Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And Now a Halloween Treat ...

... From master of horror Garth Marenghi. Please to enjoy ... Dark Place!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Samatha WTF?

ABC announced today that they're giving some show called Samantha Who? a full-season pick-up. From what I gather, it's on Monday nights, stars Christina Applegate, and lots of people apparently watch it because it's between Dancing With the Stars and The Bachelor and their brains are too numbed by geriatric hoofers and nubile skanks to switch the channel. Hey, it's a mandate. Further inspection reveals that Samantha Who? is about a woman who gets run down by a car, falls into brief coma, then awakens with no prior knowledge of what a raging bitch she was before nor of being attached to that What About Brian? (another great ABC series with a name and a question) guy. Wackiness and cute outfits ensue. This gets higher ratings than NBC's Heroes, not to mention CBS' cavalcade of filthy "family" sitcoms. Coma sounds good right about now ...

What True TV's watching tonight:

Bones (Fox) A Halloween episode and an excuse to get Brennan into a sexy costume. Score!

Reaper (The CW) The Devil gives Sam an extra-hard gig for Halloween: Tracking down CW viewers.

Nip/Tuck (FX) Christian and Sean walk all the way from Miami to Hollywood in the season premiere. I'm guessing that's the whole hour, since FX didn't send me a preview.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rebrand This

What's up with the damn blog? Sorry, been busy with my ongoing battle against Court TV's insistance on changing their name to TruTV--as we all know, I've had the name True TV for years and this whole thing is just pissing me off. The official change doesn't happen until January 2008, but the "rebranding" campaign begins next month. Since Warner Bros. budget is slightly larger than mine, I may lose this one; score another round for Corporate America. So ... how do I get in on that?

Anyway, on tonight's annoyingly Veronica Mars-free Heroes, Sylar (who has apparently joined the Jack Donaghy "Talking Like This" contest) and the Wonder Twins of Death crossed the border from Mexico to 'Merica, only to be confronted by the redneck, uh, "Citizen's" border patrol--Minutemen, but with seemingly better hygiene. Girl Twin turned on her Black Eyes Killin' power and took 'em all out, then the trio drove off and left 'em for dead.
How many whackjob militia sites are going to be lit up with this tonight? Or at least tomorrow on the shortwave radio? Another imaginary attack on our freedoms!

Oh, and this morning's (and past morning's) X96 Radio From Hell TV report is now available in podcast form. I know; I'm as shocked as anyone.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Geek Impact

That whole Chuck vs. Reaper argument? Hack TV critics may not have their "revenge of the nerds" go-to for much longer: Nobody's watching Reaper. I mean nobody. Veronica Mars had three times more viewers in the same CW timeslot last year, and we all know what happened to her.

And as a side note: How is it that Kristen Bell (Veronica) wound up on Heroes this season, but Jason Dohring (Logan) got screwed with a role on CBS' craptacular (but still more watched than Reaper) Moonlight? Now Ghost Whisperer is suddenly high Friday-night art ... sorry, Logan.

Back to Chuck and Reaper: The only similarities are that the shows' leads work in big-box stores and happen to be as good-lookin' as TV stars. That's it. Chuck is an action series with hints of humor. Reaper is a comedy with several toes in sci-fi. When the action slows down on Chuck, the funny ain't there to carry it. Reaper rarely falls flat, no matter what mode it's in. If it were on a real network—say, as a lead-in to HeroesReaper would be a Fall Smash. As it is, it's just barely beating out Life is Wild (debuted to exactly 35 viewers last night) and your webcam.

So watch Chuck tonight (and then the multiple reruns on NBC properties Bravo, USA, Sci-Fi, CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, etc.), and watch Reaper REALLY HARD tomorrow night. Who knows, could help ...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

All About Hugh

Daddy, what was Cop Rock? So Pushing Daisies might not be the hardest sell of the new season: CBS’ new musical casino drama (yeah, that’s right) Viva Laughlin doesn’t debut for two weeks, but this one-minute YouTube clip of Hugh Jackman singing “Sympathy for the Devil” (also right) surrounded by slot machines and showgirls should keep you laughing for at least that long ...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bonaduce Breaking

So last night at the Fox Reality Channel Really Awards (one bomb, hundreds of reality-TV douchebags taken care of, just sayin'), hulking freckle Danny Bonaduce pulled a WWE-worthy move and tossed Survivor assclown Jonny Fairplay face-first to the floor, sending him to the hospital sans teeth and blood. Finally, Bonaduce has contributed something to society, although Kanye West felt slighted for not receiving a Piledriver.

What The Only TV Column That Matters™ is watching tonight:
Pushing Daisies (ABC): Debut of the fanciful new series from the folks behind Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me ... so it's probably already been canceled.

The Bionic Woman (NBC): Jaime learns to use her new powers, while everyone else wonders why the guv'ment didn't give her a personality upgrade.

Dirty Sexy Money (ABC): Tranny trouble is a-brewin'!

South Park, The Sarah Silverman Program (Comedy Central): Cartman has Tourettes; Sarah joins an anti-abortion group. Let's all go to Hell, shall we?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Slick Willie 24-7

Former president/future first lady Bill Clinton on Sunday's Meet the Press:
"If you're the Jack Bauer person, you'll do whatever you do and you should be prepared to take the consequences ... When Bauer goes out there on his own and is prepared to live with the consequences, it always seems to work better."

Yeah ... to quote Dwight Shrute: "My ideal choice? Jack Bauer. But he is unavailable. Fictional. And overqualified."

What The Only TV Column That Matters™ is watching tonight:
Bones (Fox): A soccer mom gets blow'd up in her minivan; Jack Bauer not suspected.
Reaper (The CW): Sam and Sock capture more souls escaped from Hell, including the fuckers responsible for Cavemen and Carpoolers.
Eureka (Sci-Fi): In the season finale, Carter and Stark work together to get into Allison's pants, er, save her son from a mysterious virus. Then, the pants thing.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Crock of Love


So the escapee from the '80s Cowboy Biker Poser wing of the Rock & Roll Hall of Wax chose the young, hot girl over the skanky old stripper who might possibly be a dude on last night's Rock of Love? This is the shocker of the century! Well, that and the revelation that reality TV may not be all that real! Can't wait for the Reunion Show next Sunday ...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Killing Time

Big Shots Thursday 9.27 (ABC) Series Debut: They’re four alpha-male corporate execs but, damn it, they have feelings, too! Big Shots was apparently shooting for Sex and the City With Dicks, but just wound up with dicks. Watching metrosexual power-players whine about relationships, kids, office politics and golf just makes The Only TV Column That Matters™ long for the days of AMC’s Mad Men that much more: bang a secretary, pour a bourbon, light a Lucky and shut the fuck up already.

Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy Thursday 9.27 (ABC) Season Premieres: Betty’s still ugly, but the interns are now real doctors. Scary.

CSI, Without a Trace Thursday 9.27 (CBS) Season Premieres: Sara’s gone missing, then the Trace team searches for Shark.

My Name Is Earl, The Office, ER Thursday 9.27 (NBC) Season Premieres: Full-hour premieres for Earl and The Office, while ER enters its 57th season.

Moonlight Friday 9.28 (CBS) Series Debut: If you still miss Angel or even Forever Knight, there’s a new crime-fightin’ vampire with a heart of gold in town; this one sleeps in a freezer and looks a lot like The Shield’s Alex O’Loughlin. That’s about all there is to report, because Moonlight has undergone several cast, script, showrunner and title changes (previous names: Twilight and Crime-Fightin’ Vampire With a Heart of Gold) since CBS first picked it up; could be all sock puppets and show tunes by the time it gets on the air.

Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs Friday 9.28 (CBS) Season Premieres: So many boob and math jokes, so little space.

Las Vegas Friday 9.28 (NBC) Season Premiere: Nikki Cox is gone, but Tom Selleck has arrived. Doesn’t seem like a fair trade.

Dexter Sunday 9.30 (Showtime) Season Premiere: At the end of Dexter’s excellent first season, our Serial Killer With a Heart of Gold had finally eradicated Miami’s Ice Truck Killer (who’d turned out to be his own brother, who was dating Dex’s stepsister to get to him … you had to be there) and all seemed relatively right in Dexter’s sorta-wrong world—so why so down at the onset of Season 2? A month later, it’s more bowling than killing: “My life’s been all Jekyll and no Hyde.” He’s not only off his vigilante game, but his freaked-out sis has moved in with him and his girlfriend suspects he may have framed her douchebag ex-husband and sent him back to prison (which Dex did—the guy wasn’t quite evil enough to murder). Then there’s the discovery of the bodies of his previous villainous victims—and Dexter can’t even carry out a nice, relaxing kill. Sheesh.

Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters Sunday 9.30 (ABC) The housewives enter their 60s, and I still hate Brothers & Sisters.

American Dad Sunday 9.30 (Fox) The Smiths go on vacation, which can’t end well.

Brotherhood Sunday 9.30 (Showtime) The best Rhode Island mobster drama since Family Guy returns to fulfill your Sopranos-free life.

Cavemen, Carpoolers Tuesday 10.2 (ABC) Series Debuts: Yes, Cavemen is the new sitcom based on those Geico insurance ads, so it already has a built-in audience of people with 30-second attention spans. Now, it’s 30-minute comedic allegory for racial and class divisions … yeah, sure, they’ll hang with it. Except that the first version of Cavemen’s pilot sucked harder than Allstate, so ABC sent it back to be “reworked”—a phrase on par with, “Let’s make this commercial 1,000 percent longer! With other commercials in it!” As for Carpoolers: If you liked the underrated/under-watched Sons & Daughters (Fred Goss stars here), you’ll probably wonder why no one brought that back instead of watering it down and moving it into the commuter lane. I know I did.

Pushing Daisies Wednesday 10.3 (ABC) Series Debut: Then again, sometimes networks take too big of a chance with something that might have even been difficult to pitch on cable: Pie shop owner Ned can bring the dead back to life with one touch, but a second sends them back Dirtnap City for good—helpful for solving murder cases with his private eye buddy (doesn’t everybody have one?); not so much when he revives his childhood sweetheart. Pushing Daisies comes from the creator of Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me, and shares their offbeat tones of sweet romance and dark humor—and eventually, probably a DVD discussion group on Amazon.com about brilliant-but-canceled shows. Catch it while you can …

South Park, The Sarah Silverman Program Wednesday 10.3 (Comedy Central) Cartman struggles to reach the new Wednesday-night offensiveness bar set by Sarah Silverman, who joins an anti-abortion group and then performs an anal abortion on Steve. Good times.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Chuck You

Chuck, Journeyman Monday, Sept. 24 (NBC) Series Debuts: This is not another hack piece about how the new fall season is all “geeked” out. Damn, TV critics are a creative lot. The titular Chuck of NBC’s new Heroes lead-in works at Buy More (think Best Buy) in the tech-troubleshooting Nerd Herd (think Geek Squad), so of course he’s a girlfriend-free underachiever—until he accidentally downloads the entirety of America’s secret intelligence into his brain via an e-mail (just go with it) and bam! Instant Alias, with clip-on ties instead of wigs. Chuck takes the average-dude-in-over-his-head comedy of Andy Barker P.I. (remember that?) to a new level—the first episode’s chase scenes could be the most hysterically intricate ever shot for television—and nails the balance of smart comedy and sweet charm, not to mention killer action. As for NBC’s new time-travelin’ sci-fi drama Journeyman … at least it’s better than Day Break (I know you don’t remember that).

The Big Bang Theory Monday, Sept. 24 (CBS) Series Debut: Hyper-intelligent geeks struggle to meet hot girls; middling comedy ensues. On the upside, The Big Bang Theory actually makes Rules of Engagement seem funny an hour later—score, CBS!

Cane Tuesday, Sept. 25 (CBS) Series Debut: Jimmy Smits presides over a Cuban-American family’s sugar and rum empire in Florida; middling soap-opera drama and intrigue ensue. CBS has promoted Cane with Mojito-flavored lick-strips in magazines, so at least one original idea has come from all of this.

Reaper Tuesday, Sept. 25 (The CW) Series Debut: Another nerdy guy toiling away in a big-box store is thrust into extraordinary circumstances—similarities to Chuck don’t quite end there; instead of being forced to moonlight for the government, Reaper’s Sam has new gig with Satan. Tomato, tomato. But, whereas Chuck star Zachary Levi carries his show with confident ease, Reaper’s Bret Harrison (late of Fox’s The Loop) is upstaged at every turn by slacker bud Sock (Invasion’s Tyler Labine) and the Devil (Twin Peaks’ Ray Wise), who bought Sam’s soul before he was even born—enough about Britney being a bad parent—and now employs him to hunt down escaped Hell-ions. Reaper has a funny, crackerjack Kevin Smith-directed pilot ep, but is it too smart for the viewers of lead-in Beauty & the Geek? Oh, hell yes.

Private Practice, Dirty Sexy Money Wednesday, Sept. 26 (ABC) Series Debuts: Ever seen Kate Walsh on a talk show? Hi-larious. She’s also probably more capable of carrying a show than anyone back on Grey’s Anatomy, from whence Private Practice spun-off last spring in a lame tentative “pilot” episode. Fortunately, the final Addison-does-Cali product is far better, and this is coming from a guy who hates Grey’s Anatomy. I mean, really, really hates Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, and ABC didn’t send me Dirty Sexy Money, so fuck it.

The Bionic Woman, Life Wednesday, Sept. 26 (NBC) Series Debuts: The good news: The Bionic Woman lives up to nearly all of its Battlestar Galactica-pedigreed buzz. The bad news: That buzz is limited to the relatively small audience of Galactica (sorry, not everybody reads your blog), and Michelle Ryan’s performance in the title role is so stiff you may wonder if she’s not entirely circuitry and silicone. The best news: Matters not, because The Bionic Woman is dark, taut, action-packed and riveting every second that Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff appears onscreen as the first bionic woman who’s gone rogue and quite insane. She’s out to kill her 2.0, and The Only TV Column That Matters™ is rooting for her—I wanna see that series. I don’t, however, want to see another cop show. Life is another cop show. Ergo …

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Five to One

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Thursday 9.13 (FX) Season Premiere: How to kick off a new season of basic cable’s most infamously sick/wrong/hysterical sitcom when you’ve already mined the comedy gold of racism, abortion, molestation, welfare, crack addiction and—worst of all—local politics? I believe the title of tonight’s episode says it all: “The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby.” There’s also a subplot about environmental idiocy, er, activism, and the continued, utterly unnecessary presence of Danny DeVito, but It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia still rides on the flawless cartoon-nihilism chemistry of Mac, Charlie, Dennis and Sweet Dee, which occasionally equals that of Seinfeld’s Hallowed Four … if they lived in a seedy Philly borough instead of Manhattan, that is. Love the show, hate yourself.

Nashville Friday 9.14 (Fox) Series Debut: If you actually consider Laguna Beach and The Hills to be “reality” shows, you just might be a big enough sucker to fall for the same brain trust’s Nashville, which follows the manufactured dreams and drama of young pretty folk “struggling” to forge a career in country music—or whatever it is Nashville cranks out these days. Then again, it’s on Friday nights, so it won’t even last as long as the previous sentence. Moving on …

Prison Break, K-Ville Monday 9.17 (Fox) Season Premiere/Series Debut: When last we left Prison Break, Michael had been tossed in a hellhole Panamanian prison and Lincoln was on the outside—tables turned, man! Is your mind blown? If not, this should do it: Nash Bridges’ daughter (Jodi Lynn O’Keefe) is introduced this season as a character named … Susan B. Anthony! Prison-breaking, conspiracy-busting and head-shining ensue anew. Considerably less-complex is new series K-Ville: Jaded maverick cop + by-the-book new partner with a Dark Secret + colorful crew x post-Katrina New Orleans = Standard Police Drama No. 625, with a side of Cajun sauce. In other words, don’t bet on any new series with a “ville” suffix.

Back to You, ‘Til Death Wednesday 9.19 (Fox) Series Debut/Season Premiere: Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton and Fred Willard star in the hottest new sitcom of 1987—now! Sure, Back to You may feel like a throwback to Murphy Brown, but it smells as dead as Ted Knight’s decomposing corpse under the remnants of the Mary Tyler Moore set (see kids, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a newsroom comedy of the 20th Century, as was Murphy Brown). How ‘Til Death made it to a second season is equally unclear; Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher’s undercooked homage to Al & Peggy Bundy would probably have gone straight to TV Land if Fox wasn’t so preoccupied with giving Ryan Seacrest more shit to do—seriously, that assclown is hosting the Emmys and animating backgrounds for American Dad on breaks.

America’s Next Top Model Wednesday 9.19 (The CW) Season Premiere: The search is on for the latest 98-pound skank to sequester in the Witness Protection Program, uh, launch into a fabulous modeling career! Or at least a future guest spot on a doomed CW series like …

Gossip Girl Wednesday 9.19 (The CW) Series Debut: If I thought the pilot episode of Gossip Girl would stay in my head for longer than the two minutes it’s going to take to recap it, I’d spring for a lobotomy. Josh Schwartz has relocated The O.C. to an east-coast private school for rich teen models with more “problems” than personality; when you can spot the group “bad boy” wearing a bored look, artfully mussed hair and an ascot (!) in the first act, things probably ain’t going to get better. No, it gets worse, and the unseen titular “blogger” narrating the show only drives home the inanity: It’s Kristen Bell, ex-star of The CW’s far-superior-so-of-course-it-was-canceled Veronica Mars. Stellar first week of the new fall season, eh?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

To the Curb

Torchwood Saturday 9.8 (BBC America) Series Debut: A spin-off (and anagram) of Doctor Who that’s being pitched as a sci-fi combo plate of The X-Files, Angel and, well, Doctor Who: A team of pretty special-ops agents keep watch on a space/time rift in Cardiff, Wales, and use acquired alien technology to battle whatever baddies pop out of it. Torchwood continues BBC America’s summer hot streak (if you forget about Hotel Babylon, which you should), even if it falls slightly short of Jekyll. Oh, and like Britain’s previous Buffy the Vampire Slayer tribute Hex, there’s plenty of sex. But not as much as …

Tell Me You Love Me Sunday 9.9 (HBO) Series Debut: Home Box Office answers the “It’s HBO-ver!” naysayers of the post-Sopranos era with a meta-depressing rumination on Relationships and Intimacy that makes Ingmar Bergman look like Judd Apatow. Too much? OK, breaking it down: You. May. Kill. Yourself. Before. Episode. Three. Tell Me You Love follows four couples at various stages of marriage working through trust and commitment issues while … too much again? Try this: There’s a whole lotta graphic sex, including a scene in the premiere with Lost’s Sonya Walger performing a tug-job on her husband that could have only been simulated with a prosthetic—which would be even weirder than the actual sex that’s rumored to have been filmed for the series. If this all sounds like more draining work than pirating Showtime, you’re right. For real creepy awkwardness, stick with …

Curb Your Enthusiasm Sunday 9.9 (HBO) Season Premiere: What valuable social lessons has Larry David learned since the last new episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm way back in December 2005? You know, when he died? None—he’s a rich white guy, what’s to learn? In the Season 6 opener, Larry and Cheryl take in a family of Hurricane Katrina survivors (it’s a Cheryl thing, natch), conveniently named … the Blacks. Upcoming episodes involve the violation of unspoken drycleaner codes, roadside memorials, teddy bears and Ted Danson, as well as the disturbing revelation that one of Larry’s pals has been masturbating in his house (HBO now stands for Habitually Beating Off, apparently). In other words, it’s still the hysterically real/unreal Curb you and the network pray never ends—and in what universe is Richard Lewis dating Tia Carrere?

Frisky Dingo Sundays (Adult Swim) Season 2 of Frisky Dingo premiered Aug. 26—which was unexpected, considering the planet was supposedly driven into the sun by supervillain Killface’s Annihilatrix doomsday device at the end of the first. Turns out it malfunctioned and actually pushed the earth’s orbit 3 feet away from the sun, stopping global warming. Now he’s an insta-hero running for president while former millionaire playboy/Iron Man-esque nemesis Xander Crews is a destitute porn star. This is he part where you assume I’m going to say, “It all makes sense if you watch it.” Yeah … anyway, Frisky Dingo: Funny and educational for the marketing of evil pinheads for president—listen up, Brownback-ers.

Rescue Me Wednesday 9.12 (FX) Season Finale: So Season 4 of Rescue Me has been shakier than an all-Gavins AA meeting—it’s still better than any series out there, comedy or drama. Denis Leary has delivered both in a double-barreled shotgun blast of pathos every week, no matter how many ridiculous new characters clutter the scenes (Leary’s latest girlfriends, Gina Gershon and Amy Sedaris, make Callie Thorne’s whacked Sheila look like a pillar of sanity). The season-ender cliffhangers, however, must go, because none—not even tonight’s—live up to Leary’s lingering threat of having all the 62 Truck firefighters die in an out-of-control blaze. There’s always Season 5 … right, FX?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Endless Bummer 2

Last week, The Only TV Column That Matters™ told you how wrong the pretentious fucks were about television, that there’s plenty on the tube (mostly cable fare) artistically equal to anything that’s happening in The Cinema. As usual, I made an airtight case.

This time around, it’s all about the stuff that’s stunk up the summer. Not that the PFs are right—they’re just a little less wrong when you factor in shows like …

Flash Gordon on the Sci-Fi Channel, where we left off. There was no reason for this series to exist when it debuted like a limp Smallville with Kryptonite down its Speedo a few weeks ago, and certainly not now that it’s failed to live up to even that promise. At least Sci-Fi’s now-canceled Painkiller Jane launched strong, even though it’s since devolved into Scooby-case-of-the-week banality that makes CSI (pick one) look like Long Arc Theater. And Who Wants to Be a Superhero? Once the hottest (Basura) and the craziest (Mr. Mitzvah) contestants were eliminated, who wants to fucking watch?

Somebody must be watching Code Monkeys on G4 (it’s that channel with the Arrested Development reruns), and I’m guessing they’re all wearing helmets and sipping dinner through a straw: A badly/barely-written cartoon animated like an ‘80s videogame sounds like nice time-killing YouTube short; 14 half-hour episodes sounds like my brain dripping onto the floor. Same goes for ABC Family’s Greek, a college dramedy for those who can’t keep up with the Byzantine plot twists of High School Musical. Or The Two Coreys, a sad A&E “reality” show that’s more tightly scripted than any movie Haim or Feldman have done in 20 years.

TBS now stands for Terminally Bland Shit, with throwback sitcoms like The Bill Engvall Show and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne mingling seamlessly with repeats from yesteryear and yet only improving upon them in hair (Nancy Travis’ on Engvall has never looked fab-er, nor has Bill’s mustache). Even My Boys, a relative critical hit, has lost its edge over the summer—OK, that “edge” was akin to a plastic spork, but still …

Vaguely vanilla is not necessarily better than aggressively craptastic, which sums up VH1’s entire summer slate: Rock of Love With Bret Michaels, Scott Baio Is 45 & Single, The Rock Life, Mission: Man Band, The Pick-Up Artist, I Hate My 30s—collectively the worst non-Flavor-Flav-related programming the channel has ever excreted; only Rock of Love earns a partial pass for humorously including a couple of transvestites in the lineup of ladies staying in the house and rocking Michaels’ world … wha? Rodeo and Mags weren’t dudes? Get the fuck outta here!

Also, USA’s The 4400 and The Dead Zone … they’re still on, right? Yes? No? Get back to me. And didn’t we used to count on Bravo and Comedy Central for at least one watchable summer series apiece? Flipping Out and American Body Shop, respectively, fall waaay short of the bar set in previous summers by Boy Mets Boy and Dog Bites Man, the greatest send-up of local TV news ever.

Well, until Fox’s Anchorwoman. Not a cable show, but notable nonetheless for being canceled after a single airing last week because fewer people tuned into its reality-jiggling debut than an America’s Top Model rerun on The CW (!) and Telemundo’s La Noche de 1,000 Iguanas (admittedly, stiff competition). Who could have predicted that no one would tune in to watch a brainless, unqualified bimboid attempt to become a serious news anchor? You know, besides CBS and Katie Couric? Remember the wisdom of Champ Kind: “It is anchor man! Not anchor lady! And that is a scientific fact!”

Still, all of this dreck is easily negated by AMC’s awesome Mad Men, one of the summer’s coolest new series; marathon Sunday, Sept. 2. (No way I’m going out on a TV downer, you pretentious fucks).

Monday, August 20, 2007

Endless Bummer

You know those pretentious fucks who’ll post a laundry list of favorite “indie” films on their MySpace profiles, but simply put something like “I don’t watch that vile, evil box of drivel and lies” under Television? They obviously don’t have cable. And they’re pretentious fucks.

The PFs obviously know nothing of the excellent work filling up an insane amount of cable space this summer; most of it better than any pretentious fucking movie they’d theoretically soil themselves over on the Independent Film Channel, while The Only TV Column That Matters™ is just waiting for IFC originals The Business, Minor Accomplishments or The Henry Rollins Show. Or that flick with all the Anne Hathaway topless scenes—hey, it was in the name of Independent Art.

The PFs could never deny the high artiness of HBO’s (now canceled) John From Cincinnati, a testament at least to the network’s willingness to take a chance and blow a truckload of money on something that makes less sense than The Sopranos’ finale—was John actually Jesus? An alien? A mystical meld of Coreys Haim and Feldman? Whatever. My prediction that the increasingly intense Big Love (season finale Sunday, Aug. 26) would become HBO’s new flagship drama is looking better all the time; not so much with Entourage, which is losing it as fast as Flight of the Conchords (renewed for 2008, BTW) is gaining a cult rep as the ultimate premium-cable musical comedy. Maybe even better than Tenacious D … yeah, I said it.

The Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, a True TV reality favorite no matter what the season, dropped a 12-ton musical bombshell of its own during its current summer run: Receptionist Mary Alice’s brother is the lead singer of … Clutch! Most PFs can agree that Clutch is the greatest band in the known universe, and now they’ve gotten more airplay in 30 minutes on the Food Network than in 10 years of MTV. Suck on that.

Even Lifetime has broken its cycle of Women In Peril Who Still Manage to Be Stylish Professionals Whilst in Bitter Custody Battles With Their Abusive Trailer Park Husbands crapola this summer with Army Wives (season finale Sunday, Aug. 26), a surprisingly good military soap opera that walks a fine line between patriotism and pathos. Just overlook the fact that its record ratings inspired Lifetime to launch State of Mind and Side Order of Life, two half-assed dramas not even up to Oxygen snuff. Ouch.

Or blame TNT’s runaway hit The Closer for the basic-cable wave of ancient actresses (you know, over 40!) in tough-chick roles. Just because The Closer—a standard-issue cop drama—lucked out with Kyra Sedgwick and an equally interesting supporting cast, TNT took another shot with Holly Hunter in Saving Grace (interestingly weird show, but Hunter has to carry it), and FX handed over Damages to Glenn Close (who can’t wrangle the 85 subplots). Still, either is better than any given CSI or Law & Order, and especially TNT’s flat-line House clone Heartland.

Poor ol’ Treat Williams got stuck with that dog, while Jeffrey Donovan has nailed pure cool in USA’s killer Burn Notice (picked up for another season) and Denis Leary still delivered the goods in FX’s Rescue Me (even though the series is going utterly batshit crazy around him) throughout the summer. It ain’t fair, but at least you’re not a guest perp on Criminal Minds, Treat.

None of these guys had as much fun with a role as James Nesbitt has in BBC America’s Jekyll (series finale Saturday, Aug. 25), which has come and now almost gone with far too little notice. As smart science-fiction goes, this Jekyll & Hyde upgrade gets it as dead-on right as Sci-Fi’s lame-o Flash Gordon remake gets it painfully wrong. More on that in next week’s True TV: The summer’s most sucktastic slop. You’ll love it, ya pretentious fucks.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

High Times

Flash Gordon Friday 8.10 (Sci-Fi) Series Debut: Based on the 1930s comics and film serials, the ‘50s TV series or the “campy” (read: so gay even the Village People, filming Can’t Stop the Music next door, said, “Oh, puh-leez!”) 1980 movie? None of this ringing a bell? Hello, coveted demographic! Sci-Fi’s new Flash Gordon has recycled Queen’s bombastic (yes, redundant) ’80 theme song for the ads, but the 90-minute pilot has little of the spark or fun of previous incarnations, coming off like a particularly flat episode of Smallville populated with interchangeable Canadians (this Flash is a full-on Canuck production). They even removed “the Merciless” from villain Ming’s name—oh, puh-leez!

The Business, Minor Accomplishments Sundays (IFC) The Business, which spun-off from IFC’s previous and equally funny series The Festival, is about a struggling independent film company that spun-off from a far-more-lucrative porno video company … but it’s still called Vic’s Flicks. For Season 2, the focus is off sleazy boss Vic (Rob DeLeeuw) and hapless filmmaker Rufus (Nicholas Wright) and squarely on exasperated producer Julia (Kathleen Robertson)—smart move. Maybe they took a cue from The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman, which has upped its cynic-girl power by elevating Nicholle Tom (of … The Nanny!) to full second-season sidekick status to Laura Kightlinger’s titular Jackie, not that she needed it. If you don’t believe a second of Entourage and like your showbiz comedy blacker than Larry Sanders’ dye job, The Business and Minor Accomplishments are for you. (Now there’s an ad quote, IFC!)

John From Cincinnati Sunday 8.12 (HBO) Season Finale: So … what the fuck was that?

Hell’s Kitchen Monday 8.13 (Fox) Season Finale: Admittedly, watching Gordon Ramsay scream his vein-y head off at inept chefs is a kick—but for 11 weeks? Apparently so, since Hell’s Kitchen still kills in the ratings, and I’m not going to argue with a reality-competition show that produces something more valuable to society than karaoke clowns and DNA receptacles for Bret Michaels (that one’s for you, Krista Simonsen).

Weeds Monday 8.13 (Showtime) Season Premiere: Last season, Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) and her suburban pot-dealer crew were riding high (ha!) and flush with green (double ha!), almost to the point where it looked like a PSA for the Mary Jane retail business. Then it all went to hell in a cliffhanger that left Nancy staring down gun barrels, her DEA husband offed by Armenians, one of her sons kidnapped by a crazy woman, and the other busted with a car full of weed. There’s no happy ending in the first episodes of Season 3: Nancy survives, but her business is dead and her family is in even worse off than before—which is great TV, because while Parker plays cocky (and everything else) beautifully, she’s in the kill zone as a desperate mom out of options.


Californication Monday 8.13 (Showtime) Series Debut: David Duchovny, on the other hand, is anything but sympathetic in Californication, where he stars as a narcissistic novelist who gets a dream-state blowjob from a nun before the opening credits, and nails a variety of naked women (including Madeline Zima of … The Nanny! What’s going on here?) up to the closing. The return of gratuitous premium-cable nudity is to be applauded—ahem, HBO—but what’s it all mean? And why name it after one of the worst Red Hot Chili Pepper songs ever? At least Californication is rarely dull, offsetting the Heavy Midlife Angst with comic touches—Duchovny’s book, God Hates Us All, was turned into a hit romantic comedy fluffer starring “Tom and Katie,” hence his self-loathing and writer’s block—and the promise of redemption: He wants his ex-wife and kid back … after he nails a few dozen more club skanks. Ah, sweet …

Monday, July 30, 2007

British Steal

Sands of Oblivion Friday 8.3 (Sci-Fi) Sucks to be a former Firefly/Serenity star: You either end up on doomed Fox shows like Drive and Standoff, or starring in a Sci-Fi howler like Sands of Oblivion—wave, Adam Baldwin and Morena Baccarin. They’re archeologists who dig up the spirit of a vengeful Egyptian god … on the long-buried set of The Ten Commandments in California. No, really. Dig Dan “Homer Simpson” Castellaneta’s cartoon-juiced Cecil B. Demille. This actually debuted last Saturday—what the fuck happened to Megasnake?

Jekyll Saturday 8.4 (BBC America) Series Debut: A modern-day update of Jekyll & Hyde from the creator of Coupling (the British original) and Doctor Who (the recent scarf-free version). Well and good, but they had me at Gina Bellman—aka Jane, the kooky-hot brunette from Coupling, aka the sole reason The Only TV Column That Matters™ first acknowledged the existence of BBC America. She plays the unsuspecting wife of Dr. Tom Jackman (James Nesbitt of Murphy’s Law—another great BBC series you don’t know), the poor sap who’s inherited the curse of Mr. Hyde and his appetite for “booze, prostitutes, Disney movies and violence” (damn, Brits give good blurb). So who’s Jekyll? Who cares? With series like this, Hotel Babylon and the upcoming Torchwood, BBC America is getting so hot you should be asking “What’s FX?” (British ancestry—I’m also prone to good blurb.)

Meadowlands Sunday 8.5 (Showtime) Series Finale: It was called Cape Wrath in the U.K. and somehow wound up on Showtime stateside as Meadowlands, at first glance another Dark Shit Happens in the Suburbs series that resembled The Riches—with more sex, and nobody pretending they aren’t British. The Brogan family is placed in the Witness Protection Program for slowly-revealed reasons and dropped in the pretty/dull Meadowlands neighborhood. The twist: Everybody in Meadowlands is in the program, they’re all nuts and The Man is never going to let them leave. A strange but addictive series—and don’t worry about jumping in at the end; it’ll make as much sense as any other episode.

The Rock Life, Mission: Man Band Monday 8.6 (VH1) Series Debuts: Los Angeles rock band Whitestarr features the sons of music mogul Lou Adler and legend Roy Orbison, sleeps around with Hollywood actresses and models, and now they have their own behind-the-scenes reality show in The Rock Life—so why can’t they catch a break? “Their music sucks,” while entirely accurate, is no answer, because N’Sync, 98 Degrees, LFO and Color Me Bad sold millions of albums once upon a time. For Mission: Man Band, former members of those boy bands who aren’t Justin Timberlake or Nick Lachey have been assembled “supergroup”-style to mount a comeback—or at least a MILF at Chili’s. All is forgiven, Bret Michaels …

The Knights of Prosperity Wednesday 8.8 (ABC) Return: It’s a summer burn-off, so don’t get attached. Not that there was ever any danger of that

Hotel Babylon Wednesday 8.8 (BBC America) Series Debut: Two Gina Bellman shows in one week? Joy! Actually, she only guests in the 10th episode of this drama-soaper about the sexy/seedy underbelly of a hoity-toity London hotel, but I can wait it out. Do you know how many hours of VH1 Classic I’ve TiVoed just to catch 10 seconds of her in a TSOL video from the ‘80s? Didn’t think so. Back on point: Hotel Babylon is essentially Footballers Wives with turn-down service and a revolving door of celebrity drop-ins … though Joan Collins and Jerry Hall probably couldn’t even get a gig on VH1 in the U.S. They have any kids in Whitestarr?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

DVDs 7.24.2007

Anita Swedish sexploitation classic from 1994 about a young girl who must be cured of her nymphomania—but why? XploitedCinema.com

Harvey Birdman: Season 3 The last stand of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, the greatest lawyer in the history of TV. He could easily defend nymphomania. AdultSwim.com

The Host The new standard for Korean mutant-monster films. Unaware of the old standard? You’re a dumb American, as depicted here. MagPictures.com

The Number 23 Jim Carrey goes nuts over a number and takes Virginia Madsen’s career down with him. Makes for a good drinking game, though. NewLine.com

The Secrets of Isis: Seasons 1 & 2 The ‘70s Saturday-morning TV superheroine who could fly and fight crime in a miniskirt and Egyptian stripper boots! Yay! Navarre.com

Weeds: Season 2 The Showtime series about a pot-dealing suburban mom gets even better (and darker), and Mary Louise Parker is cooler than Isis. Lionsgate.com

More New DVD Releases (7.24) Benson: Season 1, Cash Back, The Contract, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, The Long Weekend, Shadow Puppets, Slow Burn, Spawn: The Animated Collection, Stargate SG-1: Season 10, Sugar Creek, The Ultimate Underdog Collection

BROADBAND
The Two Coreys
You knew it was coming: The reality-TV reunion of Corey Feldman and Corey Haim—the only surprise is that it’s on A&E, not VH1. The Two Coreys debuts Sunday, July 29, but why wait till then to see yet more humiliated ‘80s stars? Watch the seven-minute trailer online … and avoid the series entirely. Trust me. You’re welcome.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Zero Worship

Who Wants to Be a Superhero? Thursday 7.26 (Sci-Fi) Season Premiere: Marvel Comics legend-turned-comic-flick-punch-line Stan Lee—or his animated corpse, tough call—presides over another round of adults in superhero drag competing for “immortality” (i.e. their own comic book), with a standard-issue elimination every week cloaked in allusions to “good” and “honor” (a change of reality-house pace from “Well, at least you didn’t get drunk and piss on your roommate”). Wackiest hero: Mr. Mitzvah, who “deflects attacks with his Star of David paddle.” Hottest hero: Basura, who “turns trash into treasure and reshapes rubbish into robots.” Snubbed hero: Homeless Man, who was cut in the first round. Not kidding. Excelsior!

I Hate My 30s Thursday 7.26 (VH1) Series Debut: An “irreverent,” “absurd” and “ironic” comedy about “relatable problems.” This must have been a hit at the VH1 programming meeting … in 1995. With a pitch like—this is for real—“You may not learn much from I Hate My 30s, but you're sure to laugh at the misfortune of your friends as they're devastated by the realization that the life they've imagined is but a faint and fading dream slowly escaping their reach as they sink deeper and deeper into the quicksand of real life,” all that’s missing are Zima gags and a theme song by Filter. Too bad it can’t touch the comedy of …

Megasnake Saturday 7.28 (Sci-Fi) From the director of Mansquito! Reportedly, former Stargate SG-1 star and Canadian Michael Shanks agreed to headline Megasnake solely to obtain a new U.S. work visa, not because he believed the film would be a cinematic tour de force—hello? Mike? Mansquito! This one is about a giant snake what eats people in the Deep South. If you need more reason than that to tune in, you’re as dead to me as Michael Shanks.

My Boys Monday 7.30 (TBS) Return: Now that TBS is posting ridiculously high summer ratings with half-assed sitcoms like The Bill Engvall Show and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, My Boys looks almost edgy—but only almost. When last we left the romantic comedy about female sportswriter P.J. (Jordana Spiro), who spends more time hanging out with her guy pals than writing about sports, things were getting sexy and awkward (oh, the redundancy) between her and one of those platonic guy pals—can’t remember which one, since they all look the same except for her brother (oh, the albino-cy).

The Nine Wednesday 8.1 (ABC) Return: Remember this? The mystery serial about nine hostage-crisis survivors harboring all kinds of secrets designed to unfold over an intense 22-episode season? Yeah, you’re getting 13 and no plot resolution—which may not matter, since The Nine has been off the air since November and even the fans (numbering slightly more than nine) probably don’t recall what the hell was going on. Recap: Killer pilot episode, followed by six progressively lamer ones, then cancellation. Now there’s six more. Happy burn-off!

Footballers Wives Wednesday 8.1 (BBC America) Series Finale: Unfortunately, the most addictively insane soap opera since the days of Dynasty (Sex! Murder! Sex! Kidnapping! Sex! Serial marriage! Sex! No actual soccer!) ends here, and not gracefully—American television doesn’t have a lock on premature cancellation. Likewise, Footballers Wives may have climaxed early a few episodes back when revenge-crazed Amber dressed up as a warrior goddess and attempted to blow Bruno’s head off with a shotgun at a cocktail party (top that, Grey’s Anatomy). Now ABC’s remaking the series stateside. Let’s hope they don’t cock it up and add … soccer.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Habeas Corpses

Drive Monday 7.16 (MySpace.com/DriveOnFox) Series Finale: Watch in online, suckers. Unless Fox changes their mind again. Could happen.

Standoff Friday 7.20 (Fox) Series Finale: It’s canceled, have a nice closure—Drive fans do not feel your pain. Lesson learned: Standoff was cool series while it lasted, but now you’ve got to go back out into that great big world and never trust Fox again! Run, baby, run! Don’t look back …

Hex Saturday 7.21 (BBC America) Series Finale: Since the series is/was a British knockoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will it end on a happy evil-is-vanquished note (a la Buffy) or a dark the-battle-has-just-begun atonal chord (a la Buffy spin-off Angel)? Good news, you depressive Angel fans: The Hex finale is really the soft opening for The End of Days, replete with blood, hellfire and other sexy goodness. Also, like Angel, Season 2 (which already aired in England two years ago, lest you accuse me of plot-spoilage) has been more twisty fun than its predecessor, thanks mostly to new lead Ella (Laura Pyper), who’s as oddly magnetic as last season’s heroine Cassie was pretty ‘n’ dull. Now all we need is a spin-off sitcom: Thelma the Lesbian Ghost.

Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law Sunday 7.22 (Adult Swim) Series Finale: Grim week—everything’s ending! Saddest of all is the demise of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, an Adult Swim staple since the late-night block launched in 2000. Not only does Harvey have the coolest theme song (“Do you reeeally want to feel him?”), it’s probably the fastest-paced 15 minutes ever produced for TV; it’s a wonder the average Adult Swim stoner could keep up with the gags. The final episode, in which our depressed and boozed-up hero is forced to retry all of his previous cases, stretches to 30 minutes and is entitled … “The Death of Harvey.” Now that’s closure.

Saving Grace Monday 7.23 (TNT) Series Debut: The Summer of Tough TV Broads continues with Holly Hunter as a hard-living Oklahoma City detective whose life is on Harvey Birdman-like skids until she goes drunk-driving and runs down some poor sap on the road—suddenly, a redneck angel appears to her with a plan for a better life. The Morality Police will probably miss that Advantages of Drunk Driving PSA as they’re losing their shit over Saving Grace’s graphic (even for cable) sex and language, but for you regular folk (read: heathens), this is a strange series worth checking out—and it beats the hell out of House Lite, er, Heartland, TNT’s other potential new Closer companion.

Damages Tuesday 7.24 (FX) Series Debut: Nothing screams Edgy Programming like … Glenn Close and Ted Danson? Believe it. Damages is an over-the-top Legal Drama—capital L, capital D, starring Close as a courtroom version of The Shield’s Vic MacKay in heels and a power pantsuit: All grit, few morals. Damn, now I miss Harvey Birdman even more …

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Patton's Chapped Penis

Comedian Patton Oswalt was on Late Night With Conan O'Brien tonight promoting his Pixar rat movie (like it needs that one extra push) and his funny-as-hell new CD Werewolves & Lollipops (which got a 5-second plug--something's wrong with this picture). He opened with the story of getting a chapped penis while walking around Salt Lake City a couple of months ago during a comedy tour stop with Janeane Garofalo. How does one chap one's penis? Apparently, it involves chilly weather and corduroy pants. Bravo, Patton, for weaving kids' movie promotion, Salt Lake City and dick hygiene into a 5-minute Conan appearance! Let's see Dane Cook top that ...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

True! Not Tru!

Court TV has announced that it will henceforth be known as TruTV (actually, a pretentious lowercase truTV) to better serve its "dual-gender audience that loves programming with real people in exciting real-life situations and a strong interest in compelling stories and characters."

Whatever. I came up with the same name for my TV column five years ago. Those fuckers can't have it ... Oh, they're owned by TimeWarner and have zillions of dollars at their disposal? Guess they can use it, then--just leave the "e" out and maybe we'll be cool, you corporate bastards. And if anyone can make sense of this, please let me know:

"Early in the rebranding process, we realized that the current network name doesn't reflect the direction of our programming or our growing target audience of 'real engagers.' "In truTV, we now have the ideal name that fits both the programming and the target audience. The network will be top of mind for 'real engagers' seeking real-life action programming, real-life emotion and access to places they can't normally go."

What in the name of Nancy Grace is a 'real engager'? Can I really engage in legal action for my rightful name?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

DVDs 7.10.07

Beauty & The Beast: Season 2 Sure, it was ridiculous—it was the ‘80s: A giant sewer rat and a lonely urbanite find love and fight crime. This lasted three seasons. Paramount.com

Extras: Season 2 Even funnier than the first, and with more guest stars, including Orlando Bloom, David Bowie, Ian McKellen and a horny Harry Potter. HBO.com

The Film Crew: Hollywood After Dark The (non-robot) brains behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 ridicule ‘60s noir, the seedy Sunset Strip and, well, strippers. FilmCrewOnline.com

My Super Sweet 16: Seasons 1 & 2 Pinhead parents throw lavish birthday parties for their asshole teens who squeal and whine anyway. Watch ‘em again and again! Paramount.com

The Page Turner A chilling French revenge thriller set in the high-stakes world of classical piano … No, I can’t believe I just typed that, either. TartanVideo.com

Skateboarding Explained Step 1: Place left foot on the board. Step 2: Push off with right foot. Step 3: Wait around to be hassled by The Man. Repeat. SkateboardingExplained.com

More New DVD Releases (7.10) The Astronaut Farmer, Bewitched: Season 5, The Contractor, Hustle: Season 3, The Last Mimsy, The Last Time, Sweet Land

BROADBAND
The Bill Engvall Show
Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy are on one end of the Redneck Rat Pack’s comedy spectrum (damn near killed ‘em!), Ron White and Bill Engvall are on the other—not that it’s wide or anything. So how’s Engvall’s new sitcom, debuting Tuesday, July 17 on TBS? Going by the network’s dozen-odd online previews, nowhere near as bad as you’d imagine, no matter which end you prefer. Plus, Nancy Travis got a job! Nice.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Down With OCD

Monk, Psych Friday 7.13 (USA) Season Premieres: Need a reason to give Monk a shot, hipsters? How about guest star Sarah Silverman? Way back in Season 2, before Silverman began her ascension to Basic Cable Goddess (Comedy Central’s hit Sarah Silverman Program) and Cult Film Uber J.A.P. (Jesus Is Magic), she played the phobic detective’s No. 1 fan/stalker. You’ll still probably hate Monk, but at least you’ll have some new YouTube material for your own obsessive blog shrines. In Psych’s second-season opener, the show has finally figured out how to walk the crime drama/buddy comedy line: throw out the drama completely. Shawn and Gus investigate a murder threat against a judge on TV karaoke-talent show American Duos, played Simon Cowell-ishly by Tim Curry. Naturally, they go undercover as a singing twosome and take mucho swipes at American Idol and its ilk—but none can match guest Gina Gershon’s hysterically unhinged homage to Paula Abdul. Without the cop-show pretense, Psych is the funniest series on USA … besides Nashville Star.

Drive Friday 7.13 (Fox) Two-Hour Series Finale—This Time for Real, Probably: Fox decided that Friday the 13th would be a more advantageous send-off/burn-off date for the canceled Drive than July the 4th. Or they’re just fucking with you again, thousands of desperate Drive fans stuck with TiVos full of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? and House reruns all summer, longing for closure. Face it—Fox hates you.

Supergator Saturday 7.14 (Sci-Fi) A prehistoric killer alligator re-created from fossilized DNA escapes from a bio-engineering lab and threatens a luxury resort—why are these secret government labs always next door to luxury resorts? Did they learn nothing from Frankenfish or Dinocroc?

Rock of Love, Scott Baio Is 45 & Single Sunday 7.15 (VH1) Series Debuts: The full title is Rock of Love With Bret Michaels; it’s the Poison frontman’s version of Flavor Flav’s Flavor of Love: Formerly relevant ‘80s music star sifts through skanks in search of an everlasting infection, er, bond with the “ultimate rock star girlfriend.” Since the ultimate rock star girlfriends usually end up abandoned, strung out and/or dead, good times (or Rock of Love 2) a’comin’! Scott Baio’s also looking for love; he’s opted for his own series instead simply hanging around outside of NBC’s Age of Love backstage door and picking up the 40-something castoffs with the foolproof line, “Hey, I’m Scott Baio.”

Side Order of Life, State of Mind Sunday 7.15 (Lifetime) Series Debuts: A magazine photographer (Marisa Coughlin) reconsiders marrying Jason Priestly after receiving a “wake-up call from the universe.” That call: “It’s Jason Priestly—he’ll have his own dating show on VH1 any day now! Run!” State of Mind stars Lili Taylor as therapist whose own—wait for it—personal tics rival those of her colorful patients. It’s the TNT formula: Respected film actress (like The Closer’s Kyra Sedgwick or Saving Grace’s Holly Hunter) + quirky premise (Southern cop in Los Angeles or alcoholic cop talking to angels) = ratings gold. Unless said actress is utterly unlikable thanks to a lame-ass arc on Six Feet Under. Not naming names …

Victoria Beckham: Coming to America Monday 7.16 (NBC) The only person on earth less interesting than Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham is her husband—and NBC was going to make a six-part reality series about both of ‘em moving to Los Angeles. Now, it’s been truncated into a one-hour “special” centered on the one with no discernible talent—yes, in relative terms here, soccer is a talent. Does Coming to America reveal that there’s more to “international superstar” Victoria than a dead-eyed trout stare and perma-perk plastic tits? No … Hollywood. By. Storm.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hos Before Bros

Big Brother Thursday 7.5 (CBS) Season Premiere: After an endless cavalcade of morons-in-a-house reality rip-offs, Big Brother is suddenly looking pretty good—you know, like the first skank you eyed at the club earlier in the evening before those 12 Jagerbombs. The Season 8 twist: One of the 14 housemates is secretly vying for extra cash by doing the bidding of the viewers via Internet and text-message voting. So, if enough voters conspire and command the Emotionally Unstable Cocktail Waitress (redundant?) to, say, drive a meat thermometer through this douchebag on the right's skull, she’ll do it? Me like! Me like!

Dr. Who Friday 7.6 (Sci-Fi) Season Premiere: Last season, they replaced Dr. Who. This season, they’ve replaced the replacement Doc’s hot blond sidekick Rose Tyler with a new hot-but-less-blond sidekick. This is beginning to look like a Foghat tour—ready to play the Spot the Original Member drinking game? Dr. Who acquires his new partner when the hospital where she’s a med student is relocated to the moon so the intergalactic Judoon cops (who have no jurisdiction on earth, natch) can execute a fugitive vampire “patient.” Lost you at “no Rose Tyler,” didn’t I?

Mind of Mencia, American Body Shop Sunday 7.8 (Comedy Central) Season Premiere/Series Debut: If you hate Carlos Mencia (yo, Joe Rogan), get ready to really hate his fans: The winner of the online So You Think You Can Rant? contest will have his/her/its video broadcast on the season premiere—and you know what a laugh riot video-bloggers are. As for American Body Shop, just imagine Reno 911 transplanted into a Phoenix auto-body shop, or a less scripted Monster Garage. On the Reno knockoff scale, ABS lands somewhere between Comedy Central’s Dog Bites Man (comedy gold) and Halfway Home (comedy graphite), but where are the Bondo gags?

Eureka Tuesday 7.10 (Sci-Fi) Season Premiere: Science-fiction purists (like the writers of the just-canceled Stargate SG-1, for example) hate it, but the quirky-cute Eureka is one of Sci-Fi’s biggest hits—and the channel can always point to ECW wrestling and say, “At least it has more science that that, so shut the fuck up!” Weirdness continues in Eureka, a NorCal town populated with super-geniuses assembled for government research and one unwitting but handsome block of wood U.S. Marshal; this episode’s Freak of the Week culprit being cosmic spontaneous combustion—see? Science! And really, even at its most cloying, Eureka still beats the hell out of subidiot network fare like …

The Singing Bee Tuesday 7.10 (NBC) Series Debut: When faced with the decision to just throw up color bars for the summer or air anything dropped off at the front desk, scrambling broadcast networks usually go with the latter—because they care about quality off-season programming … Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Sorry, back on track: The Singing Bee is another piece of karaoke shit, but the twist here is that regular folk warble along with a song until the music is cut off … and then they have to finish the lyrics correctly! This is an actual TV show! On a major network staffed with well-educated and -paid professionals! When oh when is my spec pilot for Here, Shove This In Your Ass going to be picked up?

Don’t Forget the Lyrics Wednesday 7.11 (Fox) Series Debut: Yes, it’s the same fucking show. I have nothing to add. Oh, I need to stretch for space? Uh, OK … this one is hosted by Wayne Brady, whereas the other is hosted by Joey Fatone? Will that do? Here, Shove This In Your Ass: Summer 2008 …

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Paris + Larry

As a preview to last week’s Larry King interview with the sainted Paris Hilton on CNN, The Daily Buzz (that morning show you don’t watch locally in SLC on CW 30) produced a funny clip of the Cryptkeeper (King) chatting with a blow-up doll (Hilton). It’s far more insightful than the actual interview; all that’s missing is Anderson Cooper’s hour-long (!) analysis.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

DVDs 6.26.07

Black Snake Moan Grizzled bluesman (Samuel L. Jackson) meets half-nekkid ‘ho-bag (Christina Ricci); love, redemption and killer blues tunes ensue. Paramount.com

Frankenstein Conquers the World The preserved heart of Dr. Frankenstein is hit with radiation and grows into a 20-foot-tall monster—just in time to battle Baragon! Media-Blasters.com

Dope Mania/Sex Mania Funny anti-fun propaganda shorts spanning the ’20s to ‘60s, all currently being used in Utah school curricula … as far as you know. Facets.org

High School Musical: The Concert Throw out the plot and just get on with the super-awesome musical numbers! If you can hear ‘em over the squealing teens, that is. Disney.com

Shooter Mark Wahlberg is a disillusioned guv’ment sniper called back by The Man for One Last Mission: Save the president! And blow shit up! Paramount.com

Twisted Sister: The Video Years For the first time on DVD: Some of the cheesiest rock videos ever, plus a killer 1987 MTV concert and unnecessary new interviews. Rhino.com

More New DVD Releases (6.26) Film School, Gomer Pyle: Season 2, Miami Vice: Season 5, Monk: Season 5, Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. 11, Psych: Season 1, Reno 911: Season 4

BROADBAND
Studio 60: LOL Edition
Aaron Sorkin’s initially-fantastic-but-now-craptacular Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip ends its rocky NBC run Thursday, June 28, never to be seen again—except on a zillion YouTube videos. The doctored LOL Edition adds a laugh track, and damned if it doesn’t work—even if the characters are yammering on about war hostages, pregnancy complications and Jesus. Ha!



Monday, June 25, 2007

Paula's Burning Sensation

Hey Paula Thursday 6.28 (Bravo) Series Debut: Bravo’s celebrity-reality shows veer between highly entertaining (Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List provides more laughs than most networks’ entire sitcom lineups) and highly disturbing (Being Bobby Brown—ditto). Their latest let’s-follow-a-fameless-star-around-and-hope-for-a-train-wreck vehicle is Hey Paula, all about the wacky world of American Idol lush, er, judge Paula Abdul—sounds perfect, right? Kiss my ass, Bob-bay! Hey Paula doesn’t address Abdul’s alleged craziness or dope-iness; it just walks you through her hectic days of hawking crap on QVC and praising crap on Idol—all of which is as thrilling as reading someone else’s day planner. Poor, busy celebrities!

The Starter Wife Thursday 6.28 (USA) Miniseries Finale: This should have been over weeks ago. The initial two hours of The Starter Wife were charming enough, but the miniseries ran out of story long before it exhausted the wardrobe (apparently a larger—as in, size 2—concern). The semi-autobiographical epic been on so long that creator Gigi Levangie-Grazer left her power-player husband for real during the run, and star Debra Messing has had to have her roots retouched twice—or was it the other way around? Anyway, in the finale, Molly (Messing) chooses between the old rich guy and the hunky young homeless guy, and USA will be brainstorming over how drag this out into a series. Yeah … neither choice really needs to be made—just let it ride, folks.

Burn Notice Thursday 6.28 (USA) Series Debut: Agent Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan of USA’s too-short-lived Touching Evil) gets fired and blacklisted by the CIA and dumped in Miami. Upside: Plenty of rays, bikinis and opportunities to whip off sunglasses while dropping Caruso quips. Downside: He doesn’t know why he was canned, he now has to take on freelance private-eye gigs and the mother he hates (Sharon Gless) also lives in Miami. Burn Notice glides by on flashy cinematography and casual cool, and Westen has Black-Ops spy skills and suave charm that the dicks of USA’s Monk and Psych can’t touch. Throw in Bruce Campbell (yes, Old Spice pitchman Bruce Campbell) as his boozing/womanizing ex-spy pal, and you have what should, rightfully, be The Next Big Cable Hit. Then again, I said that about Touching Evil, too …

The Loop Sunday 7.1 (Fox) Series Finale: Didn’t know it was back on? Has been for a few weeks; sorry, forgot to drop a reminder for you dozen Loop fans. The show has been canceled by Fox (like Standoff—quit sending me e-mails insisting it isn’t; I know stuff) even though it’s a better comedy than some of the crap they’re retaining (ahem, ‘Til Death), and some of the funnier episodes have languished in the summer burn-off. Like the first half of tonight’s two-part sendoff: Sam’s airline accidentally ticks off a group of fatties known as … the American Association of Plus-Sized Adults. Please, please let the AAPSA be repurposed next season on House.

Hidden Palms Wednesday 7.4 (The CW) Season Finale: So it’s not as bad as I originally thought. Still sucks. Buh-bye!

Drive Wednesday 7.4 (Fox) Series Finale: Speaking of burn-offs, Fox is unloading the final two episodes of Drive on the Fourth of July—at least they’re not rerunning Independence Day again. God, I hate Will Smith. So, when last we left Drive in April, the high-stakes cross-country car race was heating up, the intrigue and back-stories were piling up, and these final two hours will tie up … pretty much nothing, as the season was intended to run 13 episodes, not six. Perpetual cliffhangers: The American (or at least Fox) way.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

DVDs 6.19.07

Bachelor Party Massacre A stripper hired for a bachelor party goes nuts and starts killing dudes, as per the title. Don’t worry, Mike Nifong is on the case. TrinityVideo.tv

Animaniacs: Vol. 3 Yakko, Wakko and Dot continue to plague Warner Bros. until they’re gunned down by security—at least in the Director’s Cut. WarnerBros.com

Inside Out Suburban psychological thriller; the biggest mystery being how Grey’s Anatomy’s Kate Walsh became the headliner. AnchorBayEntertainment.com

Pinky & The Brain: Vol. 3 The Brain finally realizes that if he does in fact take over the world, he’ll be stuck in charge of a few billion Pinky-like idiots. Narf! WarnerBros.com

Reno 911: Miami Perhaps the only time you’ll see Patton Oswalt and The Rock guesting in the same movie. Beyond that, it’s just the TV show with tits. FoxHome.com

Silver Spoons: Season 1 The groundbreaking ‘80s drama series about heroin-shooting pre-teens, millionaire slackers and Buck Rogers’ hot ex-sidekick. SonyPictures.com

More New DVD Releases (6.19) Bridge to Terabithia, Fire Serpent, Picket Fences: Season 1, Powerpuff Girls: Season 1

BROADBAND
The Showbiz Show
The Season Whatever (sorry, lost track) finale of The Showbiz Show With David Spade is Thursday, June 21, but the snarky series is best viewed in small vid-chunks, anyway. Better than Comedy Central’s PG Motherlode clips are the factory-direct uncensored takes at TheShowbizShow.com; check Kate Walsh’s (yeah, her again) F-bombed rant against Maxim’s Hot 100. Maybe she is a headliner.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Stars & Stripes

Army Wives Sundays (Lifetime) I know, I know—why the hell is The Only TV Column That Matters™ watching Lifetime? Because the network has finally delivered a juicy, borderline ridiculous (and liberally patriotic!) soap opera on par with its Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives reruns (really, better than the Housewives reruns). Get this: One Wife’s Westpoint-bound teen secretly beats her—and her husband may have just been shot down in Iraq! Another Wife secretly carried surrogate twins to pay off a secret debt! Another Wife’s new hubby secretly paid off her ex to sign secret adoption papers for her kids! Another Wife’s (husband, actually) mate has returned from combat with a secret—she’s batshit crazy with secret post-war syndrome! Another … well, she’s keeping all these secrets from the Army base brass—secretly! All this, plus the secret fact that I’ll watch anything with Catherine Bell—even saw JAG once, but it’s a secret.

Last Comic Standing Wednesdays (NBC) Local Alert: Look for Salt Lake City stand-up comedian Ryan Hamilton in the early rounds—but don’t root for him to win. The only work Last Comic Standing winners can apparently get is serving as judges on future editions of Last Comic Standing or appearing on a never-ending string of “wacky” morning radio shows alongside the constantly bitching losers (also known as the Eighth Suburb of Hell). Would you really wish that on the poor guy? Didn’t think so—take a dive, Ry.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Thursdays (NBC) Remember that excitement about NBC allowing Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip to play out its final episodes over the summer? Over it. Waaay over it. What was originally a crackling showbiz dramedy with touches of creator Aaron Sorkin’s old West Wing zing has devolved into a painfully overextended diatribe against the Iraq war, the president, the media, the Christian Right, prescription drugs, troublesome blondes—all worthwhile targets to piss on, but damn … It’s finally over next week; I’ll apologize for ever defending Studio 60 when the rest of the critical intelligentsia does.

Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis Friday 6.22 (Sci-Fi) Series Finale/Season Finale: If only Studio 60 could manage to even be half as funny as Stargate SG-1—observe this brilliantly subtle jab at the Sci-Fi Channel from an episode a few weeks ago: Sam: “The Stargate program just doesn’t get the support it used to from the people in charge.” Jasec: “Why not?” Scientist working in background: “Eureka!” Ha! See, Sci-Fi has canceled the decade-old SG-1 but kept on fluffier fare like Eureka … never mind. Geek territory. Atlantis will, however, remain. No, I don’t know why, either.

Katie & Peter Saturday 6.23 (E!) Season Finale: Model Katie Price and singer Peter Andre are huge in Britain, where they met on a U.K. reality show. They’re dumber Nick & Jessica and shallower than Posh & Becks. E! has wasted three months of valuable airtime that could have been given to, oh, Sunset Tan on these gigantic boobs. And Peter.

Big Love: In the Beginning Sunday 6.24 (HBO) Special: Ever wonder what life was like in the early days at the Henrickson house(s)? Probably not, but this time-rewinding threesome (get it?) of 10-minute vignettes illustrates the introductions of Nikki and Margene into the polygamous family, as well as the wives pleading to have their overcrowded household split into a trio of connected homes in Sandy—to which Bill replies, understandably, “No way, no way, no way!” It’s a standard initial reaction to Sandy; the local accuracy of Big Love is uncanny.