Why the top-365-songs list isn't a stupid idea
Actors sink their teeth into vampire roles
Gregory Corso: My encounter with a Beat legend
Golden Globes: Sleazy and proud of it
In the offing, Clinton continent looms
"NYPD Blue" opener: The misery continues
New movie genre: Reclusive authors anonymous
"West Wing," "Ally," et al.: Words, words, words
When TV shows outstay their welcome
Film critics dig their own graves with "Angels" review
Great Robert Altman films you never
Famous folk, next week in the arts, show business briefs
"Time regained": Proust in the multiplex
Glitterati is dead, long live Popfocus
Carl Barks: The man who put the ducks in Duckburg
"Almost Famous": Lester Bangs rises from the dead
Liz Hurley wins in war of words with Jane mag
Douglas poses with Zeta-Jones, and baby-makes three
Weddings that aren't: Douglas, Zeta-Jones, Madonna, Ritchie
The Emmy War: A half-century of coast-to-coast feuding
Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the Iglesias odds
It's raining books by and about Trumps
What's in a mane? Blond woman in the news
Liz Hurley denies dissing ex-beau
Rock Hall of Infamy: Anti-heroes from Elvis to Eminem
Barbra tix bankrupt fans
Laurels for Kathie Lee to rest on
Hillary "In bed" with De Niro, Cruise, Kidman
How "Sopranos," "West Wing" will divvy up awards
This just in: Donald Trump is not a dope
Walter Matthau: A rumpled old dog in the heart of the city
Sampras to take a stroke at wedding bells
Who wants to host "Monday Night Football"?
Queen rewards Tina Brown for demoralizing American readers
How the Korean War cane to TV land 20 years late
Ivanka Trump: From catwalk to commencement line
Lester Bangs: The troublesome punk who wouldn't die
Rags clash over Ted Turner "romance"
With straight face, Trump deems Marla's move "tacky"
"Friends" re-up for another season of top ratings, top money
Madonna in denial, and rightly so
"Suburbia": The continental subdivide
Howard Stern, Sly Stallone in bizarre, apocryphal triangle
Easter video viewing: "Spartacus" to "Harvey"
Billy’s in the news: Bob, Joel in love but not with other
"Charles's Angels" movie: Dispiriting news for old-time fans
Innovative career move for 'NYPD Blue' co-star
Top model: Why I gave oldish rocker husband the heave-ho
Unpleasantville: The awful truth about old-time TV families
Tina Brown held captive in desert by demanding children
Anybody's Oscar: Unusually suspenseful awards show looms
Oscar telecast: Looking for a few good hosts
"Lambs," "Beauty": Oscar's love affair with unacceptable behavior
Brad Pitt, Oscar to be in same room at same time
Letterman bites guest-host bullet: Andrew "Dice" Clay, call your agent
Seinfeld eyes East Hampton manse: Where's the welcome wagon?
"Mod Squad" Immortal dishes couple du jour
Brad Pitt's second thoughts about Oscar
Mike McCurry praises "West Wing": It's not entirely demeaning,,,"
Memo to "Hannibal" producers: Get Najimy while the getting's good
Don't Invite Gwyneth and Oscar to the same party
True or false: Douglas, Zeta-Jones don't even know each other
Ex-Clinton honcho linked to ex-"Cheers" costar
Third party cited in Trump-Knauss breakup
Gossip queen goes to bat for Talk mag
20th century's No. 1 hit: "Satisfaction" hits the spot
Statement: Spice girl's marital problems insoluble
Charlie Brown, Pogo and me
From Howdy to Charlie Brown, we hate to say goodbye
The Beatle George: While his guitar gently weeps
Jodie Foster's people in mild tiff with CBS
A Peanuts trivia Q&A
Publicist: Boyle still joined at hip
There's video in your future and future in your video
"The future is now": Hit rewind
Whitney Houston presides over confluence of talent
Jim Carrey's flack earns A "D," Cher's A "B-minus"
Geraldo: bye-bye, doghouse
Michael Douglas does nothing much, reporters go wild
Ricky Martin on Menudo: Look back in anger
How to outsmart Halloween crowds at the video store
Tom Cruise puts himself in harm's way, only not really
1800-1900: Steaming towards revolution
1700-1800: Liberty, equality and bloodshed
1600-1700: The earth moves; North America is settled
Trump mulls travel plans, from altar to White House
"Faces of Impressionism" Time machine made of canvas, paint
Major quakes aren't personal unless they happen to you
Brad Pitt gracious about character assassination
Director insists Harrison Ford is not a brainless hulk
Costner, Willis, Douglas. Branagh, Sting_ in that order
Streisand: Color her ready to plug her new album
Julia and Benjamin's rings devoid of significance, flack says
Literary mud wrestling, featuring Geri and The Spice Girls
Urgent news: Ford to replace Gibson on "GMA" eventually
She married a monster from outer space
Never mind Godzilla VS. Mothra, Here's Trump VS. Cronkite
Spurned by Pitt, Redford pays court to Damon
Celebrity coyness is bustin' out all over
"Detroit Rock City": Kiss of death
Talk is cheap? Not with Tina Brown at the helm
The Beats: Remembered, Lionized and Unread
Real estate beat, starring Woody Allen and Donald Trump
Mood Music, or how we learned to stop worrying
Sex in the cinema: From "Last Tango" to "Eyes Wide Shut"
Two easy steps to looking exactly like Ricky Martin
Close encounters of the Muppet kind
Upcoming Brad Pitt movie not garbage, insiders say
Kathie Lee's eyewear excites Islanders' ire
Back to the future, continued
"Wild Wild West": Buck Rogers in the 19th century
Sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein: Fun, Fun, Fun
An expert's verdict:" Austin Powers" is pretty neat
Click here for pointless celebrity gossip
P. Dempsey Tabler of the jungle: The many faces of Tarzan
Kirk Douglas' Ex tells all about Errol Flynn fling
New twist in TV programming: Ax profitable shows
Private jet fees spell the end for another celebrity union
Killer serials: "Flash," "Buck" and a boy named George Lucas
Top nonfiction books: A message from two old men
Celebrity Dream dreams: Monica, Donald, Barbara, Georgette
Two divas, publicist form bizarre show-biz triangle
Johnny Cash tribute: Ring of fire, ring of friends
Streisand employee really upset about rumors
Grande Dame Eyes MGM Grand Gig
Secretive celebs? Not by a long shot
NBC honcho bristles at notion that Brokaw is not a saint
Barbara Walters not keen on daily dose of Monica
David Letterman, Donald Trump, Eddie Murphy, Elton John
Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Maj, Ronald Ferguson, Fergie, Miranda Richardson, Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Axl Rose, Stephanie Seymour
March 28, 2000
Unpleasantville: The awful truth about old-time TV families
By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service
They live in grinding squalor, unable even to afford a refrigerator and barely making the rent each month. He is grossly overweight and lies obsessively to his wife, forever hatching shady plans with his upstairs pal to make a million dollars - plans that always blow up in his face.
He often threatens his wife with physical violence.
We're obviously talking about one of those men on one of those alarming new TV sitcoms, right? Shows where the American family is held up as a kind of germ smear in which every sort of sickness thrives - "The Simpsons," "Malcolm In the Middle," or, a few years back, "Married ... With Children." Right?
Wrong. We're talking "The Honeymooners," one of the most beloved relics of TV's first golden age, often cited as an example of pre-Vietnam War innocence and optimism, like "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Andy Griffith Show."
Critics and pundits make much of the recent TV trend toward showing the American family - warts and all - in programs like the new "Titus," in which a comedian reminisces about his drunken, intimidating father, and 'Malcolm," in which the eternal TV Mom is presented as an overbearing, neurotic harridan whose family lives in fear of her.
Over against these latter-day examples of family,
psychopathology pundits hold up your "Beavers," your "Donna Reeds," your "Fathers Know Best" and other programs in which the family, they say, was extolled and idealized.
Maybe in some cases. But if you spend any time looking back into the kinescope past, you'll discern some family dynamics that were never anything to write home about.
'I LOVE LUCY'
While Ralph Kramden and his wife, Alice, are eking out a childless New York existence one notch above poverty level, across town a nightclub performer and his delusional wife are having their own problems.
An interracial couple, they apparently have a hard time forming social bonds. The only friends they have are completely unsuitable - their elderly landlord and his dowdy wife. All the four of them do together is play cards, gossip and engage in petty feuds.
The performer's wife, exceedingly dissatisfied with her lot as a hausfrau, is always trying to break into show business despite her manifest lack of talent. These efforts necessitate that she lie to her husband constantly. She vents her frustrations and resentments by mocking his foreign accent; he treats her as though she were a mentally retarded child.
'THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET'
We bid Lucy and Ricky Ricardo adieu and travel from Manhattan to Anytown, U.S.A., where we find a middle-aged couple and their two rapidly growing boys.
Everything looks pretty idyllic here - the boys do well in school, the younger son plays the guitar, the mom is capable and sane, and dinner is always on time.
The problem is Dad. Perhaps older than he looks at first glance, he seems to have retired early - at least, he's always hanging around the house with nothing much to do. He appears to be very much at loose ends. Also, he - like Ralph and Lucy - is always getting involved in harebrained schemes that don't work out.
But the biggest problem is his obvious lack of self-esteem. Many of his schemes are designed to win the respect of his family, which he seems to feel is lacking. At the end of each show it is borne in upon him that his wife and sons love him no matter how lame he is, but the next week he's right back acting out on the same old insecurities.
What's that again? Well, OK, it's not about an unmarried man raising his out-of-wedlock child - it's about an unmarried man raising his deceased relative's perfectly legitimate orphan daughter. But he's not much of a role model for the poor girl, always gadding from one attractive lady to another, and with a positive phobia for commitment of any kind.
'LOVE THAT BOB'
You know perfectly well what it means to be a handsome, successful fashion photographer, and this show bears that out.
With scarcely a thought for the impression he'd making on the nephew who lives with him, the lensman spends every episode dealing with a dizzying array of well-favored women, the unmistakable implication being that he enjoys sexual relations with every single one of them.
Meantime, his homely Gal Friday carries a torch for him while doing all the dirty work his carefree bachelor life requires.
'THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS'
Here, the nephew from "Love That Bob" turns up as a 25-year old high school student (he looks at least that old) who obsesses out loud before a hallucinatory audience about the trouble he has forming connections with girls.
Small wonder that his father, proprietor of a grocery store, is perpetually at his wit's end with frustration and anger over the boy's aimless, irresponsible ways, to say nothing of the company he keeps - a scruffy beatnik, the only bearded, 35-year-old high school student in America, with a marked aversion to gainful occupation in any form.
Indeed, the father is so disturbed by his son's lack of character that he often talks to himself out loud about killing him.
'THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW'
But as we fly over the hills to rural Mayberry, we've finally come home - or, at least, so it appears.
What could be healthier, mentally and socially? Dad is a widowed sheriff living with his kitchen-savvy aunt and his adorable young son, who will likely go far in the movie business. The barber and other townsfolk are always ready to lend moral support in an emergency.
But wait. Really, the entire milieu might have been crafted by William Faulkner or some other Gothic Southerner, not so much because of town drunk Otis, whose alcohol addiction is so incorrigible that he is permanently assigned a cell at the jallhouse, but because of Dad's cousin.
What's wrong with this guy? Is it a glandular disease, or an anxiety disorder, or both?
He imagines himself a legendary police officer as opposed to what he is, a lowly deputy sheriff who is only issued one bullet at a time and must carry it in his shirt pocket and whose job clearly is the fruit of nepotism. His dreams of grandiosity are almost frightening in their persistence and intensity. Best thing will be never to leave him alone with the aunt and the boy. You never know when he's going to snap.
Roger Anderson is arts and entertainment editor at Scripps Howard News
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