Along with a handful of misdirected early-bird lists to Santa, our reader opinion postcards on a mix of entertainment topics have been pouring in on schedule. One of the more interesting batches came from the postcard in our Fall TV Preview issue (31, Sept. 14) which asked readers to pick the can’t-miss hits and likely flops among the networks’ new offerings. Programming chiefs should take note of just how remarkably prescient the Entertainment Weekly gurus of the tube turned out to be.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was picked by nearly a third of those who responded as the only surefire hit show in the fall lineup. (To be honest, a small group also tapped Fresh Prince as most likely to fail). Three other predicted successes were Evening Shade, The Trials of Rosie O’Neill, and Law & Order — and all of the above look likely to become hits or at least survive. As for anticipated losers, Cop Rock (”Bochco’s bizarre botch”), Ferris Bueller (”Repulsively annoying”), The Fanelli Boys, and E.A.R.T.H. Force received the most thumbs-down from readers. Two of the shows mentioned — Cop Rock and E.A.R.T.H. Force — have already been sent to an early grave.
In another recent issue (37, Oct. 26) Cheers fans were invited to choose their favorite barfly on the show (surely no mean feat), as well as their all-time favorite episode. The balloting proved very close, as all the main denizens of TV’s famous pub claimed devoted followers, but the final tally put lug lothario Sam Malone (Ted Danson) on top. Tied for second place were Woody (Woody Harrelson) and Diane (Shelley Long). As for the favorite episode, there were almost as many singled out as Cheers has had shows. The winner was the infamous Thanksgiving dinner food-fight at Carla’s, which edged out the episode in which Cliff bombs big-time on Jeopardy!
We asked readers (34, Oct. 5) for their best-loved portrayals of teachers on screens big and small. The king of the classroom turned out to be Robin Williams in his frenetic, inspiring performance as John Keating in the film The Dead Poets Society. Sidney Poitier’s Thackeray from the movie To Sir, With Love was the runner-up (although his vote count may have been boosted by having his image on the front of the card). In third place was a blast from the small-screen past, Gabe Kaplan’s Mr. Kotter of Welcome Back, Kotter. Two other picks that warmly jolted our memories were Rex Harrison’s stiff and stubborn mentor, Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady, and the long-suffering, and never-to-be-forgotten, June Marlowe as Miss Crabtree on The Little Rascals.
To commemorate the 15th anniversary and home-video release of that midnight cult horror classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, we asked a multiple-choice question (38, Nov. 2). Was the campy flick (A) a great movie musical; (B) an affront to good taste; (C) better than Designing Women; or (D) best left to the night-crawlers? More surprise: By an overwhelming 6-to-1 margin, the cinematic sideshow was hailed as a great movie musical. In some cases, the praise proved as outlandish as the film itself. Wrote one devotee: ”It is a deliciously decadent experience which leaves you smacking your lips in anticipation of your next viewing.” Gushed another, disconcertingly: ”It’s the story of my life!” And finally: ”Susan Sarandon is no Delta Burke, thank the Lord!”
We also recently polled TV football viewers (35, Oct. 12) about the sportscaster closest to their hearts. Rabidly partisan loyalists of CBS’ John Madden swamped supporters of second-place finisher Al Michaels, play-by-play announcer for ABC’s Monday Night Football, by 2-to-1. Michaels’ MNF colleague Frank Gifford placed third. Of course, even the society of pigskin junkies has its malcontents, and they weren’t shy about letting us know it. One nominee for favorite sportscaster: ”My TV mute button!”