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The Weekend Rally…err, I mean The WEEK Rally

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned, it has been 11 days since my last post. As penance for my sins I will watch back-to-back episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. I actually won’t (I don’t know that any man’s sin deserves such a vicious punishment). Besides, the delay was done as a favor to all of my friends who have been in the dark (literally) due to the ridiculousness that is an October snowstorm followed by more than a week without power. If PSE&G couldn’t get your power back, then Goddamnit I’m not going to rub your collective noses in it by giving out spoilers and regaling you with tales of hours and hours of TV watching in the warmth of my fully electrified apartment (or whatever you call an apartment that has power). That would just be mean. And on top of all that, let me assure you, you weren’t the only ones suffering.

Four days. Four days without power. More importantly, four days without TV. Yes, I know. There are those of you who went without running water (not to mention hot water). And you sat in total darkness. And you couldn’t cook. And your kids were doing homework on a table at Friendly’s. OK, so maybe you have a gripe or six. But I didn’t have TV!

So now with about 99% of my readership back in power (or those who remembered I have a blog and remembered to check back in at the site anyway), I have fought through all that Mother Nature put in front of me and have all but caught up on a week’s worth of too-much-TV in about half a week. No half-assed CP&L excuses coming from this guy. Oh, the things I do for all of you. You’re welcome.

The Unwatched List
For all intents and purposes, a TVpocalypse has ravaged the TVpocalypse. While I have done my best to rally through the storm, there are definitely shows that were left behind…for the time being anyway.  For whatever reason, there seems to be a whole bunch of Gossip Girl piling up. And by whole bunch, I mean 5 episodes. Not a good sign for sure. This show is a notoriously slow starter that somehow always seems to end with a bang at the end of the season. Maybe I’m just subconsciously waiting for that. Or maybe I’m just maturing beyond the level of a 14 year-old girl. It’s probably the first one.

There’s also a Whitney (stunning, I know), and a Beavis & Butthead (I’m not sure what to make of this. I’ll chalk it up to yet another thing that got “lost in the storm”. Don’t worry…we shall overcome.). Miraculously enough, I have powered through the stockpile on my now infamous bedroom DVR (It’s a TVpocalypse miracle!), so I have a feeling the new poll will reflect that.

The Worst Episode of the Week
Beavis & Butthead (Werewolves of Highland/Crying)
Maybe I just built it up too much. Or maybe the show hasn’t hit its’ groove yet (it has been more than 10 years). Or maybe time has passed this show by. Or maybe I’ve just matured beyond the level of a14 year-old boy (again, probably not the latter). But for whatever reason, I was not blown away by the return of one of my all-time favorite shows. By no means am I quitting on Mr. Judge, but I’ve definitely adjusted my expectations for this show. As you can see, it’s been an extremely eventful couple of weeks as I have seemingly grown out of both my male and female adolescence. Fear not though dear readers, for I promise to do everything in my power to make sure I emotionally regress again. That’s just the type of blogger I am. You’re welcome. Again.

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This Week’s TVpocalypse Poll (10/17/11)

In her heyday (as is evidenced the "Rachel" haircut)

1. Homeland (Last Week: 4)
As you’ll notice, there’s a major shakeup at the top of the rankings this week. And at the urging of Erin, my friend and fellow blogger, I’ve decided that three episodes is enough of a sample size to go on the record and declare this the best show on TV (or at least the best show on the TVpocalypse 25). As is always the case, it comes down to the DVR. There is not a more jam packed night on my frenetic TV viewing schedule than Sunday night, and this show is always the one I’m looking most forward to. As I measure which show I will watch first, I realize that I’m always a little disappointed when I realize Homeland doesn’t go on until 10pm so I can’t watch it first. I literally can’t wait to see what happens next.

2. Boardwalk Empire (Last Week: 2)

3. The Walking Dead (Last Week: 23)
This is one of those rare cases where, despite months and months of media overhype and over-the-top word of mouth endorsements, this show didn’t only live up to the hype…it exceeded it. I am not a horror movie fanatic, nor am I a comic book maven, so it’s not like this is a show that is pandering to me.  It’s just that this show is that good. Similar to Boardwalk Empire, this show just seems to standout to a point where it’s always unfair to compare it to other mere mortal TV shows. I don’t know that it’s one of the perks of doing good TV on cable instead of network TV, but this is more like a weekly movie-going experience as opposed to a TV show. The moment I finished the sixth and final episode of season one, I was counting the moments until the season two premiere.

4. Sons of Anarchy (Last Week: 3)

5. Modern Family (Last Week: 1)
It’s not that this show has been bad lately, it’s just that the other shows have been that good.

6. Happy Endings (Last Week: 17)
Alright, so I mentioned in The Weekend Rally that this was one of the shows that I rallied big time on and completely caught up with. After pouring through about 6 episodes this weekend, I have one simple question, “How the hell is this show not bigger than it is?!” Six friends. Great banter. Plenty of inside joke-ish references for those of who are children of the 70’s. And a major point of tension that runs throughout every episode…will Alex and Dave every get back together again? Sound familiar? Yep, this show is essentially Friends before that show jumped the shark with Ross and Rachel part 87. Get on board people….this is good stuff!

7. Dexter (Last Week: 5)
Similar situation to Modern Family.  I’m not hating on Dexter, but I’m not loving on him either. There are just too many crazy-good dramas on TV right now to have this show (in its’ current state) rate any higher.

8. Jersey Shore (Last Week: 6)
Season finale coming this week, and a possible farewell to our current cast of guidos. So it goes without saying that I have some pretty high hopes for this one.

9. Blue Bloods (Last Week: 8 )

10. The X Factor (Last Week: 7)
Remember when I told you last week that I am now officially looking forward to seeing what happens next on this show. Well, I still am. Thanks FOX.

11. Parenthood (Last Week: 10)

12. Up All Night (Last Week: 12)

13. Top Chef: Just Desserts (Last Week: 11)

14. How I Met Your Mother (Last Week: 9)

15. The League (Last Week: 14)

16. The Office (Last Week: 16)

17. Blue Mountain State (Last Week: 15)

18. Fringe (Last Week: 18)
I’m back in. Another couple of solid episodes and this could start climbing again. I’m just hoping they don’t botch this Peter return.

19. House (Last Week: 20)
I might have a better idea on this had I been allowed to watch episode two. Thank you one more time FOX.

20. American Horror Story (Last Week: 24)
Much improvement from episode one into episode two, but I still have reservations. I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that I have a theory on this. More to come on this one later in the week.

21. Pan Am (Last Week: 13)
I’m a bit confused as to what this show is trying to be. Let’s put it this way, with 24 off the air, this is not the show I’m looking to sate my international spy games fix. Apparently, the show’s writers don’t entirely see it that way. That’s a bit unsettling. Again, I have a theory on this. And again, more to come on this one later in the week.

22. Gossip Girl  (Last Week: 19)

23. American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior  (Last Week: 25)
Someone needs to prove to me that Discovery did not in fact have an actual role in manufacturing this Senior vs. Junior riff. Without this storyline, the show would have been cancelled 2 years ago. It’s almost sad (says the guy writing this post while watching said exploitative show).

24. Whitney (Last Week: 22)
One of these days, you’re all going to fall in love with Whitney and you’ll have me to thank for discovering a show that you normally wouldn’t have considered. Either that or NBC will cancel it in January. Either one….but more likely the latter than the former.

25. Hung (Last Week: 21)
Wouldn’t be the worst idea if I actually got around to watching one of these episodes.

Others to Watch: Person of Interest (Still piling up on my DVR)

Goodbye to The Playboy Club

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Every season there are those shows that have no hope. The shows that are DEFINITELY going to get cancelled. The shows that only got made because the network couldn’t find a reality show to slide into that time slot. You know heading in that it’s going to be gone by midseason, yet you defy all common sense and you still ante up.

This show makes those shows seem like sure things.

There is a very real chance The Playboy Club gets cancelled during its’ first commercial break. So, of course, I’m in.

That was my pre-season assessment of The Playboy Club. And while it did make it out of its’ first episode….it didn’t make too much further. So while it’s impossible to say that I didn’t see this coming, I must confess, it stings nonetheless.

But why you ask? Well, I’ve spent the last day and half trying to wrap my head around that very same question and I’m pretty sure I’ve come to a conclusion (yet another perk to my daily 3-state, 3 hour sojourn to and from work (or commute as most people call it…and yes this is another case of a parenthetical statement within another parenthetical statement)).

I guess because I’ve been able to put so much time into analyzing this (because obviously, there really aren’t any more important things I should be thinking about), I not only have one reason as to why I’m so hurt by this show being cancelled, but I actually have two of them. So without further ado (I would say 256 words is enough ado), here the two reasons why I’m so bothered by The Playboy Club being cancelled.

1. Whatever happened to bad TV?
Don’t get me wrong, this was bad TV (really bad TV actually). But I would argue that that is exactly the reason why we need this show. With the explosion of reality TV, bad TV has become a lost art form. Judging by production costs alone, the networks would obviously much rather go out with a “bad TV” reality show than a “bad TV” non-reality show. But I would argue that in that thinking, there is a massive void in our TV viewing selection.

You see, sometimes, I don’t want a sitcom that hits me with some adaptation of a joke that has been used approximately 378 times in 216 different shows since the first time it was used in a 1956 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

And sometimes, I don’t want to watch a drama where I can sniff out the entire story line (definitely for the episode, and quite possibly for the season) about 7-8 seconds after the opening credits have cleared the screen (yes Grey’s Anatomy, I’m talking to you. To be honest, I actually liked Grey’s the first time it was on. I think they called it ER back then).

I don’t want it to make me a better person. I don’t want it to make some huge veiled statement about our society as a whole. But most importantly, I don’t want it to make me think.
Because, sometimes, I just want bad TV. I want mindless TV (Donna Martin graduates!). I want it to be over-the-top (the Melrose Place explosion at the pool). I want to be able to shut off my brain, watch without thinking, be completely entertained and love every ridiculously absurd minute of it.

The Playboy Club was all of those things. And now it’s gone. Thanks a lot NBC! Which is actually a good segue into my next point (it’s almost like I’m planning this as I write or something).

2. Fear of Commitment
How many times have you gone against your better judgement and gone all in on a show? You knew from the moment they announced it that the network wasn’t entirely sold on it. You knew they were just looking for a reason to cancel it. You knew that the only reason they put it in the fall lineup was because they’re already having trouble justifying 7 hours of The Biggest Loser a week on top of the 4 hours of Minute to Win It, and they figured that had to have some original programming…right? Didn’t they?

You knew all of this, yet you still went in on The Black Donnellys, and Journeyman, and Southland, and Kidnapped, and Pushing Daisies, and The Event, and Flash Forward, and Detroit 1-8-7, and of course on The Playboy Club.

And then the network did exactly what you knew they would they do. At the first sign of distress, they cancelled it. And in its’ place, they created a new SVU or they extended Deal or No Deal another hour longer. They got nice and safe…and lazy. Of course, these are the same folks who tried to cancel possibly the greatest TV drama of all time (Friday Night Lights) and the greatest TV comedy of all time (Arrested Development) every single season they were on.

So let me save you all the time since I have a good eye for these doomed shows. If you happen to be watching Terra Nova….yep…you already know…don’t you? Maybe Netflix (or whatever they call it now) an old season of The Wire or something. Sorry to be the bearer of bad new, I guess I just miss The Playboy Club.

Am I the only one? Was I the only one watching the shows mentioned above? Did I happen to miss any? I would love to hear about them..

Why I love bad TV

Look familiar?

The Playboy Club is an unmitigated disaster. And I love it. And while I’m fairly certain that I can’t really explain my fascination with this show, I figured I might as well try. Hell, it might even help me understand it.

The very first thing that hit me in the very first minute of the very first episode was an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. I’ve seen this show before….but where?! And then it hit me. I was watching a bad imitation of Showgirls. Yes, THAT Showgirls. The Showgirls that is always front and center during anyone’s “What is the worst movie of all time?” debate.

(Editorial Sidebar: The following paragraph will get into a fairly substantial amount of detail about a movie probably 3.7% of you actually saw. For the other 96.3% of you, here’s all you need to know about Showgirls. When it came out, the buzz for this movie was huge (and this was pre-internet being the internet, and certainly pre-social media). And the reason there was so much buzz was because Jesse from Saved by the Bell was about to star in a movie about Vegas showgirls. The modern day equivalent of this would be something along the lines of Miranda Cosgrove from iCarly going into a Cinemax soft-core movie next year. Showgirls had excessive nudity, completely over-the-top and contrived sex scenes, and absolutely no script or story to speak of. To call this movie a bad would be an affront to all the bad movies that were ever made before this one. And now back into our Showgirls/The Playboy Club breakdown…)

Carol-Lynne is the Gina Gershon rip-off. She’s the old pro hanging on for dear life. A little bit wiser for having been in the game for as long as she has, but at the same time a bit too desperate to keep the party going as she realizes it’s all coming to an end real soon. This is only further provoked as she watches Maureen enter the club. Maureen is the Elizabeth Berkely rip-off. A doe-eyed starlet, whose innocence is magnetic to the other characters, but a complete threat to Carol-Lynne. And whereas Maureen is somehow in awe of Carol-Lynne’s singing/performing, Carol-Lynne is in full-on catfight mode as she watches her much younger boyfriend take a bit too much of an interest in the newbie. Now here’s where I would begin to state a case that the Nick character is a rip-off of the Kyle McLaughlin Showgirls character, but unfortunately, I can’t. You see, I was too distracted by Eddie Cibrian’s apparent obsession with Jon Hamm.

From the clothes, to the lighting, to the hair, to the controlled and deliberate speech pattern, it’s obvious that Eddie Cibrian is doing a very thinly veiled (yet miserable) imitation of Jon Hamm’s Don Draper. But this nod to Mad Men (and by nod, I mean thievery) seems as though as it’s woven into the DNA of the show. They do a magnificent job of taking bits and pieces of much more ambitious and thought-required TV shows, dumbing them down, and making them ready for mass consumption.

You want a mafia show with all sorts of political graft but Boardwalk Empire isn’t quite your speed? No problem, we killed the head of the Chicago mob in the first 10 minutes of the pilot and Nick is already paying kick backs to the corrupt Mayor of Chicago for an endorsement in his run for state’s attorney. Does a storyline where a closeted gay married man lives in an era where gays had little to no hope for mainstream acceptance sound interesting to you? But is Mad Men just too slow for you? We’ve got you covered, because one of the Playboy bunnies’ hubby is doing his own rendition of Sal from Mad Men. I would also call the unnecessarily mysterious presentation of Hef in all his scenes a direct rip-off of the Charlie scenes from Charlie’s Angels, but I think the new Charlie’s Angels probably has the “ripping off the original Charlie’s Angels” angle covered in spades.

So right about now, you’re probably asking yourself “why the hell do you watch this show?”, and it’s funny you should ask that, because after reading through this rant I find myself asking, “why the hell do I watch this show?”.

I think I watch it because it is so dumb. It takes me back to a time when TV was simple and I didn’t always have to think so Goddamn much. A time when Billy and Alison could start working at a small ad agency called D&D advertising with no background in the industry and, somehow, days later find themselves working on a Super Bowl spot. A time when there was no question that Valerie would be able to successfully manage The Peach Pit After Dark despite having absolutely no experience in seemingly anything even remotely related to running or even working at a club. I think I watch it for the exact reasons it is so bad. This show is the anti-J.J. Abrams, and you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Others Receiving Votes

Whitney Cummings on hard

For those of you who follow college sports, you might consider this the “Others Receiving Votes” section of the TVpocalypse Top 25 (hence th snappy name for this post). For those who don’t follow college sports, it’s the section of the poll that features those teams who aren’t quite ready for the full on Top 25. But if one of the teams in the poll happens to slip up….then these teams will be ready to pounce.

Now pardon me, but I have a confession to make. I’ve been watching other shows. And since we’re all friends here, I’ll be honest with you….I’m beginning to like one of them. You might consider this to be a warning to all the shows that are currently in the TVpocalypse Top 25. In fact, you might say that there is one show that is on the  “come”. You might actually call it an “up-and-comer”. Or that it’s “coming on hard”. Or maybe even that it’s “coming up hard from behind.” (It was just too easy. At least I spelled them all with an “o” and not a “u”.)

So now that the suspense is all but gone, let me tell you why I am on board with the new Whitney Cummings show Whitney. Actually, before we go there, let me give you some history here. I had actually made a conscious effort to NOT watch this show. It was heavily promoted (really, really, really, really, really heavily promoted), but for whatever reason, I got the stinking suspicion that every highlight shown in the promo spots would be every highlight ever. And on top of that, the highlights weren’t all that high.

But then I heard Whitney Cummings do an interview on The Howard Stern Show. And she killed. And then I remembered how much I liked her stand-up. So I decided during one of my daily 2 ½ hour, 3 state commutes to work to give her (and the show) a chance. So I watched. And I liked it. And after much consideration, I have finally come to a theory as to why.

A few months ago, I saw Bridesmaids. I hated it. I mean I really, really, really, really hated it. And here’s why. The movie didn’t know what the hell it wanted to be. The ads that got me into the theater made it seem as though this was The Hangover with women. But the movie wasn’t nearly that focused. The writers got caught in the trap of trying to please two disparate audiences — men and women. So while there were moments when the movie was The Female Hangover, (generally only when Melissa McCarthy was on the screen) there were also moments when it was 27 Dresses. And guess what? I don’t want to see 27 Dresses…not even for a moment. If I wanted to see 27 Dresses, I would have gone to see 27 Dresses. And they kept doing it. Look, look, look….we’re Dumb & Dumber….oh, no wait, we’re The Proposal. Now we’re Bachelor Party….nope, we’re Love Actually!

And this is exactly why Whitney was so good. It pretty much does one thing, and it seems to do it well. It’s a group of women who all seem to have a guy sensibility about them. That’s it. In TV terms it’s much more Dream On (how’s that for an archaic reference?) than it is Sex and the City. There’s a whole lot of sexy, tastefully tasteless innuendo, and not much in the way of snuggling and men being forced to apologize for acting like men. I’ve been racking my mind and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything quite like this show. Needless to say, I’m pretty much in.

Now I’m sure there are those of you out there who would say that 25 shows are plenty, and I would agree, but what if one of those shows REALLY sucks (I’m talking to you Fringe) and I would need to replace it? I felt as though I owed it to you, the TVpocalypse readership, to have a few on-deck….just in case. So I’ve been keeping my eyes open. I’ve been reading early season reviews. I’ve even been spot-viewing a show here and there (worked out well with Whitney, not so much with Whitney’s other show Two Broke Chicks). But I am just one man. So I’m asking you, my loyal 11 readers, to throw some suggestions my way. I know a couple of you have done so in the form of comments on other posts or even during conversations in person, but now I making it official. So I am pleased to announce the first-ever TVpocalypse: You Decide What I Watch promotion! Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Post a comment with a show you think I should be watching. Maybe even plead its’ case with a sentence or two.

Step 2: I’ll put up a poll featuring all of your suggestions.

Step 3: You vote for the show you think I should pick up.

Step 4: I drop Fringe like a bad habit

Step 5: I start watching your show.
It’s that easy folks. TVpocalypse — a blog that’s for the people and by the people!