Linda Ellerbee Checks Out 12 For the Road, Tuesday, June 17

The Kellogg family, courtesy Nickelodeon

The Kellogg family, courtesy Nickelodeon


Who will want to watch? - All ages

How safe is it? - It might challenge how you think about some things (which may be the most dangerous of all)

How good is it? - Lots of fun

Nick News special premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on Nickelodeon.

It’s the wanderlust, baby. I’m watching this Nick News special about the Kellogg family. Two parents, 12 kids and a dog and they live year-round in an RV. The kids are home-schooled and the family goes wherever they want. Oh, man. That is something I’ve always wanted to do. Well, maybe not with 12 kids.

But, hey, it works for the Kelloggs, and even if that kind of lifestyle would never work for you, that’s not what’s important here. It’s all about living life on your own terms, rather than what everyone else expects of you. I’m not advocating flipping the world the bird and ignoring your relatives in search of your own selfish desires – that never works. But being able to look at your life and decide what’s going to work best for your family as a whole and being willing to go with it – that’s a different ballgame. And it looks like it’s working for the Kelloggs.

This business of living on your own terms is actually critically important. Kids who feel comfortable with who they are, even if it’s not in step with their peers, are less likely to bend to peer pressure to try to fit in. Which means they’re less likely to engage in behaviors we’d rather they didn’t. Most importantly of all, though, it’s the best armor against bullying that you can give them. Period.

I know this for a fact. My daughter was, fortunately, given the room to be who she is, which is pretty introverted. Surprise, surprise, she got bullied. I found out when she was 12 and she happened to mention that the other kids said mean things about her. She just shrugged and said it was their problem. And that was the end of that.

So, as noted above, the real lesson in the Kelloggs’ story is not whether every family should pack up and live in a RV. It’s about being true to who you are as people, and that’s a very important lesson, indeed.

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The Update From Death’s Doorstep

Poor Clyde - actually, he's happy. I'm the one who feels like this looks.

Poor Clyde – actually, he’s happy. I’m the one who feels like this looks.

So last week, not much was going on that I found that interesting. Plus there was the serious need to chase some dollars down. Seems so consumerist, but, hey, we like eating and keeping the lights on around here. And I let the blog go.

Only to be body-slammed by a nasty, nasty virus that decided to turn into bronchitis and has pretty much flattened me for the past seven days. See the dog in the upper left hand corner. That’s how I feel – and that’s with this thing finally starting to get better.

Just so you know, the dog Clyde (Clydeston Buford DeMeal, Clydie-Widie, The Clydenocerous) is actually perfectly content. We got him a bigger bed when we adopted him last September. He not only spurned it in favor of the much smaller bed our other dog Fred was using, he seems to like sleeping half in/half out.

But when a human being feels like this picture looks, it is a true misery. Or as Ogdan Nash put it:

Here is the genuine Cold Colossal; 
The Cold of which researchers dream, 
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme. 
This honored system humbly holds 
The Super-cold to end all colds; 
The Cold Crusading for Democracy; 
The Führer of the Streptococcracy.

You can read the rest of the poem here on

I’m going to get some more hot tea, lemon and honey.

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OMG, She’s Ranting Again, Friday, May 30

John Malkovich and Richard Coyle, courtesy NBC

John Malkovich and Richard Coyle, courtesy NBC

Yes, children. Mumsie is on another tear. After suffering (and I do mean suffering) through the pilot for NBC’s comedy Undateable, which was largely unwatchable in spite of a great cast, and then trying to get through Crossbones, premiering tonight on NBC at 10 p.m. (and only giving up after realizing that if I didn’t, the contents of my stomach would have surely been forfeited on the grossness/violence factor), I was not a happy camper.

Then I saw an article by my colleague (and hopefully, friend) Randee Dawn, in the Los Angeles Times, in which she writes about how with all these really horrible anti-heroes on TV of late (without mentioning Crossbones), we may be getting a little empathy-fatigued. And I’m, like, YEAH! And I posted it on Facebook and Twitter and my other long-time and dear friend Fr. Enrique Sera commented that he’s had it up to here with anti-heroes since “The Graduate,” and the perverse side of me realized – wait a minute.

Here’s the problem. The nice folks at NBC are realizing that not only do they have to compete with CBS, Fox, ABC, and even The CW for your eyeballs, there are also channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz, which do not face the same restrictions re violence and sex that NBC does simply because you have to pay for HBO, Showtime, Starz and other cable channels. Whereas you don’t pay for NBC, except by sitting through various and sundry advertisements. So NBC (and other broadcast networks) really, really needs people to show up and watch, especially all those commercials that many of us are by-passing with our DVRs.

And we all know sex and violence sells. It sells really, really well. In all fairness, I didn’t see any sex happening on Crossbones. But I either didn’t get that far or it’s coming in later episodes. So does good acting and star John Malkovich had one really awesome scene, railing against the hypocrisy of established government. But mostly it’s the blood and guts which gets people tuning in.

Still, my buddy Fr. Ric is completely right. It would be awesome to see characters that “build up our trust in goodness and search for beauty.” But the problem is, creating characters and shows like that which also still have sufficient dramatic interest is insanely difficult. I’m not saying it can’t be done – can you say “The Cosby Show?” But the reality is, good people are great to know in real life, but they can be pretty darned boring on screen. Think Hallmark Channel.

And the sad reality is difficulty equals time, which equals money, and in an environment as fiercely competitive as the current one (because it isn’t just about the other cable channels, it’s about all the Internet options, too, plus video games, plus other real life stuff), that which takes time and costs money isn’t exactly going to win over your average programming executive’s (for lack of a better term) heart. On the other hand, sex and violence is an easy draw and if the rest of the writing is passably decent, that’s where you’re going to focus your attention.

That being said, for those of us who would like to watch a show without cringing every five seconds (no judgment implied for those of you with stronger constitutions) or those who have younger viewers in the household who don’t really need to be exposed to that level of violence or false sexual intimacy, it would be nice to have more options in addition to the latest PBS nature doc. I’m just saying, okay?



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Big Ballet a Nicer Reality Show, Wednesday, May 28


Who will want to watch? - All ages, all sizes

How safe is it? - Almost completely safe

How good is it? - On one hand, it’s a reality show and rather blah that way, but on the other hand, it’s nicer and somewhat more interesting

New limited series premieres on Ovation tonight (5/28) at 10 p.m.

Wayne Sleep, a retired principal dancer with the London Royal Ballet, almost lost out on his career in ballet because he’s really short. So now, he’s decided to put on a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake featuring over-sized dancers.

So far, it’s touching and charming, and it could be interesting ultimately. Sleep does occasionally poke fun at the size issue, but for the most part, this is a very safe piece, with lots of touching and sad stories of women dealing with their size and their dreams having been dashed because they don’t fit the “correct” profile.

But the bottom line, is that even though it’s British, even though it’s nice and fulfilling, etc., it’s still your basic reality show and is rather predictable at that. Sleep is a little grating, too. Maybe that’s why it just didn’t grab me, although I could appreciate the struggle of the women and the few men who participate, as well. Your mileage may vary.

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The Night Shift is Familiar, But Likable Territory, Tuesday, May 27

This post was supposed to go up early 5/27, but thanks to some technical difficulties (long story involving ancient infrastructure), it didn’t. On the other hand, you can stream the episode on or on the site. And I kinda liked the show.

Ken Leung, Freddy Rodriguez and Eoin Macken, courtesy NBC

Ken Leung, Freddy Rodriguez and Eoin Macken, courtesy NBC


Who will want to watch? - Older elementary age and up

How safe is it? - Lots of surgical and medical gross stuff, lots of joking about sex

How good is it? - Surprisingly likable for something so done to death

New series premieres tonight (5/27) on NBC at 10 p.m.

Even if E.R. hadn’t done 11 pretty darned good seasons already, a medical drama about doctors with attitudes in emergency rooms would be pretty familiar territory. And if one is going to go with the platitude that there is nothing new under the sun, another medical drama about doctors with attitudes in emergency rooms would be inevitable. Which is not necessarily a bad thing as The Night Shift proves.

This one features returned Army vet T.C. Callahan (Eoin Macken) who works the night shift at San Antonio Memorial, battling hospital management in Michael Ragosa (Freddy Rodriguez) and coming to terms with former flame and now boss Jordan Alexander (Jill Flint).

Safety-wise, you’re looking at lots of gore – one of the first scenes involves a roadside bit of surgery on a man impaled on a branch. It doesn’t get better. The worst of it is the joking about sex. Didn’t see any actually happening or beginning to, but it’s implied and talked about a lot, and I don’t doubt there may be some action that way coming.

It’s the characters that drive this one – T.C. has some major issues relating back to his war service and is a complete thrill seeker. Again, familiar territory, but Macken imbues something charming and fun into the character. Also, while Ragosa comes off as not caring about the patients, you find out that he is less of a demon than he is considered and may even be caring for patients in his own way.

So, while not terribly original, it is reasonably fun, but will require monitoring, depending on the ages and sensibilities of your young ‘uns.

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