Posted in Food, Humor, TV, tagged Cheers, Diet, Doctors, fish, Food, Humor, Hungry Heifer, Imitation Crab Meat, Imitation Lobster, Men's Health, Norm, TV, Woody on May 22, 2013 |
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In a classic episode of Cheers, Norm — “Norm!” — talked about eating at the Hungry Heifer, a blue-collar dining hall where the portions were immense because all of the food was imitation. Woody, intrigued, decided to join Norm for a meal. When he returned to the bar he explained that the imitation food had to be called by a slightly different name, then raved about the “loobster” and “beff.”
Lately I feel like I’ve been channeling my inner Norm.
When my doctor told me to try to eat more fish and less red meat I groaned. I don’t mind the taste of fish, but it’s a pain to prepare and tends to stink up the house. One day at the neighborhood Kroger, however, I noticed packages of chilled imitation crab and imitation lobster. They were cheap, so I decided to give them a try. Surprisingly, they were tasty, and now they’ve been worked into my evening meal rotation on days when we don’t feel like making a big sit-down meal. I feel good about listening to my doc when I buy them, because they have a “heart healthy” logo, too.
What’s in the imitation crab and lobster? Mostly Alaska pollock, apparently. The ingredient list also indicates that the product includes water, wheat starch, sodium, extracts of crab, oyster, scallop, lobster, cutlassfish, anchovy, and bonito, fish oil, rice wine, egg whites, and corn starch, as well as some more exotic sounding experiments from the chemistry lab, like disodium inosinate, guanylate, titanium dioxide, carmine, and canthaxanthin. For all of that, the imitation lobster and crab taste pretty much like lobster and crab. And, on the laundry list you won’t find anything that looks or sounds like red meat. So, on any random night you might find me munching on some imitation crab leg, feeling good about my dietary habits and food spend, and inevitably thinking: “Norm!“
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The Office is counting down to the last show of the series. Kish and I enjoy the show, and we’re holding our breath that the characters we’ve come to love aren’t ruined forever as the producers seek to build tension for a big finale.
I may be the only person in America who was happy when Steve Carell left The Office. I thought the Michael Scott character had become so painfully awkward and outlandish that the series was difficult to watch, and the Michael Scott stories were interfering with the show’s real strength — which is the ensemble of office workers. Every moment of Michael Scott angst took time away from a Jim Halpert practical joke at the expense of Dwight Schrute, or droll Stanley Hudson comment, or Creed Bratton weirdness. When Michael Scott finally left it cleared the way for the other characters to shine, and they did.
Many of the great American sitcoms have been ensemble efforts, rather than solo star vehicles. Cheers, Seinfeld, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Taxi, among many others, all have been classic multi-character efforts. What would Cheers have been without the characters shouting “Norm!” or listening to Cliff’s latest blowhard theory? How much did Newman bring to Seinfeld, and the Reverend Jim add to Taxi? The Office characters are similarly capable of carrying their show as a group, and since Steve Carell’s departure the show has remained hilarious without the downside of the pitiable Michael Scott storylines.
This year, though, the show seems to have lost its way. Pam and Jim are having marital difficulties, and a lbehind-the-camera sound technician has emerged as a suitor for Pam’s affections. Andy Bernard, who may be the most unevenly written character in TV history, has gone off the deep end. It’s as if the producers are searching for a dramatic conclusion — and I wish they would resist that temptation. We want to remember Jim and Pam as the young lovers who finally found each other or the happy newlyweds, not as some estranged couple fighting in a way that seems inconsistent with their well-established characters.
I’d be perfectly happy if the last episode featured more of the enjoyable antics of Dwight and Angela, and Oscar and Kevin, and Phyllis and Meredith, and the show ended with a Jim Halpert prank and Pam simply turning out the lights of the Dunder-Mifflin workroom a la The Mary Tyler Moore Show, as another workday ends.
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Posted in TV, tagged Cheers, House, Hugh Laurie, TV on May 21, 2012 |
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Tonight Fox will air the last episode of House. It will be a two-hour finale, and then the show will be relegated to The Happy Land of Perpetual TV Reruns.
Kish and I have watched House, faithfully, from the beginning of the first season until tonight’s end. I don’t know how many TV shows I can say that about. Cheers was one; I’m not sure there have been any others. Not many long-running shows can hold my interest from beginning to end. Often they become rote and predictable, or they take a turn for the worse, or I just lose interest.
One reason House is the rare exception is that the show has maintained a high quality level throughout its run while at the same time staying true to its core premise and themes. Dr. Gregory House, that brilliant diagnostician who has a predictable “Eureka!” moment just about every episode, has remained a broken, deeply disturbed, drug-popping jerk who can’t maintain a normal human relationship. The show’s creators haven’t married him off, or had him adopt a child, or required him to take some other out-of-character step to try to boost ratings or keep the show “fresh.” I respect that, and I also respect that star Hugh Laurie and the creative brain trust of House have decided to call it quits while the show is still on top. There is nothing more painful than a TV show — or a professional athlete — that stays on until it is well past its prime.
I’ll miss House, but I’ll look forward to seeing the awesomely talented Hugh Laurie in other roles that allow him to stretch his acting abilities. Right now, I’m just hoping that the last show of this terrific series doesn’t fall prey to the disastrous finale syndrome that has caused other legendary shows to end with an embarrassing whimper rather than a well-deserved bang.
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