That’s a Chop

Having a girlfriend who is a fantastic cook, AND loves to cook is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, you eat like a king.  All the time.  Whatever you want, she can do it.  Oh, you like guacamole and cheeseburgers?  She’s gonna put the guacamole INSIDE THE PATTY of your cheeseburger BOOMPOW! You want to make smores?  She’s going to make you a gigantic smore that takes up an entire pan BOOMPOW!

And on the 8th day, Stephen developed Diabetes…

You want to take your favorite cocoa puff cereal, melt it with some raspberries and maple syrup and make a smoothie?  EAT THAT SHIT!

She made these delicious cupcakes for the Breaking Bad Season Finale Party

The Walter White Bakery was doing gangbusters

She also made a Peanut Butter Cup the size of your head.

On the other hand, you get fat pretty easily.

But all of that stuff I listed above wouldn’t have been possible without Chopped, a wonderfully simplistic reality show on the Food Network.  Four professional chefs get a basket with four things, and they have to make the best meal of the random ingredients (with whatever else they want)  the cruel producers throw their way.  Every round they eliminate one chef.  Sometimes it’s a train wreck, which is fun to watch.  But sometimes, they make the most insanely disgusting looking plate or ingredient combo, and it works.  Like the lady who poached fish in milk, or a jelly bean encrusted steak.


Also, every episode I watch, I get to make a reference to this:


Before, when I was single, or dating someone who sucked at cooking, I couldn’t watch a show like Chopped.  It would have infuriated me to see such delicious food that I had no chance of ever tasting, because, come on, I’m not gonna cook that shit.  I’m not cooking anything.  But now, I watch that show, and I’m like, “Oh my God.  They just mixed Pop Rocks and Whiskey in a food processor and made a puree for their potato chip hash.  GET THE POP ROCKS, GIRL.”

I just Pre’d a little in my sweatpants

And the judges are great.  They all are personable enough to like them, but have an ego just big enough to cause occasional friction.  And sister, they tell it like it T IS.  I cringe every time one of the chefs begins stammering for a reason they forgot to de-poop the shrimp.  I just yell at the television JUST TAKE THE CRITICISM AND SHUT YOUR MOUTH.  Because you’re only making it worse, Croatian guy from New York.  You’re only making it
worse.

“These Americas are the bullshits.” Almost, Sergey. Almost

So now, when we grocery shop, I pick two random ingredients and my wonderful girlfriend incorporates them into a meal.  So far, I’ve thrown jicama, eggplant, tomatillos, cheese puffs, almond butter, spam, and radishes at her, but I feel like it’s time to take the next step in our relationship.   That’s right audience:  homemade Ice Cream.  I KNOW.  I always wondered, like, will I ever settle down and make homemade ice cream?  Is ice cream even something I want?  The answer is yes.  GOD YES.  EVERYDAY.  I WANT ICE CREAM.

Anyway, watch Chopped.  Or don’t.  I don’t care.  I’m getting ice cream.  EVERY DAY.

– Stephen

Adventures in Food Poisoning

Last Thursday evening, I was fortunate enough to catch a case of food poisoning that lasted in the late hours of Friday night.  It was a 24 hour yack-a-thon starring yours truly.  The highlight of this time would have to have been when I almost tagged a coworker with the vomit of shame.  I’m not here to blame anyone for my infirmity.  Surely this was complete happenstance and not an act of treachery.  However, I couldn’t help but notice that my lovely wife was not puking alongside me at any point.  In fact, she seemed downright healthy even though we ate the same food.  I’m not saying that she put eye drops in my sammich.  I wouldn’t dream of saying that she maliciously and deliberately poisoned me as revenge for some unknown transgression.  I would never say anything to implicate my infallible spouse in some type of plot aimed at methodically ending my existence.  However, if I do happen to expire at some point within the next few months, I believe that the authorities will do the right thing and Christine will be featured in her own Lifetime movie before the year is out.  I’m sure it’ll be called Venom: The Christine M. Story:  One woman’s desperate plan to escape an abusive husband.  For realism, I think I’m going to have to start beating her.  I don’t make the rules here.  If we want this thing to be big, we’re going to need some bruises.  Sorry babe.

 

I bet the secret is murder. Or rape. I bet it’s both.

 

As a result of this ruthless attack upon my person, I spent a fair amount of time last week sitting on or laying beside the toilet.   In that time, I was able to do some reflecting.  And in that reflection, I thought about what shows I would watch once I escaped my porcelain dungeon.  All I could come up with was a plan to drag myself under the covers, pulling up Netflix, and start a Justified marathon while trying not to poop the bed.  I think I made it 15 minutes before falling asleep for the next 4 hours.  I call that a win.  But the whole event got me thinking.  What ever happened to all the daytime shows that I used to love watching when I stayed home from school?

Boyd Crowder’s hair has proven the ability to cure most illnesses

 

I was a pretty sickly kid, so I had several opportunities to stay at home and watch TV while I should have been in school.  Everybody has their favorite sick day shows.  I want to go over some of the major shows from my childhood that got me through every sick day without fail.

 

So many school absences, so much time to watch Nickelodeon.  Like any kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I thought Nickelodeon was the greatest network in ever.  Sick day mornings would usually start off with some ancient Mr. Wizard reruns.  Next up was You Can’t Do That on Television.  Holy damn!  Did you know that Alanis Morissette was on 7 episodes of that?  And did you also know that it ran for 10 seasons?  10 fucking seasons!  Community has been on life support since season one!  Hey, do you remember the time when that guy Barth was making burgers and then…yeah I don’t either.  I just read that on IMDB.  I don’t even remember anyone named Barth, but apparently he was pretty popular.  Seriously, I used to watch every episode of this show and I can’t remember a thing about it.  I do recall people getting slimed a lot and some guy walking around in a suit of armor once.  This is probably the first skit show that I was exposed to outside of SCTV and SNL.  I remember characters from both of those shows but not this one.  Ed Grimley, Count Vlad, and “Crazy Legs’ Herschman shaped my sense of humor and are probably the biggest reason I can’t laugh at generic comedy now.  Also, generic comedy blows ass.  But YCDTOT (I guess this is the abbreviation?) is like this black hole in my head.  Maybe it’s cause the show was terrible and there really wasn’t anything worth remembering.  Or maybe it’s just because I drink…a lot….all the time.  I watched it all the time, so I guess it couldn’t have been all that bad.

 

http://www.theonion.com/articles/exnickelodeon-stars-relate-horrors-of-green-slime,1174/

 

Late morning brought Pinwheel and Today’s special.  Both show names may sound vaguely familiar, but I bet you don’t really remember anything about them.  Today’s special had the guy Jeff that was actually a mannequin, but turned into a person when he wore a magic hat.  That’s some Inception level stuff.  There was even a muppet security guard.  Naturally, it was one of my favorite shows.  All I remember about Pinwheel was the song.  And now that’s stuck in my head.  Fanfuckintastic.  Throw in some Fraggle Rock awesomeness and my morning was just about wrapped up.  Now this is a show I remember!  The Doozers, Wembley, and the Great Trash Heap were the strars of the show for me.  I never really cared for the pragmatic Fraggle enough to remember his name.  Fraggles and Muppets may have been my favorite part about being a kid.  A close second was snow cones after little league games.  I’m still pretty disappointed that I didn’t get to grow up to be either Gonzo or a pro ballplayer.

O.G.

 

I also always wanted to steal a Doozer and make him build me stuff.  They always have the coolest little bikes and erector set ramps.  Together we would have constructed a mighty empire indeed.  It’s not like Jim Henson ever granted them any rights.  I heard they couldn’t unionize either.

Jim Henson actually died of Doozer Flu. Very rare. Very, very deadly.

 

I capped off every sick day morning with a 30 minute morality lesson in the form of David the Gnome.  If you don’t know who he is, then this conversation is over.  In every episode this badass lil’ doctor taught me that stealing was wrong, humans are essentially evil creatures, and that trolls will turn into stone if I can just hold out until morning.

 

Naturally, no one’s sick day morning was complete without witnessing the greatness of The Price is Right.  If you never deliberately stayed home from school to see Bob and his fine-ass ladies giving shit away every day at 10 a.m., then I hate you.  And I’ll always hate you because you never had a true American childhood.  What was not to like about The Price is Right?  This kind old man played mind games with people every day while incredibly hot women walked around in really short skirts.  That’s a recipe for success my friend.  Like most people, I was partial to Plinko and the game with the yodeling hiker that falls off the conveyor belt.  If you don’t know what those are, ask a real American. 

 

Bitch better not bid $1

 

Sick day afternoons in the late 80’s and early 90’s were all about the game show. I crammed as much game show time into my young brain as I possibly could.  After the Price is Right, Press Your Luck blew my goddamn mind.  Those contestants were almost always terrible.  The show literally measured your greed level.  And if your greed got the best of you, that little Whammy bastard moon-walked across the screen and I would just about shit myself in delight.  Add some Scrabble and 100k Pyramid and my lunch hour was over.  100k Pyramid was great, but I never knew who any of the celebrities were.  After lunch came the prime time sick day game shows.  The big boys always rolled out when all the old viewers were waking up from their post lunch naps.  My power hour kicked off with some Win, Lose, Or Draw.  I’m almost, but not at all, ashamed that I was addicted to this show.  I remember begging my parents to get the board game version but never having as much fun as it looked on TV.  Maybe we should have ordered the host too. 

 

The answer was Berlin you damn moron!

The best game show of the day was easily Hollywood Squares.  Its wonderfulness was immeasurable.  Two contestants played a giant game of trivia-based Tic, Tac, Toe.  The celebrities on the giant grid would make the cheesiest jokes that I thought were television gold.  Did Shadoe Stevens even have another job or was it just to be the center square?  I didn’t give a shit.  The TV told me he was famous and it was so.  I can still picture his feathered blond hair today.  And if you picked the secret square, shit got real.  My life has gone steadily downhill since the time ALF hosted the show.  Circle got the mother fuckin square that day.  Afternoon game show time always ended with a bit of a let down.  And I name that let down Supermarket Sweep.  I watched it.  And I remember hating it.  And now I hate it even more because I just found out this abortion of a show ran for over 1,100 episodes!  This show was literally a 23 minute grocery commercial.  I praise and despise the geniuses that churned out this show.  Now that we’ve established that God in fact does not exist, lets move on to late afternoon TV.

More like Hollyweird Squares. Amiright? Tip your waitress.

 

I remember always winding down my sick day with the good people of WGN.  Why WGN you say?  That why is Night Court.  It’s still one of the funniest shows from my childhood.  I refuse to go back and watch lest I somehow lower my opinion of it.  You had the comic genius of John Larroquette as Dan Fielding.  The rest of the cast was rock solid, but Dan really brought the room together.  There were 193 episodes of courtroom greatness.  And what guy my age didn’t fall in love with Markie Post?  Without Markie, there is no Ally McBeal.  She’s aged well too.  I still would.  You had everything on this show you could ever want.  The “will they or won’t they” couple, the wildcard, the lecherous a-hole, the calm voice of reason, and of course the sassy black woman.  Apparently they had to kill of a couple of cast members to get the exact right amount of sassification though.

 

In Soviet Russia, Night Courts you! Come see my show in Branson!

 

By the time Night Court ended, school was usually letting out and I had to plot to destroy my older brother yet again.  With the help of whatever fever, migraine, or imagined sickness I had, I managed to bail on school and buy some valuable TV time.  I know I wasn’t the only kid to ever do this.  What were some of your favorite sick time shows?  Josh out. *drops mic*

 

– Josh

Baseball, Apple Pie, and Vampire Diaries

Sometimes in life you are just plain wrong.  When I was 5, my mom told me I was playing baseball.  “Um, no, I’m not, MOM.  Baseball is intrinsically boring and a mirage of ‘slice of life Americana’.  Quit trying to control my life and live vicariously,” I said harshly, as I was a highly advanced and contrarian 5 year old.

“Just try it for a year,” she replied in an extremely mom-like fashion. “If you don’t like it after a year, you won’t have to play anymore.”  What else could I say?  It was a reasonable request with a built in escape clause.  So I played baseball that year… and the following 12 years… and coed softball in college… and at my company’s softball game…  and I watch approximately 75-115 games during the baseball season… and it’s my favorite sport.  I was wrong.  I love baseball.  I wish my mom would have started me at 4 years old.

Point of the story is, sometimes you think you understand something before you’ve even experienced it.  And then someone forces you to try it and you end up loving it.  Exhibit B:  Vampire Diaries.  Yeah, I REALLY like this show and I don’t care how this makes me look.  It’s on the CW. Don’t care.  The only reason the show is on the air is  because of the Twilight phenomenon.  DON’T CARE.  All the surface things you see, that would normally drive you away from ever trying a show like this, are just a glossy wrapping paper to draw people in.  It’s like a SpongeBob t-shirt disguising a gun shot wound.

In other words, this show is BRUTAL.  Like, METAL BRUTAL.  I don’t know how they are getting away with showing this stuff on network television, but while some shows are pussy-footing around on offing any characters in their overstuffed cast (I’m looking at you, True Blood), Vampire Diaries are ripping out hearts, setting people on fire, torturing people, burying people alive… This is in addition to the normal weekly neck-biting and staking shenanigans, and all on network television.

Oh my Satan! Is Elene going to end up with Stefan??? GGRRAARRRGGG

I decided to check the show out after having a few friends tell me it was better than to be expected, and that they were actually hooked now, because Vampire Diaries does this incredible job of always HAVING SOMETHING HAPPEN. It’s not always a huge build up of weeks of possibly, maybe, potentially things happening.  No, shit happens on this show.  All the time it is GOING DOWN.  “You have to watch it and write about it,” they said.  “Pfffftttt,”  I said back.  “Pffffft.”.

On the next 7 episodes of The Walking Dead…. Sophia went missing… AGAIN *Sad Trumpet*

Then, I read an interesting article on AV Club, basically confirming what I had already heard (here it is:http://www.avclub.com/articles/experience-the-vampire-diaries-twisting-plot-and-m,86133/ but warning there are GIANT SPOILERS in the article). What VD lacks in street cred, they make up for in constant action and plot development. Also, my girlfriend likes the show, so I was probably going to go down this road at some point anyway.

Now, if you lovely readers recall from the last article I wrote, I always give a show 3-5 episodes to prove itself before throwing in the towel.  I always found this to be the fairest way to approach television, because it’s so insanely rare for a show to bring it all together into cohesive programming thought before that amount of time expires (the only show I can think of that was absolutely sure of itself in this way is Arrested Development.)

Fair warning:  there are elements of the show that in the first five episodes made my eyes roll harder than they ever have.  Like the namesake voiceover “diary” entries.  I understand the thinking in trying that approach, BUT you’re making a show about vampires and teenagers… on the CW.  It’s already going to be exceptionally overwrought and melodramatic.  Let’s not add more coals to that potential barn burning fire.  Thankfully, I think whoever the producers are over at VD saw the first few episodes and felt their faces flush in embarrassment over that idea.  So pretty quickly the voiceovers were pulled back.

Here’s a herd of puppies I DONT NEED A REASON BECAUSE LOOK AT THEM OMG

Outside of those few scenes in each of the early episodes, the show was surprisingly strong in establishing characters and mood, and evoking great genre moments in each episode.  Rarely have I watched a network show that attempted horrific moments to play as genuine horror so successfully.  For all of the hoopla of American Horror Story, it mostly relied on quick edits and music to milk scares out of the audience, whereas Vampure Diaries develops truly scary moments.

 

Also, some of these for the ladies…

Is it Downton Abbey or Mad Men?  No, it’s not.  But it knows what it can do and does it well.  And it has a secret weapon in Ian Somerholder’s Damon, the bad boy brother and true life blood of the early episodes.  He often appears to be drunk or on some kind of medication in his portrayal of Damon and seems to have attended the “Acting with Your Eyebrows School of Acting Actors”, but somehow it works.  He’s surprisingly great.  The soundtrack to the show is surprisingly great.  The show itself… you get the idea.  So, check it out.  Start at the top (it’s on Netlfix), give it a few episodes, and see where it takes you.  You may be surprised how much you’re into a show about teenage angst and vampires.

Ehh then again…

– Stephen

No TV or Internet Makes Josh Something Something…

Not long ago in an apartment complex a few miles away, my U-Verse service decided to die on me.  For over three days, I lived the life of the tv-less savage.  Without television or internet to light my path, I stumbled blindly through the chaos of quiet, simple living. The following is not merely a recording of my three day harrowing journey.  Nay, it is a parable for which all the world shall bear witness.  If the recounting of my struggle may help one reader through such an ordeal, then my time here will not have been wasted.  Enjoy.

 

Wednesday September 19, 2012 – Day 1

5:30 p.m. – That’s weird, I just tried to turn the tv on and it says no signal.  I’m pretty sure it was working this morning before I left for work.  I guess that happens sometimes, I haven’t had U-Verse for long.  Hmmm. I need to go run anyway so no big deal.  I’m sure it’ll be working by the time I get back.

6:15 p.m. – The tv still isn’t working.  Something’s gone wrong.  Is the signal out all over the complex?  I’ll go out on the balcony and see if anyone else is in panic mode.  Nope.  Okay, I’ll just get on the website to see if there’s an outage in my area.

6:17 p.m. – OH MY GOD THE INTERNET IS DOWN TOO! WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!?  This can’t be happening!

6:19 p.m. – The “service” light on the modem is blinking red.  Deep breaths…stay calm.  Ha! I’ll just reset the modem and everything should start back up again.  Problem solved.

6:25 p.m. – That goddamn red light is still blinking!  Why won’t you reset?  Have I angered you in some way?  It’s because we’re recording too much wasn’t it?  Look. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll delete everything that Christine records if you just work!  No more Amish Housewives of Teen Pregnancy County!  Please don’t do this to me!

6:37 p.m. – Okay, stop panicking.  I think I saw the AT&T van parked outside.  Maybe they’re just working on something for the entire complex.  Yup, I can see the van is still out there.  Once the guy finishes what he’s doing we’ll be good to go.

7:22 p.m. – That bastard just drove off!  That mother fucker didn’t finish fixing anything! I have no TV and no internet!  Christine is telling me to calm down because maybe he just couldn’t finish today and will fix it tomorrow.  He has to go home sometime.  I can’t hear her over the deafening quiet of our apartment.  What she’s saying kinda makes sense though.  I’ll just start reading a book.  I can make it through one night with no tv or internet, right?  I’ll just read….yeah.  I’m only halfway finished withSex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs anyway.

9:15 p.m. – Aaaand bored.  I should watch Netflix , that’ll get me through the night.

9:16 p.m. – Can’t connect to Playstation Network.  Oh yeah…internet.  Time to play my Vita.

  

 

Thursday September 20, 2012 Day 2

12:45 a.m. – From the bedI can see that red light flashing from across the room.  It’s taunting me.  I’m sure of it.  I certainly can’t sleep with that going on.

7:15 a.m. – Maybe the U-verse fairy came in during the night and fixed everything.  Let’s just check…nope.  Gotta call U-verse people now and have them tell me to unplug the modem for 10 seconds.  I already did that!  If I couldn’t have figured that much out on my own, I wouldn’t have been able to dial your number ‘cause my brain doesn’t function properly!

12:15 p.m. – Hey the AT&T van is parked outside again!  Maybe Christine was right and they just had to come back and fix it today!

5:15 p.m. – Bastards fixed nothing!

6:00 p.m. – Christine just got off the phone with AT&T.  After unplugging the modem a couple times with no results, the support person was dumbfounded…naturally.  A technician is coming out on Saturday.  Saturday!  Do they not realize the Parks and Rec. season premiere is tonight?  I have many important things to read on the internets and I don’t want to do it all on my phone!  The Rangers are in a playoff race!  A playoff race!

8:30 p.m. – I bet Parks and Rec. was hilarious.  That’s a shame.  I would Hulu it but…you know.

9:00 p.m. – I’m not mad at you U-Verse, I’m just disappointed.  So very, very, disappointed.

11:30 p.m. – I’ve realized something.  When you sit in a completely quiet room, the silence almost hurts your ears.  Also there’s that voice that just keeps repeating, “Kill!” I thought I got rid of that guy.  How’d he find me here? 

 

No internet makes me a saaad panda

 

Friday September 21, 2012 Day 3

12:15 a.m. – And now I can’t sleep.  Time to chug some NyQuil.

7:20 a.m. – TV working? Nope.

5:30 p.m. – Fuck off U-Verse.  I don’t really need you anyway.  I have my Arrested Development dvd’s to keep me company.  I could watch those forever if I had to.

11:30 p.m. – Okay tired of AD.  The cable guy is coming tomorrow morning so I should get some sleep.

 

 

Saturday September 29, 2012 Day 4

1:30 a.m. – I wonder how long it’ll take for the cable and internet to get fixed once he gets here.  I promise I’ll make the most of every minute I have with tv now.  No more wasted time surfing the net either.

8:30 a.m. – Cable people aren’t here yet.  You know what?  I’m okay with that.  I’ve let tv and internet take up too much of my life.  I should go take the dog for a walk or something and make the most of this great Saturday!  It’s a new Josh today!  Maybe I’ll try to write a book.  Yeah, I could do that.

10:15 a.m. – Oh my god it’s fixed!  Time to watch College Gameday and watch a video of ferrets playing simultaneously!  Life has meaning again!

This isn’t creepy. She’s just happy that she won’t miss another episode of Parks.

 

– Josh

The People Vs. Animal Practice

THE CHARGES:  

-Criminal Misuse of 3 talented and funny TV veterans.

-Overuse of an animal in absence of humor.

-No concept of what an actual Animal Hospital looks like

-I swear to God if I see another montage of a monkey mimicking a human, I’m going to drive down to where they film that show and just start swinging.

OPENING STATEMENT FOR THE PROSECUTION:

Good morning.  It IS a good morning, isn’t it?  You can smell the scent of new television wafting in weekly, and it’s so wondrous.  Parks and Rec is back, always a pleasure to see them.  The Walking Dead and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia rolling out soon.  It’s a beautiful thing this time of year.  Which is why it’s such a TRAVESTY that we are here to sit in judgment, wasting our precious television viewing time to recount and remember the horror we all experienced as a nation last Wednesday, when we watched an episode of Animal Practice for the first time.

Members of the jury I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Animal Practice is the worst thing to happen in the history of the television world.  Celebrity Boxing?  Animal Practice is worse.  Cavemen?  Animal Practice, comrades.  Cop Rock?  PFFFTTT.  It is a holocaust on comedy and in this day and age we must ban together, as one people and say, “NO.  YOU WILL NOT ASSASSINATE MY WEDNESDAY EVENING TELEVISION EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR BOMBASTIC DISREGARD FOR INTELLIGENT COMEDY!”

Members of the jury, I implore you.  Look past the credentials, Look past the opportunity to see adorable animals on a weekly basis.  Look past all of those things and what do you find?  You find a show that egregiously and arrogantly offends the basic rules of comedy.  We must punish this show, and all other shows that so criminally misuse a talented cast and 7pm time slot.

OPENING STATEMENT FOR THE DEFENSE

Ehh.  Look, it was our second episode…. Did you see the monkey?

From the writers of “Joey”

God, Animal Practice is bad.  I’m a very forgiving person when it comes to new sitcoms.  I want to laugh, I want to enjoy it.  I understand the difficulty of setting up a concept, developing a theme, and making people laugh in 22 minutes.  It has to be universal enough to connect to a wide audience but specific enough to have a voice and not be considered generic.  I get it, I really do.  That’s why I make a rule to give a show 3-5 episodes before completely ruling it out as something I am interested in.  For example, Tyler Perry’s House of the Payne of Browns, or whatever that one show is on TBS.  I’m not gonna rule it out, because I haven’t watched at least 3-5 episodes.  I may not actually ever see an episode, but I will never call it a bad show.  Because it hasn’t failed me at least 3-5 times.  YET.

This is a “joke”, according to our source, “writer” Tyler Perry

Ironically, Parks and Recreation failed this pretty hard.  Some people will defend Season One but I completely disregard it.  The exception proves the rule on this one.  The only reason I came back was because Amy Poehler is just too funny, and I saw a diamond in the lump of coal that was Andy.  But I digress.

Before watching Animal Practice, I hadn’t read any reviews, or synopsis, or cast interviews or anything.  I simply saw one preview.  And in that preview I saw the following things:

1.  Andy from Weeds (my favorite character on a not great show).

2.  BOBBY LEE!! Scene stealer extraordinaire.

3.  Tyler Labine from Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (hilariously great movie), Sons of

Tucson (favorite character on an underrated but still not great show) and on Reaper

(my favorite character on another not great show).

At this point, I am PUMPED.  Finally, all of these really funny people have a shot on network television to just coalesce and explode in a fireball of hilarity.  Also, eye candy-wise, they threw in Cheyenne from Reba (aka Mrs. Nick Swisher).  She’s cute.  So far so good.  Wait, they’re also veterinarians?  Oh, that’s awesome.  I love animals, I’m sure anytime there’s a slow moment, they’ll just have an adorable boxer walk by in the background or something.  And, wait, is that… Jackee from Sister Sister and 227?  Oh, wait, no, okay, that’s not her.  WHO CARES BOOM LET’S DO THIS.

That’s a little racist, but I”m just happy to get the work, sugar.

So, all the ingredients are there.  And you mix ‘em together, with a dash of office humor and pet pig subplot and….  I didn’t laugh once.  I just sat there, waiting, my face tense, and ready to unleash the guffaws.

By the first commercial break, my jaw hurt, from almost laughing, from pre-laughing, from straining to maintain that position, so that when the laughs came, I would be the first, and I would be the loudest.

Any second now…

By the second commercial break, my jaw is relaxed, my lips on the come down, my almost smile contorting into a semi smirk.

There’s still 10 minutes left…

By the third commercial break, my teeth are gritted, my cheeks burning, the vein in my temple throbbing.  My brain hurting from the non-joke jokes, recycled jokes, Bobby Lee’s mustache, which you would think would be a huge winner but even that doesn’t work.  EVEN BOBBY LEE’S MUSTACHE DOESN’T WORK, THAT’S HOW BAD THIS SHOW IS.

I wish I could explain how hard this show strains to be funny.  Andy from Weeds, who is the hotshot big boss vet and whose character name I WILL NOT USE IN PROTEST, is set up as this arrogant, prick vet version of House.  But his one liners are flat, his reactions are stiff.  It’s just… I don’t… how can he be…. so bad…

Mrs. Nick Swisher is an upper crust wine-swilling Office Manager who just wants to be included in the office hangouts and be pals with everyone.  WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY GETTING THESE PLOT POINTS, 1972?????

Don’t even getting me started on the monkey selling paintings.  I can’t even type coherent things about it I’m getting so worked up.

It’s possibly one of the worst episodes of television I’ve seen in the past four years.  I don’t know where we go from here Animal Practice.  As much as I want to give new shows a chance, you were just that awful.

VERDICT TIME

Members of the Jury, how do you find?

ON THE COUNT OF “NO CONCEPT OF WHAT AN ACTUAL ANIMAL HOSPITAL LOOKS LIKE”, WE FIND THE DEFENDANT NOT GUILTY.

Animal Practice looks less like an actual Animal Hospital and more like a suspect’s high rise in CSI:  Miami.  The Office Manager’s office is massive, with a gorgeous view.  There is an observation deck for the animal surgeries.  Unless you’re the private veterinarian for the Royal family, all of the above is absolutely retarded, in every sense of the word.  But, we don’t watch comedy for the realism.  We watch it to laugh.  So while Animal Practice is technically guilty of this crime, it won’t matter if the writing gets better.  But if it makes it to Season Two, I would like to see it scaled back a little.

-ON THE COUNT OF “I SWEAR TO GOD IF I SEE ANOTHER MONTAGE OF A MONKEY MIMICKING A HUMAN, I’M GOING TO DRIVE DOWN TO WHERE THEY FILM THAT SHOW AND JUST START SWINGING’ WE FIND THE DEFENDANT NOT GUILTY.

While I personally feel that the whole Monkey on a sitcom played itself out well before Marcel on Friends (*cough* BJ and the Bear), I get it.  People like cute animals acting like humans.  It’s a thing.  (Seriously, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropomorphism). Again, if there were actual jokes sprinkled in around the monkey business (!!! seriously, like I wrote SO MUCH before using it.  It took a lot of willpower to make it this long) it would be as egregious.

-ON THE COUNT OF “CRIMINAL MISUSE OF 3-5 TALENTED AND FUNNY TV VETERANS”, WE FIND THE DEFENDANT GUILTY AS CHARGED.   

Dude, I don’t even know where to start.

-ON THE COUNT OF “OVERUSE OF AN ANIMAL IN ABSENSE OF HUMOR”, WE FIND THE DEFENDANT GUILTY AS CHARGED.

Exhibits A-Z

Building an entire B plot around a monkey painting isn’t a winning proposition.  Having the “weird” employee sell that painting the monkey created isn’t funny (I put weird in quotations marks because if they strain any harder in trying to make her quirky, they’re gonna blow something).  Having her buy the painting back for twice the cost because the monkey is upset makes my brain hurt.  Having her immediately forget about the doubled cost of her endeavor, not including the art supplies and additional ambiance materials makes me GRRRRRRRRR from the contrived nature of this “entertainment”.  But hey, why would she care?  It’s not like she’s A VET TECH OR SOMETHING, WHICH HISTORICALLY WOULDN’T MAKE A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF MONEY.  Then again, she is a vet tech at the most glamorous animal hospital in the entire country, so she probably burns money at home for heat and uses Picassos as wallpaper.

So, what does this all mean?  Maybe my expectations got away from me a little?  Maybe.  Maybe I wanted this to be a hit so bad I overlooked all of the possible flaws?  A little.  But I’m a man of my word.  Even though I convicted this show of some pretty awful crimes here today, I’m still going to give it 2-4 more episodes to right the ship.  Because the truth is, most sitcoms aren’t great.  Most aren’t even good.  They’re lower middle class good.  Like Reaper.  Like Weeds.  Shows that have strong moments, but ultimately fall flat or just kind of piddle along until they are mercifully put down by rejection.  And that’s probably the true verdict for Animal Practice.  It will pitter along, with the occasional moments of hilarity that will keep a few desperate cultish fans hanging on (people like me, that write blogs no one reads), but will ultimately be put down for just not having that magical thing, that thing that makes it universal enough to connect to a wide audience but specific enough to have a voice and not be considered generic fluff.

Like this:

– Stephen

American vs. British TV or USA! USA! USA!

By Josh

Look, I know it’s been a while since we talked.  I’m sorry.  I’m just in this weird place right now.  I got this work thing and summer has so little to watch.  I don’t want you to start seeing other blogs.  No I’m not writing for someone else!  How could you ask me that?  I promise, I’ll start writing for you again.  Just give me another chance.  No don’t come over, it’s not a good time.  No that’s not me typing in the background, that’s just the tv.  I already told you I’m not writing for anyone else!  Why don’t you trust me?  You always do this! Look…I gotta go. I’ll call you okay?

I’ve been trying to get started on this post for a while now, but I’m caught up in baseball pennant chase fever (STD), and there really hasn’t been a whole lot that I’ve wanted to watch outside of Breaking Bad.  Also, it’s been a good summer for video games.  If I even think about Borderlands for more than 10 seconds, I find myself trying to create a disease that I could use to get out of work for a while.  That isn’t a joke.  I’ve got cultures growing as we speak.  This is all my way of saying that I’ve been procrastinating and that this post has turned into my Chinese Democracy.  It’s much talked about and highly overrated.  And if you don’t get that reference, then I don’t think we have anything left to talk about.  Enjoy.

Sweet pie o’ mine!

The new greatest pop culture medium in ever is television.  I think we can all agree on that.  TV is now the creative entertainment frontier.  Screw movies, they are all terrible now.  Also, I don’t know what hyperbole is.  But seriously forks, amidst the chaff of reality tv garbage, we’re seeing some pretty brilliantly original programming.  Shows like Mad Men, Justified, and Downton Abbey are killing it right now.  TV has never shaped culture in this way!  If you disagree then you can eat my shorts.  I know it’s cliché to call this the Golden Age of Television, but it’s the damn Golden Age of Television.  We’re getting superb plot and production value from cable shows that are making major networks shit themselves.  In the 90’s, I’d have taken a movie over watching TV any day of the week.  But try to drag me to the theater when Breaking Bad is showing and I swear to God you’ll lose an eye.

So now we have our new platform, but who does it better?  The U.S. or the G.B.?  It’s really hip (kids still say hip right?) in America to automatically assume that any British pop culture is better than its American counterpart.  Music. (Agreed) Movies. (The Brits didn’t make Transformers so I guess they win there) Comedy. (That’s debatable)  And tv. (NO!)  British tv is great.  If you had asked me 10 years ago which was better, I would have said, “Fuck off bro, I’m in college.  Now watch me yack on that car cause it’s Tuesday morning and I have an ethics test in 20 minutes.” True story.  Then I would have slurringly explained that Kids in the Hall is really the only show I watch because Comedy Central shows it 7 times a day and so what if I skipped that test to watch the episode where Bruce McCulloch sings These Are the Daves I know.  And that Ben Affleck movie is about to start where he gets ‘roided up beats up his mom and girlfriend.  I miss college.  After that I would have agreed that yes, the Brits are probably making better shows.  But this isn’t then, this is now.  And American shows are really starting to come into their own on the quality front.  I’m not here to disparage one country or start a holy war because both are doing wonderful things for television.  But here’s why the U.S. is much better at tv than Great Britain.

Why was I in Reindeer Games?!?

 

Since it took me so long to get around to the real point of this post, and because I think the dividing line between American and British TV is razor thin, I’m going to base my entire argument on the one huge thing that I really care about when watching a show.  Series length.  British shows typically have a much shorter run than shows in the U.S.  They usually film six episodes per season and most never make it past one or two seasons.  That’s not enough time!  My entire argument boils down to a hugely negative human trait.  I’m a very greedy person.  You may be sitting there saying, “But Josh, if a show is great, it shouldn’t matter how long it actually lasts.  British shows just get more done in a six episode arc and it’s about quality over quantity and I prefer shorter series…blah blah.” Well I name you liar sir and/or madam.  You also speak in run-on sentences.  Punctuate please.  

Look, I’m not saying British shows are bad because they’re short lived.  Season one of Luther has six episodes and that show rocks the shit.  If you haven’t done so, go watch it on Netflix.  I can’t because my internets is down.  Thanks U-Verse.  Thankfully the BBC brought it back for another round of Stringer Bell being awesome and a third may be on the horizon.  But that second series was just four episodes.  I need so much more crazy detective and crazier hot killer lady.  Longer seasons open so many doors for a show to expand and develop its characters and story.  Goddammit, I want to see Luther take back those corners from Marlow Stanfield!  Time for a mash-up.  I want to get attached to colorful characters and see them gradually evolve over time.  That just can’t happen with such a truncated series.  Walt White couldn’t have become the power hungry mastermind we know and love in just twelve episodes.  It’s not possible and wouldn’t have been in any way believable.  A slow-burn type of series like Breaking Bad is the perfect example of gradually growing a character while having an end-game in mind that prevents staleness.  If a great American show can develop and sustain its greatness over five seasons, then of course it’s going to be better than its British equivalent. 

100 problems

Some argue that in the UK writers make shows shorter due to having more integrity or not wanting their creation to grow stale.  The staleness argument holds some water but that’s not the reason for a shorter season.  As with all things, it’s about cash money.  And if Damon Wayans has taught me anything, it’s that we need mo’ of it.  That’s sound economic theory that the BBC seems to be having problems with.  British networks just don’t get the ad revenue that American companies can generate.  As a result, they don’t have the cash to throw at a show to order thirty-six more episodes after a strong debut.  You get one season, and if everything goes extremely well, they may order a new set.  Maybe.  We’ll get back to you on that.  In two years.  Sorry Todd Margeret.  While shows are rarely cancelled mid-season in the UK, the promise of renewal is a pretty bleak prospect.  As far as the integrity argument goes, if I threw the kind of money at the writers of Downton Abbey that American shows see, you’d have cgi Ewoks all over the goddamn screen for five syndicated seasons.  And I just got a show idea.

Google image result for Victorian Ewok. I love the fuckin internet. I also love the genius that created this.

I get the stale show argument.  I really do.  When a show has run well past its prime, it feels like you’re being forced to sit at the dinner table while Great Aunt Freda chokes down apple sauce and that colostomy bag slowly fills to the top.  She’s your responsibility this week and that thing ain’t gonna empty itself.  Of course you can’t just kill Aunt Freda.  Remember how much fun she used to be and everybody used to talk about how it wasn’t a party if Aunt Freda wasn’t there?  Well we have to keep watching her.  We can’t just stop because she isn’t as much fun as she used to be.  Maybe we should just ride this Freda rough patch out and hope she has a few more moments of zaniness before the end.  I don’t know, maybe we should have just put Dwight in charge of Aunt Freda and it wouldn’t have been so bad.  The doctors think she has one more season left in her, so let’s just wait and see.  Maybe Michael will come back to see her before she passes…probably not though.

Who the shit are you? Aunt Freda hates you.

If you’re still reading this post then congrats to you my friend.  You have a bigger attention span than most of the internets.  You will be rewarded with a picture of a kitten wearing a hoodie at the end of this post.

I’m not saying a show should run indefinitely.  Every show needs to lead somewhere.  Maybe it slowly chronicles a character’s rise and fall like Walt White or the long sought redemption of Jesse Pinkman.  Maybe it just shows that even though we can eventually change who we are like Jimmy McNulty, our actions can’t really change the world.  If you have no end-game planned, you’re destined to write yourself into a corner and then you’re on the no-fly list with the writers of Lost.  The other problem with most American shows is that studios love be “hands on” rather than letting creative people do their thing and do it well.  The Brits handle that part extremely well and I commend them for it.  In the end, I don’t want to be left wanting more (Brit tv) and certainly don’t want to see a show become a shadow of its former self (USA tv).  Since the US is finally starting to hit that happy medium, I’ve got to give the gold medal to ‘Merica.  So what’s the perfect amount of time for a show to be on the air?  In the immortal words of Abed Nadir, “Six seasons and a movie!”  Here’s your cat.

Admit it, you stopped reading the paragraph to look at this pic.

 

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