Blog

What You Should Be Watching On Television

While spending a few hours on Facebook the other day I stumbled on to a discussion on my friend and comedian Nick Cobb’s page.  He was asking for a new show recommendation and friends of his were offering suggestions as to what they thought the best show of the last decade was and what the best show currently on is.  There were some sensible answers and some real awful answers.   Here are some examples and shows that did not make the cut:

THE LOSERS

House – who are you my parents? 

Lost – you are too stupid to appreciate the list I am putting together

Rome and Deadwood – these are the people that in a music discussion of the best band of all time would ignore the obvious rule that you MUST say Rolling Stones or Beatles (my favorite band is Guns N Roses, but my answer would be Rolling Stones).  Those who drop Rome and Deadwood – a good and a very good show, respectively – are the people who drop Nirvana in a “best band” discussion.  Shut your mouths and just accept that sometimes, like a broken clock, American culture gets it right.

John Adams – it’s a miniseries. read Nick Cobb’s question.

The Mentalist – seriously?  CBS is the network that produces dramas to make Jay Leno fans feel smart.

True Blood – a show that like Glee, seemed to realize that their main demographics were women and gays and decided – to hell with writing – we’ll just get everyone on this show in a gym, skimp on story and consistency and still draw ratings as long as we amp up the sex, gore and campiness.  Headed down a path of awfulness this season.  The real shame is that Alan Ball, who created a television masterpiece in Six Feet Under, is also listed as a creator of True Blood.  My guess is that after Six Feet Under he made a ton of money, found himself a trophy wife/husband (no idea what his sexuality is) and after season 1 of True Blood said – “Hey, you are shallow and pretty dumb – wanna write this show for me? Most of it is written in a book already – you will just have to add more breasts, blood and campiness?  What’s campiness?  Well you know when you think something is good? Right, like Paul Walker or Dexter – just write it with that same feeling.”

Dexter – I made it through one season.  Some of the worst acting I have ever seen.  Michael C Hall should die poor and be remembered for David Fisher than collect paychecks with that cast of nothings (though I hear John Lithgow was good in later seasons – too bad I give a show one full season to at least entice me.  It didn’t).

Special Note – Why I have no faith in Showtime – You may notice that Dexter is the only Showtime show even mentioned by me.  That is because Showtime is stupid.  Their shows are made with the following concept – can we write one character, line up one credible actor or actress and surround him or her with mediocre writing and acting?  Yes, well then we want to make your show!  Even USA at least says “CharacterS welcome.” Showtime’s phrase should be “Character welcome as long as long as character brings mediocre humor, drama and/or co-stars.”  I hate Showtime in all its forms – Lakers, Cable Television, etc.  If HBO, AMC, USA and Showtime all went to school together, HBO would be the Harvard bound quarterback, AMC would be the slightly arrogant and nerdy valedictorian, USA would be the guy who chicks inexplicably liked and Showtime would be a Goth kid.  No, it would be the girl that dates the goth kid, but is not goth herself.  Loser.

Treme – wake me up from my coma – have they cancelled it yet?

Mad Men– Mad Men to me is once again, like sushi – it is something that lots of people like, but also something that lots of people like to say they like because they want to be people who like things like sushi and jazz and other overrated things.  Mad Men is a well done show.  But like Treme, Mad Men sometimes feels like a documentary on early 1960s life, which can be somewhat boring.  I found Season 3 of Mad Men (until an admittedly great finale) to be an excruciatingly boring endeavor.  I often defend shows like The Wire by praising its authenticity, but it helps that there is actually some intriguing plot development to go with the realism. 

So here for all of you is the definitive list of what shows from the last 10 years you should watch.  It is objectively correct.

1) Six Feet Under – Funny, moving and the most realistic look at relationships and human fears of any show ever made, by far.  if the show feels “too gay” for you, rent Queer As Folk, watch it and then re-start Six Feet Under.  f the show is too troubling or upsetting for you then it is working.  And it is widely and justly considered to have the greatest finale in television history – take that MASH!

The Fisher Family will change your life.

2) The Wire– Would be number one, but Six Feet Under is just more personal.  If this show is too slow for you, then watch The Shield and consider yourself ignorant.  If the show is too black for you, watch Southland and consider yourself slightly racist.

3) Arrested Development – The best comedy I have ever seen.  Nothing is actually close, especially this decade.  So naturally it only made it three seasons on television.  I blame the South.

4) The West Wing– If this show is too political for you, then you are dumb.  As impressive as the dialogue, plot and acting is, the details of the show are incredible. To say nothing of the fact that they basically predicted the election of Barack Obama before he had even announced his candidacy.

5) The Sopranos – The first of the Big Three for HBO (Seriously in an 8 year period HBO dropped Six Feet Under, The Wire and The Sopranos on America – to me that will go down as the greatest accomplishment in original television programming).  Sopranos, unlike The Wire and Six Feet Under did not quite end in a way that met with its overall impact and quality.

6) Breaking Bad– the best show on television right now by a mile.  It is dark, filled with tension and excitement, well acted and yet feels incredibly plausible and realistic at the same time.  This is the first drama I have seen that clearly indicates that HBO has dropped the ball recently.  Mad Men gets mentioned as the one HBO let get away (especially because that might have meant naked Joan!), but Breaking Bad is so superior to Mad Men it’s a joke.  More entertaining without sacrificing anything in terms of writing or acting quality.  If the show can finish with way its first three seasons began then it may move towards the top of this list.

Here's an objective truth about a show about a scientist - Breaking Bad is the best show on television.

I feel I must mention Eastbound and Down (but only 1 six episode season to show so far) and I have not seen In Treatment – an HBO show that has been highly recommended to me.  Other than that those 6 shows above will entertain you and raise your expectations for what television can do.  Then when you are done with them you will look down on most other people’s television show opinions like only a condescending six-foot-seven comedian can.

Blog

Good Week vs Bad Week

Last week started out terribly with the sweeping of the Utah Jazz at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.  If you missed it I tweeted incessantly, which just compounded my sadness (but I still feel I am less sad than the people who tweet about the weather, their meals, and other mundane things – namely a majority of people on Facebook and Twitter).  But that was just the beginning of the week.  I then had to cancel my show Always Be Funny that Thursday because we had 6 comics, 1 bartender and three people sitting at the bar, two of which were openly against the show and one who is a regular at the bar and is usually a decent audience member, except the time she heckled Jon Fisch.

This would not have been so bad if the show I was scheduled to be on earlier that evening was not also cancelled.

Comedy shows beware of J-L. Or call Atreyu if you have his cell number.

So feeling like The Nothing from The Neverending Story, as shows were destroyed in my path, I took Friday off from comedy to go to the Bronx DA’s Office for my former bureau’s annual Yankee Game party.  It was a good event, especially since A-Rod hit a Grand Slam to put the Yankees ahead in the game late (let’s look at the two live sporting events I have attended this year – the game of the year so far in the NBA in Utah and a clutch grand slam from A-Rod against the Twins – it is as if God is telling me that I should quit comedy and just go to sporting events professionally).

Well, it was time to get back to the grind of comedy on Saturday – I had a show at O’Hanlon’s on 14th and 1st, which I learned upon arriving, was… you guessed it – cancelled!  Fortunately I was able to observe 4 white guys threatening to beat up a black guy so that was entertaining.  The four white guys looked like they might have been firefighters – not the heroes that women want to have sex with of course. No, these guys looked more like the crew-cut, Irish, raised in effectively all-white neighborhoods, voting Republican their whole lives, racist type of civil servants.  Those guys, not the heroes.  Now I have to allow for the possibility that they weren’t, but they looked the part anyway.  The black guy was a black Israelite, who are known for their congeniality and open mindedness, but this guys was quadruple teamed and they were throwing his property in the middle of the street, hitting cars and cyclists while doing it.  So I did what any former DA would do – I called the police.  I offered a very detailed description, but I made two mistakes – one – i Said I did not see a weapon.  Two – I said it was four white males attacking a black man (I was not dumb enough to say he was a black Israelite).  I waited 20 minutes, which the four Klansmen did as well, but the police never showed up.

Perhaps if he had attacked, instead of being attacked there would have been a better response time.

A more effective call on my part might have been:

“Yes, I see four black men attacking a white woman!”

“Do they have weapons?”

“Yes, if you consider their large, angry black cocks weapons!  Hurry quick!”

I think the police would have been there quicker.

So that was the end of my bad week.  But with Sunday comes renewed optimism.

First I was shooting my new video.  The story is about black guy wants to date a daughter of a rabid Tea Party member and the agency that helps acclimate Tea Party members to ethnic boyfriends.  Of course, it started out poorly because one of the actors backed out at 10:07 am via text for an 11 am call time because he had to wait for furniture for his move with his girlfriend.  Sounds like a valid excuse, assuming people  move on 30 minutes notice and lack a nervous system.  So after setting a new volume record for how loudly I could yell fu*k, comedian Matt Maragno came to the rescue at the last minute and delivered laughs.  The shoot went well and it looked like the week was off to a great start.

My sketches are in good fun because obviously there is no racially-based anger within the Tea Party.

It got even better when I got an offer yesterday to open for Jo Koy in Cleveland starting this Thursday and running through Sunday.  That means big crowds and payment of money for my jokes.  Of course, without eating for the 4 days I will only net a little over $100 for my efforts. 

Tomorrow night I am making my tape for college submissions and I am confident that will go well.

So, in sum a bad week in my comedy life is witnessing a hate crime and going 3 for 3 in having shows get cancelled.  A good week, by contrast, is doing a YouTube video, netting $100 for half a week’s work and doing a bringer so I can one day entertain college kids, with diminishing social skills and emotional connections.  Like I have told friends – if you have a choice between your son or daughter being in gay snuff films or being a comedian, go with the snuff.

Sunday will be the start of a new week, but it begins with the season finale of Lost (a show that proves that like Dane Cook comedy, as long as you have a premise with no logical conclusion you can actually make millions, even if everything following the premise ranges between nonsense and stupidity) so I am not too confident in the prospects for a good week.

Like Dane Cook - I respect the effort put into the work, but not really the final product.