Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Still Waiters Pun Deep

Today I think I'll continue Food NetWeek.

Once I get engrossed in a topic — like this past weekend when I searched for premiere dates for Food Network series — I sometimes suffer from tunnelvision. A Food Network skein inspired yesterday's post. And the Food Net also laid the foundation for tomorrow's and Friday's entries.

Why break the streak now.

Are you looking for a quick read that will make you smile and groan at the same time? Take a look at the ep names for ''Good Eats.'' Alton Brown amuses me. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I know he's wacky, but I never expected to find such punny ep titles. Here's a few morsels to whet your appetite:
  • Carrots: A Taproot Orange
  • The Big Chili
  • Chile's Angles
  • Do the Rice Thing
  • Dr. Strangeloaf
  • Egg-Files
  • In the Bulb of the Night (Garlic)
  • It's a Wonderful Cake
  • Mission: Poachable
  • My Big Fat Greek Sandwich
  • The Remains of the Bird
  • Romancing the Bird
  • True Grits
And those are just the names inspired by TV shows or movies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Every Dog Has Its Primetime Series

This past weekend, while I was finding Food Net nuggets, I came across the ''Three Dog Bakery'' series. If you ever saw the show, you probably know about Sarah, Gracie and Dottie. Who are they? The three dogs from the series (and cookbook) title, of course.

These not-so-famous canines got me thinking about famous TV mutts, which brings us today's trivia question. Match the dog's name (right column) with the series (left column) that made it famous:

Series NameDog's Name
1.''7th Heaven''a.Buck
2.''Beverly Hillbillies''b.Comet
3.''Brady Bunch''c.Dreyfus
4.''The Dukes of Hazzard''d.Duke
5.''Empty Nest''e.Eddie
7.''Full House''g.Freeway
8.''Hart to Hart''h.Happy
9.''Married with Children''i.Levi
10.''My Three Sons''j.Reckless
11.''Sue Thomas, FB Eye''k.Tiger
12.''The Waltons''l.Tramp


Monday, November 28, 2005

Absence Makes the Heart of the d/b Grow Larger

Looking for new posts last Thursday and Friday? Thought I took a couple of days off, didn't you?

Nonsense. You just didn't know that I spent the long weekend reading old newspaper articles. Imagine reading posts like this: ''Still reading.'' I spared you such boredom.

Well how much work did I do? Thanks for asking.

I added exactly 300 cable, PBS and syndicated series to the trivialTV database. I also confirmed premiere dates for 453 shows, meaning On This Date now covers 7347 series. That's an average of about 20 series per day.

And the trivialTV database will continue to grow. Of course, I'll continue to add new series. But I still need to confirm premiere dates for 2079 skeins already listed in the d/b. Since I confirm preem dates by network, I always find many new shows in the process. For instance, I added 66 Food Network series this past weekend alone, bringing the d/b grand total to 135 Food Net skeins. Just wait 'til I update PBS.

Rather than performing stealth updates, I decided to make them public. I added a new box at the bottom of the near right column. The feature includes vital stats for the d/b, and these numbers will be updated every Monday. These vitals also give you an idea of the breadth of the features that you've come to know and love.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Don't Count Your Turkeys Before They're Hatcheted

Everybody loves Thanksgiving—especially TV writers. Can you believe that 210+ eps aired in November in the last 50 years with thanks, Thanksgiving or turkey in the title?

Here are some ep titles that are real turkeys.
  • Ground-Turkey-Hog Day (''What I Like About You,'' 11/18/2005)
  • Who Brought the Jive Turkey? (''One on One,'' 11/22/2004)
  • Three Thanksgivings, One Turkey (''Three Sisters,'' 11/29/2001)
  • Pulp Turkey (''Now and Again,'' 11/19/1999)
  • Tantric Turkey (''Chicago Hope,'' 11/25/1998)
  • Gobble, the Wonder Turkey, Saves the Day (''Spin City,'' 11/24/1998)
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Turkey (''Fired Up,'' 11/24/1997)
  • They Shoot Turkeys, Don't They? (''Cybill,'' 11/19/1995)
  • Turkey Jerky (''Animaniacs,'' 11/22/1993)
  • Don't Let the Turkeys Get You Down (''Doogie Howser, M.D.,'' 11/14/1990)
  • Chicks and Turkeys (''Carter Country,'' 11/25/1977)
  • Everybody's Thankful But Us Turkeys (''Hazel,'' 11/23/1961)

Censorship Is the Sincerest Form of Flattening

I'm always amazed at how the Parents Television Council (PTC) empowers a small portion of the population to act as TV watchdogs. According to this B&C article,
the group [PTC] filed a total of 23,542 complaints in July (10,775 against Fox and 12,767 against ABC).That would account for all but five of the FCC complaints for the month. Let's repeat that. Out of 23,547 complaints in July, PTC claims 23,542.
The PTC is quite proud of their activism, and it keeps a running scoreboard of complaints filed in the last few years. With the threat of potential FCC fines, it's no wonder that some affiliates are weary of showing questionable content.

When a network broadcasts a show, each affiliate has the choice to present that show or something else in its place. That means affiliates can act as regional watchdogs. If your affiliate deems a network show to be indecent, then that affiliate beams another show to your TV.

This practice is not new. Many Southern affiliates refused to air "The Nat King Cole Show" in 1956. And this censoring practice peaked in 1969 when 75 ABC affiliates refused to the second episode of "Turn-On," causing ABC to pull the show from the airwaves.

But now the practice is scary. Since large broadcasting groups own multiple affiliates, some corporations—like the Sinclair Broadcasting Group—can impose its own interests and values on multiple regions without regard to the local public interest. Local program managers in these corporations no longer have the authority to determine whether a show is offensive or not.

Here is a sample of some network shows that at least 10 affiliates refused to air.
  • 75 affiliates: "Turn-On" (2/12/1969, 2nd episode unaired by network)
  • 71 affiliates: "Sticks and Bones" (3/9/1973, unaired by network)
  • 66 affiliates: "Saving Private Ryan" (11/11/2004 broadcast)
  • 58 affiliates: "NYPD Blue" (9/21/1993, Pilot)
  • 39 affiliates: "Maude" (5/1973, rerun of "Maude's Dilemma")
  • 27 affiliates: "Revlon Revue: Tonight with Belafonte" (1960)
  • 22 affiliates: "God, the Devil and Bob" (3/2000, multiple eps)
  • 17 affiliates: "Marcus Welby" (10/8/1974, "The Outrage")
  • 15 affiliates: "ABC News Closeup" (12/18/1979, broadcast on homosexuality)
  • 12 affiliates: "Soap" (9/1977, first two episodes)
  • 12 affilaites: "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" (9/2001)
All six of Sinclair's ABC affils refused to show ''Saving Private Ryan'' even though the PTC announced that it would not submit complaints to the FCC against ABC for airing the movie. In late 2004 NippleGate still imposed significant impact.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Slow But Steady Wins the Total Tube Time Race

After last week's big unveiling, it's time for some routine maintenance. This week I update the top ten lists for Total Tube Time in the near right column. The end date is now Nov 6, 2005 instead of Aug 7, 2005.

What can happen in two months?


''Dateline NBC'' continues to slowly eat away ''60 Minutes'' lead. ''Dateline'' has a lower rating each week, but NBC always gives you quantity over quality with their popular newsmag.

''The Simpsons'' closes the gap with ''Friends'' and will pass it by the end of the season.

But the biggest shake-up is in the drama category. ''CSI'' remains the dominant force in weekly ratings and climbs three notches from #9 to #6 on the list for Total Tube Time. By the end of the TV season, ''CSI'' will be #4. ''Law & Order'' will soon rewrite history when it passes ''Murder, She Wrote'' for the #1 spot on the list.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Carpe Diem & Carpe D/B

Time to seize the database! Once each month I search public databases to find broadcasting scoop. Here's some November news.


MTV recently announced two new shows—both spin-offs from ''Laguna Beach: The Real OC.'' In 2006 you'll be able to watch LC in ''The Hills'' and Miami models in ''8th & Ocean.''

That's not news anymore. You've heard about these shows everywhere.

But what about this? MTV is working on two other shows: ''MTV Juvies'' and ''Seriously, Your Band Sucks.'' Viacom filed documents for these other two shows the same day as ''The Hills'' and 10 days before ''8th & Ocean,'' meaning MTV should make announcements soon.

AOL/Warner Bros.

I'm sure that you already heard that AOL & Warner Bros. announced In2TV this past Monday. But I'll bet you haven't seen the logo they may use:
When AOL/Warner announced In2TV, they also unveiled six channels:
  • LOL TV
  • Dramarama TV
  • Heroes & Horror TV
  • Rush TV
  • Vintage TV
  • Toontopia TV
There are two things they didn't tell you. First, they didn't present their prelim logos for individual channels:
toontopia tv
Secondly, they didn't disclose all of the channels. AOL/Warner already has two more channels in the works:
  • Get Real TV
  • Lost & Found TV


Just last week T-Mobile protected the phrases, Web 'n' Walk, News 'n' Walk and TV 'n' Walk. That can mean only one thing. T-Mobile will soon deliver video content to your phones. Their proposed logo?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Stop and Smell the Glows

Whenever I hear about 3-D TV shows, like next Monday's ep of ''Medium,'' I always think about how TV really only appeals to two of my senses—sight and hearing. And then I think about my sense of smell, which always leads me directly back to smellyvision.

Of course, the concept isn't new. Here are two snippets from Time magazine about using smell to enhance the theatre experience.
The AromaRama process itself, developed by a public relations executive named Charles Weiss, is fairly ingenious. The film carries a "scent track" that transmits cues to an electronic "trigger" that fires a salvo of scent into the theater through the air-conditioning ports. The AromaRama people claim they can reach every nose in the house within two seconds, and remove the odor almost as fast as they release it. The perfumes* are built up on a quick-evaporating base (Freon), and as the air is drawn off for filtering, it is passed over electrically charged baffles that precipitate the aromatic particles. (December 21, 1959)
"amazing Aroma-Rama" (which breathes the "olfactory effects" in and out of a theater through its air-conditioning system) is simpler to install than Todd's "glorious Smell-O-Vision" (which supplies every customer with his very own scent vent). (February 29, 1960)
Sounds like Smell-O-Vision is perfectly suited for your home theatre. And a company named DigiScents thought so too. They thought enough of the idea that they raised $20 million in the late '90s to develop a prototype for making scents for internet and gaming experiences. Needless to say, DigiScents is in the internet graveyard.

Why? They promised to develop a personal scent synthesizer—the key word is synthesizer. DigiScents vowed that a small device could be manufactured with a limited number of base scents and that the device would mix these base scents in varying proportions to synthesize new smells. One problem. It won't work. You can't fool your brain that easily. When you mix two scents together, you don't get a new scent. You smell the two scents that you used. If you mix the scent of oranges with vanilla, you don't magically get banana. It smells like a 50-50 shake.

DigiScent's pledge of synthesizing smells proved to be their undoing since they couldn't deliver on their promise.

What if they promised to develop a scent generator instead? A scent generator produces scents from a replaceable cartridge. No magic. No hand waving. Just straightforward engineering. Each new video game you buy comes with its own cartridge. Want to fully experience the smellyvision ep of ''Medium?'' Get the scent cartridge in TV Guide or Entertainment Weekly.

We may eventually find out. Companies, like AromaJet, ScentAir Technologies and TriSenx are still trying.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

She Who Can, Does

Take a look at tonight's TV schedule—you can watch the ''Delta Does Detroit'' episode of ''E-Ring'' on NBC. Of course this ep title plays off the famous 1978 porn movie, Debbie Does Dallas.

It took nearly 10 years before any TV writer dared pay homage to this classic. Was it taboo? Were writers embarrassed to admit they had seen the film? Did the 1986 Attorney General's Commission on Pornography push the film into pop culture and remove the porn stigma?

Regardless of the reason, a number of TV writers give props to Debbie Does Dallas through episode titles. Here is a small sampling:
  • Vickie Does Prison (''Women in Prison,'' 10/11/1987)
  • Debbie Does Dishes (''Adderly,'' 12/2/1987)
  • Tony Does Golf (''Who's the Boss?,'' 4/25/1989)
  • Kelly Does Hollywood (''Married…with Children,'' 11/10/1991)
  • Kimberly Does L.A. (''Melrose Place,'' 11/20/1995)
  • Cybill Does Diary (''Cybill,'' 10/21/1996)
  • Dharma Does Dallas (''Dharma & Greg,'' 2/20/2001)
  • Brian Does Hollywood (''Family Guy,'' 7/18/2001)
  • Debbie Does Djkarta (''The Agency,'' 2/1/2003)
  • Daphne Does Dinner (''Frasier,'' 2/11/2003)
  • Wanda Does Vegas (''Wanda Does It,'' 10/12/2004)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Stand-Up Comic Dies a Thousand Deaths, a Sitcom Star Dies But Once

Don't forget about The Comedy Festival. The Vegas festival starts this Thursday.

The Primetime session really caught my attention. With a description like this, how could a TV buff not be interested?
Who will be the next Jerry, Roseanne, Raymond or Ellen? In Primetime, The Comedy Festival introduces comics with a point of view so distinctive, you'll soon be on a first-name basis with them too.
They make it sound so easy. Come. Perform. Kill audience. Sign network contract. Star in hit TV series.

If only it was that easy.

Let's take a look back at the American Comedy Awards. You'd think that performers who won an ACA award for outstanding stand-up comedy would star in a series that hit the airwaves shortly after the big win. Well, only seven comedians hacked this comedy routine. Can you name these comedians and their series?

1. Jerry Seinfeld won an ACA in 1988.
"Seinfeld" (as "The Seinfeld Chronicles") premiered on 7/5/1989.

2. Paula Poundstone won an ACA in 1989.
"The Paula Poundstone Show" premiered on 10/30/1993.

3. Jeff Foxworthy won an ACA in 1990.
"The Jeff Foxworthy Show" premiered on 9/12/1995.

4. Ellen DeGeneres won an ACA in 1991.
"Ellen" premiered on 3/29/1994.

5. Richard Jeni won an ACA in 1993.
"Platypus Man" premiered on 1/23/1995.

6. Margaret Cho won an ACA in 1994.
"All-American Girl" premiered on 9/14/1994.

7. Wanda Sykes won an ACA in 2001.
"Wanda at Large" premiered on 3/26/2003.

And what about Roseanne? She won an ACA for stand-up comedy the year after ''Roseanne'' premiered.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Times on Guides Wait for No Man

Ever wonder what aired on your birthday? Anniversary? Some random day in 1986?

Have you ever tried searching for this info on, and Not so easy, is it?

You won't be frustrated anymore.

I've added a feature above that let's you see the US primetime network TV schedule on any date between 1/1/1983 and 10/23/2005. That's right. Pick a date and find out what aired that night.

You're probably thinking, "I'll bet you only included first-run TV series!" Uh-uh. I've also added the following shows to the trivialTV database:
  • series repeats, including ep titles for some repeat showings.
  • movies—theatrical films and made-for-TV movies.
  • specials, such as ''Fashion Rocks'' and Hurricane Relief Concerts.
  • award shows and pageants, with pageant winners.
  • sporting events and final scores.
I estimate that the trivialTV database is about 95% complete and correct during this period. Of course, the d/b is more correct and more complete for more recent dates. I'll continue to make corrections and additions to the database.

If you have any suggestions, comments, corrections or additions, feel free to e-mail me.

Source data: Weekly Nielsen Ratings cross-referenced with the digital guide for Charter Communications, listings, thefutoncritic, TV Guide, UCLA library catalog, US copyright office archives, various other library collections, Brooks and Marsh's Complete Directory, Gianakos' Television Drama Deries Programming: A Comprehensive Chronicle, Marill's Movies Made for Television: The Telefeature and the Mini-series, Terrace's Television Specials: 1939-1993, various newspapers, sundry magazines, some fan websites, and good old-fashioned logical deduction. I estimate that I've used ~200 sources so far.

I'd like to thank the javascript source for providing a simple pop-up date-picker that I modified for this site.

Friday, November 11, 2005

If You Can't Join 'em, Watch 'em

But there has to be a limit to how far we insulate ourselves from reality. No?

On MTV's "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County" there is one scene in Season One (Nov 2, 2004) where the girls watch "The O.C." at LC's house. That's two degrees of separation from reality. "The O.C." is the first degree and "LB: TROC" is the second.

And you can imagine in five years that MTV2 will air "LB: TROC Reunion Special," where we watch an adult LC watch herself watch "The O.C." as a teenager. Three degrees. Does that mean that MTV3Local will broadcast from your city so you can watch local teens watch Laguna adults watch themselves watch "The O.C."? Four degrees.

What if you have a webcam? Your friends can go to your personal site and watch you watch local teens watch Laguna adults watch a younger LC watch "The O.C." Five degrees from reality.

At least it fills bandwidth. Just like the 2nd season finale of of "LB: TROC" this Monday.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Vote Is Mightier Than the Remote

Vote by remote.

The whole concept of voting by remote is not a new idea. Just take a look at this excerpt from a November 7, 1988 article in the San Jose Mercury News
Bob Armstrong, the founder of a television addicts' society known as Couch Potatoes, is a man of vision. He dreams of a day when "the descriptions of different propositions will be condensed to the size of TV Guide listings, and you'll lie on the couch at home and vote by remote control."

We all had such idealistic views about voting at that time. But that was before hanging chads, touch screen mishaps, and deceiving ballot layouts. Now we know better.

Can you imagine using your remote to vote for President anymore? I can't. Geez, you couldn't even vote for Carrie Underwood using your remote. If AI doesn't trust remotes, nobody should. And AI isn't exactly known for running error-free elections after the whole Clay/Ruben debacle

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Fourth Name's a Charm

About 22 years ago—on November 7, 1973—the TV series, ''Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,'' aired for the last time.

Yes, it was a 1969 theatrical film and a short-lived ABC skein.

Why is the show important? B&C&T&A represents the early and long-lived impact of pop cultural references.

Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon were nominated for Academy Awards. Seven months after that Academy Awards ceremony, TV writers for ''The Mary Tyler Moore Show'' gave the first nod to B&C&T&A in an ep title. That's pretty fast.

Twenty-five years later, the writers for ''Will & Grace'' still paid homage to this controversial classic film.

I'm most interested to see how long B&C&T&A lives in the pop lexicon. Will future generations forget about the movie's impact? Or will the next great TV writers call out the pop cultural reference instead of the movie itself?

I've compiled the following list of TV ep titles that refer to B&C&T&A to give you a clearer picture of the breadth and depth of its impact.
  • Bob & Rhoda & Teddy & Mary (''The Mary Tyler Moore Show,'' 11/14/1970)
  • Bob and Emily and Howard and Carol and Jerry (''The Bob Newhart Show,'' 12/9/1972)
  • Fred & Carol & Fred & Donna (''Sanford and Son,'' 12/15/1972)
  • John & Sally & Fred & Linda (''The Girl with Something Extra,'' 10/19/1973)
  • Eddie and Delores and Herb and Marcia (''The Life and Times of Eddie Roberts,'' 2/12/1980)
  • Viki & Eric & Simone & Alex (''Head of the Class,'' 10/4/1989)
  • Mona & Walter & Sam & Eric (''Who's the Boss?,'' 1/23/1990)
  • Bob & Murphy & Ted & Avery (''Murphy Brown,'' 11/5/1990)
  • Wood and Ava and Gil and Madeline (''Evening Shade,'' 1/7/1991)
  • Bob and Kaye and Jerry and Patty (''Bob,'' 1/22/1993)
  • Clyde and Vivian and Ed and Malice (''Five Mrs. Buchanans,'' 10/8/1994)
  • Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice (''The Critic,'' 3/12/1995)
  • Saul and Ellen and Ned and Stacey (''Ned & Stacey,'' 10/16/1995)
  • Bob and Carol and Lois and Clark (''Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,'' 11/17/1996)
  • Mike & Kelly & Max & Kate (''Ink,'' 12/9/1996)
  • Arthur and Angie and Hank and Hercules (''The Larry Sanders Show,'' 1/22/1997)
  • Steve & Marty & Jordan & Uncle Lou (''Teen Angel,'' 12/5/1997)
  • Carter & Stuart & Bennett & Deirdre (''Spin City,'' 4/13/1999)
  • Nikki and Dwight and Ken and Alice (''Nikki,'' 4/8/2001)
  • Mike & Liz & Chau & Euan (''Off Centre,'' 4/7/2002)
  • Ted and Carol and Will and Abby (''Abby,'' 1/21/2003)
  • Will & Grace & Vince & Nadine (''Will & Grace,'' 11/4/2004)
  • Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Nothing Succeeds Like Successful Series

    Last week I presented a list of series that most often finished #1 in the Nielsen Ratings in the last 22+ years. What about those shows that consistently scored well, but not necessarily at the very top of the charts? What if we looked at the top ten spots rather than just the #1 position?

    Here is a list of TV series that finished in the top ten of the weekly Nielsen Ratings at least 200 times since January 1, 1983. (Note: That's household rating, not number of viewers.)
    # Times Rated in Top TenSeries
    780    ''60 Minutes''
    362    ''Friends''
    360    ''Cheers''
    348    ''ER''
    317    ''The Cosby Show''
    312    ''Roseanne''
    291    ''Home Improvement''
    280    ''Seinfeld''
    262    ''Murder, She Wrote''
    227    ''Everybody Loves Raymond''
    219    ''CSI: Crime Scene Investigation''
    215    ''Golden Girls''
    215    ''NFL Monday Night Football''
    200    ''Law & Order''

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    A Good Beginning Makes for a Good Trending

    Clueless. That's all I have to say for myself.

    This whole time I've been tracking new series and how often they air in TV Shorty Watch, but I didn't present a list of upcoming series premieres. How could I miss something so obvious? Pathetic.

    No more.

    Starting today you'll be able to see a list of series that are premiering in the next three days. Today, tomorrow and two days from now. Now you can plan your TV viewing accordingly. Or you can completely ignore them. Your choice.

    This new feature appears in the near right column.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Those Who Cannot Remember the Past Are Condemned To Watch Repeats of It

    Whatever happened to repeats?

    Yeah, I know. Networks repeat shows all the time, but they make them sound so much more important.

    Of course, networks have always shown encore presentations. And for a while they really meant it. Networks prudently presented encores, keeping in mind that they are "a demand for repetition made by an audience" (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). Pax showed encores of ''Miracle Pets'' in January 2001, but I have a hard time believing that 800,000 households demanded Pax show those eps a second time.

    And then there is always the infamous network premiere. Definitely truth in advertising, but still misleading enough to make you pause. It's the first time that network is showing the episode despite the fact that you've already seen it 1000 times on some other crappy channel.

    At least HBO and Showtime are completely honest about the whole thing. They don't show repeats or encores. They have multiplay, which lets them focus on cumulative ratings rather than the ratings for a single airing. HBO showed the first three eps of ''Rome'' seven days a week on at least one of their many channels. Showtime presented ''Weeds'' and ''Barberhop'' on alternating nights during the week. Multiplay is the perfect description. They're showing it multiple times whether or not you asked for it.

    I think the WB has the most clever names for their repeats.
    • You can watch Easy View on Sundays just before primetime. Many local WB affils repeat shows, often from the past week, from 5-7PM. (The WB was so proud of this idea that they filed for trademark protection.)
    • Right after Easy View, you can watch WB's Beginnings. ''7th Heaven.'' ''Gilmore Girls.'' ''Smallville.'' And now ''Reba.'' Need to fill an hour on your Sunday primetime schedule? Just show repeats of really old eps and tell critics that you're expanding your core audience. They're still repeats.

    But that's not all. Who could forget the summer of 1997, when NBC used the phrase "it's new to you!" as a way to get you to watch repeats. What about CBS hiding repeats of their crime dramas under the umbrella, Crimetime Saturday?

    I'm surprised nobody uses second chance or extended view. And I'm just waiting for the day when some trendy cable channel decides to show unfresh episodes or a used ep.

    Of course these phrases will all be meaningless in a few years when everything will be available on demand.

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    A Band May Be Known By Its Song

    How many times have you heard a song on TV that you'd love to own, but you don't know the first thing about it? You don't know the artist. You don't know the lyrics. If you're like me, you can't carry a tune either. That means your friend, the music buff, can't even help you.

    Now imagine having a button on your remote with a musical note on it. Just press that musical note anytime a song is playing on TV. Series, specials, movies or commercials. It doesn't matter. As soon as you press that little button, song info appears on the bottom of your screen (including lyrics if you like karaoke). And when you click the $ button on your remote, you buy and download that song directly to your iPod.

    Let's take this concept a little further. You're watching "Alkaline Trio" perform on Letterman. Want to buy that performance? You can download that segment of Letterman to your Video iPod simply by pressing those two small buttons on your remote.

    Who knows. Your video iPod may even be your remote in two years.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    From Whom the Eps Stole

    In this case, it's Hemingway.

    At least 30 series have eps named after Hemingway's epic novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls. This Friday you can watch an Ernest-titled episode on ''Bernie Mac.'' One year earlier—almost to the day—you may have watched a Papa-inspired showing of ''Complete Savages.''

    Of course, ep names use some common things that toll. Jingle Bells. Wedding Bells. And even whistles. But there are some clever variations.

  • For Whom the Belch Tolls (''Home Improvement,'' 1/14/1992)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls . . . and Tolls . . . and Tolls (''The Partridge Family,'' 1/12/1973)
  • For Whom the Belle Toils (''Alice,'' 3/2/1980)
  • For Whom the Belt Tolls (''The Bernie Mac Show,'' 11/4/2005)
  • For Whom the Bugle Tolls (''F Troop,'' 11/10/1966)
  • For Whom the Bullet Tolls (''L.A. Heat,'' 3/29/1999)
  • For Whom the Cell Tolls (''Complete Savages,'' 11/5/2004)
  • For Whom the Cheese Melts (''Good Eats'')
  • For Whom the Heck the Bell Tolls (''Hangin' with Mr. Cooper,'' 1/7/1994)
  • For Whom the Horn Honks (''My Mother the Car,'' 12/7/1965)
  • For Whom the School Bell Tolls (''Daddio,'' 10/16/2000)
  • For Whom the Spell Holds (''Adventures of the Gummi Bears'')
  • For Whom the Stinkin' Bell Tolls (''Live Shot,'' 9/19/1995)
  • For Whom the Toll Calls (''Becker,'' 2/28/2000)
  • For Whom the Wind Blows (''Picket Fences,'' 12/2/1994)
  • Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Nielsens

    Thursday is a big day.

    As you know, Nielsen Media's November Sweeps period begins. Networks move shows around, bring in outrageous guest stars, and use every programming trick in the book to finish #1. But only one show finishes at the top of the ratings each week, and each of the Big Four Nets believe they have the show that will capture the crown.

    And so I began to wonder which series finished in the #1 slot most often. Not just during Sweeps Months, but all year. I thought I'd include every week starting from January 3, 1983 all the way through October 23, 2005.

    Over the past 22+ years, here are the ten series that finished most often at the top of the weekly Nielsen Ratings. (Note: That's household rating, not number of viewers.)
    # Times Rated No. 1Series
    157    ''The Cosby Show''
    137    ''ER''
    97    ''CSI: Crime Scene Investigation''
    85    ''60 Minutes''
    66    ''Roseanne''
    51    ''Seinfeld''
    51    ''Home Improvement''
    47    ''Cheers''
    30    ''NFL Monday Night Football''
    28    ''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire''