Wednesday, August 4, 2010

TV and some movies

I've always been a big reader, and a movie fan, but I also love TV. Here are the shows I watch regularly:

Real Housewives of New Jersey/Real Housewives of Atlanta (reality). I particularly love the Jersey ones because they're all hilariously clueless, except for Dina and Caroline Manzo.

Scrappers (reality). This one just started last night, about guys who collect and and sell scrap (mostly scrap). I enjoyed it because it's set here in Brooklyn -- in fact, I learned about it from posters in the windows of several local Italian eateries (the guys are mostly or all Italian). Also, the guys are so dumb that they make the Jersey Housewives look like rocket scientists.

Man v. Food (travel/food). I think I've already written about how much I adore Adam Richman, also a Brooklynite.

No Reservations (travel/food). I also adore Tony Bourdain, snarky as he is.

The Deadliest Catch (reality). This one is about crab fishermen in Alaska. I'm not sure why I like it so much, because the characters aren't that compelling. But I cried when Captain Phil Harris died.

Ice Road Truckers (reality). Also set in Alaska, this one is about truckers who drive a road that are only passable in the dead of winter, mostly to bring supplies to oil drilling workers. It's pretty treacherous work. This has a lot of compelling characters, including a (rare) female driver. The show kind of makes a fake competition about which trucker drives the most loads during the season (they get paid per load and the pay also depends on the weight and size of the load). My fave is Alex, who is a low-key, sweet guy with 11 kids back home. I also like Jack, who is the absolute expert on oversized loads. Apparently, they're going to show a second program in the fall about truckers in the Himalayas, and I will definitely watch that.

Louie (comedy). I've already written about how much I admire Louis C.K.

Hot in Cleveland (comedy). I watch it for Betty White.

My Life on the D-List (reality/comedy). Because Kathy Griffin is hilarious, as is her 90-year-old mother.

Entourage (comedy). I stopped watching it for a while but recently started again because they have great guest stars and because Jeremy Piven and the guy who plays Lloyd (I think his name is Rex Lee) are very funny. Oh, and Kevin Dillon.

True Blood (drama). This isn't really a favorite of mine, but I watch it with Barry, who loves anything with vampires in it. This season is sucking (no pun intended) big-time, though.

Top Chef (reality/competition). Cut-throat competition between some great chefs; I also have a mild crush on co-host Tom Colicchio.

Locked Up Abroad (true crime/reality). Mostly people who have the bright idea to smuggle drugs, and end up in foreign prisons. They recently did a show on Billy Hayes, the "Midnight Express" guy, who told some parts of his story that were censored from his book, and some that were misrepresented in the movie.

Friday Night Lights (drama). Even though I loathe football, the actors are amazing, especially the ones who play the coach (Kyle something) and his wife (Connie Britton).

Treme (drama). Amazing show about post-Katrina New Orleans, largely focused on musicians. Great guest musicians (Elvis Costello, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Steve Earle). Awesome acting from Clarke Peters and Wendell Pierce, both of whom were criminally overlooked for Emmy nominations. Also has Melissa Leo, a favorite of mine since Homicide. This show is from the same team responsible for Homicide, Oz, The Corner, The Wire, etc. -- all brilliant shows.

Mad Men (drama). Period piece about the advertising business in the early 60s. Features the wonderful Elizabeth Moss, and Robert Morse (a favorite since I was a kid).

Saturday Night Live (comedy). I never stopped watching it, even during the truly lousy seasons/casts. And the fact that it's live makes it very exciting; anything can happen. Best casts were the original, and the late 80s (Phil Hartman/Will Ferrell/Jan Hooks/Dennis Miller). Even the crappier seasons had people like Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (comedy). Because very few people are funnier than Larry David.

Weeds (comedy). Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Nealon (much funnier than he was on SNL), Elizabeth Perkins and Andy Milder -- all hilarious.

I also have a sweet tooth for true crime shows like City Confidential. A lot of them are on I.D. Discovery, which we refer to as "the murder channel." It's pretty much my default channel if I want to watch and nothing else is on.

Barry's default channel is called Blackbelt TV, and it's mostly martial arts. Yuk. The only martial arts film I really like is Enter the Dragon, because Bruce Lee is so cool, John Saxon's hair is really funny, and Jim Kelly wears the most outrageous early-seventies outfits. Well, I also like the unintentionally funny oeuvre of Jean-Claude Van Damme. I always like the ways they come up with to explain his accent. In an early one, he has a brother with an American accent, and Van Damme says something like "Too bad I was raised in Europe with father and you were raised with mother in America," to which the brother replies, "Yeah, they never could get along." There was another one where Van Damme plays twin brothers, one who's a kind of sleazy underworld dude, and one who runs a gym in LA. The advertising line was "One packs a piece -- the other packs a punch!" I once saw a poster defaced in the subway to read "One packs a piece -- the other packs a lunch!"

Which kind of reminds me...when my brother and I were kids, we had a neighbor across the hall who split up with his wife and went to Hollywood to make movies. My brother and I laughed our asses off when we saw a subway poster that said "Keep on telling yourself -- it's only a movie, it's only a movie." The movie was Last House on the Left, which makes our former neighbor Wes Craven. It always killed me because so many horror flicks feature a babysitter in peril, and I used to sit for Wes' kids. His ex-wife married singer-songwriter Tom Chapin; much of his family also lived in our building.

We even have favorite commercials these days. Barry likes the Dos Equis commercials featuring "the most interesting man in the world."

I'm partial to a new DirecTV commercial with a very nouveau-riche type Russian dude, who has a tiny pet giraffe (cat-sized) that he kisses on the lips at the end of the commercial. (Unfortunately, YouTube doesn't seem to have this one yet.)

Shows I love that are no longer on the air: St. Elsewhere. All of the Tom Fontana/David Simon shows I mentioned under Treme. Pitchmen (which will have a second season, but won't be the same without the late Billy Mays). Fridays (with young Michael Richards and Larry David). And speaking of Larry David, Seinfeld. There must be others that I can't remember. I probably watch too much TV, but I never go to the movies any more, and don't go to too many concerts, so it's a big source of entertainment.

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