Britney, Matt, and Summer TV Options

Summer's here and for those of you who haven't scavenged the FX network as carefully as some of us, here are some summer viewing suggestions to keep your brain on cruise control straight through til football season.

First of all, as Paul Stanley might say, People let me get something off my chest: I know I'm not the only one in Barrelhouse-land who caught that Britney Spears interview last week. Wow. Um...yeah...wow.

So its hard to even mention that thing without noting at least that she looked like a drag queen version of Britney Spears, like maybe a central Pennsylvania factory worker drag queen version of Britney Spears, with all of the style decisions that implies. If you're coming on TV to repair your image or "set the record straight" or whatever, you really shouldn't dress like you're running down to the DQ for a blizzard. I know she's pregnant, and I know she's a child, a tiny little mental baby child, and I know she's perhaps borderline mentally impaired, but come on, man -- at least let somebody make you look kind of somewhat partially presentable.

And Lauer has no excuse for that jeans, blue jacket, no socks and loafers combo he had going. There's something very, very wrong with a man who goes on national television wearing loafers and no socks. Very, very, wrong.

By the way, are we getting to the point where, like Carrot-Top and Mathew Lesko before him, we have to give Kevin Federline a grudging amount of respect for at least pulling off this ridiculous stunt/grift thing he has going?

And can we please make "The Stars" sign some kind of contract that says part of being a star is that you'll be treated like one, with all the attendant hassles that implies, and those hassles will probably multiply depending on how large a star you become (kind of like, you know, don't have that last shot unless you're ready for a bitch of a hangover tomorrow) and, you know, if you're not up for that, don't bother trying so desperately to get our attention?

I guess we can call the competition off and present the gold medal to Christina Aguilera, huh?

Okay, now that that's over, here's some summer TV for all y'all (in addition to Entourage and Deadwood, which I assume you're all watching, since you are not dumbasses):

Sebastian Bach is brilliantly annoying, enough so that he's most likely next in the Flavor Flav spin-off of the month club. In fact, lets skip the middle-man and just put Seb and Flav in a car, set them driving cross-country with some kind of made-up objective, and let the high-larity ensue. If the idea of watching Sebastian Bach force the likes of Ted Nugent and Jason Bonham to watch The Gilmore Girls sounds good to you, then you'll love love love this show.

Rescue Me:
Man, this is a great show. Any fans of The Wire (which remains, while we wait for season 4, the best show on TV -- even in reruns, season 3 is electrifying and if you haven't seen it, get with it and start now) or The Shield who aren't watching Rescue Me are crazy. Funny, complex, and dark, this drama about firemen in NYC is stretching out from its post 9/11 premise to become one of the best comedy/dramas on TV.

Dennis Leary is spellbinding as the tortured and unpredictable Tommy Gavin, and as the series creator I have to give him credit for continually making Tommy a very complex and hard-to-like character. Just when he gets his shit together and stops drinking, he goes and lets his youngest son get killed by a drunk driver, or beats the living shit out of his brother at their father's birthday party. John Scurti should be making a run at a best supporting actor nomination for his portrayal of Kenny Shea, the easygoing Lt. in the midst of a scary downward spiral -- and the thing about Rescue Me is they do not turn away, like so many shows might, from the downward spiral. And extra credit to any show that finds room for Susan Sarandon, Tatum O' Neal, and Marisa Tomei, all of whom join the cast this season. Seriously, watch.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
The initial season of this show, a very oddball comedy about four friends who open up a bar in Philly, was about 75% brilliant and 25% stupid/annoying. It is most definitely not for everybody. If the listing of last season's episodes, which sound like a twisted version of afterschool specials, sound funny to you, then you should be watching. If they sound like you might have to get on the horn with Sen. Rick Santorum, then you should probably stay away. There's the one on teen drinking (the gang decides that a good way to improve bar business is to let underage kids drink, and then they all wind up trying to be popular in high school again), the one on sexual predators (Rob McElhenny’s Mac is upset that a high school gym teacher had molested the less attractive Charlie, but not him), cancer (Charlie pretends to have cancer so a girl will like him), and abortion (Mac and Dennis go to an anti-abortion rally to pick up chicks, wind up switching sides because the pro-choice women are all, you know, serious and stuff).

Hopefully this season, with the addition of Danny Devito, will improve on what was a pretty good show already. If the commercials are any indication, this season will be brilliant. My favorite is the remake of the Friends opening, which starts off as a note-by-note replication of that annoying, I’ll Be There For You, fountain frolic and then ends up as a messy brawl that’s eventually scattered by the cops.

Here's a snippet of dialogue from one of the commercials for the new season, featuring brother and sister Dennis and Sweet D talking to father Danny DeVito:

Dennis: We need to talk to you about something Dad.

Sweet D: It's kind of disturbing.

Dad: You guys aren’t bangin’ are you?

Both: No!

SD: That's disgusting.

Dad: Yeah it is! Stay away from that kind of thing. Nothing good can come of that.

Dennis: God, that's not why we called you here.

Dad: It better not be, because I don’t want no retard grandkids.

Dennis: I am not having sex with my sister!

Random woman: Are you two having sex with each other?

Dad: Banging your sister is perverted, Dennis.

Dennis: I am not banging my sister, Dad!

The 4400:
It’s low-rent but high concept. The idea: all of the people abducted by aliens over the past 60 years are returned, all at once, with no memory of where they’ve been and some additional powers that may or may not help humankind. Last season was a kind of X Files rip-off, with a male/female team tracking one 4400 at a time. This season has gotten into interesting territory, with congressional hearings, government cover-ups, and some pretty nicely toned gray areas. If you can get over the cheesy production values and the let your imagination go, and if you still miss the X Files, The 4400 is definitely worth a look.


aaron said...

I agree that Rescue Me is a good show, but what turns me off is the whole...Irishness...of it...every third line I can hear an echo of the Brothers McMullen...granted it's much better than the BM (for short) but there's something about stories about Irish families that has a certain degree of incestuousness (that you don't see, for example, in the Sopranos or tales about Italians) -- a brother dates a brother's ex wife, the sister dates a fellow fireman, etc. etc. it's too much.

Plus, Dennis vs. his brother was just too over the top, and I think the Susan Sarandon thing just doesn't work. She is ruining the hot older chick dynamic the show has with Dennis's ex wife, his cousin's widow, the teacher, etc. Susan would have been a good fit there 10 years ago. but not now.

That said, I do like the show, the few episodes I've seen.

Mike said...

I like the Brothers McMullen!

I thought the big hit of the summer was supposed to be Big Brother: All Stars. Of course I didn't realize anyone even watched Big Brother on this side of the Atlantic, so the idea of an "all stars" show is kind of amusing to me. EW ran a box predicting who the "all stars" would be, and I'd never heard of any of them. Which is saying something: I don't watch Survivor or The Amazing Race or American Idol, yet I still somehow know who the contestants are.

aaron said...

Actually, you got me there. I too did like the Brothers McMullen, but when She's The One came out, and it was just awful -- but with the same actors and basically characters as Brothers McM, it made me revise my estimation of BM, because it showed itself to be the one trick that Edward Burns was capable of--like when you hear a comedian repeat a joke in a different venue, even though you thought it was hilarious the first time, somehow it becomes less funny.

I think there was a profile of Edward Burns (btw, don't ever confuse him with the Wire guy) in the Washington Post that said something like:
"Ed Burns is the action star Ben Affleck can only dream of being" Then, the gates of Hell opened up and swallowed them both.