Stay Tuned…with Margaret Lyons

By Margaret Lyons


I liked The Blair Witch Project when I saw it. Sure, I almost peed in my pants, and yes, maybe seeing it on my day off as a camp counselor wasn’t the best idea I ever had, but still. It was good. In between squeezing my eyes closed and praying that it would be over soon, one thought stood out in my mind: this movie needs more thumbs. Enter The Blair Thumb, a spoof short starring, you guessed it, our beloved opposable digits. Steve Oedekerk—screenwriter for Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Kung Pow, Jimmy Neutron (which is actually really funny), and, uh, Patch Adams—brings us the magic of Thumbation in this campy mini-feature.

Showtime, 10:30 p.m.


Beat the Geeks was an absolute gem, one of the most innovative and entertaining programs in game show history. Contestants went head-to-head against the TV Geek, the Movie Geek, the Music Geek, and a Guest Geek (The Simpsons Geek, the Wrestling Geek, the Playboy Geek, etc.). Finally, a show that made you feel proud. The format of the show was overhauled from the first to the second season, and the powers that be replaced dapper host and copy editor Dan Berkovitz-look-alike J. Keith van Straaten with scrawny host and Pee-Wee Herman-look-alike Blaine Capatch. Despite the changes, the show remained an outstanding example of kitschy pop culture done right; unfortunately, Comedy Central fucked that shit up, and the beloved Geeks didn’t last into a third season. Lucky for us, reruns still occasionally grace the airwaves. I’m not suggesting that anyone wake up in time for today’s episode, but set your VCRs or take your walk of shame early to catch a half-hour of nerdy bliss.

Comedy Central, 6 a.m.


You know how sometimes you think your family is all lame and weird, but then you go to your friend’s house, and her family really sucks, so you’re really glad when your mom picks you up? Yeah, me too. My sister Susie suggests Viva La Bam to provide a healthy dose of “I’m glad that’s not my family” as Bam Margera (of Jackass fame) plays large-scale pranks on his family. His parents seem pretty good-natured about all of it, but I’m not sure I’d be too into my kid making my whole house a skate park or putting meat in my toothpaste tube, and ironing hamburger decals onto all my clothes. But that’s the Margeras, whose family reunion included a Bam-made moat and a guy on an elephant.

MTV, 8:30 p.m.


You know what’s always good for a few laughs? Abortion. Man, abortion is a riot—just ask the writing duo Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (Election, About Schmidt). Citizen Ruth is hilarious and clever; an all-star cast saves the intelligent but patchy script. Laura Dern, Swoozie Kurtz, Kurtwood Smith, Mary Kay Place, Tippi Hedren, and Burt Reynolds all beef up their indie cred in this incredibly dark, but ultimately entertaining comedy. Dern, as a glue-huffing mom-to-be, and Kurtz, as Gaia-worshipping lesbian who goes undercover to thwart the pro-lifers, stand out in this morbid romp.

Showtime, 11:05 p.m.


After kicking our summer into high fashion gear, the Fab Five deserted us this fall. Thank the gay gods that our boys are back and ready for more, as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy—the cultural phenomenon that taught us all that straight men are ogres and “homosexual” is a fancy word for “superhero”—returns with a new episode. Jeff T., a grizzly postal worker, gets all prettied up, courtesy of Carson (fashion queen), Kyan (grooming hottie), Ted (food and wine smarty pants), Thom (interior design snarkfest), and Jai (culture…wait, Jai doesn’t really do anything). If you missed Queer Eye this summer, I feel sorry for you; if you missed the bazillion reruns on Bravo so far this fall, you are a total shut-in homophobe.

Bravo, 9 p.m.


Wednesdays have become something of a pickle: The O.C. up against West Wing? What kind of evil shit is that? What sort of demonic trick is the universe playing on me? Sure, The O.C. is rerun on Thursdays, but watching one of my favorites day-old? No thanks. Sorry, NBC, you’ve been ousted from the top spot in the contest for Margaret’s heart. The O.C. has started its new half-season strong, bringing steamy teen-love to new levels of amazingness. I know I’ve recommended The O.C. before, but the last few episodes have been so good that I had to recommend it again. Most of us expected The O.C. to fill the 90210-void in our hearts, but, if I dare to write it, The O.C. is…better. Smarter, sharper, wittier, more relevant; better dialogue, better actors, better fashion, The O.C. is a TV dream come true. Watch it tonight, and watch it again tomorrow night.

FOX, 8 p.m.


Now in its third season, Scrubs is still managing to hold its own in the rapidly deteriorating Thursday line-up on NBC. I stopped watching Will & Grace; ER is an embarrassment; and they tried to get us to watch Coupling and Whoopi. But there was Scrubs, diligently plodding onward, happy to pick up former Felicity stars whenever necessary. Zach Braff is too cute for words, John C. McGinley is outstandingly quirky, Donald Faison still has that weird warty thing on his lip, and Sarah Chalke just kind of takes up space. On the whole, though, Scrubs is a fresh, enjoyable comedy that’s just what the doctor ordered. Zing!

NBC, 8:30 p.m.