Thursday, March 6, 2008

American Life Television: Tuesday & Wednesday Nights

Tuesday night on American Life is "Greatest Generation" night and I've never watched and don't have much to say about any of these shows except if you didn't grow up with Rat Patrol reruns on at 4 A.M. on weeknights and 5 P.M. on Sunday afternoons you didn't grow up in America, buddy.

Wednesday night is the best night of the week because it's Spinoff Night! The spinoffs are are Lou Grant (spinoff of Mary Tyler Moore) and Trapper John, MD (spinoff of MASH). Lou Grant was on for five seasons and Trapper John for seven, numbers that shocked me when I looked it up. It seems a show would have more effect on the popular imagination if they were on for so long but I guess not. I probably never would have remembered there was ever a Trapper John, MD show if American Life hadn't of started showing these reruns. Both are pretty typical shows for the late 70s-early 80s with issue-oriented episodes, stuffy authority figures (why do they hate you, Dr. Riverside?), undeveloped, too small supporting casts and cheap sets. Both are hour-long dramas and not half-hour sitcoms like their original shows.

The Wife and I love the kitschy appeal of Trapper John, MD but most of all we love the theme song. Let 'er rip! Pretty good, no? This is the jazzed-up second-season version. It's funky, exciting and has nothing at all to do with the show. Maybe they wanted to wake up the audience of people watching TV at 10 P.M. waiting for digital cable to be invented. And to make it even better the musical cues during the show are all riffs off of the opening theme. So you get to hear sad, tense and bouncy versions of the theme during the episode.

Here's the Lou Grant opening and theme song. You get the entire history of a newspaper from tree to birdcage liner. What's the point of that? Why does the theme tell you it all means nothing? That might be appropriate on The Office but why on a show where the main characters battle a corrupt system every week.

1 comment:

The Wife said...

I especially like how they have to move the "three secondary characters gossiping around a round table while eating" to different locations. Last week: cafeteria. This week: patio.

Where to next, TJMD?