Sunday, October 22, 2006

And You Will Know Fall By the Trail of Dead

Didn’t fire up the True TV Fall Death Watch this year; I let the hundred or so geeks who fake-bet at handle that. CBS’ Smith (Ray Liotta as Master Criminal, Virginia Madsen as Unsuspecting Wife) became the first cancellation of the 2006-07 season; Runaway (Donnie Wahlberg and family on the lam) became The CW’s first cancellation ever; Happy Hour (Fox) and Kidnapped (NBC) are dead shows walking. The odds at say Anne Heche’s still-on-this-side-of-annoying Men in Trees (ABC) will drop next, even if the still-on-this-side-of-sucking ratings don’t back ‘em up. Can we get NBC’s Twenty Excruciating Minutes—I mean Twenty Good Years—up on that board already?

Not Canceled!
On the flipside, excellent new shows Heroes (NBC) and Ugly Betty (ABC) have already been given full-season pickups, as have CBS’ middling Jericho and Shark, The CW’s middling-er The Game and ABC’s perfect storm of cheese-grating melodrama and dartboard casting, Brothers & Sisters. Also picked up was second-season CBS “vet” Close to Home, which segues nicely into …

CBS Friday Night
Ghost Whisperer, Close to Home and Num3rs: Same lineup block as last year, same damn-good-for-Friday ratings, same storylines far as I can tell—who’s watching this three-hour thrilla in vanilla? Ghost Whisperer killed off sidekick Aisha Tyler at the end of last season, presumably to give more screen time to the dynamic threesome of Jennifer Love Hewitt (ah, boob jokes—good to have ya back); Closer to Home killed off star Jennifer Finnigan’s husband around the same time; Numb3rs hasn’t killed off anyone, but I have a prime number of at least five candidates should they get around to it.

Fridays (BBC America)
Like his previous outings Knowing Me, Knowing You and I’m Alan Partridge, Steve Coogan’s Saxondale wrings hilarity out of nowhere-fast situations—and this is the most nowhere yet. His Tommy Saxondale is a burnout roadie retired to suburban life as an exterminator, but still kicking against the pricks with a sweet banana-yellow Mustang and jaw-dropping jags of outrage that careen wildly from scholarly articulation to blithering rock-damaged blather. Knowing Alan who?

ABC Monday Night
The good news: Not many are watching Wife Swap and The Bachelor, and even fewer of those pinheads are sticking around for What About Brian. The WTF? news: Brian, even with that drop-off, is still beating NBC’s far superior Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which is now losing half (!) the lead-out audience of new mega-hit Heroes. Didn’t The Only TV Column That Matters™ predict that Heroes would be too high-concept to catch on, while Studio 60 would become the new smart-sustaining West Wing? Another reason to ditch the Death Watch—I suck. And, I’ll admit to keeping up with What About Brian, but only through, where they digitally distill an entire episode into three easy-on-the-brain-cells minutes. Give me convenience or give me …

Monday 10.30 (Showtime)
Season Finale: While Showtime’s serial-killer serial Dexter (which I hear is killer) completely snuck by me, I’ve at least kept tabs on Weeds. The funny has been there for most of this second season, if not much focus and direction … oh yeah, it’s a TV show about marijuana … deep … where was I? Mary-Louise Parker can do no wrong, and the fact that a dramedy about a pot-dealing soccer mom has gone this long with so little outrage either proves that Mary Jane is now mainstream, or Showtime still isn’t. Me, I like Showtime under the radar—where else are you going to get drug dealers and murderers as charming protagonists? Besides C-Span?

DVD This Week

Beavis & Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection
As in, the Special Collectors Edition: Vols. 1-3 and the timeless theatrical classic Beavis & Butt-Head Do America. If you bought any before, you’re a dumbass—says so on the shiny gold box: “To own it is to know the satisfaction and peace of mind of never having to pay for Beavis & Butt-Head again.”

The OC: Season 3
Usually, Jumping the Shark is reserved for individual events or episodes—The OC did it every week for an entire season! The rehab scammer, the psycho Dean, Julie in a trailer, Marissa in the ‘hood, surfin’ Johnny, Taylor Townsend, where to begin? Next season, maybe.

Could a horror flick with cameos by Lloyd Kaufman, Pam from The Office and musical-theater-literate zombies suck? Hell no, as Slither—a bloody/funny buffet of B-movie camp and circumstance—proved to a dozen theatergoers in March. Nathan Fillion is God. Or Bruce Campbell.

That’s My Bush! Season 1
President Dubya as a bumbling sitcom star … laugh or cringe, citizens. Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s brief 2001 series was more a satire of TV comedy clichĂ©s than the presidency (could have been That’s My Gore!), but just imagine what they could have done with five more years of material … scary.

More New DVD Releases (10.24)
I’m Alan Partridge: Season 1, The L Word: Season 3, Mini’s First Time, Nacho Libre, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, SNL: The Best of Saturday TV Funhouse


Gore/Robbins 2008
Around six minutes into a speaking appearance taped in February, motivational guru Tony Robbins (on a loose, profane roll) tosses out the excuses for not achieving goals: “Didn’t have the time, money, contacts …” A voice from the front row adds, “the Supreme Court.” It’s Al Gore. Robbins then says Gore, with more of that Inconvenient Truth passion, “could have beat his ass.”