Thursday, January 03, 2008

TV: Scattered Thoughts

The things you watch when you don’t care about college football. I stumbled onto an encore broadcast of the World Magic Awards on the mystery station known as MyNetworkTV on New Year’s Night. I knew I’d leave it on when the announcer described some jet fuel to be used in a later bit of derring-do as “insanely flammable.”

Most of the performers who followed were insanely self-serious. It didn’t help that I’ve been watching Arrested Development on DVD again and enjoying Will Arnett’s genius as Gob Bluth, the insanely deluded illusionist.

Wow, that word really will modify anything. It’s insanely useful.

As awards show go the WMA has the right idea. No acceptance speeches. The winners just perform their acts. The Golden Globes people should bear that in mind.

Watching the show meant repeated exposure to a commercial for another MyNetwork show, a compendium of home videos so outrageous “we could have called it ‘Lifestyles of the Dumb and Stupid.’” Really? Who decides which is which?

The network late night hosts returned from their strike break yesterday, Letterman and Ferguson with writers and the others without. Detailed recaps of all five shows are at Variety’s Scribe Vibe blog.

I watched Letterman and recorded Leno. Dave’s best joke was his introduction of the picket sign-carrying chorus girls who accompanied him onstage as “the Eugene V. Debs.” Lots of pro-WGA material in what felt like a typical show.

The Tonight Show, on the other hand, had an air of unpredictability to it as Jay Leno shouldered the burden on his own. And did a solid job of it. Dave may have his pick of big-name guests, but Jay will get a bounce from the “now-what?” factor.

Monday’s the night I’m waiting for, when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert begin ad-libbing their way through their shows. We could have used them before Iowa and New Hampshire.