July 14th, 2004, 03:25 PM
Salt Lake City Weekly: Cable Ready?
From the Salt Lake City Weekly:
True TV - July 15, 2004
More good, bad and fugly summer TV offerings from coaxial land.
by Bill Frost
That "revolutionary" 2004 summer season certain broadcast networks
were convinced would change the landscape of television forever?
Turns out it's actually Xeriscape: Dry, barren and really only
succeeding in annoying the neighbors.
Now, there are few bigger advocates for annoying the neighbors than I
(shut up your damned kids and dogs, I'll take down the Vote
Nader/Satan 2004 sign, fair enough?), but this summer tube season is
seriously weak. At least The Only TV Column That Matters™ can fall
back on the superior new offerings on cable, right? Not so fast ...
Stargate Atlantis (Sci-Fi; debuts Friday, July 16): They're all
freaks, but there are two distinct categories of Stargate SG-1 fans:
The ones who've followed the galaxy-surfing saga for seven seasons
since the Showtime beginning through the transition to the Sci-Fi
Channel, and those who are a couple of years behind because they've
only recently gotten hooked through syndicated reruns. The latter
group always gets screwed when the local channel bumps those weekend
SG-1s for exclusive college volleyball coverage; the former is
absolutely wet over the arrival of Stargate Atlantis, the series'
first spin-off. All they need to know (this is not a newbie-friendly
franchise) is that Atlantis is faster-paced, higher-tech and a tad
more environmentally preachy than SG-1. Later Gateheads can clip and
save this for when Atlantis reruns head to syndication and/or Al
Gore's sprouting network.
Entourage (HBO; debuts Sunday, July 18): Mark Wahlberg, the underwear
artist formerly known as Marky Mark, can be a funny guy—watch Rock
Star as a comedy instead of a serious indictment of the drug and
leather-pants trades sometime, you'll see it. Too bad his first
production project Entourage, a not-autobiographical-wink-wink series
about hot young Hollywood actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and
his posse of hangers-on and handlers, is longer on stilted "cool"
than laughs. Even more puzzling, as a supposed rising star, Vincent
exhibits all the on-screen charisma of a fern, made even more
glaringly obvious when real celebs (Wahlberg himself, Jessica Alba)
make Larry Sanders-style cameos. Best pilot-ep moment: Vincent's
agent (Jeremy Piven, Entourage's saving grace) informing his fern
that Colin Farrell has taken the $4 million role he declined in the
sure-to-be-blockbuster Matterhorn ("It's Die Hard at Disneyland—
what's not to love?").
The Grid (TNT; debuts Monday, July 19): If we learn only one thing
from TNT's new counter-terrorism drama, it's this: Don't smoke while
assembling sarin-gas bombs! That, and Julianna Margulies probably
should have taken the gazillion-dollar paycheck they offered her to
stay on ER. She and The Practice's Dylan McDermott star as American
Feds leading an international/interracial/interdenominational task
force charged with stopping a global terrorist cell (if you're still
awake, you and your six online friends probably loved Threat Matrix).
Everyone's job title is at least a paragraph long, requiring a freeze-
frame to display every time a new character shows up—without the
freezes, The Grid's two-hour pilot would clock in at about 28 minutes
and still seem to drag. Apparently commitment-phobic, TNT is pimping
The Grid as a "limited series," freeing Margulies up for Ghost Ship
2. ... She'd be starting her 10th season on ER this fall, just sayin.'
Things I Hate About You (Bravo; debuts Tuesday, July 20): Give
couples personal video cameras and have them record every little
annoying tic they can't stand about each other and see who wins, uh,
something. This is such a recipe for double homicide, it ought to be
on Court TV, not Bravo.
Rescue Me (FX; debuts Wednesday, July 21): Denis Leary stars as a
hard-drinking/internally conflicted/basically effdup (new word,
kiddies) New York City firefighter in an intensely graphic and raw
series that promises to tweak the basic-cable content limits already
stretched beyond recognition by FX's The Shield and Nip/Tuck, if not
those Ex-treme Dating reruns. Firefighters, cops, plastic surgeons—
when is FX going to produce a gritty drama about booze-abusing,
whoring, effdup, nonsensical-word-inventing newspaper television
hacks? It's the best idea since Matterhorn, and the title True TV is
available for a quite reasonable price, just sayin.'
Thursday, July 15: Kingdom Hospital (ABC, 7 p.m.) Two-Hour Series
Finale: A séance sends Peter and Dr. Hook to the Old Kingdom, where
they finally free Mary's spirit and get on the cover of Rolling
Stone, a reference only Stephen King gets.
Friday, July 16: Stargate Atlantis (Sci-Fi, 7 p.m.) Two-Hour Series
Debut: A new Stargate team discovers a lost city beneath Antarctica,
populated by aliens who want to kill them. Hey, brilliant plan!
Saturday, July 17: Movie: Dogtown (1997, IFC, 6 p.m.) A Hollywood
washout (Trevor St. John) returns home to Missouri and romances a
suicidal alcoholic (Mary Stuart Masterson) involved with a racist
goon (Jon Favreau). Hey, brilliant plan!
Sunday, July 19: The Days (ABC, 9 p.m.) Series Debut: A dysfunctional
Philadelphia family gets more dysfunctional; wackiness presumably
Entourage (HBO, 11 p.m.) Series Debut: A Hollywood playa (Adrian
Grenier) parties in the fast lane with his dim buds; little wackiness
Da Ali G Show (HBO, 11:30 p.m.) Season Premiere: Hip-hop journalist
Ali G returns and gets wicked wiv geezer Sam Donaldson and chills wiv
aminal trainers, references only CW Editor Ben Fulton gets.
Monday, July 20: The Grid (TNT, 7 p.m.) Two-Hour Series Debut: It's
like Threat Matrix, only with Julianna Margulies, Dylan McDermott
and, fingers crossed, more than a dozen viewers.
Tuesday, July 21: Things I Hate About You (Bravo, 10 p.m.) Series
Debut: Through the magic of reality TV, couples try to figure out
which of them is more irritating. Helpful Hint No. 1: Ask who
decided, "Let's be on reality TV!" There, done.
Wednesday, July 22: Rescue Me (FX, 11 p.m.) Series Debut: It's like
The Shield, only with Denis Leary as a New York City firefighter,
more comedy and fewer man-rape scenes. Hey, brilliant plan!
Listen to Bill Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96's Radio From Hell, popular
with suicidal alcoholics and aliens.
Richard Dean Anderson Fans