Come Back, Crane!

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"Come Back, Crane!" I shouted at the TV, suffering Boston Legal withdrawl as I watched a sneak preview of the Great American Dream Vote, not to be confused with the Great American Dream Machine, a PBS half-hour variety/review show of the 1970's that was wonderfully zany.

This was the new ABC reality show that was a major snooze-fest.

It consists of people pitching their pretty pedestrian "dreams" over and over to a studio audience. "Repetitious" and "boring" leapt to the numbed mind as a I counted the minutes until next week's Boston Legal could reclaim the 190-11 p.m. time period it gave up Tuesday night so that we might get not one but two doses of this sleeping pill of a show.

Donny Osmond fronted the reality competition competently but without any of the edge of Howie Mandel or the aplomb of Regis or the camp of Shatner, while a series of "evelope, please" blondes and brunettes in skirts shorter than this show's likely network run were trotted out. They may now be an eye-candy staple now in the wake of Deal or No Deal.

What executive watched people compete over the chance to grow hair or turn their kid into Miss America or open a senior center for bassett hounds and decided it was compelling TV, or even marginally watchable TV….

On an upbeat, I got hooked by A&E's Sopranos re-runs the other night. It is not a show I have watched much, which is a shame. A&E obviously took out a lot of the sex and violence, but it does not suffer as far as I am concerned.  What a wonderfully acted series, but can someone explain why that guy is, uh, relieving himself during those robberies….

And speaking of scatalogical TV, if you told me I would be watching someone self-catheterize in explicit detail on a prime time series, I would have said I don't watch Discovery Health Network. But this was Fox's House, which again pushed the bounds of taste Tuesday night in the interests of compelling storylines, great writing and fine acting.

That show continues to reward its viewers by never taking the easy out or uncomplicating its characters to please an audience. If there is a better TV actor working today than Hugh Laurie, I haven't seen him or her.

By John Eggerton

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