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December 2001

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In this issue:    Harry Potter, Prince of Darkness! Star Trek! TV Terrors! PLUS: Coca Cola Christ! Literature! and What Ash Really Wants for Christmas!.
TV Casualties

Well, speaking of television, the new TV season is finally upon us. And it's only December! I remember back in the good old days, when the horror of the back-to-school season would be tempered with the glory of brand new TV shows, staving off teen suicides and school massacres by dulling volatile emotions with hours of sitcoms about twenty-somethings with quirky neighbors. But those days are as dead as disco. In the past few years, most shows have begun airing their premiers in October, with some, like The Simpsons, waiting until November, and others, like The X-Files, waiting entire calendar years before gracing us with their season debuts. This year, what with the usual industry lethargy being coupled with the pressing need for celebrities to go on TV and let us know they don't like terrorism, one would expect the new season to be delayed until at least late July, but that has not been the case. Perhaps in an effort to distract the public from the current international crisis by numbing us with more Law and Order spin-offs than there are actual laws, at least a few shows have debuted in the past few months. And, in the grand Ash tradition of watching at least 18 hours of TV in any given day, I've seen them all. Which means, gentle reader, that you get to watch each and every one of these show vicariously through my unreasonably pessimistic, First Wave-blurred eyes.

The Ellen Show

Congratulations to the leathery Ms. Degeneres for getting right back on the horse after the cancellation of her first sit-com, Ellen. Granted, the horse isn't funny and is an irritatingly preachy bull-dyke, but that's no reason to shoot it the head and get a better, less out-spoken one, like maybe Rosie O'Donnell or Jodie Foster. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being gay, it just shouldn't be allowed on TV, where impressionably youngsters might pick up the nasty habit of self-respect and comfortable self-image. Plus, it encourages Will and Grace.

Law And Order: Criminal Intent

Vincent D'Onofrio stars as a scruffy, doughier Vince Vaughn in this charmingly boring spin-off of the original Law and Order. Eliminating the 'law' aspect of its predecessor, Criminal Intent focuses instead on the police and forensic work that goes into solving cases, essentially combining the scientific aspect of CSI with the investigative grunt work of CSI, coming up with the best version of CSI since CSI.


It's about time for another Star Trek show, as it's already been four months since Voyager was put out of its misery like a cripplingly retarded child. In addition to haggard, hungry-looking actors and sets cheaper than a twelve-pack of RC Cola, the show stars everyone's favorite has-been, Scott Bakula, fresh from the welfare office and raring to go. It promises to be about as exciting as a tax-debate, and twice as hip.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

For some bizarre reason, this teen vampire soap opera has changed networks from the WB, famed for its Ebonics sitcoms and endless dramas about teen angst, to UPN, famed for absolutely nothing. While channel 73 might not be the most accessible place for most Buffy fans to find the show, at least counting past fifty will teach them some higher math.


I don't suppose there's really any need for me to make a joke about this sitcom based upon the exploits of Italian TV chef Emeril Legasse, since thanks to The Sopranos Italians are a living joke anyway, but that won't stop me from trying. Quite frankly, cooking isn't really all that funny to begin with, and no amount of ex-Mad About You writers and snappy onomatopoeic catchphrases are going to make this show any more amusing than Home Economics class. For the record, however, I've never actually seen an episode, since it's on at the same time as something else, anything else, that isn't a cooking show.


An intriguing premise, in which one day in the life of Keifer Sutherland is examined in 24 real-time episodes, falls victim to its fatal flaw, which is that real-time is actually quite boring. I don't know what you did today, but I mostly spent my time napping between repeated screenings of Blood Feast. I thought about leaving the house, but only briefly, and it may have been a dream. In an attempt to liven things up, the producers of 24 have added an element of fiction to the Real World documentary-style of the show, by pretending that Keifer spends his days fighting terrorism instead of, as is far more likely, watching Flatliners over and over again and crying.


Well, this sounds like a great idea. Take a popular comic book character like Superman in one hand, and the hugely successful teen TV show Dawson's Creek in the other, then force them to rut like caged pandas. The bastard abomination that spews from their loins is a prime example of the kind of quality programming we're getting this TV season.

So, as you can see, there are several reasons this season to give up on your social life, board yourself up in your house, and watch TV until your eyes bleed. None of them are listed here, however, and nearly all require either HBO or Scream TV. For those of us stuck with simple cable or the godless state known as the "Basic" channel package, the alternatives are limited. Either invest in a DVD player, or pick up enough Robitusen MD to make Must See TV on Thursday nights interesting enough to watch. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I feel a cough coming on.

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