Favorite Waste of Time
Waste Not, Want Not
By: Randy Harward
Attention fatties: you know how cardio/aerobic exercise...whether it's on a stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical trainer, Stairmaster or any other conceived-in-Hell device, just seems as pointless and stimulating as watching a hamster on a wheel? Learn the joys of TV on DVD.
For the past two months this fatty, instead of assuming his favorite position (ass on couch, one leg over arm of couch, head wedged between two pillows) watched all this shit that fills his mailbox from his elliptical trainer. It's amazing how much TV you can consume when you're a captive audience. I started out with 30-minute sessions and was able to work up to an hour. My motivation? The next episode of any reasonably interesting television show (as well as a few movies) that have been committed to disc.
I typically get to choose what I review, so finding interesting stuff to watch wasn't too much of a problem. That is, unless I requested crap...and you'll soon see that I did. The upside to that is it adds a new perspective to the review process. Now I can not only say it sucks or it don't (I try to keep things scientific), but I can also say whether it sucks or it don't--during exercise.
The absolute best stuff to watch is hour-long (45 minutes sans advertising), serialized television. Action, comedy, drama...it doesn't matter, so long as the plot can hold your attention. The third season of 24 (Fox) was good for this, although the show is dangerously close to jumping the shark. The show is simply fucking with one's ability to suspend disbelief, a trait essential to the enjoyment of most fictional works, filmed or otherwise. That's not cool. It was a good enough diversion for my purposes, but also enough to make me swear off watching the fourth season. Maybe.
For the same reason, the first season of MacGyver (Paramount) is to be avoided. He seemed so smart back in the day--now he just seems like a douchebag miming half-baked, half-researched techniques cooked up by hack writers (yeah, yeah-- Pot. Kettle.). The second season of Millennium (Fox) sucked just because it sucked. What a stupid fucking show. I can't believe I gave it a second chance. Chris Carter = one trick pony.
The first season of The 4400 (a blatant X-Files derivation/rip-off) was surprisingly good for a semi-soap. The short, five-ep season was a great introduction to a show that will at least provide a welcome respite from reality television. It suffers from some bad off-network/UPN/WB casting, but is otherwise better than some of the other soapy fare on TV (The OC, et al).
Regarding The Commish (Anchor Bay Entertainment): the stories were usually somewhat engrossing...and when they weren't, I could obsess over the ridiculous hairstyles of Theresa Saldana and Michael Chiklis. The third season of Chiklis' show The Shield (Fox) was much, much better. Taut and, as they say, 'action-packed.'
Some other Anchor Bay releases really, really didn't work. The Lorenzo Lamas mulletfest Renegade was just too painful. There was a time when the late-night reruns were almost welcome when I was young dumb and well, dumb...but now that I'm like, smart? The acting grates (especially that of writer/director (?) Stephen Bochco, who vainly cast himself as a corrupt detective) and the plots suck, probably 'cause Bochco didn't stick to writing as he did with The Commish and The Greatest American Hero ...the other Anchor Bay release I should be talking about.
Just as it did when I was a kid, Hero rules. It's so corny but so engrossing...who among us doesn't want aliens to drop superhero jammies on us so we can save the world and thwart a few bullies? The concept, thanks to our inner children, hasn't lost any gas over time. Sure, there are some chuckle moments (Michael Pare as a thirtysomething-looking high school kid, for instance), but it's still good stuff.
Back to things that sucked: 7th Heaven (sweet fucking Christ! Why didn't anyone warn me this was a Christian show? Not that it just doesn't suck anyway; it's like Eight is Enough and Our House mixed, which is like an ammonia and bleach cocktail); Charmed (save this for lonely sleepless nights)--that's it for TV shows. As for cinematic disappointments:
Pauly Shore is Dead (Fox/Landing Patch) attempts to laugh at the laughable Pauly Shore. His dude comedy wasn't so bad...in fact, I liked it. Loved it. In fact, I will cop to being a Pauly Shore fan boy back in the day. Granted, that interest has waned substantially over time, but I still pull out the Future of America album for a pleasant, in not as funny, trip down memory lane.
This film, however, is terrible. People are acting like it's gonna pull him up out of the abyss and make people take him seriously. Instead, it's not much different than his other films--except they were ALL better. Even Jury Duty and In the Army Now.
The idea is that Shore is up to antics...in this case, faking his own death in order to garner some respect. The resolution has Pauly putting on a serious face and saying he's going to drop the "Wiezel" act; everyone is supposed to come to terms with the death of the "Wiez" and accept Pauly as an actor 'cause he's matured. Anyone familiar with this character arc? It's in every one of his fucking films.
Without a Paddle (Paramount) starts semi-promisingly as a tale of three guys coping with the death of a friend by completing a trip, planned since childhood, to find the treasure of D.B. Cooper. While it never winds up in Sucksville, it definitely is not worth your 90 minutes. Matthew Lillard does his best goofy mugging, Seth Green geeks out, and the other guy is--the other guy.
A random delights to close this thing out:
Ventura/Urbanworks' Fat Albert collection eases the pain of the shit-ass film adaptation of Bill Cosby's great Saturday morning cartoon. It's much better to watch Cos moralize via a gang of dipshits than watch a gang of dipshits moralize in a half-assed film with a mandatory hip-hop makeover. There are some things that should be left as they were...Fat Albert should never, ever rap. He was a brother with soul. He should be singing.
Oh, that's right--I started off by rambling about how TV can help you exercise. I lost ten pounds. The same ten pounds I lost a few columns back. I'll gain those ten back when I quit exercising again. Unless I request some better stuff to watch. At that, I leave you in order to beg studios for more freebies.