Saturday, July 14, 2007

Phyllis plans her summer TV viewing itinerary

Last summer, when there was barely anything on TV, Hank and I devoted ourselves to watching back episodes of House found on USA and FOX, having only caught it by chance during the regular season. It was not a waste of time. And while Hank can quite happily fill his (many, many) summer TV hours with baseball every single day, I am finding the listings paltry and thin. And so it is time to watch all the shows I have never really seen but always wanted to, or shows I have watched, but want to see in their entirety all over again.

Phyllis's Summer Plan for TV Reconnaissance:

Homicide: I have seen a few early episodes, but I have never seen Pembleton have a stroke.

The Wire: Never seen it, but TV writers I like (Televsion Without Pity, Tim Goodman, Stephanie Zacharek) says it's the best show on TV, and they are often right about so many things...

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I have seen nearly all 144 episodes but I came to it late and have watched much of it syndicated on FX, badly foreshortened and stripped of drama. I love Buffy. It is adventurous and unconventional, pithy sometimes, even cute, but also very daring. It's supposed to be improbable that a show about a slight blond girl with a very weird nose job could also be complicated and powerful, incredibly sad at times, but also hilarious and even perverse. But really, if it can be believable, even wrenching, that Buffy suddenly has a little sister who is actually a force of mystical energy that has been made into a human being and is really called "The Key," then someone is doing something right. And that's not even the best of what is good about Buffy.

Entourage (while Hank sleeps): I read a lot of celebrity gossip, so this sounds like the same thing, without the reading part.

The Office (US), seasons one and two: I already started this one, and I learned that Steve Carell used to have a lot less hair than he does now. Huh.

Twin Peaks: I missed the first episode or two when they aired, and then everyone said you wouldn't understand it and I don't want to explain everything to you. So I stayed away. But Fire Walk With Me was probably the most terrifying movie of 1992.

Prime Suspect, seasons two, three, four, five, and six: I have seen one and seven, and somehow it seems like I am missing something.

That's well over 500 hours, and doesn't even count Lost, Heroes, or Friday Night Lights. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hank discovers where all the great orators have gone: into diet-pill advertising

Phyllis of late has been going through one of those blue periods we all experience, when nothing on television sounds good. Night after night she consults the listings and sighs and goes off to knit instead, leaving me to amuse myself with movie-buff chatboards and online shopping sites. I was strolling through the pharmacy department at looking for deals on shampoo and vitamins when I came across this multimedia ad for Alli, a brand-new over-the-counter weight loss pill that is a variant on Xenical. It works by blocking the absorption of fat so that you pass it straight through your bowels instead.

Go here and click on the alli ad. Then watch the part about side effects. You will notice they include "gas with oily spotting."

I ask you: Is that not the most elegant and tactful way of saying "you'll shit your pants" ever conceived by humankind? Rhetoric this masterful would surely humble Cicero. It might even have saved Olestra, the artificial fat product briefly added to Doritos and other snack chips in the 1990s, which caused the same problem and spawned the much less felicitous-sounding phrase "anal leakage."

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Perusing the listings for summer replacement reality TV, Hank gets a great idea for a new show

While I was watching the Twins/White Sox game yesterday on Fox, I saw an advertisement for one of the network's summer reality shows: Don't Forget the Lyrics, hosted by Wayne Brady. No, that's wrong, I thought to myself. That is not the name of the show. I went on the Internet to clear up this confusion and discovered that Fox and I were both right. NBC is producing an identically premised show called The Singing Bee, hosted by Joey Fatone. Both shows play snippets of songs and ask contestants to sing the next line.

I favor a full-employment economy for D-list celebrities along with other working stiffs, but it appears to me the producers are scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas. Thinking of barrels made me think of monkeys and caused me to reflect that no one has produced a reality TV show based on the well-known tendency of monkeys to shit in their hands and fling it at persons or things that annoy them. Imagine the fun! And there are many ways to spin the premise. You could have teams of humans dodging monkey-poo on NBC. CBS could feature a game in which one person at a time tries to anger half a dozen monkeys, and the one covered in the most poo at the end receives a cash prize.
Fox could recruit teams of humans to shit in their hands and throw it at each other, and bill it as the ultimate back-to-nature reality show.

In the meantime, I have got a real stumper to suggest for the "Final Jeopardy" round of one of these singing shows: a live version of the Doors' "The End" that asks contestants to sing the line after "Father, I want to kill you."