Dropped The Ball

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When word came that Ballers was coming to HBO, I was pretty damn stoked. Game of Thrones isn’t for me. It’s about wizards, right? – Just not my bag. The Newsroom was so ham-handed that I lost interest. Those other HBO offerings never got me excited, But Ballers! I mean – its Ballers! Let’s throw together things I really like and produce it slickly. Good job, HBO. Continue reading

TV’s Greatest Dumpster Fires

I find myself way outside of the mainstream in my current televisions gorging. I’m on the Mad Men express but we’ve tackled that pretty thoroughly. Other than that I don’t watch any of the endless bounty of the high brow televisions. I do love delving deep in my cable package for the awesome and awful. Shows I watch not because they are all that good – but because they strike my particular fancy. They may even be terrible. I find such shows like these odd TV rubix cubes. I can’t figure them out – they are frustrating, yet I find myself coming back. One such show was cancelled. The bastards who took it away from me shall be on my enemies list along with the girl who “tried” to “teach” me improv in Grade 11. Or for our American readers, 11th grade. The show is Texas Hardtails, on The Speed Channel. Continue reading

When Being Neat Gets Messy

I know the whole point of this blog is to celebrate TV. I will always prefer television to movies. To me its a matter of running-time. Art should be like church, you have an hour to prove your point. I understand if it’s something like the Pope having high Mass at the Budokan or the last episode of M*A*S*H – you can go over but, for the most part, you get an hour. Oh, I will watch several hours of Mad Men, Community, Top Chef, etc. in one sitting but that is not one continuous narrative.

That’s why it pains me to knock television. It really does. TV is my friend, mentor, drinkin’ buddy, teacher, and mental masseuse. I was very excited to hear of the new The Odd Couple reboot. When I was a youngster, Tony Randall was an ironic celebrity, past his prime to be used for anything other than being Tony Randall. He’d just show up on SNL as Tom Hanks’ celebrity friend on a game show and would be on Letterman sporadically, often needlessly but hilariously dressed up as Batman. I later discovered him on late night re-airings of The Odd Couple TV show with Quincy. They were just darling. You can have your Lemon and Matthau but my Felix and Oscar will always be Randall & Klugman. TV, yay!!! Movies, booo!!!!

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Ball’s a Droppin’

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Christmas specials get all the ballyhoo. I do appreciate the modern ‘hipster” Xmas specials; Annie’s sexual infantalization on Community,  for example. But, for the most part Christmas specials are garbage. The holiday made for TV movie is an assault on its viewer. Featuring a sad parade of former starts – Corky from Murphy Brown, Ed from Ed, lower tier Duff sisters, and Dean Cain. Poor George Wendt who has played Santa more times than Michael Sheen has been Tony Blair. I will go so far as to say every Christmas themed movie since Elf has been a hackneyed, maudlin, ornament of blech. I probably chose that timeline as it parallels the death of my own Christmas spirit. I’m sure to some impressionable tween, Jenny McCarthy as Santa’s daughter in Santa Baby, and of course Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe fills them with holiday cheer as much as Bert and Ernie’s serenade of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in the rain. Continue reading

Top Chelf

This blog has waxed poetic about TV cooking competitions, the granddaddy of them all being Top Chef. An effective milieu of sport, food, back stabbing, emotional dressing down, smack talk, and ridicule. If you add 1989 wrestling and loose-fitting cardigans it would have all of my favourite things. But it does well on its own. It’s one of the shows I still watch “live” and I have to cook along with it. As I have to eat when the judges are eating, watching it having already eaten, or to eat later in the day just seems wrong. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Toast will suffice. But you better finish in time. Continue reading

The Man Who News Too Much

I am part of the problem, I should stay away. But I can’t. 24-hour news is a morass of fear mongering and finger-pointing. No information is given. No issues are resolved. Yet, I consume a good deal of it in my daily TV gorge. I have previously discussed Fox News’ Red Eye and MSNBC’s Morning Joe. These shows sort of know that they are in the muck and mire of the never-ending news juggernaut and get through their respective programs with a wink and a smile. Most poo-poo cable news as its widest audience comes from out-of-context Daily Show clips, but I have endured wide stretches of such infotainment. For the most part, the rest of day, the genre is overwrought jargon, jingoism and partisan clap-trap. And I love it. This is partly from my love of pro-wrestling, distinct lines of good guy vs bad guy. Wrestling is the last great burlesque, aside from cable news that is. The hosts of these shows are experts on everything: Immigration, Ebola, Aerodynamics. We can dismiss this as the death of actual news, and be highfalutin, but I celebrate this unique forum. I could go on about the hosts political leanings and partisanship and what qualifies as news but that to me is boring and has been beaten to death. I would rather nitpick the people that decided to or got roped into this world. Continue reading

Just One More Thing

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In my vast Canadian cable package, I get excited about the new content that comes in: 5 TSN’s, 3 Much Music’s are all vigorously consumed when they sign-on and then get relegated to a rare viewing. But one old warhorse has piqued my interest as of late, mainly for just one show. Vision TV is one of the originals of “specialty channels”, right up there with YTV and the old Shopping Channel that would just show still pictures rather than video. Mainly it’s the religions channel, not just Christian televangelists – although that is the bulk of their weekend offerings. It’s now run by TV guru Moses Znaimer and is geared towards geezers rather than churchies. “Zoomers” as they call it – baby boomers with “zip”. No moxie allowed. If you have spunk go elsewhere. You have to have zip. It’s now a mix of old British shows, movies, a strange talk show hosted by Conrad Black, and the very nub of my gist: Columbo! It used to be on weekly but now I’ve discovered it almost daily. Even though they are not making new ones – it’s one of the best shows on TV. Stephen Fry said so. So if you want to argue anything artsy or fartsy with him – you have more moxie and spunk than even the zippiest of zoomers.

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In The Name of the Father

In my Giller award-winning previous post, I went on various tangents and stumbled upon one that drew the consternation of the Twitter-verse and blogosphere. I lamented the unoriginal thought about the lack of basic competence amongst the TV dad. I talked about Carl Winslow of Family Matters fame being the last solid dad. I got some blowback, as others talked about other dads, which came from dramas and dramedies. So I went on a quest, I knew that they must be out there. A good half hour sitcom dad. Ty Burrell does not count. He sucks. I recently went on vacation, and amongst the whirlwind of activity (the ballad of Eddie Gilbert, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish inside a ball of wax) I visited my deadbeat brother. Rather than actually interact, my brother loaded up my computer with some content he thought I would like. This is always a gamble. I also think watching TV on computer is cheating. I don’t think Arrested Development should be nominated for Emmy’s. It’s a webisode. A big budget one, but its not TV, it’s a web show. Respect the box. Continue reading

You Are Better Than Me If You Are On TV

I always wanted to be on TV. Ever since I was the mere wisp of a boy TV was my friend and hero. I wanted it all. To host SNL, have my own talk show, game show, make out with Jennie Garth on 90210, ride shotgun with Bo and Luke on the Dukes of Hazard and eat the lobster tails on the Ron Popeil Showtime Rotisserie. Set and forget it. I achieved my goal in 2000 as I appeared as an audience member for a taping of pro wrestling for the Aboriginal People’s Television Network. If you look close during the epic struggle for the North American Championship between “Showtime” Robbie Royce vs “The King of Old School” Steve Corino, I’m in the background. I can be heard yelling “Ol’ school, daddy” and scurrying about in my raincoat and football jersey. As my life went on I thought I would be awesome as a Chunky Soup spokesdude finally answering the Fork vs Spoon debate. Spoon, obviously. Continue reading