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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

'More to Love' Plenty to Hate

When I first heard about the premise of Fox's new reality TV series for "the regular-sized woman," I was both uncomfortable and horrified. Not because a show tried to break down the typical TV boundaries, which solely rely on beautiful people and their six packs, but more so because it just sounded like a disaster just waiting to happen.

Don't get me wrong, I completely believe fat people need love too. I mean, we're in Green Bay afterall, and there are thousands upon thousands of cases right in our own backyard of these "More to Love" residents finding their true love fairytales. The thing is, when you make it all about the extra weight a person may be hauling around, it makes it tough to watch.

And that goes for anything. If they had a show called, "Jews Need Love Too" (FOX, don't get any ideas), it'd be the same situation. You don't want to watch a show where people obsess about being overweight, or being Jewish, or being short for that matter, as a justification for why they can't find love. Here's the thing -- I know America as a whole is pretty darn judgemental and even downright spiteful. But no one wants to hear all about your pity party.

"More to Love" capitalizes on the pity party. Everyone talks about how their extra pounds keep them away from finding love. And then they cry. For an hour. I think this show is insulting. It puts these ladies on a freakshow-type pedestal and practically invites the American viewing public to watch, point and laugh. But it's not funny. It's just sad. You feel bad that they're unhappy and that they've struggled with confidence and the dating scene. But then you can't help but wonder, how is this show going to help them with that when they're eventually picked over until only one woman remains. How will public humiliation and rejection on national television help this situation?

And really, I'm the last person who will sit there and tell someone they should lose weight. It's not about the weight. It's about the way the weight is portrayed. These women talk about it like it's an immovable third eye. And I know a lot of people struggle with weight -- especially women -- but that alone shouldn't make these women give up hope or think unless it's for a show like this, they may never find love.

These women are not freaks. They're not unattractive. And they're certainly not completely hopeless -- or should they feel as though they are. But by creating a show like this, it would do nothing more but make them continue to feel this way.

"More to Love" airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on FOX.

Did you watch the show? Will you tune in this week? What did you think about "More to Love?"

-- Sara Boyd,

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"Mad Men"-ize yourself

Counting down the days until the premiere of the third season of AMC's "Mad Men?"

Ever wished that you, too, could dress like the suave and sophisticated men and women of Sterling/Cooper? Smoke, drink and cavort with your colleagues in corner offices? OK, we don't need to know about the latter, really, but let your imaginations go wild with this vintage-looking illustration tool that AMC has put up on its Web site to help cure its fans of their "Mad Men-itis" until Aug. 16.

You can fashion yourself into a "Mad Men" character -- yeah, that's me to the left -- and let your inner 60s ad executive/glorified secretary come out. It's similar to what Fox did with "The Simpsons" a few years ago when the movie came out, but this one is particularly entertaining and is set to some fun, addictive music. You don't have to upload a picture -- just pick from the different options presented and you can download the results in a flash.

Happy Proscrastination, everyone!

The third season of "Mad Men" airs on AMC at 9 p.m. on Sunday Aug. 16.

--Malavika Jagannathan,


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Biopics aren't born, they are made

With the Brett Favre will-he-or-won't-he drama apparently over (for now), it's time to look back at another Green Bay Packers legend who famously came out of retirement only to work for another team.

ESPN Films-Motion Pictures is joining NFL Films to produce an already-in-the-works TV movie about the life of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, according to Scheduled to premiere the weekend before the Super Bowl in 2011, the Lombardi movie will reportedly be less of the traditional sports movie originally intended, says ESPN Films' Ron Semiao, who also re-wrote the screenplay, than something closer to "Raging Bull." Whether that means we can expect a scene where a bloated, disfigured Lombardi tells bad jokes to himself in the mirror remains to be seen.

According to Variety, the movie promises to highlight the rivalry between Vince and Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys at the time of the 1967 Ice Bowl. I can totally see the entire film being framed around the Ice Bowl, with flashbacks to Lombardi's life up to that point. The whole dang thing practically writes itself.

The big question, of course, is who plays him? In addition to being a brilliant mind and fiery personality, Lombardi had quite the distinctive mug. There's probably not an actor in Hollywood who comes close to resembling him. Maybe Marty Balsam back in the day could have pulled it off, or perhaps a young Jerry Stiller.

But who do we have these days? Paul Giamatti? He's about the right age (Lombardi was 45 when he started coaching the Pack), but he's too shlubby. We need someone with a more imposing presence. Willem DaFoe, maybe? In a false nose, of course, and with a few pounds packed on him. He could definitely pull off the necessary temperament, and he's already played a character who loved to dress all in green in "Spider-Man."

I don't know, anybody else got some ideas? Who would you cast in the upcoming Vince Lombardi TV biopic? Hit the comments field with your suggestions.

-- Adam Reinhard,

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Bourdain vs. Baltimore: "No Reservations" takes on the Rust Belt

Last night's episode of Anthony Bourdain's show "No Reservations" didn't feature broiled iguanas or nomadic natives, but the Travel Channel host's visit to three cities in the "Rust Belt" was about as exotic or foreign to some people as Fiji. Like it or not, people aren't flocking to Detroit, Buffalo or Baltimore on their vacations. Foreigners skip over these locations and few Americans can admit they have a deep desire to visit these places. For Midwestern native Thomas Rozwadowski and Honorary Midwesterner Malavika Jagannathan -- who has a soft spot for the Motor City and the many falafel sandwiches she consumed in her five months there -- Bourdain's exploration of these "Rust Belt" cities rang true.

Not everyone agrees. Baltimore Sun critic David Zurawik writes in his blog today that he was troubled how Bourdain lumped Baltimore with the true Rust Belt cities of Detroit and Buffalo, characterizing the portrayal of Baltimore as "a hot dog host acting like he was getting down with the nitty-gritty, hardcore reality of urban America." Zurawik's issue was that Bourdain saw Baltimore through the lens of "The Wire," inviting not one but two "Wire" alums and Baltimore natives to show him the ropes.

Malavika: Sure, we saw Bourdain trekking past the boarded-up rowhomes of Baltimore -- so ubiquitous on the "The Wire" -- and, sure, he happened to be in Buffalo during a blizzard, and, sure, he had to hang out with a recently laid-off blue collar worker in Detroit. You could nail Bourdain on the cross of stereotypes, but isn't every stereotype he portrayed somewhat true? The theme of last night's show wasn't Baltimore, Buffalo or even Detroit. Perhaps Bourdain's mistake was taking too abstract a theme in exploring those decaying manufacturing cities and the proud inhabitants (and local cuisine) who thrive even in the hardest of times. As he explains in his blog, the episode doesn't explore "what the respective chambers of commerce of these three fine, noble and deeply troubled American cities would like us to see right now. Baltimore, arguably, isn't even really a "Rust Belt" city. I like to think that tonight's episode celebrates that particularly American character -- who proudly survives and thrives in places like late era Baltimore, Detroit and Buffalo."

I'm not a native Midwesterner, but having spent some time now -- almost 9 years -- in places like Green Bay, Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit, the episode resonated with places I've been and the visions I have in my head of the Rust Belt cities that stretch from Duluth east to Jersey/Baltimore. Baltimore would prefer to be compared to its southern cousin DC or perhaps even to the revival taking place north in Philly, but it's much closer in temperament to cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee in the heart of the "Rust Belt" than it is New York City. Bourdain's never been one for tourist traps, so there are no visits to the Baltimore Inner Harbor or the Motown Historical Museum on his show. Instead, he tries to get a flavor for those places that visitors don't always hit up, like the oh-so-delicious Middle Eastern restaurants that line the suburban enclave of Dearborn outside Detroit and a taste of the "lake trout" in Baltimore. Again, Bourdain does a better job of explaining the reaction a lot of the Baltimore press (read: Zurawick) has had to the episode: "I think that troubled cities often tragically misinterpret what's coolest about themselves. They scramble for cure-alls, something that will "attract business", always one convention center, one pedestrian mall or restaurant district away from revival. They miss their biggest, best and probably most marketable asset: their unique and slightly off-center character."

I love Bourdain, so the man can rarely do me wrong, but this was actually one of my favorite episodes. I liked the theme, and I felt each city got a pretty decent depiction that went beyond the obvious here's-a-five-star-restaurant-and-here's-the-museum routine that other travel shows sometimes employ. In fact, I've never wanted to visit Baltimore even more than I do now.

Roz, as a native Midwesterner, I know you have some thoughts on the episode. Let's hear 'em!

Thomas: OK, I love "The Wire." I'll tell everyone in the free world this if I have to. So the prospect of seeing Bourdain and Snoop Pearson side-by-side was enough to make me tune in last night. I'm not a Bourdain apologist, however. I enjoy the guy, especially during his "Top Chef" appearances, but I'm just a lover of food TV in general. And I have to say, his visit to the dilapidated cities of America proved far more fascinating to me than any trip about cuisine in Ecuador, Cambodia or freakin' Afghanistan.

It seems to me that Zurawik -- a Wisconsin native -- is just taking up the cause for his adopted city. You and I both know that local columnists usually fly the flag for community members by claiming they were somehow wronged by a warts-and-all portrayal of "insert city here." The same thing happened a few months ago when Conan O'Brien made his fat, white joke about Green Bay on "The Tonight Show." In our case, we just have to laugh a little because NEWSFLASH, we're known for being fat and white. That doesn't mean locals are holding KKK rallies outside City Hall and no one in the city limits has washboard abs. It just means that Green Bay is overwhelmingly viewed one way (and rightfully so as a beer-swilling Packers city) in the eyes of the public. Right or wrong, you have to accept that fact just like Texas gets tagged for having too many cowboy Republicans. It's not offensive. It's not incorrect. It's several grains of truth that could turn into a more well-rounded experience if you actually visited or lived in these places.

So Baltimore isn't exactly like "The Wire." Yes, we all know that. But those rowhouses do exist. And that's what Bourdain happened to be fascinated by with his catch-all episode. Conversely, Baltimore isn't all about the inner harbor or Camden Yards either. So would it have been nice of him to strike a balance between rich and poor neighborhoods, to visit the BEST restaurants in Baltimore as rated by Zagat? Yes. But that's not what he was shooting for with the episode. I think his intent was to capture the essence of the people there, the forgotten Snoops of the world, and I think that really came out in his Detroit visit. These are people who know they get slagged for being the murder capital of the U.S., who have repeatedly been left for dead as a populace and get made fun of for it. Yet they say "F--- it. We're from Detroit." They wear that badge with pride.

Now as someone who has been to Baltimore, I have a solid impression of the city -- even through the prism of "The Wire" years later -- and would definitely visit again. In fact, I'd love to visit those places Bourdain checked out in Detroit and Buffalo, as well. These are places that tell stories, that don't typically get face time on the Food Network or other travel shows because they aren't the most camera-friendly. What's wrong with that? I love learning about fine dining and frou-frou, too. But isn't that what we always hear about in big cities? Shouldn't there be pride in some of the more intrinsically local joints, no matter the projection far and wide to people in other parts of the country?

Ultimately, I think you have to go back to Bourdain's Chicago episode -- which aired before the Rust Belt one last night -- to see how he can really capture the essence of a city. He went to Moto. He ate deep dish pizza and an authentic Chicago dog. He ate at a south side smoked fish shack that looked like it could have doubled as a crack house. He got the best of both worlds. But he did it for an entire hour.

Yes, maybe Bourdain tried to make three cities feel one-dimensional for the sake of economic sympathy. But I loved every minute of it. As a native Midwesterner -- one who repeatedly wishes Wisconsin (particularly Milwaukee) received more credit in the national media -- I was proud to see our Rust Belt brethren get significant airtime. We've long had inferiority complexes here about everything cool happening on the coasts. Screw that. I'm tired of Cali, New York City and Florida. The Midwest breeds character. I think Bourdain nailed that.

If you want some more entertainment, check out the comments on Zurawik's blog post. They're very revealing, thoughtful and reflect why people care about the cities they live in. All I know is that I wouldn't be offended if Bourdain came to Green Bay and only ate cheese curds, bratwurst and fried perch. Yeah, it's not the only thing people should know about Green Bay. But having been here my whole life, I embrace that part of our culture and feel its my job to push the lesser known stuff a bit more. That's all.

Malavika: I don't have much to add, but I do find it interesting that while people from B'More are all up in arms about the episode, there hasn't been a peep of vitriol from the Motor City or Buffalo about their portrayal (at least none that I can find with my handy-dandy google skills). In fact, all that I found was a piece from the Buffalo News critic Alan Pergament who writes that "There’s a "perverse joy" in watching the duality of Bourdain praising our town and detailing its familiar problems and stereotypical image." Again, not to pick on Zurawik, but he did get pretty defensive over something that wasn't wholly inaccurate.

Bourdain has yet to visit my home state of Texas for a full-on episode, but if he treats it with half as much respect or enthusiasm as he did with these cities, I'd be more than happy. Perhaps Tony should consider a Rust Belt II: Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Milwaukee. If nothing else, it gets people talking about places that normally end up in stories about murder rates, fat people or sports.

A repeat of the "No Reservations" episode featuring the Rust Belt airs on the Travel Channel on Thursday July 30 at 10 p.m. New episodes of the show air Mondays at 9 p.m.

-- Malavika Jagannathan, and Thomas Rozwadowski,

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The new "Lost" videos you HAVE to see

I thought it might be awhile before another "Lost" post, but after the show's Comic-Con panel, there's more excitement than ever for January 2010.

After all, if I had to pick one reason why the show is so beloved among its fans, it's original videos like the following.

Seriously, what other TV series puts this much effort into creating a separate universe away from the show's actual episodes? And sure, it can be tough to keep up with all the online extras -- god knows I haven't been able to -- but "Lost's" creative minds not only have a great sense of humor about its mythology, they know how to continually ramp up excitement for the show's intricate mysteries.

For the entire San Diego Comic-Con panel, check out Doc Arzt's blog. Otherwise, enjoy these three must-see videos that dangle a few choice carrots.

Hurley's Mr. Cluck commercial: Very funny and lighthearted, just like the big guy himself. Love the Australian accent, mate. But does this hint at an alternate universe taking place in Season 6?

"America's Most Wanted, Kate Austen edition": Another spoof video that seems like a fun stab at synergy until you get to the big reveal at the end. Gasp! "Lost" fans have to watch this one. And again, more alternate universe seed planting?

"Mysteries of the Universe:" The best of the lot. This video takes the form of a cheesy '80s documentary-style show called "Mysteries of the Universe." Man, I keep waiting for John Davidson to appear as host. Seriously. This stunning gem would only be creepier if Robert Stack had done the voice-over. Can't wait for more installments on these eccentric Dharma folks.

Just. Plain. Awesome.

Take note: the five-part series will air at on August 4, September 8, October 15 and November 16.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Is there a star on the 'Next Food Network Star?'

Sometimes there's just too much television for one Channel Surfing blogger to handle. That's when we need a break to sit back, relax and indulge in some friendly back-and-forth (via email, of course — we don't actually like to speak to one another in person). Bloggers Thomas Rozwadowski, Malavika Jagannathan and Sara Boyd are celebrating Debbie's recent departure from "The Next Food Network Star" by eating American hamburgers and French fries. Yes, nothing Asian at all. Except Thomas and Sara, but that's more by default. Though, even as we enjoy the fact we will never have to hear "You know, because I'm Korean" ever again we're shaking in our television boots, as Melissa seems to be hitting her stride. Can she be stopped? Could the PTA even bring this stay-at-home mom down?

Sara: Free at last, free at last. Thank God, I'm free at last. Free from the kim-chi, free from the Seoul to Soul, oh thank God, I'm free at last. Yes, it finally happened. I'm-Korean Debbie was sent packing, leaving only Seriously-pull-it-together-you-have-to-win Jeffrey and I'm-a-mom Melissa left for the finale, in a semi-final episode that literally had my nerves in a bundle. It all came down to Melissa and Debbie. Two of the most annoying contestants in the competition. Two people that arguably no one would watch, unless forced to by use of torture. We're talking waterboarding times 10. And yet, Melissa still remains. Ugh.

But let's talk about the good stuff for now. Who would've thought that one of the criticisms Debbie would receive on her final show on "Next Food Network Star" would be, "You should've brought out your culture more." Er, what? And while I really thought Jeffrey was going to get it due to the risotto that was a complete abomination to the Italian culture, I was glad the judges saw what the rest of us had for some time now -- Debbie sucks. Sure, she's not a bad cook and can perform under pressure and on camera semi-well but a complete show of that woman would be unbearable. She's only got one niche and that niche is overplayed and boring. Likewise, Miss Mommy and Me Melissa also only has one forte and she's banging us over the head with it.

So Roz, Jeffrey was a bit shaky this last round, do you think he can pull off the win?

Thomas: I was really, really nervous last night. And with good reason. They didn't just dislike Jeffrey's risotto. The chef's table would have rather swallowed Alpo than choke down another bite of his "worst. dish. ever." If there's anything that reality food contestants need to learn, please don't ever make risotto or creme brulee in a time crunch. You're signing your death warrant.

Anyway, Jeffrey nailed the food demo, which is probably the only reason he's still alive. That, and the Korean Pillsbury Doughgirl could no longer hide her mediocrity. Look, Jeffrey can explain cooking technique and describe ingredients in a way that even impresses Tyler Florence. That's saying something, because Tyler, in case you haven't noticed ... bit of a douche. Debbie just didn't have the Asian flair to ultimately captivate viewers, though I have to say, compared to last season, all three contestants were really polished on camera.

That's why I have to give Melissa credit. She can really shine with her personality. And you can't call her pastry last night a fluke. She impressed the best with her food.

While I'm ultimately tired of the stay-at-home pitch -- and the fact that she thinks her idea is sooooooooo revolutionary, HELLO! RACHAEL RAY! -- I'm not going to pile on her. She's earned her way to the finals. If you're not a trained chef and you can impress a table of Rick Bayless, John Besh, Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli, and freakin' Morimoto, you get my respect. That's gotta be the most intimidating collection of chefs in reality TV history, "Top Chef" included.

So please MJ, don't attack me with a rolling pin for giving Mrs. Mommy Mom Moms-a-Lot some props. I still want Jeffrey to win, but I just don't know what his angle is going to be on Food Network. The man is stunningly clean and concise with his food demos, but he doesn't make any dishes that I haven't seen before.

Have you turned a corner on Melissa? And how do you think the finale could play out?

Malavika: First of all, I'd like to note that I, too, count as Asian... but if that in any way, shape or form, makes me sound like Debbie, please kill me.

Although my hatred of "I'm Korean, Look At Me" Debbie was nowhere as strong as Sara's, I was happy to see her packing. That does, however, mean that Evil Mommy Melissa remains. That's right, Evil Mommy Melissa is her new moniker. Yes, EMM impressed on the last two rounds, producing edible -- but not exciting -- dishes paired with sob stories intended to make the judges cry. But, come on, she's a one-trick pony. Her working mom shtick is tiresome and she's no Julia Child, no matter how hard she tried to draw those comparisons. There is no way that a show of hers would last more than half a season.

I like Jeffrey because he's unpredictable. He's got that calm, zen-like demeanor that'll make him stand out among the Food Network's other more energetic lineup like Emeril LaGasse and Bobby Flay. I don't know what his angle is going to be, but I think whatever it is, I'm liable to tune in. That being said, he has got to bring it. Spending less than $400 out of the $1000 given to him last night was more than a bad case of judgement, it was stupid. If he wants to win, he has to stop second-guessing himself on things like that.

In a way, EMM versus Zen Master Jeffrey is a great match-up for the finale. They couldn't be more polar opposites in terms of skill, presence and attitude, but let's hope that Melissa's late-blooming success doesn't blind the judges to Jeffrey's talent.

Catch "The Next Food Network Star" at 8 p.m. Sundays on the Food Network.

-- Sara Boyd,, Thomas Rozwadowski,, Malavika Jagannathan,

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Monday, July 27, 2009

"Flight of the Conchords" gets freaky

Lost in Channel Surfing's excitement over unexpected Emmy nods for "Flight of the Conchords," I almost forgot that the Kiwi duo has a new DVD and CD set to drop soon.

The Season 2 DVD -- possibly the last batch of "Conchords" episodes we'll ever see (sniff) -- hits stores Aug. 4. Even better, a second CD of tunes, "I Told You I Was Freaky," is coming out Oct. 20 on Sub Pop Records.

The tracklist has been revealed, and of course, there's one minor gripe. Like "Sello Tape/Pencils in the Wind" not making the Conchords' self-titled debut, I'm not seeing Murray Hewitt's awesome "Rejected" on the song tally.

C'mon, Conchords! Give us more Murray!

Anyway, here's the full tracklist. Most of these songs have been available on iTunes for quite some time -- yes, that's my car playing "Hurt Feelings" so loudly in Allouez -- but it'll still be nice to have a full album with sweet cover art in hand.

Hurt Feelings
We’re Both in Love with a Sexy Lady
I Told You I Was Freaky
Demon Woman
Rambling Through the Avenues of Time
Fashion Is Danger
Petrov, Yelyena and Me
Too Many D**** (On the Dance Floor)
You Don’t Have to Be a Prostitute
Carol Brown

And just so Murray doesn't feel completely left out, here's the video for "Rejected," one of my favorite moments from Season 2. Good luck without him, you turkeys!

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Friday, July 24, 2009

Five courses we'd love to see at "Lost" University

Channel Surfing bloggers Thomas Rozwadowski and Adam Reinhard aren't sure what's more depressing. That the final season of "Lost" won't be on until January 2010 or that a diploma from the show's fictional Lost University is probably more valuable than real degrees currently being used in a sinking newspaper industry.

Either way, both are thrilled to have something, ANYTHING "Lost" related to talk about ... cuz God knows it's been awhile since Juliet and her trusty rock caused the whole screen to go kablooie!

The newfangled Lost University site (gotta love the polar bear mascot) looks like just the diversion, with clever little show references ("Join the Drive Shaft cover band contest at Hume Amphitheater!"), a course catalog that boasts classes like Introductory Physics of Time Travel (and a recommended reading list of Stephen Hawking, David Toomey and Sean Carroll), and perhaps hidden clues (Comic-Con visitors already found a phone number for a "Professor Nusedorf:" 818-824-6300) that will appeal to the "Lost" nerd in us all.

Of course, there's also ample promotion for the "Lost" Season 5 DVD out Dec. 8 ... which really seems to be the whole point of this exercise.

On the heels of Entertainment Weekly releasing it's 15 Must-Answer Mysteries before series end, Channel Surfing thought it'd be fun to look at five courses we'd really love to enroll in if Lost University were an actual institution.

Dibs on Kate and Juliet as roommates!

World Religion in "Lost": "Namaste." The pillar of smoke. Mr. Eko's whacking stick. "Lost" is littered with references to religion, with just about every major world faith receiving some time in the spotlight. Whether they're obvious -- Charlie's hallucination of Claire as a saint -- or require a bit more background knowledge -- Sayid repeating the Shahadah, or the Islamic testimony of faith, while imprisoned in Rousseau's cabin -- fans have had no rest dissecting every episode for possible hidden meanings. A class on World Religion as it pertains to "Lost" would provide students with all the necessary background reading for understanding the symbolism the show uses on a weekly basis. Want more insight into Jacob and his black-suited friend? Or perhaps you'd like to decipher the scratching on Mr. Eko's stick? The class would also get to take several field trips to churches, mosques, synagogues, and fried chicken restaurants (hey, you can't neglect Hurley's religion, can you?)

Competitive Rowing: To get somewhere quickly on the island, you have two options: Run really fast, or be lucky enough to stumble upon an abandoned skiff on the shore. But what if you don't know an oar from an Oreo? That's where taking the competitive rowing class at Lost University comes in. Experienced mariner Desmond Hume -- a one-time competitor in an around-the-world sailing race -- will teach you how to hold your oars, which way to face in the boat, and the best technique for ducking shotgun fire from pursuing vessels. Class is mostly hands-on and takes place in Lost U's lagoon, but required reading is the textbook "Understanding Trade Winds for Sailors" by Dr. Leslie Arzt.

Island Cooking 101: Life on a deserted island is tough, especially when you get an attack of the munchies. You can't just sit around waiting for the next bundle of DHARMA foodstuffs to drop in the middle of the night. But judging by the never-increasing amount of slack in Hurley's waistband, the Losties have never been at a loss for sustenance. In Island Cooking 101, students will learn the finer points of catching and cooking fish, climbing palm trees and knocking down coconuts, tracking and killing wild boar, and developing an immunity to expired ranch dressing. Final exam will consist of each student having to make a complete meal using only sea urchin, peanut butter and fish biscuits.

Child's Play: Examining the Role of Children in "Lost": "Lost" has an intense fascination with children, so much so that you might think the real island leader is Michael Jackson. (What? Too soon?) Really though, it's impossible to ignore the Season 1 fixation on a certain character who later contracted gigantism post-raft kidnapping. Yes, we're talking about Walt. What was up with his psychic prowess and penchant for killing birds? Why did the DHARMA Initiative want him and later backpedal, only to say that he was more than they could seemingly handle? And seriously, why didn't anyone plan on the kid getting so darn huge and then being written off the show? "Child's Play" will examine the important role of children on the island, especially as it pertains to the mystical birth cycle and the calculated snatching of barefooted little ones. Want to know why Ben was special from an early age? Ever wonder why Aaron sleeps so damn much? Want to know if Richard Alpert was ever a kid? This is the course for you, and despite the name, those stupid Chucky movies have nothing to do with course requirements.

Father Knows Worst: Daddy Isn't Welcome in the Jungle: Locke and his kidney stealing old man. Jack and Christian's memorable hospital face-offs. Ben strapping on a gas mask and saying buh-bye to Roger the drunken janitor in ghastly fashion. Seemingly everyone has daddy issues on the island. This course will require students to connect dots among several characters and determine whose stilted father-child relationships have had the most impact on island life. Should a gray-bearded Robin Williams show up in Dharmaville to tell Kate or Sawyer that's "it's not their fault?" Or will the final scene of "Lost" be Jack and Christian playing a game of "Field of Dreams"-like catch on the beach while gentle string music plays? You can't possibly resolve their ugly issues, but you at least have to determine that it's more than the Oedipal complex at play. Final exam will be a long-distance call to your own dad to simply say "I love you."

UPDATE! UPDATE!: Reports out of Comic Con state that Ian Somerhalder is returning as Boone next season. In a flashback? As a cast regular? Stay tuned ...

-- Thomas Rozwadowski, and Adam Reinhard,


It's Terrell Owens' world, we just live in it

Most professional football players do everything they can to run from the media (see Ben Roethlisberger this week).

Others try to maintain private lives, but become so ubiquitous, the media can't help but follow their every move – even if, you know, it’s the same tired song and dance we’ve seen before (see Brett Favre).

Then there's Terrell Owens.

Let's face it, T.O.'s life has already been a crazy, cartoonish reality show in front of the cameras. Only now, it officially has a name and home on your DVR guide.

Being a football fan living in a football town, I already know more about Owens than I would ever care to. And trust me, I don't respect his me-first drama and blatant attempts at quarterback sabotage.

That said, the guy is an absolute physical specimen, which is exactly why a team like the Buffalo Bills snatched him up two days after the Dallas Cowboys finally got tired of his diva act earlier this year.

So this much we know about Owens: He can help you win. He can help you sell tickets. He can make you want to stab your eyes out because he’s a perpetual adolescent stuck in a Greek god’s body.

But can he produce a compelling TV show?

And as you'd expect of an athlete who once did sit-ups in his driveway for the media and blasted a bucket of popcorn into his face during a touchdown celebration, "The T.O. Show" should stand for “totally outrageous.”

In the pilot episode that aired Monday, Owens finds out he's been released from the Cowboys and clutches a tablecloth owner Jerry Jones drew on the day they parted ways as if it were the Shroud of Turin.

In comes Owens' publicists to perk him up -- two women who seem genuinely interested in keeping their star client on a respectable leash. Except when they convince him to move from Miami to L.A., Owens spends his days dropping Benjamins on Rodeo Drive and flirting with gold-digging sexpots.

It’s T.O.’s world, everyone else just lives in it, right?

Of course, it’s Owens’ version of his world, but having searched for flaws in the pilot, there seems to be very little “acting” going on. Sure, circumstances are scripted for TV. But you can't fake the reaction that fans and women give him when he's out on the town or waiting for his luggage at the airport.

That has nothing to do with a VH1 entourage following him. It has everything to do with being Terrell Owens, multimillionaire and narcissistic lapdog.

Owens already has more than his share of haters, so you'll likely find TV critics and sportswriters across the country bashing his reality TV foray as self-indulgent tripe.

They’d be right, of course. But getting on your reality TV high horse or sports-as-pure-entity pulpit is a tired shtick.

You can scoff at self-promotion until your face is as bloated as T.O.’s ego. Love or hate him, at least this guy has earned his fame (or infamy) unlike the Heidi Montag’s and Kate Gosselin’s of the world.

Or put it this way: This show could be about Chad Ochocinco instead.

“The T.O. Show” airs at 9 p.m. Monday on VH1.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Top 5 Reasons Debbie is NOT the "Next Food Network Star"

I'm feeling a little torn about my introduction into "The Next Food Network Star."

On one hand, I'm happy fellow Channel Surfer Thomas Rozwadowski introduced me to the show in order to fill a TV void on my Sunday nights. On the other hand, my first experience with the show had to be with liar, liar, pants-on-fire Debbie, aka: DO YOU KNOW I’M KOREAN?

Now, clearly, I may be biased here but I can’t help but feel that Debbie Lee is giving all Asians a bad name. Or worse, solidifying a perpetual stereotype.

So before I get into the reasons why she must leave the show — for the love of all that is good and decent still in this world — allow me, Sara Boyd (and fellow Korean) to nip a few perceptions in the bud that kim-chi-Debbie has now tarnished the Asian name with.

No. 1 — We are able to and often do cook other varieties of food than Asian cuisine. And let it be known, that if faced with a lovely steak challenge, we would appreciate the American culture and not Asian-it-up.

No. 2 — No one talks about kim-chi. Ever. It’s disgusting, it smells bad and it certainly should not be the only thing other people can associate with the Korean heritage.

No. 3 — People know we’re Asian … it’s pretty blatant and obvious and even if we were to attempt to hide that fact, it would still be known. Therefore, there is NO REASON to ever remind people that you are Asian.

OK, now that that’s been said, I feel as though I can move on. So let us count the many, many reasons why Debbie should get the heave-ho next week.

1. Debbie is a liar. I wish she weren’t a liar, but she is. A big fat one. (No pun intended … or was it?) Not only has Debbie lied, but she’s lied many, many times. Let’s see … there was the time she said they came in just under budget during the first challenge and turns out she had to cut things out — things people needed — in order to make it within the budget. Then there was the time she said she was being completely and utterly “selfless” during the party challenge when she literally only worked on her own dishes … Oh yeah, and then there was the time this last week when she flat out lied to Bobby Flay’s face when he asked her where her mandatory capers were in her dish. "Oh, I didn't have capers. I mean, I forgot them." Ah, yes. Hey Debbie, say it with me now … “The color of the pen that I hold in my hand is re-re-ROYAL BLUE.”

2. Debbie is not capable of making food that isn’t Asian. I know the judges accused Jeffrey of the same weakness, but I don’t think it’s nearly as apparent as the amount of “Asian-inspired” dishes that Debbie has made. Perhaps it’s her “We’re going to add a little ginger, because you know, I’m Korean” that accompanies every explanation of an Asian dish that further pisses me off but really, I think that the woman is incapable. Take this last challenge — the judges took away all of Jeffrey’s spices and all of Debbie’s Asian sauces and guess what? Jeffrey won with an Asian-inspired dish and Debbie was nearly sent home for lying and neglecting her Mediterranean capers.

3. I don’t understand what the judges are thinking. One of the main reasons they give over and over for keeping Miss Lee is that Debbie has this great personality and a perfect persona for the camera. I don’t know what kind of show they’re thinking she could do (perhaps, “How to Transform Everything into An Asian Dish?”) but I can’t think of one thing she could do that would be worthy of an entire show. Not to mention, there’s no way I could stomach watching her talk about being Asian for a full hour, every week.

4. Jeffrey clearly has to win this competition. Sure, he’s had his bad days but the man has been one of the most consistent contestants without making me want to gouge my eyes out or stab mommy Melissa with a rusty spoon. He’s got the on-camera presence that is needed plus he has a soothing way of talking that doesn’t annoy the crap out of me — which on this show, is saying something. Between Jeffrey and Debbie, there’s a clear difference: Jeffrey isn’t a liar and has proven he can cook … anything.

5. Debbie needs to stop inviting people to her pity party. No one wants to come and no one is buying it anymore. Whatever the scenario, Debbie has tried to use the judges’ pity on her as a way to stay alive for another week. Prime example? She gets hit in the face with a scalding hot pan (which, btw, was the best moment ever on this show) and tells the judges all about how she had to fight and struggle to keep going after being in the most extreme pain of her life. Or pick your favorite moment where Debbie brings out the tears for some sympathy votes and gives her sobbing speech about being hurt or feeling overly criticized. Wah, wah, wah.

Let’s hope for the sake of this show and any chance of me returning to watch for a second season, the judges will realize what a grave mistake it would be to give a show to Korean-Debbie-Korean-Lee-Korean. Hopefully Jeffrey will pull out all the stops and narrow the scope of this competition next week. Because let’s be honest, if either Debbie or Melissa — who’s a mom — wins this thing, it’ll be a sad, sad day for television.

-- Sara Boyd,


Everyone's Favorite Italian tackles "Top Recipe"

It's been several months since Sara Boyd and I gigglingly interviewed "Top Chef" contestant Fabio Viviani for this blog, but I'm still riding from the high. Occasionally, I'll go back and listen to the interview (not on work time, of course). You, too, can still check out the Fabio-less interview here.

We've been clamoring for Fabio to get his own television show -- perhaps with subtitles since his Eeeenglish still needs work -- but apparently Bravo is already capitalizing on the Italian's obvious popularity. Since "Top Chef Masters" debuted, the skaaahlllop-hater has been hosting a mini Web series called "Top Recipe" where he recreates that week's winning chef''s "deeeeeshes." I wish Bravo promoted this online extra a little more because it's vintage Fabio. He's quick, friendly and downright hilarious as he attempts to tackle everything from Michael Chiarello's dessert of strawberries with goat milk basil gelato to Anita Lo's braised daikon with steak tartar.

Just a few of the Fabio-tastic quotes from various webisodes:

"For me, use gloves while cooking is like a motorcycle rider touching his head with a helmet. It doesn't make any sense. You have to feel it. That's why I touch everything."

"This is what happen when you get pepper in your face. You don't want to get pepper in your eyes."

Here's Fabio recreating Hubert Keller's dorm room version of mac-and-cheese, except for the whole cooling the pasta in the bathroom part, thankfully. (I'm having trouble embedding the Bravo video). The rest of the videos can be found here on the Bravo TV Web site.

Episodes of "Top Chef Masters" air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Bravo. And, the much anticipated next season of "Top Chef" is back on Aug. 26 from Las Vegas!

--Malavika Jagannathan,

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Monday, July 20, 2009

That's Still On? "Brooke Knows Best" might be the worst

Whatcha gonna do when divorce runs wild on YOU?

Yeah, I'm an old-school WWF fan, so you'll have to excuse my enthusiasm for a VH1 CelebReality project that might result in cameos from Bam Bam Bigelow or "Ravishing" Rick Rude. (Wait, they're both dead? Errrr, nevermind.)

But really, I was probably most curious (morbidly, of course) by the fact that the Hogans are still on TV in some meaningful capacity.

After all, celebrity outside his customary brand of yellow trunks has not been super kind to "Terry" Hulk Hogan since he was placed atop the "Father Knows Best" mantle for reality TV.

Since the Hulkster's show debuted, he and longtime wife Linda announced a divorce (Hulk allegedly couldn't keep Hulkamania from running wild with one of his daughter's friends), son Nick served six months in jail for a high-speed car crash that left a passenger with serious brain injuries for the rest of his life, and daughter Brooke ... well, she gets plenty of magazine covers showing her tight bod, but her singing career is about as credible as Paris Hilton's.

Already in its second season, "Brooke Knows Best" follows Little Miss She-Hulk as she ventures out "on her own" in a big, bad world where not everyone says their prayers or eats their vitamins. Like the "Ashlee Simpson Show," it's a transparent vehicle for her to promote a vapid music career, so ultimately, there's no reason anyone other than dudes who read Maxim on the can would want to check this show out.

"Brooke Knows Best" is "Jon and Kate" plus "The Hills," so you can imagine the scripted drama that unfolds. In the episode I watched, Hulk introduces his new girlfriend -- man, I thought Thunderlips could do SO much better even in his crippled condition -- to Brooke. The two share several uncomfortable silences before Brooke drops the "Are you getting married? Do you want to have kids?" bomb on her. Hulk's gal pal replies: "First, he has to get divorced."

That makes for an appropriate segue to Linda Hogan's mansion, where she's shacking up with a 19-year-old who apparently used to live with the family back in their healthier days. Hulk talks about how painful it is to see a 19-year-old profiting off his blood, sweat and tears in the ring. While taking a well-orchestrated boat ride past the old crib, the Hogans' dogs still living at the family house see the boat from shore and start howling like mad. This causes Brooke to cry ... and well, it's actually kind of a downer.

That the whole situation was contrived should probably diminish any emotion behind the moment. But it seemed pretty legit even if Brooke knew what was coming.

Bottom line: You can't have two sets of cameras following now separated parents (at right) and expect that everything is legit between both sides. The worst example of this comes when Linda calls Brooke on the phone to chat about their ongoing rift -- Brooke disapproves of the age difference in her new relationship. Brooke has to pretend that she's SHOCKED to receive the call when her roommate answers and says, "It's your mom." On the positive side, according to my wife, Brooke's acting was much better than anything she's ever seen on "The Hills." Small victories.

So ... yawn ... not much to be excited about -- unless you fall in the neanderthal category that believes every blonde with a tan and nice body is automatically super hot. If anything, this show is an accurate reflection of what the Gosselins are about to experience when their TLC show resumes post divorce. Both sides will have to pretend that they don't see what's coming, when in "reality," every situation has been plotted out well in advance inside some sleazy production room.

So while "Brooke Knows Best" is pretty horrible, it's probably not the worst Hogan reality installment I can think of. That title would be reserved for "Nick Knows Not to Drop the Soap."

That's Still On? Score: 2 (out of 10)

DVR Priority: Somewhere between "Mr. Nanny" and "The Greatest Matches of Doink the Clown's Career"

What You Could Be Doing Instead: Taking steroids in an effort to die prematurely like most professional wrestlers. Repeatedly ashing yourself in the head with a steel chair. Watching "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" so you can see Jon Gosselin's balding head instead of Hulk Hogan's.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Emmy Awards free-for-all: Our thoughts on the nominees

Is it possible that the Emmy Awards are coming around? Will deserving candidates win over popular, less award-worthy fare? Are we in fact living in an alternate universe where Charlie Sheen will lose to someone who is actually funny?

A number of surprising nominations have cropped up in this year's Primetime Emmy Awards list, including two -- yes, TWO -- solid noms for our favorite New Zealand digi-folk-rock-funk-pop duo, "Flight of the Conchords." Thanks to an expanded nomination list -- in some categories, it went from five nominees to seven -- cult shows like "Flight" and cable fare like AMC's "Breaking Bad" made the cut this year in multiple categories. Check out the full list of nominees here.

While other surprises, including a first-time nom for "How I Met Your Mother," are making headlines, Channel Surfing bloggers Malavika Jagannathan, Sara Boyd, Thomas Rozwadowski and Adam Reinhard each have an opinion on the good, the bad and the "Two and a Half Men" of the Emmy nominations.

Malavika: First of all, the Emmy noms this year aren't totally bogus. The leading comedy is "30 Rock" with 22 nominations, followed closely in the drama category by "Mad Men" with 16. Both are favorites here at Channel Surfing, not to mention, great shows. Of course, great shows and great actors (ahem Lauren Graham ahem) have been previously ignored by the imbeciles that run the damn thing, so I take the news with a giant Margarita grain of salt. That being said, I'm overjoyed that "Flight of the Conchords" has been nominated for best comedy AND a best actor nod for Jemaine Clement, but can't help but be puzzled that Bret McKenzie didn't make the cut. Will this put a strain on the band? Will they break up because Jemaine's now famous? Will Murray attend the awards?

I am also thrilled to see that Elizabeth Moss, who plays receptionist-turned-ad-writer Peggy Olson on "Mad Men," is finally getting recognition for her absolutely brilliant work on that show. That being said, the Emmys are still the Emmys I love to hate. It's one thing for these under-the-radar shows and actors to get a nomination, but the Academy still can't get over its perennial love of shows like "Boston Legal" and "Monk" that make the cut time and time again. The nominations may be different this year, but I retain the right to bash the Emmys unless they prove me wrong on Sept. 20.

Sara: Oh, the Emmys ... I nearly forgot about them without a writer's strike to blow them out of proportion. And really, with continual nominations for "Two and a Half Men," the Emmys have been on my poo list for quite some time. That being said, it seems at least a few people on the selection committee finally found their sense of humor. "Flight of the Conchords" is finally getting the credit it deserves -- it unfortunately took the series "ending" (unconfirmed) to do it -- but nevertheless, a shout out has been granted. And I agree, while I was shocked to see Bret left off the list, I can see where the nomination for Jemaine holds its ground. As much as I love both Kiwis equally (yes, much like a proud parent) the show really wouldn't be what it is without Jemaine's awkward lady pursuits or David Bowie impressions. The icing on the cake, however, would've been a supporting actor nom for old Murray, who truly brings the show to a new level. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough room for our favorite band manager with Jon Cryer from "Two and a Half Men" capping off the list. So on behalf of Murray, I have a message for this year's Emmys: "Stuff you."

Moving on, I'm also pleasantly surprised to see "Weeds" make the cut. I'm just starting to get into this show but even a few episodes into season one, I can tell this nomination is long overdue. The show is spectacular (I'll give more details in an upcoming "Summer DVD Club" post) and Mary-Louise Parker deserves a lot of credit for that. Another great surprise: No Best Drama nomination for "Grey's Anatomy." Finally, everyone is recognizing this show is as dead as Izzy and/or George.

Thomas: As much as I love him, I will shed no tears for dear chap, Murray Hewitt. After all, he's used to being REEEEEEEEJECTED! LIKE A CAKE SHOP WITHOUT ANY CAKES! REEEEEEEEJECTED! LIKE A CORNFLAKE BOX WITHOUT ANY FLAKES!


I'm probably most excited about the Bryan Cranston-Jon Hamm showdown for Best Actor in a Drama. At this time last year, I had yet to watch either show, so it's nice to have a rooting interest in that heated category. Both are phenomenal actors, but having become absolutely obsessed with "Breaking Bad," I can't go against back-to-back nods for Cranston, especially not when his maddening turn in Season 2 was so out-of-bounds brilliant. Besides, "Mad Men" touts such a talented ensemble, I rarely think about one individual actor over another, so they'll just have to settle for the Best Drama Emmy. Even if "Family Guy" were to win for Best Comedy Series, I wouldn't kick my TV in anger as long as "Breaking Bad" gets honored for SOMETHING.

Also glad to see Aaron Paul as Jesse from "BB" get a nod for Best Supporting Actor, though Michael Emerson from "Lost" should be getting his acceptance speech ready NOW. And even though I wasn't a huge fan, I hope David Simon wins for "Generation Kill" in the Best Minseries category (PBS's "Litlte Dorrit" is the only other nom, so there's a good chance.) It won't make up for past mistakes, but he deserves some hardware after enduring all those "Wire" snubs.

And "Top Chef" for Best Reality Competition! Woo-hoo! Though I love "The Amazing Race," it's time to share the wealth, people. Really though, I just want to see Fabio Viviani give the acceptance speech in a white tux. "Theeeeeeees Emmmmmeee is nooooooo monkey asssss eeeen empteeeeee clam shell!"

Adam: Go ahead, you three, pile on your faint praise and half-hearted platitudes for this year's Emmy nods. Keep living in your delusional fantasy world, where the Emmys suck, but hey not completely because the dad from "Malcolm in the Middle" is up for Dramatic Actor. Hey, awesome. Maybe next year it'll be Reginald VelJohnson's turn.

But I say no. No! I refuse to give the Emmys the slightest shred of credit for some of this year's more "daring" picks. Because DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN, "Family Guy" has been nominated for Best Comedy. Best COMEDY. BEST Comedy. It's the first animated show since "The Flintstones" to do so. Let me rephrase that: "The Simpsons" has never been nominated for Best Comedy, but now "Family Guy" has. "Family" freaking "Guy." The show that copied "The Simpsons" frame for frame, except for actually being funny or imaginative or not-terrible. The show that confuses comedy with dropping random pop culture references and hoping their audience of drunken frat boneheads pick up on them. Yes, the "Epic Movie" and "Meet the Spartans" of television has gotten the nod from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as one of the best comedies on the air, and I don't know whether to cry or vomit.

But wait, I'm falling into my own trap here: By getting so worked up about this, aren't I giving legitimacy to the awards I just proclaimed doesn't deserve it? Obviously I must care a little to get so angry, right? OK, hang on, let me just rearrange my chakras here, maybe try to calm down. I mean, so what if "Family Guy" beat out more deserving comedies like "Pushing Daisies," "Better Off Ted," "Scrubs" or "Chuck." So what if creator Seth MacFarlane only entered into the running for Best Comedy because he was sick of losing in the Best Animated Series category. It's not like "Family Guy" has a chance in hell of winning over "The Office" or "30 Rock" anyway.

Phew. I feel better. "Family Guy" may be nominated for Best Comedy, but life goes on. I'm just glad there aren't any other maddening nominations this year. I mean, it's not like Tony Shalhoub was nominated yet again for "Monk," right? Right? ... RIGHT?

-- Malavika Jagannathan,, Sara Boyd,, Thomas Rozwadowski,, and Adam Reinhard,


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sponge-worthy extravaganza

While my older brother may argue that the quality of "SpongeBob SquarePants" has diminished in recent years (you'll have to excuse him, he's kinda grouchy like Squidward), there's no denying that Bikini Bottom’s master fry cook is just as lovable as ever.

In one of those random realizations bound to make you feel really, really old -- yes, even for those "SpongeBob" fans who claim to still be young at heart -- the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon is celebrating 10 years of nautical nonsense this week.

The party starts tonight at 8 p.m. on VH1 with "Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants,” an original documentary that dives into the unique history of the show and its celebrity fans (including President Barack Obama, Johnny Depp, LeBron James and Ricky Gervais). Then it's onto the big guns: Nickelodeon’s 50-hour “Ultimate SpongeBob SpongeBash Weekend" beginning Friday.

Someone may want to wipe the drool from Adam Reinhard's chin.

Of tonight's feel-good doc, the Washington Post writes: "A frothy spirit comes through in 'Square Roots,' which succeeds because it doesn't get too 'behind-the-scenes' wonky -- no laboring over the analytics of animation's 'squash and stretch' techniques, or long-winded lectures on why SpongeBob is So Very Funny. Fittingly, the hour-long film moves briskly with the in-the-moment attention span of a 12-year-old.

"The old, too-oft-forgotten adage is: 'Try to dissect comedy and it dies on the operating table.' 'Square Roots' comes not to dissect 'SpongeBob's' genius, but merely -- more nobly -- to celebrate it. We get the hilarious images. We get the infectious joy. And we get Tom Kenny's high, squeaky SpongeBob laugh, which warbles joyously over all the wacky proceedings."

Man, we're sooooooo there.

Read more about this week's sponge-worthy celebration here.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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It's a good week to be a "State" fan

Avid Channel Surfing readers will recall how I squealed like a little girl back in April at the prospect of MTV's "The State" finally seeing its long-awaited DVD release.

Well, that day has finally arrived. And as a bonus, Amazon is offering it up in the deal of the century -- more than half off the list price.

Can I get a Barry and Levon-esque "Awwwwww, yeah?"

The esteemed Alan Sepinwall spoke with David Wain of "The State" last week, the conversation covering extensive ground about the DVD delay, the integrity of original sketches being compromised without memorable music like the Breeders' "Cannonball," and ultimately, what soured the comedy troupe's relationship with the Music Television juggernaut.

Anyway, it's all wonderful reading. And if you grew up on MTV in the '90s and had an appreciation for quirky sketch comedy, you've basically stopped reading this post so you can bask in the warm glow of your shiny new DVD set instead.

If you haven't moved on just yet, you should also know that "State" alum Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter have a new show debuting on Comedy Central tomorrow night.

"Michael and Michael Have Issues" is another oddball comedy offering, with the swerve being that Black and Showalter are over-the-top egomaniacal writers who can't stand each other's company.

The trailers are appropriately vicious and dotted with salty cable TV language. So while we can't embed them on our family-friendly blog, we can show you the mildly inappropriate and highly amusing "Farting Butterfly Sketch."


Michael & Michael Have IssuesPremieres Wed, July 15, 10:30pm / 9:30c
Preview - The Farting Butterfly Sketch
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

"Michael and Michael Have Issues" airs at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on Comedy Central.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Monday, July 13, 2009

"'No Reservations" requires no passport, no airfare

The recession may have killed your plans to travel the world (not bitter at all here, folks), but you can still satisfy that insatiable travel bug by watching "Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations" on the Travel Channel.

The curmudgeonly chef-plus-world-traveler visits some of the most unlikely locales near and far, eating and drinking his way through their cultures with such fervor that it's hard to believe he can do time and time again. After watching a mini-marathon this weekend, including a few episodes I'd seen previously, I realized that Bourdain was able to make me want to visit places that hadn't yet cracked my top ten list (Uzbekhistan). He also gave me new insights into places I had been to (the Spain episode is definitely one of my favorites).

Bourdain isn't an ordinary traveler, though. For one, he focuses a lot on food and less on sight seeing. He also eschews the touristy spots -- avoiding the Pyramids on his trip to Egypt, for example -- and he usually finds a guide who speaks the local language to help him negotiate the local cuisine and culture. That being said, the heavy-drinkin', says-what-he-thinks host is perfect at giving us a window into a world most of us will never see. He's honest, open-minded and ready to eat the most disgusting thing put before him without a second thought.

The new season of "No Reservations" premieres tonight with an episode in Chile. Next week he's in Australia, but the week after, he returns a little closer to home with an episode titled "Rust Belt," where Tony checks out the culinary treats in Buffalo, Baltimore and Detroit. (Come on, Tony, couldn't you have it across the lake to Green Bay? There's a bratwurst with your name on it).

"No Reservations" airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. on the Travel Channel. Also, Bourdain was named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the 17 sauciest chefs on television. Others on the list include "Top Chef" guru Tom Colicchio and Food Network's ubiquitous chef Bobby Flay.

--Malavika Jagannathan,

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