My TV

The other day I read this article in the LA Times by their critic about what TV she would watch were it not her job. I agreed with a few and it inspired me to share my faves. ‘Cause I have to say, after a couple years of not much to look forward to other than The Daily Show or Ugly Betty, some 30 Rock or a bit of Mad Men, I’m in love again. There is a reason I walk away from the computer.

Remote Control
Creative Commons License photo credit: skpy

Castle on ABC. I used to love mystery novels so this one about a mystery writer teaming with a cop is my cup of tea. Nathan Fillion, the lead, is also my cup of whatever he wants. Handsome and quippy with topical references. Sigh, he might go on my list. Throw in the sweet relationship with his daughter and his mother, and that’s on my Tivo. Downside, LA is clearly the stand-in for NYC, and for location savvy gal like myself, it looks kind of lame sometimes, but nowhere near as lame as the overly slick CSI franchise (blech).

The Good Wife on CBS. On ER, Juliane Margulies kind of bugged, but not here. On The Good Wife, she is the working mom dealing after life slapped her in the face. For her, the slap was her politician hubby (Chris Noth- Mr Big) involved in a political scandal that exposed his infidelity and landed him in jail. Since I’ve been forging ahead after my “money manager” went to jail I watch with a “you go girl!” enthusiasm.

Modern Family on ABC (Hey, ABC is geared toward a female demo). The pilot was super funny. The rest have been not as funny, but good. Yes, they have the have a skinny woman who looks about 34 with three kids, the oldest being 15 (who looks 20), but other than having to suspend my inner math, I do enjoy this show. The gay couple really make it. When they go to a mommy and me class and feel self-conscious, it struck a blow for all of us who have gone to those classes or groups feeling like all the other moms are friends or who worry where our kids rank developmentally.

The Middle on ABC. Why isn’t this being talked about? The most realistic mom on TV is played by Patricia Heaton. I love that her kids are all losers and her husband really looks like he would be her husband. Her house is messy, and she is always running around between her job and her kid’s school or taking care of elderly relatives. It’s not like The Cosby Show where the parents calmly sat and waited at home to talk to their smart kids. Or In the Motherhood where they all too cute with their jeans tucked in boots. Downside, they always tack on a voiceover with a “but all in all, my life is great.” That undercuts the realness that has transpired for the last 25 minutes. They don’t need to. It’s still a comedy, she still loves her family, we get it, don’t need the forced Pollyana bit.

These can all be watched online as well.

Okay, so that’s what I do after the kids are asleep. How about you?

Goop

All toys scatter, but the toys that are suppose to cling together and don’t, those are really a headache. Sadly, most of the cartoon channels out there have super cheesy commercials that make cheap, messy toys seem accessible. Today Vivien asked for a “huge cupcake maker.” As I ran to the TV to turn it off saying, “No, and it won’t do what it says.”  She actually said,

“But, wait, there’s more!”

Now, if it was a set of steak knives maybe we could negotiate.

Momversation: Are You Sick of Jon and Kate?

This might seem funny since we are hearing more about Michael Jackson than the Gosselins, or the failure of the G-8 to agree on how to fight global warming, or the US journalists held in North Korea.  But as a rabid consumer of pop culture, I can’t ever act too high and mighty. The momversation.com crowd weighs in on whether we have had a bit too much of the prolific people from Pennsylvania.

They may have been eclipsed for now, but did you think they were a bit oversaturated?

Top Chef Masters: My Own Watching Party

Okay, I couldn’t watch it live. Even though I knew the outcome, it made me more nervous than I realized. We went over to Mark’s restaurant and ate, and I had a big glass of white wine (I like them dry and minerally). After the bunnies were in bed, and Mark came home from work, I watched it.

It’s funny since I have hosted reality shows, and I know how much of it is set up and made in the editing room, yet I was still drawn in to see my husband compete.

For those that didn’t see it, I think Mark did very well. He looked handsome, and he was genial and articulate. Which is why I think they used a lot of his sound bites. I also thought the New Orleans chef Jeff Besh came off as a very likable guy. I found the other two chefs were mumblers and a tad harder to understand, but nice enough.

Mark had been saying for months (It was shot a while ago) “I could have done better in the Quick Fire.”  Ironic that his flaw was forgetting the olive oil when I have learned so much about cooking with olive oil.

Stefano stava cucinando
Creative Commons License photo credit: BobbyProm

In the challenge, he had to tie one hand behind his back (they all did). I loved that they had him talking about his dad who was born with only one hand. And that they showed the sweet photo of he and his dad when Mark was little. His dad was pretty solid. He was a teacher. Taught special ed and drivers ed and painted houses in the summer to support his family… with one arm!

The shows goes a fast clip, but Mark was AWOL from home for two and half days. He said there was a lot of sitting around. And the judges’ deliberation that takes about 2 minute in the show? That took 3 hours. He and the other chefs did sit around and drink and wait… and wait.

While we watched, I would pause and ask him things like, “Was your fish overcooked?”  He said probably: “They say you are going to go, and then you have to wait.”  Ah the magic of “reality” television.

When it came down to just he and one other after the other two chefs were ordered to get their knifes and get lost, I said, “Do you feel bad when people are eliminated?”

He said with a smile, “No.”

AV Guy: Watch Out!

So, we are in the midst of preparing for our big move. Now, the reasons behind the move and the details of the actual move itself are many and mundane enough for a few blogs of their own. But presently, my world is rocked because my husband just told my daughter and I that “There won’t be any TV for several days.” EXCUSE me?

I’m not ashamed  to say how much I need TV. First night in the new place is Thursday, and Mark says “Probably no TV till Tuesday.”  And he will be out of town ALL weekend. So just me and the kids for 3 days with boxes and NO TV? What kind of fresh hell is this? I tried to remain calm and think; OK, we will watch lots of DVDs ’cause I need to park that kid in front of the boob tube now and then for a little mental R&R. No, that might not work either. And that is when I got a little irate. “What kind of cockamamy AV guys have you hired?”

Mark went into a whole thing about complicated it is; yeah, for me, but isn’t that why we hired a pro?  ‘Cause we don’t know what we are doing?  I said, “Tell him it HAS to be  working by the weekend.” Blank face. “Do I have to call him?”

He gave me his number.  Okay, you don’t want to do it? Well, I will. I need my cartoons.

Halloween at the Fashion Team

When Viv was younger (under 3) she was happy to be a model on my TV Guide show, The Fashion Team – or at least, she tolerated it. Now, not so much. It’s nice when she does the Halloween show, like she did last week, because the producers get her a costume and lazy mom (me) doesn’t have more work to do for the big day. But this year, Viv had really had it – and showed it on camera.

Dancing With The Stars

I’m not ashamed to say I’m one of the 17 million that watches “Dancing With The Stars.” I have to TiVo it because I can’t stand watching the backstage interviews with that sub-par interviewer who has three questions she asks in rotation. “How much have you loved being on the show?” Sarah Palin should have Samantha Harris interview her.

Now, I taped this bit last week and I have to correct one thing. I said Brooke Burns when I meant Brooke Burke. I know the difference, but mucked it up. Burke is doing great on the show and she is a very nice person. I also neglected to mention what a star “Dame” Cloris Leachman is. She really made an effort Monday night.

If Rocco’s out, it’s not a shocker: that blouse will have cooked his goose.

Which Show Do You Want To Co-Host?

Okay, so I had my minute with Dr. Phil today, which was cool. Now, I’m very happy to be the host of a basic cable show, the Fashion Team on the TV guide channel (BTW, we are changing times this week to Sundays at 7pm).

Most people watch TV and are not on it. Daytime TV is a medium that people feel more emotionally connected to than most other types of shows. The demographic they are trying to hit is us – moms, parents, and people who either stay at home during the day or Tivo shows for later.

So here is my question:

If you could crawl in the box and be a co-host/sidekick for any of these big-time syndicated shows*, which show would it be and why?

I’ll tell you my pick when the results are in.

* Showbiz sidebar: the biggest bucks in the biz are in syndicated shows, be it talk shows or when “Friends” or “Two and Half Men” get syndicated. It’s major f— you money.

Free Time: Poll Results

So if you forgot, Monday’s poll question was, “If you were given 2 hours of absolute free time, what would you do?”

I’m glad I’m not the only one who, given the choice, would prefer to sit on her duff – the winning option, by a cheek. 

Now, a close second was “Go to a cafe, like when I was single.” Theoretically, yes, this is what I would do. But, in reality, free time usually means I sit right down. 

I feel like I should have qualified the options, on second thought. If I were already out of the house when I find free time, I wouldn’t run home and sit down. I would shop, exercise, or go to a cafe. But, if the free time appeared at home? Down I’d go.

Thirteen percent of you had other things on your agenda, like Attilla the Mum, who wrote, “Mani pedi time!!!!, with extra time in that awesome massage chair. Then I would indulge in a chocolate milkshake.”

Whatever you do with the free time, lucky you!

But 18% of you can’t get that sponge out of your hands. I used to be like that, but then once I realized I was more likely to get divorced if a professional didn’t periodically appear to clean. I gave it up (Mark wouldn’t divorce me, but once I had a baby, if he or my stepson left a dish in the sink, I became Mommy Dearest).

Dr. Phil and Me

Okay, yesterday was a crazy day in TV. A few days ago, I was contacted by the Dr. Phil show regarding my video, Helicopter Moms. They wanted to use the piece as part of their show about “Free-Range” Moms” vs. Helicopter Moms. Apparently, they have way more OCD-inclined helicopter moms.

The standard-bearer for the free-range moms was NY-based mom Lenore, who started freerangekids.com after catching flack for allowing her 9-year-old to ride the subway by himself. I told the Dr. Phil people that I try not to be a helicopter mom, that I think it’s better to be more relaxed, as that is how I was raised. They were like,”Um, yeah, maybe we will just use your vlog.”

Sensing my 15 seconds of syndicated-daytime-TV-fame slipping through my fingertips (although, I used to do some comedic commentary on Ricki Lake as the show’s token white girl – besides Ricki), I called back and said, “You know, I really want to back up the free-range mom.”

The only snag was their taping started immediately after the Fashion Team taping ended. My producers were cool: “Okay, you can miss a segment and leave 15 minutes early.” Great.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the Dr. Phil people wanted photos of my family at home; I sent them about 9. They wanted home movies of Vivien, and I gave them that. They needed a release from my husband, so we did that, and then they CHANGED THE TIME. Now they wanted me there while the Fashion Team was still taping!

I shoot the Fashion Team (which airs Tuesday at 8 pm on the TV Guide channel – plug!) on Tuesday mornings. It’s only about 10 minutes from the Dr. Phil set. I had a knot in my stomach as I asked to leave earlier. Again, my producers were very understanding – Dr. Phil does get 10 to 20 times our audience – but I did need to shoot most of my segments.

So, on the day of the shoot, I’m all dolled up (great dress, right? I don’t even look pregnant!), thanks to the wardrobe department at TV Guide, which is one of the best parts of my job (as is the professional makeup). I am trying to be calm as the clock is ticking and our Fashion Team shoot is inching along. My co-host, Lawrence Zarian, is very sweet and says he is happy to a few segments without me. Our guest is the costume designer of “Mad Men” (AMC, Sundays at 10pm). She is new to the on-camera world and during our interview she stumbles over a word and starts to break to ask, “Can I do that again?” but before she can, Lawrence Zarian and I jump in. On the break, she says, “I thought we could stop.” I wanted to scream, “If you want to be here all day and blow my chance to be on Dr. Phil, go right ahead!” But instead I say, “It’s better to keep going since they have to stop to make each edit.” Which is true: it takes forever.

I race out to my car, texting the Dr. Phil show that I am on my way, as I was 15 minutes late already. They have a golf cart waiting for me at the studio gate. The show is ready to go, and the warm-up guy – one of the hardest and most unsung jobs in show biz – is vamping for time, making jokes and giving away Dr. Phil mugs and books. I am finally seated in the front row. The studio is so cold my teeth are chattering.

Lenore starts with the doctor telling her story. Then it goes to a super over-protective mom. I’m waiting… then there’s another over-protective mom across the aisle from me. Um, where are those pictures of my stepdaughter and Viv hand in hand? Finally Dr. Phil introduces me. He shows part of my vlog, I think it got a good response, but I am thinking, WHICH ONE OF MY MANY WITTY ANECDOTES WILL I SHARE WITH DR. PHIL? I am not sure how much give-and-take there will be. He addressed me and I blurt out in a nutshell that I came to think I needed to get over myself and be a calmer, more open mom. He asked, “Why?” So I told him why, then he turned to the A guests (those on stage) and explained the lesson I helped illustrate.

More segments, but no more of me. On a break, Dr. Phil looked down at me, smiled and nodded. I’m thinking, “Um, I have more to say, um, where’s my home movie?”

These kinds of talk shows are very well-produced, but maybe too well-produced. There’s no forum for give-and-take. But then I’m sure not everyone would be as television-savvy as I would be, and they may really blather on. Also the show became a parade of the disasters of the overly controlling mom. Though Dr. Phil did have good advice.

I don’t know when it will be on, but I will announce that here on Cool Mom, of course, when I know.

I hope I get my MiniDV back.