- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2005

SpongeBob’s back

Fox’s “Family Guy” isn’t the only animated show returning with fresh episodes this month.

Tonight marks the fourth-season debut of “SpongeBob SquarePants” on Nickelodeon.

The show, resuming at 8 tonight, introduces the first two of 20 new episodes featuring SpongeBob and his undersea pals, Associated Press reports.

“Fear of a Krabby Patty” finds SpongeBob reconsidering his dream job as a fry cook when the Krusty Krab extends its hours to round-the-clock service.

“We get to keep working and working and working, without ever having to go home,” he cheers at first. Soon, the sleep-deprived SpongeBob is freaking at the sight of Krabby Patties. Of course, that’s all part of archvillain Plankton’s scheme to steal the secret Krabby Patty recipe.

Tonight’s second episode, “Shell of a Man,” follows Mr. Krabs’ unexpected problem — he suddenly molts his shell. Left bare and embarrassed, he’s literally unsuited to attend a much-awaited gathering with friends. Can SpongeBob save the day?

‘Raymond’s‘ legacy

The cast of “Everybody Loves Raymond” gathered last week to celebrate the end of nine seasons of sitcom excellence.

It’s all too easy to overstate a show’s importance at the end of its run, but the legacy of “Raymond” can be measured by where CBS stands — atop the ratings heap.

CBS chief Leslie Moonves, for one, took the moment to thank the sitcom’s stars for setting up his network for its current success, Reuters News Agency reports.

“Nine years ago, we were a network in last place. Everybody was making fun of us,” Mr. Moonves said last week to the actors who play the Barone family as he stood in front of the sitcom’s sofa, where much of the action on “Raymond” transpires. “This show was the first brick in the rebuilding of the schedule that continued for years and years.”

The network threw the goodbye party in a hangar at Santa Monica Airport, where the key living room and kitchen sets from the show were on display.

With its May 16 series finale, “Raymond” will exit gracefully as the season’s top-rated comedy series in prime time, something to which CBS has been unable to lay claim since “M*A*S*H” was on its last lap in the 1982-83 season.

Bronx cheer

New CNN boss Jonathan Klein wants to inject a little attitude, Bronx-style, into the network.

Mr. Klein told Associated Press there’s a toughness, an aggressiveness, imbued in many residents of his native borough that he would like to see reflected in his staffers. Bronx residents have street smarts that residents of posher neighborhoods have rarely needed to get ahead, he explained.

Turning things around at CNN won’t be easy because the network has been dominated in the ratings by the Fox News Channel for years and roiled by executive turmoil in recent times. In four months on the job, the former CBS News and Internet executive has pushed behind the scenes for CNN to set the nation’s news agenda and pour resources into major stories, shifting the emphasis from talk to reporting, particularly in prime time.

“All I’m asking them to do is better journalism,” he told AP. “Who could be resistant to that? Now that Fox has pretty well cleaned their clock for a few years, there’s a real desire to win, a real thirst.”

Although Fox News Channel’s lead over CNN is wider than it was a year ago, recent ratings signs have been positive for CNN. The network has become increasingly competitive in breaking-news periods, beating Fox head to head when Martha Stewart was released from prison, for example. Also, CNN’s viewership in April was up 11 percent from a year ago, while Fox’s was down 6 percent, according to Nielsen Media Research.

“What we are looking for is a noticeable improvement of the work on the air,” he says. “And I think we’ve seen that.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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