Dave on Demand: Television's unrelenting weather

Hurricanes, politics, it's all too much: Just ask Diane Sawyer, with George Stephanopoulos during election coverage early Wednesday; later Wednesday, "American Horror Story," with Franka Potente and James Cromwell, was wonderfully wild.
Hurricanes, politics, it's all too much: Just ask Diane Sawyer, with George Stephanopoulos during election coverage early Wednesday; later Wednesday, "American Horror Story," with Franka Potente and James Cromwell, was wonderfully wild. (DONNA SVENNEVIK / ABC; BYRON COHEN / FX)
Posted: November 10, 2012

Enough already! I've had it with the elements and it's still November. Old Man Winter is just lacing up his boots in Canada.

Those of us in the Northeast have lived through a brutish few weeks, with regular broadcast programming preempted first by storm coverage, then election news, then another storm, called a nor'easter, which apparently, unlike Sandy, originated in a Horatio Hornblower novel.

You may be thinking, "How callow and petty to be thinking about Mike & Molly during a natural disaster!" Actually, it's entirely fitting. In case you haven't noticed, every talk show on TV has turned into one long gripe-fest, a soapbox for people to complain about how their selfish personal needs aren't being met. I'm surprised there isn't a show on called These Eggs Are Too Runny!

Anyway, why should I be held hostage by nature and politics? Yes, I understand we were choosing the leader of the world's most powerful nation, but is that any reason to miss NCIS?

Why shouldn't I have the same rights as people in places like Phoenix and California where they don't have weather? They didn't have to give up Mob Doctor in Albuquerque.

And let's get honest: The round-the-clock storm bulletins were excessive. Endless oration, scant information.

Mostly it was a chance for politicians to burnish their images by hogging airtime. Watch the mayor talk monotonously for 45 minutes without taking a breath, throwing out a series of phone numbers that will get you helpful recorded messages. Now the governor will drone on for 20 minutes. Back to the mayor. It was the world's most boring and self-serving tag-team match.

Sandy soaked up so much airtime it created its own unlikely stars, like Lydia Callis, the Sign Language interpreter for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who became the subject of her own skit on Saturday Night Live.

And Jim Cantore, who cemented his place as the Jim Fowler of meteorology. He took time out from his busy schedule of doing TV stand-ups on every remaining boardwalk on the Atlantic to be a guest on Letterman.

Focusing on massive, damaging events like these is indisputably important. But we live in a 1,000-channel universe. Surely the networks could be offering Parenthood, Glee, Elementary, and Happy Endings on an alternate feed.

We have the technology. Let's use it. I chose a career where I get to sit in a climate-controlled room with easy access to snacks precisely so I wouldn't be subject to the vagaries of nature.

All this "special coverage" has done is drive me into the arms of the CW, which shows its marvelously cheesy prime-time schedule no matter what is happening in the outside world.

Arrow, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Nikita, you have a new, devoted, and most grateful fan.

Set your phasers! This week's episode of Castle was wittily built around a sci-fi convention and an enduring but obscure (apocryphal) space opera titled Nebula-9.

In an inspired piece of stunt casting, the plot's high-tech prop tinker was played by Armin Shimerman, best known as the Ferengi Quark on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and as Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

BTW, the episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes, also known as Commander Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The name's familiar. In a wilder-than-usual episode of American Horror Story this week, a newly committed patient (Franka Potente) professed to be diarist Anne Frank, who had survived Auschwitz and moved quietly to America.

She recognized the asylum's sadistic Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) as an evil Nazi named Hans Gruber.

Hans Gruber? That was the name of the droll villain played by Alan Rickman who took on Bruce Willis in the original Die Hard. Coincidence? We think not.

Vintage. Our favorite election-night tweet was attributed to the band They Might Be Giants: "And Diane Sawyer declares tonight's winner is . . . chardonnay!"


Contact David Hiltbrand

at 215-854-4552, dhiltbrand@ phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.

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