This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Intermission: Sports Guy goes to Milwaukee

As many of you know, I live in Dallas but grew up in Milwaukee. That explains my love of the Bucks and the seething love/hate thing I have with the Brewers, as well as a bunch of other things about me that you may or may not have picked up on. Bill Simmons of visited Wisconsin and went to two Brewers games and a Packers game, and had a lot of great things to say about the state and its people. Also, he seems to have noticed that there are a lot of fat people there. Nice and fat -- that's how we roll.

I was kind of disappointed, though. I was under the impression that the sausage race now had a Mexican chorizo, but Simmons doesn't mention that. Looks like he's only running once this year, and I have no idea why. It seems racist, which I hate.

CBS: We're Coasting at this Point

When you're beating the competition as soundly as CBS is, you have to limit yourselves just to keep things interesting. This season, all the new shows at CBS have one-word titles*. They're so cocky.

Easily the biggest story of this year for CBS is going to be the genius of Survivor: Segregation. Man, I can't get over what a tremendously controversial but ultimately benign idea this is. Judging by the buzz, ratings should go through the roof. And that, my friends, is why CBS is the king. That, and...

Shows I can't believe are still on

Numb3rs -- Not only is it the Northern Exposure guy, but it's a show involving math. Isn't this concept beaten into the ground by the show yet? Man, it's been like 4 years, hasn't it? Meet the new JAG.

The Ghost Whisperer -- I'm shocked this made it through the whole year. That'll teach me to underestimate Jennifer Love Hewitt's fanbase. This can't make it through another year, can it?

CSI: NY or MIA -- If it were up to me, any show with David Caruso would be cancelled. I don't know why he bothers me so much. I really don't know why he doesn't bother other people so much.

Cold Case -- There are so many cable shows about real cold cases, so why does this lame drama about fake ones keep getting renewed? People are just keeping their sets on CBS, hoping for another episode of CSI, I'll bet.

New Shows

Jericho -- The prodigal son of the mayor of a small Kansas town returns home just in time for thermonuclear war. Now the town is cut off from the rest of the world, and the prodigal son must be the hero. It's hard to build your show around nuclear disaster when Iran is being so insane, and that's why this show will be cancelled. I'm not going to waste any more space on it except to say, "Nice try ripping off Lost, dillheads."

Shark -- James Woods (!) plays a hotshot defense attorney who gets hired by the same prosecutors he used to beat to head up a team that's dedicated to prosecuting millionaires. At least that's what the trailer made it sound like, anyway. I'm sure everyone will learn a lot every episode, and in the end maybe we'll all find out this Shark is just a regular fish with surgically implanted teeth. At any rate, get used to this show, because it's on CBS and they never cancel shows like this. You won't know anyone who watches them, but somehow they always clog up the top of the ratings every week.

Smith -- CBS doesn't need quirky names like "House" to get you to watch their shows. CBS is so cocky they'll pick the most generic name possible just to see if you'll still watch. It's like a social experiment at this point. Smith himself is played by Ray Liotta, who's a "family man by day and a criminal mastermind by night." He's basically a scuzzbag thief. Of course, he's getting tired of the stealing now, and he's just looking for that one big score so he can retire. That's original. Living in Dallas, this thievery thing hits a little too close to home. Why does America think thieves are such sympathetic characters? I hope Smith dies in the pilot. Oh, and it also stars overrated singer Frankie G, last seen making some dreadful girl swoon on My Super Sweet Sixteen.

(The) Class -- It's John's Ritter's son in a sitcom. Wait, it gets's a sitcom about a guy who's trying to reunite his entire third grade class to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the day he met his fiance'. Nobody would ever think of that, much less do it. Why not have him try to pull a tank with his teeth? Now that I would watch. How does gathering this class show his love for her? There's gotta be more to this. If there isn't, it's doomed.

* The Class is actually two words, but one of them is an article and doesn't count for purposes of this joke.

ABC: It's a Whole New Network

One thing you'll notice about ABC is that they have eight fricking new shows, some of which feature Ted Danson. This network sucks that bad. Aaargh. Well, let's get this over with...

Lost is still on, and hasn't jumped the shark despite what you might have heard from the unbelievers out there. It's more of a cult, really. A cult of FUN, I mean. Try it, you'll like it. It's much better than Cats.

Besides the eight new shows, ABC still has reality crapola like "Wife Swap," "The Bachelor," "Dancing with Emmitt Smith," "Dancing with Emmit Smith Some More," and so on. And you thought NBC had no ideas. Can the new shows rescue ABC from its body of death? No.

Shows I can't believe are still on:

Everything on the schedule, with the exception of Lost. They should just run commercials from Thursday-Tuesday and see if anyone notices.

New Shows:

Six Degrees -- A bad show masquerading as an interesting one, this is what happens when JJ Abrams decides that Alias and Lost were ok and everything, but he just wants to go back to making crappy boring dramas like Felicity. In this show, strangers' lives interconnect in coincidental ways. It's like Lost without the island or, you know, the being lost. Ask yourself how bad a show with Hope Davis could possibly be, and then tune in for the answer.

The Nine -- Another show that's a multiple of three, this is about nine people who become an unlikely sort of family when they survive a hostage-y bank-robbery. Again, it's seems like a good premise, but it's probably not interesting enough to build an hour-long drama on. The bank robbery itself is told gradually through flashbacks, but will that be enough to get people to tune in every week? No. With ABC, the answer is always no.

Twelve -- Just kidding.

Brothers and Sisters -- It's an Alias reunion as Sloane, Grace, and that psychiatrist Sloane slept with all team up in this ensemble drama about a family that has issues. No, seriously, that's all it's about. There's no coincidences or bank robberies involved, as far as I can tell. If you think a show with that simple a premise is doomed, I present to you Friends. Anyway, I'll probably check out at least one episode, just to see if Sloane's going to run this family the way he did SD6. Also stars Callista Flockhart. Where has she been?

Ugly Betty -- Starting with "produced by Salma Hayek," not one bit of this show's concept sounds in any way good. Check it out: An ugly girl with braces is hired to be the assistant of a fashion magazine's head honcho...She gets humiliated by fashion d-bags every week, but the dumb plucky girl never gives up...It's like ABC saw the success of The Devil Wears Prada and rearranged it...It's an adaption of the "greatest telenovela of all time"... The actress who plays Betty, her real name is America...These are all annoying things, but it still looks like it could be funny. I think something's wrong with me.

The Knights of Prosperity -- Fed up with life, A guy whe makes pithy comments on VH1's "I love the 80's" assembles a group of nobodies and plans to rob Mick Jagger's house and live off the proceeds. Again, this is nothing but the exact reverse of My Name is Earl. Thinking about this show's premise tires me out. Why Mick Jagger? Why robbery? Why not just a sitcom about down-on-their-luck people? Why do they have to turn criminal? Aaargh. I hate ABC.

Men in Trees -- Let's see...from which angle should I approach this? It's like Northern Exposure only with a female relationship counselor instead of a male doctor. Or maybe it's the movie Hitch in Alaska with a female lead. Or maybe it's any story where someone thinks they know everything, but it turns out they knew nothing, and now they're in Alaska and they aren't leaving until they learn. This show also hinges on Anne Heche's likeability, which, ah, we'll see, buddy.

Dear John -- A psychotherapist with love issues (played by a former lead actor in a classic sitcom) counsels a group of people with problems, one of whom is played by Jere Burns. Oh, wait, did I get the name of the show wrong? Hey ABC, if you're going to remake Dear John without a laugh track, you might want to avoid casting the same actors, especially ones as recognizable as Jere Burns. Whither Kirk? Btw, the show is really called Dear John. Wait, I did it again, didn't I? I'll let you guys figure out the name of the show -- it's the one with Ted Danson.

Day Break -- Groundhog Day, only not funny and with a black guy. I'm not kidding. They didn't pick up Mulholland Drive, but they'll let this slide through? They need some better drug screening at ABC.

NBC: Trying to Build around The Office

One used to be able to keep his TV tuned exclusively to NBC and have a pretty good time. Sure, you had to sit through a Hope & Gloria once in a while, but there was always a Seinfeld around the corner to make things better. These days, however, if your TV is tuned to NBC on any night besides Thursday, you're either a nincompoop, a Law and Order freak, or Dateline's having another one of those shows where they bust pedophiles.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I'd take L&O over CSI any day, as well as Dateline over 20/20* or 60 fricking Minutes. But that's just me. I just like Stone Phillips and pedophile-busting. The question is, as it always is this time of year, does NBC have any new shows that will facilitate its return to glory? Last year brought us the great Jason Lee and Earl, a show which got better as it went on. But how long can Earl Hickey go around crossing things off his list without it getting monotonous? And how many times can Earl say "Hey, crab man," and it still be funny? I'm way too worried about this.

Shows I can't believe are still on the air:

Crossing Jordan -- does this show have an audience? It's on at 7pm on Friday, so maybe it's on its last legs.

Las Vegas -- Yeah, it's got James Caan, Nikki Cox, and Vanessa Marcil. I still don't know anyone who watches it, nor have I heard anyone ever talk about it. It's also on Fridays, so maybe Friday is the graveyard...but where does that leave Law and Order?

The Biggest Loser -- This is a joke show, right? It can't still be on the air, can it? Why isn't anybody answering these questions? I demand satisfaction!

New Shows

30 Rock
-- SNL's Tiny Fey, Tracy Morgan, and Rachel Dratch star with noted SNL guest host Alec Baldwin (and ever since I saw Team America, I involuntarily pronounce that in my head "eewec booween.") in a show about the behind-the-scenes world of an SNL-type show. I smell lots of hollywood in-jokes and perhaps a gross career miscalculation on the part of its stars (besides Mr. Morgan, who kinda needs this). If you watch the Yahoo!!!! preview, you'll notice the great Judah Friedlander makes an appearance in the pilot. They must kill him off in the first episode, though -- he's not on the cast list. That's another miscalculation. However, what do I always say is the only criteria for a comedy? That's right, it's gotta be funny. This show looks like it could be funny, especially with Tracy Morgan as an insane sketch-comedy star. As long as they refrain from a lot of jokes about how unfair hollywood is, they might be ok.

If a preview has this many qualifyers, does it really mean anything? Maybe.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip -- Not only is this another "behind the scenes of a TV show" show, it also has a multiple of 30 in the title. It's not that NBC is out of ideas, they just prefer to use the ones they have at least twice. Anyway, speaking of miscalculations, Amanda Peet stars as a network president, Matthew Perry stars as a Chandler Bing-esque person (I'm not really sure what he does), DL Hughley stars as the insane star of the show (sound familiar?), and the whole thing would be doomed were it not written by Aaron Sorkin. Seriously, its the same show as 30 Rock, only it's an hour long and on at 9:00 Central so it'll probably try to be "edgy." I wonder: Is this same-show thing some sort of joke NBC's playing on America? At least ER and Chicago Hope were on different networks.

90: A Show about a TV Show -- just kidding.

Heroes -- "Ordinary people discover they have extraordinary powers." This sounds like every other movie coming out of hollywood right now, so this show better have something to distinguish itself from all this superhero garbage that we've got floating around out there. It looks like they're going for realism, as in "what would really happen if real people discovered real powers." Of course, in real life these people would become criminals, but we can pretend power doesn't corrupt on TV shows I guess. Weiss from Alias stars as a policeman who can read minds, which would be a handy skill to have. There's also an invulnerable cheerleader (every guy's dream, right? Wait...I don't know what that means) and a dude who can fly. It'll probably be a fancy-looking train-wreck, but I'll probably try to check it out anyway despite the high probability of pointless evolution-speak.

Friday Night Lights -- NBC doesn't just rip off movie concepts, it also adapts actual movies for TV. After viewing the trailer, I'm ready to pronounce the show DOA because it features exactly zero real-sounding or -acting teenagers. This seems like just a show about football, and a boring one at that. I'm kinda sorry I even mentioned it. Gosh, it looks horrible.

Kidnapped -- This is every other kidnapping story, only this time with a former star of China Beach in a lead role. Don't believe me? A billionaire's son has been kidnapped, and the kidnappers tell him not to call the police. The billionaire therefore calls a former FBI guy to investigate. He clashes with the real FBI, who for some reason took some time out from wiretapping us to solve this rich guy's kidnapping. I'm not sure, but I think there might be some twists long the way. If we expect twists, are they really twists anymore? Also, calls from the kidnappers will be cause for high drama, and they'll try to trace the call, with mixed results. I'll never watch this.

Twenty Good Years -- Old people (John Lithgow and the great Jeffrey Tambor) star in a standard laughy sitcom about the realization that we've all wasted our lives. It's sort of a rip-off of Earl, only this time with old people living life to the fullest instead of criminal hicks. I didn't laugh once at the preview. Is that a bad sign? Tambor's great, but not without good writing. Lithgow sounds a little too much like his Third Rock from the Sun character, too. And nobody likes old people anymore. The Golden Girls, only with guys? I think not. If Arrested was still around, this show wouldn't exist. Think about that.

*Speaking of, I saw Hugh Downs (and Joan Lunden) on an infomercial for some "wealth-building" crap last night. If you're one of those two, how can you let your image be sullied by appearing in crank like this? The desk they're sitting on even looks like a cheap infomercial desk. They're not even trying! Are they flat broke? This is Hugh Downs, man. This would be like Mike Wallace shilling for the JuiceMan. What the heck happened here?

Epth Super Fun 2006 Fall TV Preview Introduction

(I didn't watch the 4 seasons without Jean Smart, so I sure as heck aren't going to watch this one with her. What's next? Delta Burke as a terrorist mastermind?)

The summer is almost over, and do you know what that means? Yes, it means another month and a half of 100+ degree weather here in Dallas, but that's not all...It's time for the Fall TV season! No longer will we be forced to watch sucky reruns, MTV scripted reality dramas, and America's many talents. Fall is when the real TV takes over, kind of like when Britain and France tried to fight Hitler, but then we showed up and were like, "Ok, the real army's here now, never fear," and stuff.

Ok, so it's not like that. Who cares? There's a bunch of new shows to mock!

Last year's preview turned into an extended plea for Neilsen families to watch Arrested Development, which ended up being cancelled 13 episodes in anyway. The good news is, as I reported earlier, G4 is running the show's 53 golden episodes weeknights at 11:30, which now that I think about it I don't know if that's Eastern or Real time. I need to figure that out. Anyway, it's also on the web somewhere, so don't fricking cry if you haven't got G4.

Living in a post-AD world, it's hard to come up with a wishlist for the upcoming TV season. The Office seems like it's on pretty solid ground thanks to a lead-in named My Name is Earl and Steve Carrell's string of hit movies. Lost is going crazy with this summer web-game, and I guess it's good to hope that the Hanso/Mittelwerk/plucky girl detective/Sprite/pointless game didn't kill the actual TV show. I think it'll be fine, though. Alias is mercifully dead (and that last episode seems worse and worse after every season 1-2 rerun I see, btw. They messed up the Lena Olin character bad), SNL is losing half of its cast (prediction: it will actually be funnier...woah, this limb I'm standing on is creaking), Flavor Flav's next failed attempt to find "love" has already started, and I have no real desire to keep all the Americal Idol rip-offs straight in my head anymore.

If you'd like to follow along with this preview at home, go here. I'm doing it by network to help you organize your weekly watching schedules. What's that? You have TiVo and can watch things anytime you want? Well, you should probably work on the last 3 years of 24 before the new season starts. You clearly have no time for reading this. Get on it! Your TiVo demands a time sacrifice!

First up is NBC...

Editorial aside: My wife and I have now tried twice to get into 24, and the pilot episode killed it for us each time. I don't care about any of the characters, the real-time format's novelty wears off in 20 minutes, and it's too over the top for even me. Please forgive me. Next up? Veronica Mars. (?)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Where My TV Preview Will Spawn From...

...besides my evil mind, of course: Yahoo!!!!'s Fall TV Extravaganza '06, featuring a full episode of the new FOX show "Vanished," one of the many shows that would never have made it to TV if not for Twin Peaks.

I'll be using that site to mock TV later in my Super Great Fun Fall TV Preview. Yahoo!!!!!!! has made itself very functional as of late, even if Yahoo!!!!!!!!! 360 is as dreadful as a Laguna Beach teen's personality. Yahoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! should choose to fight different battles, and stop just trying to beat Google at everything. Sho nuff.

Monday, August 21, 2006

See Kelly Clarkson Drunk

HERE. (Link is to "Fighting Bob" Wilonsky's post on the Dallas Observer blog, Unfair Park. The video is actually on YouTube.)

What's amazing to me is that the world is finally coming around to my assertion that Kelly Clarkson is probably the closest thing we have to Pat Benatar these days, and that's weird. It's all weird -- the Idol thing, the fact that she can sing, the fact that everybody thinks she's a peach, the fact that she's got a great rock voice, etc. The band even starts playing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"! Anyway, she manages to blow everybody off the stage with her singing even though she's totally wasted. Actually, she reminds me of someone who's trying to act more wasted than she is -- maybe this whole thing is just a publicity stunt...maybe she's trying to update her image in advance of a rock record release.

The clip is oddly fascinating, isn't it?