Television needs more Betty White
By BILL GOODYKOONTZ
Gannett News Service
Is there anything Betty White can't do?
She'll host "Saturday Night Live" tomorrow, riding the crest of a social-media wave that "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels finally couldn't ignore.
The rise in popularity and demand was due most immediately to a funny Snickers commercial, in which she (or a somewhat cleverly disguised double) wallops Abe Vigoda. The ad premiered during the Super Bowl in early February and spawned the Facebook page "Betty White to host 'SNL' (please)."
Nearly 500,000 "friends" later, here she is.
But to see her drop in on one show — she's hosting the Mother's Day-themed episode tomorrow night that will include former cast members who are moms — isn't enough.
We're suggesting other places around the dial we'd like to see her show up. Clearly, even at 88, she can do physical comedy (or hire a stunt person who looks enough like her, anyway). She's versatile. She'll even work blue, as those who saw the film "Lake Placid" can attest. And if you go back to her appearances on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," she's certainly happy to play up sex.
So if you're a TV casting director out there looking for an actress to spice up your show, we've got the perfect one.
"Breaking Bad" — Walter grows increasingly worried as his meth business starts to dry up. He enlists Jesse to check out what's going on. Police crackdown? No. A rival dealer, a blue-mouth octogenarian running meth out of her guest house as a hobby because she's bored, is stealing all their customers. She's selling it for fun; she doesn't care how low the price is, so she keeps undercutting whatever Walter can offer. Solution: She will be killed in some baroque way that could be taken care of in a single episode but stretches out the entire season. (Note: Must check with White to see how she feels about wearing tattoos.)
"Cougar Town" — Jules finally may have met Mr. Right: Ken, a recently separated contractor who has moved to Florida for a new start. (Note: If "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" tanks, check on availability of Shia LaBeouf.) Yes, he's young, but she's not opposed to going that route again and, you know, see title. But Jules' happiness is short-lived — her free-spirited mother, Magnolia, arrives for a visit and soon Ken seems interested in her. While Travis is often mortified at his mother's dating exploits, he is both fascinated and delighted by those of his grandmother. Eventually Magnolia will elope with an even-younger man. (Note: Perhaps Justin Bieber's bubble will have burst by then.)
"Mad Men" — Betty kicks Don out. With nowhere else to turn, he moves in with his Aunt Doris. Disgusted by his previous behavior and vowing to be a better man, Don finds the going rough as his aunt, despite being in her 80s, entertains a new man in her apartment every night. Sometimes more than one a night. Re-remembering his shadowy past once more, Don realizes that his serial adultery is at least in part due to his upbringing (Doris is his father's sister). This allows him to come to terms with his behavior and ask Betty to take him back. She seems willing; however, this plan ends when Don, on his way home, sees a happy-looking Roger leaving the apartment Don shares with Doris. He snaps, and strangles Roger with one of Joan's bras, which he finds in one of Roger's coat pockets (he keeps it as a sort of totem). As the rest of the world watches the Beatles on "Ed Sullivan," Don sits in a prison cell, stern look on his face, smoking cigarette after cigarette.
"30 Rock" — Liz is disgusted by Jack's latest conquest: Trish, an eightysomething woman he met while looking for a retirement home for his mother. Jack's fixation is distracting him from his work, which Liz at first welcomes but then realizes is actually hurting the show. She conspires to set Trish up with Kenneth, who treats her like his grandmother, which Trish at first welcomes. Then she realizes that Kenneth has no intention of taking things further. Trish then sets her sights on Tracy, which he at first welcomes. Then he realizes that, you know, she's, like, 80 or something. Confused and unsure of what to do, Tracy "accidentally" locks her in the writers' room with Frank, a prospect every character finds so revolting that it naturally turns into not just a true romance but a reality show, as well.
"Desperate Housewives" — No reason, really, other than this: Doesn't Betty White just seem like the ultimate resident of Wisteria Lane? (Bonus: She seems unlikely to accuse creator Marc Cherry of hitting her because of her sexual orientation.)