November 06, 2003
Ahead of my time
I once lived a pretty good bachelor's life. Oh sure, the place was always a mess, the fridge was full of beer and accidental science projects, and the decor could charitably be described as "the lease says no holes in the walls", but my roommate Matt and I had a blast. We threw lots of parties - the one in which some friends from Austin brought an ice cream recipe and a large canister of liquid nitrogen stiill stands out as one of our greater triumphs - and were the de facto social center for our then-mostly single friends.
I'm a semi-respectable married homeowner now, and as happy as I am with that, I can't help but feel a sense of missed opportunity when I read this bit of angst by NBC's entertainment chief Jeff Zucker, who decries the lack of TV shows that speak to younger men.
Zucker, who has already canned two high-profile new series, said while networks question some of Nielsen Media Research's numbers this year, TV executives need also look in the mirror.
"Our programming is not that good and the Nielsen sample is bad. End of story," said Zucker, speaking to the International Radio & Television Society Foundation.
All of the network entertainment chiefs speaking before the IRTS Tuesday directed some anger toward Nielsen. They don't quite believe Nielsen's numbers that say viewership is off 10 percent this season among men aged 18 to 34, a crucial group for advertisers.
Zucker said he doesn't believe it's a coincidence that Nielsen's measurement of young male viewership has increased over the past three weeks after network complaints became public.
Zucker also said the networks had put on several new shows this fall that appealed to females, like NBC's "Miss Match," CBS' "Joan of Arcadia" and ABC's "Karen Sisco" and "Hope & Faith."
"Where's 'Chuck & Matt'?" Zucker asked. "If we just keep putting on shows that aren't necessarily going to appeal to young men, we're making a mistake. We're standing at the front of that line."
Sorry, dude. You're about a dozen years too late. Had you but called us back in the day, we'd have been there for you.
(On a side note, I kinda like "Karen Sisco". Why does Jeff Zucker think it's a female-appeal show? It's got guns, a hot babe, and lots of wisecracking. I mean, if they were to add a wacky best friend for Karen to whom she dishes about her crappy luck with men, then I could see it. As is, if the show draws poorly among men, I think the marketing types are at fault. But maybe that's just me.)
Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 06, 2003 to TV and movies
The problem with network shows that features bachelors is that they are historically mismatched pairs ("The Odd Couple", "Bosom Buddies", "Perfect Strangers") and the hijinx that occur.
On the other hand, the creation of Spike TV was supposed to provide a channel that geared itself torwards young men, however, that does not address the issue of a lack of network programs that appeal to young men. Also, let's not forget the standard channels of bachelor viewing, ESPN, ESPN2, the local Fox Sports Channel, and of course, Playboy TV.
As for "Chuck and Matt", the problems might be finding actors to play the lead roles. Who would you want to act as your character on such a show? (You had to know somebody would ask that question) :)
I was thinking it should've been a reality show. Talk about being ahead of your time!
Carla Gugino rocks. Robert Forster is keen. "Karen Sisco" is a fine show.
'course, I'm not a bachelor.
Forster was interviewed on "Fresh Air" yesterday, in case you're interested.
Other than that bit of info, I have no opinion, even though I'm a bachelor. If it ain't on PBS, ESPN, ESPN2, or Fox Sports West, I ain't watchin'.
Dear Charles: Your mother and I saw your apartment and even attended one of your parties. Sorry to say, the "Odd Couple" has already been a screen success.
Yes, but the "Odd Couple" had a Felix in it. Matt and I were both Oscars.
I'm also semi-respectable these days, but the period Chuck refers to was among the best times of my life.
Chuck says: Had you but called us back in the day, we'd have been there for you.
We would certainly have made a good focus group, but I seem to recall we weren't much in the way of TV watching - I mostly remember TNG, The Tick, Bert Convy's The Third Degree, and Chuck's sports on the weekends.
William asks: As for "Chuck and Matt", the problems might be finding actors to play the lead roles. Who would you want to act as your character on such a show?
I'd have to say: Paul Reiser. He's ten years older than I am, but we look vaguely alike, and I think our personalities are somewhat similar.
William adds: [...] the creation of Spike TV was supposed to provide a channel that geared itself torwards young men.
I find myself watching the occasional CSI or TNG rerun there. Are those "guy" shows? I know many women who like them.
Chuck's folks say: Your mother and I saw your apartment and even attended one of your parties. Sorry to say, the "Odd Couple" has already been a screen success.
I'm pleased to have been a co-conspirator in arranging their suprise appearance at the birthday party in question. As to the Odd Couple, Chuck is right - we weren't terribly mismatched. We had our differences, but they complemented each other well rather than clashed. Our sitcom would have been more like Friends when Joey and Chandler lived in the big apartment and everyone was hanging out there all the time.
and: The most important part
The Instant Ice Cream Recipe
from "Chemistry and Physics in the Kitchen", Scientific American, April 1994
"No good dinner is complete without dessert. From the world of physics comes a recipe that not only eases the task of a chef but also produces a magnificent spectacle. This dessert, instant ice cream, was devised by Peter Barham of the University of Bristol. As a suitable finish for a public lecture on ice cream, Barham developed a way to make enough of it in about two minutes to feed an entire audience. The same recipe can be adapted to a domestic scale.
"Good ice cream contains abundant air bubbles (to keep it light) and only very small ice crystals (so that the texture is smooth). Traditionally, ice cream makers have churned the mixture of milk, eggs, sugar and flavorings as it slowly chilled; the churning folded air into the material while also continuously breaking up large ice crystals. A simpler and more efficient way is to pour liquid nitrogen directly into the ingredients. At a temperature of -196 degrees C, liquid nitrogen can freeze the ice cream mixture so fast that only small ice crystals have time to grow. As it furiously boils, the liquid nitrogen also creates plenty of small gas bubbles. And as a further delight, the cold produces a cloud of dense fog, thus adding a crowd-pleasing, highly dramatic touch.
"You will need about equal volumes of liquid nitrogen and a mixture for ice cream or sorbet. After preparing the mixture in the usual way, place it in a large metal bowl. (Do not use a glass or plastic bowl, which might break from thermal shock.) While observing the proper safety precautions (as set out below), pour in about half the liquid nitrogen, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir while adding more of the coolant until the ice cream is nice and stiff. Make sure the ice cream has stopped giving off fog -- which signifies that all the nitrogen has evaporated -- before serving.
"Two important safety points need to be made. First, always wear gloves and safety glasses when handling the liquid gas or any objects that have been exposed to its extreme cold. Second, if you are making the ice cream in front of guests, be sure they are out of range of any splashes. You should be able to obtain liquid nitrogen (or directions to a commercial source for it) from your local university's physics or chemistry department or from a hospital. The best way to transport liquid nitrogen is with a vacuum flask; inside a well-made one, it will last for up to a day."
The Matt and Chuck parties were definitely infamous. There are people who have told me that they are sure they met me at one of them, which would be pretty tough since I started hanging around with Chuck about the time Matt moved away and not long before Chuck bought his house!