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PCR #171  (Vol. 4, No. 28)  This edition is for the week of June 30--July 6, 2003.
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Couch Potato Confessions by Vinnie B.
   The adventures of a boy and his personal video recorder.

A Cat, A Dog, A Rat and a Stripper
This past week the big relaunch of the "new TNN" into Spike TV, First Network for Men, was spoiled by Spike Lee's lawsuit against them. Personally, I dislike this network. They are the morons who show "Star Trek Next Gen" with a black bar at the bottom of the screen (which says "Star Trek: The Next Generation",) in case you are too stupid to know what you are watching or just thought it was WWE. I have a suggestion for a name for this network. How about the LCD (lowest common denominator) network?

Part of the big launch was their new adult animation block on Thursday nights at 10:00 pm. First up, new episodes of Ren and Stimpy called "Ren and Stimpy's Adult Party Cartoon". The first episode finds them living in a bum's mouth and openly homosexual. By the time that Ren had been buggered by the bum's esophagus and Stimpy had pulled a squirrel out of his butt I had had enough of this trash. If crass, offensive anal and poop humor is your thing then this piece of crap might be for you. This show is a big disappointment and I am flushing it down the commode where it belongs.

Next up on the cutting block, "Gary the Rat", a mediocre offering executive produced and featuring the voice of Kelsey Grammar. The joke here is that a lawyer turns into a rat (get it?). However, the writers forgot one thing, to make the show funny. The other major flaw is that the rat lawyer is too likable; Duckman he ain't. The funniest part of this whole show was the Heineken commercial.

The trifecta of the evening had comic legend Stan "the Man" Lee teaming up with tabloid legend Pam "the Woman" Anderson for an adult softcore cartoon called "Stripperella". I don't know if the other two baaaad shows had worn me down but I found this one to be mildly amusing. Be warned, the opening scene in the strip club is very graphic and not suitable for kids or anyone offended by lap dances. In the first episode anorexic models are mysteriously blimping out. Pam Anderson is Erotica (very original name), a stripper, who also works for a secret agency as the superhero, Stripperella. In this first episode the writers poke fun at supermodels, the superhero genre, breast implants, VH1, and Woody Allan and get in a Charlie Sheen joke to boot. I was expecting to hate this show, but it turned out to be the best show out of the three. Of course the bigger issue here is why is Stan Lee doing this series? Is Marvel screwing him out of his royalties and he needs the money? Or is this a project he really believes in? And will this series taint Stan Lee's status as a comic icon? I will leave it up to the comic experts to argue this; I just find it sad that his name is associated with this.

"The New TNN" is also showing the original "Ren and Stimpy" classic episodes after "Stripperella". Watching the original made the new episode look even more pathetic.

Don't Fear the Reaper
I was just saying to myself the other day, "self, there are not enough feel good comedy-dramas on TV about death and the Grim Reaper", when lo, and behind the premium network Showtime, debuts "Dead Like Me" (Fridays 10:00pm).

Sulky Ellen Muth is perfectly cast as the apathetic, sarcastic teen who dies in an unfortunate aerospace accident. As the character George (Georgia) Lass she is thrust into the unwanted situation of fulfilling a Grim Reaper's quota, and therefore becomes his replacement while he gets "a promotion".

A great cast of interesting fellow grim reapers are along for the ride to help her make the transition including Mandy Pantinkin, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, and the Noxzema girl Rebecca Gayheart (I bet she hates that).

This is the kind of television show that the networks should be producing, instead we are subjected to "The Bachelor".

A well-written, funny, yet dark show, it will be interesting to see where they take future plot lines, as there are plenty of situations to explore here. The second episode looks like it will involve George's family, who we are introduced to in the pilot, including her mom played by sitcom veteran Cynthia Stevenson ("Hope and Gloria").

Believable? Of course not, but I enjoyed this show, as it struck the right balance of comedy, drama, and dark moments and features a fine cast of talented actors.

Upcoming Couch Potato Picks

Twilight Zone marathon, July 3rd and 4th, Sci-Fi channel
The Dead Zone season premiere, July 6th, 10:00pm, USA network

Coming up Next Week:   "The Dead Zone, or How a former Brat Packer makes Good".

"Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2003 by Vinnie B..  Couch Potato main graphic by Vin Blesi and Nolan Canova.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.