Dexter’s final victim: Viewers like you!

September 25, 2013 § 2 Comments

If y’all are trying to avoid Dexter spoilers, why would you possibly read further?

I have been a fan of horror and the macabre for as long as I can remember. It probably started somewhere along the road of coming across some horror film on HBO when I was far too young, or possibly finding out that there were Scary Stories that you could tell in the dark, but that was “my thing.” (That and food, I guess.) But I’ve always had a healthy obsession with death, serial killers, and movies about death and serial killers.

What do you MEAN that’s not “healthy”?!?

So when Dexter came along in 2006, I was hooked. Finally a television show that would focus on the killer as the hero. Dexter was a show (or book, depending on if you read or not) that actually found a way to take someone like Ted Bundy and have millions of people sympathize with him! (Or maybe millions of people were already sympathizing with Ted Bundy but Dexter took away the guilt?!) No, I think it was just a matter of people having a fascination with what made a serial killer “tick” and Dexter was a likable character that also happened to have a need to kill people and that need was harnessed in the best way possible — killing people like him. Somehow I found Michael C. Hall much more relatable and likable as a killer as I found him in Six Feet Under.

(Please note: This article is not a “confession” of any sort. To being a closet serial killer.)

On October 1, 2006, the pilot episode ‘Dexter’ told the story of a Miami blood splatter analyst that was adopted as a young child and taught by his police officer father how to properly kill and get away with it because his dad knew that it was the only way to protect his son. He would help develop the perfect machine for getting people like Dexter off of the street, people that killed innocents because it was something innate. Something they couldn’t help. I suppose that Harry Morgan watched Halloween a bunch and figured that even if he sent Dexter to a mental institute, he would eventually escape when he was 18 with super-human strength and kill a bunch of babysitters.

Instead, he’ll kill the babysitter killers. Of which, in the universe of Dexter, there must be millions. According to the Dexter wiki site, he may have killed at least 134 people. And that’s pretty much only in the Miami metro area. Just imagine how many serial killers that would make in the continental United States alone! But aside from the obvious insanity of some of what went on in Dexter, the first season could be considered something special, something different than other shows, perhaps one of the best debut seasons in television history.

Dexter was dead inside, but he had a fake girlfriend Rita. A tortured soul, a battered single mother that would accept Dexter into her life because he was gentle and didn’t want to have sex with people, something that terrified both of them. Dexter needed Rita because it made him look normal, all part of Harry’s Code. In the weirdest way, they were a perfect couple.

His sister Debra was also on the force, working her way up from vice to eventually make detective. All of which gave Dexter special access to the Miami Metro records and information, beyond his own scope and reach as a blood splatter analyst. Deb kept – fucksuckity bitchasscockalekee turnip tits – Dexter grounded. She was as close as he could ever get to loving someone and caring about whether they lived or died. Even if she was an annoying as hell character and the worst cop to ever be on TV and Ice-T is a cop on TV.

His father Harry died long before the pilot episode yet made an appearance for the whole series, playing the part of Dexter’s conscience and a reminder of right-and-wrong as he went about fighting every natural urge he had in order to follow the Code. Or maybe Harry really was a ghost, there’s no way to tell, really. This is the show Dexter after all. Wonderfully charming in it’s originality as well as it’s penchant for going completely off of the rails. Not that the show ever went “Urkel now has a teleportation device” off-the-rails, but it would get rather ridiculous at times.

“How will Dexter get out of this jam!? Find out next week!”

“Oh, he had the key. Okay, cool.”

And then there was probably the most underrated character of the entire series: Sergeant fucking Doakes. The show would eventually try to replace Doakes with Quinn as “the suspicious cop that’s on to Dexter” but when we found out that Quinn was the most one-dimensional character in the history of anything that’s had characters, he moved on as soon as “Deb brought me coffee? What does that mean? Hey, is this shirt too big?”

Yes. Yes, it is far too big.

But the first season was excellent. The Ice Truck Killer provided the first season arc, the backstory of having a brother and what happened to his mother and finding out that he wasn’t the only person that was born this way, since his brother was the Ice Truck Killer all provided for excellent twists and turns as you really worried about the survival of all the characters. And while I would have been upset at the time, you could have ended the show right there and had nothing short of a 12-episode work of art. Put it on the BBC, and nobody’s complaining then!

Instead, we got a lot more. Way too much more.

The second season was okay. It brought Dexter’s work to light as ‘The Bay Harbor Butcher,’ bringing suspense to every episode was you genuinely worried if Doakes was going to catch him. Up until the moment where he actually did! You had more tension between Rita and Dexter as she suspected he was up to something, and nervous that Rita would have her heart broken again. But then you had Agent Lundy and cucumber sandwiches, a gross relationship between him and Deb (not the age difference, but every relationship that Deb ever got into was gross) and you had Lila, the one girl in Dexter’s life throughout the series that I wanted to die immediately. The only thing that really made the second season memorable was the death of Doakes, and really that could have been the death of the show.

Luckily, the third season was pretty fucking good.

Many will point to the Trinity killer and the work of John Lithgow as the pinnacle of the series, but I much preferred the relationship that Dexter had with Miguel and the belief that maybe Dexter could have a best friend that knew everything about him. As viewers we all knew what Dexter was, but nobody else on the entire show was aware except for Dexter and Harry, and that motherfucker ain’t even alive! Finally we could have someone like Miguel to share this with and he was like the coolest guy ever! When he turned out not to be that cool after all, I was more twisted up inside than when we found out who the Ice Trucker Killer was. The show was on top of the world when Dexter and Miguel turned from friends to mortal enemies, and at this point it seemed it could do no wrong.

Season four ended with the death of Rita, as finally Dexter Morgan had to face the fact that he loved people and that his actions as a serial killer had consequences that could eventually come back to bite the people he loved. He always figured that if somebody was going to go down for what he was doing, whether it be by prison or death, it would be him, but now he knew for sure that the people around him were in danger too. Now he had to make a decision as to how to best protect his son Harrison from also succumbing to the consequences of his actions.


Each of the first four seasons has some sort of personality, with 1, 3, and 4 really sticking out as three of the best story arcs in cable television history. Here’s how I remember seasons 5, 6, 7, and 8:

Season 5 – Mrs. Ten Things I Hate About You comes to town and kicks it with Dexter for awhile and then they kill the guy from Hackers because he’s like Tony Robbins or something but is really a sexual deviant and then she just leaves at the end of the season and is never heard from again.

Season 6 – What’s Colin Hanks so mad about?

Season 7 – Deb knows! And she can’t tell anyone because she went all “Game of Thrones” and fell in love with her brother :( so the consequences of “What would happen if Deb finds out?” turn out to be: Nothing! Nothing will happen. She’ll be okay with the 100+ victim serial killer. She’s like, lieutenant now, by the way. Biggest surprise of the series: Quinn likes strippers. Dexter gets a new girlfriend and breaks the code by not killer her. Deb is hella jealous.


Season 8 – Fuck. You don’t even wanna know. From Vogel to Elway to the Marshall to Zach to Saxon, it was like a who’s-who list of “who the fuck am I supposed to give a shit about, again?”

Remember when the show introduced “the new Doakes” and then killed him right away? What was his purpose?

Remember when the show brought in “the female Doakes” to compete with Quinn to get a promotion and then got the job… and then completely disappeared?

Why the fuck did Masuka get a daughter? She was going to have some scam or something and then, just sort of, was there. Was that just an excuse to get a new regular that eventually went topless?

The final season of Dexter was obviously the worst, but really this is a show that went downhill steeply after Rita’s death. The first four seasons were still full of terrible detective work, unbelievable scenarios, a myriad of serial killers that have never and will never exist, especially not the extent of having more on every block in America than 7-11′s, but it was held up by interesting characters and suspenseful situations that made you fall in love with Dexter but also the people around him. Eventually the people around him became stupid and shitty and annoying and you just wanted to be the one that wound up on Dexter’s table strapped by plastic wrap.

Finally the writers and producers gave you what you wanted, death, it was just a slow and painful one that last four years too long.




Best TV Channel Tournament Primer: FX-Ellent

September 26, 2012 § 4 Comments

Time to get back on the train of deciding which network or cable channel is the best of them all.  We continue today with a quick look at a cable network that’s quickly growing into the best of both worlds as a hybrid between the excellent programming of a Premium Cable channel, to the “Can’t say ‘Fuck’” of a Network.

Most of the shows that you’re currently watching on FX are less than five years old.  Some of your favorites might only be three years old or less actually, but the road for them was paved by other programs that the network took a chance on.  Fittingly, FX is the “FOX” of cable channels.  It didn’t seem to have anything going for it when it premiered other than being “edgy” and now it’s dominating almost any non-AMC cable channel in terms of programs.

It starts with Justified, arguably the best drama on TV.  (and the reason I show “Justified!” when I shoot someone in the face.)  When I first started to watch Justified, it was only for one reason: Timothy Olyphant, my “If I had to do a guy” guy.  I’ve been following the ‘Phant since Scream 2, through Girl Next Door and Deadwood, and now we are here.  I wasn’t super impressed with the show early on, it felt like one of those “new crime every week!” shows that are rather pointless to follow like CSI or Law and Order.

Oh sure, I’ll sit down and watch me some L&O:SVU if my TV happen to be on TNT (or USA, or local FOX, or 30 other channels) but it’s nothing that’s going to go down as one of the best shows ever.  Too rapey.

Stop or my Tim will shoot!

However, as Justified started to get into it’s groove by midseason, it had established it’s characters and setting and I was hooked.  The on-again, off-again relationship between Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder as the main setting for what should be an epic showdown when it’s all said and done.  I came for the ‘Phant, but I’m staying for the backwater shootouts.

American Horror Story debuted last year with much anticipation, and despite the fact that it felt like the show had written itself into a corner and had no way out other than to say, “Wait, this is fiction, I’ll just make something up!” I thought it turned into a show that we could praise for taking chances.  It’s definitely weird, dramatic, confusing, and off-kilter, but I thought that’s what people have been praising David Lynch for since the 80s.  Except that I think that creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have out-Lynched Lynch, since I actually want to watch AHS.  They’re killing it.  (As opposed to “The Killing it,” which means that you are actually making frustrating, annoying, shitty television.)

(To be fair, if Lynch had anything to hang his hat on, it’s that he was most successful during his run with Twin Peaks.)

The other drama on FX is Sons of Anarchy, a show that I only started watching earlier this year.  I ran through the first two seasons on Netflix, as addicted as one could be to a show, but then they started to lose me.  Sons felt forced at times to do something edgy, but then every time you thought something was going to happen… it didn’t.  I love Charlie Hunnam because of Undeclared, but it doesn’t feel to me like he truly suits this character.

That’s probably blasphemy to say and I’m sure Sons fans will run me over for saying it, but him in that role stopped working for me.  However, I’ll eventually find out where I left off and continue to watch the series.  It’s not going anywhere, since last season it saw a major ratings jump when it hit 7.5 million viewers per episode, compared to 3.23 million viewers two seasons earlier.

So when comparing AMC and FX, I’d have to say that they’ve both got strong arguments in the drama categories, but there is no competition in sitcoms/comedy/whatever the hell Louie and Wilfred are.  Because FX stands alone in that department.

Giving Louis CK free reign to make whatever show he wanted without notes or post-editing was the best thing that’s ever happened to sitcom television.  As mostly the only writer, director, editor,  and star of Louie, we get to see his vision exactly as he sees it and holy shit is it amazing.

There are times when I watch Louie and I laugh so hard that I can’t breathe.  There are other times that I watch an entire episode without laughing and yet at the end, I’m just very impressed with what I saw.  I want to watch it five more times to catch everything that I had missed, and often I’ll find myself again laughing so hard that I can’t breathe, I just didn’t catch it the first time.

This is what Louis CK was meant to do, and I’m grateful that FX let him do it.

Wilfred is another experimental show and though I never seem to hear other people talk about it, I think it’s one of the most addictive, well-written, funniest shows on television.  It’s not just about a dog that can talk or a man in a dog suit (though it is also about those things) it’s about depression, anger, manipulation, heartbreak, torture, love, crushes, drugs, and… dogs eating vomit.  But it’s also deeper than that.

Two years later we still don’t know what Wilfred is and that reveal might not come for awhile, but at least it’s a sitcom that’s giving me reason to keep coming back.  I feel like I’m watching “Funny LOST!”

None of this would have been possible though without the sitcom that broke the mold and the longest running show on FX, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  It’s crazy how all these other new shows have sort of made me forget about Sunny after what feels like a very long hiatus, but I sort of did.  And now I’m sort of remembering how amazing it is.

First advertised as “Seinfeld on Crack” or something, Sunny turned out to be so much better than a shitty FX tagline.  The adventures of Charlie, Dennis, Mac, Dee, and Frank have been far more satisfying than one would imagine from a show that’s often described as “crass” or “crude,” it’s actually one of the smartest written shows on television.  The group is actually much smarter than one would think if they judged a book by it’s cover or its dick towel.  (Glenn Howerton went to Julliard, for example.  And Danny DeVito is Danny fucking DeVito.)

Seven seasons and still going strong, I highly anticipate a new year of a show that set the edge in 2005 and is constantly fighting to stay ahead of it.

Then FX debuted Brand X with Russell Brand and Anger Management with Charlie Sheen and screwed everything up.  What the hell, FX?  You went for ratings and completely shot your reputation among the smart crowd.  Brand X is literally one of the worst things I’ve seen on television.

Archer – Kill me if you must, but I have not yet gotten into Archer.

FX doesn’t try to complicate too much, but they’ve taken chances with their programming that few other channels ever have and it’s paid off.  Justified makes a case as the best drama on television.  Louie makes a case as the best sitcom (or just plain any show) on television.  Wilfred and American Horror Story are two of the most successful “weird” things on television.  Sunny is going down as one of the most influential and important shows in cable history.  FX has been to cable what FOX was to Networks…

Let’s just hope that Brand X isn’t a sign that they’re going to start a reality singing competition and fuck the whole thing up.

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8 Things Horribly Wrong With The Bagel Bites Jingle

September 22, 2012 § 10 Comments

Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at supper time.  When pizza’s on a bagel, you can eat pizza any time. 

We are all familiar with the jingle.  If you want a refresher course, here is the commercial.  It first starts with “Now you can give them pizza WHENEVER they want.” This is only about the song, so let’s just get this first part out of the way…

Parents have no interest in how they can give their kids pizza whenever they want.  It’s very low on their list of priorities.  Right below “How can I get them to run around the house yelling and screaming more?”

Let’s talk a little bit about what’s wrong with the jingle:

Pizza in the morning STOP

People are already eating pizza in the morning.

Pizza in the morning STOP

I have never actually had a bagel bite in the morning, as I can recall it, but I feel that I’d be about 10,000 times less likely to have a bagel bite in the morning than a slice of pizza.  I don’t usually wake up and say, “Hmmm… the roof of my mouth feels fine. How can I fuck that up?”

Pizza in the evening STOP

There was not a shortage of people having pizza in the evening.

Pizza in the evening STOP

Bagel bites are really a snack or maybe a lunch.  I’m not going to lie to you and act like I’m all high and mighty and haven’t eaten 10 bagel bites in the evening or in the middle of the night, but my honest opinion is that MOST people eat a bagel bite in the middle of the day.  Afternoon, noon, lunch time… it’s never mentioned.

Pizza in the evening, pizza at supper time STOP

Now, I have never lived in an area where “supper” was a term that anyone used, but as I understand it and as Wikipedia explains it, supper is an evening meal.  It seems to me that supper has ALWAYS been an evening meal.  Is this line not redundant?  That’s like saying, “Pizza is some pizza, eaty eaty pizza, did you know that pizza is pizza?”

Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at supper time STOP

So when it comes down to it, we’ve named just two times that you can eat pizza when it is on a bagel.

When pizza’s on a bagel STOP

This is more of a pet peeve maybe, but can we please not compare this:


To fucking pizza?

Pizza is not on a bagel.  It looks more to me like four to seven tiny cubes of fake pepperoni, 10-20 tiny cubes of fake cheese and maybe a few cubes of fake sauce.  And then I have to ask myself what the hell constitutes something actually qualifying as a bagel.

When pizza’s on a bagel, you can eat pizza any time STOP

Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.

When I was a kid, this made some sense to me.  The size makes it portable, the way it’s kept makes it accesible at any time, as a child I’m saying to myself “Fool proof.”

As an adult, here is how the song should go instead:

Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at supper time.  When you’re a fucking adult you can eat pizza any time.  

There is nothing about a bagel bite that actually makes it more okay to eat at any given time, and in fact, there are probably less times to eat pizza on a bagel than just regular pizza.  I’m also just dumbfounded and confused as to why the company is selling the idea to parents that they can now give their kids pizza any time.  When did parents start a national letter writing campaign to congress that there weren’t enough ways to give their kids pizza?

I’m not better than bagel bites.  I’ve had plenty of them in my lifetime.  But I think we’re all better than this completely confusing, terrible, non-sensical, and incredibly catchy jingle.

I’ll give the song that, it’s catchy.  I can listen to it at any time, both in the evening AND at supper time.



True Blood Season 5 Recap and Review

August 28, 2012 § 3 Comments

One of the issues with starting a series during a vampire craze is that you tend to lose interest from people once the craze dies down.  I guess that’s part of why True Blood has decided to tap into every single other mythical creature known to man, but I feel like many fans of season one are long since gone.

Since I have a disease that won’t allow me to not finish any series that I invest heavily into, I’m still here.  Thankfully, True Blood seems to have recovered from it’s season two disaster and subsequently bad years.  The fifth season got back to actually turning in some surprises and interesting characters, but with Alan Ball leaving as show-runner, will it continue?

The following basically contains season five spoilers only, so keep that in mind.  This is really obvious from the title of the article, right?

At the end of season four, Debbie, Marnie, Jesus, and Tara were all dead.  Steve Newlin and Russell Edgington were apparently not.  I’ve decided that the best way to recap the entire season would to do it by characters and explain how I felt about their storyline.  This is a new thing I am trying out, so bare with me:


I’ve never really been fond of her character.  She’s pissed off about everything, she had never showed much depth other than that, basically only being used as a device for Snookie or Lafayette when they had their own shit going on.  Finally this season she was given something to do for herself after Pam resurrected her after Snookie told her that she’d do anything if she saved Tara.  Knowing that this would finally give her something to hold over the girl she hates, Pam accepted and turned Tara into a vampire.

At first, I was more annoyed by Tara than ever.  Now she was just a really pissed off vampire and again, it was just about how Snookie and Lafayette felt about this.  Then she went to be with Pam and while I hated it when she became some stripper, by the end of the season I was finally at ease with Tara.  Is it because she and Pam apparently fell in love?  Probably.  But it’s the least annoying relationship that Tara has ever been in and finally gives Pam some substance too.


Alternatively, Lafayette seemed to get lost this year.  His whole thing with Jesus was cool but then after Jesus died, it seems like he didn’t have anything left to do.  Sure, he is now like a full-blown medium, but that only makes him useful for when other people have problems.

Come on, Bitch

By the time he had helped resolved issues for Sookie and Arlene, he was just there to be flamboyant and offer people food and drinks.  Lafayette’s season five story arc: “You gon’ love me forevah’ when you try this, bitch.” or something.  Basically his only purpose this year was really making me want to eat the food he cooked because Alan Ball makes it seem like he’s the best chef and drink mixer in the entire world.  Oh and he can talk to dead people.

Arlene and Terry

Did you ever get the feeling that these two are only in the show because sometimes True Blood needs to fill an extra six minutes per episode?  If there is a single character in the show that I miss, it’s Rene.

No offense to them, they’re likeable, but what’s their point?  They don’t seem to interact with the other characters at all.

Andy Bellefleur and Holly

And this is like another set of “Arlene and Terry” except that Andy does play a part in the rest of the series.  I really like that Andy and Jason have teamed up as partners and everything, but now he’s got four fairy babies?  What?

Andy Bellefleur has become like a mix of Chief Wiggum and Apu.

Bill Compton

Perhaps that most interesting flip in series history was the season five arc of Bill, going from the love of Sookie’s life into Russell Edgington but worse.  The series has hinted for awhile now that Bill had some inklings of going into the authority for good, but we always expected that eventually he would become “Nice guy Bill” and never fall out of love with Sookie.

When Eric and Sookie go to him at the end of the season finale, we all knew what was going to happen: He’d be reasoned with, realize how awful he’s been, throw away the blood, and then something weird would happen like he’d be kidnapped by Lilith or some shit.  Okay, so much for that!

Bill says, “Screw you guys, man.  I’m hella cool now!” drinks all of Lilith’s blood and then dies.  Holy shit, Bill is dead!  Except that after becoming a pool of blood, he regenerates (with special effects apparently done by the SyFy network) and is super evil now or so I assume.  I don’t think that a vampire can regenerate out of his own blood after drinking the blood of evil and be good ever again.  Alan Ball has basically confirmed this.

He’s still Bill, but he’s like “Bad re-incarnated Bill” which is cool.  I did not expect that.  Of course, I’m not really sure how a character like Bill can go from being like the nicest vampire ever to a one-man show of evil and carnage over night, but why ask questions?  This is True Blood, not The Wire.


I love Christopher Meloni.  I will miss Christopher Meloni.  Five meager little episodes. :(


Part of what turned Bill, I guess, was the character Salome.  I never really caught on to what she had to do with anything, why she was important, and why I should care about her except that her short love affair with Bill probably played an integral role in turning him evil.

She was otherwise useless until Bill killed her.  Damn, he is evil.  Remember when Eric was evil?  This show just decides, “Whatever, now let’s make this character good and this one bad.”  Breaking Bad has done that, but it made a lot more sense and took a lot more time.  Did you see how even in this paragraph about Salome, it was more about Bill?  Yeah, that’s her character!

Sam and Luna

Have you ever seen two people more naked?  How weird was it to be on that set all season?  How awkward was it for Luna to run around with her breasts hanging out for probably 15 hour days on set?  I guess that they absolutely must have gotten used to it.

I, however, will never get used to seeing Sam Merlotte make out with himself.  Has anyone else noticed that obviously being a shifter is better than being anything else ever and yet everybody else focuses on vampire and werewolves?  I think it’s pretty obvious that once people found out that shifters existed, we wouldn’t care about the vampires.  I would want to get bitten by a shifter, even if it didn’t turn me into a shifter.  That’s how amazing they are.  You can shift into any animal and even other humans.

“Kiss me, Me!”

Sam and Luna are also a “relationship side show” for True Blood, except that they actually do play a part in some of the integral storylines.  They played a part in the “Obama” storyline big time and then even the authority storyline by the end.  Of course, Sam was once one of the central characters of the show and now he’s not a part of Sookie’s life anymore, so they had to figure a way to get him involved in the meat of it all.  But it’s weird because he really is not a part of that vampire stuff at all.  Like, does Sookie even work at Merlotte’s anymore?   DOES SAM!?!?!  HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE MAKING MONEY?!!!


Oh Hoyt.  You’re probably one of my favorite characters, but I was really sad to see you give up on Jason.  I know how hard it is to forgive him for what he did, but life isn’t about just forgetting its about forgiving.  You and Jason are lifelong pals.  Asking Jessica to glamour you was total bullshit.

(Glamouring, in general, is total bullshit.  Vampires should already have taken over the world years ago if glamouring was real.)

His whole season was up-and-down as he tried to get over the whole thing, going from getting sucked on by any vampire he could to being a vampire hate monger that wanted to kill them.  There is only one kind of Hoyt that I like and he was neither of those.  Maybe it’s best to get his memory erased after all.  Can I have my memory erased from seeing Hoyt in makeup?

Hoyt went off to Alaska, only to return next season, I’m sure.  Hopefully without eyeliner.


I do love Jessica, much like Hoyt, but she has a hard time loving anyone as a vampire.  She wanted to be friends with Hoyt, which obviously would never work.  She was in lust with Jason and then finally in love.  Jessica needs something to do, so she’ll probably get a progeny next year.

Who will Jessica turn into a vamp?

Criss Angel

I’m assuming this is who that guy was that replaced Eric as Sheriff for like two days.


I live in LA and I think I once saw Alcide (Joe Manganiello) at the movie theater.  Often, actors will just look really big on television.  I’m 6’6″.  This guy towers over me.  He is also probably works out.  The internet says that he is 6’5″.  It could have been perspective that made him look so tall.  It could have been entirely someone else.

Oh, what did he do in the show?

Something about a wolf pack.  How many creature politics does this show have to go over?  There is this other wolf and he is a jerk and he gives the pack “V” and then Russell Edgington is somehow involved and also Luna’s daughter is part-wolf so this makes Luna and Sam involved.  He got a girlfriend or something during the season too, but I don’t even know her name.

His dad was played by the T-1000 though, so that’s awesome.

True Blood seems to introduce a lot of characters that just fall in love with Sookie for four episodes and then insists on making them permanent characters with stuff to do.  I’m not so sure I care about the werewolves.  Maybe if they were fighting against someone else, but they only fight with each other and they probably smell bad.

Russell Edgington and Steve Newlin

Well, we knew that Russell would be back because they didn’t actually kill him.  Steve Newlin was a surprise, mostly because I forgot/didn’t care about him, but he actually was a pleasant surprise this year as a gay vampire after being a straight vampire-hater.  His character seems to be a great way for Alan Ball to say what he wants to say about gay-hating pastors that are actually just secretly gay.  When Steve Newlin came out and decided to be who he really is, he was a much better character.

Russell we always knew was gay, but now he was also a much more likeable character.  He no longer seemed to just want to be evil, he just want to have fun.  He wanted to feast and be free and be himself and take over the world or whatever but mostly have sex and drink blood.

“I want to suck your blood, Jason. Among other things.”

He is finally dead for real.  Steve is out there somewhere and will probably come back next year with all of the puppies.

Eric Northman

So now Eric is like the world’s softest dude ever.  He used to be a dick and now he’s soft and squishy and has a lot of sex with his sister.  Nobody loves Sookie anymore, I don’t think.  Also, Eric and Bill were like Superfriends for awhile.  This show has completely turned on it’s head and I still can’t understand how.  It’s just one episode to the next, characters are different.  Maybe subtle things change characters along the way, but seriously… did you see how soft Eric was and how mean Bill was by the end?

I guess Eric was changed in season four.  How am I supposed to remember season four?

So Eric and his sister Nora have crazy amounts of fast-forward sex and then he hates her cause she’s a jerk but then she realizes what a fool she was so they get back to having more sex. Whoopie!

Season five also saw a brief return of Godric, played by Elijah Wood’s doppelganger, who was destroyed by Lilith.  There was also the naked character of Lilith by the way and that was weird and hopefully over.

Otherwise, this was a rather dull season for Eric.  He’s still a primary character but his purposes in the season seemed rather minute.  I wouldn’t mind seeing him go back to being a dick, that’s the way I like my Eric Northman.

Jason Stackhouse

Thankfully Jason never changes.  I mean, he does go through some life-moments, but the heart of Jason remains the same.  First he goes to a sorority party and then decides NOT to have sex with a cute young co-ed because he doesn’t want to be that way anymore?  But does he mean it.

Well, he ends up having sex with his old teacher, the woman who helped shape the womanizer that he is but rejects her after they finish.  Jason winds up getting involved with the fairy stuff and finds out that his parents were actually killed by vampires.  This is when things do start to worry me about Jason because now he wants to kill all of the vampires.

That’s not you, man.  His anger is misguided because he wants to avenge his parents death but I know that Jason will realize the errors of his ways.  After Jessica finally wants to be with him, he’s like “No way” because she is a vampire but I have a feeling that by next season that will change.

Good old stupid, kind Jason Stackhouse.

Sookie Stackhouse

Finally, it all comes back to Sookie.  The main character of the show, Sookie was the central theme mainly because she was what brought together the mean Eric with the kind Bill.  She’s central to everything else.

Except that now Bill is a dick and doesn’t care about her.  Eric is nice and cares about her, but not as much as he cares about boning his sister.  Alcide was rejected and so has moved on and also found out that she killed his ex, which probably doesn’t help.  Russell wanted her for her blood, but he’s dead now.  Sam is basically married to Luna.  Tara hates her.  Pam hates her.  Lafayette is like her best friend now but he’s all like, “Taste this, bitch.”  I think she’s done a No-Call, No-Show at Merlotte’s for eight weeks straight, so she has no waitress friends.

Basically, we’re sitting here after five seasons and after being the central character, she plays a very little part in all of the storylines.  Couldn’t you sort of… continue the whole show without her?

Sookie’s mission this season was to find out more about fairies (oh cool!) and then find out what her grams was trying to tell her, which is that some old vampire named Warlow killed her parents and that she is owed to him from a very old pact.  So that’s definitely going to be the storyline of season six for Sookie, finding out who Warlow is, but does anybody care about Sookie anymore?

Including you, the viewer?

I’m sure that by then, they will make her more central to the lives of the other 87 characters but as of this year, she was mostly just another arc in the middle of 112 story arcs, not central to anything.  Not especially memorable.

At the very end of the season, Bill turns into bloody evil Bill and Eric tells her to run before the shit hits the fan.  As we know with all True Blood cliffhangers, it’s going to be okay.  But even then I’m asking myself, “Okay, I want to know more about what the hell Bill has become” and I’m not really concerned about Sookie anymore.  That’s what True Blood, season five, was all about for me.


Best TV Channel Tournament Primer: Food Network?

August 3, 2012 § 1 Comment

I continue my look through the world of television channels by stopping by one of the more unconventional options: The Food Network.

Like basically every other channel, The Food Network has changed quite a bit over the years, transforming from a station directed towards a specific niche audience into one that conforms more to programming for the rest of us.  While the daytime programming is still geared towards educational cooking shows like Rachel Ray and Paula Deen, Food Network at night has reality and competition programs that appeal to another niche audience:

People that eat food.

Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to say that everybody watches or likes the Food Network, because that’s definitely not true, but for whatever reason I find myself looking to see what’s on Food Network more often than ever.  Sure, I love food, but why should I really care what other people are eating or watch food being made that I’ll never be able to taste?

Because that’s how much people love food.  We love it to the point where calling it “Food porn” is not an exaggeration.  In many cases we are watching experts beautifully paint on a canvas with materials we love.

“Oh damn, Bobby.  What are you going to do with that steak?!”

“Stop, hold up.  Is that?  Is it?  Oh shit, it is.  He’s got the garlic salt!”

“Paula, you dirty dirty dirty old woman.  But can I substitute your 12 sticks of butter with like, 2 sticks of butter?”

I have said before on this blog that when I lost 150 pounds after college, I spent basically my entire day watching the Food Network.  It would seem like the opposite of what you’d want to do if you were trying to lose weight and eat less, but it was more like a healthy substitute.  I could imagine what it was like to eat what they were making, but with zero calories.

Food porn.

At that time, they were still mostly just doing the cooking shows and not the competitions or finding the best food and restaurants in America, so it was easy to just stop watching at a certain point.  It’s what I’ve referred to earlier as “throw-away television” or “expendable television.”  It’s something that was mostly a time-waster and not educational or especially entertaining.  It was just something to do.

That has changed in recent years though.  Now I find many of the shows to be highly entertaining and I really find myself excited when I know that one of my favorite shows is going to be on Food Network in the evening.  Here’s a brief rundown of those shows:


Probably my new favorite thing to watch, Chopped basically takes the best part of Top Chef (the cooking) and condenses it into one hour, where we don’t have to follow the contestants for a whole season.  The idea behind Chopped, the fact that not only do the contestants not know the ingredients but that the ingredients provide a certain level of difficulty, adds to the excitement level.

Yeah, watching people cook is exciting!

It’s also pretty fun that we see regular failures on Chopped.  Whereas in many shows it seems like these chefs can do no wrong, I’ve gotten to see some pretty terrible foods prepared on Chopped.  Like… literally inedible foods and these are professional chefs.  I’m happy that they don’t cut it down to just the good stuff.  These guys fail a lot and that’s part of what keeps me watching.

I just wish that people would stop saying that they’re being underestimated.  Literally every chef seems to either think that the other contestants are going to underestimate them, or they’re incredibly over-confident.  If everybody assumes that they’re being underestimated, then obviously nobody is being underestimated.

And stop doing crazy shit with your hair, chefs.  The only thing that I want to see in your hair is a hairnet when you’re making my food.

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives

There probably isn’t a more annoying or douchy host in America than Guy Fieri, but the concept of this show is so good that I will watch any episode I haven’t seen before and sometimes re-watch the same episode multiple times.

Perhaps part of the charm is that Guy is such a douche.

But the real star of the show is the Diners (I almost have never seen and Drive-Ins or Dives but I guess “Single D” wouldn’t have been a good name for the show) and it’s cool that they find places you can actually go eat and not $100 a plate restaurants in Manhattan.  This is where the comfort food is.  This is where the attainable $7 meals are.  This is how the regular person ended up making it in the food industry.

That’s what makes the show watchable despite the fact that a 44-year-old man is still sporting the same hairdo I had in the 7th grade.  I made terrible decisions in 7th grade, Guy, why are you still making them?

My favorite restaurant in LA is only a couple of blocks away from me.  I was sooooo excited when I saw Gloria’s Mexican Cafe on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Really gave that show some more credibility for me.  Just want to throw that out there.

Good Eats

The show ran for 14 seasons but finally came to an end earlier this year.  It’s not a traditional cooking show, instead explaining the science of food, which is probably why it was so integral as a part of why the Food Network is what it is today.

Good Eats was one of the first shows I ever watched on the Food Network with regularity and started to break down the barrier that “Only mom’s watch Food Network” when I noticed a lot of my guy friends in college watching it.  Alton Brown is like a modern-day Bill Nye!

Iron Chef America

Alton Brown!

Iron Chef America is basically like Chopped except that they do use world-renowned chefs and they have an hour to cook a five-dish meal with one special, secret ingredient.

Iron Chef in Japan opened up the way for Iron Chef USA (which failed) and then finally Iron Chef America which opened the door for shows like Chopped and so on and so forth.  This is the show that made people realize that they just liked to watch people cook great food and then be judged for it.

We really like to judge people.

Sweet Genius

And Sweet Genius is basically exactly like Chopped except that we have desserts and Ron Ben-Isreal.

I’ve said before why I like this show.

In Conclusion!

Anyways, that’s a quick rundown of the shows I watch on The Food Network.  I actually think I’m forgetting one or two, but oh well!  I’m not actually giving the channel a spot in my Best TV Channel Tournament because it has no real shot without actually having original scripted programming (how interesting could a Sopranos-style food drama be?) but I wanted to note it’s existence and how much I like watching it now.

There’s a lot of good stuff on the Food Network, but I won’t be able to nominate it until Smell-o-Vision and Taste-o-Vision are real things.

I can’t believe I went the entire article without saying this, but Giada De Laurentiis is my hearts song.  Feed me, Giada:


Best TV Channel Tournament Primer: AMC

July 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

So now that we’ve gone from network to cable, we go from quantity to quality.  These channels don’t have the same budgets, revenues, and reach as the networks, but they’ve got something that the networks don’t have:

The ability to say “Shit.”

As I said during the ABC primer, it was amazing that they ever had a show as good as LOST.  There was a time when FOX turned down The Sopranos, and thank God that they did because it would have probably ruined the entire show.  Programming like The Sopranos is partly special because of the gritty, dirty, bloody nature of the show (but quality writing and acting is more important) and The Sopranos would have been too tame for network television.  Attempts to re-create “grit” on networks have fallen flat each and every time.  While AMC can’t go quite as far as the premium channels like HBO, they do have the ability to go further than what they could have done on ABC.

More importantly, they’ve got some of the best writers and actors in the business (television OR movies) today.  AMC doesn’t have a lot of quantity, but it’s held up by two of the best shows on television and arguably the best two dramas in the history of television.  It’s hard to believe that they’ve come this far from where they started.

AMC launched on October 1, 1984 (and they probably did their first “Halloween” special 30 days later.  Not really.)

It was a premium cable channel, much like HBO, but played old movies and appealed to an old demographic.  Three years later it went to basic cable and per Wikipedia, was in 39 million households by 1989.  It’s hard to believe now, but it wasn’t really until about 2000 that AMC started airing commercials and became closer to the channel we recognize today.  Even then, you only have to go back to 2007 to find an AMC that didn’t have any of the original programming that made it a TV power player that we know today.

A stroke of luck (and misfortune for HBO and Showtime, who turned it down) brought the groundbreaking show Mad Men to AMC.  The success of that one show, much like the success of The Simpsons on FOX, opened the door for AMC being able to put it’s name prominently in the hat of “Best TV Channel.”

AMC has become so big that it’s recently given a big “F YOU!” to Dish Network after another unbelievable dispute between two more conglomerates that can’t decide how they want to split our money, but the programming is so good that I think most of us would just side with AMC.  Dish subscribers aren’t getting to see the new season of Breaking Bad (but AMC aired it online so that they could) and I can’t help but think that they’re ready to switch over when more AMC programming is lost to them over the coming months.

There’s a lot of good “Shit” here, let’s take a show-by-show look:

Mad Men (2007-present)

I did not actually watch this show until last year, and then I watched the whole series in about a week.  This is perhaps the most addictive and well-acted show on TV and when people ask me what’s so good about it, I honestly think there’s nothing I can say to do it justice.

“Ummm.. it’s about advertising sales in the mid-20th century… but you see it’s on Madison Avenue… no, like, it’s really good cause this guy Don Draper is actually using an alias… no, you’re not getting it, his wife is like crazy and the other guys in the company are all greedy but that’s business… no like it’s really good.  Damn it, just watch it.”

The writing is so good that it’s not so easy to just say “This guy gets cancer and starts making meth to support his family for when he dies” like Breaking Bad, but you can’t stop watching it.  The premise seems hard to sell, but watch an episode and tell me that you don’t want to immediately watch the next.  Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Vincent Kartheiser, just make the tip of the iceberg for an excellent cast  that has been nominated for 14 Emmys and four more as of this morning.  (Good luck, Lane Pryce!)

I don’t know what the future holds for Mad Men, how much longer they plan on going, but I could probably follow this crew right up to present day.  It’s that good.

Breaking Bad (2008-present but not much longer, sad face)

Hey, yo.  Aaron Paul is like the best actor on television, bitch.

That’s saying something, especially when you consider that Bryan Cranston has his own very solid case as the best actor on television.  Paul is vying for his first Emmy win and going against Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring) in the Supporting Actor category this season.

And if Cranston can’t finally get a win as Walter White, what’s argument do the Emmys have left of being legitimate?  Watch Malcolm in the Middle for awhile and then watch Breaking Bad for awhile and tell me that you aren’t seeing one of the best transformations that an actor has ever made on TV.  Hell, watch Walter White in season one and then watch him in season four and see the amazing transformation.

Oh, and how the hell did Bob Odenkirk go from being one of the funniest dudes on TV or movies to crafting Saul Goodman into one of the best supporting characters in TV history.  Or Dean Norris as Hank Schrader.  Or Anna Gunn as Skyler.  Or, oh my God, Jonathan Banks as Mike.  Jesus, how could you even pick a favorite?

Walt, Jesse, Gus, Mike, Hank, Saul… It’s the best character development I’ve seen since The Wire, which probably has the best character development ever.

And it all comes back to Vince Gilligan.  Who the hell was this guy to come out of obscurity (unless you were an X-Files ubernerd) to create one of the best universes I’ve ever seen?  (And he wrote Hancock?  What the hell?)

Breaking Bad debuted it’s fifth and final season on Sunday with the same amazingness and bravado we’ve seen in every other season so far.  Re-watching the series in anticipation of this, I found that I liked it even more the second time.  It’s sad to see it go but for now I’ll just enjoy it while it’s here and continue to follow the careers of some of the best people in TV.

Let’s hope that AMC keeps some of them around for another project.

The Walking Dead (2010-present)

This show has a lot of die-hard followers, and I’m watching it, but there’s a considerable difference between those first two shows and this one.  I like The Walking Dead, but it’s flawed.  Really flawed.  And I’m a fan because I was raised on horror movies and have been waiting for something like this for a long time.

The attachment of Frank Darabont, who has directed some of my favorite movies (The Mist is soooo underrated), gave me even higher hopes.  But I don’t see myself falling in love with any of the characters.  I don’t root for anybody.  I’d gladly see a few more get killed off just so that something happens, because TWD can drag on for weeks sometimes.


I think part of the reason that the show has such a dedicated following is because there are a lot of people, just like me, that want so badly for the show to be good.  I am even worried that I so badly yearn for more quality that I was highly enthused by the preview for season three that was shown after Breaking Bad on Sunday.  (Michael Rooker is BACK!)

It looks like it’s getting better.  I can see the direction that I think that it could be heading and I really hope that it is, because it has an opportunity to be like a zombie version of Justified, but it needs to get there much faster.

Faster than a Walking Dead zombie, at least.

The Killing (2011-Present)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Killing is not a good show.

One of the “problems” about having two of the best shows on television, is that we’re going to hold you to that standard.  You started with Mad Men and Breaking Bad… that’s the bar now.   An unfair bar, maybe, but that’s the bar.  Don’t serve me filet mignon for dinner and expect me not to notice that you gave me a scoop of rum raisin for dessert.

I’ve watched every episode of The Killing now, wondering if it would get better, and it hardly ever did.  Oh, at times it seemed to show signs of not being terrible, maybe even enjoyable, but in the end they will only let you down.  We got the “answer we were waiting for” and I didn’t feel satisfied at all.

“Oh.  Cool.  I guess we’re down now.”

Yes, The Killing.  We are done now.

Hell On Wheels (2011-Present)

I still have four episodes of Hell on Wheels on my DVR that I need to watch to finish the first season.  It’s not that its a bad show, it’s just not a very enthralling one.  I wouldn’t leave an episode of Breaking Bad on my DVR unless I was planning on re-watching it.  “There’s a new episode of Breaking Bad record?!  Hold all my calls!  Cancel all my plans!”

“You don’t have any plans, sir.”


But four episodes of Hell on Wheels just sit there… They’ve been sitting there for however long since the mid-way point of season one.  I still plan on watching them because Hell On Wheels was more appealing than The Killing (not quite as appealing as Walking Dead) and I have hopes that its going to get better.  Some shows need to set a boring foundation before they start building the awesome.

Please.  Hell On Wheels.  We need to get more good Westerns.  Start building the awesome.

The Pitch (2012)

I watched AMC’s premiere of The Pitch, a reality show based around real-life advertising agencies as they compete for the services of a major brand name.  At first I was like, “This is cool!” because I think I’d be really good at advertising and I wish an ad agency would give me a job without me having any… you know… credentials.

But by the end of it, I was like, “Did I just watch an hour long Subway commercial?”

I like Subway the restaurant, but I’m getting overblown by Subway the advertising company.  WHY THE F DOES EVERYBODY ON TV HAVE TO EAT SUBWAY?  I see more Subway subs on Pawn Stars than I see actual items being pawned.

And then when I REALLY thought about it, I thought, “Wow, what a bullshit way to get free(?) advertising.”

In the episode, one team pitched a rap by the YouTube artist Mac Lethal and I thought that was pretty cool.  I thought it was a good idea and sure enough, the pitch “won” the battle over a rather lame pitch.  I was wondering when we were going to start seeing Mac Lethal commercials for Subway.  Answer: Probably never.

Subway basically got what they wanted, but for a lot cheaper I am assuming.  I’m sure that Mac Lethal was paid a handsome time for his work and effort, but an actual advertising campaign would be worth tens of millions.  Luckily for Subway, they can be on a one-hour show that’s dedicated to telling you why you should eat Subway, got a rap from a popular internet performer, and aired like three different campaigns without having to actually pay full price for three campaigns.

The Pitch is an interesting show and all, but I am against it in principal.  I don’t want to watch an hour-long commercial for a billion dollar company.  They get enough of my time by perpetuating my everyday life with their dumb ad campaigns.  This probably isn’t fair to the people that work on The Pitch, but I am simply against it.

Good show?  Maybe.  But I don’t want to sit through an hour-long commercial that’s broken up by commercial breaks.  A better reality show maybe though is…

Small Town Security (Just debuted)

AMC got sneaky (and kind of pulled some bullshit) when they aired Small Town Security, a reality show set around a real-life security company in a very small town, right after the highly-anticipated Breaking Bad premiere.

They were going to get a lot of  viewers from carry-over anyway, but they did even worse by saying “We’ll air previews for next weeks Breaking Bad…. during Small Town Security!”  They basically forced you to watch it, though I heard a lot of people say that they decided not to watch it anyway.  I did.  And….

I liked it!

I never felt like the characters in Small Town Security were “acting.”  I thought they were being genuine and that they weren’t really thrown into weird scenarios for the purpose of “interesting television.”  These people are already interesting because of how naturally weird they are.  It reminds me a little bit of one of my favorite all-time documentaries, The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, but it’s not nearly that extreme.  These people are mostly just… weird.  And I like that.

Beyond all of that though is the surprise twist ending that will throw you for a complete loop when it’s revealed.  And yeah, it sucked me in to watch again.

I guess your sneaky bullshit plan worked AMC.  No surprise here though… you’ve been roping people in to keep watching ever since you premiered Mad Men in 2007.


(Wait no, that’s another network.)

“Sweet Genius” Might Be My New Favorite Thing On TV

June 26, 2012 § 4 Comments

Not every highly-watchable show on television has to be scripted, or comedy, or drama, or on cable, or on network, or original, and especially doesn’t have to be “good.”  Such as the Food Network cooking contest show “Sweet Genius,” which is neither scripted, original, nor particularly good.  It’s just… hard to stop watching.

The other day there was absolutely nothing on TV to watch, my DVR’d programs seem old the instant that I record them, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like Netflix has added a new movie worth watching since the DVD was invented.  So I just flipped the channel to the first show that I saw on the guide that simply didn’t offend my sensibilities: Chopped.

For those that don’t know, Chopped is a show on the Food Network that pits four contestants against each other in a battle royale of three cooking challenges in which crazy secret ingredients force the chefs into precarious corners from which they must escape with a tasty dish or face elimination.  In other words: makey good food or get chopped.  It’s not original (Hi, Iron Chef!) but it’s just entertaining enough for me to watch.

Chopped is something I consider to be “throw-away television.”  This is how I categorize shows that are pleasant to watch but will give you almost nothing in return.  Breaking Bad gives me something each time I watch it.  The History Channel gives me something when I watch it.  Wheel of Fortune, however, gives me nothing.  Wheel is just a way to pleasantly kill 30 minutes of my time.  I enjoy it, but I could definitely prosper without it.  It’s the same with Chopped or Two and a Half Men or many shows on television.

So the other night I had watched Chopped and with nothing much else to do, I kept watching the next show on the Food Network and that show was Sweet Genius.  The format is almost exactly the same as Chopped: Four contestants, three rounds, one person eliminated each round until the winner is declared a “Sweet Genius” and given $10,000 for making liver ice cream or some other God-awful creation.


Sweet Genius turned out to be so much more than that and it’s all thanks to the judge of the show, Ron Ben-Israel.  Whereas Chopped is inconspicuously hosted by Ted Allen (yawn) and then three guest judges (yawn x3) the strength of Sweet Genius is that there is only one gay madman running the show.  (Oooh, do I mean gay as in happy frolicking or gay is in gay?  Intrigue!)

Well, I suppose I mean both.

Ben-Israel is an openly gay pastry chef and the show takes on those sensibilities with great pride, I’d say.  The show is flashy, glittery, and subtly uses innuendo (“hot behind! hot behind! hot behind!” once yelled out on the show) throughout.  I watched two episodes back-to-back and both episodes featured a contestant that was a homosexual male.  Not something that is necessarily “taboo” but also not something that you see on most shows so frequently.  Sure, being a male pastry chef will always pique curiosities, but not every male pastry chef is gay just like not every male hair stylist is gay.  It just so happens (or maybe not just so happens) that both of the episodes featured a gay male contestant.

But the show also makes me gay… with happiness!  What’s so watch-able about Sweet Genius?

First of all was the gay innuendos that are constant in the sixty minutes, prompting me to ask my roommate if this was real.  It felt like I was watching something created by Sasha Baron Cohen for Bruno but that also had a strong hint of Zoolander.  Every moment of the show felt like it was a scripted “reality” show and that the joke was on us, the viewers.  It literally feels like a long SNL skit, except still funny.

Secondly, the fact that these contestants are asked to make three different desserts (Frozen, Baked, and Chocolate) but scramble to figure out how to incorporate flavors like squid ink and roasted peking duck into a tasty treat.  One contestant actually became so flustered at the end that he simply plopped his whisk from the blender into an ice cream glass and figured, “Yeah, this looks good.”


By the time that the treat had gotten to Ben-Israel, the ice cream had melted and so he was left with a dish of melted ice cream that had a giant whisk sticking in the middle of it.  Like, “Hey, here is a kitchen utensil right in the middle of your dessert making it impossible to eat.  Enjoy!”

Thirdly, contestants are given “inspirations” that they must incorporate along with their flavors and desserts.  It might be a turtle (which Ben-Israel bears a striking resemblance to), or a toy carousel, or a high heel… who knows what the future holds?  Perhaps inspirations like lamp, Playstation 2, or the former Soviet Union.  The possibilities are literally endless because it seems that they have no bearing on what qualifies as an “inspiration.”

But lastly and most importantly is Ben-Israel.  Like I said before, he’s a gay madman.  It doesn’t really matter that he’s gay, but it certainly adds to the charm of all the innuendos and the descriptions he gives of the flavors as he tastes the desserts.  “Fresh” “Sexy” and “Playful” being among my favorites.  However, it’s the “madman” quality that really sets him apart into the next pantheon of memorable judges.

In real life, Ben-Israel is a world-renowned “cake artist” but as a host he seems like a kid in a candy store, getting to press the buttons, throw out the curveballs, and judge the contestants for their good and their bad.  (Especially entertaining when its their bad, like the “disaster” for having a whisk inside of a bowl of melted ice cream.  Though the taste of the ice cream was described as “Amazing.”)   Another favorite is that he’ll tell you some good things about your dessert but you know a “however” is coming.  Everything that comes after “however” could crush your soul.

Probably the top moment for me during those two episodes, and probably one of my television all-time highs, was when the secret ingredient for the chocolate round was roasted duck.  One of the contestants basically ended up making a savory meat pie, but this is “Sweet Genius.”  The point isn’t to make just anything with duck and chocolate, the point was to make a dessert and her chocolate duck pie was basically just duck pie.  Ben-Israel describes the action and flavors…

I get what Ben-Israel is trying to say, that the flavors were overwhelmed with “duck,” but damn.  I just about lost my mind when I heard him simply describe the duck pie as “ducky.”  Please Ron, teach me how to Ducky.  Despite the fact that the flavor was duck, the very last adjective I had expected to hear in describing the taste was “ducky” so therefore I experienced a laughter I haven’t felt on CBS, ABC, or most of NBC for years.  Ben-Israel: a far superior comedienne to Whitney Cummings.

It got me thinking as to how Ben-Israel would describe other things, by simply naming what they are…



I could go on like this for hours, just like I could watch this ridiculously entertaining show called Sweet Genius, but I won’t.  I’ll just give a few and then spend the rest of the week thinking of other things that Ben-Isreal could describe in perfect detail by telling you what it actually is.

In the meantime, I’ll be watching Sweet Genius at whatever time it airs on the Food Network not because it’s so good, but because it’s deliciously bad for all the right reasons and I’ll have a gay old time doing so.

Stay sexy.  Stay fresh.  Ducky.


Best TV Channel Tournament Primer: FOX

June 19, 2012 § 3 Comments

At some point I’m going to have to kick these Primers into high gear if we’re going to get a real tournament rolling before the next fall season!  So far I’ve reviewed the lineups for ABC  (link) and CBS (link) and today we’re looking at a whole different demographic: The overgrown 13-year-old male viewer.

Whether you are actually a 13-year-old boy or a 32-year-old male that still wishes he was a 13-year-old boy, you are probably watching FOX.  However, should we blame them?  After all, FOX made a name for itself and turned “The Big 3″ into “The Big 4″ simply by appealing to a completely ignored demographic: Immature people!

On the strength of a cartoon, a dysfunctional family, and black comedians with a white guy, FOX went from a channel that you could only get if you turned your antenna just right to one of the most-watched and talked-about channels on your picture box.  In fairness, it wasn’t the biggest underdog story ever told  (not as if they turned a public television station into The American Idol Network) because it took FOX $2.55 billion to acquire six television stations in major markets in 1985 in order to get the ball rolling.

However, they still managed to recover from their first ever show being: “The Late Show with Joan Rivers.”

It really began with their first prime time shows: Married… with Children and The Tracey Ullman Show.  Married ran from 1986-1997 and was a top 50 show for five seasons in the middle of its run.  Additionally, In Living Color debuted in the 90′s and jump-started the careers of Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, the Wayans brothers, and Jennifer Lopez.

Tracey Ullman was only a moderate success, running for four seasons and it’s only real claim to fame was having some cartoon “bumpers” that ran before and after commercial breaks.  Who cares about that though?  Short cartoon segments are your claim to fame?  Get real, Tracy!

Forget the fact that the cartoon bumpers would eventually spin-off to become The Simpsons, the most successful sitcom in television history and the staple of the FOX Network.  I’ve been to FOX Studios once before and trust me when I say that FOX is fully aware of how much of their success is due to that cartoon family.  Billboards, paintings, and homages to The Simpsons are everywhere and it’s a must-stop visit for any true Simpsons fanatic.

Many will argue that the show is now one of the worst shows on television, but I would argue that they simply haven’t watched the show in ten years.  It’s not a bad show, it’s just a reasonably decent one that is half as good as it was during it’s run as probably the best written television show of all-time.  It started as a mid-season replacement in 1989 that wasn’t given much of a chance by anyone, and 23 years later it’s still on the air as the longest running sitcom ever.  Nomar Garciaparra might have a better chance of breaking Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive-games-played record before anyone surpasses The Simpsons historic mark.

In 1985, FOX spent over two and half billion dollars to start a network.  Four years later, they debuted a little animated show called The Simpsons that has generated over $5 billion in advertising revenue alone during it’s run.  According to, the total Simpsons Franchise Revenue is over $12 billion, which is a low estimate, if anything.

As the longest-running, most influential, and perhaps the most important and best sitcom in television history, The Simpsons might be the only reason that I’m even writing a television primer for FOX today.  What once was a network hopeful, FOX is now a network heavyweight.


The Simpsons

Family Guy

American Dad!

The Cleveland Show

Bob’s Burgers

Raising Hope

New Girl


I’ve already said my peace about The Simpsons.  It’s not nearly as great as it once was, bordering on mediocre.  If I had to choose between watching a new episode of The Simpsons or watching How I Met Your Mother, I would still watch The Simpsons but it would be very close.

It’s amazing to think that Family Guy was cancelled and years later not only did it return, but now Seth MacFarlane has three shows and a movie and has turned into a billion dollar franchise all on his own.  Family Guy was good on its first run, absolutely terrible when it returned, and is now good again.  I was against the re-hashed, old, inside jokes that were constant when it returned and hated the show for awhile but in recent seasons it’s gotten back to doing what it’s good at.

I can’t say the same for American Dad or Cleveland Show.  Admittedly, I only gave those shows a few episodes before hating them with every fiber of my being, but I still stand by what I’ve seen as being garbage.  I’m told by a lot of people that American Dad! is good, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t tell you otherwise.  Enough of the MacFarlane overload already.

However, Bob’s Burgers is really good and I think that despite Zooey Deschenal being too lazy to look outside to see if it’s raining, New Girl is promising.  I have seen a little bit of Raising Hope and I see the appeal.  I might catch up on Netflix some day.

Overall, the sitcoms on FOX rival NBC, while dominating ABC and CBS.







I’ll make this easy for everyone.  I’ve never seen an episode of any of these shows and with the exception of Fringe, I’ve never had the slightest inclination to do so.  It’s not like I’m being bear-baited into watching Bones or Touch and it’s not like I’m anywhere near the demographic for Glee.

You can see the massive difference in widespread appeal between a show like 24 and a show like Touch.  24: Nobody will shut up about this.  Touch: What is touch?

And they both have Kiefer Sutherland.

Maybe Touch is a good show, I won’t go on here and tell you that it isn’t.  But I can tell you that 12 million people watched the premiere of Touch and 4.6 million people watched the season one finale.  The reviews, however, are positive enough for me to give Touch a shot someday.  I’m just not sure that it’s going to have many more episodes if that downward trend continues.

As far as Bones goes, I haven’t like David Boreanaz in anything since I fell down a flight of stairs, cracked my head open, and dreamt that he was in Blank Check 2 while I was in a coma.

Other networks rely heavily in dramas, and while Glee has been it’s mainstay for awhile, FOX prefers the cheaper worlds of reality television and animation.


In Living Color

The Mob Doctor

Ben & Kate

The Mindy Project

Axe Cop

The Following

The Goodwin Games


That’s right, In Living Color is getting a reboot.  Keenan Ivory Wayans is still executive producer, but other than that you won’t know any of the names in the cast probably.  Is that a problem?  You didn’t know who Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx were either, once upon a time.  However, where is sketch comedy going from here on out?  Sometimes, it’s the best laughs on television and other times, it’s downright embarrassing.  And frankly, if you watch old episodes of In Living Color, it’s downright embarrassing.

Also, NBC eventually said “No thanks” to Mindy Kaling’s new show and FOX picked it right up and is giving us The Mindy Project.

As writer and co-star on The Office, she was another bright spot for women in comedy (right Adam Carolla?) and seemed destined to make a name for herself.  Which she’s doing and she’s been picking up steam steadily for the last few years, but I’m left to wonder why NBC turned her script down.  Then again, I’m left to wonder why NBC does anything anymore.  Maybe it’s a good sign that NBC ultimately said “NO!”  Also, Anna Camp is in it:

Ben and Kate is another new sitcom for FOX, starring Nat Faxon, a gifted comedian and recent Oscar-winner (co-writer, The Descendants) that I’ll be looking forward to.  I’ve only been a part-time small fan of Faxon since his short turns Club Dread and Party Down.  However, his run of guest appearances on sitcoms seems to be a death kill: Joey, Reba, Happy Hour, Allen Gregory, and Are You There, Chelsea?   Let’s hope this turns out to be better than the awful Allen Gregory.

The Mob Doctor is a fourth show debuting in the fall, a drama about a female mob doctor.  I assume it’s like a spin-off of that side storyline in Sons of Anarchy that was never that interesting.

Axe Cop is the real name of a show.  It’s also a web-comic being adapted to late-night Saturday animation programming that FOX is going to try out, which sort of reminds me of the heyday in MTV with Beavis and Butthead and such.  Maybe not all that bad.

The Following is created by one of my all-time favorites, Kevin Williamson, and starring one of my all-time favorites, Kevin Bacon.  The writer of Scream and the star of Tremors, finally together as one in a show about serial killers?  I.  Am.  IN!

Finally, The Goodwin Games is another sitcom and recently added T.J. Miller (Cloverfield, She’s Out Of My League) to the cast, probably putting him back on the “watch list” for people that need their own show.  It is about a group of siblings fighting to win their part of their fathers $23 million inheritance, which doesn’t really sound like a strong premise for a show as much as it would for a movie, but I’ll give it a chance.

Who Gets a Second Season Prediction:

The Mindy Project, Ben and Kate, Axe Cop, The Following, The Goodwin Games


The Teen Choice Awards, The American Country Music Awards


None right now, that I can see.


This has never worked for FOX.




American Idol

So You Think You Can Dance

Hell’s Kitchen


Kitchen Nightmares


The X Factor

Hotel Hell

The Choice

Take Me Out


While earlier I said that FOX is the network for dudes that never grew up (myself included) I have to add a caveat to that.  FOX has diversified their programming in the 2000s to also appeal to tweens and women.  While The Simpsons has been a juggernaut for FOX in it’s own right, nothing in television history really compares to American Idol.

It conspicuously debuted on June 11, 2002 to 9.85 million viewers.  Excellent for a debut of any show.  The season finale ran on September 4th to 23.02 million viewers.  The sixth season of Idol was it’s peak, with 37.44 million people tuning in for the premiere but Idol fever has since died down.  The recent finale of season 11 had “only” 21.49 million viewers.  It is still one of the highest rated shows on television without Simon Cowell.

I haven’t actually watched Idol since Ruben v Clay, but it’s not like you have to watch Idol to understand Idol.  It is what it is and it’s still really successful, even if the winner’s aren’t.  I’m not “hip” to kids music these days, but someone please tell me who Scotty McReery, Lee DeWyze, and Kris Allen are.  Apparently, they won Idol.


With Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, The X Factor, Glee, and now The Mindy Project, FOX has no problems appealing to both the ladies and the boys.

Also, COPS has almost twice as many episodes as The Simpsons?! and has been on since 1989 and still going.

The rest of the FOX network is owned by Gordon Ramsay.


Some College Football (Pac-12), some College Basketball (Pac-12), MLB, NASCAR, Formula One, NFL games (NFC), UFC, Premier League Soccer.

The important things to note here are that having NFL games is worth billions, and I’m sure having NASCAR and Formula One earn them a pretty penny too.


Thus concludes our primer for FOX in the BEST TV CHANNEL TOURNAMENT.  They come in strong in several categories with some strong sitcoms and some promising new shows.  FOX is also a heavy-hitter in the ratings with shows like Glee and American Idol, though overall the reality programming seems lacking to me.  In addition to that, they don’t even try to compete with the networks in areas like game shows, awards, and talk shows.

Where FOX might better ABC and CBS with scripted programming, they don’t do a lot of the typical “network strategies” in other areas that you might expect.  Of course, with mega-advertising bucks in the NFL (Super Bowl every 3 years) and their millions of devout followers in Idol and Glee, and “Animation Domination,” why should FOX seek to break what isn’t broken?

Then again, they’re giving some more live-action sitcoms a chance and bringing in two new dramas that could prove fruitful in the wake of Terra Nova’s cancellation, among others.

I see FOX as a network that’s trying to battle both the other networks as well as cable, and I’m not sure that’s a battle you can win if you don’t pick a side.  Sure, your ratings are solid, but can you win the BEST TV CHANNEL TOURNAMENT?

We’ll see.

Best TV Channel Tournament Primer: ABC

June 12, 2012 § 11 Comments

There was a time when ABC dominated my television watching and that time was called “TGIF” and I was just a stupid little kid.  Frankly, there’s no bigger insult to the quality of your programming than “Kids love it!!”

Kids are idiots. 

ABC is owned by Disney and therefore tries to remain as family-friendly as possible.  Since families spend a lot of money and consist of more than just one lonely loser watching TV on his bed while eating a Lunchables, ABC consistently remains near the top of the charts.  I’m going to present to you the shows on ABC and I am going to give a little bit of commentary but in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that I hardly watch anything on ABC anymore.

Since I grew up and the Tanner family moved on, and since we found out that LOST was all a dream that Hurley had after he died and that John Locke was God while Jack was my 5th Grade Teacher Mrs. Lomax, I have also moved on from ABC.  There are a few shows that I like and I’ll praise the hell out of them, but I am certainly not ABC’s target audience.

Last time I looked at CBS, which I consider to be “The Old People’s Network,” so again, I’m not their demo.  Today we look at ABC, which I consider “Television for Women” like a network version of Lifetime.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m not the demo and every network has their targeted demo except for the bi-polar NBC.  There’s good television and then there’s just television.

ABC: Just Television.


Modern Family

The Middle

Happy Endings

Last Man Standing


Don’t Trust the B—– In Apartment 23


It took me a little while to get on the bandwagon for Modern Family, but I’m fully entrenched now.  The show has taken some hits from the public since it became popular, many people saying that it’s not as good as it used to be, but I don’t really see a major difference.  And even if I did, I wouldn’t care as long as Phil remained one of the funniest characters on television.

You know what the major difference is between ABC sitcoms and CBS sitcoms is though?  I can give sitcoms on ABC my respect and a real chance because they don’t insult my intelligence with laugh tracks.  ABC has borrowed from both the family-oriented sitcom world and from the “hip and new age” sitcoms like The Office and created a mashup that’s enjoyable for both kids and adults.  I’m not a kid anymore, so don’t treat me like one.  When I want to hear a laugh track, I’ll watch Full House for the one millionth time way before I’d watch a new episode of The Big Bang Theory.

I’ve seen a few episodes of The Middle and I think it’s mostly stupid and cliche but I can watch it because it doesn’t have a laugh track.  Even despite the fact that the mom from Malcolm in the Middle looks like she’s always wearing a wig, I can watch it.  Even despite the fact that she’s in another show called “Middle”! (Hey I am an idiot, confusing Jane Kaczmarek for Patricia Heaton!  Thanks ihavekids for pointing that out.  Dumb error on my part.)  because it doesn’t have a laugh track.

I can even give James Van Der Beek another chance based on the fact that the sitcoms don’t immediately insult me with canned laughter.

I don’t think that ABC has the world’s best sitcoms.  Not even close.  But I give all of these shows a solid rating between 5 and 7 and probably an 8 or 9 for Modern Family.


Grey’s Anatomy

Private Practice


Rookie Blue

Body of Proof

Once Upon a Time




I can make this quick.  I have seen a few episodes of Grey’s.  I have heard from my friend that doesn’t watch a lot of television that it’s a good show.  I kind of assume it’s because they do something like ER, which is soap opera the shit out of you and leave a cliffhanger at the end of every episode, but I don’t know.  I couldn’t get over the fact that they were whining about drama like relationships while people were dying.  At least in the episode that I watched.

I have never seen an episode of any of these other shows.

I thought Jimmy Smits was in Castle?


Trust Us With Your Life: “an upcoming American improvisational comedy television series expected to premiere on July 10, 2012, on ABC.[1] It will be hosted by Fred Willard and star comedians Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie and Jonathan Mangum. Each week they will act out scenes in the life of guest celebrities.”

Read: I can get on board with that actually.  Seems really non-threatening and welcomes back some of that Whose Line stuff we’ve been missing.

Final Witness:  The seven-part series, which combines documentary and drama elements, will focus on a different real-life murder each week, narrated by the victim. Each episode will include interviews with the victim’s family and friends, real witnesses, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers, as well as scripted scenes with actors.

Read: I’m in.  ABC, you’re two for two so far!

The Neighbors: The series, set in New Jersey, revolves around a gated townhouse community called “Hidden Hills.” This is where the Weavers, a normal average family, have decided to move to. But upon their relocation to this community they discover that this place is populated by residents who are actually from another planet, using names of sports athletes, where men can become pregnant, receive nourishment through their eyes and mind by reading books rather than eating, and cries out green goo from their ears.

Read: Well, ABC, it was a good run while it lasted.  You should be proud of yourself for adding two shows this summer that I’ll watch.  The Neighbors, which is created by the guy who wrote movies like Cars and Tangled, just sounds like… Well, I’ll be honest, it sounds like the dumbest thing you’ve done since Cavemen.

I could be wrong on this one but this sounds like a show that has gone too far with “creativity” when the best shows are much more simple than gimmicks.  The best alien show ever is obviously ALF and how long was that even on the air for?

Nashville: It’s a show about country music and I’m already out!

Last Resort: A bunch of dudes in the NAVY get shipwrecked, left for dead, and declared enemies of their own country.  They wind up on an island and try to figure out what happened and how to return home.  Sounds like A-Team but without solving mysteries and junk, so what’s the point?  The creator, Shawn Ryan, is best known for The Shield but my opinion is that if you’re going to make a drama-action show, don’t put it on a network.  Take it to cable.  Otherwise, you’re held back too much and for that reason… I’m out.

Malibu Country: There’s only one thing you need to know: the show stars Reba McEntire.  When I was a little kid and Tremors was my favorite movie, I actually really like Reba McEntire.  I thought she was this cool country lady and she could kill giant worms, so I was on board with her just like I’m on board with everyone that was in Tremors.  But that allegiance wears off when we start talking about TV shows.  Remember Reba?  Hey, remember two seconds ago when I told you that ABC had a show about a female country music star in a show called Nashville?  They’re really pushin’ it.

666 Park Avenue: An upscale Manhattan building complex is probably being controlled by the devil.  The most important thing to know about this show if you’re going to try and watch it is that Terry O’Quinn from LOST is the shows primary antagonist.  Which I assume means that John Locke is playing the devil.  That might (MIGHT!) be enough reason to watch for a little while.  Maybe.  One episode.

Midseason additions are scheduled as: How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest of Your Life), Red Widow, Zero Hour, and The Family Tools.  

Why do any networks insist on having a show with a name as long as that?  One word.  That’s all you need to identify a show.

Who Gets a Second Season Prediction: Trust Us With Your Life, Nashville, Last Resort, 666 Park Avenue.


The American Music Awards, The Country Music Association Awards, The Billboard Music Awards, Miss America, The Academy Awards.

Well, they’ve got the Oscars which is the only one I consistently watch.  So that’s a plus for ABC.


Coming from the network that had Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, you’d think they would have more game shows but the only real game show I see is Wipeout.  Which by the way, is one of the best non-scripted shows on television.  Such a simple format: people get F’d up by lots of foam and water.  But it works so well.  I could literally watch Wipeout every night and be fine.  Turn off the brain and watch people wipe out.


Jimmy Kimmel Live!  and The View.

I do not watch late night shows or daytime shows but I’ve seen plenty of both of these.  I mean, it’s whatever.  Kimmel is probably a lot better than it used to be, the clips I see on YouTube seem funny and he recently beat Jay Leno for the first time.  Or maybe it was Letterman.  But he’s come a very long way to niche himself into the market where ABC wasn’t before.  Good for him.  Seriously.

I can’t stand Barbara Walters.  Probably one of the least likable people I’ve ever seen on television.



I don’t really even know how to tell the difference anymore between 20/20 and Dateline.  I like them both.


Americas Funniest Home Videos

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette

Dancing With the Stars

Shark Tank

Bachelor Pad

Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition

Secret Millionaire

Celebrity Wife Swap


The Glass House


AFV is still on TV?!?!  Man.  Back in the day, Americas Funniest Home Videos was a revelation.  I mean, this was the pre-cursor to YouTube.  Seriously.  It was a really important show.  But man, time has passed you by AFV and that guy that hosts it that is not Bob Saget.  With YouTube and Tosh.O, you’re days are clearly over.  Your videos, from what I’ve seen, are tame and terrible.  It’s over.  Please stop embarrassing yourself.

The only other show here that I watch is Shark Tank and I’ve become obsessed with Shark Tank.  Since I stopped drinking, all I do on Friday nights is watch Shark Tank and What Would You Do? and I’m perfectly content and happy with that.

“I’ll give you $5 for 100% of your company.”

Speaking of which, I don’t see What Would You Do listed on Wikipedia but it’s part of Primetime ABC News.  What Would You Do is an awesome show that I like to think of as “John Quinones Happy Fun Time Magic Hour” in which people are tricked into either doing the right thing or mocked for not doing anything to intervene.  Basically, actors interfere with people’s lives by loudly pronouncing the awful things that they are doing like a mom telling her daughter “YOU’RE GETTING LIPOSUCTION!” not very privately in a restaurant.

Look, it’s not even so much that you’re telling your 15-year-old daughter to get plastic surgery as much as it is that you’re ruining my ham and cheese sandwich.  Can’t you do this in the privacy of your own home?  Don’t bring into the 30 minutes I get away from work every day.  Just shut the heck up!

But it is entertaining television.

The Glass House is a new show that’s basically Big Brother and that’s why CBS is suing ABC in hopes of blocking the show from ever airing even if it costs 150 people their jobs and ABC loses the millions of dollars they invested into it.  Sounds like CBS is being whiny but look deeper and you’ll see that they hired away many staffers from Big Brother and even used a copied manual from the show.

Well, I like Big Brother so I might watch a ripoff of it too.


NBA, College Football, The British Open, Wimbledon, IndyCar, Breeders Cup, NASCAR, WNBA, X Games.

I think that ABC used to be a leader in sports but even their partnership with ESPN under the Disney companies rule hasn’t helped them get back the NFL or better college football coverage.


In the hands of the viewer, ABC may not be ahead of CBS all the time but even with shows that I will never watch like The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars, ABC at least has some programming that I would rather not do without like Shark Tank and Modern Family.

ABC is a shell of its former self after losing one of the best dramas that has ever aired on network television and they (as well as every other network) have tried and consistently failed to find the next LOST.  That won’t keep them from trying with shows like 666 Park Avenue, but that also won’t keep them from failing.  Here’s a tip: If you don’t have talent like JJ Abrams, it won’t matter.

Their sitcoms are far superior to CBS but the dramas on either channel aren’t worth watching for me.  I may not be the demo but when I heard that Desperate Housewives had it’s series finale recently, I had to wonder if I had traveled back in time five years and didn’t know it.  “That show is STILL on the air?!”

Which is probably what I’ll say about Grey’s Anatomy in five years, long after it’s been relevant in popular media.

ABC: Not Always Relevant, Not Always Bad.

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