Channeling



Al Gore had a borderline hilarious guest spot on SNL the other night.

I enjoy Ken Tucker's EW blog, Watching TV, and his reactions to Saturday Night Live this season have jibed with mine. So it was strange to read his review of SNL in the latest print issue of Entertainment Weekly, also posted online, and see that despite the big opening photo he didn't repeat his props to the Taylor Swift episode.


[Rude words alert! Coarse language is discussed, and therefore quoted, in the next three paragraphs; skip to "Click for Rest of Post" link (if you're on the digest page) or the next graphic (if you're already on the post's main page) to avoid it.]

Tucker also wrote about David Letterman's reaction, on CBS's Late Show last week, to The New York Times' front-page article on the current prevalence of the word "douche" in primetime.

Now, I'm with both fellas in terms of how absurd it feels to see a probe into that subject on Pg. A1 of the Old Grey Lady (at least it was, as Dave pointed out, "below the fold") — but I've also noticed, and frankly been shocked by, this latest advance in the trend toward coarse dialogue on television. I was there when NYPD Blue premiered to controversy with Det. Andy Sipowicz' immortal line, "ipso this, you pissy little bitch," and I remained a loyal viewer through ten years of great writing that eventually, realistically, included the occasional "bullshit" as well as the ballyhooed bare bottoms. But that was a gritty cop drama airing at 10 p.m. ET/PT. When Friends moved to 8 o'clock, I was just as uneasy as I've been with How I Met Your Mother's assumption of the same timeslot this year; both were among my very few sitcom indulgences, and I didn't want them to change their sensibilities, but neither did I find their content appropriate for family hour. Not long after I stopped wondering when it became okay to use the phrase "pissed off" on broadcast TV, up popped "dick" with regularity on Comedy Central's irreverent Daily Show and then on the networks, followed by what seemed like an overnight industry-wide memo to replace that epithet with "douche" — the youth-oriented CW's Supernatural even titled an episode "Criss Angel Is a Douche Bag" last season.

To bring this back around to SNL, it's only fair to note that the show slyly brought "douche" out of Massengill commercials and into late-night television years ago with a 1980 skit that wondered What if the Earl of Sandwich wasn't the only nobleman who gave his name to a handy invention? Although the skit doesn't seem to be in NBC's online video library of the show, you'll get the gist of it from the aforelinked YouTube clip, which should pass fair-use muster.


While Dave was discussing the word that rhymes with Scaramouche, and rightly pointing out that it is French for shower, I wondered if he was aware of how frequently Craig Ferguson utters it on CBS's Late Late Show these days.

I'm still enjoying Craig's cold opens, and if the guest list looks good I'll stop whatever I'm watching on tape post-Letterman to check in or on rare occasions record the show. The latter move paid off when it came to last week's interviews with David Duchovny and Lewis Black; the whole episode is online, but I don't see the segments posted individually.

You may know Black from his stand-up specials or the recurring Daily Show segment Back in Black, whose most recent installment found him following up a sound bite from Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Al Gore's old running mate, for those of you keeping track of the serendipities here) with the remark, "That old Jewish lady is right." Had there been food or drink in my mouth at the time, I might not be alive today.

Black was on The Late Late Show promoting his History Channel special, Surviving the Holidays, which finds him exploring the traditions of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, and New Year's Eve, with commentary from over a dozen other comedians, Ferguson among them. Craig asked Black if he'd seen the new Twilight film, to which Black replied in hilariously poor taste, "I'd rather do what the kids these days call 'cutting'." Another topic of conversation between Black and Ferguson was brisket, which also got a shout-out from Craig during the filming of The Late Late Show's new title sequence, produced in honor of its move to HDTV and a great improvement over the last incarnation. Searching for that behind-the-scenes video, by the way, I just discovered that the zippy theme song actually exists in an extended version with multiple verses and bridge.

One of the charges leveled against the Twilight films is that chaste vampires are virtually oxymoronic, since the whole bloodsucking thing is usually a barely disguised metaphor for, and/or overt companion act to, sex. I get that the Twilight books were aimed at younger readers as well as readers of all ages who would revel in the romantic tension between a 100-year-old teenager and his high-school sweetheart, but it does seem an ill fit. Maybe Twilight is just the universe's way of counterbalancing the hellacious horniness of HBO's True Blood and the many WB/UPN seasons of the classic, colossally carnal Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One day soon I'll finish my writeup of True Blood, which at least has a virginal twentysomething gal at its center, as opposed to the jailbait creepily crushed on by centenarian immortals in Buffy, Twilight, and The Vampire Diaries. Meanwhile, I'll steer things back to Ferguson by noting that Buffy alum David Boreanaz, now on Fox's addictive Bones, is one of Craig's best guests, as is Neil Patrick Harris, whose How I Met Your Mother costar Alyson Hannigan, formerly Buffy's Willow, has proved to be an inveterate comedienne.

Of the three only Harris has hosted SNL, although according to the insanely helpful SNL Archives website Boreanaz made a cameo during Sarah Michelle Gellar's second gig. Here's hoping that he and Hannigan end up in some romantic comedies or big-budget action flicks soon, since either would likely be a hoot as host but neither will get the nod on the basis of headlining hot shows on competing networks. And having brought things full circle, my friends, that is our final thought for tonight.

Logos and title cards are trademarks of their respective rightsholders. Photos taken from various sources, uncredited. Composites performed by the author.

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