The New York Comedy Festival
You know what's really not funny? A report on the New York comedy scene featuring comedians who don't tell good jokes. I'm pretty sure I don't laugh once during any of the stand-up clips, which are fuzzy and hard to understand. (Though I do recognize someone who grew up right down the street from me: Way to go, Andre.) At least this special explores different types of comedy including improv, animation and morning-radio shows. And I'm pretty impressed by the auditions for the Andy Kaufman festival, a creative idea led by the late comic's father. Unfortunately the rest of this special is a joke, and I don't mean that as a compliment.
Great Performances — The Concert for George
You know how some tribute concerts get all sappy and maudlin? Not this one, which celebrates the life of George Harrison instead of mourning his death. The quiet Beatle's closest friends and his son Dhani (who looks so much like his dad it's eerie) are having such a blast, you almost expect George to walk on stage and join them. My favorite parts: Dhani holding his own on guitar next to legends Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney (and making a very cool reference to his "Uncle Ringo"), Tom Petty (who is my celebrity husband*) adding appropriate grit to "Taxman" and Billy Preston's soulful rendition of "Isn't It a Pity." I love how they honor George's obsession with Monty Python and his passion for Indian music and culture. In one short hour (definitely check out the full-length DVD) this concert captures the immense talent and beauty of a man who died too young. We miss ya, George!
*A celebrity husband is the adult version of the star crush you had as a teenager. But it's a lot more fun, since you no longer have to beg your parents for outrageously expensive front-row tickets. It's completely appropriate to have a celebrity husband and already be legally married (as I am). It's also perfectly OK to have more than one celebrity husband (aka celebrity polyhusbandry). Trust me, they don't mind. Hey, Tom! Call me, 'kay?
Everybody Loves Raymond
I'm kinda disappointed they're running a second-season episode, especially since reruns this old are already on twice a night. But I'm glad I watched, despite the been-there, haven't-"done-it" plot, which revolves around sex-starved Ray trying to convince prudish Debra to hit the sheets. (And for once, Patricia Heaton is handed a very funny line.)
Ray: Why can't you just think like a man?
Debra: I am. (Rolls over to go to sleep) I'm completely disregarding your feelings.
I'd actually feel sorry for Ray if he weren't so clueless about his wife's needs. "You ask for a back-rub and that means Mr. Smith Goes to Washington?" he says with disbelief. Wait, how long have these two been married?
Two and a Half Men
Jon Cryer is at his best when he's playing vulnerable and pathetic. (See Duckie, Pretty in Pink, 1986.) One minute, he's crying in his tequila while writing out an alimony check. The next he's in his old house, trying to befriend his ex-wife's new boyfriend over tea and cookies. And, of course, awkward conversation:
Alan: Ever been married?
Dr. Melnick: My wife died.
Alan: Oh. Sorry to hear that. Guess you don't have to worry about alimony payments then! (Embarrassed pause) Got any kids?
Dr. Melnick: Uh, no.
Alan: A blessing in disguise, with the dead wife and all.
Eventually, Alan pulls it together and lets the good doctor know all about Judith's mood swings, pill-popping and binge eating. 'Cause after all, he might be vulnerable and pathetic but he sure ain't stupid.
Dateline NBC: Diana Revealed
My first thought: Is there even anything left to reveal? My second: Shouldn't we let this poor woman rest in peace? I don't think I'll watch more than a few minutes of previously unaired video footage shot by her speech coach. But I'm surprised when I'm drawn in by her honesty, charm and youthful beauty. Her lovers are definitely old news, so I'm not all that interested in her relationship with a bodyguard. But when the Princess learns how to give public speeches — mistakes, giggles, frustrations and all — we are given a rare glimpse into her true self. We might not have known her well, but now we know her a little better.
Degrassi: The Next Generation
I keep watching this show, even in reruns, because the writers know exactly how to turn a character flaw into a moral lesson. In other words, realistic plots with no preachiness. Who can't identify with Ashley's nagging need to be cool? Too bad she doesn't think her house party will score her enough points, since she ends up taking ecstasy, hoping it will do the trick. I love that producers chose the last person you'd think would be so stupid. (Only Emma would have been more surprising, but she's way too young.) Kudos to Melissa McIntyre for her great portrayal of a wasted Ashley. Pretty convincing for a young actress who got the message across even though Ashley didn't Just Say No.