Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stevie In Front Of The TV: It's Time To Get Things Started...

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: When I reviewed NINA'S WORLD on Sprout, I forgot to mention Nina's actual relationship to Star: True, he's a very good friend (She calls him her little "Super-Star.") but in both live action and animated iterations, he's also her PILLOW! (Boy, I wish my Snoopy pillow was that friendly with me!)

Ooooooookay, now that all THAT'S over, on to today's topic, THE MUPPETS on ABC. (Tuesday nights at 8 Eastern and Pacific, 7 Central and 6 Mountain, to be exact) Everybody's talking about those wholesome, kid-friendly Muppets going all adult on us. Truth be told, they're just going back to the basics. When Joan Ganz Cooney called Jim Henson to tell him she loved his sophisticated puppets and asked if he wanted to do a show for pre-schoolers, he replied emphatically that he was not a kiddie entertainer. He started on a very sophisticated local show on WRC-TV, Washington called "Sam and Friends" and made his name appearing on "Tonight! with Steve Allen" and other late night shows before moving to family entertainment on shows such as "Fanfare with Al Hirt" and "The Jimmy Dean Show," and he also made some very experimental shorts and TV shows such as the NBC Experiment In Television "The Cube," and of course there were those VERY non-cuddly Muppets from the first year of SNL. (John Belushi called them those "Mucking Fuppets" and Michael O' Donoghue HATED writing for them.) Furthermore, what we now know as "The Muppet Show" was originally going to be called "Sex and Violence with the Muppets," so, armed with THAT knowledge, don't be alarmed if they say things you wouldn't want to hear from the mouth that kisses its grandma. In this most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational mockumentary/sitcom, Kermit, the executive producer of ABC's hit late night show UP NIGHT WITH MISS PIGGY, has just broken up with his star and is now seeing a sexy sow named Denise (As he admits to the camera, "I just have a thing for dating pigs".) and Fozzie is caught up in a situation straight out of "Meet the Parents" as his new human girlfriend tries to convince the folks to give her and the Bear their blessing. A representative from the Independent Women's Forum (Name withheld because I want NOTHING to do with her.) wrote in the New York Post to criticize this show for desecrating Jim Henson's legacy.

With all due respect, lady, YOU ARE A WEIRDO. You make Gonzo seem normal.

True, this show isn't 100% fall-down funny all the time, but Jim Henson was one of those creators who was inspired by the Disney classics that made us cry and the Looney Tunes shorts that made us laugh, and like Walt and his many creators and Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, and their Looney Tunes co-conspirators, he always shone when it came to the boo-hoo and the ha-ha and this show continues the tradition in grand style. As for the sex and violence, this show is aimed at viewers who learned from Kermie and Big Bird on SESAME STREET, laughed with THE MUPPET SHOW, and enjoyed movies such as THE DARK CRYSTAL and LABYRINTH. (Did I mention Kermit's bits on SNL with Seth Meyers?) So far, the show has received guest shots from Elizabeth Banks (who Piggy hates, find out why by watching "Pig Girls Don't Cry!" on VOD, Netflix and Hulu) and Imagine Dragons, and, to paraphrase their iconic theme song, they're just getting things started! It may not be easy being green, but now that the Muppets have returned to their adult (Let me clarify: Adult DOES NOT mean using George Carlin's seven dirty words.) roots, it's going to be better than ever!

NEXT: Mister Pope goes to Washington. (and New York, and Philly)
LATER: The sins of "Omission."

Steve out!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Story Behind The OOPS!

First of all, thanks, or should I say, "Gracias," Michele "Nina" Lepe for favoring the link to the review for her terrific new show. Kudos to you and everybody involved!

Now, as for the last episode of Ye Olde Blogge, I prefaced the breaking headline that my trip with my Mom to San Antonio and Austin with OOPS! Sorry if that headline wasn't up to the high standards that made this blog (nearly) famous. I had just received that bit of information and couldn't wrap my head around it, so the best I could do was OOPS!

Anywho, if you tuned in for my report on the birthday party I threw my Mom on August 6, you may remember that she cancelled our trip to Vancouver, BC because she suffered a mild heart attack. Since then, we have been intent on getting ready for a great trip to San Antonio and Austin, calling contacts, looking at sporting events, music events, art exhibits, the whole nine yards. Unfortunately, my Mom has been having trouble with her prescription medicine and stomach, so, that meant, Adios, Texas, at least for now.

For the record, my Mom, Bettijane L. Eisenpreis, is much better, although not 100% travel ready. We WILL make it up come Springtime to a trip to Philly. I know, there a lot of Met,Giant,Ranger, Devil,Islander, Knick and Net fans in the New York area who read this blog and hate Philly, I respect you for being honest and I feel your pain, but (A) we have family (Phamily?) in Philly, and (B) if it weren't for what some very important dudes did in Philly on a hot day in 1776, we'd be singing, "Give my regards to Great George Street!"

Until next time, this is your announcer welcoming Pope Francis to New York and asking, "I don't care WHO you're on a mission from, could you PLEASE not mess up the traffic?"

Steve out!

Saturday, September 19, 2015


This just in, we're NOT going to Austin, sorry about that.

We're Not Snowing You, Summer's Over!

In case you didn't get the memo, Summer is (unofficially) over for 2015. At least there are some highlights of the period surrounding Labor Day such as the new TV season, (Steve's Stone Cold Picks: The Muppets, Life In Pieces, and Heroes Reborn.), the MLB Playoffs, (In the immortal words of NFL coach Jim Mora: "PLAYOFFS?!? PLAYOFFS?!!? IT'S TOO EARLY TO TALK ABOUT PLAYOFFS!"), and,  the US Open, the highlight of the tennis calendar.

Ye Blogger had the pleasure to attend the Open this year, and although I couldn't pronounce, let alone remember, the name of the doubles participants (Men at Louis Armstrong Stadium, Women on Court 17), I still had a great time. If you're a real tennis fan, or a sports fan in general, you have to see the US Open in person at least once. The Open is the fourth in a series of annual marquee events called the Grand Slam, (The others are the Australian Open at Rod Laver Stadium in January, the French Open at Roland-Garros Stadium in Paris in May, and Wimbledon at the All-England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, SE 19 London at the end of June and the beginning of July.) For the past twenty years or so, it has been played at the United States Tennis Association's National Tennis Center on the former site of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, a veritable small town where people eat, breathe and sleep tennis. (Don't talk love here, it means nothing.) There's a veritable plethora of dining options at the Open, from the standard burgers and fries at Pat LaFrieda's Hamburgers to paninis and salads at the American Express Fan Experiences, where you can also play simulated games against Maria Sharapova and see a traveling exhibition from the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and Wilson, Ralph Lauren, the US Open's own boutique for merchandise from Nike, 47 Brand and others, and a bookshop specializing in everything from histories and bios to books teaching the future Martinas and Jimbos of the world everything there is to know about tennis provide retail therapy. Log on to for information on how to get tickets for 2016 and get tickets from fans. Despite her better efforts, defending woman's champion fell to upstart Roberta Vinci who later fell to Flavia Penetta, and Roger Federer was aced by Novak Djokovic. As they used to say in Brooklyn, wait till next year.

Of course, the end of summer also means back to school and back to work. When I'm not fighting a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame for Scott Shannon,
(Hey, Ryan Seacrest and Casey Kasem got theirs, he deserves one of his own!) I'm disguised as a mild mannered messenger for a Great Metropolitan Messenger Service in New York City. Among the various and sundry companies we deliver to are two of the best known media companies in the world, Hearst Corporation and Advanced Magazine Publishers, d/b/a  Conde  Nast, and I have a little beef with them, which is best saved for a future blog, because next week, Yours Truly will fly off to San Antonio and Austin, Texas for a little post-Summer R&R. This could be one of my better vacations. As many of you may recall, last year I decided to visit Albany,NY to get some American history. I DID see the beautiful New York State Museum and Library and get a great tour of the State Capitol, and don't get me started on the Paul McCartney concert at the Times-Union Center, but tourists to that particular area of New York State are likelier to visit Cooperstown for its museums, operas, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame than Albany, for whereas Austin has the LBJ Presidential Library, the Texas Music Museum, Austin City Limits Live (inspired by the hit PBS music show), and tons of comedy clubs and music venues, Albany has the T-U because Procter's Theatre, a staple the silent movie days, is currently closed and other venues, such as the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Tanglewood, are a pretty long drive away. (Besides, ACL is one of the best shows to come from San Antonio's KLRN and the most exciting TV show to come out of Albany is highlights of the day's legislative sessions. YAWN!)

Watch this space for complete and comprehensive reports. I promise y'all will not be disappointed!

As for this immediate weekend and how it affects New York baseball, I'm rooting for the Yankees (to beat the Mets) and the Red Sox (to beat Toronto so THEY may fall out of first place and the Yanks have a better shot at the playoffs.)

Until I talk to you from the Heart of Texas,  I hope you take a cue from Humpty Dumpty and HAVE A GREAT FALL! (And all you fellow Jews, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you had a Happy Rosh Hashonah and you had a good time. If you had TOO GOOD a time, you may have to apologize to the Boss on Wednesday!)

Steve out!

Stevie In Front Of The TV: The Best New Show You're Not Watching (But Should)

Once upon a time, or as they say over at the network where the show I'm about to review airs, once a-Sprout a time, when we New York kids came home from school on those rare days (VERY rare days!) when we didn't have a ton of homework we used to turn on either Channel 5 or Channel 11 and watch whatever Hanna-Barbera cartoon had just come down the pike or Channel 9 to watch the Marvel Super Heroes show with its limited animation retellings of Stan Lee's latest hits, (Full disclosure: I was still a heavy DC fan then.) and we almost never checked in with the network affiliates and their local and national newscasts and what one person once described as a "series of catastrophes interrupted by a fashion show." The old folks called it a bunch of mindless pap, but hey, we LOVED it.

On September 26, 2005, PBS,Comcast, HIT Entertainment and Sesame Workshop introduced a new channel with VERY limited commercial interruption called PBS Kids Sprout.Since then, one of the
cornerstones of the channel's programming has been "The Good Night Show," which, like the toons of those glorious days of our misspent youth, provides an alternative to the screaming and shouting on the allegedly grown up news channels, but also promises a more stimulating alternative to the kidvid fare on Disney and Nick with artistic activities, stories, poems, songs (including "The Nightly Cleanup Song" and "The Brusha Brusha Brusha Song", which instructs the younger generation in the proper oral hygiene technique) and off-PBS repeats of "Angelina Ballerina" and "Bob The Builder" as well as British shows such as "Sarah and Duck" and "Sam and Stella." Since then, actress Michele Lepe (as Nina Flores) and puppeteer Stacia Newcombe (as her best friend Star) have welcomed viewers (or "Sproutlets" and "Big Sprouts") into their tree house at the "You and Me Tree". Not only do Nina and Star engage in all the aforementioned activities, but  they also play dress-up, tell stories with sand, and teach Spanish and American Sign Language. Like Mister Rogers in his sweater. kids see Nina in her Dr. Denton's top and lounge pants and immediately know they have a friend, and Star, a chubby little star with a little boy's voice and (Of course!) stars in his eyes, is a character they can easily identify with. With a pair this popular, it was only a matter of time before they got their own show.

That show is called NINA'S WORLD and it officially premiers on September 26 at 7:30 PM Eastern on Sprout, now 100% owned by NBC Universal and still with VERY limited commercial interruption. Michele is the Executive Producer and Stacia reprises her role as Star in this VERY animated original programming which tells stories from the character Nina's childhood. Unlike certain other shows, (I'm talking to YOU, Sofia the First!) this is a 100% Hispanic character voiced by a 100% Hispanic actress, (NOT Michele, but once I find out who, I'll let you know.) and unlike another animated show centered around a Hispanic character, (Estoy hablando a TI, Dora la Exploradora!) this story portrays children in a more realistic, and positive light. Nina trades in the jammies for jeans as she takes us back to the days when she learned about the power of imagination and friendship with well-written and animated stories from a talented crew including (HEY, YOU GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUYS!) EGOT (Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony) winner Rita Moreno as Nina's very hip Abuelita (Granny) Yolie. This is a program for everybody and a great way to learn Spanish if you haven't already. (People named Trump need not watch.)

As Nina herself says when starting her Sprout Stretches (exercises) on Good Night,
"I'm a little sprout now, but watch me grow,
As up up up I go!"
And up is, DEFINITELY, where NINA'S WORLD is going.

NEXT: A preview of my trip to San Antonio and Austin.

Feliz Hispanic Heratige Month!