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Living in an Odd Van Down by the Comic Book Store in Malibu

Spoiler Alert: Information from last night’s CBS lineup (The Big Bang Theory, The Odd Couple & Two and a Half Men) and The Goldbergs are revealed below

From sunrise to sunset, yesterday was crazy.

First, battling a cold completely confused my mind, which resulted in a non-Goldbergs blog post. Have no fear though, that’s partly what today is for.

Erica wanted vehicular freedom from gas tank-obsessed Murray, so she manipulated Barry’s A-Team singing sweet spot that results in the best/worst van purchase of all-time. Meanwhile, Adam sought to rid himself of being known as “the nice guy.” This brought out Adam’s inner Don Rickles and Andrew Dice Clay, to the obvious anger from his family/comedic targets, to amplify his rep as the class clown. Adam’s journey to discovering his identity in middle school was an all too real portrayal. We try so hard to fit in and to be the person everybody else wants us to be. It’s a terribly awkward, embarrassing and frustrating moment in our lives.

In middle school, all we wanted and needed was for someone to be nice…

As for Erica and Barry becoming known as “van people” in their neighborhood (including their principal), all it took was delicious secret corn, the B-Team (for Barry) gas tank emptying and two genetically stubborn people conversing (Erica and Murray) to realize living in a van was not an ideal situation. Plus, the ’80s classic, “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby & The Range helped significantly.

It’s a wonderful thing to have such a nice, funny family on television.

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Second, CBS owned last night’s sitcom battle. As in completely and entirely. The evening began with an emotional Big Bang Theory that finally dealt with the real life death of the wildly funny Carol Ann Susi/Mrs. Wolowitz. It coincided with the re-opening of Stuart’s comic book store with a sharper look, including some familiar furniture as pointed out by Howard. Plus, the phrase “let it go” got a genuinely welcomed resurgence back into our psyches thanks to Penny (inside joke for viewers of the episode).

Following the #1 sitcom on television was the premiere of CBS’s next great sitcom, The Odd Couple. Written as a modern revival to the ’70s comedy, it stars Matthew Perry (Oscar Madison) and Thomas Lennon (Felix Unger) as, well, an odd couple of roommates. For a pilot, it was fantastic! The writing and on-screen chemistry started slowly, as expected. But, by the end, the characters and writers revealed a promising (and hilarious) spark that will build into a roaring good fire of laughs. Like most great sitcoms, it will take a season or two to find its rhythm and pulse of its characters and story. Recall the necessary patience and development it took Seinfeld, Frasier, That ’70s Show and Friends to find its genius a few seasons in. The Odd Couple has an awesome cast and as they continue to fall into their respective roles more naturally as time goes on, this show will prove to be really special. Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon have finally found their successful follow-up roles to their iconic television characters of yesteryear.

And then there were these, “men, men, men, manly men, who hoo who would show up?”

Following an unlikely 12-year run on CBS, Chuck Lorre’s raunchy, addictive and tumultuous sitcom came to an end last night. Having been at the taping for a couple scenes in the series finale two weeks ago today, which included Rose revealing Charlie was alive in the Malibu living room with Alan, Evelyn and Walden and Jake’s surprise return, it was still a tightly-held secret if Charlie Sheen would actually return. As curious viewers discovered, Charlie made a cameo as a Warner Bros. cartoon and, courtesy of a convincing stand-in from behind, in the must-see final scene. The finale had plenty of laughs, especially with funny pans and one-liners to studio cameras about the show and a series recap with guest officer ArnoldĀ  Schwarzenegger interviewing Alan and Walden as part of their pursuit to find the raging and “Silence of the Lambs-escapee” Charlie from Rose’s Sherman Oaks dungeon.

It was sad to see the show give its final curtain call, but it was time. Given the circumstances with Charlie Sheen and Angus T. Jones, Two and a Half Men could only continue for so long. One of the cool things about seeing a show taping live is learning inside information. In honor of the show’s success, and the fact it managed to be the longest running sitcom in television history, we learned that night that Warner Bros. would be renaming Stage 26, “The Two and a Half Men Stage.”

That’s winning.

As is this:

(CBS)

(CBS)

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When Art and Life Collide

Last night’s episode of The Big Bang Theory was the show’s first in 2014. It had its funny moments (not counting Sheldon’s definition wordplay) and its not so funny moments (Leonard and Penny). The writers and producers made certain not to debut 2014 lightly, but instead with a substantive episode interwoven with real life discussions and heartbreaks.

Will Penny make it as an actress after a decade of pursuing her dream?

Does Leonard honestly think Penny will make it as a successful actress?

One important distinction made last night was the primary difference between a drama and a comedy. Specifically, consider when someone says there is a “one in a million” chance something will happen. In a comedy, like Dumb and Dumber, that’s a punchline filled with hilarious delusion. In a dramatic situation (even within a situation comedy), the “one in a million” response is a metaphorical, and partly literal, punch to the gut to the recipient.

The only delusion of the latter is the harsh reality of contemplating just how large the number one million is and how small the number one is in comparison. And then understanding who represents the number one.

Devastating.

The event that led to the “one in a million” talk between Leonard and Penny was when her small diner part in NCIS with star Mark Harmon was edited out from the show. It didn’t make the final cut. Leonard and Penny discussed the realistic prospects of her future as an actress and the results were nowhere nearly as pretty as Penny herself.

The show ended with Leonard and Penny’s argument (and future) unresolved. But here is where the show got really interesting.

While reading Chuck Lorre’s weekly Vanity Card at the end of the episode, which can range from funny to thought-provoking to inappropriate, there was an instant realization that his message was as substantive as the episode itself. It was simultaneously real and surreal.

That’s truly rare and it deserves to be expanded upon.

Without a word-for-word recap, the message detailed how Penny’s part in a major CBS show (NCIS) was cut in the final edit and, therefore, did not air. Her excited friends and family, sadly, did not see her “big break” that she had worked ten years for in Los Angeles. Ironically (and unbelievably) the exact same thing happened in last night’s Big Bang Theory episode! An actress who had a small part with Raj and Stewart in the mall was cut in the final edit. It was going to be her big break, very likely with her family and friends gathered together to watch her act in one of the biggest shows on television.

Unfortunately, her part (like Penny’s) was cut in the final edit. However, Big Bang co-creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre made sure to let America (and the world) know in his Vanity Card that he wanted to apologize to the actress and that it was only because of time that her part was not included in the show’s final version. He made certain to note to her and her family and friends that she absolutely nailed the part. He then added that he will work hard to get her back on the show sometime in the future.

Wow!

It’s a case of life imitating art or art imitating life or art and life getting an apartment together in downtown Pasadena to enjoy a glass (or bottle) or white wine before their next audition.

Either way, it was real, surreal, heart-breaking, inspiring and unbelievably amazing all at the same time.

In the episode, Sheldon, in his quest for comedic dominance, stated that “comedy is tragedy plus time” after Penny left the room following her realization that her part was taken out of the show.

It seems Chuck Lorre waited the exact right amount of time to say something that turned a tragedy into something not necessarily funny, but still something that likely brought joy and a smile to a dedicated and disappointed actress’s face.

Funny how life turns out from time to time.

In a World…

Since today is Thursday and a new episode of “The Big Bang Theory” will be on tonight at 8:00 p.m. on CBS, I would like to present this blog’s second riddle that can only be pondered while thinking of this show.

Ready? Let’s play!

In a world, where people can, for a short time, jump/hop several feet in the air without being held down by the restraints of gravity, what snack will skyrocket in demand to become the most popular type of food?

The answer will be in tomorrow’s post!

Here is a quick refresher of “Counter-Factuals” to help get into the right (well, not right, but necessary) mindset to answer the above riddle:

Good Luck!

“The physics is theoretical, but the fun is real”

The best television shows consistently demonstrate one commonality: the audience knows the cast is having fun and that they are actually friends off-camera. This post will examine one of these sitcoms.

As crazy as this reads, my Dad and I were actually at the taping of “The Big Bang Theory” pilot! Full disclosure: it was an amazing atmosphere, sitcom episode and, being candid, it felt like a hit from the very first scene that was shot in the waiting room where Sheldon & Leonard were waiting to make manly depos-…you get the picture. They ultimately bailed out, but this first impression of the characters was funny nonetheless.

In this first episode, the final scene comprised of the four guys and Penny driving out to dinner. Howard Wolowitz, the self-described Ladies Man, who can wish a woman “good shower” in a multitude of languages, was flirting with Penny by enticing the group to got to a karaoke bar. Wolowitz then proceeds to seductively, and humorously, serenade Penny. Penny is caught between a smile and a gentle laugh, genuinely amused by her co-star as Sheldon closes out the show with a quip about Leonard being a, “veritable Mack Daddy” in the car, directly referring to his long-shot chances of dating the beautiful girl next door. Penny then bursts into laughs from the back seat as the scene goes to black.

Comradery is special to see in any episode, let alone the pilot. Aside from the fact the first episode was great by regular standards, this quintet appeared to be onto something beyond just a pilot. This very funny show with its great characters enters Season 7 (already!?) this fall with Leonard returning to Pasadena andĀ  his girlfriend Penny from his career-changing voyage at sea with Stephen Hawking’s research team and with Raj finally able to speak to women without being intoxicated, which actually turned Amy into a bit of a drinker…this being a sips worth of red wine.

One guarantee is that if the cast is having fun, it’s very likely the audience is too.

The laughs in the upcoming seventh season are only four months away.