September 13, 2001

Fall TV Turns up the Volume

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Could it be that bigger is not actually better? Does size not matter? This question may finally be answered as the year segues into an alluring new season of TV. It may be the small screen, but its modest field of view may give the big screen a run for its money, literally. With a topically diverse listing of shows on each network, an impressive showing of A-list Hollywood talent, and a higher standard to meet in the world of television, the weekly stories we all tune in to each week look eager and apt to please.

There are a few possibilities as to why television, which in the past has offered little competition as a supposedly inferior medium, has entered into a tortoise and the hare type race with the studios of Tinseltown. To begin with, television shows (if they pass the apprehensive first season advertising test) offer a normalized schedule to talent, and steady work in comparison to the job-by-job world of film. Talented thespians who are weary of the globe-trotter lifestyle may find television a nice break from the grueling schedule of a movie star. Instead of living in a constant state of transition, actors come to a point when having an appointed soundstage on a studio lot is a serious perk. Consider Rosie O’Donnell who delved into the world of daytime talkshows in 1997. She may not have been traveling to exotic shooting locations, but she was able to raise her children in her hometown of New York and be a more normalized version of the working mom.

More recently, Martin Short, is now starring on Comedy Central in Primetime Glick, which the New York Times hailed as one of the best new shows of 2001. Returning to the world of broadcast after a spotty twenty year hiatus (he started out as an SNL cast member in ’84 and attempted an unsuccessful talkshow in ’94), Short explained his move to the New York Times in July, citing friends and family as a major motivator.

As Comedy Central is based in New York, it allows the star of both cinema and stage to remain in the same city as his family while still flying his comrades and fellow comics out from L.A. to play. Short’s character, Jiminy Glick, uses his brash and offensive brand of yellow journalism to squeeze the Hollywood buzz and scuzz out of celebs such as Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, and Nathan Lane. It’s a certifiable riot ruled by wit, satire, and pure, unadulturated comedy.

A slew of shows debuting at the end of this month promise the same level of quality and quantity as Short’s weekly expos