My Review of The TV Land Awards

I do not remember The TV Land Awards getting as much attention as it has this year. Its ratings were the highest ever. Towards the beginning of the current issue of People magazine, there is a three-page photo shoot of the casts of the TV shows being honored this year, with the “Family Ties” gang having the biggest pic. Then again, when you have Bill Cosby, John Travolta, and Michael J. Fox in the same setting, the shows they were a part of getting honored at the same time, that makes news. Someone should have taken a pic of these guys together. Or did they? The ninth annual TV Land Awards did not disappoint. It was everything I hoped it would be, and more. I enjoyed it so much, I watched it twice.

The show, which was taped in New York City for the first time, opened with Liza Minelli’s rendition of the Frank Sinatra classic “New York, New York”. She is looking and sounding more and more like her Mother. The audience ate it up. There was no host this year. Having remembered the Golden Globes and Oscars from earlier this year, smart move. Besides, some of those opening monologues can make you cringe. Stevie Wonder took the stage to present the cast of “The Cosby Show” with the Impact Award. He reminded us how the Huxtables took us to higher ground, which prompted him to head into singing several lines from “Higher Ground”. It caused Bill Cosby to turn into Cliff Huxtable, doing one of his dances at the table. Stevie’s voice remains timeless, sounding exactly the same as it did the first time I heard one of his songs. “The Cosby Show” cast looked elegant, polished, and classy. Raven Symone showed off her slim figure, while who can tell Sabrina LeBeauf is in her ’50s?! Bill Cosby spoke for everyone, while they respectfully looked on. The rapport between he and Stevie Wonder was easy and comical. Absent from the event was Lisa Bonet, who has had a strained relationship with the show since she was fired in 1991. She has never returned for a reunion of the show, although she has always been invited. Cos seemed to indirectly “disown” her from the cast. After having given a gracious shout-out to “Family Ties” (the two shared the Thursday night lineup on NBC), he went to on say they were a family for the entire eight years, that no one ever stomped off mad, or showed up late. Of course, all of this was behavior exhibited behind the scenes by Lisa at some point and time. Remember the time she balked at turning around her wedding ring? This appeared to be him saying the invites were over, and they would now be moving on without her. This was sad in a way. Denise was always my favorite. I will say this- she was missed, but not needed.

The cast of “Hot In Cleveland”, minus Betty White, presented the cast of “The Facts of Life” with the Pop Culture Award. It was fantastic to see Blair, Jo, Natalie, and Tootie publicly back together again. Or make that Lisa, Nancy, Mindy, and Kim- along with Charlotte Rae, Geri Jewell, and Cloris Leachman. Seeing Cloris was a nice surprise. This was the reunion which made me tear up. The women looked absolutely radiant. It is hard to believe Lisa Whelchel will be 48 next month. She still has that lovely hair, too. The speeches the ladies made were very touching, with Geri Jewell’s taking the crown. When she said kids were no longer afraid of her, and wanted her autograph after being cast in “The Facts of Life”, I almost lost it. However, controversy would rear its ugly head. When Charlotte Rae, who is in her mid ’80s now, said she was happy her girls turned out “straight”, there was a backlash. I am sure she was not talking about their sexual orientation, but how they stayed out of trouble, off of drugs. You think she’s forgotten about that other cast of youngsters she worked with- on “Diff’rent Strokes”, and what befell them? Our society is far too sensitive now. On another note, although having seen a clip or two which included Cloris Leachman would have been nice, I am glad they showed none of George Clooney, who played George the handyman for two years. The guy could take some lessons in humility from John Travolta and Tom Hanks.

Next, was a spoof of the film “The King’s Speech”. In this case, it was “Cindy’s Speech”, with Cindy being Cindy Brady. It was delightfully funny and good-natured. Afterwards, Regis Philbin was presented the Legend Award from Barbara Walters. That red dress was made for her. He was visibly moved to be honored. I was happy for him.

The cast of “Family Ties” was up next, receiving the Fan Favorite Award. Brian Bonsall was missing again, but neighbor Skippy was there. During the montage of clips, Billy Vera took the stage to sing “At This Moment”, which was a huge hit my sophomore year of high school. It was Alex and Ellen’s song, if you recall. As a result, their tribute was the longest of the shows. Everyone looked wonderful. After Meredith Baxter called it “the seven sweetest years of my life”, she took a dig at Charlotte Rae’s earlier “straight” comment. She said although they weren’t as straight as the cast of “The Facts of Life”, there were doing OK. Producer Gary David Goldberg and Michael Gross mentioned “The Cosby Show”, in response to Bill Cosby’s earlier compliment.

The Real Housewives of New York where on hand to pay tribute to some of TV’s most unforgettable housewives, including Wilma Flintstone, Louise Jefferson, Donna Stone, Laura Petrie, and Lucy Ricardo. Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” played in the background. In attendance was Joyce Randolph, who portrayed Trixie Norton on “The Honeymooners”. Dressed in a chic black outfit, it was a real treat to see her there.

Next, Daryl Hall and John Oates took the stage, belting out their ’70s classic “Rich Girl”. The Housewives of NY seemed to enjoy their performance the most, along with some others in the background, and Valerie Bertinelli. However, the rest of the crowd seemed “out of touch.” Maybe they never listened to Hall and Oates. Afterwards, Paul Reiser presented them with the Icon Award, with Daryl Hall saying it was “the coolest-looking” award he had ever been given.

Lastly, it was time to pay tribute to the Sweathogs, and the 35th anniversary of “Welcome Back Kotter”. Jane Lynch from “Glee” presented the award, which in the words of Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, was “overdue”. Actually, all the awards were overdue. The only things that have changed about him are his hair, and he wears a mustache now. Unfortunately, Ron Palillo, who played Arnold Horshack, was absent due to having fallen ill at the last-minute. However, people were so excited and fired up about John Travolta being there, no one seemed to care. His sister, Ellen, also came. She played Horshack’s Mother. Another nice surprise. Speaking of John Travolta, he is amazing. Not only did his lovely wife, Kelly Preston, come with him, but every time the camera cut to him, he had a smile on his face. He was genuinely enjoying himself. You could tell the gang was happy to be back together, as we were happy to see them. When Barbarino and “Boom-Boom” Washington came to life on stage, it was impossible not to laugh. It was terrific all the way around.

Jane Lynch closed the show, with the top-hat dancers from Liza Minelli’s opening number behind her. She looked uncomfortably out of place. It was awkward to watch. She should have pulled a John Ritter, and danced with them.

The TV Land Awards are the only award show that means anything to me now. I have never missed one. This year’s was extra special. Maybe it’s because this is the year I turn 40. Perhaps it’s because I remember watching each of these shows weekly when they were on the air. Whatever the reason(s), I look forward to next year.  I would like to see “A Different World” recognized. I bet Lisa Bonet would show up for that.

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~ by kmnnz on April 20, 2011.

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