With the summer seasons of reruns, desperate-sounding reality shows, and paid-for-but-cancelled shows being dumped, I’m finding it an excellent time to own a hard disc-based TV recorder (I own a ReplayTV, similar in concept to the better-named, better-known TiVo.) By having it accumulate our favorite shows that run on the off-brand channels in the wee hours, we almost always have something to watch. We accumulate episodes of Trading Spaces, Junkyard Wars, the Michael Palin travelogues, Inside the Actors Studio, and so forth. My wife always has a couple of old Columbo episodes on hand. This all gives us something that we can watch even during prime time, while I’m recording the type of show that I want to watch and she doesn’t.
A prime example of a show that I watch but the Lovely Lara wisely won’t is Baby Bob, a piece of claptrap that I find absolutely fascinating. For one thing, it’s a very unlikely sitcom for the aughts. A TV series built around a talking baby seems more suited for the era of Mister Ed and My Favorite Martian, the sort of show that already seemed dated when they trotted out My Mother, The Car. Seeing such a thing in the current century is some form of dissonance. (And by the way, not being “of the moment” is not a problem for me. I’m not one of those who feels that everyone must follow the current fashion. But when one violates the fashion in order to bring back a lesser style, it is a curious effort indeed.)
It feels like some package that was put together by a superagent of some sort, bringing key acting talent in to support a show that is actually based, according to its credits, on a series of commercials. Adam Arkin, Elliott Gould, Holland Taylor… all very talented folks who have absolutely no business being on a show that had no business getting made. With the second (short) season of this playing out now, someone obviously swung a powerful deal for this at the network.
This isn’t to say that the show is badly made. The plots are weak, reliant as they are on the premise, but there is perfectly servicable sitcom dialog here. But I can’t help but
Other things happening during this summer season include the return of Monk, a set of weaker-than-Father Dowling mysteries made very worthwhile by the title character. Monk is an obsessive-compulsive detective, and Tony Shaloub does an excellent job of playing the human not only within the disease, but encompassing the disease, striving to solve the crime while faced with the problem that not all the pencils have been sharpened to the same length. One interesting change for this season is that they are now shooting this San Francisco-centered series in Los Angeles, as opposed to Toronto. Monk airs at various times throughout the week on USA Network.
That same channel also brings us Lucky, an interesting new dark sitcom starring John Corbett (who the women all know from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but to me will always first be Northern Exposure‘s Chris In The Morning.) Built around a talented-but-addicted gambler dealing with the dingier side of Las Vegas, this show has a style all its own. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s at least worth sampling. I enjoy it heartily. ADDED LATER: Yes, I messed up. Lucky is not on USA Networks; it’s on FX.