If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em dept: *

*(See previous post)

Here’s what’s on my DVR series manager for the summer of 2009 …

Mad Men on AMC

Meticulous.  Story. Characters.  Details.  Slow for some. A powder keg of intriguing personalities and agendas for others. I listened to commentaries by creator/writer Matthew Weiner on the second season Blu-ray and couldn’t believe the attention to detail for every set, costume, or prop. Even the weather has to be right to match a day an event occurred if it is used in the story, such as the rain on the East Coast the day our country and the Soviet Union faced mutual nuclear annihilation during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. As a seven-year old kid growing up outside of ground zero in the nation’s capital, I remember the weather that day, too – ominous, scared-to-death, cloudy, and with a heavy chance of me peeing my pants.

Entourage on HBO

Here’s a show that jumped the shark after the second season. It’s still occasionally amusing, but the character arcs throughout this series are a flat line. Vince, Eric, Turtle and Johnny Drama haven’t evolved one self-aware inch as human beings, and yet the ruthless talent agent prick, Ari Gold, has. This development clearly tells me this show is now … pure fantasy science fiction.

Hung on HBO

Goofy premise and title, but stick around and this show penetrates, um, much deeper than you might expect. While trying to rebuild his life and finances, Ray, the well-endowed high school coach, discovers some previously unrevealed truths in the relationship between men and women. But one thing left unrevealed … is his dong, despite the fact there are plenty of boobs displayed. This is probably a contractual requirement as a lead-in for the testosterone-heavy and homophobic young male demographics of Entourage. But the idea that Ray could earn any riches as a male prostitute solely for women tells me this show is … pure fantasy science fiction.

Mystery Diagnosis on ?

I can’t watch this show because, as an empathetic writer-type, I’m afraid I’ll start developing the symptoms of the patient involved – and those conditions are pretty damn weird and extreme. My wife watches this show in earnest belief that we’ll find a cure for our own chronic medical issues. But unless we’re suddenly growing a second head through our left collar bone, that’s unlikely. Still, we probably have a better shot at a useful diagnosis here than from the barely two minutes face time we get from our general practitioners.

Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO

This show is a great divider. On one side … anyone with an IQ above their body temperature who keeps up with news, politics, and favors a rational approach before spouting an opinion. On the other side … the usual fear-mongering, hate, paranoia and ignorance group. Okay, not fair, but Maher is, at least, an equal opportunity offender when mocking the clueless extreme right, the ball-less left, and even God above. I don’t happen to share his professed atheism – I give God the benefit of my doubt, but I absolutely defend Maher’s right to offend … if it’s funny. In my bible, good humor from an active mind absolves bad sins from a mocking mouth.

Nurse Jackie on Showtime

Here we have another medical type show I usually avoid. But the writing and acting is a defibrillator to the quality-entertainment-starved portion of my brain. And I love the theme of a nurse (Edie Falco) using extreme measures to maintain her sanity within the daily onslaught of a war zone emergency room. Faced with these traumas, I would probably snort crushed Percocets and have spontaneous extra-marital sex with the pharmacist in the supply closet, too.

Weeds on Showtime 

Here’s another show that bubbled out of the bong after the second season. How do you go from a sly little parody about cookie cutter life in the suburbs with a widow who sells a little weed to get by, to this over-the-top cartoon about the pistol-packing gringa wife of a Mexican drug kingpin running for governor? Just smoke the same righteous Sensimilla the writers do.

True Blood on HBO

I watch this camp orgy of sex and blood on HBO and can’t help realize how far we’ve come since the very tame afternoon vampire soap opera Dark Shadows in the late 60’s. Barnabas Collins would grow pale (well, pale-er) and hide under his cape faced with this level of depravity. Or maybe he’d just come OUT of his cape, considering how fey and repressed he was for a vampire in the first place. But with original lines like the following from the gay, vampire-blood-selling bartender Lafayette when he was uncharacteristically praying, how can you resist? “Jesus and I agreed to see different people, but that doesn’t mean we don’t talk once in a while.”

Rescue Me on FX

This show has no discernable narrative. I have no idea where it’s going, and neither, I think, does the show. It’s just a bunch of noble but lamebrain NYC firefighters shooting the bull and mercilessly punking each other for extended bits either in the break room, a bar, or on the scene after putting out a fire. Fortunately, at least one of those bits each week is fucking hysterical. And who knew that some of the tastiest roles for hot actresses to show off serious acting chops would appear in the middle of this testosterone-filled circle jerk? Denis Leary is as old as I am, but he attracts so much pussy here it tells me this show has reached the five alarm bell for … pure fantasy science fiction.

— A. Wayne Carter

There are no major network shows in the queue because it’s summer rerun season and, besides, once you eliminate all medical shows, Law & Order spinoffs and CSI clones, there’s nothing left on prime time anyway … except really embarrassing reality shows. And just keep this in mind: Every time you watch a reality show, you put a few more REALLY starving actors and writers out of work. Except, of course, for the underpaid-under-the-table writer hacks who make up all the storylines, personality conflicts and one-liners you watch on those ‘reality’ shows.

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