Before the recently completed television season fades completely from our memories, here are a few highlights and lowlights.
- For my money, the best single broadcast of the year was Bette Midler's rousing TV version of "Gypsy."- Television's worst moment? Too hard too pick.
In a season that included everything from "Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love" to Madonna's appearance on the "Late Show," there are simply too many candidates.
- Why network programmers don't listen to what critics or the public say, Part 1:
While criticism of CBS coverage of the Winter Olympics was loud and incessant, the broadcasts from Lillehammer broke every ratings record in sight.
- Why network programmers don't listen to what critics or the public say, Part 2:
While Americans tell pollsters there's far too much violence on television, ABC's broadcast of the intensely violent movie "The Terminator" beat the crud out of the competition.
- "Melrose Place" is trashy, flashy and hot as can be.
"Beverly Hills, 90210" is preachy, teachy and cooling off quickly.
- "The X-Files" is TV's coolest creep-fest since "Kolchak: The Night Stalker."
Only "X" gets to come back for a second season.
- "The Road Home" proved that being a family show doesn't necessarily mean being a good show.
- "Christy" proved that the public is interested in more good family fare than just "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman."
So why isn't "Christy" on CBS' fall schedule? At least it's a midseason replacement.
(And here's hoping it gets the post-"Dr. Quinn" time slot.)
- "The Paula Poundstone Show" reaffirmed the fact that incredibly talented people can make incredibly bad TV shows.
- "Frasier" turned out to be markedly better than the last few seasons of its predecessor, "Cheers."
And that's remarkable.
- "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" is perhaps the most out-of-place show on network television - incredibly gorgeous people with morals and a sense of humor.
- Evidence that network television isn't fair, Part 1: "Against the Grain," "Birdland," "The Byrds of Paradise" and "South Central" were all failures.
- Evidence that network television isn't fair, Part 2: "Thunder Alley," "Boy Meets World" and "Living Single" are all successes.
- If all the anchors on all the prime-time news magazines suddenly switched shows one week in a game of prime-time musical chairs, would anyone notice?
- Best reason to own a VCR (at least in Utah): KSL's delay of the outstanding series "Picket Fences" until Saturdays at 11 p.m.
(OK, at least Ch. 5 is airing the show.)
- After a bit of a shaky start, "Murphy Brown" recaptured a lot of its lost magic as the season went along.
- "Seinfeld" is a big hit now, but it isn't anywhere near as good as it was when nobody was watching.
The show used to be about nothing. Now it's about contrived, unrealistic streams of circumstances.
And Kramer has become an oafish, ridiculous bore. He's the Fonzie of the '90s.
- Although the behind-the-scenes antics have overshadowed the show, "Roseanne" continues to be remarkably good television.
- Silliest scheduling ploy: CBS' play to steal "Roseanne" away from ABC by giving Roseanne's husband, Tom Arnold, his own sitcom.
- CBS canceled Burt Reynolds' sitcom, "Evening Shade." NBC canceled Loni Anderson's "Nurses."
Maybe they can overcome their differences and work together on a project. How about "The Rose-anne and Tom Arnold Story."
- The citizens of Cicely are still a cool crowd to hang out with on Monday nights, but even this season's improved plots haven't recaptured the early magic of "Northern Exposure."
- Evidence that network executive are guessing: The same chuckleheads at ABC who scheduled the dreadful "John Jakes' Heaven and Hell: North and South, Part III," which bombed during the February sweeps, also scheduled "Stephen King's The Stand," which lifted ABC to a victory in the May sweeps.
- The season finale of "seaQuest" ended with the destruction of the submarine itself.
Unfortunately, the show has been renewed.
Of course, we'll see a new sub when "seaQuest" returns in the fall. And it couldn't be any uglier than the one they blew up.
- If - and when - some sort of verdict or plea agreement is reached in the Menendez brothers' murder proceedings, will Fox and CBS rerun their movies about the case?
Now that's something that might actually justify the use of firearms.
- The only person I know who's happy about "Star Trek: The Next Generation" going out of production is my wife, who thinks I spend entirely too much time watching it.
But, much to her distress, soon I'll be watching "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Star Trek: Voyager" and reruns of "The Next Generation."
- The Rev. Donald Wildmon notwithstanding, "NYPD Blue" is a big hit.
And while critical praise has been nearly unanimous, there is still that language and nudity thing. And, although "Blue" is a fine police drama, those elements remain unnecessary.
The dictionary defines "gratuitous" as "without cause or justification; uncalled for." And, since none of the course language or nudity in the series advanced the plot, it certainly qualifies as gratuitous.
Unless, of course, you look at it from the point of view that those elements - and all the attendant publicity - are what turned the show into a hit.
- Fearless prediction: "NYPD Blue" is going to win the best drama Emmy in September, and a number of other awards.
Just think back a couple of years to when Dan Quayle attacked "Murphy Brown." That show won best comedy, and Candice Bergen won best actress in a comedy.
- Nobody bothers to protest against tastelessness and vulgarity on Fox any more.
Apparently, Americans have come to expect tastelessness and vulgarity from the network that brings us "Martin," "Married . . . With Children" and "In Living Color."
- I don't know anyone who was surprised that Fox canceled "In Living Color."
Everyone was surprised that the show was still on.
- Has there ever been anyone in the history of television who had more class than "Murder, She Wrote" star Angela Lansbury?
- Who could have predicted that one of the season's biggest new sensations would be David Letter-man's mother?
- Speaking of Letterman, it was a sign of the quick change of the late-night guard when NBC sent out a press release last week that was just this side of giddy because Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" had managed to come within six-tenths of a rating point of Letterman's "Late Show."
Mind you, "Tonight" had lost yet again - but by less than usual.
- "The Commish" ended the season with the Commish himself lying in a pool of blood. Will he die?
Oh, big mystery. Particularly since the show has been renewed.
What, they'll change the name to "The Commish-less?"
- The cliffhanger on "Sisters" was pretty dopey, too - Teddy (Sela Ward) and her new husband (George Clooney) about to go down in a plane crash.
There's an original idea.
I don't really think I'd be giving anything away if I pointed out that Clooney has signed to star in a different show this fall.
- The series finale of "L.A. Law" was pretty much a snoozer, but at least the producers had a nice little "family" scene at the end that provided some sense of closure.