The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Megyn Price (“Rules of Engagement”)

After a season on “Lateline,” five seasons on “Grounded for Life,” and seven seasons – so far – of “Rules of Engagement,” Megyn Price ought to know the process of putting together a sitcom inside and out by now, so it’s not entirely surprising to find that she’s decided to step behind the camera and direct an episode of her CBS series. Price chatted with Bullz-Eye about what it took to transition into directing and how her castmates helped her efforts (there’s a bit of a spoiler in the mix, so be wary) while also reflecting on some of her favorite and not-so-favorite aspects of the show’s seven seasons to date. Before getting down to business, however, I’d promised to pass on a message…

Cats & Dogs

Bullz-Eye: First of all, I’m supposed to tell you that Donal Logue says, “Hello.”

Megyn Price: Awwwwwww… I love him! We’ve been going back and forth on Twitter. My former TV husband…

BE: Yeah, he and I just did an interview in conjunction with his debut on “Vikings” for the Onion AV Club.

MP: Oh, you did? Oh, great! That’s fun. He’s such a great guy, isn’t he? Did you have a 400-hour interview with him? ‘Cause he can not stop talking. [Laughs.]

BE: Well, actually, it started out a phoner, and then we ended up doing a bit more by email. It was for a feature called Random Roles, and I wanted to try to cover as many of his roles as possible. Lord knows he’s got enough of ‘em…

MP: Oh, God, I bet he loved that! He has the best stories. He used to tell a story about being on “The Patriot” anytime wardrobe would come up to us on “Grounded for Life,” about how there was this stampede, where everyone was getting run over by horses, and he said that wardrobe would come up to him and fix his collar. He’s, like, “Okay, you don’t need to fix my collar. I’m about to get run over by a horse!” [Laughs.]

BE: Okay, on to the topic at hand: your directorial debut. What took you so long to get behind the camera?

MP: It’s hard to get the shot, y’know? There are no small directing jobs. There are small acting jobs, but no small directing jobs. Somebody’s really got to be generous and kind, like our producers were on this show, and give you a shot. And, y’know, I think I had to earn it a little bit. A) I had to have the experience, but B) I had to do a lot of research and a lot of studying with other directors and prove that I was serious about it all.

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The Light from the TV Shows: TGS: 30 Great Shows (That Don’t Actually Exist)

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.

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Ivana Milicevic (“Banshee”)

Ivana Milicevic is one of the sexiest dorks you’ll ever meet. Hey, don’t laugh: if you were wise enough to tune in to the premiere of her new Cinemax series, “Banshee,” when it made its debut on Friday, then you already know that my assessment of her sexiness is on the money, but having actually sat in her presence and chatted with her one-on-one for 20 minutes or so, trust me, she’s a big ol’ dork. But if you’re wondering, let me assure you that this is an amazingly awesome combination. During our conversation, there was much discussion of “Banshee,” of course, but we also touched on more than a few of her earlier credits as well, including everything from “Seinfeld” to “Casino Royale” to “Jerry Maguire” to “Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest,” a range which I think we can all agree is very wide indeed.

Bullz-Eye: An obligatory question to start out: how did you find your way into “Banshee”?

Ivana Milicevic: [Places palms flat on table.] Will, let me tell you.

BE: Please do.

IM: I read the script – ‘cause I was reading millions of scripts, because it was pilot season – and I was, like, “Wha…?!?”It was so good. I loved it. And I was madly in love with Greg Yaitanes because I had done an episode of “House” with him. Like, a season-finale “House” episode that was really fun to do, and he was so fun and easy to work with. And I had been touch with him because of…he was getting me on Twitter in the early days. This was, like, five years ago. But I loved “Banshee.” I had to go in a lot of times. I had to fight for it. I met Antony, we had this instant chemistry that just…

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BE: That’s what he said.

IM: He said that, too?

BE: Yeah. In fact, I think he even made the same hand gesture to indicate “instant chemistry.”

IM: [Laughs.] Did he really? That’s so funny. But we do! It’s kind of true. We get along, but we’re also like black and white. So that makes exactly what you’re looking for: a polarity. It just worked. And I think that’s how come I got the job. And then I was really happy, Will, because… [Drops voice down to a whisper.] I had to play it. I had to play this part.

BE: You don’t say.

IM: I did! Because I get to be a mother, so I get to love my family. And I love my real family, so I just love to play that. And I get to be in love…with two men! [Laughs.] And I get to kick ass. And I get to be sexy. Because if not now, Will, when? When?

BE: I hear you.

IM: Because I’m European, and I like that sexy stuff.

BE: Well, Americans are rather fond of it, too.

IM: Well, sure. Who isn’t? [Laughs.]

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The Light from the TV Shows: TV Comfort Food for Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving Eve ’round Bullz-Eye HQ as I write this piece, which means that anyone here who’s still working wants to be doing it about as little as I do. In fact, the biggest reason I’ve waited this long into the evening to get moving on the piece is because I’ve spent way too much of my day watching a marathon of a certain series on the USA Network…which brings me to the premise of this week’s column. Lord knows it’s become a small-screen staple for networks to offer programming which provides the one-two punch of 1) allowing the employees of these networks to do as little work as possible, and 2) inspiring all those TV viewers with Tryptophan surging through their veins to set down their remotes and bask in as many episodes of their favorite show as their holiday weekend downtime will allow.

Now you’re wondering what marathons you can catch this weekend, right? Well, there are a few good ones out there, to be sure:

Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America (Travel Channel, 9am-3pm Thursday)
ALF (The Hub, 3pm Thursday – 3am Friday)
The Andy Griffith Show (TV Land 4pm-9pm Thursday & Friday)
Behind the Music (VH1, 2pm-10pm Friday)
Beverly Hills, 90210 (SOAPNet, 8pm Friday – 1am Saturday)
Breaking Amish (TLC, 11am-9pm Saturday)
Castle (TNT, 10am-11pm Thursday)
Chef Race: UK vs. US (BBC America, 8am-5pm Sunday)
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Unnecessary Liaisons: 15 TV Couplings That Never Should Have Happened

The “will they or won’t they?” dynamic has been a staple of television since the very beginning of the medium, but just because two people can get together doesn’t mean that they should get together. Bullz-Eye decided to take a look back through our favorite TV series and consider some of the more ill-begotten romances that have taken place over the years. Have we missed any? Or do you disagree with some of our selections? Let us know in the comments!

1. Rachel & Joey, “Friends”

Given that just about everyone has had a crush on a friend at some point in their lives, it made sense that a show called “Friends” would make use of that concept, and in addition to the long-running “will they or won’t they” of the Ross and Rachel relationship, Monica and Chandler proved to be a surprisingly effective combination as well. But Rachel and Joey…? That’s just taking things a step too far.

Actually, the two never took their relationship to the toppermost of the poppermost, if you will, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The storyline began with Joey (Matt LeBlanc) suffering through a major crush on Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), one which she ultimately decided was worth risking their friendship to expand into something more. When they tried to get down and dirty, however, Rachel kept finding herself instinctually slapping Joey’s hands back, and Joey found that he’d lost his gift for unstrapping bras. Attempts to loosen each other up with champagne failed just as miserably, and in the end, the two decided that the problem was that they’d become better friends over the years than Monica and Chandler were when they became a couple.

Some have questioned whether the awkwardness between Aniston and LeBlanc during their romantic scenes was behind the decision to stop the Rachel / Joey relationship dead in its tracks, but let’s chalk that up to acting, as it seems far more likely that the writers just wanted to have a bit of fun with the characters. But thank God the fun ended when it did. – Will Harris

2. Ray & Jenna, “Dallas”

“Dallas” is a series overflowing with mismatched couples and people who are just altogether wrong for each other. As it’s a soap opera, that sort of stuff goes with the territory. So it of course stands to reason that the “Dallas” coupling ending up on this list is actually rather harmonious, all things considered, anyway. Farm hand and rancher Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly) hooking up with and marrying little miss screw loose Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley)? Gimme a break.

Jenna had a nearly lifelong attachment to Ray’s brother, Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy), which mercifully crumbled – mercifully, I say, because this woman was batshit crazy. Given the sheer hell Bobby went through with her – nearly all of which Ray was witness to – it made no sense after his marriage to the rock that was Donna (Susan Howard) ended, that he would fall into the arms of this emotional basket case. Worst of all though is how the couple was eventually written off the series: They moved to Europe. Ray Krebbs leaving Texas to move to Europe is a piece of off-screen character development that has to boggle the mind of even the most forgiving “Dallas” aficionado. Ray Krebbs was Texas.

Man, I hope he at least found a flock of sheep to keep him busy on those cold European winter nights, because one thing’s for certain, that nutty woman had to have had another breakdown, probably near the border of France and Germany. – Ross Ruediger

3. Sayid & Shannon, “Lost”

For a show that prided itself on great characters and the various relationships they forged during their time on the island, “Lost” still had its share of questionable partnerships, especially of the romantic variety. But while we were never big fans of the ongoing love triangle between Jack, Kate and Sawyer, the relationship that rang the most untrue was undoubtedly Sayid and Shannon.

Though it might have made sense on paper – Shannon needed someone to fill the protector role after Boone was killed, and there wasn’t a better candidate (no pun intended) around than Sayid – the whole romance came out of left field, forcing the audience to blindly accept that they had fallen in love within a matter of days. Thankfully, it didn’t last long, as Shannon was the next major castaway to bite the dust when Ana Lucia accidentally shot her. But it wasn’t the last we saw of the couple, as they were reunited in the season finale to spend eternity together in the afterlife.

It was a revelation that threw most viewers for a loop. After all, wasn’t Sayid’s one true love supposed to be Nadia? Then why did he end up with the blonde bimbo? It certainly left a sour taste in our mouths – one that not even a cold Dharma beer could cure. – Jason Zingale

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