Let's talk TV. I love TV. More than that, I love my TiVo on my TV. It makes things so easy in the long run. As I sit here with my coffee, I'm able to watch the The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion that was on CMT last night. I'm just as amazed as I was in 1997 when it first aired and I taped it in my dorm room (only now I recognize Emily Procter as the chick mechanic who took over for Cooter when he became a senator).
Later, I get to watch the spring training game between Boston and Minnesota - isn't technology amazing?
Even when I'm out of the house, Sluggo the TiVo has my back. It's a good life.
Now, while I watch plenty of television, there are a few shows no one is talking about. While I've seen every episode of The West Wing and keep up with Family Guy and My Name is Earl, I've only recently come around on Lost by catching Season 1 on DVD. I'm not talking about any of these shows or American Idol or any of the other big-name shows. I'm talking about well-done shows no one seems to notice.
How I Met Your Mother - Mondays on CBS, 8:30 p.m., EST - Gaining a buzz, but Neil Patrick Harris is amazing (and the big draw) as a womanizing, drunk jackass. Jokes are funny, cast is likeable and its one of the first shows to feature a cast of my peers (bonus half-point). Bob Saget is the voice-over of "old Ted" (another bonus half-point).
Enjoyable, utterly watchable and keeps the peace between the boys and girls in our house. Win-win.
Plus, it's only a matter of time before Vinnie Delpino gets his cameo - come on, Doogie, hook a brother up!
Ted: And so I licked the Liberty Bell.
Laura: How did it taste?
Ted: Like freedom... no, actually it tasted like pennies.
Everybody Hates Chris - Thursdays on UPN, 8 p.m., EST - How does a show that is based on Chris Rock's standup and features him in voiceover work stay this far under the radar? Oh, yeah, it's on the UPN... Why would the other networks pass on this? John Stamos can get a vehicle on the major networks, but Chris Rock can't? I question bringing a child into this world.
My favorite running gag on this show is Chris' dad having a bionic eye for the exact cash value of food being wasted in the house. I do the same thing and we currently have $2.75 worth of gnocci on the stovetop from last night.
Rochelle: [about Drew getting a D in his math test] Look we're going to have to get him a tutor.
Julius: Tutors are expensive, y'all just gonna have to work harder we can barely afford kids, we can't afford stupid kids.
The Boondocks - Sundays on Cartoon Network, 11 p.m., EST - One of the funniest and most socially conscious comic strips in the paper today has become one of the funniest and freshest cartoons on TV. Aaron McGruder has met Castro and caused problems everywhere his strip has been published and they're not pulling punches for national television. Thank God for Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, for giving these types of shows a home.
From the episode when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes out of a coma to weigh in on contemporary America to Riley tagging houses with a character based on the Happy Trees guy, the whole show is outstanding. Not for those who are easily offended by coarse language or the n-word, though.
Riley: I don't mean bitches in a disrespectful way.
Squidbillies - Mondays on Cartoon Network, 12:30 a.m., EST - A foul-mouthed, ex-con drunken squid and his illegitimate son are the stars of this gem. It's a 15-minute shot on Sundays and it's worth hunting it down.
Again, foul-mouthed and just a barrel of fun. Extra fun if you've ever lived within a day's drive of the south.
Earlie Cuyler: Allow me to explain the contamination process. Pine cones go in here, party liquors comes out here and proceed to here. [points to mouth] Fights begin, finger prints are took, days is lost, bail is made, court dates are ignored, cycle is repeated.
Robot Chicken - Sundays on Cartoon Network, 11:30 p.m., EST - Seth Green uses his vast star power and calls in his Hollywood-type favors to pick up voice work for this pet project. Stop motion show gained a following last season and rumor has it the contract has been picked up for this season as well.
It's hard to explain, but if you're a fan of pop culture, you'll enjoy this show. If not, it's only 10 minutes a shot. From the Behind the Music of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem to Joey Fatone in a deathmatch to avenge the murders of his N'Sync cohorts, it's fast-paced and craptacular.
Darth Vader: Luke... I am your father!
Luke Skywalker: Noooo! That's impossible!
Darth Vader: It's true! And Princess Leia is your sister!
Luke Skywalker: That's... improbable.
Darth Vader: And the Empire will be defeated by Ewoks!
Luke Skywalker: That's... highly unlikely...
Darth Vader: And as a kid, I built C-3PO!
Luke Skywalker: ...wha? [time passes]
Darth Vader: And you know that all-powerful Force? That's really just microscopic bacteria called Midichlorians!
Luke Skywalker: [smoking a cigarette] Look, if you're not gonna take this seriously, I'm outta here!
Rescue Me - FX, in between seasons - Twisted and funny, this has to be the one show on this list I wouldn't pass up if I could only pick one. Denis Leary continues his string of playing firefighters or cops as a member of the FDNY working his was through 9/11 trauma after losing his best friend and cousin. Oh, and other ghosts of kids and other friends of his come along for the ride. And sometimes Jesus.
It's twisted and surreal at times, but there's a lot of great acting in this show. Season 1 is on DVD now, so pick that up from Netflix and work through it before the second half of this season begins. I don't want to spoil the other surprises here, but they take on pretty much every topic you can imagine and the result is an engrossing and surprising show for basic cable.
Oh, and be ready for cursing for cursing's sake because it's on FX. It's like telling a six-year-old they can now say "shit" and "asshole" and watching them go nuts with their new vocabulary.
Tommy Gavin: You pussies better pray you don't get assigned to my firehouse. Because I have seen it all. I knew sixty men who gave their lives at Ground Zero. Sixty. Four of them from my house. Vito Castella... found him almost whole. Ricky Davis... found him almost whole, hugging a civilian woman. Bobby Vincent... found his head. And my cousin, Jimmy Keefe, my best friend. You know what they found of him? What I was able to bring back and give to his parents? A finger. That's all. A finger. These four men were better human beings and better firefighters than any of you will ever be.
Firefighting Class Instructor: Say "thank you," firefighting upper class!
Firefighting Upper Class: Thank you, Firefighter Gavin, sir!
Inked - A&E, rotating schedule, check your listings - Carey Hart's tattoo shop in Vegas in the focal point of the show, but the star is Thomas, one of the senior artists who is a pretty decent guy with a mean streak and mounting frustrations over not seeing his son and putting up with shop politics and knuckleheads who don't clean up after themselves.
In the reality show market, where old standards like the Real World and Survivor have long since gone stale (expect a Real World post shortly) Inked is surprising, fresh and a lot of fun.
Watch for no other reason than to see the art that is laid down on a daily basis in the shop. I, for one, can't imagine the pressure of permanently inking another human being and knowing I had one shot to get it right.
30 Days - FX, in between seasons - The concept is simple enough. Take Morgan Spurlock and his 30 day formula from SuperSize Me and use it as a weekly series. Because each of these takes 30 days to film and then there's editing to be done, Spurlock has farmed out guinea pig duty to friends and others to go live the life.
To his credit, Spurlock took his fiancee (the vegan chef from the film) and made her live on minimum wage with him for a month, where they struggled to keep afloat a few months after going to the Oscars with the GDP of Ecuador in jewelry around her neck. That was pretty funny.
Other shows from Season 1 were putting a straight man into San Francisco's Castro District, putting two New Yorkers off the grid with a bunch of hippies and living with a Muslim family in Michigan. All are based on a fish-out-of-water concept, but it's interesting TV and brings up some good points. Worth watching to see how the people selected adapt, even if they never really fit in.
(Photos from: cbs.com; fxnetworks.com; donteatthisbook.com; adultswim.com)