SCRAMBLING FOR PRESIDENT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Scramble

I really hate it when everyone starts to yell at each other. It’s like a big family squabble on Thanksgiving — the kind you see in the movies about what’s wrong with the holiday — and I can’t hear a thing. Maybe there was a time when I could pick individual statements from a mad clatter of voices, but if there was such a time (and I’m not sure there ever was), it has long since passed.

Overall, having spent two days watching both debates, I have reached a number of conclusions.

The first one is that this was an awful presentation, poorly thought out. It allowed almost no one to say anything clearly without interruption and was often a literal scrambling of candidates to get a word in edgewise or any other way.

Also, those who show the least likelihood of becoming a viable candidate (and you know who you are) should run for a different office. Senate, if possible because as much as we need a new President, we desperately need at the very least an evenly divided Senate. If your state has no available senate seat, how about Governor, or Mayor of the largest city that needs a mayor?

These are important offices too. They have a lot of clout. We can only have one president, but if the candidates spread out and get elected to the Senate, Congress, Governorship, Mayors races, we will have power in many different places and that would be a good thing.

Democratic debate – the second night

I was surprised at the intelligence of most of the candidates. To be fair, Trump has set the bar so low, it isn’t hard to step over it.

I love Elizabeth Warren, but I loved her before she took the stage. She is our Senator and I’m proud at how well she stands up for us. That Trump is always trying to cut her down to size is as far as I’m concerned, in her favor. If he weren’t pissed off, I’d have to assume she lacked sufficient status to earn his wrath.

First debate night

It is a sad commentary, isn’t it? We take the negative comments of our so-called president as compliments and relish them. If he hasn’t made up a fake name for you, you don’t really count.

Julian Castro surprised me. He was intelligent, clear, and collected. He was a good speaker — especially given the clawing and scratching the format required of all the candidates.

Beto O’Rourke seemed lost. On Colbert, Chris Christie commented (I hate agreeing with him) that he was like the kid who didn’t do his homework and hoped the teacher wouldn’t call on him. Oops. While he wasn’t a total embarrassment, he didn’t shine.

I understand that this was basically a 4-hour “say hi to the audience and say a few words” introduction, but it wasn’t well done. Aside from the multiple technical gaffs (shame on you, NBC), four hours was not enough time to even properly introduce each candidate. Not even enough time for each of them to have five minutes to speak on his or her own behalf — UNINTERRUPTED.

Returning now to Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. Okay, so she was the second little black kid to be bused in California. What Biden never got to say, but which is the truth — and Garry has a couple of Emmys for covering this event in Boston — busing didn’t work. However well-intentioned it was, it did not succeed for black or white students.

Biden was against it and he was RIGHT. She got picked as one of the first children in that fight, but it was a bad fight. It was a losing fight for everyone. He never got to explain his opposition and she was busy being an effective prosecutor.

Do we need another prosecutor running the country? She might make a good U.S. Attorney General, but president? It’s not just about getting your best and most memorable jab in. That’s what we currently have. We need something better, more thoughtful, reasoned, and less single-issued.

What impressed me? That for the most part, everyone agreed on most of what I think are the important issues. From health care to treating immigrants like human beings to making sure that “regular people” can earn enough money working one job to support themselves and their family. There was minimal disagreement on the basics. I thought it was a pity we couldn’t run a bunch of them as a group.

Democratic presidential candidates from left, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney participate in a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Personally, I agree a combination of private and public health care works well in many countries. Once health insurers are required to compete with a vital public sector, it’s amazing how effective they can be and how quickly their attitudes change.

About half the “nominees” need to find other places to run for office. Of the remaining half, we need sensible debates where people can say something. Asking any candidate for office to sum up anything in a one or two-word answer is ridiculous. It was stupid from the get-go. The debates suffered and we (the audience) suffered.

The moderators kept promising they would get back to individuals, but they never did. These should have been spread out over at least four night, not two. It was unfair to everyone, especially me.

And for heaven’s sake, whoever does the next debates, get your best technical people on the job. Our college radio station did better work than NBC!

Stay In The Car and Other Classic Lines – Marilyn Armstrong

In the spirit of clichés that pop out of the mouths of Our Heroes with alarming frequency, despite the fact that they have become standing jokes for the audience (apparently nobody mentioned this to the script writers), our personal favorite in this house is “Stay in the car.”

On the NBC TV series “Chuck.” it’s a gag line. Unfortunately, on most shows it is supposed to be real dialogue  and not cause hilarity … but it does. Every time.

I checked on Subzin, a movie database that lets you enter a piece of dialogue, then reports in how many and in the specific movies where you’ll find it. According to Subzin, “Stay in the car”  can be found in 356 phrases from 296 movies and series. Yet, they continue to use it.

Lethal Weapon 2: (1989)

uses the line a lot.

Then, there’s  Last Action Hero (1993), my favorite Arnold Schwarznegger movie in which the line is understood to be a cliché , which is more than you can say for most of the places you will hear it:

But don’t feel that this is confined to modern movies. High Sierra, with Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino, 1941 used the line too.
Speaking of Humph, there’s one great line in Treasure of the Sierra Madres that has become, by its utter perfection, a cliché or maybe … a laugh line?
And again, from Blazing Saddles (1974), a movie so quotable that we can recite the entire dialogue as we watch:
And then there is:
Ah, so many clichés. So little time. And then … they all walk away …

Renewed or Canceled? Your TV Cheat Sheet on the Fate of Your Favorite Shows!

See on Scoop.itMovies From Mavens

Spoiler Chat

TV, you fickle, fickle mistress.

There’s been a whole lot of small-screen news going down this week (And a lot of Diet Coke going down our throats as a direct result—but we digress!), with networks renewing and canceling shows left and right before touting their new series and lineups at their upfront presentations in New York City.

To help you celebrate or mourn the loss of a beloved show, we’ve compiled a list of which series the five big networks renewed and canceled from the 2012-13 TV season!

ABC

Renewed: ScandalGrey’s AnatomyRevengeOnce Upon a TimeCastleModern FamilySuburgatoryThe MiddleThe NeighborsLast Man Standing and Nashville

Canceled Happy EndingsBody of ProofMalibu CountryPrivate Practice (final season), Red WidowThe Family Tools, How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23,Zero HourLast Resort and 666 Park Avenue

Undecided: Mistresses (premieres May 27)

CBS

Renewed: CSINCISNCIS: LAThe Big Bang Theory,Two and a Half MenElementaryHow I Met Your Mother(renewed for a final season), Criminal MindsThe Amazing RaceBlue BloodsHawaii Five-0The Good WifeThe Mentalist, Mike & Molly,Person of Interest2 Broke Girls and Survivor 

Canceled: CSI: NYVegasGolden BoyRules of EngagementMade in JerseyPartnersand The Job

The CW

Renewed: ArrowBeauty and the Beast,The Vampire DiariesSupernaturalThe Carrie DiariesNikita (a shortened final season), Hart of Dixie and America’s Next Top Model

Canceled: Emily Owens, M.D.Cult andGossip Girl (final season) and 90210 (final season)

Fox

Renewed: BonesGlee (renewed for two seasons), The FollowingNew GirlThe Mindy ProjectRaising HopeThe X Factor,American IdolKitchen Nightmares, MasterChef and Hotel Hell

Canceled: TouchBen & Kate and The Mob Doctor

Undecided: The Goodwin Games (premieres May 20)

NBC

Renewed: Parks and RecreationChicago FireLaw & Order: SVUCommunityGrimm,ParenthoodThe Voice, Celebrity Apprentice and Revolution

Canceled: Smash, The Office (final season), 30 Rock (final season), Go OnThe New NormalWhitneyUp All NightRock Center with Brian WilliamsAnimal PracticeDo No HarmDeceptionReady For Love1600 Penn and Guys With Kids

Undecided: Hannibal

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

What’s still there, what’s gone. Survivors and losers. Not necessarily any logic or reason, either.

See on fr.eonline.com

Laugh In – When Television Was Really Funny!

I blew in my husband’s ear and whispered: “Now, will you follow me anywhere?” He laughed. Then we realized that we couldn’t remember where that line came from.

Turned out it was from “Laugh In.”

Back when this show was on the air, we knew how to laugh. The Pod People hadn’t yet come to steal our sense of humor and turn us into sour, bad-tempered drones.

It was a different time and psychically, in a galaxy far, far away. We had problems. Nixon and the war in Vietnam for starters. That was no picnic. But we found ways to enjoy our world, to have good times. The “era” didn’t last long … just a little bit of time but we had fun.

We guffawed. We giggled. We snickered and chortled. We ate food full of fat and sugar and watched TV on sets that barely got pictures you could see, but we were free and young. When we weren’t working, it was okay to let our hair down, relax, and play.

These days, it seems we have forgotten how to play.

The time is not merely here. It’s overdue. We need to remember things we used to know, to play and laugh. Maybe if we could spend more time laughing, we’d spend less time hating.

With the economy in tatters, our politics polarized beyond recognition, with unemployment out of sight and in a world gone mad with terrorists and war — more than ever, we need to laugh.

By the way, how did they know that 1989 would be when the Berlin Wall would come down? Eerie!

And how did they imagine Reagan would be president? Apparently, they did, but no one else I knew seemed to have considered the possibility.

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968, to May 14, 1973 on the NBC network. Look how the world has changed.

Back then, amidst all our problems we believed the world could be changed for the better. Change it did … but is it better?

And finally … look how much NBC has changed!!

The Guest Star Did It

I hate to sound like everyone else, but television is boring. Soporific put-me-to-sleep dull. There used to be a few shows each night we followed, but so many have been taken off the air or deteriorated to unwatchability there remain but a few. Every year, we start the fall season hopeful there will be something worth watching. Perhaps a couple of interesting series, maybe a comedy. If we are lucky, the powers-that-be won’t have retired the few shows we watch that have survived several seasons.

Killing Harry’s Law for the sin of appealing to the wrong demographic (namely us) was a blow to the heart. We have since realized that killing that show was part of NBC’s master plan to destroy the network. They are doing a splendid job. For the first time, NBC has come in fifth in the ratings after Spanish-language Univision. I think the only NBC shows we still watch are Leno (which they will probably kill because we enjoy it) and occasionally Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit which we view erratically. It’s more a desperation move when everything is in reruns. It too is probably a rerun, but we haven’t seen it, so it’s new to us.

It’s not impossible to write new material, but it takes an effort. Originality is nearly extinct. I’m shocked when I don’t know what’s going to happen next or who did what. It’s a rare treat to be surprised by a script.

NCIS: Shumate

The other night, Garry commented that whatever it was — a new show and no, I do not remember the name — we’d seen it before. Being as this was a premier, you would think they might consider writing an original script for it. You would be wrong.

“We’ve seen everything before,” I said.

“We’re old,” he said.

“We may be old, but that’s not the problem. New shows are identical to the old shows. I think they ARE the old shows. They reuse scripts, just change a couple of names and places. We need to get our heads right. Stop expecting originality and try to appreciate whether or not they do the same old stuff well.”

“It would save us from disappointment.”

“Yup. We need to align our expectations with reality.”

“Yeah. Lower our entertainment requirements. Uh, how much more can we lower them? They’re pretty much at the bottom already.” And so they are.

There are still a few shows we really enjoy. NCIS, long may it reign, we watch both the new shows and reruns. It’s our entertainment fallback position.

We watch White Collar. It wins a prize for being the only cop show that doesn’t only solve murders. The show deals with crimes in which no one got killed! What creative genius thought of that?

Elementary has been  pleasantly unpredictable and has, in return, won our loyalty.

Anger Management is actually funny. Laugh-out-loud funny. Wow. A funny comedy! A startling idea I thought the networks had abandoned in favor of reality shows. It has been a long time since a sitcom was anything other than insipid and insulting to what’s left of our so-called intelligence.

Our Friday night fix is Blue BloodsTom Selleck alone is worth your time. There are a couple of other shows that occasionally aren’t completely predictable (I can’t think of them off-hand which probably speaks volumes), but for the most part, we know what’s going to happen on any show from the opening scene. The credits are enough to give away the story most of the time. The guest star did it. Why else would he or she be on the show?

It’s not impossible to write original material, but it does require a willingness to make an effort at original thought and a committment from networks to let a show stay on the air long enough to develop an audience. A lot of the shows that have become long-term favorites — like NCIS — took several seasons to find an audience. Had MASH come on the air today, it wouldn’t have lasted a single season. They’d have pulled it for not being an instant hit.

SeasonRatings

Of the top 20 shows that are series, not specials, we watch four series regularly: NCIS, Blue Bloods, Elementary and Criminal Minds. We watch Person of Interest most of the time and Vegas sometimes. That is six of the top 20. The rest of the “top rated shows” we don’t watch at all. This doesn’t bother the networks because we are not part of the sought-after 18 to 45 demographic. So even when, as happened with Harry’s Law, a show is a hit with our group, it gets taken off the air anyway because we don’t count. If we didn’t watch Leno, I’d have boycotted NBC, but they don’t need our help. They’re self-destructing just fine.

Requiring every show to be a sure thing, to be a hit in fewer than half a dozen shows, kills any hope of creativity. An unwillingness to take chances has so completely taken over the entertainment industry I can only wonder if they will bother to produce new shows a few years from now. They can go to all reruns all the time. It would save a great deal of money and it’s entirely about the bottom line, is it not? Whether or not viewers enjoy shows apparently has little to do with programming.

Not merely are producers boring viewers into a stupor, but networks are making themselves irrelevant. How come any average person can see what’s going on but network executives seem oblivious? It is difficult to fathom.

Ultimately, we will stop trying to make sense of it and seek entertainment elsewhere. We are doing that, for the most part, anyhow. We watch more reruns than new shows. We watch more movies than series. We don’t rely on offerings by any of the networks, though when they give us something to watch, we do give it a whirl. But they aren’t trying to keep our loyalty. They’ve made it clear they don’t care about us, so it’s hard to care about them.

There are many more entertainment choices today than were available even a year or two ago. Even more options will be available soon. If ever an industry seemed hell-bent on suicide, network television is it.

Run for your life!

220px-Major_crimesUnless you live on another planet, you have watched your share of crime and cop shows. In first run, rerun, and who knows which run. Cops and crime are the ubiquitous backbone of prime time television and the fast-flowing mainstream of Hollywood. We are fascinated, even obsessed by criminals, cops, courtrooms and killers.

Add the alphabetic agencies,  CIA, FBI,  CSI, NCIS, then throw in some lawyers, car chases, bombs, guns and frontier justice and you have American television for the past 50 years, give or take a decade. There are now — and have been — so many series in this genre I defy anyone to remember all of them (though it might be fun to try). Is there a database for this somewhere?

It’s possible to watch crime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. At one point, I became addicted to  “Law and Order.” I required frequent fixes. It turned out to be no problem because there’s a rerun of “Law and Order” playing somewhere all the time. You just have to look.

These days, Garry and I watch a great many cop shows, usually reruns of favorites from the recent or not-so-recent past. We can predict dialogue for all of them, including those we’ve never seen before. It turns out there are only a couple of plots, both of which use the same script.

If you watch enough of these shows, you could write them too. You know what’s going to happen before the first commercial break, sometimes before the credits. You know who the killer is. It’s the guest star if there is one, otherwise, it’s the irrelevant character or the first one who points the finger at someone else. One way or the other, you recognize the perp the moment he or she shows up on-screen.

I used to hope for something new and different. Now, I just hope they do the clichés well.

Pilot

Some stuff has become so standard we hear it coming. As the words roll out, we sing along. At our house, we liven things up by laying odds on when the writers will leap on a cliché and what the precise wording will be. Our favorite is when a cop has someone with him or her in the cruiser — a child, relative reporter, friend, former cop (retired, of course), journalist — who is by chance and script on site when the star is called to the scene of a crime.

So. What does he or she say?

You got it.

“STAY IN THE CAR!” “Stay here!” “Whatever you do, don’t follow me!” “If I’m not back in 5 minutes, get away …”

You’ve seen it a zillion times. It never gets old and unlike most jokes, it always gets a laugh. It pops out of the mouths of television and movie heroes and it brings the house down every time. It actually showed up in a book I was reading earlier today. It’s included in every show … brand new shows, with brand new writers, directors and stars.

Nah. I bet they only look new. They are probably using the same script as all the others.

Whether it’s a 9-alarm fire, gun fight, crime scene, stalker, serial killer or zombie attack, it doesn’t matter. No one stays in the car. Cop, kid, or an extra destined to die before the opening credits, no one in film or television history has ever stayed in the car, truck, or anywhere else. They never will.

Pauley Perrette in the season opener of NCIS.

In life, we generally know when we should really stay in the car. Not get involved. Let someone else take this one.

Who stays in the car and who gets out?

Until recently, I never stayed in the car. I took chances. In a different world, I might have been a cop or a detective. Something exciting, anyhow. Alas, but the need for a steady paycheck sent me down a different professional path, one on which opportunities for adventure were rare. Okay, non-existent. Software development does not offer an edgy lifestyle.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (season 6)

So I did what I could to make up for it in my personal life. I had too much fun to regret it, and anyway the experience taught me to deal with the unexpected. There’s been a lot of unexpected to deal with. If you never venture out of your comfort zone you aren’t going to survive the disasters that drop like car bombs into your life. Sooner or later, you have to get out of the car, right? Especially if someone planted a car bomb … is that too much analogy?

Time has marched on. These days, I do stay in the car. Family drama is enough. More would be redundant. I can sustain my sense of adventure through television reruns, memories of the good old days and an occasional terrifying ride on a killer roller coaster. I’ve had a lot of out-of-car experiences. I could use a dose of calm, dull and ordinary.

But you never know. I mean, anything can happen, right? If I’m on the scene, if life  just puts me where stuff is happening … would I really stay in the car? Would you?

Stay here! Don’t get out of the car! Did you hear me? Stay in the car!

 

Unless you are living on a different planet than I am, you have probably watched a lot of cop shows … first run, rerun, 200th run. There are so many you could watch them 24 hours a day 7 days a week. At one point, I was a  “Law and Order” addict. I needed frequent fixes. I discovered that any time, day or night, there’s a rerun of “Law and Order” playing on some channel … you just have to search.

As it is, Garry and I watch a lot of  cop show reruns and we can recite the dialogue in most reruns of NCIS. It’s not the only stuff we watch, but it is a major component.

If you watch enough of them, eventually you don’t even need to know the plot: you know who the perp is the moment he or she shows up on your screen. You just know. I often wonder if these shows are all a single script, written by someone long ago, then periodically altered slightly as needed for various  episodes of different series.

Our absolutely favorite moment in all of such shows is when one of the cops has someone in the car who isn’t a police officer or other official investigator. Maybe it’s a child or relative of one of the officers (aka, stars) … perhaps a friend, former cop now retired, journalist, or other person who by chance (and script) happens to be there when the star or co-star is called to the scene of a crime. What does he or she say to their ride-along person? They say it (or one of its close variations) every time:  “STAY IN THE CAR!”

It pops out of the mouths of television and movie heroes with alarming frequency. On the NBC TV series “Chuck.”  it was a gag line. On most shows it is real dialogue  and not supposed to be a laugh line … but it is. At least in this house.

One of my favorite versions can be found in the  Last Action Hero (1993):

Cover of "The Last Action Hero"

01:08:06 – Stay in the car. – No way. I’m coming with you.
01:08:11 –  How many times have you heard someone say, “Stay in the car” and the guy doesn’t?
01:08:19 – Good point. I’ll stay in the car.

Subzin.com say the exact phrase “stay in the car” can be been found in 356 phrases from 296 movies. I think they are missing a few thousand instances in a wide variety of TV series. Also, they are not counting variations like “don’t leave the car,” “don’t get out of the car,” and “remain in the car.”  If you include the more generic “stay here” Subzin  finds 20781 phrases from 11645 movies and series which is a lot of instances even if you say it quickly.

Regardless of the situation, whether it’s a 9-alarm fire, gun fight crime scene, being stalked by a serial killer or it’s the Zombie Apocalypse and the undead are gathering to attack: no one stays in the car. Cop, kid, or an extra obviously destined to not survive past the opening credits, no one in film or television history has ever stayed in the car.

In real life, as we stumble through our lives, we get a lot of hints from The Universe that maybe this time, we really should stay in the car. Don’t get involved. Let other people take care of this problem, this episode. Let the cops do what they are paid to do. Someone else can catch this bad guy, report this fire, deal with this crisis. Who stays in the car and who gets out?

I never stay in the car but others do as they are told, careful and mindful of authority. They want to be safe, and believe that following the rules guarantee nothing bad will ever happen. Except that life doesn’t follow a script. Or if it does, you don’t get to read it before you have to play your role.

Aside from the boredom– which alone would be enough to get me out of the car — is you don’t learn much staying in the car. If you never take a chance, you don’t find out how to deal with the unexpected and there’s a lot of unexpected in everybody’s life, no matter how safe you try to play it. If you never venture out of your comfort zone, when things get crazy, you’re going to have a really rough time figuring out how to take care of yourself … or anyone else. I’m not talking about manual skills like CPR or self-defense. I mean emotional skills, the ability to keep it together when what you really want to do is start screaming and not stop until it’s over, whatever “it” is.

For all the times I’ve been told to stay in the car then promptly jumped into the fray,  against all logic and common sense, I’m glad I did it. Life’s too short and the ride from start to finish is too bumpy to sit on the sidelines. Who knows whether there will even be a car to stay in when I want to hide? No way am I staying in the car when all the interesting stuff’s going on somewhere else.