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F*ck Ya, That’s My Dream

Ever since I was a little girl watching Laverne & Shirley and Punky Brewster, I have wanted to be a sitcom writer. I knew I could never be an actor, for various anxiety-related reasons. But the actors don’t choose (in most cases) what comes out of their mouths anyway. That is controlled by the writers. So, that is what I wanted to be.

I never really believed that that dream could come true. Recently, I have thought, “What the hell. I am going to believe that it could be a possibility. And things like when The Mindy Project began following me on Twitter for no apparent reason get my hopes up. What if they realize my genius?

I was losing faith that there would still be shows like that for me to write these days. In recent years, everything became a “reality” show (although I believe that they actually have writers too. Really real, right?) Now everything is a serialized horror anthology. Not my style at all.

Photo: Netflix

Photo: Netflix

But then there is The Ranch on Netflix. It restores my faith in the half hour comedy with a little-drama-thrown-in-to-grow-the-characters format. Plus there are LOTS of swear words, which the 12-year-old boy that lives inside of me loves.

The premise is that professional football player Colt (Ashton Kutcher) returns home to the ranch to live and work with his goofy brother Rooster (Danny Masterson) and their grumpy father Beau (Sam Elliott). They spend lots of time with their hands up cows’ asses, and the rest of the time drinking. All the dialogue is very easy going and it just feels like Ashton and Danny showed up to hang out for the day. Ashton even looks like he might just wear his clothes from home. Then maybe Sam Elliott is just grumpy because he came in expecting to actually make a real TV show, although he seems in on it as well. It just seems like something I would love to be a part of.

One of the few occasions where Ashton Kutcher is not wearing a baseball hat. Photo: Netflix

One of the few occasions where Ashton Kutcher is not wearing a baseball hat.
Photo: Netflix

In the episode I watched today, the sexy weather girl Tanya Showers was giving the lottery results on the Bennetts’ television. All the men were hypnotized by her. “First reading the weather, now the numbers. Is there anything she can’t do?” My brain jumped ahead to the punchline before they got there. Maybe everyone’s would, but I like to think I have a talent for it. I relish the predictability.

But then the cliffhanger at the end of part (season?) two totally surprised me. I was actually mad at myself for not predicting it, because they did foreshadow it in the preceding episodes. But it was still good.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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My Current Obsessions

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I am currently totally obsessing over Night Court.

What? You expected me to say Game of Thrones or Orange is the New Black?

You haven’t been hanging around here long, have you?

Yes, of course I realize that Night Court is old. I’m old too, and watched it in its original run.

A scene from Night Court.

A scene from Night Court.

If you don’t remember, Night Court is a zany comedy set during the night proceedings of a courthouse in New York City. We have Brandon Tartikoff to thank for green-lighting the show and keeping it on the air when it was still trying to find its footing. I love Brandon Tartikoff. He was the head of NBC during its golden time in the 80s and the birth of Must-See TV. He is also the one who came up with the idea of Punky Brewster, naming it after a childhood friend of his. In turn, Punky’s dog was named after him. And then when I got my Punky Brewster-inspired tattoo, a guy named Brandon did it.

Coincidence?

Tartikoff also allowed Night Court creator Reinhold Weege to hold on tight to his baby and craft the show as he felt it should be, with as little network interference as possible. When there was, Weege firmly held his ground. I think I need to take a lesson out of that for my writing.

I totally need to add Brandon Tartikoff to my list of who I would want to eat dinner with, living or dead. One of my favorite episodes of Night Court even includes Tartikoff when he comes to the rescue of a Nielsen family in court. They never go on dates because then shows get cancelled. My heart aches right along with the woman when she wails, “WE LOST PUNKY!” Of course, I also love the episode guest-starring Michael J. Fox. I can see how tall I would be compared to the other cast members (Mikey and I are roughly the same height). I also love all the episodes with hard-luck couple Bob and June Wheeler. Brent Spiner is so laugh-out-loud funny in that role. I also love the episode where the hurricane hits and they are trapped in the courthouse and must deliver a bunch of babies. Paco is in that episode, who I love. It is also where we learn that Dan’s real name is “Reinhold.” But also that is where I learned what the word “breech” meant, which would come in handy around 25 years later when my son was born.

Bob & June Wheeler & their daughter little Carol Ann. And yes, that is totally the same actor who plays Data (Brent Spiner).

Bob & June Wheeler & their daughter little Carol Ann. And yes, that is totally the same actor who plays Data (Brent Spiner).

Night Court is a show that when doled out in weekly episodes is pleasant and funny. But it is really a show that benefits from binge watching. I realized this when it first hit syndication in the late 1980s. At that time, I could watch it four times a day, five if the prime-time episode was on that night as well. Currently, we own the DVD of season one. And when I binge watch Night Court, I always fall in love with Harold T. Stone.

Or is it Harry Anderson? Hard to tell. I also own season one of Dave’s World that I watch quite frequently.

Part of it may be that the first season episodes contain more “heartwarming” scenes than later seasons. Harry gets to be the voice of reason. Anderson claims he is more of a con man than an actor, but you wouldn’t know it from those episodes.

This sent me on a search for all things Harry. I found a Showtime special featuring his magic tricks and cons from Showtime in 1986 on YouTube. This is one of those times modern technology is great. (Unless you are Harry Anderson, wondering where all your royalties for “Hello, Sucker!” have gone.)

I am eagerly awaiting getting season two, although I realize the show hit its stride and was the best when Markie Post joined on in season three.

Still no Pikachu for me :-(

Still no Pikachu for me 😦

I wanted to mention that I also tried Pokemon Go. I have never ever played Pokemon in my life. But with all the news stories about how dangerous it is and people walking into traffic while playing it and such, it was like an irresistible commercial for it everywhere. (I am the girl who used to go home from drug awareness day at school and see if any of my glue would give me a high, because the school had just opened my eyes to the world of inhalants. Everything works the opposite on me.) I had to try the game. I like it a lot, even though the camera on my phone and the game don’t seem to like each other. I do think it is cool how Google Maps (I assume) is integrated into the game, customizing it to your neighborhood. It is kind of slow. My husband and I walked for up to ten minutes sometimes without a Pokemon showing up. I love that the game is incredibly simple, because I am not good with most video games.

I’m not sure how much I will continue to play it, as I have to actually leave the house. It also eats up the battery on my phone like Cookie Monster at the Keebler factory. I can’t walk my dog while playing it. But I did take two walks yesterday, that I honestly probably would not have without the game.

Here is a fun article about the phenomenon from USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/gaming/2016/07/10/five-things-we-learned-pokmon-go/86928122/

And now I totally can see how people follow their Pokemon right into traffic. I might be playing it right now as I typ tis..

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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Young & Hungry (& Good TV)

Emily Osment stars in Young & Hungry on ABC Family

Emily Osment stars in Young & Hungry on ABC Family

A few months ago on Netflix, I stumbled upon a show called Young & Hungry. I may have skipped over it completely, until I saw that it starred Emily Osment. I always enjoyed her as the sidekick on Hannah Montana (yes, I am an adult who watched Hannah Montana. Deal with it.). I actually always liked her character of Lilly better than Hannah.

I gave Young & Hungry a try, and I am so glad I did. If you are looking for a realistic, deep, intellectual drama… ya, keep walking. But if you just want a little bit of marshmallow fluff to make you smile at the end of a rough day, this show is for you. It is a multi-camera sitcom in the tradition of humor based on misunderstandings, the type that no longer exist on the big 5 television networks. I love that by reading one word in the episode title, I can guess the plot of the whole ensuing episode pretty spot-on. That brings me great joy.

It is the only show that has made me literally laugh out loud in a really long time. And yes, much of the humor is based off of stereotypes, but I think it is done in a way that doesn’t come off as offensive as many other shows.

The basis of the show is that Gabi (Osment) is a young and poor girl who is good at cooking and desperately needs a job. She interviews to be a personal chef for a wealthy, successful tech developer named Josh (Jonathan Sadowski). They discover that they have a bit of chemistry. They sleep together, then realize it is a mistake for several reasons. And then he hires her anyway.

And, that my little friends, is THE PILOT.

Yes, they go THERE in the pilot. The ensuing episodes all have a standalone plot, while the overarching theme of the series is always “When will Gabi and Josh get together as a couple?” Which, unfortunately, is something I totally fall for.

Elliot (Rex Lee) & Yoland (Kim Whitley)

Elliot (Rex Lee) & Yolanda (Kim Whitley)

The supporting cast is great, and one that makes you believe that old sitcom falsehood of “they are all one big, happy family,” even though they bicker with each other. It is a very diverse cast. And the actors mesh together so that I actually believe they might all talk to each other if they were in the real world. There is Kym Whitley playing the strong, outspoken black woman. There is Rex Lee playing the gay Asian who bosses everyone around, but is actually quite insecure when not involved in his job. I LOVE Aimee Carrero as Gabi’s roommate Sophia. She gets some of the best lines.

I loved it when Gabi was going to set up an online dating profile against her wishes and stated that her name, “Sofia Maria Consuela Rafaella Rodriguez,” would be an auto-correct nightmare.

Aimee Carrero as Gabi's roommate Sophia.

Aimee Carrero as Gabi’s roommate Sophia.

I love it when Gabi’s car breaks down, so Josh figures he will remedy the situation by buying her a new used car. And his other employees Yolanda and Elliot are like “What about us? Where are our new cars?

“Or when Gabi thinks she may be pregnant. And she has only slept with Josh. And apparently the only place she can take her preg test is at work at Josh’s apartment?!? Hi-jinks and confusion ensue.

Josh often wears this expression. As if he is frustrated with Gabi, but about to bust out laughing any second. Photo: ABC Family

Josh often wears this facial expression. As if he is frustrated with Gabi, but about to bust out laughing any second. Photo: ABC Family

This show is currently in the middle of its second season on ABC Family. You can check out past episodes on Netflix. And it is a show that, with my brilliant synopsis above, you could join in the fun at anytime. Just know that as the season comes closer to an end, the writers will give you the illusion that Josh and Gabi are getting closer to a real romantic relationship. Then they will find a way to RIP it away from you! (That is what happened at the end of season one, and before the mid-season two hiatus.) But, the show is so cute and funny, you will find that you will come back for more anyway.

Don’t forget I have a NEW CONTEST running where you can win a pair of passes to the GREAT LAKES BOOK BASH October 10th in Kalamazoo, MI. Winner provides own transportation and/or lodging. See contest for complete rules. Hurry! Contest ends September 15, 2015.

What I Learned This Week – 3/22/15

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This week I have learned that I am watching Netflix original programing faster than I can review it for you.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt I devoured in a week. It was offbeat and fast-paced, but I could follow-it, unlike 30 Rock, the previous show by creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.

I can’t get this joke out of my head: “That man could sell snow to an Eskimo. Or a Pontiac Aztek to…someone.” See more about Pontiac Azteks here.

I love the theme song for the show, which appears as a autotuned mash up of news coverage from Kimmy and the cult’s discovery. I especially love how it is used in a long story arc to illustrate the dangers of today’s instant celebrity.

I just started watching the new Netflix drama Bloodline. I am watching it because I LOVE Kyle Chandler. (Homefront fans, head over here.) I also like Linda Cardellini.

But after two episodes, I am not a fan of this show. It has that shaky camera-work that directors think is cool, but it just annoys me. You have a budget; go buy a tripod. And the storytelling is very slow-moving. And so far, I don’t really like ANYONE in this family. How am I supposed to root for anyone or care about them? They could all go get blown up on a boat for all I care. And Kyle has experience with that on Grey’s Anatomy. It feels like a series that should be on HBO or Showtime. I am not really into those.

Photo: facebook.com/BloodlineTV

Photo: facebook.com/BloodlineTV

I will continue to watch at least a few more episodes to see if it improves.

There, you have been updated.

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The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

The other day I was was at work when my husband texted me a great find from Walmart.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. DVD

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. DVD

On DVD!

The entire series!

For only $13!

Wait, what? Doesn’t anyone realize what a GREAT show this was? $13 is totally under-valuing it.

Haven’t heard of it? Let me fill you in.

“The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.” to the casual observer was a comedy-western with a weird name that debuted on FOX in 1993, starring the guy from “Evil Dead”. If you actually watched a few episodes, you would realize it was actually a sci-fi western (Yes, ahead of its time) starring Bruce Campbell, in a role he was born to play. The supporting cast is stellar as well.

Bruce Campbell as Brisco County, Jr.

Bruce Campbell as Brisco County, Jr.

The late Julius Carry as Lord Bowler, who every week got referred to as “Brisco’s sidekick”, and he always objected to that. The great Kelly Rutherford as showgirl Dixie Cousins, who has Brisco’s heart. This is where she went when Homefront got cancelled. It’s no wonder I have trouble picturing her in the 21st century. I only know her from period pieces. John Astin is crazy wonderful as always as a professor with very progressive ideas. Christian Clemenson as Socrates Poole provides a good does of uptightness and bureaucracy to all the chaos. Billy Drago is sooo evil as John Bly. But I won’t get into him just yet. Oh, and don’t forget Comet the wonder horse.

I can remember standing outside on a hot, August evening as the sun was just thinking about setting, my mom and I talking to our neighbors. Their two young boys ran around as we talked. Then we all agreed that we needed to end our face-to-face interaction to go into our respective houses, because, as the neighbors put it, we “had to go in and watch the cowboy movie”. I knew that Brisco was a series premiere and not a movie. I am not sure that the neighbors knew that.

Random hot picture of Bruce Campbell

Random hot picture of Bruce Campbell

My mom and I watched Brisco every week. It was one of the few shows that we agreed on, although I am sure she probably always fell asleep before it ended. The show was packed with great characters and repeatable catch phrases, such as “Don’t touch Pete’s piece” and “The coming thing”. “The coming thing” was an obsession of Brisco’s. It was actually a device for the writers to work in modern (1990s) elements into a show set in the 1890’s. It was also a wink to the upcoming turn of the century. “The coming thing” included nods to hamburgers, motorcycles, sunglasses, tanks, rockets, and drive-thru windows.

The plot of the show was that Brisco County, Jr. was a bounty hunter tracking John Bly’s gang, who had killed his father the famous marshall, Brisco County. Within this framework, every week there was a new person to help or mystery to solve. But trailing John Bly led Brisco to a mystical object known as the orb. The orb would play a major part in the show’s mythology.

I got the opportunity to meet Bruce Campbell in person. Twice.

Books by Bruce Campbell

Books by Bruce Campbell

The first time he was signing his book “If Chins Could Kill” at Borders in downtown Ann Arbor. I bought two copies to get signed. One for me, and one for my mom’s friend Janet Jackson. (Yes, that is her name.) When I told him to make the one book out to Janet, he asked who she was. So then I went into an explanation of how Janet and my mom had gone to high school together. And how Janet’s husband Donald Jackson used to make low budge movies in Michigan, and did Bruce remember that he used to call him for work? He was like “Oh ya, Don Jackson.” And he said it like he really did remember him. (Don’t look up Donald Jackson’s work. His film credits aren’t that impressive.)

Later, a chick I worked with bragged about getting to talk to Bruce just before he went out to sign. But I’m pretty sure my personal connection with him was way more impressive.

Bruce Campbell's autograph

Bruce Campbell’s autograph

The second time, Bruce came to the Borders corporate office to promote his second book, “Make Love The Bruce Campbell Way”. He was very nice both times.

The great part is, he has been on a million shows and movies. It makes playing six degrees of separation a lot easier. Just think about that Bruce was in all of the Toby Maguire “Spiderman” movies (in awesome cameos, I might add). He was in both “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Hercules”. I can connect myself to all the cast members of “The O.C.” through Bruce Campbell and Kevin Sorbo. (Wilson Bethel, that only makes me four degrees away from YOU!!!)

…AND only two degrees away from Matthew Perry!!!

If you have the opportunity to check out “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.” at a bargain rate, I highly encourage it. If you like really gory, gross stuff, watch “Evil Dead” or “Army of Darkness” (I do not). If you like funny parodies of gory, gross stuff, watch the movie “My Name is Bruce.”

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