Whose Line Is It Anyway?
The Great Drew Carey Burn-Off of 2004 continues as ABC airs another new Whose Line, slowly getting rid of the 300 unaired episodes they've got locked away in their vault underneath Disneyland. You know, this show has its moments (I liked the sitcom parody about the model and the sumo wrestler look for that next year on ABC), but it doesn't hold a candle to the original British series, which you can still catch in reruns on Comedy Central. Drew is a nice enough guy and that's actually part of the problem. The host of the British version was the unflappable Clive Anderson, who never met a hilarious put-down he didn't like. When he chided a player for a bad sketch, you could tell he really meant it. Half of the performers looked like they wanted to punch him out, while the other half worked their butts off to avoid giving him any ammunition. Remember this lesson kids: A scared improver is frequently a hilarious improver.
Speaking of shows getting lost in translation, how about this misbegotten remake of Lars von Trier's Danish miniseries? The original Kingdom is sheer genius; funny and freaky (and often both at the same time), it's required viewing for anyone who loves a good ghost story. If your local video store doesn't stock it, keep annoying them until they do. (The exact method of annoyance is up to you. I usually find that following the clerks around quoting lines from Robin Williams movies Patch Adams is always a reliable one does the trick). It wasn't a bad idea to let our own national bogeyman Stephen King run with the premise, but the esteemed author sadly dropped the ball. The only people scared by his version were ABC executives when they read the overnight ratings. Oh well. Better luck next time, Stephen.
Celebrity Poker Showdown
Okay, I take back what I said a few weeks ago: Dave Foley is the perfect guy to host Showdown. Maybe he was just having an off night the last time I watched or, more likely, he finally discovered where Bravo was hiding the booze. About five minutes in to last night's episode, I remembered why I love this guy. He's just so snarky! And I love the way he befuddles cohost and resident poker expert Phil Gordon with his non sequiturs. They're like the real-life version of the dog-show commentators from Best in Show. Oh, and the game was pretty exciting, too. Who knew that heavily tattooed rocker Dave Navarro was so normal? Or that Jennie Garth had such a good poker face? (I had always assumed that she was born with that blank expression.) And what the hell happened to Jerry O'Connell? He was a hero for chubby kids everywhere in Stand by Me and he rocked as Ultraman on My Secret Identity. But he's grown up into such a putz! I kept rooting for Willie Garson to reach over and smack him upside the head.
Kevin and Drew Unleashed
Further proof that there is life after reality TV, provided you've got the right shtick. On this new Discovery Channel series, everyone's favorite bald, bickering frat guys from the first Amazing Race tool around the country in an RV and perform various challenges. (Think The Simple Life with slightly more class and less fashion sense.) In last night's premiere, they dropped by a seedy Florida alligator park, where they frolicked with the reptiles, and paid a pointless visit to the Oceanspray headquarters in Massachusetts, where they herded some cranberries. Kevin and Drew are as endearing as ever, but these tasks have gotta get more interesting soon or they'll be facing a different kind of elimination. What I really want to know is when are those awesome clowns from the fourth Amazing Race getting their own show? Bring on Jon and Al Unleashed!
Reel New York
You can keep your For Love or Money and your North Shore, this is my idea of a great summer series. Every year, Channel 13 and Film Forum partner up to present a series of experimental, documentary and fiction shorts made by New Yorkers. It's like watching public-access television, only with actual production values. Because this is New York we're talking about, some of the films are unbearably pretentious. But where else on TV can you see a groundbreaking video-art project from 1973? Or a visual poem that juxtaposes impressive light displays from across the country? And a couple of weeks back, some guys in Brooklyn strapped a satellite camera to a pigeon's back, giving us a literal bird's eye view of their neighborhood. Unnecessary, you say? Sure, but boy did it look cool.
[To the tune of "Particle Man" by They Might Be Giants]
Will Ferrell is Anchorman
What's it about? It's not important.
Is it long or is it brief?
Will it put you to sleep?
Is it worth your 10 bucks?
Number one at the box office man
Critics love the web head, too
He's in a movie with cool effects
Great action and a hot actress
Sam Raimi is now a wealthy man
Powerful man, Spider-Man
Sets his sights on Spider-Man
Thinks he can hit number one
Will he succeed or will he fail?
Can he reach that Holy Grail?
Would you bet on Anchorman?
Funny man, Anchorman.
Both in theaters this weekend
They have a fight