Welcome to the first ever edition of Lisa’s Week In Television! Because of the holiday weekend, there’s a lot of streaming shows that I haven’t gotten a chance to watch yet. And I will also admit that I watched a lot of old TV shows over the previous few days. Then again, I always end up watching a lot of old shows, if just because I always enjoy seeing how people dressed and spoke in the past.
American Idol (Sunday and Monday Night, ABC)
I was recently trying to remember when the last time was that I was emotionally invested in American Idol and I think it was way back in 2007. That would be the sixth season. I thought Blake Lewis was totally adorable and I was actually really upset when he lost to Jordin Sparks. That’s nothing against Jordin. At the time, I just had a weakness for beat boxers.
Ever since then, American Idol has mostly been background noise to me. It’s one of those things that I watch out of habit and it’s rare that I ever pay that much attention to it while it’s on. When the show started, it was always interesting to see how brutally frank Simon Cowell could be but, after Simon left, no one was willing to play the villain and the show’s gotten rather bland as a result.
Anyway, on Sunday and Monday’s episodes, the judges announced the top 24 singers. I have no idea who any of these people are. I just know that none of them will ever win my heart quite like Blake Lewis performing Time of the Season.
Baywatch (Weekday Evenings, H&I)
Yes, the show about lifeguards is now airing on H&I. Hopefully, Baywatch Nights will eventually follow. There’s always been a lot of debate about whether or not David Hasselhoff is self-aware in the style of William Shatner or if he actually took Baywatch seriously. Having watched a few episodes of the show, I still have no idea. On the one hand, Hasselhoff certainly seemed to be taking thing very seriously. On the other hand, how could anyone actually take a show like Baywatch seriously? I mean, you would have to have somewhat of a satricial spirit to just be involved with the show, wouldn’t you?
Speaking of taking Baywatch seriously, Tuesday’s episode featured Danny Trejo as the father of a gang member. Trejo wanted his son to stay in the gang and was upset when Billy Warlock tried to recruit him into a lifeguard program instead. However, when Trejo subsequently fell in the ocean just to be saved by his own son, everyone learned an important lesson.
City Confidential (Sunday Afternoon, CI)
This show, which originally aired on A&E 20 years ago, is actually two shows in one. The first half of every episode always deals with the history and culture of an American city. The 2nd half always deals with some crime that happened in that city and which, we’re told, changed that city forever. Each episode was narrated by actor Paul Winfield, who always sounded somewhat amused no matter how heinous a crime he was describing.
I watched two episodes, one about Milwaukee and one about Carlsbad, New Mexico. My family briefly lived in Carlsbad when I was growing up so I found that episode to be interesting. What can I say? I have a weakness for true crime shows hosted by sardonic narrators.
The District (Weekday Mornings, H&I)
The District is a fairly predictable cop show that aired for four seasons at the start of the century. I had totally forgotten about it until I stumbled across it on H&I during a bout of insomnia. It’s about Jack Mannion (Craig T. Nelson), the hyperactive police commissioner for Washington D.C. Pretty much the only interesting thing about the show was Craig T. Nelson’s frequently bizarre lead performance. Nelson’s not exactly a low-key actor to begin with and The District cast him as a frequently married, show tune loving cop who enjoyed yelling at people. The show’s producers basically gave Nelson a license to overact and he took full advantage of it. With each episode, you think that Nelson can’t possibly go more over-the-top and, with each episode, he proves you wrong.
Tuesday’s episode featured him crashing a meeting of the Washington D.C, city council and, when he felt they weren’t paying attention to him, climbing up on a desk so that he could better yell at them. Later, when Mannion had to interrogate a young child who had witnessed a crime, he got her to answer his question by having a tea party with her. That’s Jack Mannion for ya!
Hell’s Kitchen (Thursday night, FOX)
Even though I’m not really a huge fan of yelling at or insulting people, I’ve always liked Hell’s Kitchen. Some of it is because of those moments (which usually happens towards the end of the season) when Gordon Ramsey reveals that he’s not quite as fearsome as he pretends to be. (He actually does seem to get emotionally invested once there’s only 6 or 5 chefs left.) Plus, since I can’t cook, I guess I find it interesting to watch people who actually can. This latest season, which is drawing to a close, has been one of the better seasons. Myself, I’m totally cheering on Mary Lou! Go, Mary Lou! You got this!
King of the Hill (Hulu)
This is still the best and most authentic TV show ever made about Texas. Watching it today, it’s also a nice alternative to the more mean-spirited programming of Seth MacFarlane. Let it never be forgotten the Fox cancelled King of the Hill to make room for The Cleveland Show, of all thing. Fortunately, King of the Hill can currently be watched at any time on Hulu.
Saturday morning, my sisters and I watched three episodes while we were preparing for the day — the episodes where Hank goes down Aisle 8A, where Hank goes to New Orleans, and where Dale thinks he’s rabid. We agreed that Boomhauer is one of the greatest characters of all time.
Law & Order: Organized Crime (Thursday Night, NBC)
I reviewed the first episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime here.
Law & Order: SVU (Thursday Night, NBC)
I used to watch SVU religiously when I was in high school and college. However, as I got older, I kind of lost interest. That said, I did watch it this week because Elliott Stabler (played by Chris Meloni) was making his first appearance on the show since leaving 8 seasons ago. Thursday’s episode also served as a backdoor pilot, of sorts, for Law & Order: Organized Crime.
The episode was …. okay. The mob stuff was predictable but it was nice to see that Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay still had their old chemistry. That said, Stabler seemed to be even more tightly wound than he did during his time as a regular on SVU and that’s really saying something as Stabler always seemed like the cop mostly likely to beat a suspect to death during interrogation. (Of course, Stabler’s wife was injured by a car bomb and later died during the episode so Stabler had good reason for being wound up.)
A lot of people on twitter freaked out over the fact that no one on the show was wearing a mask. Calm down, people, it’s a TV show.
The Love Boat (Weekday Evenings, Decades TV)
Ah, The Love Boat. If there’s any show from the 70s and 80s that deserves a revival, it’s probably this one. Movie and television veterans play the passengers of a weekly cruise, falling in love and taking part in other hi-jinks. Every episode that I’ve ever seen of The Love Boat has been charmingly silly and, quite frankly, I think that’s what we need more of in the world. Add to that, the cruise ship industry took a hit with the pandemic. A Love Boat revival might help revive it.
Monday’s episode featured Zsa Zsa Gabor and a bunch of people who I didn’t recognize but who all appeared to be having a great time on the boat. Zsa Zsa was determined to win back her ex, even though he was planning on marrying someone else. The other stories dealt with a kleptomaniac who kept accidentally stealing stuff and a TV actor who feared that he would never be able to live up to his heroic image. In the end, for all the passengers and crew, love won.
Wednesday’s episode was a Christmas episode from 1980. Dorothy Lamour was one of the passengers. Father and son entertainers ran into each on the boat after having not spoken to each other for years. A stowaway pretended to be the child of a wannabe womanizer. In the end, for all the passengers and crew, love won.
My Evil Sister (Sunday Afternnon, CI)
I watched this on Crime and Investigation on Sunday morning. As the youngest of four sisters, it’s hard for me not to be intrigued by the fact that there’s so many evil sisters out there that they could actually produce an entire TV series about them. The episode I saw featured two stories, one about a sister who killed her lazy sister and then tried to frame local drug dealers and the other about a girl who shot her adopted sister because she felt her sister was keeping her from being popular in high school. Scary stuff! I’m glad my family likes me! (I say this as I nervously glance over my shoulder.)
The Office (Comedy Central)
I watched a few episodes of The Office on Thursday and Friday. I always feel like I’m taking a risk whenever I watch The Office on Comedy Central because there’s always a chance that they’ll be showing episodes from Seasons 8 or 9. Fortunately, on Thursday and Friday, they were showing episodes from Season 5. Jim and Pam hadn’t gotten unbearably smug yet. Andy and Angela weren’t quite as cartoonish as they would later become. Best of all, Michael was still on the show so I got to watch him once again fall in love with Holly Flax. Though The Office was pretty uneven after the third season, the few episodes of season 5 were all gems.
Parking Wars (Monday Morning on A&E)
I wrote about this annoyingly addictive show a few years ago. I watched two episodes of the show on Monday morning, as I was getting ready for my day. Even though I mostly had it on for background noise, I still couldn’t help but think about how this show, which aired its last original episode nearly ten years ago, feels like the perfect show for the current era. A bunch of self-righteous bureaucrats make life difficult for their fellow citizens and, whenever they’re challenged on it, they respond with a bunch of “If you had followed the rules” bullshit. Watching this show always makes me want to park in front of an expired meter and then rip up the ticket.
The Rookies (Sunday Morning, H&I)
The Rookies is a cop show that aired from 1972 to 1976. H&I just recently started showing the show. It airs on Sunday morning at 2 in the morning. I decided to set the DVR to record the show, just because it was a show that I’d never heard of. I’m like a cat when it comes to being curious about stuff.
Anyway, The Rookies is about three cops who are …. can you guess it? …. rookies! One is black. Two are white. One has a wife, the other two single. Whenever they drive their car around the city, 70s wah wah music plays in the background. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s pretty much a standard cop show. One of the cops is played by Michael Ontkean, so it’s possible to view the show as being a prequel to Twin Peaks, if you’re so inclined.
I watched Sunday’s episode off of the DVR. The first episode featured a criminal turning into an informant and putting his life at risk. In the 2nd episode, Ontkean was shot in the back and had to undergo an experimental surgery to regain the ability to walk. The stories were, in no way, surprising but it was a chance to experience how people talked and dressed in 1972.
Rome’s Chariot Superstar (Monday Morning, Smithsonian Channel)
This docuseries took a look at the ancient Roman chariot races. It was actually pretty entertaining. I enjoyed the descriptions of life in ancient Rome and, even better, they showed how to build and steer a chariot! As I’ve said many times on the site, I’m a history nerd. I love stuff like this.
Saved By The Bell (Sunday Morning, MeTV)
Ah, Saved By The Bell, the oddly popular and incredibly dated high school sitcom from the early 90s. Don’t ask me to explain why Saved By The Bell remains so watchable, despite being terrible in almost every way. It’s just a part of the culture and, perhaps more importantly, there’s never been an extended period of time when it hasn’t been on TV somewhere. One of the many places where it can currently be found is as a part of MeTV’s Sunday morning lineup. I always seem to end up watching it, even though the show makes me cringe in so many ways.
For instance, on Sunday morning, I watched three separate episodes. First off, I watched the infamous Running Zack. This is the incredibly problematic episode where the blonde, blue-eyed, and very pale Zack Morris discovers that he’s a direct descendant of the Native American Chief Joseph and he responds to this news by putting on an elaborate headdress and then giving a speech to his class. It’s really …. not good. Zack, however, does subsequently win the big track meet. If I remember correct, his Native American heritage was never again mentioned on the show.
Running Zack was followed by a far more entertaining episode, Jessie’s Song. This is the “I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so scared” episode, in which Jessie gets hooked on caffeine pills. Everyone always laughs about the scene where Jessie freaks out but I think the extremely 80s music video is even more memorably weird.
Jessie’s Song was followed by The Fabulous Belding Boys, in which Mr. Belding’s supercool brother, Rod, showed up as a new substitute teacher at Bayside. After getting all of his students excited about going rafting for the senior class trip, Rod ditched them all for two stewardesses. Fortunately, Mr. Belding stepped up and took Rod’s place, showing Zack what being a hero is all about. This is actually one of the few episodes of Saved By The Bell that actually works as something more than camp, with the normally underappreciated Dennis Haskins getting a chance to show what he could actually do with some halfway decent dialogue.
Yes, Minister (Monday Morning on PBS)
This is a BBC series, which originally aired back in the 80s. It’s about a government minister named Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington) and two civil servants, Sir Humphrey (Nigel Hawthorne) and Bernard (Derek Fowlds), and their efforts to help Hacker run his department while also making sure that Hacker doesn’t actually accomplish anything. It’s a hilarious show, one that Jeff recently introduced me to. Even though the show is very British and 40+ years old, it’s still easy to see parallels between the show’s portrayal of the British government and the realities of Washington, D.C. I guess bureaucracy is universal.
This show airs on Monday, usually at midnight. I always set the DVR for it, though I’ve lately been staying up to watch it just because PBS is so inconsistent about keeping to their posted start and stop times. Back in February, when Texas got hit by that winter storm, an episode of Yes, Minister was the last thing that I watched before the rolling blackouts began.
This week’s episode found Jim Hacker going to a farm for a photo op and essentially screwing everything up. The show is at its best when it pokes fun at Hacker’s self-righteousness by revealing him to be just another clueless politician and this episode did just that. (In all fairness, though, Hacker also consistently means well and, occasional pompousness aside, actually is the type of person you would want in office.) Though the show may be an old one, it’s kind of what we need right now in the Age of Big Government.
Watched But Not Reviewed:
- ‘Allo ‘Allo (Sunday Night on PBS)
- America’s Most Wanted (Monday Night on Fox)
- Fear Thy Neighbor (Saturday Afternoon on ID)
- Hill Street Blues (Weekend Morning on H&I)
- The Killer Beside Me (Saturday afternoon on ID)
- The Masked Singer (Tuesday and Wednesday on Fox)
- Open All Hours (Sunday Night on PBS)
- Temptation Island (Tuesday Night on USA)
- Tough as Nails (Wednesday Night on CBS)
- The Voice (Monday Night on NBC)
- Your Worst Nightmare (Saturday afternoon on ID)