Watch The Amazing Race!

Question: What is the only reality show I have ever wanted to be a on?

Answer: THE FREAKING AMAZING RACE, BABY!!!

I have total and complete disdain for the genre of reality TV. I do watch a lot of the cooking themed shows (initially as part of the remote sharing compact that comes with all relationships, but I do like a lot of the Food Network ones), but aside from that, “reality TV” as a buzz phrase is second only to “filmed in 3D” in causing Dave facial tics. Why is TAR different? It’s the world! It’s the whole world as the canvas for a exploratory journey. Yes, it’s frantic and rushed, but instead of sitting in a studio or in a house slathered with cameras, these people get to race around the world. Ever since I was a little boy reading Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, this idea has captured my imagination and this show allows its contestants to live that (in roughly half the time Verne gave Phineas Fogg). The race consists of 10-12 teams of two people with a prior relationship (spouses, siblings, friends, etc) who have to travel to different checkpoints around the globe using clues they gain as a result of completing tasks in order to find their destination. At it’s best, the show exposes teams to life in other countries, many impoverished compared to the lives we know here in the States, and the best teams are truly affected and find it a transformative experience. Of course there are always the idiot ugly American teams or the stunt cast teams (please no midgets or goths this year….ohhh the midget), but the proportion of good to dreck is so mightily outweighed compared to the rest of the genre, that it’s no wonder TAR won the first seven Emmys given for Best Reality Show. My wife and I are huge fans, owning all 16 seasons on DVD and will be there tonight for the 90 minute premiere of season 17. You should be too!

Top 5: Pilots

This week is the beginning of the fall TV season and, as always, there are new shows vying for our attention. Traditionally, I watch TV on DVD/Blu Ray because I can’t stand commercials, but I do watch a lot of it and around this time of year, I get a lot of free pilots to check out of the new shows. Pilots have to serve a variety of purposes. They have to introduce you to the characters and the world of the show without overwhelming you with detail. They have to be somewhat self-contained, but open the door for the series to come. They have to, most of all, hook you so drastically that you’ll return time and time again. Here are the best pilots I’ve ever seen.
1. ER (NBC)
2. Lost (ABC)
3. Damages (FX)
4. The West Wing (NBC)
5. Homicide: Life on the Streets (NBC)

TV Review: 30 Rock Season 4

I know what you’re thinking, “He promised new content every day and day 1…nothing!” Not true. I have 25 minutes to spare and I don’t want to hear about east coast time. 30 Rock’s fourth season hit stores on Tuesday and having devoured 22 episodes in less than two days, we’re ready to give it a look.

If you haven’t watched any of the previous seasons of 30 Rock, you’re missing TV’s best comedy (sorry Office, but you have been passed). Tina Fey has created a TV show that glories in being a TV show. Not only does Fey star brilliantly in the sitcom, but writes it, produces it, and managed to cast an ensemble as memorable as any other in television history. Fey is the greatest female alum in SNL history (granted with the exception of Gilda Radner that isn’t saying much, but still…).

30 Rock’s fourth season isn’t it’s best. At times, the show feels like it’s coasting a bit and giving viewers what we’ve come to expect, but the finale sets the tone for change (especially for Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy-who has become one of my favorite characters in TV history). Even an average season for 30 Rock is better than most shows could ever dream of and my only real disappointment is that there’s no more for me to watch.

8.25/10

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