It was an interesting week in television — more for what wasn’t on TV than for what was.
It wasn’t unexpected — we’ve become accustomed to this annual, shortened week after Memorial Day Weekend being among the slowest all year in the TV biz. With the 2011-12 TV season having officially ended in the days leading up to the holiday, much of the industry takes off the week after Memorial Day.
The result is: Few, if any, new premieres (just about the only show of note was “Hatfields & McCoys,” the History Channel miniseries about a rootin’, tootin’ hillbilly feud).
Plus, most of our late-night hosts took the week off too, which gives us the opportunity to make hay of some other TV shows and personalities we might not normally showcase here in our weekly Top Five.
A case in point: Bill O’Reilly, who we highlight occasionally, but not nearly often enough. Why’d he make the Top Five this week? Because of a rootin’, tootin’ media feud, that’s why! Read on …
1) O’Reilly is Rather outspoken: We wondered if anyone on the right would take notice of former CBS anchorman Dan Rather’s appearance Wednesday night on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (which didn’t take the week off) in which Rather said he never noticed any particular liberal bias in the CBS newsrooms he worked in (we wrote about Rather here). Well, Bill O’Reilly caught up with Rather Thursday night on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News Channel. And true to form, O’Reilly took Rather to task on the liberal-bias issue.
2) Kathie Lee’s gaffe: It was a pretty uncomfortable moment this week when Kathie Lee Gifford blithely asked Martin Short about the strength of his marriage when he appeared as a guest on the “Today” show on NBC. The only problem: Short’s wife died two years ago. As a result, it became the most talked-about TV interview of the week.
3) History Channel hootenanny: You have to hand it Kevin Costner — the Oscar-winning movie star took a lead role in publicizing his History Channel miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys” in the days before its premiere on Memorial Day weekend. And, as Jed Clampett might have said, “Whoa doggies!” The miniseries emerged as one of the highest-rated shows ever aired on basic cable. The milestone was so momentous that NBC reported it on “The Nightly News.”
4) Something we missed the first time around: It was a comedy bit we caught Thursday night on the repeat episode of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” It was something Jimmy and guest Will Ferrell did together in early May, when Ferrell came on “Late Night” to promote his guest-hosting stint on “Saturday Night Live” that weekend. The reason this bit was so eye-catching is because of how ridiculously silly it was — so much so that you couldn’t help but marvel at what it must take for performers to go out on stage, on TV, and do this. What did they do? Well, in brief: Ferrell and Fallon cavorted in tight pants.
5) Something else we missed: It was “Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons on “Late Show with David Letterman” earlier this spring, and it was repeated this past week as well. We have to be honest here: Despite Parsons’ two consecutive Emmys for Best Actor in a Comedy the last two years, we’ve never particularly cared for his robotic, deadpan approach to playing Sheldon. We get it: He’s supposed to be 99 percent emotionless, like Mr. Spock. And while he might not be our cup of tea, certainly many people disagree; they’ve made “The Big Bang Theory” TV’s top comedy. Meanwhile, we did like Parsons when he appeared on “Letterman.”