Results filed under: “television”

@ October 21, 2010


With the holiday season starting earlier and earlier every year, the media crunch times that are the launch of the network tv season, the pre-Christmas gaming rush, Oscar awards bait, and peak musician touring times are overlapping more and more.  And since I have far too much time on my hands, I'll be attempting to guide through the morass of garbage in hopes of finding the little good out there in American media.  Starting with TV, since it's been a long enough time for shows to find their feet.  Games and Music to come later.

Freshmen Failure

This was an abysmal year for new shows on networks.  Even if you liked the tired genres getting flogged, did anyone really need Outlaw or The Defenders or The Whole Truth?  Networks had no new ideas, nor did they execute any of the old ideas well.  That's not entirely fair, Fox had a single idea (Lonestar), but America rejected it like a failed organ transplant.  Unfortunately it looks like the midseason replacements might be even worse, because NBC already gave full season orders to every single one of its terrible new shows except Undercovers, and even that they ordered more scripts for.  Chase?  Really?  That show has sub-Jay Leno Show ratings, and is expensive to boot.  In fact with the exception of Law & Order: LA, all its 9PM shows are doing worse than Leno.

The only 'hits' are CBS and William Shatner's dramatic retelling of a twitter feed and Hawaii 5-0, a rehash of an ancient property that I suspect thrives because the Alzheimer's patients that make up the CBS audience* think it's the original.  Thankfully the networks have learned from the Shat and have already optioned multiple other twitter feeds for next season.  This is not a joke, it is real and possible that there'll be a two hour block of comedies based on twitter feeds to compete with NBC's Thursday.

*seriously compare overall rating numbers vs 18-49 demographic numbers for CBS.  Every old white person in America watches everything on it.


So what's worth watching?  Let's take it night by night in a followup to Jesse and Jim's now month old but still only half posted conversation. 

@ October 14, 2010


Jim: This is another Elisa-suggested show... her logic? It's JJ Abrams and it's got black people on it. We tried to come up with a network TV show that featured protagonists, and most of them involved Bill Cosby. So I watched the first episode. A married couple -- both former spies, both actors with ridiculous names -- own a catering business. All is well -- money is a bit tight, though -- until Major Dad (Gerald McRaney -- not Dabney Coleman) shows up and tells them that a former spy colleague (and ex-boyfriend of the wife) is missing.

So they stop doing catering for a little while and get a-spyin'. They travel to Europe looking for him, ferret out a Russian spy ring, jump out of a plane, break into a bank, etc etc etc.

I never watched Alias, but I have a feeling that, if I had, Undercovers would seem like old hat -- Alias with a black married couple. The show seemed ok, but not ok enough for me to keep watching regularly. Sorry, JJ Abrams.

Jesse: JJ Abrams is the master of the pilot episode. From what I hear, even Felicity had an amazing pilot. What he has proven to be less adept at is constructing a sustainable series that will come to any kind of satisfactory conclusion. This opinion is only partly based on my continued bitterness over the derailed train that was shoved up my ass and called a Lost finale. I never actually watched it, but sources tell me that the wheels similarly flew off of Alias. You watch, it will happen to Fringe too. Or, don't watch. That's what I'm doing.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Undercovers. Didn't watch it.

Modern Family

Jim: I saw a few episodes last season, and they were funny. But I'm not really a sitcom person at this point in my life -- and Modern Family is, without a doubt, a sitcom. You've got situations coming out of the wazoo -- Ed O'Neil has a hot, younger Latina wife and a precocious son. His older son is gay, and has a boyfriend who used to be a clown. Ed's daughter is Julie Bowen, and she has a husband and some kids.

The Emmy givers-out chose to bestow the award for Best Comedy upon Modern Family's first season. And it seems like a funny show -- but it just isn't my speed. I'll stick to my Sunday night HBO comedy fix -- Eastbound & Down, Bored to Death, and (returning next year) Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Jesse: I hate titles with puns, but this is almost horrible in the other direction: "Modern Family" is so utilitarian in the way it tries to communicate what an edgy show this will be. I guess "Sitcom With An Interracial Couple and Some Homosexuals" was probably too long, but I would be more likely to give that show a try than "Modern Family". Ugh. Just saying it makes me want to sigh and vomit at the same time.


Jim: FX has been trying to fill the void left by "The Shield" since it left the air a couple of years ago. Sons of Anarchy & Justified hit the same demographic, but they're not quite the same level of quality (Justified has the potential to get there). Terriers, with Shield creator Shawn Ryan on board as a producer, is another attempt.

Donald Logue (Grounded for Life) is an ex-cop, run off the force before he was eligible for a pension, who is gumshoeing with a partner (Michael Raymond-James -- three first names!) -- without a license. They have a bunch of sketchy acquaintances who get them into trouble. Logue is a recovering alcoholic with an ex-wife (with whom he is still in love) -- she's getting ready to marry an architect and wants to sell her house. Logue wants to by it -- but where will he get the money?

I really enjoy Terriers -- it's my Wednesday night show -- but it's not The Shield. To ask it to be would be unfair; The Shield was transcendent television. Terriers is very, very good so far -- and I hope it can maintain that level of quality and build an audience, because  enjoy the hell out of it.

Jesse: I don't know why you tried to compare this to The Shield (other than its on FX and the guy from the Shield is involved... okay I guess I do understand) but, in my mind, the show it is most directly descended from is Veronica Mars. A sassy, wise-crackin', blue collar SoCal private eye takes on the crooked moneyed elite with nothing to rely on but their sassy wise cracks? If Donal Logue was a sexy 25-year old playing a high school junior, it'd basically be a remake. I loved Veronica Mars, and I love this show. Also, I love that the title of the show has absolutely nothing to do with what its actually about (there was an actually an exchange between the two leads where they discuss what to call their detective agency with a dog sitting in between them, and you think they are about to say, "Let's call ourselves the Terriers" or something like that, but they don't, and instead the scene mocks you for thinking that, which I loved). Yes, I'm basically judging every show we're talking about based on its title because I haven't watched any of them.

Another thing this show shares with Veronica Mars is its terrible, terrible ratings. Enjoy this one while it lasts.

@ October 13, 2010

According to Mad Men, there's more than just sand at Jones Beach.

According to Mad Men, olympians have sexy shoulders.

According to Mad Men, one should not use the word "premature" in a maternity ward.

According to Mad Men, attending a baseball game is preferable to being present for your daughter's birth.

According to Mad Men, a lack of champagne is an indication of cancer.

According to Mad Men, every time something good happens, something bad happens.

According to Mad Men, a condemned man has the choice of his last meal.

According to Mad Men, women in fear for their jobs become sex crazed.

According to Mad Men, good news is always worth waiting for.

According to Mad Men, there's no shame in being called grandma.

According to Mad Men, clients are always unhappy.

According to Mad Men, horniness is detectable on one's breath.

According to Mad Men, funerals are excellent venues to make new business contacts.

According to Mad Men, one should be wary of lipstick on one's teeth.

@ October 13, 2010

Raising Hope

Jim: Ok, for the record -- Elisa wanted me to DVR this for since she only has a VCR. (My girlfriend is technologically challenged). So I watched the first episode. From what I can tell, the premise is that white trash is funny -- which I think was the same premise as the creators' previous effort, My Name is Earl. Also, senile old Cloris Leachman is funny when she takes her shirt off and french kisses her grandson. And white trash people are incompetent with babies -- who needs car seats?

One episode in and I'm out. Sorry Raising Hope. Incompetent child rearing and white trash humor aren't keeping me glued to the TV.

Jesse: I can tell you first hand: white trash are HILARIOUS. Did you hear the one about the teenage girl who already has two children and the daddy is in prison?

Running Wilde

Jim: Hey, they gave Gob Bluth his own show! Except he's got a different name, and he's rich. The humor on this one -- from the minds that brought us the short-lived but brilliant Arrested Development -- hinges on Arnett's character being out of touch with reality. He thinks diet sodas cost $50, and wants to buy an extremely tiny horse because his Middle Eastern neighbor tells him it's desirable. And -- a man who has enough money to sleep with any woman he wants to -- is still pining for his childhood sweetheart, who now lives in Peru with David Cross and is trying to save the world that Arnett is destroying with all of his oil drilling.

Normally, I'd be one-and-done on this show -- but I'll give it another two episodes before I pull the plug. Simply based on the strength of Arrested Development.

Here is your challenge, Jim: find me one good show with a pun for a name. If the name is a pun, I don't waste my time.

Sons of Anarchy

Jim: They're back! Biker Hamlet returns, and it's still pretty good. This season opens with Jax attempting to locate his kidnapped son, and his mom (Peggy Bundy) on the lam after having been framed for murder, and Ron Perlman's chin occupying more space than ever. Hal Holbrook is also on this year, and Stephen King just had a guest-starring spot.

Jesse: Motorcycles are loud. (I've never seen this show).

No Ordinary Family

Jim: Remember the movies they made about The Fantastic Four? Where Michael Chiklis turns into The Thing due to gamma rays? The Thing is covered in rocks and is super strong -- bullets bounce off of him, he can clobber things, he has super strength. And the other guy was really stretchy, and one guy set on fire, and the woman turned invisible?

Well, the producers of No Ordinary Family must have really, really enjoyed The Fantastic Four. Because they cast Michael Chiklis as The Thing again, minus the rocky exterior. They must have liked The Shield, too, because they made him a police sketch artist who wants to be a cop and they robbed Vic Mackey's leather jacket from wardrobe.

Oh? And instead of a failed space flight with gamma rays giving the four fantastics powers, they crash land into a magical lagoon in Brazil while on a sight seeing tour. The wife gets super-speed (Julie Benz, by the by), the daughter (who will not give it up to her boyfriend) becomes a telepath. The son, who is maligned for being dumb and bad at school the whole episode, gets super smarts.

No Ordinary Family is pretty ridiculous, and a blatant rip-off of The Fantastic Four. But I enjoyed the pilot -- it was light years better than post-season 1 Heroes -- and will probably keep watching it until it gets cancelled.

Jesse: I couldn't do it, Jim. I won't say I didn't consider it, but in the end, I couldn't do it. I sat there, staring at the DVR guide, ready to hit the record button, and... I just... I couldn't bring myself to watch another network television show about regular people discovering they have super powers. I need to stand up for ME, I can't be afraid to say no, I have to give myself room to be myself. How many times do I have to let them hurt me, Jim? HOW MANY TIMES?? WHERE ARE THE IPODS, JIM?!?!?! *runs away sobbing*

Detroit 1-8-7

Jim: I may be making this claim a bit early -- I haven't yet seen Blue Bloods, after all -- but Detroit 1-8-7 may be the best new network show this year. The pilot showed a hell of a lot of promise -- a cinema verite cop show, focused on the Detroit Homicide Unit, starring Michael Imperioli (Spider from Goodfellas, Chris-ta-pha from the Sopranos), with James McDaniel (Lt. Fancy of NYPD Blue)  in a supporting role.

The show knows TV cop show history, too -- you've got "The Board" from Homicide: Life on the Street, a gritty look, and a pilot that features an ending that takes you back to the Hill Street premiere.

The first episode shows the detectives investigating a few different crimes -- which we discover are connected by the end of the episode. I hope that this isn't a recurring formula (I'd be surprised if the show was that stupid), but it worked to help add to the level of tension in the first episode.

Imperioli's character is a bit of a loner -- nobody in the squad is really friends with him, or knows much about him, and he's partnered with a rookie. Sounds a lot like Frank Pembleton (H:LotS) to me, but the character is not a copy.

The producers originally had the show set up a faux documentary, but reedited after a real-life police shooting was recorded by a documentary crew in Detroit. I think this may be a blessing -- as the faux docu style has failed on cop shows before (see: The Beat)... however, what it leaves is a documentary style show without the trappings of the documentary format. 

I'm looking forward to this one, and hope it's able to find an audience.

Jesse: You say "cinema verite". I say if its so goddamn verite then why does a show set in Detroit use California's police code for murder in its title? With verite like that, they might as well have the character's break out into Randy Newman songs. Are you getting the sense that this year's crop of shows is making me angry and spiteful?

@ October 7, 2010


Jim: We have written lots, and lots, and lots about House in the past. About how the show was played out, about how to fix it, about how annoying '13' is, about House is, in your words, an 'A character on a B show.'

Despite all my bellyaching about House in the past, I'm still watching it.

The premiere of House picks up right after last season's finale. House is struggling with having suffered through shooting an entire episode shot on a DSLR, and having lost a patient. Cuddy has left her fiance (wasn't he supposed to get a spin-off?) so that she can dow the nasty with House. And do the nasty they do. She even gives nasty oral pleasure to his nasty-cripple-leg.

Meanwhile back at the hospital, the only neurosurgeon on staff has some sort of food poisoning and gets sent home. Of course, this means the hospital loses its certification as a trauma center and nobody can get ahold of Cuddy to figure out what to do -- because she's busy boinking House. Hilarity ensues.

That said, this was a pretty solid episode of House -- a definite B+ -- and I'm still watching the show. George Wyner, who played the food-poisoned/drugged out/funny neurosurgeon is a great character actor who has been in *everything*, and made the B story pretty enjoyable. Oh, and 13 is leaving, I hope. We'll see. She's left before and reared her pretty head and lifeless eyes again before.

It takes a hell of a lot for me to drop a show mid-run (*cough* Heroes *cough*), and I'm not ready to drop House -- I can enjoy a "B" show as much as a "B" movie, as long as it's got some charm. Procedural, formulaic, repetitive -- House may be all of these things. But I still like it.

Jesse: I'm done. I'm out. I can't do it anymore. House isn't even an A character on a B show anymore, he's a C character on an F-minus show. He's crazy, he's not crazy. He's on drugs, he's off drugs, he's back on drugs but nobody cares anymore. We've got new doctors, no we have the old ones back, we had an interesting new doctor but killed her in a bus crash because we were desperate for ideas, and that was two whole goddamn seasons ago. I told Suzi she can press on without me.

Jim: Harsh words. I still view House as 45 minutes of solid entertainment. On the other hand, you probably aren't missing much by not watching it. This is season 7 -- do you think they'll do another?

Jesse: This show will stagger on, zombie-like, until bad ratings and bloated production costs finally shoot it in the fucking head. It's not there yet.

Lone Star

Jim: Lone Star is being touted as one of the best new shows of the season by many. It may be, but that just means that the new shows this season aren't really spectacular. I guess we shouldn't expect transcendent television on any night but Sunday, and certainly not on a major network. Lone Star involves two conmen -- a father and a son -- who are working together to bilk people out of money. The son is the face, he's got a couple things going -- getting people in a small Texas town to give him money for a new energy source that doesn't exist -- and marrying into the family of a rich oilman (Jon Voight, not the periodontist).

The pilot episode shows us that con-man-man is pretty good at conning, but he has a fatal flaw -- he falls in love pretty easily. He's got a girlfriend (in the town where he's bilked all the people), and a wife (Jon Voight's daughter, not played by Angelina Jolie) -- and the pilot shows him using his new-found position in Voight's company to help repay the people he stole from, so he can keep both relationships going.

Lone Star is interesting, and I may continue to watch it, but I'm not in love with it. It's worth checking out, and it may turn out to be a pretty decent show, but I don't see it being a great one.

Jesse: Don't bother getting attached, this show got crushed by The Event and Dancing With The Stars. The scuttlebutt is that this will be the first cancellation of the fall season. Fox has said they are giving it one more week, but its nothing more than a stay of execution. [ed. note: it's totes canceled already]

The Event

Jim: Ok, from what I can tell, "The Event" is when a space alien (or super-powered psychic) makes an airplane disappear. The airplane is about to crash into the private residence of our Cuban-American President (Blair Underwood). There's a conspiracy behind it, a super-secret prison, which President Martinez is about to reveal to the American people. Clearly, someone doesn't want him to do that.

Blair Underwood is, next to Wayne Brady, the least Cuban black man I can think of. My theory? The producers wanted to get Jimmy Smitts, but Smitts said "No way, this script is too confusing! I'm going to do Outlaw." So they decided to get someone else who was on LA Law to star. Why does he have to be Cuban? Can't he just be black? Elisa tells me that there are black Cuban people. There may be, but Blair Underwood is not one of them.

Casting rant aside, The Event is intentionally confusing. There are a lot of flashbacks, and it's often unclear as to what's happening when -- even when they take the time to tell you "eight days earlier" or the like.

I do not like The Event so far. I may give it another episode or two, but I have a lot to watch on Monday nights. I really think this one is going to fall apart before the end of the season and folks will be going "REALLY?!? Really The Event?!? REALLY?!!!!!!?" So, if you're asking me if I'm in or out on The Event, I'm saying that I'm out. On The Event.

Jesse: Everything that's wrong with this show is right there in the title: "The Event". It's so grossly, obnoxiously portentious and empty at the same time. They might as well have named it "The MacGuffin." I haven't seen the show, but I can already write half the dialogue. "There's going to be an event." "Why wasn't I informed about the event?" "The event was on a need to know basis." "I'm the president, I need to know!" "Okay, Mr. President, I'll tell you: the event is -" and then the guy speaking gets shot by a sniper. It's everything I hated about Lost, distilled.

Hawaii Five-0

Jim: The first five minutes of Hawaii Five-0 really set the tone for the show. Steve McGarret is transporting an arms dealer who sells weapons to terrorists (McGarret is in the army). His phone rings. It's his dad. He answer it. His dad is being held at gunpoint by the arms dealer's older brother (also an arms dealer) -- James Marsters. Yes, Spike from Buffy.

So convoy transporting the younger brother is ambushed, Spike's younger brother is killed, and BANG BANG BANG, Spike kills McGarret's father. CUE THEME MUSIC.

So Steve flies back to Hawaii, and the governor (Designing Woman, Jean Smart) taps him to lead a new, elite police unit. He refuses, of course, until he goes through the motions, discovers that his father knew of some police corruption, and realizes that joining the force is the only way to get justice for his dad. So he teams up with Scott Caan (Danno), Jin from Lost, and Michelle Park -- and bam, you have a show.

Oh, and he kills James Marsters. OR DOES HE?!?!? I bet not -- they didn't find the body after it fell into the water. I bet Spike is smart enough to own a kevlar vest.

Hawaii Five-0 is campy, fun, absurd, and ridiculous -- not necessarily in that order. I really, really enjoyed it, and will continue to watch the series.

Jesse: I'm glad to hear this show was successful, for a second there I was afraid that somebody would actually have to come up with an original idea.

Jim: For a show like this, original is not what I want. I want the old theme song, I want 'book 'em Danno' to be said every episode, and I want it to be ridiculous. So far, it looks like it's going to deliver.

The Big C

Jim: Two funny things about "The Big C" -- I keep calling it "The C Word," and when Elisa told me about the show, my brain interpreted its premise as "Everyone on the show has cancer!"

Well, not everyone has cancer -- just Laura Linney. I did think that Gibourey Sidibe was a bit young for cancer. She's in the show. And Oliver Platt, also no cancer.

Basically, it's a family drama (Linney is the mom, Platt her estranged husband -- she also has a son and a crazy eco-homeless brother; Precious based on the Novel Push by Sapphire is one of her students -- Linney is a teacher) about a lady who gets cancer and then starts going crazy realizing she never lived her life. I've never watched Weeds, but I look at it as "Weeds with Cancer." Or I guess it could be "The United States of Tara with Cancer." Because it's probably a lot like the other Showtime shows. Still, enjoyable, but not great.

Jesse: I fucking hate Showtime. Everything I see on Showtime is horrible. Nurse Jackie? Horrible. Weeds? Fucking horrible. The United States of Tara? Hamburger telephone horrible. I'm pretty sure I refused to watch last season of Dexter because, deep down, I was furious at Showtime for producing all these horrible fucking shows. I've actually seen more than one episode of Weeds, and I want to kneecap every fucking character on that show, so they can't run away and are forced to watch as I beat them to death, one by one, with an aluminum bat. And even then I'd have a sore back the next day. I can't win.

Pawn Stars

Jim: I turned on the TV this morning and I saw the Pawn Stars on Rachel Ray's talk show. They were appraising a ring that Jamie Lee Curtis got from her mom (Janet Leigh). I guess that means they've hit critical mass, pop culture wise.

Think of Pawn Stars as "The Antiques Road Show at a Pawn Shop" -- it's absurdly staged and scripted. Rick Harrison owns a pawn shop on the strip in Vegas. He runs it with his father (the Old Man), his son (Big Hoss -- although nobody has ever called him this on the show, this is just how he's identified in the credits), and Chum Lee (the village idiot, essentially). People bring stuff in and try to sell it -- a lot of antiques, military history stuff, cars, and old coke machines -- and then they bring in an expert to appraise it, and may or may not buy the item.

They take things to get fixed up a lot -- Rick Dale, who is getting his own show on History, does restoration work on soda machines, pinball machines, barber chairs, and the like. They take guns out to the desert and shoot them. They buy ridiculous things (a hot air balloon). And they have a lot of fun. It's a very enjoyable reality show that does not make me feel dumb for watching it. I highly recommend it.

Hardcore Pawn

Jim: Hardcore Pawn is truTV's answer to Pawn Stars. It's not a copy -- although it's certainly meant to cash in on the success of the other show. Instead, Hardcore Pawn is a documentary series (definitely not a reality show -- there's a huge difference) about a pawn shop on 8 Mile Road in Detroit. It's an ugly show -- you see poor people struggling to survive, selling their possessions just to get by. Not an episode seems to go by without a poor black person getting into an altercation with security, because they have lost their pawn ticket, are unable to pay enough to get their item out of pawn, or are simply trying to run a scam on the shop. 

It's nice to get a non-candy coated look at Pawn Shops -- I really enjoy it, but the audience is certainly narrower than that of Pawn Stars. If Pawn Stars is too reality for you, or if you just can't get enough pawn shop drama in your life, give it a watch.

Jesse: Here's a couple more ideas for pawn shop shows:

A pawn shop owner dies, leaving the family business to be run by his 11 year old son: Child Pawn
Two women open rival pawn shops across the street from each other: Girl on Girl Pawn
A chinese woman runs a pawn shop by day, a sex dungeon by night: Asian Fetish Pawn
And, of course, a San Fransisco pawn shop: Gay Pawn.

Jim: You forgot Midget Pawn -- a pawn shop run by midgets.

Yes, I know the punny titles are stupid, but that won't make me stop watching Pawn Stars.


Jesse: Jim you are watching so much Monday night TV, and none of it includes the best show of the night, Chuck. At the end of last season, Chuck found itself at something of a turning point: it had essentially resolved all the conflicts that had been raised from the first three seasons. Season Four started with a throat clearing episode, as it moved the new pieces into place to propel the next set of dramas going. Chuck's strength as a serialized story has always been its willingness to propel forward where other shows (Lost and Heroes spring to mind as recent examples, although there are dozens more) have ground to a halt as the writer's scramble to figure out where the hell they were going with all this bullshit in the first place. To give an example from Season 2 (when the show really took off), an episode halfway through the season reveals that the Intersect (the admittedly ridiculous computer that was implanted in Chuck's brain which is the whole driving force behind the series) was created by a mysterious figured named Orion. Chuck resolved to track down Orion so he could help him get the Intersect out of his brain. I expected, based on my abusive history with other shows, that we would spend the next half of a season waiting to find out who Orion was and move that part of the show forward. Nope. We found out the next episode. AND not only did we find out, but the answer was interesting and kept propelling the show to greater and greater heights.

Jim, once Lonestar is canceled, you realize how stupid the Event is, and you finally wake up and put House out to pasture like I have, I hope you finally have time to give Chuck a chance.

Jim: I've watched Chuck. I've seen more episodes of Chuck than I have of Veronica Mars. I don't enjoy it. I'm aware of The Event's stupidity -- I declared I was out in my capsule review, and Lone Star is not going to be missed by me. If I don't have stuff to watch on Monday nights, I'll be happy -- I still have 10 and a half seasons of NYPD Blue to watch, after all. And Breaking Bad. And Damages. And Deadwood -- I've got a bunch on my Netflix queue that will fill the void of a TVless night.

@ October 6, 2010

[I would have called this a "preview", or even a "review", if it had been posted in anything like a timely manner. But it wasn't, so it isn't. Part One covers Sunday and Monday.]

Sunday Night

Mad Men

Jim: In the midst of preparing for our annual TV bonanza, you posed the question this question to me: "Is this the best season of Mad Men yet?"

My answer, a couple weeks ago -- was yes. Now? An unequivocal yes. The fourth season showed us a new agency, with some new faces and some familiar ones, and has dealt pretty bluntly with Don's handling of his divorce. Let's just say, it hasn't been pretty. Mr. Draper has been taken to new lows (although, perhaps he is pulling himself out of them, as we have seen in recent episodes?) -- drunken blackouts, poor choices in sexual partners, the death of his only true confidant.

And, it hasn't all been deep, dark, heavy drama. Quite the opposite -- the show balances everything out with comedy that ranges from light (the fake motorcycle commercial) to downright black (the demise of Miss Blankenship -- certainly the writers had seen Hitchcock's 'The Trouble with Harry' at some point). Mad Men is appointment television, a show that has matured quite a bit over the years -- and one that I fully expect to maintain an extremely high level of quality throughout its run.

First, this.

I look forward to Sunday nights. This has been the best season of the best show on television. It is perhaps the one show on TV that the Suze and I love equally. She'll stew while I watch 30 Rock, and I'll consider performing the Brown Hand Procedure while I have to sit through Jersey Shore and Teen Mom (JESUS FUCKING CHRIST STOP WATCHING TEEN MOM SUZI WHAT THE FUCK), but on Sunday nights, all is right while we watch the latest antics of incorrigible scamp Don Draper and his band of 60s miscreants.

What a bold step to leave Sterling Cooper behind for the new agency this season, and it has paid off in so many ways. I mean, forget the great dramatic storylines, the fun new characters, and the fact that I have barely had to tolerate January Jones at all this season. Would you look at that office? What a gorgeous show. Jim, for my birthday this year, all I want is the skinniest (non-bolo) ties you can find. Suzi would like a crystal decanter set for her office.

Boardwalk Empire

Jim: HBO has certainly gone all-in on this one, no? A giant set constructed in Brooklyn, a cast led by Steve Buscemi, and a pilot directed by none other than Marty Scorsese. But... to what end?

Created by Sopranos alum Terrence Winter (who wrote 'The Pine Barrens' episode, among others), the premiere was promising, but it didn't blow me away. That said, I don't know if it was supposed to blow me away. There is no singular over-the-top moment, but rather many small moments and attention careful attention to detail -- it gives you the sense that, with some patience, great things are coming with the show. And I do think that it's going to deliver -- but it's a show that will require patience for the viewer to watch things develop over time.

There's a lot to like about the show -- Buscemi has always looked like he should exist in the 1920s, now he gets to do so on screen. Michael Shannon looks like downright frightening as the IRS prohibition agent. And Kelly Macdonald's character looks like she might bring some interesting balance with Buscemi -- the corrupt government official falling for the abused temperance union member? Sounds good to me.

If that's not enough reason to watch, I've got two more: Dabney Coleman and Omar are in it.

Jesse: I'm not watching much new TV this season. So far its been this and Terriers. Part of that is because I'm spending most of my free time studying, but part of it is... meh. Nothing really grabbed me. But Boardwalk Empire has it all: the high production values, the HBO style violence and nudity, and the period trappings. Would it be a stretch to imagine that this show was pitched as The Sopranos crossed with Mad Men? All the gangster intrigue of the former with the attention to detail in recreating another period of American history in the latter.

The biggest question I walked away from this show was: what happened to Atlantic City? Jim, I've been to AC a bunch of times, yet I have never seen, or even heard about, a midget boxing match. I have never seen premature baby incubators for sale on the boardwalk. I've never seen a jazz funeral for a giant bottle of liquor. All I've seen are a bunch of feral homeless cats and guys with orange stains in their laps left there by a strippers' spray-on tan.

Jim: I don't know about incubators and midgets, but at least you can still get Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy.


Oh, Dexter, you are back. Picking up where left off last season (Rita being killed so that she could go co-star with Michael Chiklis in a Fantastic Four rip-off), Dexter has hit the ground running this year -- and running fast.

The FBI picks up the investigation of Rita's death, Dexter starts acting very, very suspicious, decides to run, kills a hillbilly in anger, and then returns to give a eulogy at Rita's funeral. Oh, he also breaks the news to the kids while wearing Mickey Mouse ears, and Deb and Quinn did the nasty after completing a nasty clean-up job.

All that doesn't matter. We are in agreement that Dexter is an awesome show -- and that last year was the show's high-water mark, with John Lithgow and all. You know what has me excited? PETER WELLER! Peter Weller is going to be on Dexter this season. I hope he puts on the Robocop suit.

Jesse; I've had some time to think about why I initially bailed on Dexter last season after one episode, and this season's premiere threw it into sharp relief. You'll recall last season started with Dexter, happily (?) married, new baby, still killing dudes. We get a brief introduction to the Trinity killer, but the episode revolves around Dexter, and how Rita is just constantly nagging him about shit, and he's tired, and at the end of the episode he flips his car over and over on his way home from a kill, throwing garbage bags filled with body parts everywhere. And I sighed. My first thought: didn't we spend a whole season already on whether or not Dexter is going to get caught (the brilliant Season 2), are we going to have to do that again? My second thought: Dexter, the character, used to be a fun, unpredictable monster, and now he's just a sad clown.

So: Dexter smashing in that hillbilly's face with that giant awesome boat hook was as cathartic for him as a character as it was for me as a viewer. The dark, dangerous Dexter is back, and so am I.

Bored to Death

Jim: Bored to Death is my second favorite comedy currently airing -- right behind Community. It's smart, it's funny, it's ridiculous. It's all kinds of awesome.

But it's a show you either love or hate -- if you aren't a fan of the Wes Anderson school of comedy, chances are you're going to hate BtD. Which is unfortunate, because you're going to miss Ted Danson in the role of a lifetime. It occurred to me on Sunday that Danson is playing a modern-day version of Roger Sterling -- he's cracking one-liners left and right, smoking a copious amount of marijuana, banging who he wants to bang... Danson is even better here than he is on Curb -- and that's saying a lot.

And you have Schwartzman and Galafankis, of course -- two men whose names I cannot spell correctly (I didn't check -- am I even close?). The former is now teaching classes at a community college on writing (night classes for adults), the latter has finally been kicked to the curb by his girlfriend. The premiere episode has Schwarzman attempting to erase the hard drive at an S&M club (with a dominatrix played by 30 Rock's Kristin Johnston -- who is, of course, an aspiring author), while Danson deals with new ownership of his magazine (they're Christian, and financially responsible -- no more Orangina!)

Jesse: Before you go running around saying that Ted Danson is playing the role of a lifetime, I have to ask: did you or did you not watch Season One of Damages? I'm not watching this show.

Eastbound and Down

Jim:  I'm not a huge fan of E&D. I watch it, but it seems like it's more out of habit than anything else. It's a one-joke show -- Kenny Powers is an egotistical, obnoxious, asshole, and generally a bad person. Hilarious!

Season 2 starts with Kenny in Mexico, where he is making money cock fighting and hanging out with a couple of sidekicks (a large man and a midget), and continuing to write his self-help book. By the end of the episode, he has decided to start pitching for the crappy Mexican baseball team.

After seven total episodes, I think I'm done with this show.

Jesse: I'm going to give E&D a long leash, because my love for season one is as wide and vast as Katy Mixon's cleavage, but season two... the premiere got a pretty loud "meh" from me. Which was strange, because all the elements were there. I loved the cornrows, the foul language, the fact that he's a cock fighter (of COURSE he is), but something was missing. In season one, Kenny Power's was a pathetic loser, but there was some joy in the fact that he didn't know, or at least wasn't willing to admit the truth. He would still strut around some fucking hillbilly middle school like he was on the mound in the World Series, and it was awesome. Season two, he's too... defeated. There were signs of life at the end - "I'm going to prove to everyone that I'm the Christ figure they perceive me to be" - so we'll see what happens.

@ October 2, 2010

According to Mad Men, little girls love the Beatles.

According to Mad Men, Mickey Mouse and balloons make quite the reception.

According to Mad Men, it's best to avoid talk of bombs and defense contracts in advertising.

According to Mad Men, chocolate bunny is a term of affection.

According to Mad Men, abortions in Morristown run for about $400.

According to Mad Men, you're never too young for your first abortion.

According to Mad Men, Southampton is preferable to Easthampton.

According to Mad Men, it is not hard to hold one's hand whilst jerking them off.

@ September 26, 2010

According to Mad Men, discussion of laxatives often spoils a romantic mood.

According to Mad Men, it is courteous to lock the door behind you when leaving an apartment.

According to Mad Men, mystery, intrigue, romance, and examples of how to sell things make a great book.

According to Mad Men, there are phones in Southampton.

According to Mad Men, signatures require more work than initials.

According to Mad Men, Viet Nam? That's not good.

According to Mad Men, advertising a business of sadists and masochists.

According to Mad Men, lesbians can never do what a man can do.

According to Mad Men, stalking a woman in order to get a date is kind of weird.

According to Mad Men, door-to-door Swedish massage is one hell of a gift.

According to Mad Men, alcohol can reveal hidden accents.

According to Mad Men, racists can be nice -- for racists.

According to Mad Men, racism is bad for business.

According to Mad Men, Civil Rights cannot be fixed via a PR campaign.

According to Mad Men, equal rights for women is quite a novel concept.

According to Mad Men, emu is a three letter word for a flightless bird.

According to Mad Men, suburbanites cannot hunt or fix a car.

According to Mad Men, ladies love a man who is good with his hands.

According to Mad Men, nothing says dark comedy like an elderly secretary dying at the office.

According to Mad Men, Pete Campbell should not be entrusted with dead body disposal.

According to Mad Men, dead secretaries make poor babysitters.

According to Mad Men, everyone has peanut butter.

According to Mad Men, nothing brings back buried romantic feelings like a good ol' fashioned mugging.

According to Mad Men, rum on French Toast is surprisingly tasty.

According to Mad Men, there is a difference between a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth and a bottle of rum.

According to Mad Men, astronauts are generally born in barns and die on the 37th floor of a skyscraper.

According to Mad Men, the South does not approve of Harry Belafonte.

According to Mad Men, men are to vegetable soup as women are to pots.

@ September 19, 2010

According to Mad Men, it is impossible to smell corn in New York City.

According to Mad Men, babies named Gene can be male or female.

According to Mad Men, women love a man in uniform.

According to Mad Men, alcoholics on the road to recovery shun liquor in favor of beer and cigarettes.

According to Mad Men, most men prefer Oscar to Felix.

According to Mad Men, only winos may say "I need a drink."

According to Mad Men, hate is a strong word, best reserved for use toward Nazis.

According to Mad Men, the sign of a successful date is a blowjob in the back of a cab on the way home.

According to Mad Men, angry women who do not cook will often tell their man to go shit in the ocean.

According to Mad Men, three ingredients are required for a cocktail; vodka & Mountain Dew is an emergency.

According to Mad Men, poontang is powerful.

According to Mad Men, potato salad deserves a dedicated bowl.

According to Mad Men, Betty Draper has terrible luck at entertaining.

According to Mad Men, two-year olds are happy with lopsided birthday cake.

According to Mad Men, Aesop's prose is economical.

According to Mad Men, in lieu of a blowjob, making out in the back of the cab will work.

@ September 8, 2010

According to Mad Men, there are no bad seats in a movie theater.

According to Mad Men, anti-semitism in the office is funny.

According to Mad Men, Cassius Clay would make one hell of an ad man.

According to Mad Men, the easiest way to see two negros fight is to throw a dollar bill out the window.

According to Mad Men, women don't buy suitcases.

According to Mad Men, Joe Namath is very handsome.

According to Mad Men, endorsements are lazy.

According to Mad Men, it's tough to drink when hanging out with AA members.

According to Mad Men, most problems can be solved with a flask.

According to Mad Men, pregnant women like to sleep and visit the ladies' room.

According to Mad Men, pregnant women like rare steaks and blood sport.

According to Mad Men, there is a time difference between New York and California.

According to Mad Men, it is not in the public interest to drop a suitcase from the Eiffel Tower.

According to Mad Men, one should stop celebrating birthdays by the time they are 20something.

According to Mad Men, see tape 3 for information on Roger's romantic prowess.

According to Mad Men, there's no use crying over fish in the sea.

According to Mad Men, flying is an incredible idea.

According to Mad Men, the appropriate response to "I killed 17 men in Okinawa" is "Uncle."

@ September 5, 2010

According to Mad Men, "The Cure for the Common Cold" is an idiom.

According to Mad Men, aspiration is as good as perspiration.

According to Mad Men, one should not wish another luck.

According to Mad Men, plagiarism is resourceful.

According to Mad Men, a mink shawl is a nice way to ease into things.

According to Mad Men, a lady should not wait for a man to buy her a fur coat.

According to Mad Men, Brits are unaware of Red Skelton's existence.

According to Mad Men, Klansmen don't sell cough drops.

According to Mad Men, fifty awards times ten minutes each equals holy crap.

According to Mad Men, "Shough" is full of extra vowels.

According to Mad Men, Peggy Olsen claps for herself.

According to Mad Men, Harry Crane loves Peyton Place.

According to Mad Men, there's nothing like a drunken client presentation.

According to Mad Men, Life Cereal is the Cure for the Common Breakfast.

According to Mad Men, sometimes you just have to adjust your wig at the office.

According to Mad Men, Mountain Dew is a beverage.

According to Mad Men, there is wallpaper that is more exciting than Peggy Olsen.

According to Mad Men, pornography leads to a free mind.

According to Mad Men, there's nothing like trying to sell cough drops in the nude.

According to Mad Men, there's a thin line between social lubrication and moroseness.

According to Mad Men, 10am is a great time to buy a potential employer a drink.

According to Mad Men, there's no need to have lunch when you've had a jar of olives, marinated in gin, for breakfast.

According to Mad Men, one should hum the star spangled banner prior to performing fellatio.

According to Mad Men, you know you've hit rock-bottom when you wake up with a naked waitress whom you have no recollection of meeting.

According to Mad Men, vanilla ice cream doesn't stain anything.

@ August 28, 2010

According to Mad Men, Don Draper's elderly secretary is good at crosswords, has awesome glasses, and incompetent when it comes to the phone.

According to Mad Men, hypochondriacs love cough drops.

According to Mad Men, Honda motorcycles are cute.

According to Mad Men, Roger Sterling hates Japs.

According to Mad Men, stethoscopes are cool.

According to Mad Men, little girls who cut their own hair look like Mongoloids.

According to Mad Men, catching shrimp in a shirt pocket is impressive.

According to Mad Men, eating at a hibachi makes your hair smell like fried chicken.

According to Mad Men, chrysanthemums symbolize death.

According to Mad Men, Japanese businessmen are confused Joan's ability to stand without falling over.

According to Mad Men, Japanese businessmen love steak.

According to Mad Men, Japanese people love surprises.

According to Mad Men, Japanese people love suicide.

According to Mad Men, there's no place like a slumber party for some masturbatory experimentation.

According to Mad Men, the biggest size of a disaster is Margaret Dumont sized.

According to Mad Men, fast girls masturbate.