Tag Archives: The West Wing

It’s Classic Clip Friday: Thanksgiving Special – WKRP; The West Wing; Cheers; Friends

Since it’s Thanksgiving weekend over the Pond, Classic Clip Friday this week celebrates a few memorable scenes from the best Thanksgiving episodes of a few of my favourite TV shows (or, at least, the ones I could find online) .

We’ll start with the greatest thanksgiving scene in TV history. I already dedicated a complete post to the Turkey drop scene from WKRP In Cincinnati but it’s well worth revisiting, especially given the time of year.

To set it up, you should know that WKRP’s manager, Arthur Carlson (Gordon Jump) had decided to organise a special Thanksgiving promotion, to try and boost the radio station’s profile, but hadn’t told anyone what it was – just that he needed 20 live turkeys.

 Les Nessman (Richard Sanders), a somewhat less than worldly-wise news reporter – whose serious, professional demeanour belied the fact that he was utterly useless – is sent to a shopping mall to cover the event:

Next up, a couple of great scenes from the much-missed The West Wing. First, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) talks turkey with the Butterball Hotline:

But he’s just a big softy, really, and so when called on to “pardon” a turkey…

Moving on, now, one of the greatest TV shows of all time and another of the all-time great Thanksgiving episodes. Here’s what happened when the Cheers gang decided to have their meal together on the big day:

And finally, Friends, a show that always pushed the boat out to deliver some great Thanksgiving episodes… and this one, with a very special guest star, was probably the most famous of the lot:

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Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day – The Streets Of San Francisco

As a tribute to Karl Malden, who died earlier this month at the grand old age of 97, this week’s classic theme tune is from 70s cop show The Streets Of San Francisco.

Produced by the legendary Quinn Martin, the show ran for five seasons (119 episodes) from 1972 until 1977, starring Malden as San Fran cop Lieutenant Mike Stone, a veteran homicide detective, and Michael Douglas as his young partner and protege Steve Keller (Douglas left the show at the start of the fifth season and was replaced by future Battlestar Galactica star Richard Hatch as Dan Robbins).

Though best remembered now for his role in The Streets Of San Francisco, Malden’s acting career spanned an astonishing eight decades, beginning in the 1930s. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as alongside Marlon Brando in the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire. He was nominated again for 1954’s On The Waterfront, again starring opposite Brando, but failed to lift a second gong.

His final role came in 2000 when he guest-starred as a priest on a first-season episode of The West Wing. In it, he carried the bible that he had used in On The Waterfront.

I have to say, The Streets Of San Francisco was just a little before my time, though I do remember that my gran liked it. The theme tune isn’t quite as catchy or memorable as some of its contemporaries but it’s still not bad and I’m sure that many people around the world were introduced to San Francisco’s distinctive, iconic look by the show’s opening montage.

Here are the opening titles from a 1973 episode which, appropriately enough, guest-starred future West Wing President Bartlet, Martin Sheen:

And here is the opening to a an early final season episode, after the arrival of Richard Hatch but before the departure of Michael Douglas:

And finally, here is a longer version of the theme music:


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High-Flying Fox Orders Seven New Pilots

Fox network chiefs have given the green light to seven new pilots – four comedies and three dramas.

The orders are on top of the previously ordered drama Eva Adams and comedy Boldly Going Nowhere.

First up among the new comedies is The Station, which is about a covert CIA office in South America, where agents are trying to install a new dictator. The show is executive-produced by Ben Stiller, who may also direct the pilot.

Next we have Walorsky, about an ex-cop who now patrols a shopping mall in Buffalo, New York, and finds himself paired with a new rookie partner.

Sons of Tucson revolves around a hustler who is hired by three young brothers to act as their father.

The last of the four comedies is  Two Dollar Beer, a which is about how a blue-collar Detroit couple and their family and friends adapt to a world that is changing around them.

The first of the drama pilots is Human Target, a new take on a DC/Vertigo Comics title.

Terminator: Salvation director McG is an executive producer of the show, which is about Christopher Chance, a master of disguise who takes on a different identities, standing in for people whose lives are in jeopardy, putting himself in the firing line.

Next, we have an as-yet untitled reincarnation project about investigators who try to resolve their clients’ current problems by exploring their previous lives.

And finally, Maggie Hill is a medical drama about a female brain surgeon who suffers from schizophrenia. Among the executive producers is 24’s Brian Grazer.

Of the two existing Fox pilot orders, Eva Adams is a US remake of an Argentinian telenovela called Lalola, about a womaniser who is trensformed into a woman to experience life as a member of the opposite sex. In charge of the project is Kevin Falls, a former West Wing writer and executive producer, whose more recent TV projects, Journeyman, Shark and Lyon’s Den, have all failed to get beyond their first seasons.

And Boldly Going Nowhere is a comedy from the creators and stars of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia about the day-to-day life of a Spaceship captain. A pilot was shot last October but the show is being reworked.

EDIT: More pilot news HERE and HERE.

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Hail To The Chief: The Top Five TV Presidents

In honour of Barack Obama’s inauguration today as the 44th President of the United States, the Choob thought a great way to honour and celebrate the occasion would be with a top 10 list of the best fictional TV presidents.

But then I realised that while commanders-in-chief are 10-a-penny on the big screen, they’re in short supply on TV.

So, then, bearing that in mind, here is my list.

The Five Most Memorable (And, If You Don’t Count All The Other Ones From 24 and Jimmy Smits In The West Wing, The Only) Fictional TV Presidents:

5. President Mackenzie Allen, as played by Geena Davis in Commander In Chief (2005-06).

Television’s first female US President, I believe (and the only one, until the start of 24’s seventh season last week).

President Allen was initially the Vice President and was unexpectedly thrust into the hotseat when her predecessor died in office.

Unfortunately, her spell in the Oval Office was rather short due to voter (audience) apathy and the show was cancelled after a single season.

4. President Charles Logan, as played by Gregory Itzin in 24 (2005-07).

When presidents go bad!

In day five of 24, one of the show’s best seasons to date, they did the unthinkable – halfway through the season they revealed that the villain (or at least one of them) was the President.

It was a clever twist, one of the show’s best, given how strong and honourable former President David Palmer had been in previous seasons.

In contrast, Logan was weak, easily manipulated and self-serving.

Itzin’s excellently slimy, sleazy performance made the character all the more memorable.

3. President Laura Roslin, as played by Mary McDonnell in Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009).

Okay, so technically not a President of the USA – in fact not even human, although the Galacticans are either descendants or ancestors of the human race (or both! The jury is still out on that one).

Roslin was the Education Secretary of the 12 Colonies and the only surviving government minister after the Cylon attack. Despite suffering from terminal cancer, she assumed the role of President and, fuelled by visions that led her to believe that she was the chosen one spoken of in prophecies from her religion, she came to believe it was her destiny to lead the few survivors of the 12 tribes in the search for Earth, where a mythical 13th tribe set up home thousands of years ago after leaving the 12 colonies.

Along the way, she veered perilously close to fascism and dictatorship in her single-minded pursuit of her goals but, guided by those around her, her own failings and vulnerabilities ultimately made her more sympathetic to and understanding of those who challenged her.

The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica is is much of a contemporary social drama as it is a sci-fi adventure. It has been brilliant at filtering issues and concepts affecting us, the viewers, through the sci-fi prism of the show. For example, the role of church versus state, the question of whether terrorism can ever be condoned, worker’s rights, the role of the military… all this and much more has been explored with an intelligence and thoughtfulness rarely seen on TV in general, never mind on a sci-fi Tv show.

And although occasionally a very frustrating character to watch, given her entrenched beliefs and single-minded pursuit of her goals, President Laura Roslin has been one of the high points in a show full of high points.

2. President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet, as played by Martin Sheen in The West Wing (1999-2006).

Surely the President we’d all like to see in the White House?

Yes, the Republicans might bristle at some of his wishy-washy, liberal ideals but the fact was that Bartlet never shied away from doing what was best for the country as a whole, even when it jarred with his own personal beliefs.

He’d often do what had to be done for the good of his nation, not is own agenda, and agonise later over what it meant for his own spiritual – and political – survival, not the other way round, a refreshing change from real-world presidents of recent years.

A very charismatic president – but also a very human one, as he battled multiple sclerosis to continue to serve the people as best he could. Whether you agreed with his political agenda, few would disagree that he set standards that any real-life president, of whatever political colour, would do well to emulate.

1. President David Palmer, as played by Dennis Haysbert in 24 (2001-06).

Haysbert has gone on the record as saying that he believes his portrayal of President Palmer helped pave the way for Obama’s election success.

And who’s to say there’s not an element of truth in the idea that a popular fictional character in an unfamiliar role can perhaps make people more open to the idea of such a thing happening in real life?

In any case, Palmer was one of 24’s great strengths and has been sadly missed since his offhand exit from the show at the start of season five.

He was strong, principled, moral and righteous – and yet, like, Bartlet, never shied away from the tough decisions that made him uncomfortable and conflicted with his own personal beliefs, if he thought they were for the good of the people.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Choob salutes you (except Logan, you swine). Obama has a lot to live up to.

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