Before we get to today’s very entertaining Item Five interview, I must pass along yet another impressive gaffe by the blind bats who edit The Boston Globe. Oh, I know, I know – nobody’s perfect. I probably make grammatical errors every day. But it’s just too fun not to point this one out.
Seems the Philadelphia 76’ers basketball team is having a very good season, ay?
In keeping with the theme of the Globe, over the past year or two I’ve really taken quite a liking to Matthew Gilbert’s writing. Gilbert is the Boston Globe’s TV critic whose writing style can be relied on week-in and week-out for a great mix of humor, pop culture references and dead-on analysis of what the oft-embarassing world of television has to offer.
Even his more serious pieces carry weight – Gilbert’s recent piece on the business of Cable TV and why the business model of watching 15 stations but paying for 250 won’t last in today’s world generated many reader letters and responses.
So my appreciation for Gilbert’s writing paired with the fact that our opinions on TV shows seem to mirror each other (and that I want his job) lends itself well for Item Five interview potential. As it turns out, Matthew has very good taste in music, too, and was quite a good sport about it all. The interview was, in my own humble opinion, one of my best yet. Just see for yourself:
1. You’re out in a boat on the ocean and you come across Arrested Development, Scrubs, My Name Is Earl and House, all drowning at sea. You have one life preserver and can only save one of them. Discuss.
What is this, “Sophie’s Choice During the Perfect Storm”? I love all my neglected kids, but right now I need a lot more of “Earl.” I’m sorry to let the other three die a slow gruesome death from hypothermia, hunger and cold during the dark windy night, especially “Scrubs.” But they’ve each had a decent run. I don’t think even the greatest of shows needs to go on until it’s limping.
Plus, once a show is legendarily under-acknowledged. I can use it (along
with “Freaks and Geeks”) to berate viewers for years to come.
2. In preparation for this interview, I watched “Skating With Celebrities” recently. I’ll say this: the professional skaters do a horrific job pretending they care. Fox must have thrown some heavyweight dollars around for this. Who would be your ultimate
celebrity skating pair? (for the record, mine would have to be Sanford & Son, just imagine the creativity Fred Sanford could put into an ice skating performance, naturally culminating in the “big one”).
“In preparation for this interview?”
Oh Jeff, you don’t need to make excuses with me of all people. I’m holding out for the smooth ice stylings of Pufnstuf and Witchiepoo.
3. I bet one of your favorite parts of the job are writing those excellent one-liners in Sidekick every
day, isn’t it? Those are hilarious.
Thanks. They’ve saved me thousands on therapy bills.
4. Come to think of it, how does one get to be the TV critic for the Boston Globe? (translation: how did you get this gig? Other translation: I am jealous, damn you)
I’m so glad you’re jealous. It makes me feel better. Basically, one watches so much TV one has no brain left. Then, one
shows up at the Globe and begs.
5. Do newspaper writers still get paid by the word? Do you do any other writing?
Paid by the word? I think the Times Company just vomited a little. Yeah, I write other things, but my Globe work is most important to me.
6. You and I seem to agree a whole lot on television shows and we both have great appreciation for Barney, who brings a very welcome edge to the show “How I Met Your Mother.” In fact, I don’t think that show survives without him. I love it when TV shows recycle
actors we all thought were washed up. What “washed-up” celebrity is ripe for the picking for the next great comeback?
Barney is great. I love that show. Hmmm. Maybe it’s Butch Patrick’s moment?
7. Do you listen to music? What do you like?
I listen all the time. I’m all over the place, from alternative to classic rock to folky stuff. Just about anything except opera. Top of my mind – Eels, Neil Young’s classic stuff, PJ Harvey, Lucinda Williams, the Dead, the Stones, Beck, Aimee Mann, Etta James, Gillian Welch, Townes Van Zandt, and so on.
8. What was the last thing (other than a television show) you laughed really hard at?
My dog pooped pieces of a florescent ball this morning. You should have
9. Why don’t you ask me a question?
[Matthew asks]: What is your biggest, most humiliating, most hidden secret ever?
[Jeff answer]: You are an evil, evil man, Gilbert. Which one do I choose? That I watched “The Notebook” and really loved it and almost cried at the end? Or how about that time in Canada when I…..nevermind.
10. What is your favorite television show of all time?
Oh you, you! No wonder your mother never loved you. Thing is, the minute I name “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” I feel guilty
about “The Sopranos,” “All in the Family,” and “Seinfeld.”
11. Off topic a little, but don’t you think Jamie Foxx is starting to get into that annoying group of people you just can’t seem to get away from? I can’t go anywhere or do anything these days without him popping up on TV, singing songs, acting in 47 movies per year, etc. Enough already, huh?
By his 3rd or 4th acceptance speech last year for “Ray,” I was tired of him.
12. Are you able to expense a plasma television?
Absolutely not. A plastic television, maybe.
Big thanks to Matthew Gilbert…..good times.