Today's guest TV commentator is the late Carl Jung, right on the money for his invention of the idea of Synchronicity. What is Synchronicity -- besides being the title of the final record by the Police? It's defined by most dictionaries as simultaneous events that seem to be meaningfully related even though they have no causal relationship.
Ready? So help me, these two things happened on the same day:
CBS ran an episode of "Family Law" in which one of the firm's lawyers was turned down for a new apartment by a landlord who hated lawyers because every time he rented to one, he'd be buried up to his clavicles in lawsuits whenever something went wrong. Needless to say, the lawyer immediately sued the landlord of the much-desired apartment. The case was thrown out because, said the judge, the landlord's prejudice against crazily litigious lawyers was absolutely justified and "we have no one to blame but ourselves."
Stacey Stillman, the San Franciscan who is the only lawyer, thus far, to be tapped to be one of the "Survivor" contestants, filed a 14-page lawsuit against CBS and "Survivor" honcho Mark Burnett charging that she was thrown off the island because Burnett rigged the results in favor of Rudy Boesch. According to Stacey -- whom none of us at home much liked anyway -- 72-year-old Rudy was kept on the show to appeal to an older TV demographic.
Wait. This story gets even better. Those intellectually inclined can take the No. 23 bus from Jung's Synchronicity right into the downtown districts of modern chaos theory. Everyone else can just enjoy the chain reaction of finely developed idiocy.
David Letterman, for obvious reasons, wanted to make a bunch of good topical jokes at Stacey's expense and CBS, the oft-bitten hand that feeds him. So he and his bunch concocted a "Top 10 Reasons to Sue CBS" bit for one evening's show.
It was scrapped that night in favor of a Jennifer Lopez list that involved no gleeful and mischievous CBS-bashing.
Letterman, reportedly, was not pleased although CBS claims that he and his staff made the decision to chuck the "Sue CBS" Top 10 list themselves.
Not that there hasn't been friction, you understand. According to an AP story by David Bauder, a previous Letterman gag -- claiming that Dr Pepper was "liquid manure" -- caused CBS to promise the soft drink company that it would never rerun the Dec. 20 Letterman episode in which the gag originally appeared.
Meanwhile, back at NBC, they were having their own "we won't run it again" problems. It seems that an episode of "Law and Order" very freely dramatized some very real "wilding" that occurred in Manhattan's Central Park during Puerto Rican Day.
It's a good thing I saw that episode because no one's ever going to see it again. Puerto Rican anti-defamation groups complained and succeeded in negotiating a no-rerun policy from NBC.
Coincidentally, I happened to be in New York when that incident took place, so I read all about it in the local papers. It goes without saying, I hope, that compared to the hash that was made of it in the city's tabloids, that episode of "Law and Order" was about as aggressive and hard-edged as an episode of "Providence."
And yet NBC capitulated to the pressure groups anyway.
This is not good news. There seems to be a lot of this going around these days and it's not a good idea.
The whole point of "Law and Order" as a series is, as the promotional spots go, to "rip" a story "right out of today's headlines" and make an hour of very good police procedural TV out of it. Over the years, it has become awfully good at wringing all sorts of wild twists and turns out of these simple tabloid tales. Every episode now is like a dramatic version of Crystal Beach's Wild Mouse. You never know 20 minutes after the hour where you're going to be at 10:45 much less 11 p.m.
After going through a bunch of guys ripping women's blouses off in the park and then, quite possibly, an upper class murder plot, the "Law and Order" folks finally decided that the real murderer of the woman killed in a Central Park rowboat was a Brazilian Puerto Rican Day celebrant trying to impress his neighborhood friends.
My guess is that the Brazilian anti-defamation lobby is not a particularly strong or well-connected one.
While ethnic sensitivities of all sorts are understandable, they aren't all justified. It seems to me that if "Law and Order" is to have any integrity at all in its procedures, producer Dick Wolf would have had every right to expect NBC to protect that particular episode.
It didn't. Then again, Wolf, as always, has a lot of irons in the fire and some new shows expected on NBC any minute now. He might have opted to let "Law and Order" take a hit for the team.
That, too, is understandable.
But not necessarily a good thing.
I wish Carl Jung were around to say something about it.
Happy New Ears: Those Buffalo listeners who have often been critical of the narrowness and conservatism of WBFO-FM's jazz programming (88.7) -- especially in the morning -- should know that Toronto's CJRT-FM (91.1) has recently gone with a full-time jazz format instead of the mixed jazz and classical format it used to have.
Its signal isn't nearly as strong as WBFO's. (Frankly, I can't get it at home. I can only get it in my car.) And -- a traditional problem with Canadian radio -- listeners have to put up with a large percentage of government-mandated Canadian music that may not be up to the standards of the best jazz south of the Canadian border.
But Toronto's Ted O'Reilly is the best and most knowledgeable (and sometimes most eccentric) jazz disc jockey Buffalo area listeners have the regular opportunity to hear. (He's on 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.) And now that CJRT has jumped into jazz with both feet, it's a daily answer to a lot of prayers.