Two Strikes and No Balls

TBS launched a couple new comedies Tuesday. Sort of an odd time, missing both fall and midseason. Does that bode well? Read on for my Pilot Opinion of My Boys.
Lemme get this out of the way: I don’t like sitcoms. At least in the traditional, multicamera, jackassy-family-sitting-on-the-couch-trading- wisecracks kinda way. 22 minutes of rapid-fire punchlines is only somewhat more pleasant than lining up to get punched for 22 minutes.

But I don’t miss The Office, loved Arrested Development, like 30 Rock so far, and am a fairly big fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. So is it a single-camera thing? The discomfort comedy trend? Some combination thereof? Should I stop asking questions? Prolly yes to all of the above.

Unfortunately, the new TBS comedy My Boys proves that a single camera isn’t a silver bullet. It is not, despite being billed as such, “veryfunny.” It is, however, mildly ok. Maybe. Cleared The Pilot Hurdle by the narrowest of margins, primarily due to laughing out loud at today’s “Quote of the Night.”

The “My” is P.J. Franklin, a Sun-Times sportswriter who cannot stop acting like a guy or voiceovering everything with strained baseball metaphors. The “Boys” are her Central Casting friends who apparently do little else aside from come to her house to play poker.

The show takes place in Faux Chicago; the kind featuring random shots of Oak Street Beach runners and characters who locale-drop like they’re from Fodor’s. Lots of “what I like about the Billy Goat is” and “the traffic on Lake Shore Drive.” Fortunately no one said “Da Bears,” but I’m sure it’s not far off.

And therein lies the problem with My Boys – the whole thing feels fake. Plot, premise, performance… all of it labors under an air of unreality. The overall conceit is that P.J. is too much “one of the guys” to actually land one. A major plot point in the first two episodes is that the guy she’s into won’t sleep with her… because she’s not protesting enough. Apparently rejection is “hot.”

Complete and utter nonsense. P.J. is, in fact, a guy’s wet dream. A rockstar cute girl who looks great in a softball uni and can not only talk sports, but get you a press pass? Oh, and loves beer? Come on. One might be able to get some mileage out of plots concerning a new guy being put off by her familiarity with other guys, but as it stands, it’s another show that takes place in Bizarro world.

Can it be salvaged? Dunno. Despite the shaky characterization, Jordana Spiro is quite winning as P.J. Her boys need to evolve from a set of stock poker-playing buffoons into actual people – but the actors have decent comic timing. So far the writing’s hit and miss: solid laughs are scattered among obvious jokes, and it’s past time to lose the metaphorical baseball/love narration. We’ve heard it before – and better – in Bull Durham.

And the show’s sort of toothless. Set in a world of sports and guys, it needs to man up and push the comedy a bit. I’ll give it another week, but as the subject said – it’s not looking good.


Punch-drunk Love

Theme of the night seemed to be "dealing with issues through violence." Read on for my Mile-a-Minute take on a hit-and-hit Tuesday.
Veronica Mars: OK conclusion to the campus rape case. Altho it provide a bravura revenge moment for Logan, I’d love to see these things wrap up without resorting to putting Veronica in peril. And in peril from pretty minor characters, to boot. Next up – who shot Ed Begley, JR? Hard to imagine, but that sentence does actually refer to an unfortunate event.
Friday Night Lights: Was Friday Night Fights again, as Saracen and Smash almost went at it, we finally got Riggins vs. Riggins, and Street came out swinging in Murderball and took on Herc, Lyla plus Riggins (tough week). It’s always good, but this ep was kinda mixed – great date stuff, but the steroid subplot feels a bit been there.


Monday's my Funday

Actually, it's worlds better than Sunday. Take that, Bangles. Tuesday's turning into a bit of an "I do have to Runday," so here're some quick Mile-a-Minute Comments:
Prison Break: The “Fall Finale” delivered, although the more time the show spends on the shadowy conspiracy, the weaker it gets. The dramatic reveal of the guy behind the guy behind the guy was sorta “eh.” Just stick to the guys trying to get away. And sending Bellick back to Fox River was fun; jailhouse rape is guaranteed comedy gold.
Heroes: It’s a classic book trick: start with your second chapter. Catch up with your characters in the thick of the action, rather than belabor their beginnings. Works wonders, particularly for origin stories. This ep showed the Heroes discovering their powers (and limitations – poor doomed Google Girl) plus we learned how (and why) Sylar’s taking them. Truly riveting television.
Studio 60: Hey, look at this – take that comedy, toss in some conflict and you’ve got a show. Best ep yet. Few things, tho – don’t tease a “shocker” that’s already a heavily-covered cast pregnancy. Also, we already saw Corinne Bailey Rae on SNL; don’t waste your 44 minutes of screen time on musical guests. And don’t waste any time on Howie Mandel.


Heartbreaker, dreammaker, love-taker...

...don't you mess around with me. Fortunately, even with the holiday, ABC soldiered on with some new TV. I'm thankful – least I can do is give 'em 60 words or so per show, with Mile-a-Minute Comments:Grey’s Anatomy: The fit finally hit the shan. An episode that lived up to its billing without lotsa gimmicks. Well, yes, there was someone with a giant glass shard in her heart, but that’s par for the course at Seattle Grace. This show, while prone to fits of whimsy (seriously!) has evolved into one of the more honestly emotional ones on TV.Day Break: After the pilot, the next two eps were titled What if They Run and What if He Lets Her Go. Given the huge ratings dropoff, my question is What if Nobody Watches? I think the show’s got some style and flair, although it could use a little more fun. Here’s hoping it gets to at least complete the 13-episode run.


Is it all in that pretty little head of yours?

Friday Night Lights was dark, so only one Mile-a-Minute Comment for Tuesday.
Veronica Mars: Getting picked up for only 20 episodes seems like the last gasp. I keep wanting to urge people to watch this show, but it’s not built with good jumping-on points. Last night’s ep was terrific, with campus rape case revelations and more issues in Veronica’s relationship. But I’d say wait ‘til after next week, when the case gets wrapped up.


Hit and Miss... and Miss

Not a banner Monday, but hitting one out of three would put you in the hall of fame, so I guess we shouldn't complain. But I still will, 60 words at a time, with Mile-a-Minute Comments:
Prison Break: What the hell? At first, Michael believes his father beat and locked him in a dark closet, but a helpful flashback changes everyone’s mind. Mourning his dying father, he buries him in a classic TV frontier grave (rocks and a cross of sticks). Because you wouldn’t worry about leaving a trail when you've, you know, Broken out of Prison. Hah?
Heroes: Turns out “the answers we’ve been waiting for” will come in the 2nd half of a two-parter. Ah well – sweeps, right? So, slightly underwhelming, but still a hell of an episode, as The Cheerleader starts to step up and deal with her destiny. And thanks for wrapping up the return of Mohinder – overly drawn out and decidely undramatic.
Studio 60: This show operates in some sort of Bizarro world, where not only would the general public tolerate two identical sketch comedy shows airing on back-to-back nights, but a real network would be willing to hire an entire staff of writers from one of those shows to spinoff a character called Peripheral Vision Man into a sitcom. Two words: thin ice.


No Deal. Please.

So to get ready for tonight’s big Heroes, I tuned to NBC early, unwittingly watching about half of Deal or No Deal.

Ho. Lee. Crap.It’s the classic trainwreck, except the passengers are 26 passably attractive clones being driven by a preening bald jester in a disco undertaker outfit. Oh, and on the side of the tracks, shrieking like feral schoolchildren, are a seething throng of lowest common denominators.

Deal or No Deal purports to be a game show, but the only talents involved are shouting numbers and trying not to be creeped out by Howie Mandel. Each number corresponds to a case with a monetary amount inside. The “point” of the show is to open as many cases as possible without eliminating the big money. As the cases disappear, a mysterious Banker calls with offers to stop playing, at which point Howie struts around, presses his palms together and spits out the show’s version of “final answer,” which goes “Deal…

…or No Deal?”

The contestant can either take the money or go for more. A throng of hysterical jackals, some the contestant’s friends and family, urge him or her to go on.

At the point that I stumbled across the show, a woman who apparently loved everything lime green took the Deal of trading her case for a lime green Escalade, while her shrewish family screeched “No Deal!” through a torrent of tears. The Escalade was, perhaps, the ugliest vehicle ever created, unless someone defecated on an Edsel at some point.

She was replaced by Jim, who jaunted up on stage, executed the first of several double pounds with the grinning specter of Death – sorry, Howie – and said he wanted to act like a “big shot.” Being a big shot would, in his estimation, involve taking his family on a cruise and giving money away to a stranger. At one point, he was given $1000 to distribute to strangers in the audience, who responded to these hundred dollar bills like a heart transplant seconds away from expiration. Also, the Banker sent his Messenger out with a stepstool to prove that Jim was too short to be a big shot.

As the show ended, Jim was down to a few cases and several hundred thousand dollars. The followup Thanksgiving episode promises the the train actually wrecking, plus pie, turkey and special guest Celine Dion. Sounds like there's another train on the track.


If at Faust you don't succeed

Didn't quite have to sell my soul, but did dabble in BitTorrent to track down the latest ep of Supernatural. Mile-a-Minute Comments, ahoy.
Supernatural: The Winchester boys revisit the Robert Johnson legend in an episode reminiscent of the movie Crossroads, except no Ralph Macchio. Which, really, is ok. This is a surprisingly good show – there are a million ways it could go wrong, but has a nice loose feel to it, good chemistry between the leads, and some of the better music cues on TV.

NBC bad, ABC good

Thanks to the Friday night repeat, here's a Mile-a-Minute Comment on Grey's Anatomy.
Grey’s Anatomy: Geo liked this episode, including the patient who referred to himself in the third person. Geo loved the story regarding George’s dad’s increasingly anguished health problems, save for the belabored metaphor Callie used to explain cancer to George’s Tweedle Dee and Dum brothers. Geo anxiously await next week’s extra-long big-hitter episode, particularly as it won’t cause DVR conflicts.


Super Size Free

Note to NBC: making extended cuts of The Office available for viewing online? Fantastic. Airing “supersized” versions of The Office and 30 Rock at random times like 7:36 and 8:22, thereby screwing up any chance to successfully DVR everything? Not so much. Having missed Grey’s Anatomy and Supernatural due to the aforementioned schedule snafu, I move on to Mile-a-Minute Commentary, offering 60 words or so per show through gritted teeth…
The Office: Really terrific episode. Featured everything this show does well, from the off-kilter comedy of the Andy/Dwight war to the crushingly awkward moments of trying to hoist heavy Tony onto a table and Pam adjusting to Jim’s… adjustments. Staples’ product placement was a bit much, tho – particularly the big red logo featured on the on-air shredder. Staples, right… got it.
30 Rock: New night, same ratings. It’s too bad, really – the show has finally found its comfort zone and consistently delivers laughs. The first few episodes smacked of standard sitcom, but it’s broken free from the same ol’ setup-punchline paradigm. After a conspicuous absence, Jane Krakowski shone in this ep, too – if the show succeeds, they should find more uses for her.
Smallville: Completely schizo episode. On one hand, you’ve got a Horn-Rimmed Glasses guy ripped off from Heroes in a plot that culminates with Lex proposing to Lana. On the other, Clark randomly goes to Seattle to track down another Phantom Zone escapee, only to get his ass kicked and then saved by an even more random Martian Manhunter cameo. Umm… huh?
The OC: Hard to believe, but this show is all the way back – best ep in a long while. Perfect balance of angst and action, heartache and humor. And “parent plots” that were actually fun – Julie looking for a May/December hookup, Sandy searching for a guy buddy. Stories that work on the kid and adult level make a good teen show great.


Groundhog Daybreak

Pilot Opinion: Day BreakLet me explain what I call the Pilot Hurdle Principle: a series premiere always has too much weight to bear. Gotta introduce all the characters, all the conflicts, set the style and tone of the show, tell a story that’s powerful enough to hook you but still basically ground zero for where the show’s gonna go, etc.

Basically, there’s too much to do in 44 minutes, so pilots are mostly a mess. Jack of all trades, master of none, that sort of thing. So all a pilot needs to do is make me willing to watch the next episode. A bunch of the new season invariably fails this test miserably. Justice. Vanished. Standoff. Some succeed initially, but fall a few weeks later. Jericho. Smith. Runaway.

Day Break clears the pilot hurdle with reservations. Taye Diggs stars as a cop who wakes up to the worst day of his life… again and again and again. He’s framed for murder, his girlfriend gets killed, his partner betrays him, his dog chews up a shoe – the list of indignities is long and varied. When he survives the day, he wakes up the next morning as the clock ticks 6:18, back in the same place he started.

So it’s Groundhog Day, but you know, not funny. More Groundhog Day meets 24 meets… the way network executives assemble high concept shows. As Diggs repeatedly relives the day, he accumulates clues (and injuries) that will, presumably, help him to prevent all the horrible events.

That’s where the reservations – and potential – lie. Day Break seems a prime candidate for Laura Palmer Syndrome, where it’s hard to see how to sustain a whole season out of this premise, much less several. There’s an attempt to create a catchphrase – “Decision. Consequence.” that's a far cry from “Save the Cheerleader, save the world." Also, some of the digital clock close-ups smack of 24 too much.

But even in the slightly problematic pilot, there are glimpses of where the show can go. On the “first” day, he saves a woman from getting crushed by a bus; the second time around, he runs into her in the hospital, having followed a different path. By the third time, he sees her hurt again and mutters “gotta get better at that” to himself. Could be interesting to see them play the plot out further and further.

The show itself is eminently watchable – great production values, Diggs is always good, Mitch Pileggi plays sort of an evil spin on his X-Files character, and it’s nicely paced and directed. So I’m there, so far – beats Lost reruns, regardless.


Good News for Tues

Given that it's a light TV night, I was tempted to call this installment of Mile-a-Minute Comments "Two-sday Night TV." But I'll pass. Instead, 60 words each per show:
Friday Night Lights: Know what’s great about this show? Everything. And it’s been picked up for a full season. Kudos to NBC for at least guaranteeing a terrific DVD set. As for finding an audience, how about a timeslot switch? FNL and Studio 60 both take place on Friday night – I say air them then, as the traditionally weak evening would mean lesser pressure.
Veronica Mars: The kids at Hearst College got a slight extension, as The CW ordered three more episodes. Good news, but a full thirteen would be better. Frankly, what are they waiting for? It’s not as if the offspring of The WB and UPN is sitting on a stockpile of terrific television – Mars is a critical and cult hit; stick with it.


Location, location, location

Mile-a-Minute Commentary for Monday; 60 words or so per show:
Prison Break: As Michael stepped into a stunning New Mexican vista, I had a thought – last season was easy. Not the actual breaking out of prison; that was clearly tough. But filming it. Last year, they were basically within the same prison walls. This year is a triumph of location scouting and shooting, as they’re rarely in the same place twice.
Heroes: Hiro discovers another potential hero… who gets the top of her head ripped off shortly thereafter. Is Mr. Bennet (aka Horn-Rimmed Glasses Man) truly evil, or is he more of an ends-justify-the-means type of guy? This season’s biggest breakthrough continues to fire on all cylinders, leading up to what looks like a big mid-season ep next week. Save the Cheerleader...
Studio 60: Aside from the fact that it’s an ancient cliché having the small-town folks teach those big city boys a lesson, the problem with this whole stuck in Nevada plot is that it was misplaced. We’re not all that comfortable seeing the cast in their regular environment – let the fish swim successfully before putting them out of water.


Very Frustrating Denouement

Books Review: The End and The Beatrice Letters, by Lemony Snicket
I was planning on packing this post with all sorts of witty wordplay and diverting digressions, but that would have made more sense for a postive review. Alas, this Series of Unfortunate Events came to a rather unfortunate ending. While one of the characters does go out with a bang, the books go out with a whimper.

I'll throw an obligatory SPOILER ALERT warning up, although I'm not sure the events of the book are clear enough to spoil. Because here's the major issue: most of the main mysteries go unresolved.

This series, a 13 (ish, given the numerous tie-ins) volume chronicle of the lives of the three industrious Baudelaire orphans and an evil Count Olaf in search of their fortune, has thrived on parceling out pieces of clues: a tattoo here, a scrap of paper there. And it's worked well; by and large this is a delightfully fun series. True, the books are a bit formulaic, but let's not forget that their primary audience is kids.

Now it closes with The Beatrice Letters, an almost impenetrable series of communiques between Lemony Snicket (who writes the remaining books), and a Beatrice (or two?), who features prominently in the series. It's linked to the final book in the regular series, The End, which only lives up to its title on a technicality, as nothing feels very final. After 13+ books, one deserves a more satisfying conclusion that answers, oh, say, maybe some of the multiple mysteries threaded throughout these tomes. Instead, we get one – sort of – in that we learn who the orphans' mother was. Aaannndd... that's it.

Bear in mind – this isn't a Matrix Revolutions-level disaster, but it certainly leaves readers hanging. Wondering things like what happened to the Quagmire triplets? To the V.F.D. organization? To, frankly, the stars of the 13 books, the Baudelaire orphans? The answer, unfortunately, is "dunno."

The final image readers are left with is a murky question mark submerged beneath the waves. Perhaps there'll be another series that answers that question, perhaps we're supposed to pose it to ourselves...

...or perhaps the author should have provided an answer.


Very Special Post

DVR capacity was getting dangerously low, so here's a marathon Mile-a-Minute Commentary, 60 words or so per show:
The Office: Closing of the Other Office is good to see. It’s a bit like when one character goes off to college and everyone else stays at the fictional local one; can be ok TV, but you know it’s not gonna last. Hopefully they’ll find a place for Ed Helms and Rashida Jones in Scranton. Anyway, great ep overall.
Smallville: Very Special episode, except instead of Blossom becoming a woman, Clark teaches Green Arrow not to use drugs. Fortunately the super-powerful serum that can heal bullet wounds apparently has no addictive qualities whatsoever. And to continue straying completely out of character, Lana is apparently pregnant, though it’s unclear that she ever slept with Lex. So not a real super installment.
Supernatural: Ew. Vengeful spirit attempts to talk to victims through her freshly slit throat… before they get their throats slit. As a friend used to say, that brings the trache-outta-me. In addition to a Linda Blair appearance, ‘was a deep reference drawer, too – Rockford Files, Mulder & Scully, Steve McQueen, even a fairly buried Buffy shout-out – “Anthony Giles.” Long live Sunnydale.
The OC: Goodish ep with two crucial flaws. First was dragging out the hoary cliché of inviting a bunch of homeless people to Thanksgiving dinner. They spared us a hooker with a heart of gold, but really – this plot sucked the first time; it’s no better the 100th. The second was horribly glaring product placement for Chili’s. I mean, seriously. Chili’s!
Grey’s Anatomy: Got a strange mention on The OC, where Summer’s Dad said he may transfer to a hospital full of delightfully wacky doctors named Seattle Grace. Things were actually less wacky at the “real” Seattle Grace, save for the “man up” camping trip. Solid ep, tho – the various tangled webs got even more so, and McDreamy doesn’t need space.
Battlestar Galactica: President Roslin and Commander Adama decide to genocide the Cylons out of existence, and they’re foiled by Cylon-loving Helo, who basically pulls a fuse. Um… ok. Again, it’s one of those “otherwise the show would end” deals, so I’ll give it a pass. Ep was fine, but except for discovering Baltar’s treachery, was kind of marking time.
Saturday Night Live: Rough start with the Nancy Pelosi sketch, but relatively funny show, if a little guest star intensive. Alec Baldwin is always good, although it was a little show-within-a-show-within-a-show given his role on 30 Rock. Why does Seth Meyers look so uncomfortable on Weekend Update? Perhaps it’s the fact that The Daily Show and Colbert Report have rendered it irrelevant.


Cooking for Camp Glucose

Quick Mile-a-Minute Comment catchup, about a particularly sour episode of Top Chef. No more prep... on to 60 words or so about the show.
Top Chef: Send it back. Here’s a rule for reality shows: follow your own rules. Due to potential cheating, the flustered judges didn’t tell anyone to pack their knives. About as exciting as “non-elimination legs” on Amazing Race. These shows live and die on winning and losing; without that it’s just a bunch of jerks who can cook yelling at each other.


Great Donkey Show

Both in life and as The OC visits Mexico. Anyway, now THAT was a night of TV. Killer Lost cliffhanger, another The Nine out of 10 and a special “Welcome to Wednesday, bitch,” to The OC. Here’s the Mile-a-Minute Commentary; 60 words per show:
The OC: Aside from the unfortunate Steve-O cameo, great stuff. Full-on Ryan-style vengeance. Mini Cooper mischief. Taylor spills the French-cut green beans. Summer might stray, Seth saves the day. Lots of talk about The OC declining since Season 1, but once we get done brooding over Marissa, it looks like California here we come, right back where we started from.
Lost: Will they, won't they? Wonder no more about Kate/Sawyer – they did. Crackerjack of an episode; action, revelations, hostage surgery… and caged heat! If Lost was gone, it’s definitely back. Except now it’s gone again. Gonna be a long wait until February 7th, but the no-rerun strategy should help. Did wonders for 24 – all TV should go repeat-free.
The Nine: Keeps getting better. We’re starting to deal with personal demons as well as the ones that held the cast hostage in the bank – like Nick getting poker fever. Was kind of a big commitment episode, although it’ll be interesting to see whether Kathryn and Ed or Jeremy and Franny make it for more than a few episodes. Bets, anyone?

Lotsa Comments

Whew. Strange as it sounds, TV took a back seat the last few days. Was gone all weekend at a wedding (which you can read about here and here, if you're so inclined), then out a couple days on business. But I mowed thru all the shows and caught up on Mile-a-Minute Comments: 60 words or so per show...
Midterm Midtacular: Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert fuse their shows into a live two-headed monster that’s the only news worth watching. The more mature Daily Show has reached a level of consistent greatness, and the still-fledgling Colbert Report is revolutionary and razor-sharp. This live show was both a little loose and slightly staged, but again, truly – the only news worth watching.
Veronica Mars: Infidelity alert! Wallace takes the heat for cheating on his test. Veronica’s accused of cheating on a paper. Logan might be cheating on Veronica. Keith cheats death and becomes the “mister” (mister-ess?) of a cheating wife. Bellhop cheats his hotel by stealing a trunkload of product. And The CW might cheat us with only 13 episodes of this terrific show.
Friday Night Lights: Heartrendingly wonderful. Every single story works. Even potentially problematic plots like the paralyzed quarterback. Drawn out hospital scenes can go sappy and treacly real easy, but the Street/Lyla/Riggins love triangle is brutal and truthful. And the deepening dynamic between Coach and Tami Taylor is one of the more realistic relationships on TV. If you’re not watching, start now.
Studio 60: Wow, did I think this one was going wrong, as it seemed we were going to be asked to care whether the head of the network was going to be able to keep his financial investments in Macau. But no, we’re being asked to care because John Goodman is guest-starring, playing… John Goodman, kind of surly and a judge. Hmm...
Heroes: Not a banner installment, but still better than most of the network schedule. One of Heroes’ great strengths is big-time stuff happening in each episode; this one felt like it was treading water a tad. Nathan’s wheelchair-bound wife is an appealing new wrinkle, and Claire’s secret slightly exposed was good, but looks like next week should be a big hitter.
Prison Break: Oh, right. The impenetrable conspiracy concerning Michael & Lincoln’s father. Reared its ugly head tonight to remind viewers that… it makes no sense. I realize the show needs the scheme that put the boys behind bars, but it’s about as clear as the later “mythology episodes” of X-Files. And the Michael/Mahone showdown saved by a propane pipe? A bit much.
Battlestar Galactica: Doctor Baltar discovers a virus that could wipe out the entire Cylon threat. With safer shows, I’d say there’s no chance mankind would use it. On Galactica, tho? Dunno. It’s what makes this show special – characters grapple with difficult decisions, and actually make difficult choices. Add a tease about the identities of the “final five” Cylons? Whee! Stay tuned.


Very nice!

Movie Review: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
As Borat would say, "I like!" but I have to say I didn’t completely love. Lemme clarify – I’m a huge fan of Da Ali G Show, Borat being a particular highlight. And by staying true to its roots, shooting largely improvised guerilla-style, the movie takes discomfort comedy to incredible new levels.

It’s often shockingly funny, emphasis on the shocking. Particularly if you haven’t seen star Sacha Baron Cohen’s style of comedy – pushing faux interviews past the point of decency in order to expose prejudices – you’ll likely miss many lines from laughing so hard.

But the fact that this also operates as “commentary comedy” raises the bar, and there are bits that don’t quite measure up. Most of the movie exposes some sort of hypocrisy, but occasionally it just exposes… itself. For example, the soon-to-be-much-discussed nude wrestling scene is unquestionably funny. Staggeringly so, in fact. But compared to Borat getting advice from a rodeo supervisor to shave off his mustache so he “doesn’t look like one of those damn Muslims,” what’s it saying? I suppose one could say it’s about America’s discomfort with overt displays of male homosexuality, but, you know, what culture is known for embracing an extended nude fight between a morbidly obese man and a guy wielding a rubber fist sex toy?

It’s fearless filmmaking, tho – and that’s what makes most of Borat sheer genius. Cohen’s known for never breaking character, even in moments of real physical danger. He takes bumbling Borat on a tour of the country in search of his version of the American dream, tackling race, religion, relationships and more.

And seeing ourselves through Borat’s eyes is unrelentingly, and painfully hilarious. So watch it – even if you find yourself looking away at times.

Sort of Super Sunday

Special thanks to The CW for making Supernatural one of the shows they repeat – sorry, provide a "special encore viewing opportunity." Saves my poor TiVo from trying to tape Gray's, The OC and Super all at once. So Sunday brings my Mile-a-Minute Comment on Thursday's...
Supernatural: Roadhouse Jo provides some much-appreciated estrogen along with a case of her own. But this ep felt a little one-off. While it’s fun watching Sam & Dean fight the first known serial killer, it’s reminiscent of those X-Files eps where between global governmental conspiracies, they encounter a random bug monster. Fine, but let’s get back to the big story.

Special Guest Star – Kevin Bacon

Quick Mile-a-Minute Comment; 60 words on 6 degrees:
Six Degrees: Mixed bag. Better to focus on the relationship dramas instead of muddled mystery, but still, tho – this show’s anything but subtle. To show that Steven can’t handle watching his estranged son, he suffered a comedy of errors that Murphy would find unlawful. There’s a decent show in here somewhere; mayhap it’ll stay around enough to find its way out.


Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Ba-a-ack

Kotter was about the only one that didn’t return last night. For more, on to Mile-a-Minute Comments, otherwise known as 60 words or so per show:
The OC: Welcome back, bitch! Good to revisit my two favorite counties – Orange and Atomic. I know we’re not supposed to talk about it, but regardless, nice to see that Ryan’s cage-fighting days are at an end. Fallout from Marissa’s death is gonna drag a bit, but I’ll hang in. Oh, and the pic is the best LifeSaver I ever got.
The Office: Welcome back from the misguided Dwight/Ryan episode. Too much. The show thrives on uncomfortable situations and bizarre interactions, but should stay rooted in reality. Give us more excruciating Carol-marriage-and-Pam-kiss-one-two punch of rejection. Or the inevitable Jim and Karen hookup. Or, you know, Michael’s continued racial insensitivity. But weird kidnap–y Deliverance overtones? Pass. Diwali, tho? Gold.
Gray’s Anatomy: Welcome back, Izzie – good to see your laser-like insight into shady patients hasn’t waned while you were baking. Nice solid episode– no $8.7 million check shocker, but good overall story arc progression what with Callie calling off George, Alex abandoning plastics, etc. And the weekly wacky surgery was only a woman with two uteruses – admirable restraint.
Smallville: Welcome back from the Phantom Zone, Clark. Too bad you brought evil Bow Wow back with you. Generally good mythology episode, made even better by the fact that the mismatched Lex & Lana relationship seems to be over. Not soon enough. But overall, this season’s basically on track thanks to the Green Arrow arc and Krypton history.