Friday, April 01, 2005

Cathode Ray Fray: The Week in TV – 4-1-05

In an ongoing effort to serve the television thirsty readership best, I’ve changed the order of shows so that they read by day, instead of by network as had previously been the case.

Once again, I go through the down-and-dirty (and light-and-clean, sometimes, too) on the shows I caught during the week, and I link to some of the other television-related excitement going on at as well.

Overall take on the week:

Best show on television: Project Greenlight, Lost (tied)

Rising: Arrested Development

Falling: The Contender

Off the radar: Alias

Will never watch again (probably): Kojak

I’ll also be instituting a Cathode Ray Fray segment in my podcast, Dumpster Bust Radio, more-or-less on a regular basis. Check out Podcast #1 here.

For an entirely different slant on TV happenings, check out Chris Beaumont’s The Week That Was and Scott Pepper’s The Week Ahead.



Arrested Development - Fox
The highlight of this week’s very funny episode was guest star Ben Stiller as magician Tony Wonder. The highlight of his magical mastery, it seems, is screeching in agony and then pulling some kind of bread or bread-related product out of his armpit. Now that’s comedy.

But seriously, part of the genius of this show is the trust that its writers put in the intelligence and observational skills of its audience. A perfect example is the doctor who makes some kind of god awful predicament (“Your son is dying…”), pauses for an insane length of time, and then finishes the sentence (“…to go home, he’s fine”). The joke worked again especially well this week because the audience was forced to remember the back story of the doctor’s bizarre speech patterns as Michael Bluth advises the family to “wait for it.”

I can’t wait for more Arrested.

The Contender - NBC
Before I get into this week’s show: is it just me, or is Sylvester Stallone in amazing shape? He’s about 53-years old, and he looks like he could punch a hole through the chest of the middleweight contenders battling for the $1 million payday.

Overall, the excitement of the show is starting to wear down a little bit for me, which puts me in line with most of the rest of the viewing audience, most of whom never have seemed to find this show in the first place. A sign of a coming reality television meltdown? Don’t bet on it.

Still, the bouts at the end (which determine who goes home and who gets to stay and compete) are nothing short of amazing. The expert editing really does make it better than a live shot fight because you get the best action all the time, and from camera angles that would rarely be used for even the biggest of title fights.

Finally, they showed a nice amount of my adopted city of Pasadena, California throughout this week’s episode. I had suspected that Pasadena was where the “Contender Gym” was located, and now I’ll have to track it down sometime. You know, for kicks.


24 - Fox
I used to watch this one, but dropped out during the early part of Season Three. I heard it got really good though, which will probably prompt me to watch it on DVD at some point. Check out Scott Pepper’s take on this week here.

American Idol - Fox
Lots of American Idol talk this week, as always. I don’t subscribe to the madness myself, but check out the uber-post here.


Project Greenlight - Bravo
This show keeps getting better every week. It’s a virtual clinic on how it would be nice, in theory, to produce a movie with a strong and unique creative vision in the brutal junglehood of Hollywood, and how things actually get done.

Fascinating character study and newbie big-time director John Gulager stepped up this week and looked semi-director-like. But will his passion to cast his longtime girlfriend, father, and brother in the film (Feast, a B-horror flick in which monsters attack a bar) get his ass fired after an ill fated trip to New York to meet with the head of Dimension, the studio backing the film with bank (if limited bank)?

I know I’m gonna stick around to watch. I could not recommend higher that you do the same.

The show is moving to Thursday from now, so head’s up.

The Shield - FX
A Mackey (Michael Chiklis) quotable tour de force this week, and so I must give him his due. Enjoy.

With regard to a suspect on the loose:

When these assholes get in trouble, there’s only two places they go: the pussy they’re getting into or the pussy they got out of.

During a raid on a porn production company:

Porn guy: Who are you?
b>Mackey: We’re the pussy police.

When Mackey finds a bloody gang banger’s shirt in the laundry:

Never mix your bloody whites with your delicates.

Fun aside, the episode ended on a very nice dramatic moment, when the just appointed Captain, played by the great Glen Close, takes a house bought with drug money away from a mother and two children.

“Take it,” she says, and puts on her badass Captain’s shades.

The Office - NBC
Really stepped up the laugh-factor in its second week. Great spontaneous feel during a bid at “Diversity Day.” I laughed out loud, and hard, as boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell) tried to “get real” with employees by goading them into launching racial insults during a mock-bizarre exercise poised at encouraging diversity. The drop dead deadpan looks at camera from the minor characters continue to be priceless.

For more, check out my preview of the first two episodes here.


Lost - ABC
Mystery man John Locke was the focus of the first new episode in around six weeks. And you know what? It was just about worth the wait. As the story unfolds, a deeper, richer, stranger, and freakier web is being woven. It’s a myth that’s being built with stones, laying on top of one another until an alien gorgeous pagan monument will one day stand and we’ll all just kind of back up a step and say, “Wow… just look at the sight of it. I’d a sure wished I’d had brought the disposable.”

The island is calling… but is anyone besides John listening? And the light in the hatch at the end. Wow. Excellent stuff, simply great.

This show has the potential to be one of the truly great ones.

Alias - ABC
I loved watching the first three seasons of this upbeat action-spy show on DVD. But for some reason, the fourth season just doesn’t interest me at all. I just feel like we’ve been through it all before at this point, and the show just can’t seem to evolve (JJ Abrams too wrapped up with Lost? Who could blame him?). I flipped it on this week, saw Jennifer in yet another spy getup, this time in Havana, trying to do something undercover-y. I seen it the first ten times, I’m afraid to say.


The Apprentice - NBC
Stephanie gets the boot on an average but nonetheless interesting episode. If Chris (the tobacco swilling, get-out-of-my-face cussin’ one… but don’t confuse him with just-fired “smart mouth” Erin) isn’t fired within the next two weeks, I’ll be really surprised.

The incessant Trump-infomercial-cross-promotional aspect of the show is starting to get to me. I like this show… but this aspect could really put me over the edge: Domino’s pizza commercial tie-ins, badly staged “how you doin’” “spontaneous” meetings with underlings, bragging about how much money it took to get his gaudy table installed in his multi-million dollar gaudy god forsaken penthouse apartment, and on and on.

Check out Scott Pepper’s detailed rundown here and The Apprentice uber-post here.

Making the Band III - MTV
Not a very memorable episode, but I was tired and doing bills at the time of my viewing, so I’ll cut it some slack this week. Lots of Jason vs. the girls, and people yelling at the girls for not wanting it bad enough… again.

Let’s see some cuts already and get on wit it, Diddy!

PoweR Girls - MTV
This is without a doubt my guilty pleasure of the week, and I’m not even sure why. It’s about kissing celebrity ass, catty backstabbing, pure New York narcissism (D Trump would be proud), and pure octane media uber-culture.

Okay, maybe that’s why. And it’s fun, too, with a great intro song by Fatboy Slim.

This week: more partying in the Hamptons with, among others, the Gotti Boys… I’m not really sure who they are, but they seemed far more like bored frat lads than the ultra-hip celebrity hunk bad boys they were billed as. Does anyone know what they actually do? White rapper dudes? John Gotti’s sons (In the tradition of… Paris Hilton!)?

I’m at a loss.


Kojak - USA
I only got through about ten minutes of this remake of a classic, and I’ll likely not be back. I really tried to give it chance as I’ve liked Ving Rhames ever since his career-making role in Pulp Fiction (I mean, the guy redefined the word medieval… now that’s pretty cool) but this dog just wuh’nt gonna hunt, I’m afraid.

There were the standard cliché lines and situations and so forth, fine. But does every instant have to be shot like the climactic moment of a bad 70s B-movie crime drama, replete with annoying sax? Then there was the scene set-up to show how cool/badass the new bald, lolly-licking Greek (and black) lieutenant really is: he breaks a wily perp by playing Russian roulette… but he kept the extra bullet in his hand, see? So the perp didn’t know he wasn’t really going to kill him.


But not really. I’ll take Monk or especially the great The Dead Zone on USA any day.


Grey’s Anatomy - ABC
Check out Mark Runyon’s analysis here. Hint: the light is green…


Scoop said...

The Contender Gym is indeed in Pasadena on Raymond Ave., a couple of blocks south of the Green Hotel. It is a large former laundry facility, a beautiful art deco building. I took photos earlier this week, which can be seen on my blog.

Eric Berlin said...

Hey Scoop -- I missed your comment, for which I apologize.

I assumed that the gym would be a little bit further south, more in South Pasadena in that kind of industrial area. I'll have to pass by the next time I go one of my walking excursions about town.

Thanks for stopping by DB!