Monday, October 29, 2007

You Were A Good Man, Charles Schulz

As fictional characters go, one of the ones I've always felt a close kinship toward is Charlie Brown.

Maybe it's the feeling of the emblematic football of happiness and success always being yanked away from me at the last second right before I kick it, or the fruitless pursuit of the little redheaded girl, but darn if the little bald kid in the yellow-and-black striped shirt doesn't seem to be the perfect spiritual fictional totem for me.

I bring this up because PBS presents the documentary, Good Ol' Charles Schulz on "American Masters" (PBS, 9 p.m.), followed by "Peanuts Gallery" at 10 p.m. Both shows look at the "Peanuts" world of Charlie Brown & Co. and the man who created it.

You'll learn who the inspirations were for characters like Lucy and the little red-headed girl, and how the comic strip grew from the funny pages to TV movies that are still loved today. One of the best, "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," will air Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Having worked in newspapers for 13 years, one of the neatest things I've ever seen in one was the tribute by every other comic strip the week Schulz died back in 2000. Every strip contained either a personal note from the cartoonist or a "Peanuts" character worked into that day's comic.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: I really can't understand why "Chuck" (NBC, 8 p.m.) is only doing middling in the ratings. It's got a strong cast, action, humor and uncomplicated storylines. A viewer could tune into any episode and dive right in, and not have to worry about catching up. Fans of the show seem pretty enthusiastic about it, yet word of mouth hasn't spread about it. It's a tad worrisome. It's followed by new episodes of "Heroes" and the ever-improving "Journeyman."

But then, I feel the same way about "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 8 p.m.), and it's the weakest-rated of the four CBS sitcoms on Mondays despite being also the best. The sitcoms are followed by "CSI: Miami" at 10 p.m.

One show drawing in the huge numbers is "Samantha Who?" (ABC, 9:30 p.m.), thanks to being wedged in between "Dancing With The Stars" at 8 p.m. and "The Bachelor" at 10 p.m. It will be interesting to see if "Samantha" continues to draw after "DWTS" ends, but right now, it's ABC's most successful sitcom in years and may provide the blueprint how it will launch sitcoms in the future.

I'm going to continue to plug the season's best new sitcom, "Aliens in America" (CW, 8:30 p.m.) until you people start watching it. It's a great mix of teen angst combined with political incorrectness, and Amy Pietz deserves an Emmy nomination for her work as the mom on the show.

Finally, though the World Series has ended, Fox has had to set aside the programming schedule in case it went longer than four games. So everything is a rerun tonight, though interestingly, Fox is airing a rerun of "House" at 8 p.m. rather than the normally scheduled "Prison Break."


zodin2008 said...

Phillip, I have a 4 word explanation as to why "Chuck" and "Mother" can't improve in the ratings: DANCING WITH THE STARS.

It's completely unfair if you ask me - how is America choosing a reality dancing competition (I would put that only slightly above watching Golf) over 2 of the most entertaining Fall shows. I don't get it.

Nor do I get why the only CBS sitcom worth watching on Mondays, "Mother", is the lowest rated. It makes no sense whatsoever to me.

Something interesting that Matt Roush noted this morning in his reader letters, that other than say a complete, awful dud like "Viva Laughlin", there's hasn't exactly been a lot of early season cancellations for most new shows - the reason Roush said was that across the board, all ratings are way down. Everything has gone down.

Plus, the with the possible imminent writer's strike, it's entirely plausible networks are sticking with shows with middling ratings longer because there's nothing in the can waiting any better.

Phillip Ramati said...

I don't think you can say it's unfair. People watch what they want to watch. There's no right or wrong when it comes to taste.