Monday, September 22, 2008

The Andrenn Channel

Welcome to the very first ever edition of The Andrenn Channel, our latest little fun nugget in New Age Comics with Andrenn. Now unlike Collection Spotlight, we’re going the route of Comic Report Card and keeping with a more random “whenever I can get one of these done” schedule. Though I may eventually try for a bi-weekly schedule if all goes well.

Here, I get to play the big TV Channel owner, and I make up my own little channel of all my favorite shows of all time. We’re talking cartoons, sitcoms and the whole shebang baby. No stone will go unturned with my history with Television.

Obviously nothing X-rated will appear here, so don’t worry about that.

I had a lot of ideas with what show I wanted to open this with…Scrubs maybe? No, too easy…King of the Hill! Eh…maybe another time…oh, how about Spin City? The board agrees to review Spin City for the Andrenn Channel.

First let’s get some formalities out of the way, there is a bit of a code of conduct here similar to things like Comic Report Card. First I talk about the show in general, then some of its characters, main or not, we close with a “Why it goes on the channel” of sorts.

Plot Discussion:

The plot to Spin City is a fairly simple one. Our main character is Mike Flaherty. We’ll just call him Mike to make things easy. So Mike is our main character, and he’s the deputy Mayor of New York City. Randal Winston is the Mayor, but this show looks more at the man behind the man who runs the city. One of the big gags through the series is how the Mayor is “Surprisingly relaxed for his big of a job.” This is obviously poking fun at how elected officials are really just one part to the political staff machine.

Mike struggles between keeping the Mayor’s approval ratings afloat and balancing a social life. Mike is the kind of guy who can spend days at his office, and that is very much the thing of subject through the series.

At the beginning of the series Mike is living with a long time girlfriend, Ashley, no doubt to balance the lacking social life the character has. But she only lasted a short while until she mysteriously left the show, leaving Mike’s love life to be one of his biggest, and more comedic, struggles.

The show deals with several hot topics through the times, from gay marriage to Native American rights, several aspects to the political viewpoint are tackled. Though we see these issues handled in a comedic light, that doesn’t really offend so much as it entertains. The show may deal with hot topics, but it doesn’t go the Carlos Mencia way about it.

Mike would leave when Michael J. Fox had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Though he stayed on a little while longer as the character of Caitlin Moore was introduced to balance with him, he would end up leaving shortly after this. The way in which the story ends is incredibly well done, in which Mike takes the fall for the Mayor who accidentally gets tied to a Mob Boss. The final 2 episodes are a perfect blend of comedy, character moments, and just the right amount of sadness without it becoming down and depressing.

Unfortunately, though Mike was off the show, the show was still as popular as ever so they called in to do another season and keep it going. Taking Mike’s place was Charlie Sheen, who played Charlie Crawford. While the final seasons with Charlie where both fine and had good blends of comedy and seriousness, the magic was gone and the final episode was much weaker than the finale Mike had.


Mike Flaherty

Actor: Michel J. Fox

To sum the character up, Mike was a work-a-holic who loved his job and loved working with Randall Winston and his staff. He was courage, smart and a fairly nice guy. Mike is not without flaws through the show. For one, he seems to care little if at all about his love life really and is more obsessed with keeping the Mayor and everyone else happy. Though he tries, his social life usually bombs half the time.

Mike also has his moments of anger and frustration that has a negative affect on the staff. Most notably James, who looks up to Mike as a mentor. Mike has a strong connection with every member of the staff, but his most notable connection is of course to the Mayor, who becomes like a father to Mike.

Throughout the series, we see that Mike isn’t always as smart as he thinks he is and that his courage sometimes gets him into hot water. Though usually he can pull himself out of the fire before he gets burned. Mike is a great mix of nice guy with bad moments and responsible public official. His character has the most memorable and funny moments that stand out the most throughout the entire series.

Michael J. Fox does an amazing job here and honestly, outside of Back to the Future, this is show has some of the best work from his entire career. While the character of Mike is both flawed and sometimes over-calculated, Fox makes sure that the character is never unlikable or annoying to the point that the audience wouldn’t enjoy seeing his character on screen.

Randal Winston

Actor: Barry Bostwick

Though his name is Randall, we’re going to call him the Mayor since that’s his main title throughout the entire show and that is how he is addressed most of the time. The Mayor is a fairly good guy, but he’s often very oblivious or foolish to very simple things such as when he offends the gay community.

He seems to be more relaxed then one would think a mayor to be, and that’s the main joke to his character, he hardly really does anything compared to Mike. He’s more the face of the entire staff whereas they do all the grunt and dirty work. He gets to do all the fun stuff, but surprisingly, he stays fairly humble and nice about it.

Where the Mayor really shines is when he’s on stage and he is battling an opponent like Nancy Wheeler or the Press. He has several moments that are both inspiring and that shine easily as much as some of the best Mike Moments.

His scene where he tells Mike how he is the son he never had, how proud he is of him, and that he loves him, it’s one of the best moments of the series and really hits a high emotional level with the viewers as it should. Bostwick, like J. Fox, does an amazing job as his character.

Carter Heywood

Actor: Michael Boatman

Carter is a gay African American man, something he prides himself in as he is a strong social rights activist and combats things like waste dumping to discrimination. He’s easily the most politically active outside the office and the most outspoken of all the staff. But as brilliant as he seems, Carter often tends to overindulge himself and sees himself in too bright of a light, glossing over things such as his faults often. He comes off as pretentious and snobby even, but for the most part, he has a good heart that just isn’t always in the right place at times.

At the start of the show he is brought in by Mike so that the gay community can have a voice in the Winston administration and because Mike “Loves his attitude” as Carter promises to make Winston’s life a living hell. Despite this, after a few episodes, Carter comes into enjoying his time in the office and befriends the administration he once demonized.

Despite his somewhat indulgent side, he seems to be the voice of reason often around the staff and is often sought for advice from most people. Carter at first seems to resent how people ask him for advice, but comes to love it and thinks himself as a big help around the office and really appreciates it.

Paul Lassiter

Actor: Richard Kind

Paul is the annoying loudmouth of the staff, often he lets things slip out which shouldn’t, and is forced to be kept in the dark on several things. Despite this, he is appointed as press secretary, something he prides himself on and eventually comes to feel it’s the thing he was meant for.

Paul is also a serious cheapskate, despite having a good salary and not needing to be, he scrimps and scrimps so much that he never even buys a real lunch. He hates buying groceries and is mortified at spending even somewhat over 10 dollars.

Despite Paul’s negative aspects, he has his good moments and is seen to be a nice guy who just doesn’t always mean to do stupid at times. He really tries not to mess up, but it just seems hard for the poor guy. So we are mixed with sympathy, and frustration of this character. Richard Kind does a good job at establishing and keeping the image of Paul strong.

Stuart Bondek

Actor: Alan Ruck

Stuart is a perverted, rude, foul mouthed man whom is basically the typical “Perverted dude” that people joke about. He is very open about his love of pornography and bad habits. He mocks the pain of others and often torments Paul with pranks and insults. Though usually this image is never lost, at times, we do see a softer and nicer side to Stuart.

Really, the most notable thing about Stuart was in the Mike Finale, how stoic he was to Mike leaving the office. Just when it seems he’s about to start crying at losing his best friend, he gets up, says goodbye before he can show a sign of weakness. He’s the typical man in every sense that he likes to be seen as tough, untouchable and in his mind, attractive.

Caitlin Moore

Actor: Heather Locklear

Caitlin, though she showed up later on in the series, can be seen as the main female lead of the show and clashes the most with Mike, the male lead. At first she tricks her way into the administration by pretending to be a stupid uneducated fool of a campaign manager that Mike can manipulate. As soon as she’s hired, she shows her true colors as a strong willed well educated politician and the clashing begins immediately.

Following her introduction, her and Mike struggle for attention over the Mayor and control over the staff. It’s all comedic genius, but after a while, a sexual tension begins to build between the two and at the Mike Finale, their a couple and seem to be fairly strong as far as a character couple is concerned.

Caitlin is very strong willed, often upset if she doesn’t get her way and very controlling over the situations that she is in. That seems to be the main reason her and Mike clash so much, both like being the strongest person in the room with the most power. But when Charlie comes along, she is seen in more of a crude light and ignorant of being kind or caring. Though this image soon dissolves, it’s confusing.

Charlie Crawford

Actor: Charlie Sheen

What better character to close this Character part to this than Charlie. Coming in to replace Mike, just like with the audience, his inception as a replacement was not well won with the characters. If anything, this was more of a set up for Charlie’s character Charlie Harper, on Two and a Half men. The two are incredibly similar, the definitive Player archetype.

He gets more women than he can count in a 22 finger convention. Every night he beds another women and that seems to be his main thing that is played through the series. It’s played off as a “gift” of sorts and it does get him in trouble. But when the time comes that he and the character of Caitlin get together…it’s done incredibly awkward and confusing and makes nowhere near as much a sense as Mike and Caitlin.

Though Charlie Sheen never really fit quite well into the show, he did well with what he could and was an all right replacement for Michael J. Fox.

Why it goes on the Channel.

Spin City makes it onto the Andrenn Channel for its great use of political humor and balancing the right amount of plot and character moments. Never does the plot interrupt a good character moment or are the characters to busy with themselves to advance the plot of the episode. To put it best, Spin City is comedic genius. Despite the final seasons missing the Michael J. Fox magic, they still make for enjoyable watches and are fine. Though still, if there where any reason we are adding Spin City to the Andrenn Channel, it’s for Michael J. Fox and the other great characters. This is one of those shows that sticks with you and you never forget about it and some of its greatest moments. It easily earns a spot here at the Andrenn Channel and I am happy to add it as the first show on the programming of the Andrenn Channel.

So there you have it, I know it took a while to write up but I finally finished it. Now don’t expect Andrenn Channel all that often, maybe once or twice a month. It’s a lot harder to write all this up then a simple comic review or Collection spotlight.

Now that was the first one, I’m not sure what the second one will be…I’m thinking Becker. Or maybe Two and a Half Men. I guess you’ll have to wait and see until the next time.

Now since I’ve been kind of skimping on anything but the same old same old, over these next few days I’m going to try out some new article ideas. Tomorrow I’ll post “Ultimates 3, a different take” and on Thursday probably, I’ll talk about who is my favorite current artist in this business. So check in for some new ideas I’m throwing around.


Keith Gammage said...

Interesting post, good work. I watched Spin City on and off, but it never really grabbed me, possibly cause I'm not American so its political side didn't resonate with me.

Andrenn said...

Thank you, this is a new thing that still has some bugs to work out. I may add a few things as time goes on, or change things around with it.

I just started watching it a few years ago actually, when I first watched it it didn't interest me either.