Season 4, Episode 5 aired February 12, 2001

1. Intro
2. Letters from the viewing audience
3. Don't Miss
4. TV Trivia
5. Slave to the Idiot Box
     -by guest writer William Noetling
6. Favorite quotes of the week
7. A totally unrelated link

1. Intro

First of all, I want to tell everyone about TKTV's new weekly poll. Come share your opinion and find out what other people think in the fastest, easiest way possible. This week's poll finds out what people think about Kelly Ripa ("All My Children") as Regis Philbin's new co-host for "Live!" Personally, I can't believe that this woman is marrried, has a child, is expecting a second child in July, has a front-burner storyline on a daytime soap opera and is going to host a live morning show five days a week. Wow.

So come check out the poll and find out what people are thinking. It's right on the front page of the site:

You thought UPN couldn't get any worse, and then it ordered a pilot that stars RuPaul as a transsexual nanny. Variety reports that the show, tentatively titled "The Tranny," is being produced by the same brilliant guy behind "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer" which is, in my opinion, the worst show ever. Who thinks this stuff up?

If "The Practice" is at all a realistic view of what being a defense attorney is like, then remind me never to go to law school.

Guess which show is finally leaving the airwaves? After 13 years of new episodes, "Baywatch" is finally throwing in the towel. The real power of this show was in its international appeal, and when Hasselhoff left a couple years ago, the interest in the show from Europe dropped dramatically. Having not watched a single episode of this show in many years, I won't miss it personally, but I think everyone has to agree that this is the end of an era. I wonder if Joey and Chandler will lament the show's passing on "Friends?" Nah, there'll be reruns around for decades.

NBC has ordered yet another Dick Wolf ampersand show for next season, this one called "Trial & Error." This one is a reality show that follows five first year Assistant District Attorneys in different cities. Wolf swears that even though it'll be an unscripted reality series, it will have the look and feel of a regular primetime drama series. I gotta say, if these five ADA's lives are anything like my friend's who is an ADA here in New York, their first year on the job is going to be pretty incredibly boring.

Donald Trump, in what I think is his best idea ever, is pitching to the networks a new reality show in which he would challenge contestants to spend $1 million in 30 minutes. "I like the selection process, because they'll be taking people in strange situations," Trump said. "They will be enlisted when they're about to get married or there'll be a husband in a delivery room, waiting for the birth of his child. He can take a pass, or say, 'Honey, I'll be back in an hour.'" Of course, there are rules: contestants can't use the phone or computer to make purchases, and there's a $200,000 cap on any single item. Donald Trump will never be Ben Stein, but if this show makes it to air I'll definitely check out an episode or two.

Last but most certainly not least, our guest writer William Noetling stirred up some controversy last week. Check out the letters section below for some people's reactions to William's coverage of the WB, "Gilmore Girls" in particular, and William's reponses to their criticisms. It's nice to see people inspired to stand up for a show they strongly believe in. Have a great week, and Happy Valentine's Day!


2. Letters from the viewing audience

From Karen to William:
If you do not watch 60% of a network's shows, why would you attempt to write commentary on the quality of them?

"Thursday is time for Gilmore Girls and Charmed, neither of which interest me in the least and neither of which I have ever seen. Gilmore Girls, in fact, scares me, since it's touted as being entirely wholesome and non-threatening. The WB already has one show like that on Mondays, why did they need another?"

There are many shows on the tube today that do not interest me, but I would never even attempt to write opinions of them.

I find Gilmore Girls to be one of the best shows on television today. Unlike 7th Heaven, it does not try to impart a lesson to the viewer each time an episode airs, nor does it have a "theme" to each episode, devised to indicate to even the slowest viewer that everything ties together to the lesson of the week. It is simply a cute show that portrays good people with good values. It makes me want to work harder to have the best possible relationship with my mother and my child. Had Mr. Noetling ever taken the time to actually watch this show, he would know that.

I am 28 years old, and the WB is, by far, my favorite network. I absolutely watch too much television, and since I've been pregnant and I stay in on most Friday nights, I watch even more television than I used to. I also have several friends that like WB shows just as much as I do. I think it is a common misconception that the WB is a network for teenagers. Hopefully, in the future, commentators on shows will at least take the time to watch a show before offering their opinion on it.
From Hilary to William:
Normally, I don't care so much when people pan shows they haven't seen. There's too much TV and not enough time to watch, really, enough of each series to form a complete opinion of it (unless you're getting paid to do so) and because, frankly, I make those snap judgements all the time. As much as some critics seem to like Nikki, I'm never going to make an effort to watch it. Same with Nash Bridges...

But when William Noetling remarked in his "Slave to the Idiot Box" column that he'd never seen Gilmore Girls, and nor was he ever going to because, "Gilmore Girls, in fact, scares me, since it's touted as being entirely wholesome and non-threatening," I couldn't let that be the last word on the series--mostly because he's somehow gotten the wrong impression of what Gilmore Girls is and is trying to be--and I'd hate for other readers to dismiss the show based on that one ill-informed sentence.

Gilmore Girls is family themed, I guess, but really, any comparison to 7th Heaven has to end there. The series, which centers on the relationship between a 32-year-old mother and her sixteen-year-old daughter, is wickedly funny, genuinely smart, somewhat subversive, and often heart-wrenching. It's not sappy. It's not cheesy. I don't really think it's very wholesome. And it certainly doesn't pander to the same audience that 7th Heaven does. The actors are all uniformly good, though Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore and Alexis Bledel as her namesake are especially convincing. But it's what happens in each episode, and the story of Lorelai and Rory (Lorelai Gilmore the Younger) that make the show fantastic.

Issues the show tackles regularly: what it means to be a young parent, to try to stay connected to your kid, to become your mother, to hate your mother, to love your mother, to make the same mistakes that she did, to not have a father who's around, to have old dreams that maybe don't fit anymore, to have too much stress and not enough money, to have the love/hate relationship with the family that is your small-town community... to live with your best friend.

Gilmore Girls is not about which of the Camden children has wrestled with an after-school special topic... this is about two teenagers reading Dorthy Parker to each other, about a young woman having to constantly defend the "mistake" in her life that was also the best thing that ever happened to her. Gilmore Girls is about having Carole King sing the opening theme song...with her own daughter.

Okay... so I've ranted a bit, haven't I? It's really a lovely, smart show and deserves a better fate than the quick mention William Noetling gave it. Though I reckon there are tons of shows on television that deserve more credit than I give them. Most of all, every show deserves its audience. I just want Gilmore Girls to know what they're missing.
From William in response to Karen and Hilary:
I think you missed the point of my article. I wasn't even attempting to "review" or give my opinion on individual shows, especially ones I don't watch, I was attempting to overview the entire television season, going by different networks. The theme of the article isn't trying to capsulize EVERY show on TV, it's to look at where the business of TV shows, and more importantly the networks and ratings, are at midway through this season.

I wasn't giving my opinion on Gilmore Girls, I was giving my opinion on why I won't WATCH Gilmore Girls. If you like it fine, more power to you, but I'm not going to watch it, for the reasons I stated. That and it's on at the same time as Friends. Heck I'd watch WWF Smackdown before I'd watch Gilmore Girls.

In order for me to back up my statements about the wholesome nature of the show, I did some research, both before hand and after I wrote the article:

This is from the WB Official Web Site: "Gilmore Girls is the first series to make it to air supported by the Family Friendly Forum's Script Development Fund. An initiative between some of the nation's top advertisers and The WB, the program is intended to offer a greater array of compelling family programming on network television. The strong, loving mother-daughter relationship portrayed in Gilmore Girls reflects the growing reality of this new type of American family - approximately fifty percent of families today consist of one-parent households."

So after reading that, I decided to find out what the Family Friendly Forum was, and boy did I. According to their official web site, the Family Friendly Forum is a group of some of America's "largest companies, all members of the Association of National Advertisers, Inc". They claim that they are "concerned about the dwindling availability of family friendly television programs during prime viewing hours - the environment in which we want to advertise." So they created a script fund and thus "Gilmore Girls" was formed.

Maybe it's just me, but whenever someone tells me that there isn't enough Family Friendly programming on television, I just have to wonder what television they are watching, since I see an awful lot of family programming on TV; in fact I personally, would like to see less family programming, and more adult-oriented shows. The situation appears to be that a bunch of advertisers want to advertise on non-threatening programming. And that's fine with me. My huge problem is that not only are they creating the advertising, but now they're creating the television shows as well, and that's just a bit scary.

Besides, it's been my observation that many of these so-called "watch-dog" groups are simply a veil for censorship. Look at the Parents Teachers Counsel, who are actively attempting to censor the airwaves by pressuring advertisers into pulling their ads from shows they don't like. Now I'm not saying that the Family Friendly Forum is going to that extreme, but it does concern me that as advertisers they are creating the ad and the product the ad is placed in, and attempting to hide the fact as well. Now that I know more about Gilmore Girls, I really will avoid it like the plague.
From Lucylover1986:
In response to William Noetling's article when he criticized Sabrina by giving her a "whoopee," I just wanted to let him know that Sabrina, the Teenage Witch is currently the WB's top-rated show and the network has already said that they will definitely be renewing it for another season. You might want to give the show a little more credit.
From William in response to Lucylover:
The WB has this annoying habit of taking shows that couldn't make it on one network and breathing new life into them. Unfortunately, they haven't chosen to do so with anything that was actually worth saving. You know, when the big boys choose to cancel something, there's usually a reason (though for the life of me I still can't understand the axing of Sports Night). Sabrina was a really fun comic book back in the 70's, but I'm not sure that warranted a 90's television show. Heck, I'd rather watch old episodes of Bewitched, seems like the same stuff to me.

As far as your assessment that Sabrina is the WB's highest ranked show, prove it, since I couldn't find anywhere that said it was, in fact, Popstars out ranks Sabrina in the ratings. Oh yeah, and since when is 24 considered a "Teen" anymore? Melissa Joan Hart was born in 1976.

Note from TK: "Sabrina" is one of the WB's higher rated shows, but is consistently beaten by "Charmed" and "7th Heaven" and yes, has been beaten by "Popstars." It's at about the ratings level of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." And, for the record, "Sabrina" wasn't cancelled by ABC in the same way as, say, "The Hughleys" was. The producers of "Sabrina" went into negotiations with ABC, ABC wouldn't meet their demands, and the WB swooped in gave them what they wanted, so actually the WB sort of stole it from ABC. Also, there are plenty of twenty-somethings that play teenagers on TV. Sabrina is a freshman in college, so the character is still a teenage witch. :)
From velveeta:
I just read "Slave to the Idiot Box by William Noetling" and this is just rude and completely unnecessary:

"And for those who think it's a great show, I feel sorry for them."

Maybe you should rethink having him write for what has always been a very enthusiastic newsletter. Picking on other people's reviews in your own review shows no class whatsoever.

Letters from the viewing audience are always welcome. Please email any opinions, questions, comments, or random thoughts to TK at with the subject of "letters." Letters may be edited for length or content.


3. Don't Miss

For details and lots more fun TV to look forward to, see


4. TV Trivia

Last week's question was: Michael Weatherly ("Dark Angel") used to be on a short-lived series on Fox from the creators of "Party of Five." What was the name of this series? Bonus if you remember Weatherly's character's name.

First prize goes to Allan J. Congratulations!

Honorable mentions go to Jarett G. and Andrew S. Just about everyone who got the first part of the question right also got the bonus.

The correct answer was "Significant Others" and Weatherly played Ben Chasin.

This week's question is: what 1987 sci-fi film starred two men now known for their gruff personalities on their respective shows, "That '70s Show" and "ER?"

Send answers to TK at with the subject of tvtrivia. Winners will be chosen at random from all the correct answers.


5. Slave to the Idiot Box by William Noetling

In continuing my look at the season so far, I'd like to move on to the network that is clearly the bottom of the barrel: UPN. Although it started at the same time as the WB, it just hasn't been as successful in making its mark, but I can't really blame that on the programming, it seems that UPN has problems with its affiliates and concrete timeslots. Again, like the WB, I commend UPN for trying to do something different and attempting to put something other than young white people on TV.

UPN, or the United Paramount Network, or whatever they're calling themselves this week, currently has two flagship shows, and that's about it. The rest of their shows tend to skew to the urban audience, and have for some time. While that's a good thing, it's kind of shaky to build a network around two shows and one audience demographic. Especially when one of your flagship shows is ending, and the other is a glorified fad.

Star Trek Voyager is what built UPN, and I have to admit, when they teamed it with Nowhere Man six years ago, I actually watched it. But STV is a poor excuse for a Star Trek show, always has been and always will be. It's actually sad that it's the only Star Trek we will get for the next two years (since Star Trek X the movie isn't scheduled until late 2002, and the next series won't be out until after the movie). I'm glad they're taking the time to wrap up storylines and such, but this season has been pretty much more of the same with that show. I can honestly say, that even as a closet Trekkie, I've never paid much attention to Voyager, and am glad it's going away.

WWF Smackdown is two hours of taped wrestling mayhem. The production quality is top-notch, and the show is usually better than its live counterpart, WWF Raw, now on TNN on Mondays. Still, the popularity of wrestling is always waxing and waning, and even though wrestling is at its peak popularity right now, that doesn't mean that the tide won't be changing, and soon!

Mondays on UPN is urban audience night, with Moesha, its spin-off The Parkers, The Hughleys and Girlfriends. I actually found The Hughleys funny when it was on ABC last season. In fact, I thought ABC really had balls to put D.L. Hughley into a sitcom on a major network. Of course, now he's relegated to UPN, where he will die a slow, agonizing death in the ratings. C'est la vie, I suppose. Sad, really. I've never seen any of the other shows on Monday, so I have no comment, other than they all consistently get pounded in the ratings.

Tuesdays are UPN Movie Tuesday night. They do an interesting thing and show an original movie, which is cool, or a theatrical release, which isn't cool. There have been some neat ones too. Unfortunately most of the original films turn out to be, unsurprisingly, low-rent, and something I wouldn't even pay attention to, even if they didn't have commercials every 15 minutes.

Seven Days, which has an interesting concept, comes on before Voyager in some markets. Unfortunately, and this is a major complaint I have about UPN in general, in other markets it comes on AFTER Voyager. It seems the affiliates have complete discretion as to when to air their shows. This appears to be problematic for most people, especially when it comes to the Tuesday night movie, and it is also a detriment when UPN tries to bill itself as a "network." Anyway, Seven Days is a nice concept, but don't watch it.

I notice that the Viacom owned UPN is trying to be more synergistic with the rest of the Viacom family, airing MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch on Fridays now. I've seen the show on MTV occasionally, and it's very hit and miss. My one complaint is that the voices usually don't sound remotely like the celebrities. There's another claymation show, Gary and Mike, airing before Deathmatch now. Haven't seen it, no comment. Same with Level 9.

I would say that UPN is on life support, and is only as successful as Smackdown and Star Trek are. It's not quite dead yet, as it still consistently ties or comes in just below WB in the ratings (FYI, NBC has been #1 all season long, with ABC, CBS and FOX all jockeying for the #2 position). The real problem is affiliates for UPN, and that's a story for another column. Recently though, UPN has had a huge problem with CBS's Survivor II on Thursdays, which steals from the Smackdown audience. Currently, Smackdown is taped on Tuesdays, so die-hard fans like myself can check the internet on Wednesday morning and find out if the show is worth watching. Nine times out of ten I give it a skip. Now with Survivor and Friends eating into Smackdown's audience, I wouldn't be surprised if they move it to another time slot or make it live. Or both!

Next time I'll take a look a the so-called "Tiffany" network, CBS.
For more writing by William Noetling, check out his web site at

TKTV is always looking for new guest writers. Do you have an idea for an article? Write to TK with the subject of "guestwriter."


6. Favorite quotes of the week

From That '70s Show
Red: Aw, Gilligan screwed it up. He always screws it up. Why don't they just kill him?

From Saturday Night Live Primetime, Weekend Update
It was announced Tuesday that Britney Spears has signed a new endorsement deal with Pepsi. The company chose Spears because, just like Pepsi, she's sweet, bubbly, and has an instantly recognizable can.

From The West Wing
Bartlet: Okay, well, golf's not a sport. It's fine, don't get me wrong, but let's not you and I confuse it with things that men do.


7. A totally unrelated link

The Presidential Palm Helper


Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of dying, starts singing. -Ed Gardner