"Cheers and Jeers"
TV Guide
Mach 16, 2002


CHEERS to pitch-perfect humor. Mountain Dew's latest commercial is so good it almost has us swearing off cola forever. At least it had us giggling like kids in church. The spot features the stars of that Sunday-morning stop-action classic from the '60s, Davey and Goliath. "We got hosed, Tommy," says Davey to a buddy when Davey's dad chugs the last drop of Dew. This one is for those of us who still think of a talking dog whenever we hear "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

JEERS to dubious maneuvers. Some ideas just seem bad from the start, like sending an ex-model to do a reporter's job. NBC's Today recently sent "supermodel Christy Turlington" (the show's words) to Afghanistan for a segment on how children there are coping with war. The fluffy report turned tragedy into a stunt, and a banal one at that. But the more significant blurring of the line between news and entertainment is about to take place at ABC, where network execs (reportedly ignoring complaints from the ABC News division) have OK'd a 13-part reality series about American soldiers in Afghanistan. Producers, including Jerry Bruckheimer (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down), will work with the Pentagon to gain access to the troops — something that news crews have found increasingly difficult, if not impossible, lately. The news officials are justified in their concern.

CHEERS to a strong start. CBS's 60 Minutes and correspondent Steve Kroft produced a one-hour report for Court TV's investigative series The System, and the March 6 episode — "Burning Questions: The Pioneer Hotel Fire" — had us hoping for further collaborations. Kroft dug into the ashes of an old crime (the 1970 arson at Tucson's Pioneer Hotel that killed 29 people) and raised serious questions about whether an innocent man has been in jail for more than three decades. Under the deal between CBS and Court TV, a shortened version of The System report aired March 3 as a segment on 60 Minutes. Looks to us like a good arrangement.

JEERS to giving it away. Part of the considerable appeal of Fox's 24 is the show's way with a cliff-hanger. The hour-in-the-life premise of the thriller makes for some real edge-of-the-couch moments, so why would the network want to spoil things with overly informative previews? One recent sneak peek showed Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) reunited with his kidnapped wife and daughter — a resolution we would gladly have waited a week to see. With 24, the tension is half the fun.

CHEERS to a flash — of wit. As a TV camera panned the audience of The Rosie O'Donnell Show on February 21, a woman lifted her shirt and gave viewers of the live broadcast an image usually reserved for HBO. Following a commercial, a flustered O'Donnell fired off the best quip of its kind since David Niven berated a streaker's "shortcomings" during the 1974 Oscars. Said O'Donnell of the topless fan, "She is now with security, waiting to get into the Montel show." Turns out, the flasher was merely trying to show her daughter and granddaughter at home the beaded, heart-adorned T-shirt they'd made for her. Surprise!

CHEERS to having the guts to show a gut. With all the toned, lifted and otherwise beautiful bodies on display at the Grammy Awards, we have to Cheer host Jon Stewart for keeping it real. Stripped to his boxers as part of a mock security check, Stewart looked just like a typical flabby, pasty, middle-aged guy. OK, so we were glad he put his clothes on after the first commercial break, but the comedian deserves some credit for putting laughs before pride. As for the rest of the CBS broadcast, the diversity of musical acts — from bluegrass and classical to boy bands and R&B songbirds — more than made up for the poorly written presenters' patter. Tight security prohibited unexpected guests (no Soy Bomb for Bob Dylan this time around). But we're still wondering if Ray Romano expected the hard shove he got from co-presenter Kevin James. That fall looked as real as the apparent anger on Romano's face.


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