Milton Fleck was a top Hollywood agent of the 1960s who left town in disgrace following a 1973 scandal involving a chi hua hua, a male prostitute, and Lemon Pledge. He has since resurfaced as the very opinionated cul-chah commentator for the Sitcomboy group of web sites. To his credit, Milton was one of the first openly gay Hollywood commentators. To his detriment, it kind of … um … colored all of his writing.
Some background: Circa 2003, I decided to add TV critic Milton Fleck—and his outrageous, but honest, and definitely one-sided opinions—to the Sitcomboy site. He had just been let go from every reputable entertainment news outlet (TV, newspapers, magazines) for reporting that was deemed too potentially libelous. Milton spoke his truth … and he could definitely get away with writing stuff in reviews of pop culture that I couldn’t. Milton may or may not be your cup o’tea (especially in these OMG-how-much-more-PC-can-we-get times), but I thought I’d share some of his better-received columns, starting with his review of the 2003-2004 TV season. Remember, and I can’t stress this enough, as I noted at the end of every Fleck column: All opinions expressed here are Milton Fleck’s. Don’t bother complaining. He just doesn’t care.
This Was a Season?
Once upon a time, really talented people lived and worked in Hollywood. Don’t ask me who lives and works there now, but if their television output is any indication, they need help. Some people who call themselves my friends tell me I must stop living in the past. But how can I when the present entertainment horizon offers so little? To wit: Here’s a list of the Top 20 shows as Nielsen ranked them, in 1966:
(1) Bonanza — NBC
(2) Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. — CBS
(3) The Lucy Show — CBS
(4) The Red Skelton Hour — CBS
(5) Batman (II) — ABC
(6) The Andy Griffith Show — CBS
(7) Bewitched — ABC
(8) The Beverly Hillbillies — CBS
(9) Hogan’s Heroes — CBS
(10) Batman (I) — ABC
(11) Green Acres — CBS
(12) Get Smart — NBC
(13) The Man from U.N.C.L.E. — NBC
(14) Daktari — CBS
(15) My Three Sons — CBS
(16) The Dick Van Dyke Show — CBS
(17) Walt Disney’s Wonderful World — NBC
(18) The Ed Sullivan Show — CBS
(19) The Lawrence Welk Show — ABC
(20) I’ve Got a Secret — CBS
We had it all. Look at that list: classic comedy (Lucy, Dick Van Dyke, Red Skelton, “Bewitched” —the first five seasons, anyway—and Andy Griffith); wholesome but actually entertaining family shows (Disney, Ed Sullivan); satire (“Get Smart,” “Batman”); and adventure (“Man from UNCLE,” “Daktari”). What do we have now? I’m glad you asked. What follows is my patented one-sentence fall season show preview. Do I have to add that if you disagree, please don’t tell me about it?
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Precious, invigorating, and it’s about time!
Coupling Awful, derivative, grating, and just plain stupid; please watch the British original instead — and who told any of these actors they were funny?
The O.C. The title must stand for “Outstanding Cast”, because they’re all fine and there’s eye candy for every sexual persuasion. Yummy.
The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H. Okay, first of all, whoever said we wanted to see a show about New Hampshire, for God’s sake (isn’t it enough that election primaries take place there?), and then, to top it off, it stars Randy Quaid — looking like he swallowed brother Dennis.
Joan of Arcadia This is too good to last (though I must say if God really looked like that cute boy in the first show, I’d be high-tailing it to Heaven!) … not to mention doing anything he asked of me…
The Handler That Joey Try-on-your-Pants (or whatever his last name is) is really good as an FBI … um … handler … (whatever that is; I have my opinion).
Cold Case Finally, a show that might last all season; I, personally, would watch Danny Pino reading the Yellow Pages.
Boy Meets Boy A gay dating reality show; if they’d had one of these way back when, maybe I wouldn’t have *sob* had to leave town *sigh* every few years.
Jake 2.0 They took the cute boy from Showtime’s Odyssey 5 (and God — or Peter Weller, I’d watch out for him — will get you, Showtime, for abruptly cancelling that promising show) and put him in another with a vaguely sci-fi premise; nanobots, shmanobots, as long as he takes his shirt off once in a while…
Still Life So… a dead cop is narrating this new drama about a family and how they cope with, ummm, I’m not really sure, it seems to be about how they’re coping with his death, which happened either a year ago or two years ago, but then they introduce his brother as though … oh well, I stopped watching this derivative dreck after 10 minutes, and you shouldn’t waste your time, either.
The Lyon’s Den I remember when Rob Lowe was noticed more for his pretty looks than his acting talent; well, he’s more mature looking but still hot; I’d watch him search for clues to his mentor’s murder any night of the week.
Wonderfalls And now, get thee to a Fox PR person and get a copy of Wonderfalls, the best new series in this or any season of the past few years, because it’s bound to be cancelled after half a season; it’s humorous, it’s mystifying and the cast is superb (especially newcomer Caroline Dhavernas and the always watchable Diana Scarwid as her souped-up mom). Watch for it in January as a midseason replacement for Joe Millionaire. (Really? Joe Millionaire?! Insert screaming fit here.)
Arrested Development Who knew little Opie could be so devastatingly ironic and hip? Ronnie Howard, all grown up, produces and is the narrator of this comic dysfunctional family comedy, the second show (and that’s it, I promise you) that deserves to be a hit this year. Jessica Walter: Where have you been all these years? If she doesn’t win an Emmy, back goes my ATAS Television Academy membership card.
That’s it — I can’t go on, and believe me, you don’t want to know.