Friday, March 18, 2005

DB on TV: The Week That Was – 3/18/05

Hey kids – I’m instituting a new column that I'll hope to pump out just about every week and that will get posted somewhere in the Friday through Sunday corridor.

The plan is to do a recap, review, and breezy-like analysis of the television that I managed to consume during the week. Keep in mind that I have particular (some might say peculiar) tastes, so there will undoubtedly be, in some peoples’ opinion, gaping holes in the repertoire.

For example, you won’t see anything here on:

American Idol
Adam Carolla, on radio’s Loveline (consistently one of the funniest, most entertaining, and most interesting programs on anywhere) beautifully crystallized my feelings on the Idol. To paraphrase: the one black judge says, “I’m just not feeling you, dog,” Paula Abdul loves everyone, and then the British guy looks like a genius because he says, “Don’t quit your day job.”

And I just never got into:

Survivor, The CSI / Law & Order Franchise, Extreme Wedding Makeover Home Edition, anything with Kelly Ripa.

If someone can convince me to watch one of these shows, I’ll report back on my findings.


Project Greenlight
Has the potential to be the best show on TV, for reals. Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Wes Craven and Co. are trying to squeeze a profit out of a commercial Hollywood horror film written by first time writers and helmed by a first time director. Check out my thoughts on the first episode of the new season here.

The Contender
Before The Contender first aired, we all heard the tragic news that one of the boxing contestants committed suicide after the show had wrapped. I vowed not to watch the show for that reason alone, but Howard Stern’s enthusiastic review and ongoing support (despite disappointing ratings) for the show won me over, and I’m very glad that I joined the bandwagon.

The Contender has improved upon the competitive format pioneered by The Apprentice by encouraging teamwork instead of backstabbing (the teams of fighters work together to win physical tasks and strategize on how best to defeat the opposing squad in the ring), has raw and hungry young men desperate to make a name for themselves, and ends in a truly heart pounding exhibition of talented boxers beating the crap out of one another.

The expert film editing and use of multiple cameras produce the some of the best boxing (at the end of each show, a boxer from the West team fights a fighter from the East, loser goes home) I’ve ever seen. It’s real, but it seems much better than what passes for “real,” which I suppose means it’s good reality TV.

In any event, this week the super annoying guy that has been talking trash for two straight weeks got defeated rather handily. I know I wasn’t the only one screaming cuss words o' triumph at the television screen.

The Apprentice
Recap episode this week, which promised a lot more than it delivered. In other words, the promo of the preview of the rest of the season turned out to be the promo of the rest of the season, if that makes any sense. There was some semi-interesting unseen footage shown, but more than anything it was a chance to take a breath and let people who had missed some ‘sodes catch up.

Dialing back to last week’s episode, I (and about half the country) was disappointed to see the final descent and crash-and-burn of John. Pegged by many – including yours truly – to go the distance very early, John’s misogynistic, self-absorbed, and final, fatal lack of charm and imagination led him to embarrass himself in front of the celebrities, not to mention the viewing audience, with his bad jokes, cheap interruptions, and ambition for shallow center instead of the fences with his Bush II laser-like focus on having a band play at somebody’s house.

But that’s not what really bothered me. What really bothered me was Tana and her for shizzle my nizzles routine. Everyone was just “floored” by how “down” she was able to get with her “peeps.”

To quote Monty Python: Appalling.

And, in closing, to quote perhaps the most painful line ever uttered in cinema (performed in cheese-eating singsong fashion, from Clueless): Rolling with the homies…

Still on repeats, so I’m still open to hearing theories on this increasingly dark, complex, and vastly interesting show. The Big Picture question: will the destination be worth it, or is it all in the fun of the ride?

This week (I believe) was a re-airing of the one that reveals Kate as a badass bad girl bank robber. Naughty naughty, and it sets up a much more intriguing triangle between she, Jack, and Sawyer than anyone would have ever expected.

Arrested Development
Keeps right on being the best comedy on television today. And I must say that Buster Bluth continues to emerge as one of the strangest, funniest, loopiest characters in television history. The idea to have his hand eaten by flesh-thirsty seals was inspired, as were the constant hindrances that prevented him from joining the army to get shipped off to Iraq: overcoming his fear of the ocean (see: hand eaten by seals), and one of my favorite bits of all-time, from earlier this season, the crane game at the bus station. Ah, glorious. But it’s really Buster’s bizarro mannerisms and awkward, mommy-obsessed demeanor that make him such a pleasure to watch.

Making the Band III
P Diddy’s quest to “make history” by assembling an all-star pop group out of unknowns continues. This time around it’s all girls, all the time in a quest to repeat the Greatness of, say, Destiny’s Child. So far, this season lacks the tension, verve, and sparks of II and its hip hop group Da Band, but it’s still enjoyable, and holds the potential to get better.

PoweR Girls
A look behind the scenes at Lizzie Grubman’s high powered Public Relations agency in New York City. This week saw tensions flare in the Hamptons as preparations were underway for P Diddy’s “All White” party, where, as Lizzie tells us, “If you’re not invited, you’re nobody.”

This is just about the most brainless show that I catch, but it’s got a fun, catty, airhead spirit to it. A little sorbet for the palate on Thursday nights to get me ready for the weekend.

The Shield
I have the first episode of Season Three fired up and ready to be viewed on the DVR. I’ll check in with my findings next week.

I’ve actually only seen the first four episodes of Season One, but I liked it enough to want to see more. And, the New Guy Cop who gets shockingly killed off early on is the same guy I catch live at this tiny improv comedy theater in Hollywood, which is kind of cool.

Oh, and Glen Close has joined the cast, which should be very nice.


Please offer up your takes, your suggestions, and your verve and vitriol aimed at the world of TV (or me, I can take it)!


Scott said...

I love Arrested Development. Fox, please just let this show stay around! Consistently brilliant...

Eric Berlin said...

I couldn't agree more. I can understand that many people haven't checked out Arrested Development -- I know for me it takes a lot of buzz and sometimes even a season or two to bring me around to something new.

But I simply am baffled at those who have seen it and don't think its funny. It must be a liberal/conservative thing, or a cultural divide thing.

Or something. I can't figure it.