Okay, sure, over the past few months I’m sure some of you have come to think of me as a reality-TV junkie with low-brow tastes and questionable intelligence. But dang it, not everything I watch features people screaming obscenities as they fight losing battles! For instance, I just finished watching a two-part, four-hour FRONTLINE special titled BUSH’S WAR in which… well, okay, there was talk of obscenities being shouted and we were obviously engaged in a losing battle, but surely it had to earn me at least a few bonus points among TV snobs, right? In all seriousness, if they rerun this special or you can get your hands on a copy, do. It was an absorbing, fascinating look into an administration that has at every point looked at their options and made the worst possible decision. It will intrigue, frustrate and at times inspire… if only debate as to which official’s lie was the worst.
I’m ashamed to admit I watched the premiere of HELL’S KITCHEN. I was practically goaded into doing so by a friend, and walked away realizing the difference between this nasty offering and my favorite food-centric show, TOP CHEF. While KITCHEN is designed for people who enjoy seeing others humiliated, CHEF is actually a competition geared toward foodies such as myself. How else to explain that when those toiling in HELL were asked to prepare a signature dish, we never even found out what half of them were, but were instead treated to shots of celebrity chef/asshat Gordon Ramsay alternately puking (literally, we are expected to believe) and hurtling insults. (This season, the contestants are vying for the “honor” of working for Ramsay. I’d have run for the hills as soon as that announcement was made.) This is as fake as reality TV gets. CHEF, on the other hand, focuses heavily on the food and offers up insightful commentary from the judges as to why certain dishes didn’t cut the mustard. For those who say all reality television is cut from the same cloth, I offer these shows as an example of what the genre can be… and what it all too often settles for.
Note to NBC: If you’re going to keep asking that people go to your website to watch full episodes of your shows, how about making sure that when they get there, you don’t give away the endings? I cruised on over to watch the finale of CELEBRITY APPRENTICE (don’t judge me!) and was greeted with a pic of Piers Morgan and the news that he’d been named the champion. It’s one thing to stumble across that information if I’m reading the newspaper or a blog in the days after the episode has aired, but for NBC to put that information on the page that one has to click on in order to watch the episode is moronic.
Kudos to Keith Olbermann on the fifth anniversary of his MSNBC series. (Hey, that’s another smart show I watch! I hope y’all are paying attention!) If anyone can make wall-to-wall election coverage watchable, it’s Obermann and his team of talking heads. Oh, and as a sidenote… if any of you happen to have pull with the Clinton clan, for the love of all that is holy, get her out of the race before she all but assures that the Republicans remain in the White House… and our troops remain in Iraq. (Sorry, I’m feeling extra political this evening.)