RICK'S RANTS: Quips on Television's Finest
I know I said the next Rick's Rants would be a year in review, but I haven't finished it yet and this edition basically wrote itself, so all you avid readers out there will have to wait a little longer for me to reveal my top picks of 2007. Sunday was a rollercoaster of emotions starting with what may possibly be my last visit with my grandmother before she passes on. I then hopped on a flight taking me back to St. Louis for my last semester of college. Sitting on the plane listening to some sappy music, I over-thought the inevitable aging of my family members and myself. I arrived to the Giants beating my hometown of Philly's dire enemies, which was fleetingly comforting, but I needed something more. Come 7 o' clock, central time, I couched myself as I usually do on a Sunday night, and headed on over to FOX, a channel I haven't turned to in a long time. FOX really delivered escapism and hilarity to the max when I needed it most.
I don't think I've watched anything on FOX barring football games and a few episodes of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? since I cut myself off from 24 and American Idol a few years back. I just couldn't resist a Terminator TV show, and apparently I'm not the only one. The premiere scored the highest ratings of any new show in the past 3 years. I must say I was pretty impressed with The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The action was fast and furious and looked fantastic to boot. I really liked how they established the timeline upfront, starting in 1999 and traveling to present day 2007. Since Sarah was attacked by the Governator in 1984 she's been through some serious shit including dying of cancer before Terminator 3. I know the majority opinion was that Terminator 3 was weak, but I must take the dissenting opinion on this one. I thought the action was pretty jawsome, a must for a Terminator movie, and the ending really brought the whole trilogy together for me in an unexpected and deeply satisfying way. I don't know if word has reached your ear yet of this new Terminator trilogy starting off in summer 2009 starring Christian Bale as John Conner, but I'd be much obliged to be the harbinger for those of you not in the know. Christian Bale is certainly making a good run for my coveted top actor spot. His roles have been diversified, yet all seem to fit quite nicely into my movie preference niche. His American Psycho was brilliant, Equilibrium was sweet, Michael Keaton's Batman would get his ass kicked by Bale's, and his performance as twin brothers in The Prestige is one of the finest displays of acting I've ever seen. With The Dark Knight coming this summer and Terminator next summer I think I might have to make a freaky shrine of Bale with a bust of his head made of Snapple caps or something... anyway... moving on.
The Family Guy commercials during Terminator were pretty enticing so it seemed only logical to keep it rolling with FOX. About 5 years ago Family Guy was god. Not a day would go by without some sort of Family Guy reference and the episodes from the first three seasons were watched repeatedly. Since those golden years I've seriously dropped the ball. I've seen maybe 4 episodes since season three (all of which failed to astonish) and the brilliant Star Wars spoof. Sunday night's episode was certainly dressed to impress. They did a hilarious take on teen dramas and somehow managed to make Peter as a stroke victim funny instead of cruel, which was an incredibly hard task because I just saw The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. For those of you out there who haven't yet, you're in for a treat; it's a movie that will remind you how remarkable life really is. A very special James Bond spoof American Dad immediately followed, Stan Smith: Tearjerker. I never really dug on American Dad like I did Seth MacFarlane's first child, but I thought this episode was clever and brought the mirth on strong. The diabolical plan boat tour which Tearjerker forcibly subjected our hero to was certainly a highlight. My friends weren't as impressed with American Dad so the channel quickly switched to a rerun of NBC's American Gladiators revival before the credits, which I can only assume were James Bond styled, rolled.
American Gladiators... I should state off the bat that after my incredibly satisfying evening with FOX I got up and left about 4.5 minutes into Gladiators. I elected to finish unpacking instead of watch a rerun which really says volumes about the weakness of the show. The gladiators all have catch phrases and are bat shit crazy; the one enjoyable part of the show. Each gladiator has a one liner they spew out every time the camera zooms in on them, except Wolf who just howls. I hope they don't get sued. SEGA's Wolf has had the same catchphrase since Virtua Fighter 2 back in 1994. Unfortunately the coolness factor of the gladiators can't save this pathetic attempt at entertainment. The contestants were way too annoying with "Big Country" hick ass Jeff at the top of my irritation list, with Christie getting an honorary mention. Thanks for perpetuating southern stereotypes big guy. The only thing more aggravating than the contestants is the final eliminator challenge. It's a completely illogical event with no clear rules and regulations that makes for totally unfair competition. Let me break it down for you. Contestants must first climb an 8 foot wall using a rope, jump into a pool and swim under a flaming surface and then climb a cargo net. No one has dived into the pool yet; I don't understand why, but at least it's fair so far. Then there's a barrel roll where the contestants must latch there body onto a barrel while it rolls down an incline. This portion of the event was taken directly from Ninja Warrior (a far superior analogous show), but in translation lost its justice. In Ninja Warrior if contestants fall off early they fall into a pool of water and are eliminated from the competition. If contestants fall off at any point on American Gladiators they land on a mat and are allowed to continue running the course without a time penalty (awful). Then they have to get across a large gap in one of two ways. They can peddle across on the extremely hard Handbike which takes time, energy and skill, or they can drop off the Handbike without even doing one rotation, run across the gap and then climb their way to the next platform with no time penalty of any kind (ridiculously awful). The last portion is the Travelator, an inclined treadmill with a rope that hangs half the distance to the top. That rope seems like a godsend but it's really a trap. If you grab the rope and try to set your feet you'll smack your face as your feet are swept away beneath you. In '"Big Country" Jeff's 15 minutes of fame he managed to fall down the Travelator about 15 times. NBC has already re-signed the show for a second season. I thought NBC pays people the big bucks! What genius designed that obstacle course? They best be retooling the course before next year or they may find themselves with seriously dwindling ratings. Let me know what you guys think about Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Family Guy and American Gladiators with a comment. Until next time...