- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Chappelle gets ‘Lost’

We’ll never know how the full third season of Comedy Central’s “Chappelle’s Show” would have turned out, but this weekend offers a glimpse of what might have been.

It isn’t pretty.

“Chappelle’s Show: The Lost Episodes” cobbles together the comic bits the District native shot before he mysteriously reneged on his $50 million contract. Gone are his introductory segments, replaced by chatter from show regulars Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings. Their contributions yield few laughs.

Sadly, so do the routines, which seem like the work of a man embittered by his own success. We later learned that was precisely the case, but it’s painful to see it played out in sketch form.

Perhaps Mr. Chappelle was right about one thing: Comedy Central should have left this material in the vault.

The first sketch follows Mr. Chappelle as he attempts to get a haircut and a car wash — along with accomplishing other menial chores — only to find people charging him extraordinary fees for their services. Everyone, it seems, has heard about his multimillion-dollar windfall, and they all have their hand out when good ol’ Dave rolls into town.

Later, Mr. Chappelle uses his power to gain revenge on people from his pre-fame days. Watching him double-cross an old enemy in a wheelchair isn’t just listless, it’s mean-spirited to boot.

Fame certainly changed Mr. Chappelle. It’s too soon to say if it’s for the better, but the initial signs aren’t promising. His recent interviews have been a smashup of nonsensical conspiracy theories and defensive ramblings that, frankly, have left us questioning his mental state.

Now we have the “Lost” episodes, a sad epitaph to two earlier seasons filled with biting racial humor.

The first of three “Chappelle’s Show: The Lost Episodes” airs Sunday evening at 9 on Comedy Central.

Meanwhile, the network continues to milk the show’s name and will release a DVD package July 25 featuring the three “Lost” episodes as well as other bonus material.

On a brighter note, “Chappelle’s Show Season 1” remains the top-selling television DVD package of all time.

French connection

France is joining the ranks of Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea with a partly state-run news channel.

Agence France-Presse reports that the station, an international channel broadcasting in French and English that will compete with CNN and the BBC, is a “pet project of President Jacques Chirac.”

Executives announced this week that the channel will be called France 24 or just F24. It will begin service Dec. 1 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and possibly North America, expanding later into Asia and Latin America.

France’s state-run France Televisions and commercial network TF1 are equal partners in the venture.

‘Talent’ big for NBC

It has to be a little nostalgic for Regis Philbin: It’s summertime, and he’s host of the No. 1 TV show.

NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” was the most popular program on broadcast television last week, drawing 11 million viewers, AP reported yesterday, citing data from Nielsen Media Research.

It has to make him think back seven years, when ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” caught the public’s fancy as a summertime series that eventually grew to dominate the network. It’s doubtful, however, that the “American Idol”-influenced talent show on NBC will have the same impact. “America’s Got Talent” took advantage of one of the least-watched weeks of the year in TV; just four programs were seen by more than 10 million viewers, Nielsen said.

Overall, CBS won the week, averaging 7.4 million viewers. Fox had 6.2 million and won among viewers in the 18-to-49 demographic that’s prized by advertisers. NBC had 5.8 million viewers, ABC had 4.3 million and UPN 2.1 million. Following were the WB with 1.8 million and the I network (formerly Pax TV) with 670,000.

For the week of June 26 through July 2, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “America’s Got Talent,” NBC, 11 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 10.8 million; “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 10.7 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 10.5 million; and “House,” Fox, 9.8 million.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Kelly Jane Torrance from staff and wire reports.

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