On the Job

Hosted by

This is Associated Press TV writer Frazier Moore watching television for KCRW and wondering where the summer went. But as Labor Day signals the end of summer's hazy laziness, it reminds us of the key role of work in our lives and identities.

Same for the characters on TV shows, which are often classified by profession: cop show, lawyer show, medical show.

It's interesting how on dramas, people typically work very hard.

With comedies, almost no work gets done. And on so-called workplace comedies, the job is often just a pretext to gather and hang out. Like with some real jobs, don't you think?

A drama highlights workers you wish you were, doing work you wish you were cut out to do. Ah, to match the gallantry of the doctors on ER, the detectives on Law & Order, the firefighters on Rescue Me.

On the other hand, comedies are full of people you're happy you're not, but, who, if you're really honest with yourself, you're not so different from. Who do you more closely resemble: the bold Crime Scene Investigator Gil Grissom or Michael Scott, the fatuous boss played by Steve Carell on The Office.

Among the new fall series, CBS' Smith is an action-drama about a high-stakes burglary ring that can snatch a rembrandt from an art museum in broad daylight.

But the goofball hero of ABC's comedy Knights of Prosperity is a janitor who dreams of opening his own bar, and rounds up a crew of similar dimwits to join him in his financing scheme: burglarizing the swank home of Mick Jagger.

On ABC's Help Me Help You, Ted Danson as a shrink conducting group therapy is no better at it than Bob Newhart's Dr. Hartley a generation ago.

And on the fox sitcom 'til Death Brad Garrett plays a worldweary married man who's also a very worldweary high school teacher.

Contrast him with the high school football coach on NBC's' drama Friday Night Lights who's so inspiring you'll wish he'd put you in the game.

At least since the Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore shows, TV has loved to gaze in the mirror, purporting to expose what's it like to work in the media.

This fall, two very different nbc series depict life behind the scenes at a show clearly modeled on Saturday Night Live.

But the drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip stars Brad Whitford and Matthew Perry as co-executive producers overflowing with wit and humanity. While the half-hour comedy 30 Rock, stars Tina Fey as an overwrought head writer in a loony bin. I told you they're different.

Is any job off-limits? Maybe not since Six Feet Under, the HBO drama that broke ground with a family running a funeral home.

Currently, Showtime's Weeds tells of a suburban single mom who supports her family by selling marijuana. HBO's The Wire, a splendid drama returning for its fourth season on Sunday, charts parallel urban career paths: street gangs dealing drugs, and the cops who gamely try to stop them.

But perhaps the most outrageous vocational drama of them all, Nip-Tuck, returns for its new season tuesday on FX. Plastic surgeons mcnamara and troy will mark the 5000th surgery at their glamorous, if shockingly graphic, south beach practice. And when they do, they'll make my point with surgical precision: where so many comedies show boobs on the job, 'nip-tuck' shows two guys who got rich doing boob jobs.

Watching television for KCRW and back on the job tomorrow morning, this is Associated Press TV writer Frazier Moore.