Unsolicited Musings From JG2′s TV Viewing Journal Forever: Extreme Teen Mom Reality Junk Food Edition Makeover Hell
“Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition”: In which morbidly obese average citizens spend a full year trying to slim down with the help of an extraordinarily compassionate personal trainer. An interesting concept that generally goes one of two ways—the subject either buckles down and sheds their excess flab with minimal hiccups, becoming an entirely new physical specimen, or the subject goes off the rails after one bike ride and remains relatively chubbed out by year’s end. I have yet to see anyone attack the trainer, Chris, which is amazing because he personifies the term “aggressively chipper” (he’s sort of like the “Extreme Fajitas” guy in Office Space) and I think if he took my devil dogs away I’d have no recourse but to go shit-house on him, werewolf-style.
“Hotel Hell”: Gordon Ramsay yells at barely competent innkeepers until they agree to start washing their linens/paying their staff. Again, I’ve yet to see any situation come to physical blows on this program, but it’s only a matter of time when you have a metrosexual Brit invading our heartland to swear at doughy Americans who are already irritable because they’re fifty thou in debt. Yeah, I know, Gordon used to play rugby, but that was a long time ago. He’s not hungry anymore. J.P. Bedsheet in rural Pennsylvania, who lives on a diet of stress and black coffee and has zilch in his bank account, is ready to fucking rumble, especially when some celebrity chef rolls up to scream about his hotel’s brunch menu.
“Teen Mom”: This show is getting away with murder in the sense that one of the teen moms gave her baby up for adoption. Thus, you never see her being a teen mom. She’s just being a teen (i.e. looking overly distressed, dressing strangely, mumbling a lot). Hey, MTV, I could mosey on down to the roller rink if I wanted to just see regular-ass teens. The breakout stars of this show are Amber and Gary, two planet-sized balls of emotion whose screaming matches and joint decision to support Ed Hardy at all costs have surely scarred their child for life (or the middle-aged dwarf actress playing their child). I predict we’ll see some member of that family boxing the likes of Darva Conger on FOX in less than five years.
“House Hunters”: The title of this program is in no way ambiguous. It’s literally a show where people tour various real estate properties and try to figure out which kitchen is big/pretty enough to accommodate their boring lifestyle. Usually the subjects are young married couples, but the most recent episode I caught featured a single mother and her ten year old son. All the kid cared about was having a pool, so his input was useless. He didn’t seem too upset when Mom chose the house with nothing but dust in the backyard. Maybe he was in denial. Maybe this “House Hunters” ep will be ground zero for his nervous breakdown at nineteen. Keep your eyes on the crime blotter, Arizona residents.
“The Bachelorette”: Twenty-some odd men compete for holy matrimony with one woman via a series of brief one-on-one encounters and various feats of strength (they had a sailboat race in the last episode). Somewhere along the line I stopped paying attention to Emily the Bachelorette’s rose-based reward system so I could zero in on which guys were gay and just there for the free vacation. You gotta figure at least two of ’em, right? If not I feel even more ashamed to be a straight male.
“Undercover Boss”: Strangely captivating for formulaic crap. Every episode is the same. CEO of some company is excited to “pull a fast one” on his/her lowly underlings by wearing a fake mustache and working the fryulator; CEO gets down in the trenches and realizes it’s been too long since they’ve ventured beyond the driveway of their McMansion; CEO bonds with a few lowly underlings, decides to give them each at least $50k to live their dream of going to college or seeing a Giants game from the Skybox. Hey Arby’s Boss, I burned my hand on one of your ovens in 1998 because I was a dumb college kid who never got to live his dream of being the first person from Connecticut to skydive over Moldavia on Christmas morning to spread a message of peace and love. Give me fifty grand.
“Shark Tank”: A panel of rich jerks summon struggling inventors into an ornate Bond villain-esque layer and gives them each approximately fifteen minutes to explain why their best idea is worth a sizable investment. This show is must-see TV if you enjoy watching average Americans sweat. Sure, your interchangeable neon bikini concept seemed like a surefire win when you were drunk around the dinner table in Wichita a month ago, but now you’ve got Marc Cuban’s pumpkin face staring you down, incredulous that you haven’t actually sold swimsuit one despite having invested your kid’s entire college fund into this phantom clothing line. How spontaneous combustion isn’t a regular issue on this program I’ll never know.
“Community”: Joel McHale must feel some resentment that his starring vehicle turned into an ensemble deal. I’ve been watching this show on and off from the start; lately, it’s been cloying, but I might be confusing that sentiment with my gut reaction to “Community’s” army of online fans who scream non-stop into the void about how this show is the most brilliant half hour currently on network TV. Yeah, it’s funny and inventive, but it’s too gooey at the center. I find I also have trouble looking at Donald Glover without hearing his terrible rapping as Childish Gambino echo through my head. Can you imagine if Woody Harrelson put out rap album while he was on “Cheers?” If anybody from this show should be rapping, it’s Ken Jeong.
“Parks & Recreation”: This one’s had so many “will they, won’t they?” plot lines between characters I could shoot myself. I feel like that’s the main thing holding “Parks” back from achieving “Simpsons”-esque greatness. Leslie and Mark, Leslie and Ben, Chris and Ann, April and Andy, Tom and his girlfriend, Tom and his ex-wife, Ron and Tom’s ex-wife, Ron and his three ex-wives…hey, did we ever find out what the heck happened to that vacant lot they were going on about in the first season? Did they actually make it into a park? I don’t remember because the show was too busy throwing all these bullshit romances at us. I had no idea fake Indiana was such a hotbed of unbridled lust.
“Pimp My Ride”: I caught a few reruns of this classic mid-Aughts MTV staple tonight. I can see how Xzibit could get pissed off at all those goofy “Yo Dawg!” Internet memes this show spawned—the guy’s actually pretty sharp off the cuff as he rags on people’s junk rides, and in the end he was just trying to do right by a few cash-strapped teens. It’s unfortunate they never took this show on the road to host mobile “Pimp My Ride” clinics in parking lots across the country. I want to see Xzibit outside a Wal-Mart in Kansas rubbing elbows with the local NRA chapter. Question: Do you think any teen on this show was slightly disappointed in how their ride was pimped? Like, what if they painted your car sea foam green, and that’s your least favorite color? Could you sue Xzibit for making your life even worse?
“Would I Lie To You?”: This is a British game show I’ve been dialing up on YouTube because David Mitchell from “Mitchell/Webb” is a regular team captain. It’s basically two teams of three Brit comedians reading shit off cards and everyone has to guess if what they’ve said is true or false. It’s funny if not a little repetitive, but my real complaint is with the goddamn set. Filmed on a white stage with huge glowing discs of primary colors sitting behind the panels, it looks like a Halls cough drop commercial from the late ’80s. The sterility turns me off. Then again, our American “Jeopardy!” is lit so blue it looks like the broadcast is coming from the inside of a Smurf’s polyp, and “Wheel of Fortune’s” so ramshackle decoration-wise it could be filmed in the lobby of an Omaha Days Inn for all anyone knows. So what the hell, right? Game shows aren’t supposed to be visually stimulating, I guess. It’s all about the white-knuckle competition! Or trying to figure out if David Mitchell’s first word was “Hoover” (it was).
“Halloween Is Grinch Night”: A.k.a. “The OTHER Grinch TV Special.” This aired in October of 1977. Produced not by Chuck Jones but by Dr. Seuss Enterprises and featuring not Boris Karloff as the Grinch (Boris had been dead for like a decade at this point) but Hans Conried, the execution in this animated entry isn’t as lively or memorable as the Christmas Grinch but it’s still plenty enjoyable. Some nerdy little Who has to distract the Grinch from invading Whoville on Halloween night. It’s a fine spooky Samhain snippet, but I almost lost it when they gave the Grinch’s dog an inner monologue by Henry Gibson. I hate it when Illinois Nazis speak for my animated pooches.
“MonsterQuest”: This show has squeezed out a surprising three seasons, proving the world of cryptids extends far beyond the holy trinity of Bigfoot, Loch Ness, and Chupacabra. Granted, they never flippin’ find anything (aside from the Greenland Shark, “MonsterQuest’s” sole success story), but I think the point of this show is merely to raise awareness. For instance, I had no idea there was a “Grass Man” in Ohio—I mean, aside from Purple Pete, the dealer behind the Donut Hole on 5th Street in Akron. So far, the episodes this year have been great. The one about the Jersey Devil was particularly excellent. I don’t know what was scarier—the old timey reenactments of the Jersey Devil’s “birth,” the sculpture that guy made based on the sighting that kid and his mom had, or the kid’s pale adolescent visage replete with long hair and “fuck you” scruff. Chills n’ thrills all around. Love the announcer’s smokey voice, too. I bet he’s wet the panties of more than one willing lass at the Russian Tea Room.
“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”: Conan’s replacement has experienced a pretty wonky liftoff (as expected), but he brings enough funny at 12:30 to justify his existence. Asking Mayor Bloomberg to pose for a picture in front of Castle Grayskull was alotta yuks, especially when they were having so much trouble getting it up on the green screen. Giving everyone in the audience Warheads was slightly inspired. Still, in terms of personality, Craig Ferguson nukes Jimmy Fallon back to the stone age every night. Fergie rants and raves and goes on wild, no return tangents unlike anyone else on the tube right now (yes, Regis, I agree with you). Even if Giggly Jim pulls his act together, I think history will ultimately remember Craig as the superior host, the guy who whole-heartedly deserves the next serious late shift promotion.
“Reaper”: I feel like someone pitched a Ghostbusters TV series based on Ayroyd’s original “hell on earth” script idea for GB3 and this is what we got when Sony wouldn’t license Venkman and his pals. “Reaper” is amusing, but it suffers from too many stock characters, too many predictable jokes, and, on occasion, some really awful special effects. Kevin Smith had / has something to do with this show, which I’m sure is affecting my bias. That guy needs to take his comic books and bowling shirts and mumbly back-of-the-classroom demeanor and do something not gratingly obnoxious already.
“American Dad”: This show has really come into its own. Great rhythm, great stories, fresh jokes, great performances by the voice cast…totally my current TV obsession. The first show in ages that I’ll purposely watch episodes of over and over again just for the LULZ. So many quotables. “Are we talking Q? Are we talking Q?” “An autopsy showed the hamster was pregnant.” “Son of a bitch Superman II’d me!” That last one’s constantly on the tip of my tongue. I’ve been waiting very patiently for someone to come along and Superman II me already (by which I mean I’ve been waiting for someone to hire Richard Lester to complete me).
“The Golden Girls”: I catch nearly four episodes a day of this seminal eighties sitcom. It’s amazing how raunchy the jokes are sometimes. It’s like “The Young Ones,” sans explosions and plus Geritol. Ny friend John made a good point the other day—you can never tell if the guys who show up to the Golden Girls’ house for dates are supposed to be hot or not. There’s always this weird pause and then Blanche or Rose will freak out one way or the other. I saw the final episode today, the one where Dorothy marries Leslie Nielsen. Kind of sad. Later I caught the one with Paul Dooley and Rita Moreno as the neighbors, the one that was supposed to be spun off into “Empty Nest.” I think they made the right decision trading those two dullards in for Richard Mulligan and his Get Fresh Crew (Kristy McNichol and Dinah Manoff). I really didn’t find myself giving a shit about this younger, less flustered couple living next door to the Goldens.
“The Wonder Years”: Less painful than I remember. Fred Savage’s accent, that is. It’s a little strange to watch “The Wonder Years” these days. Sometimes you forget it was actually made in the 1980s. Then Donkeylips shows up and you’re like, “Oh, snap!” I still get a few yuks out of Paul everytime I catch this one. Actually, I concocted a fictional Paul-centric episode in my sleep this afternoon. I dozed off watching VH-1 right as “Scott Baio is 45 & Single” came on and I dreamt Paul and Winnie Cooper hooked up. The entire episode was told from Paul’s point of view, and the voice narration was provided by…Scott Baio.
“Scott Baio is 45 & Single”: Except he’s not, actually. Single, that is. The whole premise of this show is the man once known as Chachi is dating some girl he wants to marry but is worried he’s gonna screw it up. So he hires a life coach who makes him do all kinds of wacky things, like…talk to his ex-girlfriends. Not exactly “The Amazing Race: Krakatoa,” but Baio’s sleazy charm keeps me tuning in. How can you deny a man who tries to make amends with a bucket of KFC? Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ.
“The Two Coreys”: This show is more scripted than the Kennedy assassination, but who cares? It’s Feldman and Haim. They might as well change their names to peanut butter and jelly, because that’s how awesome they are together. So much unintentional humor in this one. Feldman’s house is littered with strange relics from the height of his fame (Lost Boys fan art, teenybopper magazine covers blown up to ridiculous sizes). Haim is always rockin’ the 1998 Backstreet gangsta look. At times, it’s difficult to tell who’s got the better grasp on reality. In the middle of it all is Feldman’s poor wife, Suzie. Girl looks like she wants to kill Haim every second of the day. If that Corey is mysteriously absent from the next License to Drive reunion, we’ll have our first suspect.
“John From Cincinnati”: HBO’s surf noir series, recently axed after just one season. Not surprised. Weak writing and lousy acting (Rebecca De Mornay, I’m looking at you) really bogged this one down. Snippets were interesting, but overall it was too grating and confusing to be truly enjoyable. I think they set too much up, expecting to have a few seasons to sort it all out. Sorry, Yosts. You’ll never truly know if John was an alien/God/the Devil/an angel/a ghost.
“The Bronx is Burning”: John Turturro’s performance as Billy Martin on this ESPN miniseries has been amazing. You can’t even tell it’s him at first. I’m not sure how I feel about the cutting between vintage game footage and newly filmed stuff, but generally speaking “Bronx” has been a tight, gripping trip through the 1977 pennant race. Oh, and there’s an OBSCENE amount of Ramones songs in it. It’s like disco never existed. Johnny Ramone’s will must have stated all future New York Yankees dramatizations must feature at least five different Ramones songs per hour. Up yours, Gloria Gaynor.