TOP 3 SHOWS
1. "Tim and Eric's Awesome Show Great Job!" (Cartoon Network)
The first glimpse I had of this show was when Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim appeared as "Casey Tatum and his brother" for an interview on G4TV's "Attack of the Show!" It was completely bizarre, and I quickly set my TiVo to record a season pass of their Adult Swim series. I was not disappointed. Basically, the show is a schizo assortment of skits and running themes in the Tim and Eric universe, which is centered around bad public access TV and commercials. To sit here and try to explain it all is impossible, but Heidecker is a seriously amazing songwriter, and his musical contributions to the series are fantastically catchy as well as satirical. "Awesome Show" isn't for everyone - indeed, one of our very own here at Bullz-Eye feels Tim and Eric's humor just isn't funny at all - but for those who enjoy weird humor with a twist of juvenilia, then you can do no wrong here. And don't worry about it being a flash in the pan: after the successful first season, it was reported that the show was picked up for 30-plus more episodes, so it'll be around a while.
2. "Psych" (USA Network)
This USA Network favorite finished up its second season this year and shows no signs of slowing down. James Roday continues his portrayal of fake psychic Shawn Spencer. Shawn's dad, Henry (Corbin Bernsen), was a former cop and taught his son how to hone his observational skills into a freakish talent; now, he works with the local authorities to crack cases with his "psychic powers," along with his partner, Burton Guster (Dule Hill), who more often than not would rather keep out of harm's way and live a normal life. The writing in this show is both hilarious and, when it needs to be, fairly gripping. No, this isn't your run of the mill cop drama stuff, but "Psych" offers up equal amounts of humor, action, and suspense that seems to be missing from all those other hit series. If anything, the show's success and popularity prove that USA isn't just cranking out rote filler like The CW and Fox have always been prone to do; they're seriously becoming a contender for original TV series.
3. "Burn Notice" (USA Network)
And here's proof. This USA Network series revolves around a former spy (Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen) who has been "burned" by someone within his ranks and is now residing in Miami, trying to figure out who screwed him over instead of taking the government's advice to live a new, mundane, "ordinary" life. The rest of the cast is filled out by the exotic Gabrielle Anwar, who plays Michael's gun-loving former girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne, and none other than Bruce Campbell playing Michael's buddy, Sam Axe, who "reports" in on Michael while at the same time helping him get closer to the identity of his enemy. Sharon Gless also features as Michael's chain smoking mother, Madeline. Like "Psych," "Burn Notice" features a good dose of humor to go with the drama, though this show is played up much more for the action factor. Produced with cool scene transitions and witty voice-overs, it plays and feels like no other show on TV currently. The first season was a lot of fun, but, unfortunately. the fans will have to wait until next summer to see season two; still, by not tossing out a ton of episodes, the writers and producers of the series did right and have kept up the suspense perfectly. "Burn Notice" is an absolute must.
THE ONLY GOOD REASON TO WATCH THE E! NETWORK
As fans of this long-running show know, "The Soup" was once known as "Talk Soup," a weekly show that would skewer the latest airings of talk shows and feature smart-assed commentary and short skits, starring whoever was doing hosting duties. Since its transformation into "The Soup," the show now features hilarious host Joel McHale doing his thing on top of all sorts of crappy TV shows, be they talk, reality, game shows, you name it. McHale is the real reason to watch the show, as his comedic delivery and happy-go-lucky sarcastic style put all these TV turds in their proper places. And, of course, there are always recurring favorite characters and themes, such as Mankini, Joel's love affair with Judi Dench, "Oprah's Va-jay-jay," and lots more. McHale even gets to knock his own host of a network and the crappy shows that appear on it. How can you go wrong? That's right: you can't.
THE SHOWS KIDS LOVE AS MUCH AS THE ADULTS (OR, AT LEAST, MY KID DOES)
"Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe" (Discovery Channel)
Go figure that my three-year-old fell in love with Mike Rowe's always-entertaining Discovery Channel series featuring some of the filthiest jobs on the planet. And, really, this is a great show for everyone, as Rowe is a funny, personable guy who clearly enjoys what he's doing and what he's learning in the process. This is true reality TV, folks, and, yes, learning can actually be entertaining! My personal favorite episode is when Mike goes to Las Vegas and visits a guy who feeds his giant pig farm with all the unused leftovers from the casinos and local restaurants. It's truly disgusting. My son, meanwhile, will probably tell you that he enjoys the episode featuring the "snake lady," who goes out to collect non-poisonous snakes for research and constantly gets bitten. Or maybe it's the one where Mike goes fishing for sharks (again, to collect and tag them for scientific study) and throws up over the side of the boat after making chum. Hell, there are tons of great episodes to be enjoyed, and it's truly a fun experience to enjoy a show with your kid where everyone learns a little something in the end.
BEST SHOW GEARED TOWARDS YOUNG KIDS
"Charlie and Lola" (Disney Channel)
This Disney Channel favorite has become a fast hit with the youngsters beginning to explore the plethora of kids' programming on TV. The series features children's author Lauren Child's well-loved British brother and sister duo Charlie and Lola and their many imaginative adventures. What this series does best is shows how important family is and how strong the bonds can be between a brother and his younger sister who wants to experience the world and all the wondrous things life has to offer at those young influential ages. Charlie and Lola may not always get along, but the point is made clear that they do love each other very much and that they are always there for one another. Life lessons such as first days at school, visiting the doctor, learning to share, going to bed when we may not really want to, as well as tapping into creativity and using one's imagination are explored fully and entertainingly. "Charlie and Lola" is one of the few shows for the younger set that doesn't patronize kids with gooey, phony emotional glop. Instead, it focuses on kids' real fears and joys and even shows that having an imaginary friend can be just as fun and productive as playing with the real thing. A real gem of children's TV programming.
BEST SHOW MY EX TURNED ME ONTO RECENTLY
"Dirty Sexy Money" (ABC)
For all the silly reality TV my ex professes to not really like but watches anyway, every now and then she'll still get my attention with some of the other stuff she watches and tells me about. "Dirty Sexy Money," starring an ensemble cast of huge names, is the most recent of those shows. Without going into all the twisty details about the show here, fans of Peter Krause ("Six Feet Under") can rejoice in seeing their hero once again on the small screen, leading the rest of the cast here, which also features Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin, Jill Clayburgh, and plenty of other instantly recognizable faces who float in and out. Whether or not this drama is in it for the long run is anyone's guess, but so far the writing and acting have been enjoyable from week to week. Here's hoping the show gets the attention it deserves and is around for at least a couple seasons.
NBC'S TRULY GREATEST HIT OF 2007
Forget "Heroes." Forget "Journeyman." Take my "Bionic Woman," please. "Chuck" is easily the best thing on NBC these days. I first caught a glimpse of the show before it premiered, in a promotional trailer at a movie theater. At first, I thought it was a trailer for a cool-looking movie. When I saw it was going to be a TV show, I tuned it for that pilot episode and have enjoyed the series ever since. As Chuck Bartowski, Zachary Levi sets a new high bar for portraying a lovable geek. Yvonne Strahovski as operative Sarah Walker is not only a beautiful sight to behold, but a fine actress in her own right. And Adam Baldwin as John Casey is the new character you love to hate, but, in fact, end up really loving in the end. Granted, the pilot only showed the promise of what could be, but "Chuck" got exciting and addictive really fast within the next two episodes. It's a smart, funny drama that also has its share of weekly action scenes that are actually exciting to watch and don't come off as cheesy or lame. So far, there have been plenty of plot twists and turns to keep any suspense fan happy; the laughs come flawlessly, and even the romantic angles are fun. "Chuck" should be around for a good long time; if it isn't, then all hope is truly lost.
BEST INFOMERCIAL ON LATE NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS
"The Magic Bullet"
OK, I realize that this product has been out for a couple years now, but I still can't resist the stupid-as-hell infomercial that still plays regularly. You know the one. The wacky couple invites all their neighbors in to their cabana where they then wow them with vegetable smoothies, mixed drinks, cheese dip and salsa, chicken salad, minced onions, and everything else under the sun all made in six seconds or less! Holy shit! Act now and get the phenomenal Bullet Blender attachment! Act now and get a second Magic Bullet absolutely free, you pay only shipping charges! I've probably watched this damn infomercial more times than I care to count, yet I have still resisted ordering one. Somehow, though, I did manage to order a GT Xpress 101 cooker after only a couple viewings of its infomercial, but, hey, I did get a second one absolutely free!
THE "WHY DOES ANYONE STILL CARE?" AWARD
"Survivor" (CBS), "Big Brother" (CBS), "The Real World" (MTV), "America's Next Top Model" (The CW), and "I Love New York" (VH-1)
Seriously, do people really love these shitty reality TV shows enough for them to still need to be on the air? Admittedly, with a writer's strike, these silly escapades into sheer stupidity come in handy and are still amongst the cheapest things to produce. But I'm surprised as anyone that the likes of "Big Brother" is still going strong. I'm just glad I don't have to sit around and work in an office and listen to water cooler talk revolving around these shows; in the real world, I'm sure that would be sufficient reason to submit your resignation right there. But as we all know, the real world is only on TV, and we are merely the audience of spectators learning nothing from it. Oh, sweet irony, you have cursed us so.