You remember Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.? He was the sixth-season proof positive that America's Got Talent.
In the middle of a benefit concert in his native West Virginia last week, he instructed the audience members to refer to the handout sheets they had been furnished. Junior had an agenda. He wanted to set a world record for the most people singing a TV theme song in one place. Are you ready?
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.
Impeccable song choice. "The Ballad of Gilligan's Island" from the classic '60s sitcom starring Bob Denver, Alan Hale, and Jim Backus.
Unfortunately, the enterprise itself turns out to be dubious. Representatives of Guinness in London informed me that Murphy's parameters are sliced a little too thin to constitute a viable world record. (The largest sing-along in one venue, in case you were wondering, is 105,000 soccer fans in Olympic Stadium in Berlin, belting out Queen's "We Will Rock You" in 2010.)
It's probably just as well that there aren't records kept for most people singing TV theme songs, when you think about it. That would quickly turn into a blood sport.
As soon as a new mark was set, a competing network would attempt to eclipse it. Every time you left the house for a public event, you'd be handed refresher sheets with lyrics from old TV horses like The Patty Duke Show, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, or Cheers.
Though at a musical disadvantage. Fox would still be in the fight. You can imagine an eager suit lobbying the Fox chairman: "Come on, people love The X-Files theme." "What are you talking about, Larry? It doesn't even have words." "Yeah, that's the other thing. I'm going to need 78,500 kazoos."
If this TV theme-song war gets started, don't be surprised if at next year's Super Bowl, CBS does away with the usual geriatric rock band at halftime and instead has people marching on the field at the Superdome, each one illuminated as a letter, cleverly spelling out:
Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it's you, girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it.
Smooth improv. This week on Glee Kurt and Rachel finally had their big auditions for the New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts. After endlessly costuming, choreographing, arranging, rehearsing, and stage-designing a number from Phantom of the Opera, Kurt makes a final-second snap decision to go with something from The Boy From Oz.
Luckily he had backup singers in the wings, the band didn't drop a note on a song they had never played before, and Kurt even had gold lame pants under his Phantom wear. So that worked out pretty well.
The New York school's dour judge (Whoopi Goldberg) praised Kurt's "bold choice" and said that her good friend Hugh Jackman, who won a Tony in that play, "would have been impressed". Really? Because I think that Jackman, like me, would have been rubbing his ears after that excruciatingly piercing high note Kurt finished on.
Stay in touch. On How I Met Your Mother, Barney takes Marshall to Atlantic City to unwind, insisting on the casino floor that he turn his cellphone off for an hour. No earthly reason for this. Except the sitcom logic that Marshall's wife, Lily, is pregnant.
And if for no good reason, Marshall turns off his phone, Lily will, of course, immediately go into labor. And leave 85 frantic messages on his phone. Which he will pick up when it is way too late and he is far too drunk to do anything about it.
Hey, I don't make up the sitcom rules. I just laugh myself silly at them.
Sold out. The Avengers has a How I Met Your Mother tie-in. Cobie Smulders, who plays Robin on the show, is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the movie. Of course, The Avengers has a tie-in with just about everything.
I can't recall a movie with more brand-promoting campaigns. There have been commercials in the weeks leading up to the film's release, linking the costumed characters to a mind-boggling array of products including sodas, sandwiches, superstores, even insurance companies.
I'm surprised the film's villain, Loki, doesn't have his own Sonic ad.