With “30 Rock” departing the airwaves after a not-unrespectable seven seasons – a particularly incredible achievement when you consider what an incredibly off-the-wall, insider-y sort of sitcom it was throughout its run – it seemed only appropriate to offer up some sort of tribute to the show in this week’s column. Unfortunately, since everyone else seems to have swiped all of the good angles that are 100% show-specific (indeed, I actually wrote a piece on the 30 best “30 Rock” guest stars for the “Today” blog, The Clicker), I had to think a little bit outside the box, but since a key aspect of the series was its show within a show, “TGS with Tracy Jordan,” it seemed like a perfectly reasonable concept to spotlight 30 of TV’s great fictional TV series. Lord knows these aren’t all of them, of course. Hell, even limiting myself to a one-fake-TV-series-per-real-TV-series rule…with the only exception being “30 Rock,” which seemed only fair, given the reason for the list in the first place…there are still thousands of omissions, so feel free to offer up your personal favorites that didn’t make the cut, “Family Guy” fans. (There’ve been so many on that show, I didn’t even know where to start.)
1. TGS with Tracy Jordan (“30 Rock”)
For those who can remember back to the pilot of “30 Rock,” Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) was originally in charge of a not-terribly-great sketch comedy series called “The Girlie Show,” but when GE’s new Head of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming, Jack Donaghy made an executive decision to add the completely unpredictable Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) to the show, the comedian’s ego necessitated a change in the show’s title to feature his name more prominently. 136 episodes later, we’ve scarcely seen a single “TGS” sketch in its entirety, and what bits we have seen have rarely been funny (at least not intentionally), but the shenanigans surrounding the series have been consistently hysterical.
2. The Alan Brady Show (“The Dick Van Dyke Show”)
Dick Van Dyke has discussed on many occasions how many TV writers have come up to him over the years and told him that the biggest reasons they decided to break into the business in the first place was because Rob Petrie and his cronies on Alan Brady’s variety show made it look like one of the most entertaining occupations in the world. Strangely, he hasn’t spoken nearly as much about how many of those writers finished their comments by yelling, “Thanks for nothing, you big liar!” I’m betting it’s about 50/50.
By the way, although “The Alan Brady Show” wasn’t real, the folks at MeTV talked Carl Reiner into doing a promo for the addition of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” to their line-up where he reprised the character. Funny stuff.
3. Invitation to Love (“Twin Peaks”)
If you’re not a David Lynch obsessive, you may not remember this soap opera, but those with keen eyes will recall that it turned up at least once in each of the first seven episodes of “Twin Peaks.” It’s also worth noting that “Invitation to Love” pointedly features identical-twin characters played by the same actress, which – in no way coincidentally – was more or less what Sheryl Lee did as Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson.
4. The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy (“Spongebob Squarepants”)
The best bit about this cartoon-with-a-cartoon was the fact that the “Spongebob” show runners reunited former “McHale’s Navy” co-stars Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway to prove the characters’ respective voices. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
5. The Terrence and Phillip Show (“South Park”)
Disproving a longstanding theory that Canadians can’t be funny while cementing the not-really-in-question suspicion that farts are always funny, it need only be said that Terrence and Phillip are a stone-cold gas. Sadly, this clip is from their movie, “Asses of Fire,” rather than their series, but it’s basically the same thing. Y’know, except filthier. Much, much filthier.
There was a time when first dates often meant sweaty palms and plenty of nervousness. Not only did people agonize about where to go and how much to cram into a date, they also wondered about making a first impression with what to wear.
Over time, the concept of dating has changed. Where face-to-face interaction when meeting was the way to plan a first date, a lot of times first dates are planned in front of a computer. There is a chance you have exchanged pictures, but a lot of the planning is done with messages back and forth.
Most dating websites have downplayed the art of dressing up. Instead, dressing down, or casual, has become normal. If your first date happens to be a sporting event, then you won’t want to wear a suit or a dress to the occasion. Meeting for a drink or a meal? Now there is where you want to make the impression.
Here are some ways for both men and women to impress the opposite sex and increase the chances of a love connection:
1. Dress the part
Men, if you are taking a date to a restaurant that isn’t swanky yet is impressive, then you won’t likely need the suit-and-tie route. A nice shirt and a pair of dress pants or khakis will do the trick. More formal first dates for men are when you bring out the Brooks Brothers men’s suits so you can look your best and show your sharp dressing style. For women, a nice blouse and pants will work out for less-formal occasions. Dinner at a very nice restaurant involves breaking out the evening dress, or maybe you go the three-piece suit route if you are in a corporate job. With a little transformation, a daytime suit can easily become a nighttime outfit.
For the men, a nice watch or a small necklace looks good on an outfit. Make sure it goes well with what you are wearing at dinner. An extravagant watch may look out of place on a mid-priced outfit and may draw attention away from you. For women the rules are the same. Don’t overdress with plenty of jewelry. Wear something simple around the neck and ears and maybe one or two rings on your hand.
3. Finish the Look
Not only does this involve proper hygiene, with fingers and exposed skin washed and cleaned thoroughly, it involves what you wear to complete the outfit. Men should wear comfortable socks with shoes. Make sure the socks and shoes aren’t too tight. There’s no use gazing at your first date while you wonder about blisters at the end of the night. Women should wear appropriate heels with their outfit. Don’t wear spike heels with a conservative dress, for example. Make sure the look completes itself. And yes, ladies, it is acceptable again to wear hosiery with an outfit. If you do, match the look of the hose to the outfit and its accessories (purse, etc.). They always say one color makes you look better, if not slimmer.
4. A Little Too Much Fragrance?
Be sensitive to your date’s needs. This means don’t splash on too much cologne or perfume. A little fragrance dabbed on certain areas of the body goes a long way toward impressing the opposite sex. A lot of fragrance can trigger sensitive noses at a table, not to mention other tables might notice.
5. A Fresh Ending
This is not so much a dressing tip but a tip about how to end the night. This falls under accessories. Have a mint or something fresh ready that you can sneak into a purse or pocket. Breath spray works just as well. This will help you in the event the first date ends in a kiss or you feel the need to share a smooch during the night’s activity.