would last for 200 episodes or so. By the end of such a show's long run, you can tell the writers were really stretching to keep the pattern going.
Here are five of my and my fellow Squadders' favorite examples of episode naming patterns that took on a life of their own:
Here's a fun game to entertain yourself at home. Take any random object around the house and imagine its molecules combined with that of a man. Then speak in a deep announcer voice and make up a TV show about it. For example:
He's half man, half spatula. Despite the cruel world that shuns him he fights a battle against the forces of evil in his underwater helicopter. He is Spatula Man.
For this edition of The Five we're talkin' about our favorite hybrids. Here's five of mine. As always, share some of your own.
This time around we're giving a shout out to our favorite two-headed television personalities. Here's some of mine:
Biff and Chip Oblong (The Oblongs): I didn't hate The Oblongs when it aired on Adult Swim, but I didn't think it was that great, either. Lately I've been catching reruns of the series on TBS and now I really like it. Crazy how your mind works sometimes. The show is based on the book Creepy Susie by Angus Oblong, which is hilarious and worth checking out. Biff and Chip were the eldest son/sons of Bob and Pickles Oblong, and a constant source of torment for their brother Milo. They were voiced by twin comedians Randy and Jason Sklar. Jonathan has a nice synopsis of the show here.
It's the TV Squad Presidents' Day Blow Out Sale! Everything must go! We've got a warehouse full of lava lampshades, knee whitening kits, puppy dehydrators, hand-knitted welding masks, helium-powered baby goggles, and aisle after aisle of Mrs. Picklebutton's Homemade Mayonnaise-Flavored Waffle Syrup. Did I mention free giraffe rides for senior citizens?
Anyway, I listed five of my favorite television appearances by presidents in puppet or animated form. Hail to the chief and all that. If you think of others, please share. Taft would have wanted it that way.
Today's post is brought to you by the number 5.
We've all grown up with Sesame Street, right? We all know who Kermit, Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Grover are, but what about those Muppets who, while not as popular, are still a vital part of the human/Muppet mix who populate the popular street? Or are no longer a part of Sesame Street at all? There's way more than five, I can tell you that, but here's five of my favorite "second tier" Muppets from Sesame Street. Some are gone, some are just forgotten. Grab a bowl of Cheerios and your footy jammies and share some of your own memories in the comments. Now let's do it:
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