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Cable Television Rundown: Casting, Bucks, and Hey There Are Other Channels Too?

February is a great month in Minnesota -- it gives lazy people like me a great excuse to just sit around and watch television. Nevermind the fact that the past few days have been above freezing -- I'm going to assume that it's still nose-hair-freezingly cold outside every day so I can catch up on my stories. 2009 has kicked off with a bang on cable TV, and it's bound to get better. Let's see what things will cause me to not exercise this month.

Big Love Season Three
Hot diggity dog, this show has un-jumped the shark, if that's possible. Seasons one and two, while servicable and entertaining, are, as of last night, trumped completely by season three. What makes season three so great? I have a few theories. One, the increased focus on splitting the teens' plotlines into their own entity (not to mention their new Peach Pit-esque halfway house hangout) makes me feel a little bit like I'm watching the Mormon version of The O.C. (Naturally, in a good way.) Maybe it's just Amanda Seyfried's newfound fame that's getting to me, but I'm all the more thrilled by her own by-the-numbers but still fascinating pregnancy plotline. I'm a sucker for teen drama as it is, but HBO-ized teen drama is even better. Two, the stakes are raised higher for everybody this season, so when Barb has a cancer scare and then finds out it was just a scare, the emotional wallop of seeing her relief followed by uneasiness with Bill's pursual of a fourth wife is powerful. Three, in an era of shows that are great but on the sensational side (Lost, True Blood, Damages), it's comforting to spend a Sunday night with what is essentially a family drama. Just your average polygamist family!

Hello Buck, Goodbye, Intelligent Sports Discourse
HBO had a great thing going with Bob Costas, i.e. the choice for intellectual snobs everywhere (yes, I founded the Facebook group -- please join!) He hosted Inside the NFL, a great, somewhat pretentious antidote to the average NFL highlights show, by featuring NFL films highlights and combining those with intelligent, rational analysis (and by mostly stifling the insufferable Cris Collinsworth and his smug face). Then HBO dropped Inside the NFL, which left Costas' own brilliant quarterly sports discourse series Costas NOW as the only vehicle for Costas' considerable talents on the network. Costas recently took a deal to host a show on the fledgeling MLB Network, which means he also left his Costas NOW series behind (a double whammy because Costas NOW is now defunct and I don't have the MLB Network on my Dish Network subscription...) So who did HBO choose to take Costas' place as the resident intellectual sports snob? Joe Freaking Buck. Probably my most hated sports journalist in the world, not just for being a pompous dick, but for admitting he doesn't really care much about baseball, having an annoying voice, having a giant forehead, and for, well, being an all-around pompous dick. I'm willing to give him a chance if his new projects with HBO are worthwhile, but I am mourning the loss of a great voice that doesn't make my head hurt the way ESPN's Chris Berman does. (Seriously, though. Who actually likes Joe Buck? Anybody?! Does ANYBODY actually like Joe Buck?!?)

Steve Zahn an Obvious Choice to Convert to TV Career
In more positive HBO personnel news, the highly-anticipated not-yet-filmed-as-a-pilot David Simon-helmed post-Katrina New Orleans series Treme added Steve Zahn to its cast. A few things I like about this casting choice: HBO usually does a great job turning actors who previously had "huhzuhwha?" type of movie careers into excellent television actors (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Bill Paxton, Lorraine Bracco, etc). I'm also intrigued to see what David Simon can do with an actor who the public has a little bit of prior familiarity with. I also have a bit of a guilty pleasure for the idiotic 2001 film Saving Silverman co-starring Jason Biggs, Jack Black, and Amanda Peet, . Amanda Peet seems like someone who should also be cast in a show some time soon, eh? Bring it on, Zahn.

Do I need to get Starz now?!
Maybe I do (notwithstanding the Crash television series) because there's a promising looking show on the horizon called Party Down that premieres in March. Created by Rob "I'm Not the Lead Singer of Matchbox Twenty" Thomas (Veronica Mars), it also stars Adam "I'm More Fun Than The Guy I Played on Tell Me You Love Me" Scott and The State's own Ken "I Wanna Dip My Balls In It" Marino. as well as True Blood's Lizzy Caplan (DoktorPeace, I know you're familiar with her work (NSFW!)) Following a sextet of caterers who are trying to make it in the biz, the mockumentary-style series sounds like it will be a little like Entourage but less unintentionally (or intentionally?) douchey. Better yet, I think I don't even need to subscribe to Starz, as Netflix has some kind of agreement to stream their shows through their website. Now that's something I will gladly and happily dip my balls in.

Demetri Martin = Stella - Subtlety + Carlos Mencia?
Demetri Martin -- the guy I only know of as the guitboard, I mean, keytar, player of the Crazy Dogggz in Flight of the Conchords, has his own show on Comedy Central Important Things with Demetri Martin, that starts on Wednesday at 9:30 pm Central. Let's face it-- I'm pretty dubious of Comedy Central as a channel in general. Any network that underpromotes a show like Stella but churns out unabashedly horrible crap like Mind of Mencia deserves some bad karma, no matter how consistent The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are. But, I'm intrigued by them giving a dude who looks like a wussier version of Jason Schwartzmann and states that drawing is a better form of comedy than telling jokes a show. I'll give'r a look-see, after this week's undoubtedly ridiculous-yet-habit-forming mid-week dramas on FX, Nip/Tuck and Damages. The trailer on the Comedy Central website, however, is less-than-promising...

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  1. Anonymous OHD | 9:27 AM |  

    My favorite part of this new season of Big Love (although I do like Sarah's pregnancy, as indicated in my Feb faves) is that whack attack Roman Grant getting prosecuted for child abuse (?), with Nicki spying in the DA's office unbeknownst to her family and her mother living in a van doing surveillance. All the compound stuff is so fascinating this season and LAST weekend's episode was so action-packed I didn't really know what to do with myself.

  2. Anonymous The Apple Capital Rumble | 11:05 AM |  

    I'm with you on Joe Buck. He's a total tool. Before he started doing NFL games, I liked him a lot as an MLB-only play-by-play guy, but it went straight to his head and he sucked ass afterwards.

    I actually think Demetri Martin's series looks promising basing it only on the "trailer", but I just worry that they'll run out of material quickly, but fail to bridge the gap between running out of material and having to figure out how to keep going (unlike Flight of the Conchords which has seemed to flourish as more of a variety sitcom since running out of material after the first season)

  3. Blogger Brigitte | 4:24 PM |  

    great picture of nikki...i'm kinda coming around to this whole idea that she's "hot."

  4. Blogger chris | 7:01 PM |  

    Yeah, Big Love has officially become a top-tier show. Will it go down as the best show of 2009?

    I like Steve Zahn too. I hope he fits well on Treme. Saving Silverman is kind of awesome.

    I will totally stream Party Down!

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