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May 4, 2005

The TV season now ending had barely begun last fall when I composed a few choice comments for your consideration. Now, I am not exactly the most astute viewer, but because I do watch quite a bit, it gives me a certain sense of expertise. You be the judge.

For one thing, "Law and Order" is a big favorite at our house. We watch the new episodes of all four versions of this venerable show, and we also watch the reruns on cable channels. Mr. Jerry Orbach, the lead detective in the principal show, formally departed just before the announcement that he would be back with Bebe Neuwerth, formerly of "Cheers," That was good news. I first saw Mr. Orbach when he was the principal male dancing and singing lead in the Broadway production of "Chicago," and he was merely great. His one-liners on "Law and Order" also were great. We miss him. Some of the new shows, and those returning after just one season, are being touted for all kinds of major awards. I understand that performers and shows can nominate themselves, and not all of them choose to do that. Maybe that's why some of my favorites were overlooked in the Emmy awards.

TV has fallen on hard times for various reasons, all of them monetary. Some of the hit shows are struggling, and many of them lack the quality we used to see every night. Raunchy lines and bare skin seem to be the main ingredients offered to the audience who once enjoyed Mary Tyler Moore and various other artists. Our household was never very fond of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, but at least they have no comparable performers today. Subtlety and comic genius are in extremely short supply.

Johnny Carson's self-effacing humor was enjoyable, but now he's gone and his successor, Jay Leno, is about ready to hang them up. Here's hoping an inventive comic takes his place. Conan O'Brien is the presumptive heir, but he will need to clean up much of his act to suit me. He is funny, though.

So there you are, a few random thoughts about the kind of TV that is being offered to us today. My grandkids want to know what people did before they had television. Danged if I can remember.