Set your TIVOs, it's premiere week for most of the major networks! In honor of the beginning of the fall television season, I sat down with Al Roker (weatherman extraordinaire and pop culture aficionado) to get his thoughts on the new shows and some old favorites:
Q: The fall TV season is starting this week, what's the show that you're most excited about watching?
AL: Heroes. When I saw the pilot last year, I remember thinking, there were a lot of shows that everyone was really excited about...and the two that I thought were going to be the best were Heroes and 30 Rock. And I feel vindicated, so I'm looking forward to both those shows coming back.
Q: What about the new shows? What will you be watching?
AL: I want to see Reaper on the CW. I also want to watch Back to You on Fox. I saw the first episode, but it was a little disappointing. I was on a flight not too long ago where I watched the best of Cheers and James Burrows (director of Back to You) was the director of that show as well. Back to You is a throwback to the classic four-camera television sitcom where two characters are talking and another walks through frame and just throws out a line, and then they're still talking and the character comes back, throws out another line, and decent lines at that. You've also got Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, arguably two of the biggest sitcom stars today, directed by James Burrows who is a giant, and one of the Charles brothers and Steve Levitan. You've got a pretty good pedigree in front of the camera and behind the camera, but it was kind of like "eh." It was trying too hard. But it was the first episode, and hopefully they'll give it time and it'll settle down.
Q: One of this season's new shows, Bionic Woman, is a remake of a 70's TV show...What show would you like to see a remake of at this point?
AL: The A-Team. They should bring back The A-Team. I want a remake of The A-Team. It's a Universal property, they should have no problems. Remake The A-Team.
Q: What are the shows that you watched when you were growing up that you remember fondly?
AL: I was weaned on Dennis the Menace, and to a certain extent Bonanza. I remember the first Cosby show . Cosby was in I Spy which was great too. But his first sitcom was The Bill Cosby Show, where he was Chet Kincaid, a gym teacher in Los Angeles. I remember Room 222,All in the Family--these are classics.
Q: Is there a particular show that you like watching with your kids?
AL: It's more the stuff that's on cable, like Hannah Montana. We also watch Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? I like stuff that's kind of right down the middle. I think that's why Millionaire was such a success, because everybody could watch it. Singing Bee is sort of like that as well.
We don't watch a lot of TV during the week, more on the weekends. During the school year, the kids don't get to watch TV during the week.
Q: You've made some cameo appearances on several shows over the years- Seinfeld, Will & Grace, 30 Rock...How do those appearances come about? Do you court them or do they court you?
AL: They just call. Somebody calls up and says, 'can you do this?' and I play hard to get and wait 3 minutes, say yes, and then just show up. It usually takes longer to get there and get into makeup than the time that I actually appear on camera.
Al with Sean Hayes on Will & Grace in 2000
Al pays a visit to Jack McBrayer (aka Kenneth the Page) on the set of 30 Rock last season
Q:Is there a wish list? A show that you would like to be on?
AL: I would kill to be on Heroes.
Q: Playing a hero with what power?
AL: To control the weather is I think the obvious power.
I'm also a big fan of The Office, and would enjoy appearing on that.
Q: You're actually going to The Office convention in Scranton, PA next month, what will you be doing there?
AL: I have no idea. I don't know if I will be selling office supplies- paper...liquid paper....I don't know. In the digital age, do we still have liquid paper? I just don't know.
Q: You can't ever go wrong with Wite-Out.
AL: I don't know that you really say Wite-Out to a black person. (laughs)
Q: Now for a little lightning round...What's on the iPod right now?
AL: On the iPod right now- on the video side of it, I have Heroes, I have the pilot of Chuck, I have the first 5 episodes of the first season of House. Musically, I just put Babyface Edmonds cd on it, Travis Tritt, and Queen Latifah.
Q: What about books?
AL: I'm reading The Blair Years. I just read New England White by Stephen Carter. And I'm listening to the latest Robert Parker book.
Q: Recent movies that you've liked?
AL: Movies that I've seen recently....I have small children, so it's mostly movies where the characters only have 4 fingers. I did see Mr. Bean's Holiday which was a live-action cartoon really. On a plane, I've recently seen Spiderman 3 and Die Hard 4.
Q: You're a big gadget person, is there a must-have gadget that you're looking to get?
AL: I want to get the new iPod touch. I have the iPhone, I want to get the iPod touch.
Q: What's going to be different about getting the iPod touch versus the iPhone, aren't they pretty similar, minus the phone feature?
AL: I don't know. I just want it. That's pretty much my vice.