In Patrick Berry's "Reinitializing the Program" six television shows with initials in their titles switch one of those initials, resulting in a new, unexpected TV show title. Hilarity ensues.
SPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further until you've done today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle. New York Sun puzzles are every bit as fun and challenging as the more well-known New York Times -- No, you know what, they're better. That's right, I said it, the New York Sun's puzzles are better than the New York Times's puzzles, and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be Peter Gordon and to keep putting out this superior product and have everybody just blog, blog, blogging and yak, yak, yakking about the Times, Times, Times. Look, if you don't have time for two great puzzles a day, do the better one, do the SUN -- (we now return you to your regularly scheduled spoiler warning) -- and they're indisputably better in one way -- they're free. If you'd like to read about an unbiased head-to-head competition between the Sun and the Times puzzles check this out. Or if you're ready to decide for yourself you can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.
The themed entries are:
4D: Program hosted by investigative journalists who can dunk? (DATELINE NBA)
18A: Program hosted by a televangelist who's raising money for a school play? (THE PTA CLUB) It certainly would have been better if the PTL Club had raised money for schools rather than air-conditioned dog houses and Tammy Faye's mascara addiction.
25A: Program about a detective on an island who teaches gym? (MAGNUM PE)
26D: Program about Andy Taylor's hometown being shaken up by a civil rights leader? (MAYBERRY RFK) This was a gimme. If you don't know Andy Taylor's hometown you have not watched enough television.
59A: Program about a sarcastic naval officer who offers sound financial advice? (CPA SHARKEY) I'm a big Don Rickles fan, but I wonder how many other people remember this short-lived sitcom? This show is mostly remembered as the one Johnny Carson broke into during a live taping to berate Rickles for breaking his cigarette box as seen on countless Tonight Show retrospectives.
49A: Program about a crime-fighting unit from the South that stages Civil War reenactments? (CSA MIAMI) This puzzle seems loaded with references to the War of Northern Aggression. Besides this one, there's 13D: Enemies of the men in blue? (REBS) or as we crossword tournament people refer to them -- "seshes" and 27A: Gray area? (DIXIE) (Because that was the color the Rebs wore during that conflict.
Other entries of interest:
1D: Friday employer (LAPD) Got off to a slower start than I should have in my beloved NW corner cuz I was thinking of Robinson Crusoe and TGIFridays not Dragnet.
9A: It beats rock (PAPER). Did you know that the official Rock-Paper-Scissors Strategy Guide is 176 pages long? Why would it take so long to say "If you think your opponent's going to throw paper, then you should throw scissors."
3D: Winner of Worst Actress Razzies in 1982 and 1983 (PIA ZADORA) I'm afraid the story's not true, but it's too good to not tell. Supposedly Ms. Zadora was in a production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" and she was of course awful, emoting all over the place in such an annoying manner that when the Nazis burst in, an audience member shouted out "She's in the attic!"By the way, in Pia's defense, she's got nothing on Madonna who is the all-time worst actress with 15 Razzy nominations and 9 wins. Zadora's not even second -- that would be Bo Derek with 11 nominations and 6 awards. Want to know the all-time worst actor? Click here.
54D: Danish toast (SKOAL) I put down MELBA at first. Not sure why I thought Melba toast was Danish. Turns out it was named for an Australian opera singer.
11D: Colonoscopy detection (POLYP) Yet more proof that the Sun does not have a breakfast table suitability test.
68A: Underwater forest plant (KELP) Making its second appearance in a row. Yesterday KELP was thickening ice cream, today it's just minding its own business growing and swaying beneath the waves.
There were a lot of long non-themed words in the puzzle that I liked -- EPHEMERAL, STONE CRAB, BETE NOIRE, BERLINERS, LORI PETTY
And speaking of award-winners, did you know that Mister MAGOO (63A: Cartoon myope's surname) won two Oscars for best animated short in 1954 and 1956. You know Pia's jealous of that.