Tuesday, May 23, 2006

TV: Monday Ratings Report

No baseball this time. I promise. The Mets had the day off.

8:30PM – 10PM F For Fake, Turner Classic Movies (DVR)

A quasi-documentary from Orson Welles. It began as a portrait of art forger Elmyr de Hory. In the middle of production, the “authorized autobiography” of Howard Hughes by writer and interview subject Clifford Irving was exposed as a sham. (Irving’s story will be coming to the big screen later this year.) What do you do when your expert on fraud perpetrates a fraud himself? If you’re Welles, you turn your film into a riff on hoaxes, not sparing your own history of trickery.

F For Fake never quite jells but consistently fascinates, thanks in large part to Orson’s screen presence. There’s a terrific conceit that I won’t give away, plus an entire segment on the fine art of girl watching.

I watched the movie for two reasons. I want to show TCM plenty of love while Unnamed Media Research Company is listening to me. And it was part of an evening of films programmed by Penn & Teller, which brings us to ...

10PM – 10:30PM Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, Showtime

The boys debunk commonly held notions of good manners. As usual, they overreach a little but make a solid, sensible argument. One that includes a trip to a strip joint. P&T have taken on some heavy subjects this season – the death penalty, the rebuilding of New York’s Ground Zero. It’s more fun when they aim their barbs at the self-important, like last night.

I watch the show regularly, but made sure to catch this one so I could write Bullshit! in my ratings diary. In full: no asterisk for the ‘i,’ exclamation point included. After all the nonsense I put up with when I was in UMRC’s employ, it seemed fitting. Now if I could figure out how to legitimately send profanity to every other place I’ve worked ...