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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

According to Len

I am a TV snob. There have been many shows that have been popular and critical favorites that I have turned up my nose at. I didn't care for Cheers. ER left me cold. I didn't watch The Sopranos, and I don't watch House.

There have been shows that critics raved about that I couldn't stomach. However, there is currently one show that I love that makes all critics wretch. And that's According to Jim.

I'm sorry. I like this show. It makes me laugh. Out loud. Numerous times during each half hour. Larry Joe Campbell, who plays Jim's brother-in-law, is an enormously gifted comic actor. Courtney Thorne-Smith is very good as Jim's wife, and Kimberley Williams-Paisley gives a sly and winning performance week-in-and-week-out. Even the kids are good, which is quite unusual. There are funny jokes, and true ones, too. For example, in one episode, Andy--the brother-in-law--reveals that he has concocted a dessert in which he rolls sticks of butter in white sugar. He tells, with a wonderful mixture of shame, self-loathing, and pride, that he calls the "Shame Sticks."

We refer to Shame Sticks around our house the same way that we quote Felix Unger saying, "You're my eyes, Gloria!" It's part of our private code.

I'm always astounded at the amount of hostility that this show engenders, but I think I know the cause. It's Jim Belushi. And it's not because of the value of his performance, because he's really very good in it. There have been moments--and I'm talking as a fellow actor here--in which he has been about as good as an actor can be. And yet, he gets scorn instead of praise.

Why? Well, I would guess it's because nobody has ever forgiven him for being John's brother. He was always seen as being a hanger-on and a no-talent, and neither of those judgments is true.

Now, I liked John Belushi. I must've. I even went to see Continental Divide. However, Jim is not his imitator. His performance style is more controlled and more crafted. He's gotten a bad rap--partially because of the movie with the police dog--and he has not deserved it.

And one thing I know for sure: Both he and his show make me laugh.


Anonymous said...

I will try it. I watch lots of TV but I've never seen this one. Probably because I though Courtney Smith would be just a pale immitation of her older sister, Maggie Smith. I need to try more comedy shows and give the Weather Channel a rest. The chairs on Antiques Roadshow are all starting to look the same.

Philo Farnsworth

Len said...


Well, Courtney is pretty pale. I can understand how one might find that upsetting. And the Weather Channel is nothing if not hypnotic. I think it's the weather radar loops that do it.

Say, we have chairs. Do you think we could get on the Antiques Roadhog Program and make us some money with them?

Anonymous said...

Some old wooden dining room chairs are worth $75,000.00 because they are nicely made and guys with powdered wigs sat lightly on them. If you've got those, you're in business.

Original Finnish