TV Rants & Raves for Aug. 30: Farewell, “Friends”

The good, bad and the ugly on TV:


They won’t be there for you

For die-hard Friends fans, the recent revelation that the show will end following its 2001-02 season came as bad news.

For some, however, myself included, it’s the right call to put the show out of its creative misery.

The indications were there last season: glitzy guest stars getting more camera time than regulars, fantastical storylines, and 16 people stranded in Australia dominating the Must See timeslot. Not to mention that each cast member was beginning to ask for such massive salaries that it made all six of them intensely unlikable.

A couple of the Friends really need not worry. Jennifer Aniston‘s officially a pop-culture icon, and David Schwimmer‘s performance in HBO’s upcoming miniseries Band of Brothers is a wonderful piece of weasel acting. They’ll be fine. They’ll all be fine. Stone-cold wealthy.


Robert Iler: millionaire?

The SopranosRobert Iler reportedly bragged to police officers following his July 4 arrest for theft and marijuana possession, saying, “Don’t you worry about me. I’m a millionaire.”

That may be true, but isn’t young Robert forgetting that he works on a show where main characters die all the time? He may have some cash, but can he hold onto it if the show’s producers decide he’s a liability?

Perhaps he should have a little discussion with actor Vincent Pastore (who played “Big Pussy” on the series, before getting whacked). One minute, he’s a star. The next, he’s sitting next to the Olsen twins as the “Secret Square.”

Wise up, Robert.


Mister Rogers: retiring legend

In an age when little Pokemon creatures teach kids how to gamble, it’s nice to see a children’s program that utilizes TV as a brilliant learning tool.

That’s what PBS’ Mister Rogers Neighborhood did for 34 years, but as of Friday, Sept. 29, the show ends production as its star, 73-year-old Fred Rogers, retires. And he deserves a break.

But there’ll be no more puppet shows that don’t involve a Ninja Turtle in some way. No more visits by a mailman who doesn’t hate your very guts.

Yep, we’re now left with good old-fashioned capitalism for kids on the tube. More trading cards, more Gameboys. Get ready for Christmas.


Oh, “Brother”!

From the “beating a dead horse department”: CBS announced Wednesday that a handful of the cast members from both installments of Survivor will visit the Big Brother II house on Sept. 5. From the first Survivor, Gervase Peterson and Susan Hawk will drop by the house, and from Survivor: The Australian Outback, Alicia Callaway and Jeff Varner will pop in. The castaways will go head-to-head against the remaining houseguests in a competition of survival skills.

Has CBS lost its originality? Rehashing old castaways on new shows–castaways who didn’t even win anything? Well, you can’t really blame CBS. Maybe this move will finally push Big Brother II up in the ratings?


ABC: Nielsen king

Sensationalism. It’s a beautiful thing–if you’re a TV network.

ABC usually tops the weekly Nielsen rankings with Millionaire. We hardly flinch when we see it. But last week, it was the news magazine show PrimeTime Thursday that rose to No. 1, thanks to that little ferret from California, Gary Condit.

Yes, the interview he sat through with Connie Chung was drivel, but it scored big in the ratings. While Condit‘s situation is a story of grotesque proportions, it nonetheless drew the biggest audience in primetime. If only ABC could score a live confession with Robert Blakethen ABC execs could rest easy for weeks on end. Just make sure it airs during November sweeps.