Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't Touch That Dial

Who says there's nothing good on TV? We tackle the tube to sift the wheat from the chaff.

People are all too quick to say that there's nothing on TV but trash. They need to give some of this trash a chance.

Though I may know my way around a DVR, not everyone does. With that in mind (but remembering that quality is always the hope, at least), here is a helpful -- and totally random -- guide to navigating the vast and deep waters of TV.


8 p.m. "Gossip Girl" (CW) For their second and even more scandalous season, the kids of Riverdale High will stop abusing milkshakes and try not to go to so many sock hops. Oh, and have lots of three-ways in hot tubs while wearing $6,000 fur coats.

8 p.m. "Heroes" (NBC) After a fresh, exciting first season, they found themselves bogged down in dull plots and duller new characters. Can they bring back the magic? Or will Hiro be revealed to be a zero?

8:30 p.m. "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS) You might've heard that there's actually a very funny, very likeable sitcom on TV these days. It's even been on for three years already! It stars two people whose own parents haven't even heard of them and co-stars Neil Patrick Harris and the girl from "Buffy" (no, the other one) and the guy from "Knocked Up" (no, the other one.)

10 p.m. "CSI: Miami" (CBS) I hear David Caruso … (takes off sunglasses) is even more popular … (puts sunglasses back on) on his home planet.

10 p.m. "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" (Food Network) On a quest for the nation's best meatloaf, SoCal fratboy Guy Fieri helms a show that's delightfully revealing about the Third America, the one that combines solid, Midwestern values with weird, artsy-fartsy individuality.

10 p.m. "The Hills" (MTV) This season, Lauren, Stacy, Heather and Mildred resolve to work out their differences while wearing expensive clothes and not talking much. How interesting!

10:30 p.m. "Exiled" (MTV) Spoiled brats from "My Super Sweet 16" get sent off to foreign locales where they must work, sweat and learn life lessons. Hilarious!

10 p.m. "No Reservations" (Travel Channel) Armed with a punk rock/downtown attitude and a wide-open mind, Chef Anthony Bourdain travels the world in search of the most authentically local, earthy meals, and hangs out with the people who create them.


8 p.m. "House" (Fox) Hugh Laurie is now making $9 million a year. When I act like a jerk people hate me, but when he does it -- with an American accent that only I seem to find fake -- he becomes a middle-aged hunk. On this week's episode: A woman is sick because … she has cancer! (Just a guess).

8 p.m. "90210" (CW) Oh, what a disappointment. I don't know why someone thought it would be a good idea to take scripts from 1977 afterschool specials, blend them with 40-something Jennie Garth and anorexic tweens gone wild, but this is just stupid. In a bad way.

9 p.m. "Greek" (ABC Family) This college comedy makes me laugh out loud at least once or twice an episode. While many of the central characters are attractive and well-off, one of the leads and his roommate are actual geeks. Best of all, this so-called "family show" has its fair share of sex, substance abuse and a main character who's gay and African-American and gets to kiss his white boyfriend occasionally. Let's see that on "Deal or No Deal"!

10 p.m. "The Shield" (FX) The seventh and final season is in motion. Everyone from critics to fans to creator Sean Ryan has noted that this is a rare beauty that has never had a bad season. Finding out what happens between Vic and Shane is probably the most important priority in my life right now (well, after my family).


9 p.m. "Project Runway" (Bravo) This is the last season on Bravo before the show moves to Lifetime and relocates to L.A. As far as I'm concerned, this might as well be it. L.A.? I got antsy when they went to Paris for an episode and a half. My biggest concern is that designers have become far too savvy about positioning themselves on the show, and that it's lost its exciting freshness (Auf Wiedersehen, Blayne!)

10 p.m. "Top Chef" (Bravo) Currently on hiatus, ads have begun appearing promising that a New York edition is coming soon! Phone the neighbors, wake the kids! This hugely addictive food competition show is like a weekly Super Bowl for women, gays and foodies.

10 p.m. "Dinner: Impossible" (Food Network) The wacky food challenges thrown at original host Robert Irvine were always more interesting than the irritable, resume-padding Brit chef star himself. The new star, Iron Chef Michael Symon, is a much better choice to say, feed hundreds of people at Opryland with a menu based on the lyrics of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

10 p.m. "South Park" (Comedy Central) Part of the Stewart/Colbert/SP trio that keeps Comedy Central from being a complete comedy-hating wasteland. It's been on for, what, 30 years? And still "South Park" remains the bravest, boldest and funniest voice on TV.


9 p.m. "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC) That Katherine Heigel, so beautiful that no average man could ever win her over. I agree with her, though, the writing and acting on this series is abysmal.

9:30 p.m. "30 Rock" (NBC) It's very exciting to get to watch a comedy series that's funny, inventive, smart and fun every week! I wish more of you had the privilege. I just hope that the parade of guest stars (Oprah! Jennifer Aniston!) doesn't get to be too much.

10 p.m. "ER" (NBC) This show is so old, they watched it after the Last Supper (oh, snap!)

10 p.m. "Ace of Cakes" (Food Network) Those adorable scamps who make custom novelty cakes came to Louisville's Lebowski Fest this summer, and we can all watch it together on Oct. 9! Look for me in the background!

10 p.m. "Glam God" (VH1) You'd think that a show looking for the top stylist in Hollywood, hosted by Vivica A. Fox, would be the most gay-friendly show on TV and, yeah, it pretty much is.

10 p.m. "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" (Bravo) The American prep school headmaster comes back to teach middle-class hausfraus how to dress slightly better. To know Tim Gunn is to love him.

10 p.m. "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" (MTV) Again, pretty self-explanatory. If you missed season one, you'll be interested to know two things: 1) Jeff Conaway, the most messed up drug addict ever put on TV, is back, and 2) Gary Busey will be around ... to counsel the addicts? This might not work out very well, but it's sure to be memorable.


8 p.m. "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" (Fox) Did you see the one with Sarah Palin?

10 p.m. "The Soup" (E!) The funniest and/or most absurd TV clips of the week, all wickedly tied together in one LOL package, hosted by comedian Joel McHale, the one guy whom I worry that my lady would leave me for if given the chance.


10:30 a.m. "The Mighty B" (Nickelodeon) Amy Poehler voices the kid, an overeager girl scout, in this cartoon for girls and boys of all ages. The humor works on many levels, and the '70s-style animation is beautiful.


9 p.m. "Dexter" (Showtime) One of the most provocative and exciting series on TV. I continue to be amazed at what they accomplish each season with this tale of the Robin Hood of serial killers. Forget Batman, this is the messed up anti-hero I want more of.

10 p.m. "Mad Men" (AMC) This Emmy-winning drama about Madison Avenue ad men in the early '60s is firing on all cylinders in season two. If you don't have cable, I refuse to hear your excuses. You can rent the first season at Wild & Woolly for only $4 a week -- that's, like, 50 cents an episode!

12 a.m. "Metalocalypse" (Cartoon Network) Simply the best cartoon about a death metal band ever. If you missed the one where they hired a yoga instructor to help them become more flexible, so they can, um, do that thing that no guy can do to himself … then you missed, um, something.


And, of course, there are the essentials that you'll want to see at least 10 minutes of each night:

11 p.m. "The Daily Show" (Comedy Central)

11:30 p.m. "The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central)

11:35 p.m. "Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS)

12:35 a.m. "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (NBC)

12:35 a.m. "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" (CBS)

Lastly, every Sunday morning, eat your cereal and set your DVR/Tivo/VCR to tape any interesting guests on the upcoming talk shows. You say you wouldn't be caught dead watching "Regis and Kelly" or "The Martha Stewart Show," but do you really want to miss Bill Clinton on "The View"? Or Sigur Ros playing for Carson Daly? Or Dr. Phil discussing racial slurs with Al Sharpton? No, you don't.

c. 2008 Velocity Weekly

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