It’s official: the major networks have all but exhausted their stockpile of scripted programming produced before the ongoing writers’ strike.
Faced with the prospect of having to carry out actual interactions with other human beings between the hours of 8p and 11p every weeknight, I’ve compiled a list of reliable geeky cable TV programming.
(Do you blame me for picking my TV over people? At least my TV’s feelings don’t get hurt when I yell at and berate it. Which happens a lot. Mostly during Smallville.)
E-mail subscribers and RSS readers, check out the post for preview video clips.
5) NINJA WARRIOR (G4)
Sorry to ruin the surprise, but no one gets struck by throwing stars in this one. I know, it’s a disappointment to all of us. But the show still has plenty of redeeming qualities.
It’s like American Gladiators for the 21st century. But without all those steroidal gladiators. Or the American stuff.
Ninja Warrior features athletic Japanese dudes (and some ladies) taking on a series of wickedly grueling obstacle courses in a competition for the title of “Ninja Warrior.” And they’re egged on by obnoxious commentators and post-game interviewers straight from the “giggly Japanese schoolgirl” school of sports reporting.
4) DIRTY JOBS (Discovery Channel)
In your day-to-day life, you don’t have to deal with anything messier than your cubicle after a particularly rambunctious office holiday party. Haven’t you wondered what a day looks like for someone who has to work down in a sewer, or in a septic tank, or in the bowels of a garbage dump, or on the wrong end of a avian vomitologist’s day?
Well, maybe you haven’t wondered. But you should. Information is power, ya’ll, for reals.
In the case of Dirty Jobs, information is gleeful entertainment as wryly amiable host Mike Rowe submerges himself in varied muck in over and over again (in 150+ episodes).
3) ATTACK OF THE SHOW (G4)
Not too long ago, geeks (namely fans of the old TechTV network) saw Attack of the Show as a tawdry and shallow reformatting of the now-defunct, daily ‘tech talk’ show, The Screen Savers.
Those geeks weren’t so wrong. And they’re still not.
But AotS has finally come into its own with clever, entertaining, and useful segments highlighting the wonderfully esoteric side of geek life, including comic books, movies, ultimate fighting, gadgets, video games, comedy, web tools and more.
Sure, the show still overtly panders to its young, male, Ritalin-addled demographic. For instance, hottie co-host Olivia Munn hosts a segment called ‘Olivia’s Rack’, in which she reviews a selection of magazines currently on newsstands. But you know what the dudes in the audience are really reviewing during the segment.
I almost wish I could bring myself to be more insulted by the cheap, lowbrow tactics. But, you know… boobies. Giggle.
2) MIND CONTROL WITH DERREN BROWN (Sci Fi)
A better name for this show might be Mind F#$%ery with Derren Brown. Because Brown has a singular talent for screwing with peoples’ brains with subliminal suggestions that elicit hilariously uncanny reactions.
But we don’t live in France, so we have to live without both naked breasts and words like “f#$%ery” on basic cable. So, “Mind Control” it is.
1) TORCHWOOD (BBC America)
Hey, look! Actual scripted programming! With a new season starting in the upcoming month!
Yes, Torchwood‘s got a bit of the campy-ness of Doctor Who (from which it was spun off), but it also sports a little of the cleverness, creepiness, and sense of fun of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And Buffy fans will appreciate the upcoming appearance of James “Spike” Marsters.
And by “appreciate,” I mean that Buffy fans will hyper-analyze every one of his lines to identify anything that even resembles a shout-out to his days as Spike. So… that could be fun. Or something.