Ok, it's about four months into the year and I've now just got around to writing my 2004 TV wrap up. I apologize. Things got a bit hectic and here I am. Basically, what I'm doing is writing about the shows that I TiVoed last year. Most of them aren't from 2004 and there's a lot of crap that I'm not reviewing (Aly's stuff). And I'm using a surprise as the ratings meter. I'm sure you've seen him before (especially if you were a kid in the 1980s) and if you don't know I'll reveal the name at the end of the column.
(BTW, there is no order to this list)
Chappelle's Show This is probably the best sketch comedy on television now, however there hasn't been a new episode in about a year. That's ok because the second season was so strong, from Rick James to Prince playing basketball, Chappelle was awesome. During the fall, Dave Chappelle was give a $40 million contract for the next two seasons of the show. Since then the rumors are that he has hit a writer's block wall and was supposedly acting weird at a San Francisco show. This contract could be an albatross around Chappelle's neck and coupled with high expectations from studio execs and fans, I'm not expecting big things from the third season of the Chappelle Show. I hope it's just as good as the second season, but I doubt it will be. Good thing I don't grade on potential.
Law and Order This is an Aly show that I've sort of started to watch. I like it, don't love it, but it's a good show. As you know it's broken up into two halves: the cop part and the lawyer part. I like the cop part way better than the lawyer part because of two reasons: Jerry Orbach (he's a funny dude) and I hate that smug Sam Waterston. Aside from when they prosecute child molesters, I actually root for him to lose every case.
Mission Hill I'd be surprised if you'd actually heard of this show, much less watch it. This show was originally on the WB from September 1999 until July 2000, but I'd be surprised if it was actually shown on two consecutive weeks. It found a home on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim where I love it. Created by two of the Simpsons executive producers, Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley, this show has a lot more edge than the Simpsons (seriously) and the art is terrific. Very subtle, yet jokey this show is a winner that went over a lot of people's heads. One thing to watch is the way that the color of the art sets the mood of the scene. It's sort of hard to explain, but if you watch, you'll see.
Mostly True Stories Eh. Sort of a poor man's Straight Dope which did a much better job explaining things and shooting down legends when it was run on A&E during 1996, but it's ok. The problem is that they cobble together these shows which make it seem the news are ones that you've seen before.
The Daily Show As sad as this sounds, this is where I get a lot of my news every day. Pathetic, but I have been listening to WBZ the local news radio, so ... but enough of me. I love this show, Jon Stewart is the best. His sarcasm, his zingers and the way he doesn't bullshit is awesome. And the rest of the crew rules too. The one thing that sort of bugs me is that during this election they were the media darlings of everyone, you can't help but go down from there.
24 Say what you want about the Terminator, John McClane or Rambo, Jack Bauer would've destroyed all of them in less than a day. This is literally one of the most action-packed hours on television. Each week is like a mini movie. The acting is pretty good and while the plots have some holes (the 24 writing crew is famous for having a sketchy story arc and filling in the rest on the fly) you have to remind yourself that a. it's a TV show for God's sake and b. lots of stuff explodes. BTW, if Aly was going to leave me, the only person she can leave me for is Jack Bauer. She is already aware of this fact.
Animal Faceoff I had such high hopes for this show when it first came on, I was literally counting the days until it premiered. Too bad it sucks ass. When I was in college my friends and I use get drunk and debate over what would win in a fight, a bear or a gorilla. This show was going to put that debate to end as well as a bunch of other ones. Too bad all it is is a bunch of nerds bragging about how their computer simulation is better than the other and worse off, they made it boring. I hate you Animal Faceoff, you almost ruined my faith in TV.
Arrested Development You know how I feel about this show, I think it's the greatest thing since free cheeseburgers. I've written at length about this show so much that I have nothing new to say. There are days when I'm not sure what my name is but I know this, this show better be on next year or I'm going on a cross country killing spree that will make "Natural Born Killers" look like the "Great Space Coaster".
Aqua Teen Hunger Force I was really into this show for a while, but I sort of fell out of it. The Mooninites are still cool (those little Atari things that think that they're hot shit) and there are a lot of funny things, but I think they're starting to run out of ideas. Screw that, this show is still friggin funny, probably the funniest thing on Adult Swim. Forget about those last couple of sentences. I did hear that they're coming out with an ATHF movie next year. That should be cool.
Best Week Ever Funniest show when it first came out because it was real people who happened to be comedians (not exactly celebrities) ragging on celebrities. Then it got too slick, the regular group of comedians became celebrities themselves and they started doing skits. Nothing kills a funny show faster than skits. Remember that kids.
Beverly Hills 90210 The high school years are the best years, the college years are ok and when they graduated college, it completely sucked. Sort of the reverse of everyone else in the world, I guess. Any show with Ian Ziering has to be a top tenner though. I wonder what that dude is up to now a days? And who doesn't want to relive the Brenda-Kelly-Dylan love triangle? The best part is waiting for your favorite episodes and lines. Man, rereading that line makes me feel like a tool. Forget I said it.
Decisive Battles This is a pretty bad ass show, they take all of these battles (no shit) from history and reenact them with the aid of video game technology. This is everything that "Animal Faceoff" should've been but wasn't. Though nerdy, it's very cool to see Hannibal and his elephants coming over the Alps or seeing Xerxes and his Persian army get their asses kicked by a bunch of Greeks.
Harvey Birdman Normally I hate lawyer shows, but Birdman is defending old Hanna Barbera cartoons, which is such a great concept that I can't believe that no one had though of it before. The animation is done with Flash animation and Steven Colbert (from the Daily Show) is one of the voices as is Gary Cole (Yes, Lumbergh from Office Space). He's Birdman, BTW. Awesome show, better than Aqua Teen.
Justice League A comic book cartoon that stays true to the comics and it's pretty serious too. I've been waiting a while for this and this show doesn't disapoint. Depth, pathos, spandex, this show has it all. While I do sort of miss the cheesy days of the Superfriends (oh Aquaman) this show is light years better.
King of the Hill Underrated Fox cartoon that has held up a bit better than the Simpsons. Each season is pretty fresh with interesting story lines that aren't rehashed. Some of the stuff gets sort of played out, but if you don't like Bobby Hill, than you don't like televison.
Mr. Show These are the neutered reruns that are on TBS. They took out a lot of swearing and chopped the show up from when it was on HBO, but the shell is still there. Not as good as it originally was, but there are still a lot of funny bits.
My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss the first two episodes were spectacular, the rest sucked. Then it got cancelled. I never did find out who the "Big Boss" was, so if you know, let me in on the secret.
Newsradio I love this show. Phil Hartman dying was probably the worst celebrity death of the last 20 years. The four seasons that he was on the show are about as perfect as an ensemble show can be. Sharp writing, actors who knew and understood their characters, funny plots, they rarely make them like this any more. Stupid Bryn Hartman.
Pardon the Interuption The best of the sports debate shows. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon are funny (important), smart (also important) and it seems that they like each other (most important). It feels as if you're over hearing a bar room debate between knowledgable buddies. There is rarely an episode where I don't learn something. Easily the best show on ESPN.
SeaLab 2021 I used to be a huge fan of this show, now the plots are so fucked up, I can't even follow them any more. They're actually pretty stupid, and the art, which used to be old clips from SeaLab 2020, has just fallen off because they're trying to draw the characters. And the problem is that they're just not good artists, which is too bad. Also, they're too self-referencing. That gets old. The one great episode from the last two years was "Tin Fins" and the Grizzlebee's ads. "You'll wish you had less fun!" That was funny shit.
Survivor Last year the All-Star version ruined me for all other Survivors. I didn't watch the fall episodes until there were three left. They were just boring. On All Stars, I knew everyone and I didn't have to waste a lot of time trying to figure out who the "cocky one" was or who the "sweet one" was. I'm back with this new season, but All Stars was the pinnacle.
Bernie Mac I used to be a big fan, now I usually just delete it without watching it. Fox bounced it around the schedule so much I just got sick of trying to find it. Plus, you can tell Mac just wants to make movies, so he sleep walks through the shows that I've seen hoping that his show will either get cancelled or his contract won't be renewed. Which ever comes first.
The Brak Show Cancelled. And not a moment too soon. They started making the show all about Brak's dad, simply known as Father. And while he is funny in small doses, he can't carry the show. I wanted more Brak and Zorak. You can't always get what you want. The Ramones were right. (I know the Stones sang it, it was a Simpsons reference, jackass.)
The Larry Sanders Show Like Mr. Show, this shouldn't be on syndicated televison. That's where I had to catch this show, on the local UPN affiliate. I didn't have HBO back in the day. While funny, it doesn't have the same bite as it did on pay cable. I'll probably have to buy the DVDs some day. Though cut or uncut, Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor from Arrested Development) and Arthur (Rip Torn) are probably two of the greatest characters ever created for television, though for completely different reasons.
This Week in Baseball Aside from the fact that they run the same damn episodes every other day, this is really cool because they reshow the old TWIBs from the 80s and 90s. That was the Golden Age of This Week in Baseball. Cool stuff. Really cool stuff. How many days do you get to see a story about the Red Sox outfield/DH combination of Tony Armas, Mike Easler, Dwight Evans and Jim Rice?
Tom Goes to the Mayor This show is bizarre and it took me a while to get used to it, but I really like it a lot. Rats off to ya! Also a part of the Adult Swim Sunday comedy block. Hopefully, they'll make more than the four that they show over and over and over again.
I left off five shows: "Leave it to Beaver", "Seinfeld", "The Simpsons", "Family Guy" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" because they're all favorites and I've seen every single episode a million times, so I don't TiVo them.
Each gets four Gary Gnus. Yes. That's what that thing is Gary Gnu from the "Great Space Coaster". Give yourself a pat on the back if you knew who he was without me telling you. Also, give yourself another pat on the back if you read the words "Gary Gnu" in the posted pictures.
See you on Saturday for my 2005 Red Sox preview.