The Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 4/14/13 – 4/20/20

Super hot, Sci Fi, Nerd?  Sure...

Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Community, Warehouse 13 and Doctor Who currently on so there isn’t really a ton of things to complain about.  That isn’t true as this is probably one of the more negative lists that I have complied.  Why?  Because this week it just felt like more of the good shows were just slow or forgettable episodes, and more of the normally bad episodes where aggressively annoying and punishing to my delicate sensibilities.  Also there wasn’t that much on last week, something that I hope will change by the writing of this article next week. Let’s hope.

Bad
Family Guy: Season 11, Episode 19

Look kids! Humor!

Where:  Fox
When: Sunday at 9:00PM
Why:
Stark: You always slam on Family Guy.  You hate that show.

When my friend, and fellow blogger, said these words to me I kind of tried to stray away from making fun of the show as much as I could.  I mean, who wants to be predictable about their vitriol?  I want people to look at this and think, “He really just dislikes a wide swath of things.  When he likes someone I guess we should watch.”  This is the kind of conversation that I have with myself when I think about what I want this article to be.  Then I decided, screw it, Family Guy is really bad and I might as well complain about it.

The idea that started, and quickly was abandoned by, this episode is that the guys were going to go to a Montreal strip club for some crazy stripper time.  Unfortunately they live when the plane crashes and we are forced to sit through another fifteen minutes while the two archetype friends are rescued and Peter is forced to wander into the wilderness with thoughts of finding help.  He, of course, goes wild and is unable to return to his normal life.  I remember when this show doing cut-aways to non-related events was different and endearing, kind of like who you smile when your “specially abled” cousin thanks you for something.  Now it is basically a Simpson’s clone for a slightly more stoned audience, sort of like all of the friends you don’t talk to from high school any more.

Good
Nurse Jackie: Season 5, Episode 1

Seen here: Edie Falco's O Face

Where:  Showtime
When: Sundays at 9:00PM
Why:
Nurse Jackie is a show about addiction, how it affects your life, the people around you, and the lengths that you are willing to go through to continue on that destructively tasty path.  About a nurse, named Jackie (Edie Falco), who basically runs an emergency room.  Everyone trusts her, doesn’t question her on anything, and is willing to give her all kinds of crazy pain killers because that is just the way that hospitals are run, by throwing as much medical grade heroin at people as they can.  Love triangles form, children are traumatized, and marriages end.  Most shows feel like they mature as they go because of writes understanding the character better, but this almost has felt like it needed that floundering arch so the main characters could grow a functioning person.

If I am to believe the premise of this show, women do not want you acknowledging their birthday after they have reached a certain age.  Also, if they have spent a large chunk of their life addicted to various substances it only reminds them of home much of that time they either weren’t responsible for, don’t remember, or feel terrible about; possibly all three seeing as how it seems this show paints addiction occasionally like a never ending spring break.  For Jackie it seems that telling people to ignore the day, on the day, once isn’t enough and is constantly bombarded with well wishes; which is different from the real world because most people would just say something impossibly rude and then not speak to you ever again, and also try to poison you and/or get you fired.

Bad
American Dad: Season 8, Episode 15

Silly, that isn't how you use a donkey

Where:  Fox
When:  Sundays at 9:30PM
Why:
I really like American Dad.  For a while there a couple of these articles that didn’t go up, almost all of them listed my undying love of American Dad.  The show has decided it no longer cares what anyone thinks and it just going for it in a way that you could only expect out of a hero in a teen movie goes after the prettiest girl in school before realizing that his neighbor really loved him and was hot all along. Recently they have been on some kind of hot streak of amazing hits and talent; something that only seems fair to compare to early Chilli Peppers’ albums, or all of Henry Rollins career.  With that intro I think that you should be just as disappointed as I when this wasn’t nearly as good as it has been for the last couple of years.  It almost felt like it was an episode being held over from the first three seasons.

Normally you would be expecting something insane, possibly involving some kind of magic or science flavored substitute, to be a main plot point; this week we got to listen about how Stan (Seth McFarlane) doesn’t enjoy the fact that Francine (Wendy Schaal) has the world’s mildest and possibly most well-known, and Britishly endorsed, sexual kink—spanking. Recently it has felt like the show has been trying to distance itself from painting its character as white and bland as they can manage in stupid events passed over by Family Guy, but I think I just described this week’s episode pretty thoroughly.  There are even points in the plot that it feels like a return to recent levels, but then it slaps that laugh out of your mouth with stupid.

Bad
How I Met Your Mother: Season 8, Episode 21

I am sure that is how all the actors feel about the show now.

Where:  CBS
When: Mondays at 8:00PM
Why:
I think that most of us who have attempted to watch this show have been on a journey of ups and downs that closely resemble an epileptic piloting a hot-air balloon.  Back when it started it was about a man looking for love, then—after a couple of years—it was about how that guy suddenly turned really creepy and accused every woman stupid enough to sleep with him into “the one”, now it is about Eore as a real person and how terrible he is at dating.  The show has stopped being “funny” and started being more about people thinking that it is ok to laugh at other people’s depression and failed/terrible attempts to find meaning in life through others (yet never pointing out that it really just seems unhealthy).  It has basically been 8 years of watching your friend go through a really bad breakup and just never getting over it.

So Lily (Alyson Hannigan) gets a job offer to go to Rome and help her boss pick out art.  She refuses because she thinks that it will make everyone in her life miserable.  Turns out that she is pretty much the only person that thinks that way, as her husband Marshall (Jason Segel-aka the best person in the show) thinks that it sounds totally amazing in every way possible.  So, instead of being dragged through the ever increasingly deep depths of Dante’s journey that is Ted’s quickly unraveling mental state, we get to watch two people think they know what is best for each other without speaking to the other person.  Look, we were all in fifth grade. We all were forced to read Gift of the Magi during Christmas. We get it.  You know what that story taught me?  Surprises suck.  Let people know what you want in life.

I personally want a new video card for my computer, or a Wii U, on the off chance anyone was wondering.

Best:
Doctor Who: Season 7, Episode 9

Spooky!  And a little sexy

Where: BBC
When: Saturdays at 6:15PM (GMT)
Why:
There are classic Who episodes.  There are the ones that you watch and talk about with your friends because it was the first time that the weeping angels, or River Song, appeared.  The only real argument most Who-vians ever get into is how well they have aged along with other such episodes; people don’t really talk about the stories that fall between those watershed moments.  In all honesty I think that a handful of those are the best thing about the show.  I will take a random, and probably not over all plot important, forgettable tale that is well written over any battle with Cybermen or companion goodbyes.

When you boil down this episode is a ghost story with dreamy British accents and a loveable cast with pretty good comic timing.  Given that description it is either Monty Python or Doctor Who, and luckily for us it turned out to be the latter.  This episode does away with all of the recent, “this isn’t were we are going! Zany!” plots and puts everyone exactly where they want to be, in a haunted house.  I am not spoiling anything when I point out that, of course, this is an alien and not a ghost and, of course, they fix and make better.  The way that there was even an attempt to drop subtle lines in about this season’s overall plot was nicely done as well, and not the normal Steven Moffat hitting you over the head to make sure you see how everything fits.

Worst:
The Simpsons

Oddly enough, guest starring Wanda Sykes

Where: Fox
When: Sundays at 8PM
Why:
I am impressed that the handful of people that read this article haven’t made comment about my failure to include this in the listings in one way or another.  I might even go so far as to say that, for all intents and purposes, The Simpsons is so bland and forgettable that everyone pretty much has just forgotten about it and moved on with their lives.  I would like to think that the entire point of this article is basically me proving to the world that I refuse to accept things and move on, and choose the least noble path of openly judging them for what they did to man.

From start to finish this basically feels like a reject Valentine’s Day episode, but only entirely less interesting because it can’t be passed off as either novel or good.  Marge (Julie Kavner) has finally had enough of Homer’s (Dan Castellaneta) repeated attempts to kill and or maim everyone on the planet and, hopefully, starting to think about a devoice; because if Family Guy has taught us anything it is that a bad relationship based on fear and obligation is the handicap ramp to comedy.  Also Milhouse (Pamela Hayden) decides that he can finally win over Lisa (Yeardley Smith) by acting like an abusive husband at all times.  But it is The Simpsons, which means that nothing will change by the time that the credits roll so the act of watching it has the same lasting effect as if you decided to drink paint thinner instead; you might live through it, but you will feel sick after and wish for that time back.

Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 3/24/13 – 3/30/13

Doctor Who is back! Also other shows happened!

Good
Regular Show: Season 4: Episode 20

Baby Ducks FOR THE WIN!!!

Where: Cartoon Network
When:  Mondays in the evening.
Why:
Regular Show is pretty much about every slacker that you know in their 20’s working a dead end job that will never have any options for advancement. Also they are all talking animals.  Also they work at a park that I think is some kind of magic because weird and crazy things keep happening there.  I don’t know if it is the stream of 80/90’s references backed by licensed music that makes this show special, or if it just the fact that the two main characters in it just seem to take random things happening as an everyday event.

This episode is about how big of jerks geese are, and while that is true I don’t know if most of them ever form into a giant Voltron like monster to prove the point of dominance. Regular Show is basically a conversation had with a friend to make each other laugh, then turned into a cartoon to share, because I don’t know how the writing meetings go if it isn’t.  This might be one of those things that has to be experienced to be understood, but that shouldn’t stop you from watching all four full seasons.

 

Bad
Family Guy: Season 11: Episode 16

Because you shouldn't expect any better

Where: Fox
When: Sunday at 9PM
Why:
You know when one of your friends is so far ahead of the curve on something that when they are finally proven to be right it is hard to admit to them?  It is like someone telling you to duck half a minute before you get hit in the head with an iron brick made of monkey poop.  You kind of want to be mad at them because it is entirely easier than admitting that you are a moron for not taking the advice or at the very least looking.  That is kind of how I feel about South Park because they pretty much described perfectly the writing process of Family Guy.

12 Angry men satire.  Mayor West.  Assorted racist cast stereotypes as jurors .  I just described THE ENTIRE EPISODE.

They are either randomly generating as many plot points as they can or the lead writer had a stroke and everyone just writes down whatever non sequitur flies out of his mouth.  Possibly someone has the most interesting case of Tourette’s and only screams out cultural references.  Thinking about the possible methods used to make an episode of Family Guy has proven to be stupidly more interesting than even watching it.  I am pretty sure that can only mean good things for the quality of the show.

 

Good
Modern Family: Season 4: Episode 18

Children make me feel that way too

Where: ABC
When: Wednesday at 9PM
Why:
Modern Family is the closest thing that I have seen to Arrested Development since that show went off the air forever ago.  In the past this would have been called a dysfunctional family, but it is kind of hard to say that because everyone in the family still talks to one another and isn’t accusing one of the other people of some kind of terrible crime that never took place.  Maybe that just speaks to the way that I think everyone’s extended family has at the very least three people that could be a star on either the Jersey Shore or Jerry Springer.

The majority of the episode is based more around Clare (Julie Bowen) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) attempting to flip a house.  Probably a forgettable and kind of simple story arch, I kind of expected the show to pull a Simpsons and forget this ever really began; turns out no, they are better than that.  It is weird; this show taken as a single episode never feels like it is ever that impressive, almost like it is constantly skating around the edge of genesis.  Taken as a whole it is probably one of the best shows on right now if only because it remains dedicated to its characters and plot, even if some of it isn’t nearly as good as the odd conversational responses they slip in.

Bad
Storage Wars: Season 4: Episode 3-4

Where: A & E
When:  I am sure there is a marathon going on at this moment
Why:
I have been told that Storage Wars has started an epidemic of people going to these auctions, spending their life savings and thinking that they are going to be leaving with dozens of boxes full of both cash and gold.  I think that the producers of the show became scared by the prospect of lawsuits and decided to start showing more and more people that most of the money on these auctions are made by the cast stocking their second hand stores with sub-dollar store items.  That might sound fun, but it means that we get to sit through a lecture about how much a used and filthy garage door opener is worth.

Before I continue to talk about how boring it is to watch people get really excited to find power tools in the bottom of a plastic container that is mainly someone’s shattered dreams, I have to say that the added layer to all of this is when someone loses their shirt over the same garbage.  At one point one of the rarely seen guys bids several thousand dollars for a locker that only has old, possibly wet, cardboard boxes and soiled, possibly bedbug riddled, mattresses; later in the episode you see him lose his mind that he isn’t going to make his money back on any of it.  I guess that at that point it almost becomes worth it to watch someone talk about how even cheap plates turn a good profit if you can then watch someone who has no idea what they are doing spend too much money on literal trash and then pay his employees to tell him he is a moron.  It would have been cheaper and more efficient if he had just mail ordered a wood chipper and thrown collectable pewter figurines at it.

 

Best:
Bob’s Burgers: Season 3: Episode 18

Please notice the dentures

Where: Fox
When: Sundays at 8:30
Why:
A while ago Archer did an episode that took place in the Bob’s Burgers world, which wonderfully worked because it had H. Jon Benjamin (who voices both characters) basically doing one character doing the impression of another.  I have talked about the show on the site before, briefly skirting around directly bringing it up, but it was pretty much a weak week allowed this to easily jump to the front of the group.  I am pretty sure that me watching it the morning before writing this problem helped the quality of me judging it as well.

Linda (John Roberts) uses the restaurant being fumigated as an excuse for her to drag the entire family to see her parents that are residing in Florida.  Straight forward enough, but add in the fact that her parents live in a swinger community and she spends the entire episode freaking out and having visions of naked old people having weird and disturbing sex.  It isn’t that this episode does anything beyond the realms of what another episode might in the ways of set up or line delivery, it is just that it seems to sink deep into the pit of what Bob’s Burgers does well and allows it to wallow in all the flavor.

 

Worst:
Once Upon a Time: Season 2: Episode 18

Behold! PLOT!

Where: ABC
When: Sundays at 8PM
Why:
I kind of bring up Once in a roundabout conversation at the very least one time on the occasion that I decide to produce one of these, so it only makes sense that when I have gone out of my way to catch up with the series it was probably going to make the list of terrible things that I hate.  For all of the praise that I lap on any other show for continuing odd story lines, for good character development, or for anything else that even resembles something that is positive, this is the other side of that conversation.  I haven’t disliked a show more since I wrote about the entire first season of the Walking Dead while drunk.

Sure, the entire premise of this show as well as large plot points are entirely stolen from the amazing comic book series, “Fables” but that didn’t mean that it had to be terrible; the show made that choice on its own.  This episode mainly follows the holes in Pinocchio (Eion Bailey) as he fills in most of story shaped holes in his past with his adventures in turning into poorly CG animated wood which is about as dull as it sounds.  There are other plots that are scattered throughout the episode but by large they seem to be more about women pretending to be pretty princesses than something interesting.  The show feels less “fairy tales in the real world,” and more “this is what a five year old girls think adult life is like”.

 

Special Case!
Doctor Who

Look at her, she knows she is slammin'

Where: BBC
When: Saturday 18:15 (Some weird British time)
Why:
It isn’t fair for me to include Doctor Who in the normal weekly update.  It really isn’t.  I have been in love with this show since it came back on the air years and years ago.  I have entire friendships that I am pretty sure are entirely based off the fact that we both completely agree that Doctor Who is an utterly amazing show and that it should totally be on every week, always, and never end.  It is a zany Sci-Fi adventure, comedy, drama, sometimes romance that is done with British accents.  That is the kind of thing you want when people act out your life story.

The director, Steven Moffat is probably my least favorite writer that has taken on the show since it came back.  It isn’t that he is boring, but it seems like if there aren’t seven different kinds of fires that he wants people running around and putting out that he just doesn’t know what to do with his characters.  I am quickly coming to terms with the fact that I don’t really dislike Matt Smith (11th Doctor) as much as I once thought, and just dislike the way that he has been written.  Although I can’t really complain about the choices of companions as Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) is possibly the single most attractive member of the cast ever.  I guess we can all just hope she goes the Bill Piper route and has an entire show just based around her being naked.

Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: March 17th – March 23rd

I recently started a new job, which means that I have a lot less free time to spend on doing things like updating the site and watching terrible shows that I kind of don’t have any interest in anymore.  That said, besides not watching the newest episodes of Once or The Walking Dead my viewing habits haven’t really changed that much.  Oh well, onto talking about this week in TV:

Bad:

Dual Survival: Season 3, Episode 11
Where:
Discovery Channel
When: Friday at 10 PM
Why:
I feel like doing that every time I watch this show.

They get lost like four times and neither one of them really said anything about it.  Also I think that they have been working together long enough that they have built some form of trust, which entirely defeats why I started watching this show in the first place.  At one point they were entirely unable to light a fire and had to stay awake all night to not freeze to death, in the first season that would have resulted in a two hour fight and then the rest of the show each of them taking turns and telling the camera passive aggressive things about the other person like a middle aged unhappily married couple.  If they aren’t going to make an effort to slowly pick apart why they hate the other person and only learn to work together I don’t even know why I am watching this anymore. If I wanted to watch someone boringly make their way out of danger with no resources I go on YouTube and watch dialog only slightly more forced than anything here.

Although this episode was not without its share of amazing moments: when they finally did find “rescue” in the form of finding their way to a major road the first people that they met flipped them off and sped away.  Granted they were not run over, even though that is clearly the only reason that anyone should ever drive a truck with tires like that (that or destroying smaller, weaker cars), but it was amazing enough for this to not hit this week’s worst spot.

Good:

Shameless: Season 3, Episode 9
Where:
Showtime
When:
Sundays at 9 PM
Why:
Yeah, he gets a BJ from a Drag Queen.  That happens

Shameless seems to be based off the worst family in the worst section of the United States, which is kind of funny because it is also based off a British made award winning show to begin with.  At times it is hard to watch due to the insane brutality of just plain terrible situations, although it seems to make up for that with the copious amounts of nudity spread throughout most episodes.    It doesn’t really matter though, because in all honesty it makes me feel way better about my upbringing.  Oddly all my parents seemed to have to do is not be highly addicted to drugs and alcohol while attempting to use me to extort money from, well, everyone.

Frank (William H. Macy) decides that since he is leeching off of someone, instead of getting a job and earning his own way in life, he is entitled to domestic partnership because I think that he believes that is what constitutes a healthy, normal, relationship.  After being denied because, you know, he doesn’t have any proof for anything that he is claiming besides an increasing angry yell he stumbles through a political rally and manages to berate the future mayor enough to become a YouTube celebrity, which might be the first time that someone did something stupid and became famous without the help of auto-tuning.  His rambling is so ambiguous and, strangely, well-spoken that he becomes a hero in the Gay community.  Keep in mind this is the same person that tried to get an autographed football to sell for drugs by telling the make a wish people that his son was dying of cancer; also he convinced his kid of this too just to make sure it was believable.

Best:

Workaholics: Season 3, Episode 20
Where: Comedy Central
When:  Wednesday at 10 PM
Why:
A spike maced thing comes out of his but.  I thought I would spare you all from that.

Tom Green.  I am always impressed when I find out that he isn’t dead.  I don’t know why I thought that he wasn’t living anymore but I guess there is just this thing in my head that goes off when someone who was once stupidly famous (or famous for stupid reasons) drops out of the spotlight enough that you have to search to see what they are up to and just assumes that they are dead or a zombie. It is almost like this show took that into consideration with their use of him as you only hear his voice for the majority of the episode, and when he does appear it is as a soulless robot not in control of himself, also he has laser arm swords.

The episode is about robots becoming entirely too smart and finally taking over, something that anyone who reads the site will know that Stark and I worry about constantly.  This episode takes place in the future where robots are allowed to make all telemarketing calls and only require humans to close sales out when a customer is resistant.  The odd thing is that reading that sentence over kind of makes me feel like this is already happening because I have robots calling me constantly about my student loans.  Wait, did we fight the war, lose, and become forced to forget about our freedom?

Damn You Skynet!

Worst:

Family Guy: Season 11, Episode 15
Where:  Fox
When:  Sunday’s at 9 PM
Why: Take your worst, most racist thought at this moemnt.  This episode was 10 times worse.

I don’t know that Family Guy has ever been in your face entirely offensively racist before, but this episode takes away my right to ever say that again.  Remember a couple of years ago when 24 was being singled out for having every bad guy in the series be middle-eastern?  I guess that since they were forced to clean up their act Fox thought that at the very least one of the shows on needed to make everyone aware that they still blamed an entire people for all acts of terrorism everywhere, always.

Peter becomes Islamic because someone tells his wife to do something and she doesn’t argue.  Ignoring the fact that Louis is not also converting, that this is probably one of the more offensive stories they have ever done, and also the fact that they clearly did 0 research while writing this episode it seems that this story was going to happen anyway. The best part is that this joke, and plot device, is instantly forgotten about the moment that it is made.  Claiming that this was 23 minutes of stereotypes would be giving it credit because that would almost seem like they attempted to tie things together instead of just lump a bunch of hate speech hidden behind diarrhea jokes.  One minute Peter is establishing himself in the community, the next he is planning on blowing up a bridge.  Also there is never any reason given for the terrorist plot besides, “because”.

5(+1) TV Show Too Good for the General Public

You won’t find any FireFly(s) or Twins Peaks on this list, nothing that famous or well noted for the general public to pretend they remember watching the show as it aired (and they clearly didn’t because they would still be on the air if they did).  This is a list of shows that seemed too good for people to latch onto, even after their untimely death.  If it was ever possible that critics and people with general good taste could keep a show on the air simply by their high opinion I have come up with the four best cases for that happen.  All of them got two or less seasons on the air and a complete lack of conclusion.

Eerie Indiana (1991)

A teenager moves to a new town where everything is crazy instead of gravity.  The show was half comical and half super creepy, the first episode was about a woman who was so into Tupperware that she would seal herself and family in the vacuum protected devices before going to sleep, causing them to never age.  That one episode ended with the hero sneaking into their house and popping the seal on all of the sleeping containers at night causing the family to suddenly age.  So the first impression anyone really got of the show was basically an attempted murder while two young boys being given the responsibility of middle aged men.  I sure that ended well.

Why it Cancelled:

It was the monster of the week show before Buffy the Vampire Slayer or X-Files, meaning that the show was about 10 years too clever for its own good.  Almost a decade later it would receive a second life through reruns, and become popular enough to have a spin-off series in a different dimension.  That series lasted four episodes less than the first one (so 9).  Even speaking as someone who liked the series, this was amazingly weird and I have no idea how this show ever was allowed on TV in the first place.  I think that the Futurama experiment with an entire TV season direct to DVD would work well with everything on the list, with this one a highlight.

Pushing Daises (2007)

A pie-baker can bring the dead back to life with a single touch. He uses this power to question the dead about who killed them, with which he tells his private investigator friend, receives a reward, and covers most of the cost of his failing business with; also he only puts spoiled food into his pies because everyone just throws that away and he can touch it and make it fresh again so free supplies.  There is a complicated love story that unfolds throughout the series, and while the entire thing might sound super lame it is hard to watch a single episode of the show and not have a smile on your face by the end.

The concept of the show was to make everything bigger and brighter, and probably happier, than anything in real life—you know, while dealing with constant death—a goal that it pretty much succeeded  to do in every single aspect without fail.  I have seen people on drugs that can’t get nearly as happy as a single episode of this show.

Why it Cancelled:

Honesty I don’t know if Bryan Fuller can keep a show on TV.  Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and this are literally created by this one guy.  If you wanted to combine every award nomination into one thing, and give him the cash equivalent this man would fly a plane made of money to a money moon staffed only by his money monkey butlers.  If that made sense you probably should just Netflix all three of those series and cry yourself to sleep at night on their cancelations.  Every single one of them can quickly manage to make any sane person sit and watch an entire season in one sitting.

This was pretty much a causality of the writer’s strike as well as prety much anything that was on during that time as they took a massive hit in ratings and every person in charge of making those calls of “renewing things” decided it was the shows fault, and not something about no one having any idea of when any show was on ever.

Better Off Ted (2009)

The concept is that the main character works for one of the largest companies in the world, too bad he pretty much leads a group of research scientists (boarder line mad-scientists all of them) that have all of their products quickly turned into something terribly evil.  From pumpkins turning into plague spreading devices or bullet proof cloth into motivational/insanity causing chairs the show finds a way to make it seem like super science is just something that everyone can do whenever they want, even if it just an Octo-Chicken.

Why it Cancelled:

You know when Fox likes to change air dates of show without notice, make up reasons why fans don’t follow the show even though they never advertised it, then cancel it?  That is pretty much what ABC did with this, but instead claims that it never managed to find a fan following in the first place.  I get cancelling shows that have low ratings, I really do; the problem is that when it seems like a company is actively trying to make the show have those ratings—then not show the last couple of episodes when they said they were going to, because screw it—that kind of tells me that they didn’t want it in the first place.  I think that Better off Ted probably slept with someone’s wife that it shouldn’t have.

Party Down (2008)

So the joke in Hollywood is that when you are waiting for your career to take off you are a waiter.  I believe the concept is that when your life has failed to do that you work in catering.  The show’s main character has finally given up on life and decided to go back to his old crap job after being type cast due to a commercial he had done years before.  The rest of the cast is rounded out with people who range from failed comedians to failed screen writers, and while it might not sound that amazing in description it has a deadpan humor that is almost infectious towards the end. Think Curb Your Enthusiasm, but good.

Why it Cancelled:

Low ratings.  I don’t know how ignored something on Starz has to before someone has to pull the plug, my guess would be a number below the four TVs left on to scare away robbers, but I guess that happens from time to time. The show also managed to cast people who didn’t have a career at the time, but quickly managed to pull one either out of thin air or from the shambling zombie corpse of something thoroughly ignored since the late 80’s.  The reason isn’t really well known, but come on it was on Starz.  That is almost as bad of a channel to have an original series on as ABC Family.  Oh…

The Middleman (2008)

The series was conceived as a TV show that had been adopted from a comic book, even though there was no comic book at the time.  Three “seasons” of the comic was produced before the first episode aired, and it showed more characterization in its few than things have in their entire multi-series run.  12 episodes end up feeling more like an insult to the experience than anything. If I can say anything else positive about this show before I attempt to drown myself from the sorrow in my own tears it is that I enjoyed this more than the new Dr. Who, and that is a lot.

Why it Cancelled:

It is a show where super science is a thing that happens constantly, there are no superheroes—just super villains, and the sidekick/main character spits out wittier dialog than Juno thrown into a bag with Tina Fey and told to satire their way out, we were lucky to have 12 episodes and not have the Bush administration declare it terrorist training because 90% of America “didn’t get it”.  Also, who puts a show like this on ABC Family?  How is that a channel?

Honorable Mention:
Heat Vision and Jack (1999)

Ron Silver plays himself; a NASA employed bounty hunter with acting as one of his “amusing distractions”.  If that isn’t enough Jack Black gains the power to know everything when exposed to Sunlight, because that causes his brain to rise like fresh bread.  Owen Wilson also voices a sentient motorcycle and Jack Black’s character’s old roommate.  At any point during explaining the casting of the show I would green light this series for as many seasons as the cast was able to keep acting in it, regardless of quality of product.  Sadly the pilot episode was enough for Fox to never pick it up ever again.

Oddly this had such a cult following that there was a brief discussion of a movie, but that was before Ron Silver died.  For those of you, like me, who love this episode you can see the fictional Universe of Tropic Thunder were Jack Black’s character managed to star in that show, have it be a success and become the world’s biggest comic actor ever.

Why it Cancelled:

It wasn’t ever really picked up, but mainly that Ben Stiller trusted Fox again after getting his academy award winning show, “The Ben Stiller Show” cancelled.  Who didn’t see that happening?  Probably Joss Wheadon, that poor bastard.

Making a Good Game Worse: Monster Rancher the Anime

Probably in an attempt to prove that there are no good instances of a game crossing over into either anime or movies, the late 90’s gave us the perfect example of things that you probably didn’t want to see in the way of Monster Rancher the anime.  Based on a video game with so little plot that they could have easily made it about a man who raises monsters only to sell them for drug money and still have managed to make it fall well within the game’s cannon, the writers of this show instead decided to go the Never Ending Story route and have a child from Earth sucked into the world of the game where they he has free license to act like a moron and ask questions about things that he should know from his own world.

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Very similar to that terrible internet music video “Friday” the intro to this show somehow manages to be the worst thing ever and so addictive that days later it is easy to catch one’s self mumbling the lyrics out load.  The show aired Saturday mornings, while I was in high school, so it managed to fall in that perfect time period where I had nothing to do until noon on any given weekend, and was also too lazy to not lie in bed and watch whatever crap I got on a TV that only could get local channels—this basically meant that during the week most people within ear shot wanted me dead for mumbling something about a world where monsters rule.

The plot of the show follows a small child, Genki, who manages to win a Monster Battle Tournament –which is so meaningless in context of the game that I have no idea what they are even hinting at– and receives a super-secret game disc shipped to him a few weeks later.  What really annoys me about the first episode is that there is an attempt to show Monster Rancher off as having the same depth as another fighting game, say Street Fighter, but the entire problem with that is that it is more of an RPG than anything and contains monsters that are so overly broken by design that they can kill pretty much anything in one hit.  Anyone who played that game for anyone amount of time knows that you just spam the strongest attack that any monster has and blindly hope that it lands every time, trying to pretend that there is strategy or depth just insults everyone involved.

After receiving the “beta” of the new game coming out, something that would never happen now because the first thing that anyone would do would be to upload it to the internet, Genki throws it into his PS1.  Oddly the new game seems to be less of a pre-release and more gateway into a world where all kinds of monsters want to kill him as quickly and painfully as they can manage.  Oddly this seems to be more of a punishment for being the best Monster Rancher player on the planet as opposed to the reward that he was promised.

I find it interesting that the 90’s also proved to be a time for anime where it could have a couple hundred episodes, most of which almost never have anything that even resembles plot movement.  The VHS that I own, which contains the first three episodes, has about a grand total of 3/4 of an episode worth of plot.  Sure, most first episodes of many shows serve only to introduce the main character and are by definition worthless, but the second episode of this show seems to be more about the fact that he was sucked into another world without shoes on.

No, really, there is an entire 30 seconds of the second episode where he simply puts on shoes and a jacket/cloak.  I guess there is an argument to the level of detail that the show follows that he wasn’t wearing shoes when he came to this world, as he was in his bedroom playing a video game, but in the same breath he also has rollerblades that he doesn’t wear because they make walking up hills complicated.  I might not have been the biggest fan of skates back in the day, but I do remember that they only ever worked on completely evenly paved roads–this entire world is devoid of those and yet he still makes them work through his seemingly demon-like fountains of energy and uncaringness about physics.  Also he doesn’t have any socks, and personal experience taught me that skates with no socks is a great way to get massive blisters.

The third episode isn’t any better.  Sure, there is an addition to the main cast, but that is also the only thing that happens.  The first half of the episode is about Genki wandering aimlessly and loudly through some woods to find where the stone golem lives, and a chunk of the later half is the crew acting like the new guy is going to eat them.  Oddly it ends up seemingly like they are being more racist then protective of themselves, and I secretly hoped that the rock dude was going to call them on it.

As the way that plot goes that is pretty much it, nothing of great meaning happens.  From what little research I did online it seems that the show “gets good” later on, seemingly getting very dark in some of the later episodes.  I really have to say that besides being really impressed that anyone out there even remembers that this show exists is that there are people who actively defend how awesome “it gets”.

I wouldn’t really know about that because let’s be honest, like every other show that was ever on Saturday mornings only the first 10 episodes where ever really shown, everything else was probably a one shot deal when Fox decided to run a marathon for the contractual obligation they signed.  If you remember anything about this show getting “dark” you were probably way more devoted to this than was healthy.  I mean the only reason that I own this tape is because while ordering a large chunk of other anime I was given the choice of adding this in for 50 cents.