This year has, generally, been an awful year for American television. Only in a horrible year can shows like Whoopi be considered for renewal. I try to be a television watcher, I want to love TV, but I'm finding it harder and harder. Every time I like a show it gets cancelled, so, I'm going to use my considerable powers as Gauntlet columnist to make sure the shows I enjoy currently don't get cancelled.
I thought it was just an anomaly when Sports Night, a sitcom based in a sports newsroom Ã la Sportscenter was cancelled. Then, in the following years, I noticed a trend. Anything that I started to watch regularly was being cancelled, most notably The Family Guy, an animated show that was everything The Simpsons could have been, and Undeclared, a college-based sitcom.
There are some shows, however, that are still worth watching.
One show not getting cancelled anytime soon is Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. Originals air nightly at midnight on both CTV and the Comedy Network, if you're not a night owl check out the previous night's episode in a suppertime newscast on the Comedy Channel at 6 p.m. Stewart brings us American news with a wry style that pulls no punches from Democrats or Republicans. Their continuing coverage includes, Mess-o-potamia, about the war in Iraq and, Race from the White House, about the Democratic presidential nominee elections. In addition, stone-faced correspondents provide wickedly funny satirical commentary on the day's events. Watch for Stephen Colbert, whose antics regularly make me laugh out loud.
How about some Canadian content?
This Hour Has 22 Minutes, (Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on CBC) this country's fake newscast, is comparable to The Daily Show though the insistence on using fake characters as interviewees rather than interviewers drags 22 Minutes down.
Rick Mercer's new show, Monday Report (Mondays at 8:00 p.m. on CBC) is sure to be as good as, if not better than, 22 Minutes. Following Monday Report is The Newsroom, a pointed satire of the media's role in shaping our access to information.
And, if you want some real news, The National is by far the best national newscast in the country, airing nightly at 7:00 p.m. on CBC Newsworld or 10:00 p.m. on the main network.
For complete frivolity, the CBC's contribution to reality TV is some of the best comedy around. Kenny vs. Spenny is currently in limbo. Although I cannot guarantee it will be there, look for it on CBC on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. The premise has two friends compete in completely arbitrary competitions, the reward is for the winner is to see the friend humiliated. Some of the competitions include: "Who is the best fashion designer?" "Who makes the best woman?" and "Who is the most sane?"
Kenny is a confident, often overconfident, self-proclaimed ladies man who tries to scare Spenny into losing. Spenny is a neurotic wimp who insists on playing fair. It may sound stupid, but believe me, these guys are so competitive that their competitions are really fun to watch.
There are a couple of great non-reality TV shows on these days too. The Comedy Network airs Chapelle's Show Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. It is a skit show from the mind of comedian Dave Chapelle. One skit, "Trading Spouses," a takeoff on the TLC hit Trading Spaces, was pretty funny. In this skit, a black man from the ghetto and a granola-munching suburbanite trade spouses and families, with Chapelle playing both characters.
You may have noticed the lack of one-hour dramas in my list. This is because I despise almost every hour-long drama on television. I hate the form so much that I rarely give anything in the format a chance. There is, however, one show I never miss, the spy show Alias. Watching Alias is like watching a new James Bond movie every week, only each episode intertwines in some unpredictable way, and the storylines are way more hardcore.
For example, Alias just finished a story arc on Sunday. In this episode, it was revealed that the main character Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) was abducted by a secret group called The Covenant. Sounds corny right? Well, The Covenant abducted her so they could harvest eggs from her ovaries to clone a Da Vinci-like scientist from the Renaissance era, who left a tissue sample in a cave in Namibia, that Bristow herself obtained. Now, that is some crazy shit. (Warning: you may have to watch the rest of the season to understand what is going on.)
Please make sure to watch these shows and save them from the path I have put them on by enjoying them. Happy viewing, I will return to political commentary next week.
Michael Jankovic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org