TV Diary

a) "Gravity"
This is, without exaggeration, perhaps the worst television series I've ever seen on a national U.S. network. Sure, it's on Starz, which is barely a network, but they made "Party Down," which I guess turned out great by accident, because this has laughable production values (probably cost the same amount to make as "Party Down," but since it's not a mockumentary it looks ten times shittier), and is almost too dumb to exist. It's the kind of death-obsessed dramedy/'dark comedy' that usually gets 60-minute timeslots, but is only a half hour long, and feels like a dull stretch even at that length. Krysten Ritter is cute and Ving Rhames seems to be having a good time playing against type (as a wheelchair-bound therapist), but otherwise this show is so bad that I almost want to keep watching it to see if it eventually turns into The Room-style unintentional hilarity. Unfortunately I think it's too cutesy and self-aware to get there, though.

b) "Pretty Wild"
Like "Gravity," this is a show in a particular format (E! channel reality show about pretty people you have no compelling reason to care about) that's usually an hour long, but is only 30-minutes long, and still manages to feel pointless and threadbare. But the pretty people in this are really pretty, which is the only reason I found myself trying to watch it for more than 10 minutes, which I failed at.

c) You Don't Know Jack
It's funny to think that probably the best work Barry Levinson or Al Pacino's done in ages was for an HBO original movie, but this was pretty good. I'm kind of not a fan of biopics as a rule, but I think Jack Kevorkian is an interesting figure for a profile like this, especially since I was kinda young back when he was making headlines and never really gave the guy a lot of thought, and this sidesteps a lot of my usual gripes with biopics by just focusing really intensely on that one period of his life and not trying to span a lifetime or extrapolate the story into anything more than it is. Pacino in particular is really refreshing just for kind of stepping outside of his own tics for once and getting into the skin of the character really well, and the whole thing is surprisingly low key in a good way. As my brother warned me, though, it's weird to see James Urbaniak in the flesh and hear Rusty Venture's voice coming out of a non-animated human.

d) "Romantically Challenged"
This is one of those quippy sitcoms about boring peoples' love lives, which, like "Cougartown," will never even be as passable as the average "Friends" ripoff was 10 years ago because, as I've said before, mediocre single camera shows are so much more aggressively shitty than the worst sitcom with a studio audience ever was. But at the very least, this show has Alyssa Milano entering her third decade of being super blazing hot.

e) "My Life As Liz"
On some level, MTV doing a 'scripted reality' show like this about some mildly nerdy small town high school girl is mildly more commendable than making another such show about "The Hills" or "Pretty Wild"-type hoes. But the thing is, these shows are awful no matter who they're about. Watching charisma-deficient non-actors reenact scenes from their own lives, or versions of their lives that boring MTV producers dream up, is just lousy TV.

f) "Kids In The Hall: Death Comes To Town"
I'm still working my way slowly through this show online, and have only watched half of the 8 episodes, but they really seem to be hitting their stride more with each installment, and I've found myself laughing my ass off just like with old school KITH a couple times.

g) "Community"
As much as I enjoyed the first half of the season, it's really just been in the last few episodes that it's truly blossomed and become amazing, as their ambition has kind of stepped up with the chicken fingers episode and the paintball episode. I think the turning point was the end of the billiards class episode, where they really showed how far they were willing to take a premise and go nuts with it, and right now this is pretty much my favorite show on TV.

h) "Silent Library"
This is about as stupid and goofy as any MTV game show, but the idea that they have to do all these crazy stunts and challenges without making a lot of noise has kind of made a weirdly, appealingly serene show to watch.

i) "Party Down"
This was by far one of my favorite shows last year, and I'd been eagerly anticipating the second season even with the loss of Jane Lynch from the cast. So far it's not as consistent as before but still pretty frequently hilarious and refreshingly unafraid to keep changing the dynamics between characters and mining different comedic material out of every new plot wrinkle. The Steve Guttenberg episode in particular was incredible.

j) "The Colbert Report"
Some of the extra-broad stuff on "The Daily Show" is grating on me lately, but that's mostly because Colbert does that kind of thing so much better. In particular, the bit with Michael J. Fox inside his desk and the bizarre celebration after the pun about sheep on meth were kind of delightfully surreal moments of television that did a good job of breaking up the sometimes monotonous format of the show.
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