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Fox Promotes Fitzpatrick, Toronto

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 29:  Terrell Owens...
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Here is a Sunday Night Football special that includes an eight-pack of thoughts about the radio and coverage of the most recent Buffalo Bill loss to put them behind the 8-ball at 0-8.

1. Fox’s announcing team of Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan certainly took the optimistic view during the Bills 22-19 loss to Chicago from Toronto.

That’s not unexpected. Announcers often promote the NFL games they cover.

 But a viewer might have thought that Ryan would have addressed more fully one of the issues that is most likely to burn up the local talk shows tonight and all week: Bills Coach Chan Gailey’s use — or misuse — of two timeouts in the final three minutes.

 One of the timeouts was called to send in a key play, the other to challenge an incomplete pass ruling that Ryan instantly said was correct after looking at a replay.

 If the Bills had those two timeouts in the final two minutes, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (above with former teammate Terrell Owens) wouldn’t have had to gamble with a pass down the middle that ended with an interception.

 2. Rosen should immediately get a job with the Toronto Chamber of Commerce. Before the kickoff, he noted what “a great atmosphere” there was in the Rogers Centre. That certainly didn’t come through to armchair fans or in stories about how turned off Torontonians have been about the deal that brings the Bills annually to their city.

 3. Ryan should become Fitzpatrick’s agent. On a couple of occasions, he said that the quarterback looked like the long-term answer for the Bills. That isn’t the popular view of local sports hosts or columnists.

 But it is hard to disagree with the Fox analyst’s assessment of Fitzpatrick, even if the Harvard grad seems to find ways to lose at the end of games. All the talk show discussion about all the top-flight college quarterbacks out there – the Andrew Lucks and Ryan Malletts of the world – seems to ignore the fact that their receivers are usually open by 10 yards while Fitzpatrick has to get a pass into a crack.

 4. It has become almost a weekly occurrence. I’m talking about the inability of Bills games to be carried in HD on Time Warner Cable at the start, only to be available in HD in 10 or 15 minutes or so. It happened again today. I have a new game plan. For now, I’m going to watch the games on WUTV’s digital channel with the rabbit ears that TWC gave me when it was battling Channel 4 and the CBS affiliate wasn’t on cable. The picture on the digital channel is clearer. However, an Amherst reader advised me that the digital channel also was missing HD at game’s start, which indicates it wasn’t a TWC problem.

 5. That was an amusing halftime exchange when Fox analyst Howie Long suggested that teammate Jimmy Johnson would prefer the Bills go winless. But not having seen the pre-game show, it seemed like an inside joke. I wish Long or Johnson explained it.

 6. I’m guessing many Bills were thinking that Fitzpatrick was due for one big mistake before his big interception in the fourth quarter turned the game around. But the plays that really hurt were Rian Lindell’s blocked extra point, which appeared to be kicked low and Bryan Scott’s inability to come up with a gift interception on a screen pass.

 7. Brent Axe is a good addition as the post-game host of 97 Rock’s Bills coverage. He is reasonable and keeps things moving. That’s all I ask of a post-game host.

 8. Early in WGR’s post-game coverage, Mike Schopp proclaimed the game “boring” even though it was close. If he is that easily bored on a fall Sunday afternoon, maybe the station should find someone else to do the post-game show of what is the biggest TV event of every week during the season. It is boring to listen to a sports talk radio host talking about a game that he thinks is boring.

 pergament@msn.com    

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No Horsin’ Around: WNGS is Back

Mister Ed
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Just in time for the Breeders’ Cup weekend, “Mr. Ed” is back on local television.

That classic TV show about a talking horse is part of the schedule of WNGS, Channel 67, which returned Wednesday on many Time Warner Cable systems on Channel 5.

 WNGS, which formerly carried the Retro Television Network on Channel 11, quietly returned to cable after a six-month absence in which it was first sold to a religious network and more recently sold to a local buyer.

 WNGS carries old classic TV shows and movies affiliated with THIS, a joint venture between MGM and a Chicago-based broadcasting company.

 THIS TV briefly aired locally on WNGS several months ago after its former owner, Equity Broadcasting, and RTN parted company. RTN now is carried on one of Channel 2’s digital channels. Channel 2 also carries a few classic TV shows at noon weekdays and occasionally in prime time.

 One of the more frequently asked questions by local readers has been what has happened to WNGS?

 Many of the series – including “Mr. Ed” and “The Patty Duke Show” – are in black and white.

 The family-friendly channel also carries an extensive lineup of children’s programs and prime time movies. 

 According to a TWC spokesman, the system must-carry WNGS in areas where it has enough signal strength. The channel is located in Springville.

 * TWC’s Prime Time On Demand feature — which is carried on Channels 705 and 1005 – also has a new wrinkle.  

 The On Demand channel added ABC programs this week. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of ABC’s prime time shows – including “Castle” with Nathan Fillion ,“Cougar Town” with Courteney Cox, “Desperate Housewives” with Eva Longoria and “Private Practice”  with Kate Walsh. And there are only one or two episodes of those shows available.

There are no episodes On Demand of “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Modern Family,” which are two of ABC’s more popular programs.

 However, in a few weeks, more ABC programs should be available when TWC adds Prime Time On Demand HD to its lineup on Channel 705. The standard definition presentation of shows on Prime Time On Demand will be on Channel 1005. PTOD now carries prime programs of every major network but Fox.

 pergament@msn.com

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Ch.7 Carries Ad Attacking Its Owner

 

Did you miss seeing all the negative political advertisements when they were eliminated from the local TV newscasts the day after Election Day?

 Didn’t think so.

 But one negative ad is still worth talking about it.

 I saw the ad that attacked New York State Comptroller candidate Harry Wilson, a Republican, for the first time on Tuesday morning.

 In the ad, a few old-timers who worked at FiberMark, a paper and fiber manufacturing firm in the state, talked about the cuts they experienced after Wilson’s former company took it over.

 Wilson is a former partner of Silver Point Capital, an equity trading firm or hedge firm sponsor located in Greenwich, Conn. that specializes in restructuring companies. He left the company two years ago.

 The sad old-timers said in the ad that after Silver Point took over FiberMark it cut medical insurance, froze pensions and cut wages. In other words, it is was bad, very bad. And they thought voters should know who Harry Wilson was.

 I bring this up because the ad ran on Channel 7, which now happens to be owned by Silver Point Capital.

 The station’s employees haven’t suffered the pain mentioned by FiberMark employees but it hasn’t exactly been a picnic for union staffers since Silver Point took over, either.

 Undoubtedly, you’ve seen the union signs that ask viewers to turn the station off and claim that the owners have been unfair.

 Channel 7’s union staffers haven’t had a raise in three years and are working under an imposed contract.

 Why then, you may ask, did Channel 7 agree to carry the negative ad that attacked the practices of the company owns it?

 Under law it had to carry it. Stations also aren’t allowed to change any copy in political ads.

 By the way, Wilson – who was endorsed by the New York Times — lost to Thomas DiNapoli.

 * And the local winner on Election Night was Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate.

 It benefited from the decision of its network to begin Election coverage at 9 p.m.,  30 minutes before ABC (Channel 7) and an hour before CBS (Channel 4).

 NBC’s prime time election coverage averaged a 7.5 rating on Channel 2, which would be decent for its entertainment programs. ABC, which ran a “Dancing With The Stars” results show at 9 p.m., averaged a 6.8 on Channel 7. CBS averaged a 5.2 rating.

 Interestingly, Fox News had a combined 6.0 rating for the hour it carried simultaneously on local affiliate Channel 29 and on its regular cable channel. In other words, the combined rating here was higher than CBS’ rating.

 Western New York definitely is Fox News country. The conservative channel’s rating more than doubled CNN’s average here on a big Republican night and was more than four times higher than the coverage on the liberal MSNBC.

 Thanks to its NBC lead-in, Channel 2 won a tight Election night battle with Channel 4 at 11 p.m. Channel 2 averaged a 9.9, Channel 4 a 9.6. Channel 7, Silver Point’s channel, averaged a 5.3. For much of the half-hour, all three stations carried Carl Paladino’s concession speech.

 At 10 p.m., Channel 4’s news on sister station WNLO more than doubled Channel 2’s news on WNYO, 5.7-2.7.

 pergament@msn.com

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Postles Gives Strange, Beautiful Review

Brian Williams at the Vanity Fair celebration ...
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The Top 10 thoughts about the coverage of the 2010 Election Day:

1) What speech was he watching?

After Carl Paladino made his extended and belated concession speech Tuesday night, Channel 4 anchor Don Postles opined: “A very long and beautiful speech.”

 Long, yes. But beautiful?

 That wasn’t the B word I would have used.

 After a pleasant start, Paladino reverted to campaign form.

 His speech was full of Blame, with Paladino going out of his way to unnecessarily blast the media and showcase where he went wrong in the process.

 He never seemed to realize the media was just doing its job reporting on his self-destructive behavior during the gubernatorial campaign with Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

 “You could see it was difficult for him to say goodbye,” co-anchor Jacquie Walker said later.

 Agreed. It took several moments for Paladino to soak in the love from his followers before he started his speech.

 His followers were overheard loudly expressing their love, anger and frustration (primarily with the media) as Paladino spoke about the unfairness of it all.

Puh-lease. The candidate had no one to blame but himself and his handlers, who on Tuesday night were laughingly trying to sell the conspiracy theory that the Associated Press and other media outlets were projecting Cuomo as the early winner because they weren’t Paladino fans.

Any campaign manager who thinks the AP, NBC News and others outlets would jeopardize their reputation to “take out” a candidate they don’t like has listened to too many Sarah Palin speeches.

I called a friend in New York City to see how the media there reacted to Paladino’s speech and was told that the word thrown out the most often was “classless.”

Joel Giambra, a Republican who was the former County Executive, was a voice of reason as Channel 4’s analyst. “The campaign was not a classy campaign,” he said of Paladino. “In retrospect, a lot of things should have been done differently.”

I would include the tone of the concession speech in things that should have been done differently.

2) Cuomo wasn’t any classier in winning than Paladino was in losing.  His victory speech – which came before Paladino’s concession speech – didn’t name Paladino but included several pointed remarks directed at him about attempts to divide the diverse population of New York. It would have been better if Cuomo had congratulated Paladino for winning the nomination and declined to throw more verbal bombs at the loser. But apparently that isn’t Andrew’s way.

3. Earth to Channel 2’s anchor Scott Levin. He noted early that both Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand had won six-year Senate terms. Actually, Gillibrand – who was appointed to the job two years ago when Sen. Hillary Clinton was named Secretary of State — won a special election to serve the last two years of Clinton’s six-year term. She is going to have to run again in two years. I Googled that after CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said Gillibrand had won a four-year term.

 4. Faulty Projection: The projection early was that Election night was going to be the night that Time Warner’s 24-hour news channel YNN came of age because it got a huge head start on the local channels covering the local elections. With the help of TWC’s NY1 downstate, it called the governor’s race right off the polls closed. But 20 minutes later, it carried a local YNN interview that may have confused viewers because it made it sound like the race hadn’t been decided. And then technological snafus and quick cutaways – including cutting off former Erie County Executive Ned Regan in mid-sentence — began.

 5. Welcome to the 21st Century, Nancy Naples:  A top Paladino adviser, Naples couldn’t believe that the networks and AP were calling the race before any votes were counted and held out hope that her candidate could still win. It has been decades since the networks waited to count votes before declaring winners via exit polls.

 6. CNN Ends Senate Suspense Early: CNN’s John King noted before 9 p.m. how it was “almost impossible” for the Republicans to take control of the Senate shortly after Democrats won key races in West Virginia, Connecticut and Delaware. “This is a huge win for the Democrats,” Blitzer declared after Joe Manchin’s Senate win in West Virginia.

 7. Projecting Maryalice, not Predicting: At 9:02, Channel 2 anchor Maryalice Demler said NBC News “is predicting” that Cuomo won the governor’s race. The word is “projecting,” which is based on exit polls. There’s a difference.

 It took NBC less than an hour to “project” the stunning size of the turnover in the House to Republican control. And, Nancy, the projections were made well before votes began to be counted in some states. “If projections hold,” said NBC anchor Brian Williams (see above), “it will be the fewest Democrats in the House in 64 years.” ABC News, which delayed its coverage by a half-hour to carry the results show of “Dancing With The Stars,” took much longer – waiting to almost 10 p.m. — to declare that the GOP had recaptured the House. (By the way, Rick Fox was eliminated from “DWTS.”)

8. Trends Arrive Late in Buffalo: NY1’s Michael Scotto said on YNN shortly after the governor’s race was called that “word hadn’t traveled” about Paladino’s defeat to the hotel ballroom of the candidate’s headquarters for the night. It became a recurring theme, with all local reporters noting that Paladino supporters didn’t know what was going on. Fill in your own punch line.

 9. The Hot Fudge Sundae Election: Jeff Greenfield of CBS has always been one of my favorite political analysts. He noted before the network signed off that typically politicians go into office vowing to cut spending and taxes without sacrificing programs vital to voters. “A lot of Americans believe in the Hot Fudge Sundae diet,” deadpanned Greenfield. “It is going to be a tough next year in Washington.”

10. There’s No Crying in Politics: John Boehner, the Ohio congressman who has done everything in his power to thwart President Obama’s agenda and now is expected to become Speaker of the House, got very emotional during his victory speech as he talked about the American dream. We tend during rough Election years to forget that politicians are human. Forgetting politics, Boehner reminded us that they are as he attempted to hold back tears. I’m not sure he succeeded. But then again, I’m not sure any politician can succeed at anything in these difficult and divisive days.

pergament@msn.com   

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World Series Beaten Soundly Here

NEW YORK - JULY 15:  Commissioner of Major Lea...
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 San Francisco’s five-game World Series victory over Texas certainly wasn’t a treat for WUTV, the local Fox affiliate.

 The Giants’ 3-1 clincher over the Rangers Monday night only averaged a 7.2 rating on Channel 29.

 That was in line with the five-game average of 7.4, which was slightly more than half of the 13.8 rating that the New York Yankees’ six-game Series triumph over Philadelphia averaged in 2009.

 Of course, the Yankees are a big draw in Western New York and the game six clincher a year ago had a 15.7 rating.

 The highest-rated game of the 2010 Series was Game One, which averaged an 8.5.

 It wasn’t that long ago that the NFL tried to avoid World Series games, which could split the sporting audience.

 But the NFL is king opposite baseball’s premiere event these days.

 New Orleans’ Sunday Night win over Pittsburgh averaged a 12.7 rating on Channel 2, which was almost double the 6.6 rating for Game Four of the series on WUTV. Indianapolis’ win over Houston on ESPN’s Monday Night Football averaged a 10.4 rating here, which was about 30 percent higher than the baseball game.

 The Game Five clincher only beat NBC’s lame Monday night shows in this market. ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” was the big local winner with a 16.0 rating on Channel 7. CBS’ shows on Channel 4 also did better than baseball here.

 Notably, the 10 p.m. ABC Monday drama “Castle” beat the new CBS hit “Hawaii 5-0 for the first time in our market, 9.2-7.9.

 We’ll find out next week if “Hawaii’ can get back on top without baseball competition. It is a show that is likely to appeal more to male viewers than “Castle.”

 * Speaking of the Series coverage, you make the call. Which is more painful to watch: Bud Selig’s (see above) presentation of the Commissioner’s Trophy to the winning Series team or The Masters presentation to the winner on CBS in April? It’s a tough call but I’m going with Selig’s presentation.

 Inquiring minds want to know: How did the new Channel 7 morning team of Patrick Taney and Ginger Geoffery do in the ratings in their first week on the job? “Eyewitness News This Morning” averaged a 2.2 for the week, down from the 2.6 it averaged this season with Bridget Blythe and Mike Randall (who remains on weather).

 Here’s one last thing to vote on: Which negative ads were more ridiculous in the Tim Kennedy-Jack Quinn III State Sentate race? The ads that blamed Kennedy for unemployment in Western New York or the ones with the baseball metaphor of strike 1, strike 2 and strike 3 dealing with Quinn’s voting record on sensitive issues? Not to be too negative, but both ads were an insult to the intelligence of voters.

 * Finally, a note about the blog. I took a few days off to relax and also because the power source to my computer broke. I guess it was trying to tell me that I was working too hard. In the future, I’ll try to warn readers when I’m taking time off.   

pergament@msn.com

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Dead Arrives to Enliven Sundays

Sarah Wayne Callies and Andrew Lincoln of The ...
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Now that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has announced he is planning to marry his secretary on the season finale of “Mad Men,” AMC is premiering a new 10 p.m. Sunday series that couldn’t be further in taste and style than the Emmy-winning drama.

 It is called “The Walking Dead.”

 And no it isn’t about the Democratic Party prior to Tuesday’s mid-term elections.

 Written and directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Frank Darabont (“Shawshank Redemption”), it’s a series about mad men and women who are roaming the streets of Atlanta as zombies.

 The timing of the 90-minute premiere on Halloween night couldn’t be any better.

Of course, zombie shows always seem to be timely.

They usually follow a familiar formula. “The Walking Dead” doesn’t exactly break new ground. Darabont said in press materials that he is a big fan of George Romero’s 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead” and it shows.

“WD” features a diverse cast of relative no names and faces who are trying to survive while the undead walkers try to catch them and eat them alive.

 The second episode, “Guts,” is an incredibly violent, bloody and fast-paced hour that is built around the theme of the importance of team work for survival.

 It also has some good involving twists – not all of them tastefully handled. I wouldn’t advise anyone to watch immediately after eating pizza, wings or another stomach-turning Bills loss.

 You can practically smell the fear of those trying to escape the clutches of the zombies even before they decide one of the best ways to avoid detection is to smell really, really bad.

Besides the violence, there is a good deal of dry humor and loud action scenes that would wake up the dead.

British actor Andrew Lincoln (see above with co-star Sarah Wayne Callies of “Prison Break”) stars as the sheriff who becomes the leader of a diverse group of survivors holed up in a department store that becomes unsafe after he leads the zombies there. 

Cast members that may look familiar to regular TV viewers include Buffalo’s Jeffrey DeMunn (who is in all of Darabont’s films), Callies (“Prison Break”) and Jon Bernthal (“The Pacific”).

The living trying to escape to a camp outside the big city include one powerful white trash racist.  His ugly attitude in episode two tests the all-for-one beliefs of the other living people, including a highly moral black man who is asked to forgive despicable racial taunts.

 The script resolution of that test is skillfully handled.

 Without breaking new zombie ground, “The Walking Dead” is a fast-paced, well-produced series that provides some thrills and excitement along with a positive message.

 It smells like a hit.

 Rating: 3 stars out of 4

* Welcome to the 21st Century: After co-host Robin Roberts said on “Good Morning America” Thursday that she missed President Obama’s appearance with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” co-host George Stephanopoulos quickly said he watched it online. I’m sure he didn’t mean to tell Roberts to join the internet age, but it sure came out that way.

President Obama’s appearance on “The Daily Show” didn’t make a lot of news but was still the lead of the Thursday morning network programs, with reporters noting that Stewart didn’t treat him as gently as he had in the past.

 That was a given. It is a lot easier to treat a candidate who doesn’t have any power well than it is to treat a president who is being held responsible for what is wrong in America. Stewart always reminds people that he isn’t really a journalist, but he asked the right questions, was fair and allowed the President to talk… and talk … and talk.

Stewart can go places with the President that serious journalists can’t go and that enables his show to have entertainment value as well as educational value. 

The President may have set an unofficial record for using the phrase that Larry David had so much fun with on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — “having said that.”

Having said that, I thought both Stewart and the President acquitted themselves very well and had to please their constituencies.

 Play ball: San Francisco’s high-scoring victory over Texas in Wednesday’s World Series opener had an 8.5 rating on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. That is considerably lower than the 12.1 here for Game 1 of last season’s Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia. But the Yanks are a big draw here – and just about everywhere.

 pergament@msn.com

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Ch. 7 Starts Slow in the Morning

Henry Winkler and Ron Howard
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This is what I’m thinking:

* It isn’t going to be easy for Patrick Taney and Ginger Geoffery to grow an audience for Channel 7’s newly-named “Eyewitness News This Morning.”

 That’s apparent from the ratings for the first two mornings of the 6 a.m. program that is now without Bridget Blythe.

 Channel 7 averaged a 2.0 rating for the two mornings. It got a 1.8 rating for Monday’s premiere, then rose to a 2.2 Tuesday. Those ratings are in line with the average for the morning program when Blythe and Mike Randall (who remains on weather) were co-anchors. (This just in: Wednesday’s rating rose to a 2.7, a figure the Blythe-Randall version hit at times).

 The 2.0 rating for the first two days is less than a third of the average for Channel 2’s first-place “Daybreak” and slightly above a third for Channel 4’s second-place “Wake Up.”

 It might have helped if Channel 7 did more promotion of the new team or better yet paired Taney and Geoffery in September when the new TV season began.

 * The new LeBron James ad for Nike that deals with his image as a villain after leaving his native Ohio (Cleveland) for Miami is an instant classic. It cleverly answers his critics and beautifully delivers the message that James was doing what he felt was in his best interest and not what others wanted him to be.

 * Speaking of classics, Channel 2 is airing a Halloween episode of “Happy Days” (see picture of Henry Winkler and Ron Howard above) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and two classic episodes of “The Twilight Zone” from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.  on the same night. The programs are hosted by Lydia Dominick, the host of the station’s classic programs running at noon weekdays.

Channel 2 is preempting Saturday repeats of the “Law & Order” series but is running them at different times.

* The political advertisements running have been a gold mine for all the local TV stations. They’ve accounted for more than half the ads in many newscasts and as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of the ad time on Channel 2’s news time at 6 p.m.

 In case you are wondering, the stations aren’t allowed to fact check the ads. They allow all the candidates to say whatever they want to say about their opponents. And they’ve said just about everything.

 * Today is the start of the November sweeps but don’t expect any big entertainment programs from the networks. Sure, there will be some big guest stars in many programs. But the days of big events have long since passed as the networks relay on their popular series now more than ever to grab audiences.

 * The New York Giants 41-35 victory over the Cowboys on ESPN’s Monday Night Football scored a 11.9 local rating, which was higher than every network show here that night except ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.” And the football game lasted much longer than those two entertainment programs.

*Finally, it is only a few days before ABC programs are scheduled to join the On Demand feature on Time Warner Cable. TWC had previously said the feature will be available Nov. 2, which is Tuesday.

 pergament@msn.com

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“Friday Night Lights” Remains a Winner

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It is time to get sentimental about “Friday Night Lights.”

And with “Friday Night Lights.”

The series about life in a small Texas town where high school football is king is entering its final season at 9 tonight on DirecTV’s The 101 Network before it gets a larger audience in 2011 on NBC.

 In a TV season that is without a must-see new hit, “Lights” shines as brightly and as beautifully as ever tonight in a premiere episode entitled “Expectations.”

 The series received Emmy respect last season, with the actors playing the best husband and wife team on TV, (Buffalo born) Kyle Chandler (see above, Coach Eric Taylor) and Connie Britton (guidance counselor Tami Taylor), deservedly getting nominations.

 This being high school, the departure of Minka Kelly (Derek Jeter’s fiance), Scott Porter (who now is on “The Good Wife”),  Adrianne Palicki (who was on this year’s flop “Lone Star”) and Zach Gilford as regular cast members have been skillfully handled. They all will return for appearances in the final season.

 Tonight, the Taylors have to deal with the heartache of seeing their daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden) head off to college.

 It is a very sentimental goodbye that should resonate with any parent who recently experienced the emotional pain of seeing a child leave while at the same time being proud that they raised him or her to be independent.

 At one point, Eric looks at his wife and daughter having a conversation at the kitchen table about shopping and says “I’m going to miss this.”

 There is a lot to love about “Lights,” with the Taylors’ ideal family life high on the list.

 The remaining characters from the original cast in tonight’s premiere include bad boy Tim Riggins (played by Taylor Kitsch) and good guy Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons). However, it looks like they also will be taking a back seat to the newcomers on the series.

 And the show’s writers have done a great job in the past few seasons incorporating new teen characters played by Michael B. Jordan, Matt Lauria, Jurnee Smollett and Madison Burges into the series. This year, they have added Grey Damon (“90210,” “True Blood”) to the cast as a basketball player who initially takes the very un-Texas like position that “football is stupid.”

 Though “Lights” has been one of the best shows on TV for four seasons, it never has been able to attract the audience it deserves for a combination of reasons.

For one thing, it isn’t easy getting viewers to watch family dramas.

 The football backdrop also may have turned off many female viewers from even trying it, though those who have seem to love it.

 The story lines also can be a little too dark and depressing since they deal with very real issues involving teens in a poor Texas town dominated by football – including the inequities between funding of schools, teen pregnancy, abortion, drugs, racial discord, neglectful and abusive parents and boyfriends and the difficult of escaping the cycle of poverty. 

 But it is the intelligent way that “Lights” deals with all those issues that makes it a TV classic that deserves to go out a winner.

 And all indications tonight are that it has a solid game plan for a final season after last year’s winning season in which Coach Taylor left the comfort of Dillon High to go cross-town to coach with considerably less resources at East Dillon.

It wasn’t an easy move for his wife, either. The guidance counselor is about to face frustrations after heading East at season’s end after taking a principled stand that upset the Dillon School Board.

 It looks like Coach Taylor will once again try to teach his players at East Dillon lessons about teamwork, pride and family, while his frustrated wife tries to help them overcome the low expectations that their parents have given them.

 In the end, if you don’t shed a tear or two as the Taylors prepare to say loving goodbyes to their daughter, then check your pulse to see if you alive.  

I’m going to miss this series.

pergament@msn.com

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Criqui Still On His Game

Seth Meyers
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 This is what I’m thinking:

 * As far as I’m concerned, it is too bad that play-by-play man Don Criqui and analyst Steve Beuerlein can’t work every Buffalo Bills game on CBS.

 The entertainment value of the Bills’ 37-34 Sunday loss to Baltimore was heightened by the work of the ageless Criqui and his broadcasting partner.

 Criqui, a Kenmore native, still sees things before they develop as illustrated when he called a Raven touchdown on a flea flicker before quarterback Joe Flacco even threw the pass.

He isn’t a Bills homer, but Criqui certainly knows how fans in his hometown think when he mentioned “good teams know how to win and bad teams, well, you know the rest.”

Only so well.

He also seemed to be warning Bills fans against pinning future hopes on college football quarterbacks such as Washington’s Jake Locker.

“He is not in the same planet as Ryan Fitzzpatrick,” assessed Criqui. “He’s inaccurate.”

 If Criqui made one questionable call Sunday, it was speculating that the Ravens had the game well in hand when the Bills fell behind by 10 points with about 10 minutes left in the game.

 Criqui has been around long enough to realize NFL games are never over.

 Beuerlein, meanwhile, was excellent in questioning why the Ravens just didn’t run the ball down the Bills throat and praising Bills receiver Steve Johnson well before it was clear that he was going to have the game of his life.

 Beuerlein also was sharp on instant replays, accurately predicting rulings. And that doesn’t always happen with many analysts.

 The announcers also realized that they had watched a very entertaining game.

 “What a football game,” said Beuerlein after it was over.

 “It’s been tremendous,” agreed Criqui.

 * University at Buffalo graduate Howard Kurtz generally isn’t that  opinionated as host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday morning.

But when a New York City newspaper reporter noted that she was glad that potential viewers got to learn more about Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, Kurtz instantly said “I don’t want to get to know him any better than this.”

* I’m not a fan of Channel 2’s latest gimmick of allowing people to give their two cents about issues. But I did laugh at Rob Lederman’s funny take on people who don’t have the proper etiquette at food drive-in windows.  It was Larry David-funny.

 * Everybody probably is talking more about Kenan Thompson’s imitation of “Rent Is Too High Party ”candidate Jimmy McMillan on “Saturday Night Live,” but I thought the filmed piece satirizing Minnesota quarterback Bret Favre’s woes was funnier. It certainly was more outrageous. McMillan has become a You Tube hit, with clips of his appearance at the gubernatorial debate drawing 3.4 million hits as of Monday.

 * The best take on the NPR-Juan Williams saga came from “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers(see above), who is becoming one of my favorite “Update” anchors of all time. He noted that Republicans Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee were so outraged about NPR’s decision that they even supported “a black guy named Juan.”

 pergament@msn.com

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Ch. 7 Morning Opener is Walkman-like

}Sony Walkman TPS-L2
Image via Wikipedia

 

 What do Channel 7 news and the Sony Walkman cassette recorder (see right) have in common?

 They were both popular in 1979.

 I bring this up because one of the stories mentioned in today’s first edition of “Eyewitness News This Morning” with new co-anchors Patrick Taney and Ginger Geoffery was the end of the manufacturing of the Walkman cassette recorder.

 “I’m a little sad about the Walkman,” lamented Taney.

 I feel the same way about Channel 7 news in the morning, which has been decades behind rivals Channel 2 and Channel 4 in presentation, manpower and personality.

 Not to mention ratings.

 Co-anchor Bridget Blythe took the fall last week, with Mike Randall going back to focus on weather.

 Taney and Geoffery, who have anchored at 5:30 p.m. weekdays and on weekends, respectively, are supposed to bring life and lively personalities to a morning show.

 You might think that would mean they would discuss their new roles and introduce themselves to new viewers on this morning’s opener. After all morning TV is all about personality.

 At 5 a.m. , Taney mentioned he expected to be wearing a heavy coat on his first day in his new role but the warm weather changed those plans. But from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., he and Geoffery didn’t even mention they were on their first day on their new jobs. 

 The one thing a viewer learned about Geoffery today is that she may need glasses after she had trouble seeing on a monitor whether it was 6:06 a.m. or 6:08 a.m.

 “You need glasses,” advised Taney.

 “I think I do,” replied Geoffery.

 More than new anchors, Channel 7 needs some vision on what it wants the morning program to be and what stories speak to local viewers.

 The set was full of people – Elizabeth Carey of Business First joined Taney, Geoffery and Randall. But the one reporter on the show, smooth newcomer Jaclyn Asztalos, was only briefly seen outside the Rath Building talking about a budget protest by small cultural institutions scheduled for late this afternoon.

 That and a visit today by Democrat gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo were the local stories getting the most attention. Many of the stories that the anchors mentioned dealt with situations in Indonesia (a possible volcano), Oregon (snow) and Texas (a tornado).

 Nothing says switch the channel more than stories that are several hundred or several thousand miles away.

 Admittedly, Monday morning can be a very slow news time. When Geoffery opened the show by saying “we’ve been very busy overnight gathering the news” you had to wonder “what news?”

 Apparently she was talking about events in Oregon and Texas.

 I’m usually never one to suggest a station focus too much on sports.

 But since it was a slow news morning and the Bills played their best game of the season in a 37-34 overtime loss in Baltimore Sunday, it probably would have been a good morning to spend more time on a game that undoubtedly will led to water cooler discussions today about the future of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

 Channel 7 only had one canned report by weekend sports anchor Shawn Stepner on the surprising game in the entire hour. That was a bad call.

 It may not have a lot of personality, but “ENTM” does have one thing in surplus: Commercials. I DVRed the hour and was able to watch it in about 40 minutes or so. You can speed through the hour in 30 minutes if you’re not interested in the frequent weather and traffic reports.

 Of course, morning TV is a marathon and not a sprint so maybe Taney and Geoffery will exude more personality and attract more viewers. But except for some sharp graphics, this morning’s opener wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Walkman era and it was hard to see any special reason to make  viewers come back Tuesday.  

 pergament@msn.com

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