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November 17, 2006 |

By Seth Freilich | TV | November 17, 2006 |

Well my little tacos, here we are once again, for one final installment of The TV Whore Fall Sweepstacular (… or is it?). Before getting to the Friday and Saturday roundup, I’ve gotta make one quick aside. I already threw a small update into the Wednesday column, but just in case you missed it, I’ll say it again here:

I totally watch “South Park” on a regular basis and it most assuredly should have been included in “What I’m watching on Wednesdays.” I missed it because it’s the one regular show I watch that I don’t have a Season Pass for. In any event, Matt and Trey have done an absolutely amazing job keeping this little cartoon fresh, timely and on-point, sarcastic and funny as shit. Every episode isn’t a perfect gem, but there’s always something good to say about each and every episode, and that’s not a standard many shows can meet. Plus, I’ll simply never never never get sick of Cartman (his recent adventure into a “Buck Rogers”-esque future as part of his quest for the Nintendo Wii was simply fantastic beyond words). Respect his authoritah, indeed.

OK, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the Friday lineup. Careful readers of my columns can probably guess one of the shows, casual readers of my columns can certainly guess another (hint — see this column’s picture), and those who know my political leanings and my love of HBO can probably guess the third. Here they be:

“Battlestar Galactica” (SciFi, 9 p.m.). I’ve waxed poetic about this before, and there’s not really much to add. It’s second only to “The Wire” as the best show currently hitting our tubes. It’s been relatively rock-solid from the start, and this season has been just as fantastic as the first two (and arguably better than last season insofar as there hasn’t yet been that lag that the early part of “Season 2.5” had). I’m glad that they’ve gotten a little more re-focused on the Earth quest, and I’m hella curious to see how that all plays out. And I absolutely love the darker/danker tone this season has taken, what with the suicide bombings, the Circle, the contemplated genocide and all that. It makes sense as within the context of the show, and gives it a weight that much current sci-fi lacks.

And I’m also relatively pleased with our new insights into Cylon society. I really loved learning about the hybrids that “are” the Cylon basestar ships, and I’m glad that they appear to be establishing some sort of internal logic for why we haven’t seen the other five Cylon models yet. Using Baltar as the fish-out-of-water was an easy way to get us into the ships and let us learn what the deal is, and I’m enjoying his storyline as well (talk about a precarious situation to be in). It should be especially fun to see what happens now that he may have inadvertently created a little love triangle with the Xena-bot.

I could go on all day about “BSG,” but if you already know how good it is, you don’t need me to reinforce the point, and if you still don’t get it, you probably never will.

“Numb3rs” (CBS, 10 p.m.). I’m a nerd, no bones about it. And I’m particularly a math and science nerd, thanks in no small part to my physicist roots (honest to God aside — I once hooked up with a girl after we made a “connection” because we both still knew the friggin’ quadratic formula even though we were both in our mid-20’s at the time). So when I first heard about “Numb3rs,” I was intrigued. Of course, my expectations were kind of low because: (a) it’s hard for a procedural to really impress me these days; and (b) it felt kinda gimmicky — “every crime will be solved by math!” — and I was highly skeptical that they could keep the shtick up. But here we are in the midst of a third-season, and only occasionally does it feel like a real stretch. Sure, you have to accept the conceit that they’re always going to be turning to Charlie and his math at some point, but if you’re willing to buy into that, they do a relatively good job of making it feel as unforced as possible.

That goes to one of the show’s two strong points — it’s writing. These guys have done a great job at keeping the crimes and mysteries interesting, a task probably made easier by the fact that we’re talking about FBI agents, who have a fairly wide scope of potential cases in comparison to a homicide detective or forensics expert. The crimes are rarely obvious, and where they are obvious, it’s usually not annoyingly obvious (i.e., they’re not assuming the viewer is stupid and won’t figure it out — rather, it’s one of those “journey is more important than the destination” stories). There’s a good mix of drama and humor, the former necessarily coming from the crime aspect of the show and the latter often coming up in some connection with the math/science side of things. This balance keeps the show fun, not grueling, which is exactly what I want out of an end-of-the-week drama.

The show’s other strong point is the cast, which is simply great. I’ve loved Rob Morrow from his “Northern Exposure” days, and here he’s managed to flesh out what, on paper, is probably a relatively dry part. Krumholtz is entertaining as our little math nerd, and Peter MacNicol is even better as his quirky pseudo-mentor (physicist in the hizzouse!) — of course, I’ve been a big MacNicol fan since his “Chicago Hope” run and I pretty much always think he’s great (hell, I’ve even mostly forgiven him for his involvement in Ghostbusters II). Same compliments for Judd Hirsch and Diane Farr (who made a great addition last season, even if it was at the expense of her equally good work on “Rescue Me”). The secondary actors are also relatively solid across the board, as are the various guests that show up week-to-week — we’ve even seen a couple “Deadwood” folks of-late, something that always makes me pleased as punch.

I really just don’t have anything bad to say about this show. It’s not the best show on TV, but it’s entertaining and well done, and that’s good enough for me and my geeky shadow.

“Real Time with Bill Maher” (HBO, 11 p.m.). For my own tastes, at least, this is the most intellectually stimulating show out there. Sure, Maher may not be everyone’s cup of tea (although I think he’s generally pretty hilarious). And there’s no doubt that the show leans heavily to the Left. But the politics of the show almost don’t matter — personally, some of the most fascinating parts of the show are when someone I don’t agree with comes on and speaks eloquently and intelligently, in a way that makes me think, “oh, OK — at least I can see where they’re coming from.” I’m not taking about Man Coulter here, mind you, but actual engaging and smart conservatives. And on that point, he usually has a great line-up of guests, both for his panel and for the other interview segments. I usually don’t even mind the celebs that frequent his panel, despite an inherent desire to want to punch celebrities who start pontificating on politics and other things that are above their pay-grade.

Tonight is the finale of the show’s current run, so if you haven’t been watching, you’ll have to wait for a couple of months (they usually come back for a new run every three or four months). And for that new run, I only have one request for Bill: Mr. Maher, please, for the love of all that is holy and funny and right with this world, please do not have Robin Williams on as a guest ever again! My comment about usually not minding the guest celebs most assuredly does not apply to him. He’s a buffoon, and his constant antics are a fucking show-stopper. Worst show of this season was, without question, the episode he was on. Don’t do it to us anymore.

And with that plea, Fridays are done. You know, in light of the complications that come up with some of the other nights, I really love how simple the Fridays are. I can watch every show live (even though I rarely do so — “BSG” usually gets a live viewing, but the other stuff gets shunted into the weekend) and still make it out by midnight for one-to-two hours of bar time. Which is, of course, the perfect way to end a week of television viewing.

But what of Saturday nights, you ask? Silly little tacos, you should know by now that I don’t watch TV on Saturday night. Rather, I don’t watch anything that actually airs on Saturday night (with the possible exception of college football, boxing, or some other sport-type event). If I’m having a night in, I may hit the TiVo or a Netflix disc, but the “live TV” button on my remote generally remains unused.

Saturdays are known as the television dumping ground for a reason.

…and having concluded the viewing week, it would appear that The TV Whore Fall Sweepstacular is done. But appearances are deceiving. Sure, I’ve gone through everything that I watch. But there’s one more order of business to take care of. So check back next week (probably on Tuesday) for the last great installment in this Pulitzer-worthy series. And in the meantime, you can catch up on the earlier columns, and the entertaining comment threads that have sprung up — selmahayekinabra as a new word, anyone?

What I’m watching on Sundays and Mondays.
What I’m watching on Tuesdays.
What I’m watching on Wednesdays.
What I’m watching on Thursdays.


Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. And in case you’re curious, it’s “x equals negative b plus-or-minus the square root of b-squared minus 4-a-c, divided by 2-a.”

What I'm Watching on Fridays and Saturdays

Fall Sweepstacular / The TV Whore
November 17, 2006

TV | November 17, 2006 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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