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What am I thankful for?

November 27th, 2008

Or, more about more appropriately, approved for what am I thankful? Many sappy things of course (family, friends, The Enabler, life, liberty, &c.) but I’d like to take a moment to discuss a decidedly non-sappy thing for which I’m very thankful, and which I think has a special connection to this very American holiday: TV.

I know I sound like a dullard or an illiterate yokel, but the fact is that TV has brought so much into my life, and I’ve only really realized how much joy it brings since I have to frantically suck it from the internet’s tubes like Christopher Reeve getting stem cells from a fetus. So far our beloved Sanyo CRT is only used to play Wii Fit and play the occasional Netflix DVD we both feel like watching at the same time, and the poor TiVo is just sitting there underneath it, not even plugged in. It’s so sad!

We originally decided to deprive ourselves because our apartment complex only offers DirecTV through a cable, and it’s hilariously expensive. (where was my mother to yell “that’s how they get’cha!!”?) Now however, with the discovery that we might be eligible to get AT&T U-Verse, The Enabler and I are considering breaking our temporary fast and bringing TV back into our lives in the new year. When we were in CT, TiVo was an integral part of our lives, allowing us to watch all sorts of things whenever we wanted….reality shows, Daily/Colbert, comedies and scifi, all whenever we wanted! I don’t think “How It’s Made” ever left our subscriptions page….it was the old standby: there was always one there, you know what you were getting into, and it was always enjoyable. (except for the stupid line-drawn cartoon segments and the occasionally insufferable narrator Brooks More….oh, you haven’t seen it? I’ll stop alienating you now, then.)

What do I miss most? In no particular order: Ace of Cakes (Oh, Duff), The Soup (Oh, Joel), How It’s Made (Oh, Brooks), Star Trek Voyager (Oh, 7 of 9), The X-Files (Oh, OK I’ll stop now), whatever VH1 reality show was in season (I only recently found out about A Real Chance at Love, and completely by accident!!), Mythbusters, Chelsea Lately, Top Chef, Project Runway, and the occasional discovery of new wonders. This discovery is even less of an option now than it was in the strictly regulated TiVocracy of the last two years, but I have managed to add these two shows to my repertoire.

Kath & Kim, a new show based on a popular Australian sitcom featuring Molly Shannon, Selma Blair, and previously fetch-featured John Michael Higgins, is maybe not the brightest star in the galaxy of network television, but I take peculiar pleasure in it. The plots are so-so, the jokes chuckle-worthy, but I find the characters so spot-on that I cannot help but love the show. All it takes is for Molly Shannon to make a face, any face, and I melt. And Higgins’ slightly effeminate portrayal of Kath Day’s fiancĂ© Phil Night (the pilot of both the US and AUS versions leading up to a beautiful pun on their surnames) is constantly entertaining. Like other shows with which I have been obsessed (Arrested Development springs to mind) it’s the little things that keep me coming back – in almost every scene there is a slightly misused or misspoken word or phrase (“Je no say crawl”), some of the outfits are just priceless, and the sheer amount of time they spend at that goddamn mall is so frightening!

Now for Show and Tell! Here, Kath is concerned that her daughter might be gay.

And this clip (from start until 5:20 – just wait for Shannon’s “beyotch” face), which functioned as a promo for the pilot, sums up basically the whole dynamic of the show.

It may not last long, but it’s pretty reliable and easy on the brain. The last five episodes are available on Hulu.

The other (not new) show which I’ve actually grown to love with all my little offensive heart is “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” I had heard of this show, but was always turned off by Danny Devito being so present in all the promo material (I enjoyed him in Ruthless People, but who else was I supposed to enjoy besides Bette? Judge Rheinhold? And yes, I only remember that bitch’s name because of Arrested Development…….) Turns out the first season does not feature DeVito on screen, and I think is all the better for it…..by the time he becomes a regular in the second season I was hooked and could basically watch around him to my heart’s content. (it’s not that hard, after all) The premise is like Seinfeld, in the sense that none of the characters are likeable and the show is basically about nothing, but here it’s taken to its rude, crude, reprehensibly ego-centric, and vulgar extreme. It’s most of what I liked about South Park before it got completely message-y, but somehow it’s harder to believe when actual people are acting how you think no one should ever act.

Somehow I can’t think of a particular cogent example…..here’s the opening scene of the fifth episode: Gun Fever.

Really you should just treat yourself to one of the first season episodes, they are all gems and a good way to get a feel of the show. With the odd exception, all episodes are available on Hulu, but due to content you have to sign up (free!) to affirm your age.

So that’s what I’ve discovered recently, at least in part because of the limitations of my avenues of obtaining entertainment. But of course, this whole re-acquisition of cable thing could just be an exercise in futility, so for a good visualization of this, to cleanse the palette a little, and with hopes that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I present the following:

I’m off to visit the fam and go to a wedding, but I’ll see you in December!


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