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Sleeping at The Office


Go to sleep. That's my advice to you after the Super Bowl ends because the hour-long episode of "The Office" that follows it on Sunday is a real disappointment.

There is one laugh out-loud moment early, courtesy of salesman Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker). But the rest of the episode that involves an office fire and a cruel roast of clueless boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is mostly laugh-free.

I can imagine millions of the extra viewers who will see this show -- which is an acquired taste -- for the first time will wonder what all the fuss is about.

The hour also is extended by some brief scenes (supposedly from a bootlegged movie) with Jack Black, Cloris Leachman and Jessica Alba that are so bad that you wonder if Michael Scott wrote the movie.

There is a nice romantic moment between Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasinski) near episode's end but it is too little, too late.

If you ignore my advice and watch the show Sunday tell me what you think of it.

-- Alan Pergament

"The Doctors" Keep a Secret


All last week, the syndicated program "The Doctors" carried attention-getting promos about a special episode about the female anatomy that was supposed to air on Monday.

"Let's hear it for the vagina, the secrets revealed," one of the promos shouted.

But the secrets weren't revealed because the program didn't air on Channel 7 locally or anywhere nationally on Monday.

A spokesperson for the program said the hour episode, which was going to feature female doctors and a female comedian, wasn't carried because the affiliates were uncomfortable with it.

It makes you wonder if the people working at the affiliates have watched any episode of  "The Doctors," which generally does a responsible job dealing with what can be very adult subject matter.

You also might have thought that the affiliates would have made their discomfort known before the episode was promoted for several days, including on Friday. The decision to air a substitute program, "The 10 Most Shocking Health Trends of the Year," came Friday after the promos ran, the spokesperson said.

Let's hear it for censorship.

What did you think of last week's promos? What do you think of "The Doctors"? Do you agree with the decision to pull the episode?

Read more about local popularity of "The Doctors" in Thursday's Buffalo News.

-- Alan Pergament  

Izzy Gives Up the Ghost on 'Grey's Anatomy'


I don't know about you, but I cringed every time dead Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) popped up to speak to, advise or kiss Dr. Izzy Stevens (Katherine Heigl) this season on "Grey's Anatomy."

There may have been more annoying and distracting story lines on network television in the last five years, but I can't immediately think of one.

It appears Denny is gone for good after Thursday's heaven and hell episode, in which he revealed to Izzy he was allowed to come back to see her to tell her that she was sick.

Of course, that spoiler has been making the rounds on the Internet for weeks, so it wasn't exactly a surprise. I suspect the writers will now have to deal with whatever ails Izzy besides her broken heart.

What did you think of the Izzy-Denny story line? And are you glad it appears to be over?

-- Alan Pergament

Wake Up! to Battle the Network Morning Shows


You have to admire Channel 4's audacity of hope in expanding its morning news program "Wake Up" to four hours on weekdays starting Feb. 2.

The extra two hours, which start at 7 a.m. on sister station Channel 23, will mean co-anchors Melissa Holmes, Joe Arena and Mike Cejka will be competing with CBS' "The Early Show" on Channel 4, NBC's "Today" on Channel 2, ABC's "Good Morning America" on Channel 7 and the cable news programs.

It certainly will be a test of the power of local television news on a much less powerful station than the network programs are on.

I guess a fair test will be whether "Wake Up!" does better than the sitcom and court shows that currently run from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., not whether it beats any of the network shows.

Even if "Wake Up!" finishes a poor fourth in the time slot, the expansion should enable Channel 4 to keep more news staffers on the payroll and that's a good thing.

What do you think of Channel 4's decision to promote Holmes, give Arena the anchor seat that Lisa Scott used to occupy and expand "Wake Up!"? Will you watch it at 7 a.m. or the network shows?

-- Alan Pergament

Networks Ride President Obama's Star Power

It was the Super Bowl of Inaugurations, replete with a lengthy pre-game show, introductions of famous old presidential players, television announcers who had trouble finding the superlatives to describe the amazing scene in Washington, D.C. and a post-game show that endlessly analyzed the day’s activities.

The major networks weren’t about to let the cable news networks own the story of Barack Obama’s inauguration as president and went wall-to-wall with it hours before the ceremony began. ABC and NBC also planned prime time specials tonight.

The amount of coverage said as much about President Obama’s star power as it did about the historic nature of his election as the first African-American president.

It was easier for the broadcast networks to go on all day because they could sell commercials at a time that they are all cost-cutting due to the national economical crisis.

The exhaustive coverage added to the unreal expectations for President Obama, which began with his inauguration speech shortly after he took the oath from U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

The oath didn’t go smoothly, with CBS’ Katie Couric putting the blame on Justice Roberts, who stumbled first and caused President Obama to pause and allow the chief justice to get it right.

You can almost see CBS’ David Letterman instantly dusting off his Great Moments in Presidential Speeches segment that he supposedly retired when President Bush gave his last speech.

President Obama’s 18-minute speech was immediately dissected by network analysts, who weren’t gushing but weren’t overly critical, either.

“I was struck by how somber the speech was,” said ABC’s Cokie Roberts, before adding it was “beautifully delivered” by the president.

Jeff Greenfield of CBS said he thought the speech was “ a deliberate effort not to be flowery” because of the tough times we live in.

If viewers were looking for entertainment, they got it during the pre-game show from several celebrities including Steven Spielberg, Magic Johnson and Spike Lee.

In an interview with ABC, Johnson was asked if he would be willing to play basketball in the White House against the “Hoopster in Chief” if invited and if he would avoid throwing elbows and take it easy on the President.

“I could only take it easy on him if he’d take it easy on my taxes,” cracked Johnson.

NBC’s Tom Brokaw and just about every network anchor and analyst said they had never seen anything like this inauguration, with the pictures telling much of the story.

ABC also made Aretha Franklin's singing of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" into a music video, showing beautiful shots of America beyond Washington as she sang.

As sports announcers usually do after big moments, the anchors all stayed silent as President Obama was the last person introduced after the living former presidents and their loved ones had been given the honor.

“It is an extraordinary assembly and it represents so much about this country’s government,” said ABC's Charles Gibson.

About that time, I began to think it wouldn’t have been a bad idea if area schools had given students the day off to watch the Inauguration and been given an assignment to write about it. After all, many school districts are quick to cancel school if it snows a little or gets really cold. So why not give the day off to watch history?

Of course, the network news divisions are already dealing with suggestions that they are in the tank for the new president and Tuesday’s extremely positive coverage is bound to increase that criticism.

However, anyone who has followed American history knows how quickly the honeymoon can be over for presidents. In other words, if President Obama stumbles, the elbows that Magic Johnson may throw at him in a pickup game could be the least of his problems. 

What did you think of the coverage?

--  Alan Pergament 

Crash Landing Should Result in Quick TV Movie

How long will it be before a network or two commissions a movie on the incredible events Thursday afternoon before and after a jet airplane made an emergency landing in the Hudson River?

Where is the hero, pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger III?

Why did CBS bail out so quickly Thursday afternoon? Those are the primary questions I have after watching much of the incredible TV coverage Thursday afternoon and evening and this morning.

It shouldn't take long before some production company jumps on the movie idea. All the ingredients are there -- including a hero, passengers with great stories to tell and a miraculous, happy ending that wouldn't be believable if it had been fiction.

It won't be hard to find a title, since practically everyone, including New York. Gov. David A. Paterson, is calling it "Miracle on the Hudson."

The governor stumbled a bit with his best line Thursday afternoon. He was about to say we've already had "Miracle on 42nd Street"  when he changed course and said "Miracle on 34th Street." Actually, he would have been right if he had said either or both.

I imagine one of the passengers on the flight, Billy Campbell, might try to put together a movie deal. He appeared on this morning's edition of NBC's "Today" along with several other passengers interviewed by Matt Lauer.

Lauer didn't identify Campbell beyond giving his name. He's the former president of The Discovery Networks and has been an executive at CBS, Warner Brothers and Miramax so he should be able to get a movie pitch heard if he has one.

The key to any project could be getting the assistance of pilot Sullenberger, who obviously isn't a man  immediately looking for the  limelight. If he did any TV interviews, I missed them. You might have expected Lauer to explain today where the pilot is and if and when he'll do interviews.

Of course, there is plenty of time for interviews since this is the kind of positive story that networks can run with for days. And considering the current state of the economy and the nation, an uplifting, miraculous story couldn't have arrived at a better time.

That's what made CBS' decision to leave the story so early Thursday even more surprising. It allowed affiliates like Channel 4 to carry syndicated programming. I think we could have done without Oprah for an afternoon for a success story of this magnitude. I think Oprah would even agree about that.

What did you think of the coverage? And who would you have play Sullenberger in the movie?

-- Alan Pergament

Golden Globes Play Like Emmy Rerun

Some random notes about Sunday's telecast of the Golden Globes:

*Talk about lack of originality. With a few exceptions, the Globes honored just about all the same shows and performers that the Emmy Awards honored four months ago.

"30 Rock," Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, "Mad Men," "John Adams," Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti all won won Emmy Awards in September. The two winners in the television category who weren't honored back then were Gabriel Byrne in HBO's "In Treatment" and Anna Paquin in HBO's "True Blood" (which wasn't eligible for an Emmy).

* Loved Fey's slam at the internet, where she apparently reads all the negative blogs written about her by people who undoubtedly are jealous of her success.

* I was surprised to hear David Duchovny's reference to his wife while presenting an award. The last I read the star of "Californication" and Tea Leoni were separated. You had to wonder if the remark meant anything about their relationship.

* It was a good thing that Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") won his award close to 11 p.m. because his language in his acceptance speech was a little blue and inspired one guy instrumental in his comeback to playfully send half the victory salute his way. Unfortunately, NBC's cameras caught the display.

* I was happy to see "Slumdog Millionaire" got so many awards, especially since I wrote last week it was the best movie I've seen this year. I would add this warning -- that some people that I have persuaded to see the film have since told me they were disturbed by some of the violence in it.

* I thought the host of the show was much better than all the Emmy hosts. That's because the Globes didn't have a host.

What did you think of the Globes?

-- Alan Pergament

Trump Names His Celebrities

I'm looking over the list of the so-called 16 All-Star celebrities on the latest version of "The Celebrity Apprentice" and I'm thinking a prize should go to any viewer who knows what they all do.

I'm having trouble deciding who is the most famous in the group, which NBC listed in alphabetical order Thursday:  Clint Black, Andrew Dice Clay, Annie Duke, Tom Green, Natalie Gulbis, Scott Hamilton, Jesse James, Claudia Jordan, Khloe Kardashian, Brian McKnight, Joan Rivers, Melissa Rivers, Brande Roderick, Dennis Rodman, Herschel Walker and Tionne Watkins.

I suppose Joan Rivers or Black qualifies as the most famous and I suspect that Duke (a great poker player), Gulbis (a pro golfer) and Jordan (a model on "Deal or No Deal") have readers scratching their heads wondering what they are famous for doing.

NBC said the celebrities were picked for their balance of notoriety and business skills, though I suspect some also see it as an opportunity to revitalize their careers. In any event, they all begin playing for charity on Sunday, March 1, and host Donald Trump assures us that the second season of "Celebrity Apprentice" "will be even better' than last season's.

What do you think of the celebrity list? And be honest, how many of the 16 were you able to identify?

-- Alan Pergament

Classic Shows Will Be Missed

Who knew that all those old series carried on WNGS-TV were so popular?

My story on the station's dropping of the Retro Television Network  became No. 1 on The Buffalo News Web site Wednesday and is No.2  early today.

So apparently "The A-Team," "Magnum, P.I.," "Emergency!," "Knight Rider," "Hunter," "Kojak" are going to be missed.

WNGS has been playing movies in their place and plans to release a new schedule shortly. Are you going to miss the reruns of the classic shows? And which one was your favorite?

-- Alan Pergament

Batavia Woman Gets a Rose From the Bachelor

From the look of things in Monday's premiere of ABC's "The Bachelor," the former teacher from Batavia trying to win single father Jason Mesnick's heart may not be long for the show.

Sharon Staebell, a former Spanish teacher and volleyeball coach at Victor High School, was the 14th women out of 15 given a rose by Mesnick that signifies she will return for the next episode.

Additionally, Staebell wasn't visible in the clips of upcoming episodes of the reality series.

Of course, looks can be deceiving when it comes to reality shows. And Staebell claimed during the show that she felt a connection with Mesnick. Mesnick, on the other hand, said the fact that Staebell told him that she quit her job to be on the show didn't matter much to him if there isn't a connection.

To be honest, I fast-forwarded through the show to find the parts that Staebell was in so I don't know if Mesnick made better connections with the other women seeking his heart.

If you're a bigger fan that I am, what did you think of the opener and of Staebell? Do you think she can win? Do you care?

-- Alan Pergament

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV | apergament@buffnews.com

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