This was originally going to be about sequels and remakes to movies and TV shows. Somewhere along the line, it changed. Now, it’s about predictable, boring, and repetitive material for what is supposed to be a new television season.

We are having trouble finding stuff to watch. It isn’t merely that the shows are trite, poorly written, badly acted, and trivial. They also give you that “Deja vu all over again” feeling. I swear they are using old scripts from other shows and just change a few names.

TV Camera - 23

How predictable are they? Garry and I always know “who done it” before anyone has done anything. We know who done it because it’s always the biggest name guest star of the week. If, by some bizarre accident, we miss the opening credits, we can guess who done it before we know what was done because he or she looks guilty. Or it’s that same actor who always plays the bad guy.


TV shows cast the same dozen or so actors over and over again — in the same roles. There are the scary looking guys who play evil drug dealers and gang leaders (or both). The older guys who play spies gone bad. The other ones who are inevitably cops gone to the dark side. There are the women whack jobs and sultry bad girls. Regardless, you know the moment they appear on-screen that whatever happened, it was his/her/their fault. They done it.

And oh the clichés.

“No one was supposed to get hurt.”

“He was turning his life around.”

“Everybody loved her/him.”

“I had no choice.”

And the ever-popular “Stay in the car.”

This season’s “Castle” had a problem. Stana Katic, who plays Kate Beckett (love interest, now precinct captain), wasn’t available for the season opener. She was still busy making a movie.

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So they had to write around her character. According to, the producers and writers saw this as a creative opportunity to find a way to make the show work without her.

What did they do? What was their “creative solution?” They went back — again — to the tired, old story line of Kate and her obsession with Senator Bracken (now in prison for life). Because creativity, in TV land, means doing same thing they’ve done countless times before.

Another one. Just like the other one.

Apparently we are too stupid to understand a plot we haven’t seen at least a dozen times. We might get befuddled by all that originality.

Ratings were, unsurprisingly, significantly lower than in previous years.


NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans also came up with tepid season openers. New Orleans was particularly bad. I actually thought the show was running longer than usual. It was that dull.

According to the powers that be who run the networks and control programming, anyone below the age of 18 or over the age of 45 doesn’t count. They do not care whether or not we watch their shows. We do not exist.

serenity movies firefly science fiction 1024x768 Fillion

I finally realized the actual problem. It’s not that Garry and I are too old to enjoy the newness, uniqueness, and cleverness of the new shows — or that we won’t buy the sponsor’s products. It’s that the “new” shows are not new and certainly not clever.

What is being presented as “new” are tired old stories with different people playing the same roles. Same scripts, sometimes word for word. Totally predictable plots, endlessly repeated. Of course they don’t care about our opinion. They know what we are going to say.

This stuff is crap. Boring. Stupid. Mindless. Dumb. Crap.


It doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be. Both Amazon and Netflix, as well as other cable outlets are doing some really good stuff that appeals to every age group. The trick? Good stories, good acting. Intelligent scripts.

Maybe the whiny networks should stop complaining about how the mean old competition is stealing their viewers and try giving viewers something to watch. They could steal us back!

Isn’t that a great idea? Huh? Isn’t it?


Completely, Utterly, Absolutely Without Method, by Rich Paschall

It’s time for more great thoughts and random musings.

How many musical Top Ten lists can we come up with before we run out of ideas?

Has signaling your intention gone out of style?  It seems many people put on the turn signals of their auto only as the spirit moves them.  For some, that is not too often.

When did it become OK to travel up to a block in the oncoming lane in order to reach your turn lane at the corner?

I recently saw someone who was illegally making a U-turn get hit by someone who was illegally using the wrong side of the road to get ahead. Since no one was hurt, I thought it was somehow just.  Is that wrong?

Should we be doing separate and major construction projects at the same time along three sides of one of the world’s busiest airports?  If you are from Chicago or are familiar let me just say Irving Park, Mannheim and Touhy Avenue.  If you are not familiar, let me just say “rush hour gridlock.”

I wonder what kind of rush hour gridlock they have in Martin, Tennessee.  Yes, I know you have never heard of it.  Not too many have.  They probably get a bunch of cars down by the Dairy Queen on a warm night.

Does it seem that the success of singers like Adam Levine and Sam Smith have brought on a bunch of guys who sing a bad falsetto?

Are people eager for the next James Bond movie?

Are people eager for the next Star Wars?

Are people eager for the next Avengers?

Are people eager for something original, for gosh sakes?

Sometimes when I talk to my friend Tom Law in England, I hear American stereotypes that are unfortunately true.

If you were to form a band with two other musicians you really didn’t know, would you call the band Cahoots?

If Barnes and Noble stores are struggling, where will I go to browse books?

Will there still be libraries in 50 years or will we just “Google” whatever we want to know?

Do schools teach handwriting? Does anyone know what the Palmer Method is? I am not talking about the quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals.

Does this seem even more random than last time?

If you are using a tube television, where do you go get replacement tubes?  Radio Shack?  Not too many of those left either.

If we ask you your favorite song today, and we ask you again in one month, is it likely to be the same?

Casablanca is still my number one movie.  What’s yours?

Was the Golden Age of Television really Golden?

If people are watching less television, why are there more channels?

Video did not kill the radio star.

Basically, what is the difference from when I went out to buy a 45 RPM for 99 cents and a teenager today downloads a song for 99 cents?

When I went to search Cahoots, the following song is what I got first.  While Tom would probably prefer I pick a more recent song, I think I should stick with the theme and go with what randomly appeared.  Here are the boys and their Shoes:



Was school easy or difficult for you? How so?

I was always good at memorizing information for short periods. I was one of those kids that could not go to class all year, cram the night before the test, then ace it. Until I bumped into hard sciences and mathematics. At which point, I learned humility in a hurry.

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But over all, since I wasn’t a math or science major, school was easy. I worked very hard in classes that interested me, barely bothered to do anything if I it didn’t grab my interest. I got a lot out of college, more on the job after getting my B.A.

School is where you begin your education. Life is where you earn advanced degrees.

What is your favorite animal?

As in to own? As a pet? Dogs, with cats and ferrets a close second. I like parrots, too.

dogs with bishop and gar

But in the greater world of animals, I love elephants and lions and tigers and rhinoceroses. Deer and moose. Bears. Wild birds and wolves. I love them all and mourn every loss.

If you had to have your vision corrected would you rather: glasses or contacts?

I can’t wear contacts, so it’s a moot point for me. I will wear glasses … three different strengths … because I can’t see without them.

List:  Name at least five television shows (past or present) you enjoyed?

At my age, I have loved a great many shows. So. Let’s limit this to the shows we currently watch and love. Otherwise, it simply gets way out of hand.


NCIS, Castle, House Of Cards, Bosch, Firefly, Star Trek (all permutations). There are so many more.

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Original and in reruns, I have seen the evolution of television from relatively primitive to today. I’m sure I’ll live to see interactive TV where in addition to annoying advertisements, there will be annoying requirements I answer questions or input other information. I can hardly wait.


Drama Division, by Rich Paschall

You have clearly been waiting patiently for the coming of my next top 10 list.  Well, wait no more.  I have diligently gone through the memory banks to produce a list for you.  After compiling a hefty list of TV theme songs, I find that I had to limit the category.  Out went the novelty songs like The Addams Family and Gilligan’s Island.  Out too were the comedy themes of note like Welcome Back, Kotter and the theme from Cheers, where everybody knows your name.

We could not include your cartoon favorites or even the great pieces written for news broadcasts or special events.  The Olympics theme that NBC gets to overuse with each Olympics is a stand out piece introduced in 1984 and easily recognizable now.  I could make a case for a hundred songs if I did not find a theme for this list, so drama shows is the category.

Now I admit I do not watch a lot of television shows anymore, aside from sports, so most of these will not be of recent vintage.  But it is uniquely my list and may include few of your favorites.  Please add to the list in the comments below.

Getting an honorable mention is the theme from MASH.  You may say that it is a comedy, but many considered it a serious show with some dark humor tossed in.  Also, the theme song, Suicide Is Painless, was actually written for the movie and wisely used without the words for the television show.  Along with the series, the theme reached iconic status.

Another honorable mention goes to the Star Trek themes.  Many will tell you that the second series, The Next Generation, improved upon the original song, scripts, and special effects.  I still like the original series with William Shatner chewing up the scenery at every chance.

10.  Believe It Or Not, The Greatest American Hero. The unlikely hero of this show (William Katt) gets a super hero suit, but no instructions. The recording by singer Joey Scarbury stayed 18 weeks on the Top 40 and made it to number 2 in August of 1981.

9. Hill Street Blues theme, by Mike Post who also co-authored Believe It Or Not. The 1980’s cops drama was a critical success and ran 7 seasons.

8. Rockford Files theme, Mike Post teamed up with yet another person to pen this tune. The 1970’s detective drama starred James Garner and ran 6 seasons.

7. Bonanza. This instantly recognizable theme was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the long running television western. The insanely talented songwriting duo also gave us the theme to Mr. Ed and the Christmas classic, Silver Bells, among many others.

6. Hawaii Five-0. The iconic tune was updated and reused for the current series. There’s not much difference to my ears.

5. A few notes in and you will immediately know the music for the spy thriller Mission Impossible. The show is pretty dated now, but still fun to watch. Here Lalo Schifrin plays his famous composition:

4. Rawhide launched the career of Clint Eastwood. The theme song was not written for the Blues Brothers movie, as some might think, but instead for this much earlier classic western series. The vocal by Frankie Laine was a big hit.

3. Doctor Who theme. The current theme is an updated version of the original but is still pretty good. Can you imagine the Doctor travelling in the tardis to any other music? Here are all the versions, just in case you need them.

2. Perry Mason theme For some unknown reason, this did not even make some lists I reviewed. I think it fits the show perfectly. It was reused in a series of Perry Mason movies long after the television series. The movies also starred Raymond Burr as the lawyer who never loses.

1. The best television theme was the classic tune by Henry Mancini for Peter Gunn. The private detective series featured jazz music like any good film noir detective movie of the 1950’s. The music was also recycled in the Blues Brothers movie. Mancini won an Emmy Award for the music and a Grammy for the album.


Believe It or Not, Wikipedia
Livingston and Evans
Peter Gunn, Wikipedia

Next week: Top Television Theme Songs II, Comedy Division



On the surface, it seemed like a normal day in Uxbridge. But intelligence reports warned us not to be lulled into a false sense of security.



Yes, it seemed idyllic. Traffic was moving smoothly through the town’s main intersection. There was non of the usual slow driver traffic clog that’s typical of an August Friday afternoon.



Perhaps we should have noticed how quiet things were on the town green. This is the height of tourist season. People come from across the country to capture our bit of small town America.

Yes, suspiciously quiet.


A short distance away, the new NCIS Uxbridge team leader sensed something was wrong. His gut told him the serenity was  cover for a local sleeper cell.


This NCIS bureau chief was handpicked by the legendary Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Word had it the Uxbridge guy had worked deep cover with Gibbs, taking out mercs who threatened our nation’s security. Gibbs apparently trusted his Uxbridge peer, who some referred to as “a functional mute.”

Word filtered through Uxbridge.


The town library closed early. No teenagers gathered on the town common usually a popular hang out spot. BOLOs had been posted by the local LEOs for unspecified persons and vehicles but they offered few details, referring all inquiries to the new NCIS team.



But a badge was the only information supplied by any who questioned the new NCIS guy. Maybe it was the look on his face. Perhaps it was his rigid body stance that spoke volumes to those with loose lips.



Uxbridge is now on the grid for everyone — FBI, CIA, DAR, NRA, NSA, Homeland Security. They’ve probably planted moles and undercover agents everywhere. But make no mistake. In this town, NCIS is the top dog. In charge.

Grab your gear!


NOTE: All photos taken using a Pentax Q7.



Okay, so we don’t have a piece of ocean. We’ve got plenty of river. It’s wet. Lake, ocean, what’s the difference, right?


Uxbridge, a small town in south central Massachusetts, has no Navy or Marine presence. No Naval station or training camp. No docks, no seaport. And we don’t have a forensics lab, but we can build one. It may take a while. We do have a jail. All it needs is a little cleanup.

uxbridge jail

With Mark Harmon’s unexpected retirement, Garry’s lifelong ambition to be a star has arrived. In his new role of NCIS team leader, the pace will be a little slower, but Garry’s wry humor will quickly win the hearts and minds of fans throughout the world.

Garry at River Bend

I shall play the role of the crusty old medical examiner. My bad back, heart, and hips make me an unlikely choice for a field agent, but the dead don’t run fast. All the medical knowledge I’ve gleaned from being sick for years will come in handy when I have to use those twenty syllable medical terms.


I’ll cast my best friend as a very special agent. I’m pretty sure if she were to get the Gibb’s back-of-the-head slap, she’d hit him back and he’d know he’d been hit. Hands off, big fella.

My granddaughter will run the lab. Though she knows nothing about forensics, she’s a quick learner. Besides, she’ll love the Goth costumes and she has plenty of tattoos.

Manchaug dam

Finally, there’s the mandatory geek agent. I’ll give that to my son because he knows his way around a computer and he likes to fix stuff anyhow. He will fit right in as he explains exactly how things should work and whatever you did wrong to screw up the machine.

See you next week, same time, same station.


Yesterday, we gathered to celebrate the life of a friend who passed away earlier this year.

Our friend was Joe Day. Joe’s name should be familiar to those who’ve lived in New England during the past forty years. He was a highly respected TV news reporter for four of Boston’s major television stations (WHDH, WCVB, WGBH, WBZ). Joe specialized in politics. He covered presidents, governors, senators, congressmen and local elective officials.

But many of us fondly remember Joe’s “people” stories, vignettes about everyday folks living their lives in relative obscurity. That was Joe at his best. On and off camera, he was a modest, plain-spoken guy despite the richly deserved awards he received which recognized his career.

Yesterday, there were smiles and tears as people shared stories about Joe. We were mostly the generation of “old fart” journalists, recalling the days when news wasn’t just a business. Joe Day was at the core of all those memories.

It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces. We have drifted apart geographically and socially in many cases. Sometimes we paused before hugging because we no longer look the way we did in our “head shot” days.

Joe Day’s family marveled at the size of the gathering. It’s one thing to send an email or video tribute. But to turn out in impressive numbers on a hot August Saturday, that says so much about how Joe touched the lives of people around him.

Fame is fleeting and transitory in TV news. Friendship is another thing. Usually it fades quickly after changing jobs, states and retirement. You always mean to stay in touch but it rarely happens.

That’s what makes the celebratory gathering so special. All those folks bonding in their memories of yesterday when our world was young and Joe Day touched our lives, making each one of us a little better just for knowing him.

Such good friends.