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It’s the 1980s (Again) in Primetime!

Hey TVScreeners. As you might have noticed, things have been pretty quiet on the TVScreener.com front lately. Blame a slew of holiday gift guides and other features I’ve been writing for TV Squad, plus a little 50,000-word book project that I have, oh, about a month to write … but that’ll wrap shortly (and I’ll share more about it when the release date gets closer), and things will be back to normal around the ol’ TV blog soon enough. PS – Stay tuned for a killer TVScreener.com Christmas giveaway. Seriously, hundreds of dollars worth of TV-related swag to share, and it kicks off right after Thanksgiving!

In the meantime, I had to take a sec to post about the awesome little ’80s revival that’s happening in primetime these days:

Magnum P.I. star Tom Selleck‘s back on the tube with Blue Bloods, one of the few new hits of the fall TV season;

The Hollywood Reporter uh, reports, that Remington Steele and James Bond movie star Pierce Brosnan is headed back to primetime, in a show that sounds Bond-ish;

– The Hub is airing back-to-back episodes of Family Ties Monday thru Thursday nights (8 and 8:30 PM), which has not only been a reminder of what a genius of comedic timing Michael J. Fox is, but, via that “Sit, Ubu, sit” ending, has helped me finally figure out the origin of my obsession with Labrador Retrievers. PS – My fellow Family Ties fans, a must-read book: The autobio of Ties creator Gary David Goldberg, called Sit, Ubu, Sit and featuring the iconic photo of the pooch on the cover;

– The ubiquitous presence of Betty White (and all the ’80s stars on her TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland) on TV, as well as in the awesome new Golden Girls: 25th Anniversary Complete Collection DVD box set (in packaging that mimics Sophia’s handbag);

– TNT’s in-the-works Dallas series remake, which may star Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and the legend himself, Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing;

– Comedies like The Middle, Modern Family and Raising Hope (which several of my TV critic cohorts and I at Scooter McGavin’s 9th Green picked as one of the best new shows of the season) have led a revival of the type of great family sitcoms we haven’t seen a prevalence of since the ’80s;

– And the new TBS ’80s college comedy Glory Daze, which, in addition to being solidly funny and starring a cast of talented, endearing newcomers, also boasts the fashions, trends and music of the ’80s. Delightful.

Oh, and though it’s not primetime, it is ’80s TV-related: The Pee-wee Herman Show, the new Broadway show that’s like being live at Pee-wee’s Playhouse. TVScreener.com reader Rich told me he’s seeing the show the day after Thanksgiving, and I cannot highly enough recommend that anyone else who loves the Playhouse and will be in NYC during the holidays check it out. Even though the show isn’t about the holidays, I can’t think of a better way to get yourself in a feel-good holiday mood.

So, who else is loving this retro vibe in primetime? Dallas will soon return … what other ’80s drama or sitcom would you love to see remade? Which other ’80s TV superstars would you like to have join Tom Selleck, Pierce Brosnan and Ed O’Neill (not to mention Cheers star  Shelley Long as a Modern Family guest star and Miami Vice star Don Johnson in that recent Eastbound and Down appearance) in a return to TV land?

‘Glee’: It Could Have Been the Perfect Summer Show

It’s like Grease-meets-Fame-meets-Freaks and Geeks-meets-Square Pegs, with a dash of every other great teen/high school drama thrown in for good measure. And, it’s peppered with Journey songs. What is this delicious mix of pop culture goodness? It’s Glee, the new dramedy that’s getting a cushy premiere slot tonight: the post-American Idol hour (9PM ET on Fox, or whenever they decide to end the constantly-in-overtime AI).

First things first, Glee is wonderful. It’s sweet, funny, sincere (sometimes painfully so, as many a drama and choir geek will probably attest), and though I’m not a huge fan of musical theater that doesn’t feature some sort of performance by Nathan Lane, the song-and-dance numbers performed by McKinley High’s glee club are just plain fun.

The show, in case you’ve somehow missed all the hype during Idol, revolves around small-town teacher Will Schuester (Tony-nominated Matthew Morrison), a former glee club member during his own high school days, who volunteers to become advisor to the current glee clubbers in an effort to help them prove they’re not second-class citizens to the school’s jocks and celebrated cheerleaders (the “Cheer-ios,” whose advisor is the always delightful scene stealer Jane Lynch from Party Down, Talladega Nights and The 40-Year-Old Virgin).

Will, whose prickly home life has led to a bit of disconnect from his own once bright and hopeful outlook, has the super peppy, ambitious and talented Rachel (Spring Awakening star Lea Michele) to lead the way. And once he, well, blackmails (hey, this is a show from Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy – it’s sweet, but there’s still some of that trademark orneriness in there) secretly-talented singer and football star Finn (Kyle XY‘s Cory Monteith) into joining the singing squad, they may just have a shot at, well, if not greatness, something akin to not sucking, either.

Sounds like the perfect summer show, right? Something that not only we in the 18-49 demo can enjoy, but something that might actually get the ‘tween and teen set to peel their eyes away from the Internet and their Xboxes long enough to watch, right?

Yep, it was the perfect idea to premiere it post-Idol, at the end of the TV season, right before the summer TV schedule kicks off … and then put it away and not air it again for several months, when it will live in the Wednesday at 9PM timeslot on Fox’s fall schedule.

Bottom line: Don’t miss tonight’s premiere. And then don’t forget how much you liked it when it finally airs again in a few months.

A ‘Best Week Ever’ Tweetup!

If you’re in New York City next Tuesday night (May 19), the only place to be is the Best Week Ever Tweetup at Professor Thom’s (219 2nd Ave at 13th Street in the East Village). BWE host extraordinaire Paul F. Tompkins announced the event via Twitter, and the invitation at Best Week Ever.tv promises appearances by Tompkins, Doug Benson, Chuck Nice and “some fancy surprise guests” (as if they weren’t enough!), as well as drink specials and Best Week Ever swag. BWE swag, people! Eeeeeee.

Oh, and NY1 anchor and World Series of Pop Culture host Pat Kiernan RSVP’d via Twitter that he’ll be stopping by the Tweetup, too. I’ll say it again: It’s like Christmas, a birthday and the season premiere of 24 all rolled into one fantastic pop culture dream day. So be there, or be … somewhere where the cool kids aren’t.

50 Things I Love About TV – 41-50

41. Psych
How cool is Psych? So cool that among its many very diverse pop culture references has been Al B. Sure!, The Peanuts Christmas pageant dance, Drew Lachey and The Mentalist, a show that, as any Psych devotee will point out, came after our beloved Psych.

42. Best Week EverBest Pop Culture Wrap-Up Show Ever. Almost makes me forget how much I miss the Greg Kinnear and John “Skunk Boy” Henson days of Talk Soup.

43. The Sopranos reruns on A&E
The show’s still so good and so layered that you’ll find new things you didn’t catch the first time around, and I find I’m not missing the naughtier words at all.

44. Desperate Housewives
Was good, sucked there for a season or two, then bounced back. Despite the skepticism about the jumping-five-years-ahead storyline this season, I think it works, and has managed to freshen up a show that could have jumped into jumping the shark territory quite easily.

45. Boob tube to big screen adaptations
There’s the good (The Fugitive, The Adaams Family, The Brady Bunch Movie, Starsky & Hutch and most definitely the new Star Trek flick), the bad (Wild Wild West, Bewitched, The Dukes of Hazzard, Lost in Space and Scooby-Doo) and the what the hell were they thinking (The Honeymooners), but I always get excited about a TV show being made into a movie (or vice versa) and the possibilities of how some of my faves might be reimagined.

46. VH1’s Top 20 Countdown
Relying on VH1 videos to find new music? Yep, and I don’t care if that’s unhip. The fact is, I don’t remember the last time I saw a video on MTV, and though I often hear new tunes I like during The Hills or The City or The Real World (already admitted I’m still watching it), VH1’s weekend countdown of the top 20 videos is one of the best places to not only hear, but see new bands. It’s how I first discovered the pop/rock goodness of John Mayer‘s debut CD (after he had the bad luck to release the album on September 11, 2001), and I’d argue that American Idol “loser” Chris Daughtry owes a goodly portion of the success of his debut CD to his videos’ constant presence on the VH1 countdown.

47. Pat Kiernan on NY1
Those of you outside the NYC area may be unaware of the soothing morning goodness of hearing the delightfully smooth-voiced Kiernan tell you what’s in the newspapers every day, but if every city had Kiernan reading what’s In the Papers for them, it would amount to a better start to their day. Those outside NYC may also remember him as host of VH1’s World Series of Pop Culture, and you can also catch him on Twitter.

48. Malcolm in the Middle
Loving the FX repeats, especially of the later seasons, which I’d stopped watching when the show originally aired. But in the latter years, it’s all about Reese and Dewey and Hal (the comedic genius that is Bryan Cranston), as, apparently, the writers figured out what most viewers knew all along – Malcolm was a dud. The rest of the family rocked.

49. Breaking Bad
Bryan Cranston, comedic genius (see above). Turns out he’s a damn fine dramatic actor, too.

50. Saturday Night Live
Yep, still watching it, every episode, every season, even when it’s not the must-see show during an election year. Love the Target Lady, love Kenan Thompson, love Andy Samberg‘s digital shorts, love the Justin Timberlake appearances. Most of all, love the history of the show … one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do as a TV writer was attending a live show (last season’s Jonah Hill-hosted ep). I was sitting there the whole time thinking about how I used to sneak out of bed to watch Eddie Murphy performing on that very stage. Back when Eddie Murphy was a comedic genius. Sigh.

50 Things I Love About TV – 31-40

31. Tina Fey
Funniest female on TV. I say ever, and yes, that means funnier than Lucy.

32. Special guest stars
Some people hate them, and some shows (Will & Grace, for instance) rely on them far too often. On the other hand … Alan Alda as Jack Donaghy’s dad on 30 Rock? Scott Bakula as Chuck’s dad on Chuck? Sammy Davis Jr. planting a kiss on Archie Bunker on All in the Family? Pretty much every episode of The Simpsons? A well-cast guest star can be a treat. On the other hand, sometimes they are just weird.

33. Ethan Suplee
Jason Lee and Emmy winner Jaime Pressly get all the props, but I’m still watching My Name Is Earl solely for Suplee, whose portrayal of Earl’s dimwitted brother (who occasionally pops up with a pithy observation) is sometimes over-the-top hilarious and sometimes just really sweet. I interviewed Suplee earlier in the show’s run, and he said part of the inspiration for his performance of the child-like Randy comes from simply observing his stepchildren. Really sweet indeed.

34. Jim and Pam
As with most TV couples, the road to coupledom was the best part for this Office duo, but I love how Pam has become more confident now that she’s the future Mrs. Halpert.

35. Kenneth the Page
He’s just a sweet small-town boy who loves TV, played by Jack McBrayer, a sweet, and hilarious, small-town guy who loves TV. And another of my fave interviews.

36. Reno 911!
The show that always goes there, “there” being an increasingly weirder, less politically correct and hilarious place. That’s a good thing, as is Lt. Jim Dangle’s (Thomas Lennon) short-shorts uniform, a piece of TV wardrobe that’s every bit as cool as Fonzie’s jacket, Chandler Bing’s sweater vests and June Cleaver’s pearls.

37. The Office
This season has been the show’s weakest … not as many of those watercooler moments as in seasons past. But it can still surprise with a great Michael moment, a clever prank on Dwight or some Creed weirdness. And big ups to Ed Helms, whose Andy was at first super annoying, but who has emerged – especially after his pitiful engagement to frosty Angela – to be a lovable geek.

38. Ace of Cakes
There is just something soothing about watching people make fantastic cakes, even during those Food Network Challenges when the bakers are so obviously stressed out. Maybe that’s the main appeal of the Charm City Cakes crew, from Duff (and his trademark laugh) and super-organized office manager Mary Alice to Jeff, the talented baker/designer who may be the most laidback person in the history of TV.

39. Lifetime movies
There are few things in a girl’s life better than a weekend marathon of made-for-TV movies starring Tori Spelling, Kellie Martin, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Judith Light, Meredith Baxter or anyone from the cast of Charmed. All-time best Lifetime movie title, by the way: Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?

40. The Wire
Dukie, McNulty (McNutty, as my friend Jeff calls him), Omar and his Honey Nut Cheerios … despite where he was headed when last we saw him in the series finale, I’d like to believe that Dukie ends up graduating from high school and landing a computer job. Heartbreaking show, but so worth it. The Wire: The Complete Series DVD box set is a must own, or at least, a must to Netflix.

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