ARTS

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February 6, 2004

Stay Tuned

*Friday*

I've written about Monk before, but I'm afraid that the advice hasn't stuck. Monk is a brilliant show; funny and smart, quirky but credible. Tony Shalhoub is one of the best actors working today, period. His nuanced performance as the OCD Monk has earned him critical acclaim and a hit show. Monk solves crimes, and usually the plots are tricky enough to keep you interested but standard enough that you can figure out the mystery before the characters do. Which is way fun. This half-season, the supporting cast has stepped up its game and screen time, giving the show an improved ensemble vibe. Which is also way fun. The crimey action is all very interesting, but the clever writing that creates a parallel universe for the characters sets the show apart from other comedies—a recent episode featured a biting satire of CSI, Monk's bottled water of choice is Sierra Springs, etc. It's enough to make me wash my hands in scalding water before vacuuming my apartment in exact right angles. Well, almost. Keep dreaming, roommates.

USA, 9 p.m.

*Saturday*

Real World/Road Rules Challenge kinda sucked until the Gauntlet (gung gung gung doom music) spiced that shit up. Oh yeah. This time around, the kids head to sunny Acapulco for The Inferno. Uh, what? Oh MTV, you're so silly, throwing around big words like "inferno" and "halftime show." The rules are a little different, but it boils down to the same action: hotties face off in bizarre physical challenges, someone loses, everyone acts like a gigantic bitch, someone goes home. What's weird is that the Road Rules team should always win—those guys are selected based on physical prowess. But you don't have to be strong/fast/good at climbing ropes to live in a city and work a bullshit job, like those Real World hacks. So is there a rule that once you're on an MTV reality show, you just never have to get a real job or anything? Also, who the hell is Timmy from Road Rules II?

MTV, 1 p.m.

*Sunday*

The Grammys. Are. Bullshit. But where else can you see Celine Dion and OutKast? Pretending that the music industry respects creativity or actual accomplishment is so funny! And cute! Oh look, they nominated the White Stripes! Against…Evanescence? Whatever. The Grammys are "noteworthy" this year only because CBS is airing them on a delay, fearing more bared bosom action. So if you know someone who's going to the Grammys, have them call you and give you the play-by-play, anywhere from seven seconds to five minutes before you get to see it on TV. I mean, I guess there are people who care about the Grammys, and they're fun to watch because music "artists" are always atrociously dressed, but without the possibility of an accidentally unleashed genital or potty word, this is just going to be a total snoozefest. And please, boobs are so last Sunday.

CBS, 7 p.m.

*Monday*

There I was, complaining that nothing ever really came of Duckie from Pretty in Pink, when low and behold, he's actually on TV. No, really, he is. He's one of the two-and-a-half men on Two and a Half Men, the other being Charlie Sheen, and the half being a kid or something. Is a kid really half a person? I'm pretty sure that kids count as whole people, except at movies and restaurants, where they count as slightly cheaper than old people, but that's neither here nor there. Jon Cryer (he played Duckie) has battled back from such roles as Third Frat Boy in Penn & Teller Get Killed to land a show on CBS, which I guess isn't that much better. Wow, I recommended two CBS shows this week? Maybe it really is the most watched network.

CBS, 8:30 p.m.

*Tuesday*

I was trying to find an obscure or interesting show to recommend for tonight, but I need to be honest: you are a complete fool if you don't watch American Idol and America's Next Top Model tonight. Somehow or another, the gods of reality-TV-contests-with-the word-America-in-their-title got together and scheduled Tuesdays to rock your ass so hard. So hard. Idol kicks off the voting portion, after pissing away a few weeks of clip shows, so have your cell phones ready to help narrow down the field from 32 oh-so-eager contestants to 12. I kind of wish we got to vote for ANTM, too. This week, Mercedes reveals that she has a mysterious illness—honestly, it's probably not going to be mysterious, but the promos are freaking me out. They said a few weeks ago that "tragedy" was going to strike one of the girls, but really it was just that Shandi passed out because she hasn't eaten anything since, well, ever. These shows would be better if they switched judges for a week or two. Paula would still be meaningless, so she can switch with the guy from Jane. Randy and Tyra can switch because they both say bizarre and random shit that doesn't mean anything but still makes you a little uncomfortable (example: "I knew you guys would get into the '80s, cause that's when you came out yo mammas" from Tyra, or "Dawg, dawg, dawg," from Randy). And the similarities between Janice Dickinson and Simon are too many to count. I smell a crossover!

Fox, 7 p.m., UPN, 8 p.m.

*Wednesday*

"Medici" has two meanings to me: overrated pizza on 57th Street and expensive shoes on Columbus Avenue (in New York). It turns out that it means all kinds of other stuff, too. Who knew? PBS. Those fools are with it. In Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance, we can learn all about the Florentine banking family that funded a whole bunch of art and learning and stuff, now with more cheeseball dramatic recreations. According to TV Guide (guys—I'm graduating soon and need a job, bad), if the Medici were around today, "they no doubt would have found better filmmakers to chronicle them than the bunch who produced this two-part combination of melodramatic re-creations and turgid narration." With a glowing recommendation like that, who can resist? What? You'd rather watch The O.C.? You're not much of a Renaissance man, are you? Nah, me either. I'll stick with the pizza and stilettos.

PBS, 9 p.m.

*Thursday*

Copy editors everywhere—me included—freaked the hell out when Eight Legged Freaks hit theaters. Why? Get a goddamn hyphen, you assholes. This movie is about freaks with eight legs, not eight freaks who have legs, as the terribly punctuated title suggests. (If you're still in the dark, it should be Eight-Legged Freaks because the eight and the legged are forming a compound adjective….) The trés fancy, don't call her an it-girl Scarlett Johansson paid her dues in this crapfest, alongside the likes of Doug E. Doug and David Arquette. It's about spiders, or something, and it's allegedly a parody, but even if this were the best movie ever, I could never respect it. Nobody messes with hyphens.

Cinemax, 7:15 p.m.