BootLeg Betty

BetteBack December 28, 1993: Memorable Moments From Television 1993

Syracuse Post Standard
December 28, 1993

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In a cockeyed channel-surfing world, the memorable TV moments multiply.

Cable is everywhere. Fiber optic is coming. We now inhabit an incredibly fragmented TV landscape.

So it’s tough to get a consensus on unforgettable. Increasingly, all TV memories are personal.

You, for instance, might fixate on scaring televised memories of last spring’s Branch Davidian conflagration in Waco. The merry prankster next to you, however, may prefer to obsess about the time Beavis and Butt-head licked a frog to get high.

So here are a few of my personal, most memorable TV things in no particular order

Maya Angelou’s endless, droning swamp of free verse at the Clinton inaugural. It was an eerie echo of Robert Frost at JFK’s 1960 swearing-in. A rose is a rose is a rose. And leaden, portentous poetry is still leaden, portentous poetry.

Roseanne and Dan Conner smoke dope. “Roseanne” became TV’s most interesting — and honest — family comedy series in years by taking chances and doing the unexpected. This bit of provocative, non-glamorizing reefer madness was absolutely inspired. And very, very funny.

David Lettorman instantly slays the late-night dragons. Jay who? Chevy who? Arsenio who? Despite all the endless, 0verwrought network hype and media buzz, ”Late Show With David Letterman” didn’t disappoint. Dave sauntered over to CBS, spiffed up his wardrobe and landed comfortably at 11:30 weeknights in late August with the funniest, coolest and best late-night show since Johnny Carson’s heyday in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

Bart Simpson’s giant balloon rips open and deflates during network coverage of Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. A sure sign the pop culture apocalypse is upon us. If there really was a cartoon god, the Garfield balloon would have collapsed.

Michael meets Oprah in Neverland.
Sorry about this, but snarky hindsight is inescapable. Oprah gushed, Michael dissembled shamelessly. Naturally, ABC’s ratings went through the roof. A master stroke of fawning, satellite-delivered celebrity hooey.

Members of the “Cheers” cast
are embarrassingly schnockered on “The Tonight Show’s” live telecast from Boston after the final episode of the witty, beloved comedy series Get these folks to a saloonatic asylum. The only thing missing was George Wendt singing
99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

Connie Chung interviews Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss on “Eye to Eye With Connie Chung.” The perfect illustration of why there has been a population explosion of increasingly tacky, trivial network newsmagazines. Tabloid sleaze sells. Oy.

Court TV‘s epic, never-ending and often hypnotic live coverage of the Menendez brothers’ byzantine murder trial in Los Angeles. We have seen the reality programming future, and it is Court TV. Where were you when hell froze over? Oh, watching the Menendez trial, of course.

Bette Midler belting out Stephen Sondheim‘s wonderful lyrics as Mama Rose on CBS’s “Gypsy,” the TV movie event of the year. Classy, brassy, sassy. Bette is swell, Bette is great, Bette has the whole world on her plate. And for dessert, just give that woman an Emmy.

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