January 30, 2004

Stay Tuned


I've been watching The Surreal Life—professional research only, folks—and it's made me want to know more about Ron Jeremy. I already know Trishelle from The Real World: Las Vegas, and I knew that Vanilla Ice is kind of an asshole, but Ron Jeremy…well, be still my heart. There's nothing like an aging porn star creeping out his weirdo housemates. But who is Ron Jeremy? Why is he so ugly? Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy, released in 2001, explores the back-story of "America's most unlikely sex star." Interviews with Larry Flynt, Seymour Butts, KISS, and Corey Feldman round out the all-star cast as we take a closer look at the hairiest, grossest guy ever to make 1,600 pornos. That, my friend, is a lot of porn.

Showtime, 10:30 p.m.


Super Troopers is one of the funniest movies ever. Ever. Cops? Funny. Weed? Funny. Vermont? Funny. Just ask the oh-so-loco Howard Dean. Super Troopers is wet-your-pants good times, as Vermont state troopers butt heads with the local P.D. The troopers are wacky pranksters who get high and watch Afghanistanimation in the station house, but they have to pull their act together when a murder case crosses their path. Truthfully, the plot of this movie isn't enormously relevant; the overweight naked guy covered in powdered sugar ("The lice hate the sugar." "It's delicious, sir.") is where the true comedy lies for this film. As quotable as The Simpsons, Super Troopers is the ideal Saturday afternoon flick. Cream? Cream? OK, no cream.

Cinemax, 5:15 p.m.


It's the Super Bowl, fools. The Super Bowl kicks all other shows in the pants—you just can't compete with the most-watched event of the year. The Panthers are taking on the Patriots in scenic Houston, but we all know the real reason to tune in: the commercials. Super Bowl commercials are groundbreaking and often controversial, and most only-ran-once-'cause-it-was-so-offensive ads run during the game. (1984 Apple ad anyone?) If all this testosterone is too much for you, though, Sex and the City has returned from the depths of shittiness to dazzle us with its last few episodes. Does Carrie want a baby? Can all Russian men kill mice with a frying pan? Why is Charlotte so lame? Is living in Brooklyn such a big deal? Both programs are equally good excuses to chug a few beers, pound a bag of chips, and wonder how you can alter your life to more closely resemble that of your heroes: trendsetting, newsworthy, promiscuous.

CBS, 5 p.m.

HBO, 8 p.m.


The best prison show since Oz isn't on HBO (sadly, it is TV): it's on Animal Planet. Cell Dogs takes you inside the prison puppy program, where inmates train dogs as part of their rehabilitation. Though it sometimes falls into the Shawshank Redemption trap of making prison seem not that bad, Cell Dogs ultimately provides an amazing peek into the dehumanizing penal system. Interviews with inmates and program administrators emphasize that the puppy program has an unexpected dual effect: in addition to training service dogs, the program gives prisoners a newfound sense of self, of worth, of purpose. Yeah, I'm being kind of a cheesedick about this show, but it's really good. It's what you want from documentary TV—not too goofy, not too mushy, and no butt-fucking.

Animal Planet, 7 p.m.


Frasier needs not to be on TV anymore. OK, sure, this is the last season, but they really should have pulled the plug years ago. Tonight's episode is a dream sequence, a third-grade response to writer's block, lamely titled "Freudian Sleep." A dream sequence? Writers for this show have won Emmys, and now they're reduced to wondering, "What if Niles were philandering?" even though he is clearly gay. Frasier can be and often is funny, in a polite-chuckle kind of way, but the writers apparently have gone beyond scraping the bottom of the barrel and have now turned the barrel upside-down and are aggressively pounding the bottom of it, hoping some barrel-filth will drip out. It doesn't look promising. Keep an eye out for Just Shoot Me's Wendy Mallick, who I guess is guest-starring as NBC's way of warning us that Frasier has become total schlock.

NBC, 8 p.m.


Back in the day, Roseanne was the most innovative and funniest sitcom around. It jumpstarted the genre of believable-family comedy, the antidote to The Cosby Show and Full House, without which the brilliant Malcolm in the Middle might never have been born. Roseanne is crass, it's lowbrow, it's flannel shirts and low-wage jobs, but more importantly, it's fucking hilarious. Wednesdays have plenty of good TV going for them, but every now and then, you need a little early-'90s lovin'. Getting back to your TV roots is an essential step in true fandom, and Roseanne is the perfect vehicle. Most of us were a little too young to have understood all the jokes (first-years: you were five when tonight's episode originally ran), so now's your chance to squeeze all the juicy goodness out of some classic tube. Also, it turns out that Michael Fishman (D.J.) has a kid.

Nickelodeon, 10 and 10:30 p.m.


Eliza Dushku probably thought she hit the jackpot with her own crime drama on Fox. Oh, Eliza, you couldn't have been more wrong. A weird hybrid of a murder mystery and Early Edition, Tru Calling is…atrocious. Let's not mince words here: this show is crap. Tru talks to dead people and then travels back in time to try to save them, inevitably messing something else up, and then she has to fix that, too. Whatever, there's only one reason to watch this horseshit—Dushku is hot. Super hot. But that wasn't enough to save Dark Angel (Jessica Alba: also hot), and it's not going to be enough to save this miserable excuse for a show. If you start taping the episodes now, you can probably make, like, $20 selling them on eBay in a year or two to the one heartbroken fan who actually watched Dushku's career go down the crapper. She should never have taken off that cheerleader outfit from Bring it On.

Fox, 7 p.m.