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1:04 p.m. - September 23, 2005
TV or Not TV - That Be The ??
Well, the new fall TV season is upon us, and frankly, I’m a bit less than whelmed at the network offerings.

Most of the shows just seem lame, especially on NBC (Slogan: We really should just make ourselves the Law & Order network and be done with it.).

On NBC, I do like “Crossing Jordan” at times. (OK, I like Jill Hennessey ALL the time!) The Law & Orders are all good, but basically all you need to know is this for each one:

Law & Order: The detectives snark it up – Jack gets all pompous, and they get a conviction.

Special Victims Unit: One of the detectives TAKES! IT! PERSONALLY! Scenery is chewed, and Tamara Tunie as M. E. Warner remains the coolest chick on TV.

Criminal Intent: Goren knows all, sees all and tells all. Though this year Annabella Sciorra (meeee-ow!) is joining the cast. (Her turn in the Sopranos was tremendous, though I now have a fear of flying meat being hurled at me for any indiscretion. Yet another reason to be true to your wife!)

“The E-Ring” just falls flat for me in the casting more than anything. Benjamin Bratt isn’t that great of an actor, and while Dennis Hopper could be believable as a cranky general, I still picture him either in “Easy Rider”, or the drunk in “Hoosiers” or even as the psycho Frank Booth in “Blue Velvet” (who had one of the most memorable psychotic lines in that movie. Remember: “Heineken? **** that ****! PABST! BLUE RIBBON!”)

Then there’s “Three Wishes” starring Amy Grant, which sounds like it could give anyone diabetes with all the sugar shock. Liz ranted about Amy Grant last night, something like this:

“So, if I’m a Christian singer, and I’m married and sing about Christian values, but I go out and have an adulturous affair with a married man and then divorce my husband and he divorces his wife so we could get married it’s OK even if we have broken several commandments because I’m a Christian singer who sings Christian songs and people will say that it’s destiny that we got together EVEN THOUGH WE COMMITTED ADULTERY! Because I still sing Christian songs, and smile and act like a darn Stepford wife.”

(Note: We’re not judging anyone but Amy Grant, because it’s fun to make fun of hypocrites. Heee!)

Then there’s “Inconceivable”, which stars Ming Na (the only person on ER who I could tolerate lately. (By the way, shouldn’t ER have gone way about 5, 6 seasons ago? What else could they do? Explode a nuclear device IN the ER?)) and Angie Harmon (ACK! I thought we were rid of you) in a drama about a fertility clinic. Yeah, and I bet it will be SOOOOO realistic. Gag. (Speaking as someone who has gone through the fertility merry-go-round, I’d rather not have TV corrupt something that is personal and difficult.)

On CBS, we usually only watch NUMB3RS besides Survivor (because math geeks rule!), but I TiVoed “Criminal Minds” last night and plan to watch it when I return from Toledo. I did that for Mandy Patinkin. If I can make it through an episode without making a “Princess Bride” reference, then it’ll be a good show. (Last year, I couldn’t go through a Sopranos episode with Frankie Valli and NOT do song quotes from the Four Seasons. Liz almost threw the sofa at me when I interjected “Big Girls Don’t Cry” at a tense moment.)

Oh, and I’m very afraid of the “Ghost Whisperer”. Jennifer Love-Hewitt? What? Neve Campbell wasn’t available?

The other networks aren’t really on my radar screen. I know “Lost” and “Desparate Housewives” are big, but I never had a chance to see the first few episodes of each one and now I just think I’m too late. “Housewives” conflicted with a lot of my HBO viewing, anyway.

I did watch a few episodes of “Deadwood” and while I’m all about the cursing and the sex and the violence, it just seemed so bleak, especially since it debuted right after “Six Feet Under”. I couldn’t take all that at once.

I’m looking forward to the new season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, as watching Larry David makes me feel SOOO much better about myself.

So what are we watching?

Rome (HBO) – Rome! (If you want to, Rome around the world. OK, you saw that coming). At times, I feel I need an org chart, because keeping all of the characters was difficult at first. And it seems funny that all Romans, whether they be nobles, soldiers, or peasants, speak like Royal Shakespearean actors (even Pullo, the big lug who is supposed to be all hot and curses like a sailor, does it oh, so properly). But the story is intriguing, of course, and it’s (mostly) true. And since it’s on HBO there’s a lot of cursing and nudity (both male and female) and sex and gratuitous violence and drinking and backstabbing and conniving and all. Right on!

My Name Is Earl (NBC) – I enjoyed the pilot, but I’m hesitant to put this on my TiVo season pass. The concept is interesting, but I think they could run out of interesting ways to present it in about a season or so. I know, that hasn’t stopped TV before, (in fact, one could say that “Yes, Dear” is proof positive that TV can keep a show on even if NONE of the ideas are interesting, at all), but I’m just saying that this could be a short ride.

The Apprentice – Martha Stewart (NBC) – I think I will like this better than the original Apprentice, simply because Martha doesn’t need to re-dub all of her lines after filming. The handwritten letter to the ousted candidate is a nice touch. Of course, many of the candidates are self-serving, narcissistic fools, but that makes for smashing TV, doesn’t it?

The Apprentice – (NBC) – The Donald hand picked this bunch, and I can’t tell all of the Barbie Dolls apart on the women’s team except for the crazy one that just got the boot, the Russian blonde, and the African American who seems like the only sane one on that side. All the men seem to be rigid tools, except for Markus, who’s a babbling, insane, tool. I think the Donald separated them into men and women just for the inevitable catfights (c-c-c-c-c-catfight)!

Survivor – Guatemala (CBS) – So they brought back Jebbus Cripes, er, Bobby Jon, and Stephenie, eh? Well, that’s just meh. To trip them up, just have some challenges that involve puzzles. They’ll be lost for sure. The season opener was great, especially if you like gratuitous shots of people vomiting. The cast is semi-intriguing, with Gary Hogeboom, an ex-Indianapolis Colt QB (Hogeboom is Greek for “He Who Separates His Shoulder Repeatedly”), a fish monger and a magician’s assistant. Oops, she’s gone already. Oh, and they have a doorman, who I will call Carlton. He. Is. A. Tool.

And really, that’s about it. We have plenty of reruns and movies to keep us occupied. And of course, whenever the Sopranos starts up again, we’ll be there. But it’s pretty sad, really, except for the Law & Orders, and the show about the math geek / FBI dude, only one other network show we watch currently is ‘scripted’. You know, when I was a kid, I used to complain about TV. They always took off shows I enjoyed, like “The Magician” (Bill Bixby as a crime-fighting conjurer. Exciting!) and “Switch” (Eddie Albert and Robert Wagner. Beautiful! Terrific!) but at least there was something to watch almost every night that was halfway decent.

But now, this dreck? Drecky.

I’d even take re-runs of Fantasy Island right now. Heck, I’d even sit through a “Love, American Style” marathon.


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