Friday, October 13, 2006

Vegas Throat

Major League Baseball
All the Damned Time (Fox)

Nobody’s watching it (well, slightly more nobodies than are tuning into The CW), so I certainly hope Fox gets an assload of cash from Major League Baseball to throw this annual October beanball straight at their “hot” new fall shows. Actually, no I don’t: Vanished? Title says it all. ‘Til Death and Happy Hour? Didn’t even expect ‘em to make it through September. Justice and Standoff? Uh … which one had the Office Space guy and the Firefly chick? That one sucks only moderately. And don’t forget Spike Feresten … oh, you already have.

Desire, Fashion House
Weeknights (MyNetworkTV)

When new syndication fare comes along that makes you fully appreciate the masterful writing and production of daytime soap operas (tune in sometime; it’s amazing how many veteran characters still look better than you did back in the Bush 1 days), maybe it’s time to consider The Greg Behrendt Show … OK, nothing that drastic. MyNetworkTV’s telenovela knockoffs Desire and Fashion House (about desire and fashion, I believe) are almost as sexy as giving yourself a late-night “stranger” after chugging a pint of peach schnapps. But only almost.

Las Vegas
Friday 10.20 (NBC)

Season Premiere: Speaking of soap operas, what’s going to happen on the fourth-season opener of Las Vegas? Yes, it’s really been on for four years—focus, people! At the end of last season, Ed (James Caan) had taken a bullet before Delinda’s sham wedding, but the more pressing question (Ed’s not dead, baby) is: What’s going become of those implausible Boston-to-Vegas crossovers with Crossing Jordan now that NBC has bumped Jordan for yet another game show, the short-bus hit 1 vs. 100? Perhaps I’ve put far more thought into this than the network. Scary.

Saturday 10.21 (NBC)

New Timeslot: Saturday night’s all right for … nothing but reruns. The last time any network bothered to program Saturday primetime with new material, some chubby young thing was going down on Bill Clinton—that’s right, this weekend (Bubba’s still got it). NBC has kicked new under-performer Kidnapped to the Saturday-night curb; Medium will take over its vacated Wednesday slot in November. Why let Kidnapped play out its remaining 10 episodes instead of just canceling it? Brace yourself: They’ve run out of Law & Order repeats! The end is nigh!

Breaking Bonaduce, Celebrity Paranormal Project
Sunday 10.22 (VH1)

Season Premiere/Series Debut: Hey, I’m just as surprised as you are—what’s left to break, Bonaduce-wise? In “sober” Season 2, says VH1, “Danny transfers his obsessions with substances to an obsession with his wife, Gretchen.” You may have been better off with the curbside Screwdrivers, Dan-O: Gretch and Dr. Gary are just bringing you down, man! Embrace the darkness! And bring the cameras! As for Celebrity Paranormal Project, if you can’t wait to watch Rachel Hunter, Gary Busey, Gilbert Gottfried, Traci Bingham and David Carradine pile into the Mystery Machine and chase ghosts, Mr. Bonaduce would like to make a discreet purchase from you.

House of Carters
Mondays (E!)

Here’s an idea: Fuck the Carters. Fuck Nick, Aaron, the sisters, fuck the whole stupid, spoiled, talentless, screechy family. And especially fuck those two pinheads who psychoanalyze each episode in the “Carters on the Couch” section of Most of all, fuck me for actually going there and watching it.

South Park, Freak Show
Wednesdays (Comedy Central)

The first two episodes of the second half of South Park’s 10th season, “Make Love, Not Warcraft” (tweaking online gamers) and “The Mystery of the Urinal Deuce” (ditto, 9/11 conspiracy theorists), were pure genius; no other series—animated or not—can touch it for sheer pop-cultural immediacy. Comedy Central’s other new cartoon, Freak Show (which debuted along with the latest South Park batch on Oct. 4), is somewhat weak-sauce in the writing and animation, but features quite possibly the greatest superhero “freak” ever conceived: The Log Cabin Republican. Does he have power-texting abilities?

American Dreamz
A dark comedic hit-piece on American Idol and President Dubya? How was this not a hit? American Dreamz is almost up there with Wag the Dog in terms of brazenly nailing a political system and a pop culture gone annoyingly dumb; maybe it’ll become a cult item when it all finally goes to hell.

Big Love: Season 1
Catch up on all the fuss, Utah! HBO’s intro season of a Sandy polygamist (Bill Paxton) and his three secret wives is surprisingly tense and comic, if not yet up to Sopranos levels of family-on-the-fringe drama. But, once Deadwood is gone (sigh), Big Love will become the Buzz TV Series. Mark it.

The Break-Up
Vince Vaughn. Jennifer Aniston. Jason Bateman and Jon Favreau. Shoulda been hysterical. What the fuck? The Break-Up plays like an Oxygen TV movie with higher star wattage, long on Relationship Drama and short on actual laughs—hell, even Mr & Mrs. Smith was funnier. Upside: An Old 97s concert.

La Femme Nikita: Season 5
The final season, as demanded by the fans: The 1997-2001 cable series was sleeker and darker than hot-spy successor Alias, and star Peta Wilson was more icily intimidating with a single look than Jennifer Garner ever was with an AK-47.

More New DVD Releases (10.17)
Cheaper by the Dozen 2, CSI: NY: Season 2, Starsky & Hutch: Season 4, That ‘70s Show: Season 5, They All Laughed, Wanda Sykes: Sick & Tired

Nobody’s Watching
For a sitcom that never was, Nobody’s Watching is generating as much Internet noise as any currently on the air (sorry, Tina Fey). “Derrick & Will” may never make a great TV comedy, but the Webisodes are time-killing office gold.

>> Listen to the True TV Report 8 am Mondays on X96's Radio From Hell

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Battlestar Birdman

Battlestar Galactica
Friday 10.6 (Sci-Fi)

Season Premiere: This could be the year where Battlestar Galactica finally breaks out of the sci-fi geek ghetto and penetrates the mainstream as a legit political drama. But then again, the mainstream's not all that bright, so probably not. As if the dense layers of storylines and characters weren't already enough to keep straight, BG ended the previous season by jumping ahead a full year after the colonization of New Caprica, just in time for a surprise Cylon invasion (yeah, we've lost the newbies already). Season 3 begins with another jump, three months after the Cylons' rediscovery of humanity's remnants (note to self: great band name), and the occupied-country parallels to our own reality are none to subtle—insurgents, suicide bombers, sketchy leadership, et al. And yes, Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff, playing out a freaky-funny Spy vs. Spy scenario with her Cylon captor Leoben in the season premiere) keeps the long hair for a few episodes, fanboys. If you dare dive in now, catch the Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far recap special running on Sci-Fi, as well as, iTunes and soon (if NBC/Universal keeps up its current tech pace) a GE receiver chip in the base of your skull. Frak LostBattlestar rules.

Harvey Birdman, 12 Oz. Mouse
Sundays (Cartoon Network)

Both had their current season premieres already; The Only TV Column That Matters was too caught up in glamorous network matters to keep up with the late-night cartoons, sorry. Of all the series on Adult Swim (and it's getting packed in the pool), long-timer Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law is easily one of the most linear and consistently satisfying: Superhero becomes lawyer, represents other famous-to-obscure cartoon characters in court, case always closed in 15 minutes—like Boston Legal minus the other 45, plus Peter Potomus ("Did ya get that thing I sent ya?" = "Denny Crane!"). As for 12 Oz. Mouse ... has anyone ever watched this without liquid, pharmaceutical or herbal assistance? Just curious.

What About Brian
Monday 10.9 (ABC)

Season Premiere: It barely left an impression last spring, but compared to newer ABC crapola like Six Degrees, Monday-night returnee What About Brian smells like genius. Then, Brian (Barry Watson, and his hair) was the lone Single Guy in a group of couple-friends who were all experiencing oh-so-L.A. relationship troubles of their own—not the least of which being Brian's simmering secret crush on his best friend's fiancĂ©e, Marjorie (Sarah Lancaster, and her hair). The story left off with everything blowing up; it now continues six months later with a whole lotta scrambling and patching—like no one expected Season 2. It ain't bad, but Brian is nowhere near as gleefully dumb as Grey's Anatomy ... and therein lies the problem.

30 Rock, Twenty Good Years
Wednesday 10.11 (NBC)

Series Debuts: By now, you've realized that Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is a drama—and a damned fine one at that. Now comes that other NBC show about a fictional-but-not-really late-night TV series—30 Rock is a comedy, and a damned fine one at that. Former Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey stars as—who else?—head writer Liz Lemon, working for a seemingly demented new corporate boss (Alec Baldwin, almost stealing the show) who corners her into casting a very demented movie star (Tracy Morgan, definitely stealing the show) to juice ratings. The smart-but-safe pilot episode hints that 30 Rock could, given a full season to get weird, eventually equal NBC's unlikely comedy kings My Name is Earl and The Office. And its lead-out, the John Lithgow/Jeffrey Tambor geezer romp Twenty Good Years? Wasn't Third Rock From the Sun canceled for a reason?

Andromeda: Slipstream Collection
The 2000-05 sci-fi series Andromeda slowly morphed into a Rush concept album, and Season 5 (the last) was the fallout after the drum solo. Firefly achieved more in 15 lean episodes than this did in 110, but that gritty final stretch nearly redeemed Hercules in Space—and Firefly didn't have Lexa Doig (oh yeah, the geeks know).

Medium: Season 2
Season 3 will get underway whenever NBC runs out of game shows—nice way to treat a hit. Patricia Arquette's psychic soccer mom solves more crimes than that weepy Ghost Whisperer, and risks more creative chills: Season 2 actually cast Kelsey Grammer as Death, and pulled it off!

Thank You for Smoking
Aaron Eckhart finally nails the Leading Man thing as a tobacco company spin-meister falling into a moral quandary—but he's far more charming pushing the death sticks. As are his big-name costars, all keeping this smart-dark comedy clicking. But then there's Katie Holmes ... what exactly did we ever see in her?

X-Men 3: The Last Stand
Sure, X3 sucked in theaters, but the DVD has three different endings—maybe one of 'em comes with a refund. Brett Ratner's mutant dumb-over isn't all bad: there's action galore, plenty of Famke Janssen, it isn't Fantastic Four, etc. Plus, the immortal "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!"

More New DVD Releases (10.3)
Confidence, Edmond, Lewis Black: Red, White & Screwed, The Little Mermaid, Penn & Teller: Bullshit: Season 3, South Park: The Hits Vol. 1, Stargate SG-1: Season 9

CSI: Ay: Ay:
Thank god for YouTubers with too much time on their hands: CSI re-imagined as a steamy telenovela, complete with a mariachi version of the theme song. Muy caliente, Gil!

>> Listen to the True TV Report 8 am Mondays on
X96's Radio From Hell