TV Diary

1. "Bionic Woman"
Didn't really have any expectations about this show or much interest in watching it when the premiere hype was ramping up, but I was still surprised to hear how widely it was panned. Then I realized that the girl playing the title character is gorgeous and gave the show a shot anyway. And it is pretty much as bad as everyone says. The episode where her character pretended to be British and she got to speak in her real voice was a nice change of pace. Hopefully once this show is cancelled she'll get to stay on American TV somewhere, preferably playing a British person. Watching this I realized that regardless of what I think of Isaiah Washington as a person, he's a pretty lousy actor.

2. "Cavemen"
I'll be honest, I was one of the only people in the world who thought it could be a good idea when I heard that they were turning those Geico commercials into a series. Most of those ads were pretty funny. I think what scared me off initially was the news that they didn't keep any of the actors from the commercials more than the overwhelmingly negative buzz about the pilot. When I finally caught a couple episodes recently, though, it's really not that bad. Certainly not the worst new show of season (cough*Chuck*cough). The problem more is that we're not in an era where a silly high concept sitcom like "Alf" or "Mork And Mindy" (or even "Third Rock From The Sun") can work. But beyond some pretty immediate problems with the premise, most of the dialogue is fairly snappy and well written, it's not like it's some completely witless failure.

3. "Carpoolers"
Bruce McCulloch might be my favorite Kid In The Hall, and recorded my favorite comedy album of all time, Shame-Based Man, but his move toward directing in recent years has resulted in some pretty awful movies like Superstar and Stealing Harvard, so I wasn't sure what to expect from a new sitcom that he's heavily involved behind the scenes with. And so far, it's pretty poor. It just doesn't click. And I've always disliked that cheap TV effect where characters sit in a car in front of a green screen with a moving background to simulate driving, and that makes up for like half of an episode's running time in this show, though. It's nice to see Jerry Minor get some work, though, he's always been one of my favorite members of the Finesse Mitchell Memorial Underused Black SNL Cast Members Hall Of Fame.

4. "Aliens In America"
I haven't gotten a chance to see too much of this yet since it's on opposite J.G.'s beloved "Big Bang Theory" (which is funny, and is growing on me, but which I could still kinda take or leave). Very much a tale of adolescence in the "Wonder Years" mold, except the nerdy best friend is an Indian immigrant and a lot of the complications and jokes stem from that, although thankfully more often in a warm, compassionate way than in an easy stereotype way. Also, it's set in modern times and the kid who plays the main character also narrates, which makes me realize that one of the things that makes a show like "The Wonder Years" work was that there was a distinction between Daniel Stern's voice and young Kevin Arnold's actions. There's something kind of annoying here about the kid saying something in dialogue, and then the exact voice being dubbed in making commentary. Or maybe it's just because I'm not crazy about the actor kid, he's really kind of the weak link of the show.

5. "Back To You"
Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton are both living high on the syndication hog with their previous series, so you know they're only re-entering the sitcom world for the pure love of the game, and I dig that. This show is kind of typical Fox fare in that it's so trad that it feels almost retro, even the crass jokes are only crass by old-fashioned standards. Fred Willard is always funny, though.

6. "Shootout!"
The History Channel is permanently on the TV at my dad's house, and last time I was over there this was on, which has reenactments of various police shootouts and robbery attempts, which could be really awesome if the production values weren't for shit. But the really entertaining part of this was the most hilarious cheapo move ever by a TV show: someone references the movie Heat, and instead of showing a clip from the movie, or even a still or the poster or a picture of the actors or anything like that, they cut to a shot of a VCR, and a tape with the word "HEAT" written on the label being put in the deck. Fucking classic.

7. "Shootout"
Used to be called "Sunday Morning Shootout" but the name was recently truncated to resemble that of the History Channel show, even though it still comes on Sunday mornings. Maybe there's a timeslot change in the offing? But I love this show, I try to catch it every weekend. It reminds me of "Meet The Press" for movie industry buffs.

8. "America's Most Smartest Model"
This really is one of the funniest shows on TV right now. I think I much prefer these vapid VH1 reality shows when they treat them as ridiculously arbitrary game shows (see also "The Surreal Life: Fame Games"), and it's also more fun to watch pretty nobodies with big egos than unpleasantly aging celebrities with slightly bigger egos.

9. "The Next Great American Band"
This show is going down the same toilet that "On The Lot" did over the summer where the premise could potentially make for big event TV and the execution is ok (really, not significantly worse that "American Idol," at least) but the ratings just aren't there. I was gonna bring up the crack a member of one of the losing bands made last week about the show's ratings, but Idolator already covered that pretty well. Some of the band's are kind of guilty pleasure good, some of them are entertainingly bad, and most of the ones that are bad but not in an entertaining way seem to be getting eliminated pretty quickly, which is nice. And I will say this: even though the 3 judges seem to deliberately mirrior "Idol"'s judges, they're each all better judges with smarter and more fair commentary than any of their AI equivalents.

10. "Orangutan Island"
The season of "Meerkat Manor" is over (and thank god, it was getting really exhausting watching central characters die almost every episode, they're worse than "24" with that kind of thing), and on the night of the finale they premiered this new show as an obvious intended kinda follow-up. Of course, orangutans are a completely different kind of subject, and this show is sort of a different bag, more onscreen human involvement and the tone of the narration is totally different. But it really just isn't nearly as interesting, I think I'll wait for the meerkats to come back.

11. "Pushing Daisies"
Still my favorite new show of the season, although that's not really high praise considering the competition. But where I think there were some concerns based on the pilot that this is the kind of thing that would've worked better as a one-off movie than a continuing series, they've really proven from about the 3rd episode onward that there's a lot of mileage they can get out of the premise without it becoming to soapy or too monster-of-the-week. Kristen Chenoweth is pretty consistently amazing on this show, and it's pretty funny now to realize that one of the biggest flaws in last fall's big hyped show, "Studio 60," was that Aaron Sorkin based the Harriet character on Chenoweth, and the character's implausibility (a woman who can do broad comedy, sing really well, and is hot enough to be featured on the cover of a Maxim/FHM-type magazine) rested on the fact that pretty much the only actress capable of portraying that convincingly is Chenoweth herself (who obviously didn't get the job because she's Sorkin's ex and the whole character was his transparent way of working out his creepy issues with her).
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I fucks with Cavemen. They have an ill crib and they get chicks. I can dig it. Its like some weird bastard hybrid program. Perfect Strangers, Family Matters (the later episodes, when it was all Urkle'd out) and Step by Step.
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