During this week's 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin's corporate shogun, Jack Donaghy, delivered a pep talk to his TV troops, saying, "This is an exciting time for NBC." Then he backtracked: "Not Seinfeld/Friends/ER exciting."
The funny thing is that the floundering network is still trying to cash in on those glory days.
NBC requisitioned The Marriage Ref reportedly without looking at a pilot, a standard prerequisite in the industry.
Apparently, the programming brain trust in Burbank believed that anything from Jerry Seinfeld came with a key to Fort Knox.
Next time, they might want to kick the tires before driving off the showroom floor. The dreadful reality show that is executive-produced by Seinfeld has been dropping steadily in the ratings since its much-hyped post-Olympic debut.
The notoriously fastidious Seinfeld must have known this dog has fleas. After the first episode, he vanished from view.
The genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are?, from Lisa Kudrow of Friends' fame, has tanked even worse. Hardly surprising. Like a lot of Americans, I'm a little fuzzy about a couple of my uncles' names, but I should care deeply about Sarah Jessica Parker's ancestors?
I think the problem is that the network is letting its stars of yesteryear saddle it with reality shows that have no association with the NBC characters we used to love. There has to be a tie-in, however contrived.
So I came up with a few concepts that might work better:
Student Driver. Erik Estrada in his ChiPs uniform takes us on a weekly ride-along with those brave men who risk life and limb every day as driving instructors.
Caution: Wet Floor. Anthony Andrews dons his ER scrubs once more to chronicle the visceral, sometimes toxic challenges faced without complaint by hospital orderlies.
Pedestrians Be Damned. Philip Michael Thomas, Miami Vice's Ricardo Tubbs, takes us inside the intrepid brotherhood of bicycle cops in South Beach.
You're welcome, NBC.
Tale of the Tiger. Leave it to South Park to put things in perspective. The same day that Tiger Woods announced he would return to the links to play in the Masters, the cartoon delivered a season debut that brilliantly mocked Woods' sex scandal.
In the episode "Sexual Healing," officials at the Centers for Disease Control are alarmed at the virulent outbreak of sexual addiction, asking, "Why are rich, successful men suddenly going out and trying to have sex with lots of women?"
They conduct a study that indicates 91 percent of male high school students are infected with the disease.
In the end, they determine that the source of this epidemic, an alien wizard, has taken refuge in Independence Hall. Sure, blame Philadelphia.
Odd bedfellows. During the Big East basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden last weekend, ESPN announcer Sean McDonough noted, "We've had a slew of celebrities here the last couple of nights. President Clinton and Denzel Washington, Nick Lachey - all here last night."
Hmmm, one name really doesn't seem to fit in that category. Who could it be?
Why bother? We mourn the passing of Peter Graves, star of that magnificent '60s TV classic, Mission: Impossible.
One thing always puzzled me about the show: After Jim's assignment self-immolated in a cloud of acidic smoke and after Lalo Schifrin's thrilling theme song had played, our hero would sit down and vigilantly go through his extensive dossier of agents page by page. Then he'd pick the same four people. Every week. No matter what the job.
Man, if you were a backup IMF operative, you had to wait a long time between missions.