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A Guy, A Gal, And Two Idiot Boxes On A Friday Night

Before this most recent TGIF (and I mean wayyy T-G-I, amirite?), I had plans every single Friday before that dating back to basically whenever social get-togethers were invented (circa 1996ish). There we were, Jerksica and myself, sitting on the couch with absolutely nothing to do and the whole evening spread out in front of us, grinning and subtly heckling us from within, its limitless possibilities exhausting us without ever considering nary a one. Well we chose the only option that met all our prerequisites for "awesome party weekend time", which included the following: 1) we were not required to move, 2) we could get some Totino's action up in hee-uh, and 3) furry little bundles of warmth (aka kitt-ays) could rest where they lay, giving us the eyes that said "move and die" but not in so many words or with such fatal implications. Naturally, we looked at our computer and our television and chose that which gave us the life as we now knew it. Boxier, less sleek versions of the behemoths that sat in front of us had raised us, we had nursed and their teets, and we decided to take one Friday night and give back to the beast. We. Were going. To watch. TV. Here's what went down:

Howie Do It: Like God tests his followers, TV truly tested and challenged our course of action for the evening by flashing this in our faces as we pressed the power button. I must confess, I had seen approximately 10 minutes of Howie Mandel's attempt at rekindling the public's fond memories of Candid Camera before this past Friday night, but I often go by the "it doesn't burn your soul until you watch it a second time" rule, hence my lack of need for public blogudemption before this more recent act of sin. So here I am, and I apologize, but the atrocious 20 minutes of my life that can never be regained must be spilled on the canvas. It began with Howie appearing on a metallic blue stage, smoke plumed from the depths of Burbank, and (I'm not effing witchu) a single standing drummer (pictured above) careened around a glacier of toms, cymbals, and snares like a Neil Peart/dude from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition amalgamation of apocalyptic percussion. It was like looking into the mouth of Hades. I tried to erase the image by looking forward to an ill-conceived setup of auction employees "accidentally" bidding on way overpriced items before Howie comes out and says "gotcha!" and they try to withhold their desires to stab him in the soul patch. Then it turned out that was equally (if not more so because there wasn't even a celestial musician from a fairy land of death to stare in awe at) discomforting, so we switched channels, to...

Supernanny: Reality TV, why must you make me shed tears? And while you may read that query and assume that sarcasm of some nature would define the tears as ironic, suggesting "this is so bad it makes me want to cry," then think again. I actually quivered like a giant serving of blond and pale Jello salad when I witnessed a grown fire department paramedic sputter and cry to a frightening British woman because he couldn't control his possessed spawn of Satan that Road Runner'd through his McMansion. It was wayyy too emotional for a pleasant night of escapist TV watching, so after Jerksy explained to me that Supernanny does basically the same thing for every family (timeouts, family rules, etc. - seriously, I would probably accidentally cook my child in the oven if I had one and even I know how to put a baby in da corna), I had an itch for some sweet sweet Nathan Fillion, so I plugged up that there laptop into the flat screen and ta-da! Narrative programming that's not Friday Night Lights or Dollhouse (geeze, Flexica, you're just falling into all sorts of gender stereotypes - no sports or hot secret agent shows?) for the couple that can't get their lazy arses off the sofa to watch!

Castle: And so, after watching the ad for this show approximately eleventy times while watching Lost, I finally get to watch it. And whodathunkit, it's a cop show where they chase murderers and (spoiler alert for idiots!) catch them. WOWEE ZOWEE! Then again, that's also what one of my favorite shows, Life, is boiled down to, so the criticism can't end there. Actually in the spectrum of cop shows, it probably hits every so slightly above average. That's not to say it's a good show. Ohhhh myyy heavens no (said like Santa as a banker who's just denied you a loan, you know what I'm talking 'bout). In fact, if our main female detective was more airhead than sass and if Nathan Fillion was more Horatio Caruso than Captain Hammer than I would have capitulated to Worksica and hit that escape button with mucho plaisir. But I soldiered on, ignoring her cries for mercy and the flashy CBS-procedural-with-a-late-Spielberg-vibe cinematography and focused more on Fillion's ineffable charm. "You sly dog, you," I whispered under my breath as my girlfriend questioned my sexuality and I slobbered at the screen....err...figuratively. Add a stupidly enteratining poker game scene with James Patterson getting all meta on the nature of mystery novels and cop cat-and-mouse games and ABC, it's called a rook, not a castle, and you've got me check mated (at least for a few more eps).

Better Off Ted: I really had no idea this show existed until approximately Wednesday of last week. Its premise isn't helping it stand out in this world of either high-concept comedy and family situational craporamas. No, this one by the creator of Andy Richter Controls The Universe (and it keeps the quirky fourth wall-breaking technique of that show) falls somewhere in the middle, where it is a common workplace sitcom, but also breaks the mold in numerous ways: characters that are wacky and a little preachy, but never trying too hard to get you to sympathize with them, and actors who transcend the usual ABC sheen of "just trying to make a buck and/or shock you with my range of facial expressions". While the guy who plays Ted is a quite average straight man, Portia De Rossi excels at a more successful version of her character from Arrested Development and the sidekick pairing of Malcolm Barrett (Dee's theater partner on It's Always Sunny) and Jonathan Slavin (from a great episode of Life earlier this season) often knock the best jokes, both physical and verbal, out of the park. Unfortunately, the latter and the constant over-the-top premise-related jokes (It's an R&D company, so they'll research anything that'll make The Man money! Foghorn!) also give the show a questionable layer of silliness. We'll see how it pans out (searches for pan pun that will top castle pun, but fails).

Party Down: We watched this show online for free via the Starz site later in the weekend (we fell asleep in a haze of mediocrity some time after Better Off Ted, which looked brilliant aside the aforementioned unfortunates), but it bears mentioning, because it's much better than any of the tripe ran through above. It stars Ken Marino of The State and Role Models, Lizzy Caplan of True Blood, Martin Starr of Freaks & Geeks, Jane Lynch of every Christopher Guest movie ever, so it's pretty self-explanatory why its pilot episode is so solid. How they landed all these people on the network that brought us Crash: The Series is beyond me, but I'm glad it exists and hope to everything that is holy that I can continue to find the episodes online as they air. Conceited would-be actors, musicians, and screenwriters paying their rent through catering LA parties is basically the perfect comedy premise, in my humble opinion. They can basically do a twist on any and every sitcom convention ever and we'll never tire of the setting, because it will be different every time. And they're all obsessed with pop culture, so there will be endless references without too many meta headaches. Best new comedy of the year? Me thinks so. Don't let me down, third-tier cable network with questionable taste and ability to fund quality programming.

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  1. Blogger qualler | 6:39 AM |  

    Don't forget the lead character of Party Down played by my personal bromance man-crush, Adam Scott! He was also on HBO's intriguing but ultimately too dire "Tell Me You Love Me" and was the wacky doctor in "Knocked Up". Whatta charmer. And who can forget Ken Marino's stint in one of my 15-year-old self's favorite 7:30 pm NBC Thursday night time-fillers, "Men Behaving Badly"? Also I believe many of the castmembers of Party Down are people who have worked with Rob Thomas before, so those "Veronica Mars" geekoids get excited about it all (ahem, OHD).

  2. Blogger Sean | 10:22 AM |  

    i for one am glad to see that japan won the world baseball classic again, or whatever that thing is called.

    go japan.

  3. Blogger qualler | 10:23 AM |  

    Yeah! Go Japan! Beat those Koreans!

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