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Comparing the Jeff Daniels characters

What is the essential difference between the character he plays in "Dumb and Dumber To" and the character he plays in HBO's "Newsroom"?



Today’s trivia question

Please name the TV series in which, in a final season episode, a newspaper reporter writes a feature story on the Baltimore Orioles' opening day and his editor has doubts about certain details and hazy sourcing in the piece.

This show first aired on Sept. 18, 1965


No, I am not taking back what I suggested a few years ago about what my first wish might have been. Boys at that age have certain thoughts.

Watching TV with your father

Did you and your dad have a television show you watched together?

My father didn't spend much time looking at TV. And our tastes weren't really in sync. But in the summers of my high school years and when I was home from college, we would watch reruns of "The Honeymooners" at 11:30, right after the local news.

We both knew every episode by heart. The show seemed ancient even back in the 1970s. But the adventures of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton were a reliable source of smiles. 

Genre exhaustion

I know what you are thinking about the new zombie show to be shot locally.

You're thinking the whole zombies thing is played.

I thought the same thing about mob stories back when I first saw promos on HBO for "The Sopranos."

A great moment in “The Honeymooners”


Ralph gets a notice in the mail indicating that there is a question about his tax return. It directs him to report to a federal office the next morning.

Naturally, he worries.

So after much ranting and raving by Ralph, Ed gives him some advice. Stand on the 18th amendment, he says.

Mystified, Ralph wonders if Norton means the 5th amendment. He notes aloud that the 18th amendment established Prohibition.

Exactly, says Ed. "When you get down there, tell them you were drunk when you filled out your tax return."  

Incredibly easy one-question TV quiz

What holiday was the backdrop for the series finale of "The Wonder Years"?

Crossover audience

I know I have alluded to this before. But it always amuses me to imagine the segment of the TV audience that watches both "The Walking Dead" and "Downton Abbey."

I'm guessing this is not a tiny group. 

As adventures go, these were pretty tame


I've long suspected that millions of Americans loved this gentle show because it offered a refuge from the tension that pervaded many real-life homes. The stories were slight, but Ricky was cute and Ozzie never raised his voice in anger.

Pre-bedtime viewing protocols

A colleague who has been watching early seasons of "Breaking Bad" late at night noted that, though he admires the show, it can be so dark he then wants to watch a sitcom or something as a buffer before going to bed.

Can you relate to that? Or are you able to flip a switch and put disturbing images and troubling themes instantly behind you?

Battle of the TV dads

Which of these gentlemen did you find most appealingly human?

I won't insult you by assuming that I need to tell you their names.









Channeling on a Monday morning

From the first mention of Jaguar on "Mad Men" this season, I have been certain that we would eventually see the XKE.

For once, I was right.

And with "House" wrapping  up tonight, I can at long last stop asking myself why I stay with that show. The answer, of course, was always quite obvious: Hugh Laurie.

In any case, focusing on the Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson friendship between House and Wilson seems like a good choice for the swan song. 

Anyone else remember “The Newsroom”?

It was a dark Canadian comedy set in a television news operation.

It made me laugh. But not everyone would enjoy it. One episode included a confused politician saying "I believe life begins at masturbation."


Another TV marathon to consider

The AMC channel is going to show every episode of "The Walking Dead" on New Year's Eve. Check listings.

There's more to this show than dead people trying to eat the living.


What’s Your Thanksgiving TV Policy?


On his Slice blog, Paul Turner offers this question as Thanksgiving approaches: A) No TV on Thursday. B) No TV except for seven hours of football. C) It can be on until there is a fight over control of the remote. D) The TV is never off at our home. E) Other.

What’s your Thanksgiving TV policy?


A) No TV on Thursday. B) No TV except for seven hours of football. C) It can be on until there is a fight over control of the remote. D) The TV is never off at our home. E) Other.

This date in “Dick Van Dyke” history


On Sept. 30, 1964, an episode called "The Ghost of A. Chantz" aired for the first time.

An online episode guide summarized it this way: "After a mix-up by Mel for reservations at a lodge, Rob, Laura, Sally and Buddy are forced to spend a frightening night in a cabin that has not been used in years and is rumored to be haunted."

Antics ensue.

This date in “Bewitched” history


Sept. 30, 1965 saw the first airing of an episode called "We're In for a Bad Spell."

Sam and Aunt Clara try to help lift a bad-luck spell from Darrin's old Army buddy. Antics ensue.  

Thirty days has September


But the speed at which this month has flown by reminds me of an episode of "Star Trek: Voyager."

Called "Blink of An Eye," it has Voyager getting trapped in the orbit of a planet where time moves much faster than in the rest of the galaxy.

Here's how an online episode guide put it: "Although Voyager is stuck in orbit only for a matter of days, from the perspective of the planet, the 'Skyship' has been watching them for centuries, and becomes a guiding force for the development of their civilization."

Maybe it's just me. But it seems like, this September, we've been down on that speeded-up planet.

On this date in “Bonanza” history


Sept. 29, 1963 saw the first airing of "A Passion for Justice." According to an online episode guide, Charles Dickens visits Virginia City and is dismayed to discover that the local paper is reprinting his work without permission.

Dickens was played by Jonathan Harris, perhaps best known for his role in "Lost in Space." 

Step right up for our nostalgia blowout


Fifty years ago today, a classic episode of "The Twilight Zone" — "The Shelter" — first aired.

Rod Serling loved the "We are our own worst enemy" theme. (See also, "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.") And "The Shelter" is a doozy.

A suburban birthday party is interrupted by fears that World War III is about to start. The one family with a bomb shelter retreats to that refuge. And before long, panicked neighbors literally beat the door down. Not, however, before revealing some previously hidden biases and antagonisms.

The danger from above turns out to be harmless satellites. But down in the basement, the damage has already been done.  

“Opie the Birdman”


Tomorrow, Sept. 30, marks the anniversary of the original 1963 airing of one of the best half-hours in television history.

"Opie the Birdman" isn't just one of the most touching looks at the parent-child relationship ever. It's also a classic lesson in taking responsibility for a wrong and striving to earn redemption.

And about when caring means letting go.

Great, great performances from Griffith and Ron Howard, along with some delightful comic bits from Don Knotts.

The understated music, the perfect pacing…everything comes together in this terrific 30 minutes.

But it all starts, and ends, with some really fine writing.

"But don't the trees seem nice and full."  

‘Friday Night Lights’

I had read the book long ago and was sure the movie would be terrible.

It wasn't.

But I was certain the TV series would be a total joke. Wrong again.

It was one of the best shows ever. At least that's how I saw it.

Sort of hard to believe there's just one more episode.


One danger of unstructured time off

That would be coming in after getting some exercise and rediscovering daytime TV.

"The Sopranos" on A&E, to be precise.

Sure, it seemed like cleaning up the mob drama's language for basic cable would ruin the classic HBO show. Remember the sanitized version of "Glengarry Glen Ross"? That was a joke.

Who could forget Alec Baldwin's absurdly softened motivational talk. "What's my name? Forget you! That's my name."

But it turns out "The Sopranos" is so good that you can still get caught up in it, even with the characters saying "freakin' " every 30 seconds. Especially if you happen on to an early season you can't remember clearly.

Then the key is to get up and get back in motion before "Perry Mason" comes on. 

‘Deadliest Catch’ captains, live on stage at INB

I sure wasn't expecting this show at the INB Performing Arts Center:  "A Night with Captain Sig and the Hillstrand Brothers From 'Deadliest Catch.'"

These three crab boat captains will "swap stories" and show video at this event at the INB on July 24, 7 p.m.

Yes, you might call it Captains Courageous on Tour.

Sig Hansen, Andy Hillstrand and Jonathan Hillstrand  will "take the audience through some of the roughest situations" they've endured.

Tickets are $20, $30, $40 and $75 on sale April 15 at 10 a.m. through TicketsWest outlets (800) 325-SEAT or online.

Spokane’s Dr. Fincher on ‘Price Is Right’

Roger Fincher, a retired urologist and kidney transplant surgeon from Spokane, will "come on down" as a contestant on "The Price Is Right" on Friday, 10 a.m. on KREM-2 (and other CBS stations).

The segment has already been taped — but neither the show nor Fincher are allowed to reveal the outcome. His daughter, Megan Valentine, also from Spokane, could only tell us that "it was great fun and such a shock when they called his name."

It wouldn't hurt to cheer him on this Friday — even though the outcome is a fait accompli.

Bill Hall: He’s The Saint Who Shuns TV

When I hear someone boasting that "I never watch television," as I did the other day, I always want to ask a few cheeky questions: Have you also forsaken electric lights? Do you use indoor plumbing? How long does it take you to drive your buggy to work? When your foot gets infected, do you refuse modern cures like antibiotics? Do you remain true to your old standby, rubbing bat mucus and cobwebs on that pesky foot? If you don't watch television, do you ever listen to that new-fangled gadget, the radio? Do you write letters with a quill pen or do you use those satanic invitations to wasting time, the computer, the Internet and e-mail? Do you read parchment scrolls instead of books?/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Some are all too willing to tell us about the evils of television. What do you consider to be the greatest benefits of TV?

High Noon: TV Dinners

This undated photo provided by West Elm shows square wood trays for TV dining.

In a way, Super Bowl Sunday is a festive celebration of one of America’s beloved bad habits. No, not football – eating in front of the TV.

Studies suggest chowing down while watching television isn’t good for you. (If you aren’t really paying attention to what you are shoveling into your mouth, it’s easy to consume too many calories.)

In addition, frowning observers of American family dynamics have warned for decades that being glued to a TV while having a meal diminishes any prospect of meaningful communication.

Family member A: “What can we do to give our lives authenticity and meaning?”

Family member B: “Huh? What? Show’s on.”

That’s not anyone’s vision of gracious living. Paul Turner, SR

Dining with the TV on is verbotten in our home. Every now and then we'll have a pizza/movie night, but that's the exception, not the rule.

Do you dine with the television on in your house?