ARTS

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April 2, 2004

Stay Tuned

Friday

Jordan Catalano. That's teenage girl Kryptonite right there. Oh, Jordan. Poor, illiterate Jordan. If this name's not ringing any nostalgia bells in your brain right now, you're missing out on one of the best TV dramas of our time, My So-Called Life. Tonight, the Noggin makes me a happy girl by starting their re-airing of the ill-fated drama. Unfortunately, they're not showing the pilot, but we can still kick it into gear with the second episode, "Dancing in the Dark" (which originally aired September 9, 1994). Angela is still in the early stages of her Jordan obsession, Brian lies about their science project, Rayanne procures a fake ID and makes some nachos, and Rickie is, um, around. Tonight's episode is the one where Angela's life "just figured out how to get good." Man, if I were in a beat-up convertible with Jordan Catalano, my life would be getting pretty good too.

The Noggin, 7 p.m. (reruns at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.)

Saturday

Sometimes I have to wonder what the hell the programming monkeys are doing over at MTV. Today is a marathon-only day, which is how most of us wind up seeing every episode of The Real World and Road Rules, but who the hell wants a marathon of Room Raiders? That show is such bullshit. Why would you want to go on a date with some narst teenager who just snooped around your room to guess if you were cool? But at least MTV got the early part of the day right, with six back-to-back episodes of Made, one of the voyeur-capital-of-TV's better reality efforts. Catch the fatty who wants to be a triathlete, the dork who wants to be a ladies' man, the spoiled girl who wants to be a BMX biker, and two or three other sorry teens who want to be on TV.

MTV, 6 a.m.

Sunday

Now that Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha have left us all alone on Sunday nights, where are we supposed to get our fringe sex information? From a little old Canadian lady, that's where. Sue Johanson is a registered nurse, a mother, a grandmother, and, according to her website, "Canada's foremost sexual educator and counselor." Meow! Johanson hosts a call-in show, Talk Sex With Sue Johanson (1-888-203-8890, in case you have a, uh, burning question), that offers frank and non-judgmental advice and info for all you weirdo pervs out there. She uses helpful props—dildos, two dolls that she positions in…positions, condoms—to illuminate the masses about the ins and outs of everyone's favorite pastime. Is there a female Viagra? No, says Sue, just buy her some flowers and be on time. If that's not some good advice, I don't know what is.

Oxygen, 10 p.m.

Monday

Have you noticed those signs at Midway (and LAX, too) that warn you that you might be taped for a reality show? I didn't really believe them—I mean, who wants to watch a show about the airport?—but lo and behold, A&E has made good on its threats. Airline is benefiting from a crazy advertising blitz (catchphrase: "We all have our baggage"), but from what I can tell, this show is pretty much about people being monster-bitches to the friendly employees of Southwest Airlines (totally ghetto, BTW). Tonight, some woman is a big bitch because she missed her flight, a dad is a big bitch and his daughter's way embarrassed, a grandson is a big bitch because they won't let his grandma take her oxygen tanks on the plane, and two people fly home with their newly adopted baby from China. And she's a big bitch.

A&E, 9 p.m.

Tuesday

Things I love: cursing, beating up hookers, jerky handheld cameras, the Armenian Mob (don't fuck with me—I know people), and the Commish. No wonder I love The Shield so much! This gritty gritty cop show is so gritty that you can practically feel the filth right from the comfort of your own home. Mmm, gritty. Now in its third season, basic cable's most kick-ass grit-fest follows really terrible cops as they rough up whores, steal money from drug dealers, push a guy's face onto a hot electric stove, and sometimes save a kid or lock up a molester. Michael Chiklis absolutely deserves all the critical acclaim, including his 2002 Emmy, for his starring role as brooding and moody Detective Vic Mackey. Mackey heads up the Strike Team, which I think is police lingo for "other bad cops who are racist, beat the shit out of people all the time, treat women like garbage, launder money, and maybe raped someone on one episode." The show is fabulously well acted, aggressive and abrasive, and often a little raunchy. This ain't your daddy's Law & Order.

FX, 9 p.m.

Wednesday

Muscle memory alone is enough to make me watch Fox at 8 p.m. tonight—The O.C. time slot is TV gold. Instead of the wacky shenanigans of Ryan, Seth, Summer, and Marissa et.al., tonight we're going to get the wacky shenanigans of mildly unattractive women who want what Fox calls "a second chance in life." And by "second chance" they mean "plastic surgery and a life coach." The life coach is also the executive producers of the show…wonder how she got the gig. The Swan is the poor woman's Extreme Makeover, now with more gawking and humiliation when the "contestants" eventually compete in a beauty contest. Part of me wants to say, "Hey, no one is making people participate in this atrocity, and if you want to change your life through cosmetic surgery, who am I to judge?" And then the smarter part of me says, "This shit is fucked up."

Fox, 8 p.m.

Thursday

There's nothing like the abject whoring of a Polyphonic Spree song to make young people consume—iPod, Volkswagen, thanks for paving the way for Wonderfalls. This new one-hour comedy (think Ally McBeal, but not, you know, sucky) about the "over-educated and underemployed" 24-year-old Jaye is one of the most compelling and entertaining shows in a long time. Jaye, who works in a gift shop at Niagara Falls, is constantly harassed by animal knick-knacks (wax lion, brass monkey, one of those talking fish things, etc.) that convince her to perform small tasks that wind up helping people in small but important ways. Wonderfalls is dark enough to be interesting and creative enough to be compelling. Bite it, Joan of Arcadia. Bite it hard.

Fox, 8 p.m.