After the jump is my Beacon Journal column from Sunday about "30 Rock." As I mentioned in my most recent "Talking television" video, I'm not thrilled with the beginning of the new season. The column offers some details.
Does anyone else find this sponsorship deal as funny as I do:
The Under Armour All-America Selection Tour announced today that Right Guard will be the presenting partner for the inaugural 10-city tour beginning Oct. 15 in West Chester, Ohio at Lakota West High School. The Selection Tour will visit 10 high schools across the nation, during the months of October and November, to honor the next generation of football players that have been selected to participate in the 2010 Under Armour All-America Game.
Given Al Roker's waistline battles, I am also wondering if this is a good promotional idea:
The Weather Channel and Dunkin’ Donuts have teamed up to give consumers two great ways to start the day. Watch Wake Up with Al, featuring Al Roker and co-host Stephanie Abrams, weekdays at 6 a.m. ET on The Weather Channel and visit www.weather.com/wakeup to enter for a daily chance to win a $100 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card from Oct. 7-Nov. 24.
Of course, I am fixated on weight and eating these days. And donuts.
Finally, some Monty Python news:
SIRIUS XM Radio ... will launch Monty Python Radio, a 24/7 channel devoted to, and hosted by, the iconic British comedy troupe.
The limited-run channel will premiere on Friday, October 16, the day after the stars receive a Special Award from The British Academy of Film and Television Arts event at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City, and will run for ten full days featuring classic Python sketches, skits and, songs; fans calling in with requests; fans and celebrities telling favorite sketches and Python memories; and various members of the original Python troupe reminiscing and talking of new projects.
The 24/7 channel will showcase comedic bits from Monty Python’s Flying Circus television show, including the legendary segments “Spam,” ”Nudge Nudge,” “Killer Joke,” “Argument Clinic,” “Cheese Shop” and unexpected skits like “The Spanish Inquisition,” and tracks from the troupe’s various albums, including Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album, Matching Tie and Handkerchief, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life and Monty Python Sings.
And, if you've missed it, IFC is going Pythonic:
The Independent Film Channel (IFC) announced today that Python fans across the U.S. will be able to enjoy the long-awaited reunion of the legendary Monty Python comedy troupe LIVE on IFC.com and PythOnline.com. The invitation-only event, held October 15 at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, will celebrate the group's 40th anniversary and premiere the original IFC documentary, "Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut)."
By visiting IFC.com or PythOnline.com Thursday, October 15 at approximately 9:00 PM EST, audiences across the U.S. can watch the historic event reuniting all five surviving members of the Monty Python team - John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin - as they take to the stage for a Q&A discussion with the audience. IFC will produce the live stream in conjunction with Ustream, the leading internet broadcasting platform.
In addition to watching the event LIVE, fans can also embed the video into other web properties such as blogs, fan pages, and more by visiting http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ifclive. ...
IFC will air the full six-hour version of "Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyer's Cut)" during the network's six day "Python-a-thon" October 18th through 23rd at 9 PM Eastern/8 PM Central. The first part of the documentary premiers on Sunday, October 18, at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. After each episode, IFC will air a classic Python film and an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
And so to "30 Rock" ...
30 Rock returns at 9:30 p.m. Thursday on NBC, and people aware of its most recent Emmy haul may wonder what the awards voters were thinking.
For those of you tuning in late, the series stars (and was created by) Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, boss of a struggling sketch-comedy series on NBC.
In the most recent Emmys, the show won for best comedy series (it wasn't -- The Office was better last season). Alec Baldwin, as NBC/GE executive Jack Donaghy, won for best lead actor in a comedy. And the series won the Emmy for comedy writing, a category in which it had four of the five nominations. (Flight of the Conchords had the other.)
The show is often good, and sometimes hilarious. At least in the seasons so far. But two new episodes made available for preview were noticeably underwhelming save for the odd little gag here and there.
Of course, 30 Rock loads up with jokes -- not only plot and character pieces but asides in the dialogue and even visual pieces. (One of the few things that made me laugh in these two episodes was a book-jacket cover.)
The show is Simpsons-like both in that amount of humor and in the way it sometimes comments on the world outside the show. There is, for instance, a Michael Jackson allusion followed by a comment on whether mentioning Michael Jackson is appropriate, and a blatant swipe at NBC's current prime-time schedule.
But stuffing the show to the gills with gags is hard work, and it appears to have taken away from 30 Rock's big-picture need: coming up with an amusing story to keep an episode moving from one joke to the next.
In that area, 30 Rock seems tired. Too often it offers premises that have already been mined, such as Jack's also overseeing microwave production, an old rivalry between a couple of characters and Tracy's being disconnected from the real world.
And, while a promotional video for NBC tennis coverage is amusing, it is based on the assumption that 30 Rock's NBC doesn't have pro football; the show is sharper when it pokes at the real network's numerous problems. The Olympics-tied bit in an episode last season was much more pointed and funnier.
Again, I did laugh some. But not nearly as much as the show has made me laugh in the past. And some of the laughs probably resulted from going long stretches without seeing something that was really funny. I would like to think the show will get better, but I am far from sure that it will.
By the way, Community, which has been occupying the 30 Rock slot and which already has done a couple of very funny episodes, has moved to 8 p.m. Thursday.