A First Lady’s participation in one of TV’s longest-running comedy bits earned its place in the top spot in our Top Five this week.
It also rates a wee bit of discussion, both pro and con. Here now is this week’s Top Five:
1) A White House “Top Ten”: The First Lady was Michelle Obama and the comedy bit was David Letterman’s “Top Ten” on Letterman’s “Late Show” this week. It’s the first item in this Top Five for the simple reason that Mrs. Obama’s participation makes this clip the most interesting bit of TV we encountered this week.
Before we show you the clip (well, it is just below this item if you want to get right to it), a couple of thoughts on this: First of all, much as we hate to play the role of party pooper, we have long held that presidents, senators, first ladies, Supreme Court justices, Popes and others really have no business taking part in TV comedy bits. Sure, it’s old-fashioned to still feel this way in an era when everyone and his brother is clowning around on Youtube. But these people, and others like them, are involved day-to-day in the very serious business of managing problems and asserting leadership. Clowning around on late-night television seems incompatible with this, at least to us.
Plus, this category chosen for the First Lady — “Fun Facts About Gardening,” because she’s apparently a proponent of gardening (yawn) — seems to be pretty thin gruel for a Letterman “Top Ten.” But hey, that’s just us — crabby as usual.
2) Summer’s biggest battle: Watching the season premiere of “Franklin & Bash” this week on TNT, we suddenly realized: This show could just as easily have wound up on USA Network. That’s the cable network that’s best known for this type of buddy dramedy, in which two offbeat and self-confident protagonists wisecrack their way through their careers and sex lives. The USA Network show that “Franklin & Bash” reminds us of most: “Suits,” which is also about two lawyers.
We’ve also noticed that USA has ratcheted up its promotion this summer for the premieres of seven of its series, including “Suits” next week and, this week, “Royal Pains” and “Necessary Roughness.” And besides “Franklin & Bash,” TNT has a handful of summer premieres too — “Rizzoli & Isles” (also this past week), “Falling Skies,” the new “Perception” with Eric McCormack and the new “Dallas.” Clearly, the summer competition between USA and TNT is red-hot.
3) All aboard the “Pain” train: Not to be outdone by TNT, we present for you here this past week’s season premiere of “Royal Pains” on USA Network. But instead of our two protagonists getting along with each other, the two brothers of “Royal Pains” — Dr. Hank (Mark Feuerstein) and Evan Lawson (Paulo Costanzo) — are at each other’s throats, with their jointly-owned medical practice hanging in the balance.
4) “Hope,” or hopeless?: Speaking of medical-show premieres, you know the summer season is upon us when new shows suddenly seem to appear out of nowhere. Such was the case with “Saving Hope,” a new medical drama that premiered Thursday night on NBC.
It wasn’t a bad show, per se, but when we come across such series, we sometimes wonder: How’d this show get approved when so many other medical-show concepts that networks consider every year do not? And why did this show get OK’d for a summer run, rather than the higher-profile “regular” season?
In “Saving Hope,” a brilliant surgeon plunges into a deep coma after an auto accident. While he is indisposed, the rest of the hospital goes about its business around him (while you hear his voice narrating various scenes), which had us thinking: Gee, if you didn’t have the guy in the coma, you’d still have a pretty drama-packed medical show. In fact, we weren’t really sure why they had the coma guy in the show in the first place.
5) What is a “birther”? In the wake of yet another interview in which Donald Trump expressed doubt that President Obama is an American-born citizen, Jimmy Kimmel became curious about the word “birther.” So he assigned his Cousin Sal to go out on Hollywood Boulevard to find out if typical Americans (in this case, tourists and residents of Hollywood) know what the word “birther” means.