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Cathode Rays of Hope

Ten things TV viewers can be thankful for.

by Mark D. Johnson
November 22, 2002

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Cathode Rays of Hope_Mark D. Johnson-Ten things TV viewers can be thankful for. It may not exactly be in the spirit of Thanksgiving to be thankful for things so trivial as the following television tidbits, but it’s as good a time as any to offer this list in no particular order…

“Futurama” Returns
Fox almost opted not to renew this animated sci-fi comedy from “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening. Fortunately, they at least picked up a half-season, though in its 7:30 Sunday time slot, it often gets pre-empted by football. If you’ve missed out on this clever series, you’ll at least get to tune in to reruns this January when it joins the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming.

“Trigger Happy TV”
Mondays, 10:00/9:00c on Comedy Central
This British import features creator/host Dom Joly pulling surreal pranks on an unsuspecting public. It’s a hidden camera show in the tradition of Candid Camera with a Monty Python element of the absurd. The pace is refreshingly quick: each segment is short, usually lasting less than a minute – no lengthy set-up or repetition of the same stunt with different victims. It’s in a much smarter class than Candid Camera and NBC’s pathetic “SpyTV.”

“24”: the second season
Tuesdays, 9/8c on Fox
I had concerns about plausibility since it concerns another long day for Jack Bauer and Co., but Season Two is off to a great, thrilling (and chilling) start. Still the best show on television.

“Amazing Race” Renewed for Fourth Installment
Wednesdays, 9/8c on CBS
The most exciting reality show on TV gets a fourth run next year. It’s future was in doubt after being walloped in the ratings this fall going against tough competition (“West Wing” and “The Bachelor.” It’s not too late to go along for the ride on “Amazing Race 3.”

New Challenges on “Survivor: Thailand”
Recent editions of the Number One reality hit, “Survivor,” have been plagued by the repetitive nature of the luxury and immunity competitions. This time around, they’ve finally come up with some new ideas. Why couldn’t they do this before?

Wednesdays and Fridays
Fans of professional basketball can catch more NBA games this season, with ESPN’s bi-weekly double-header.

“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”
Monday – Thursday, 11/10c on Comedy Central
Stewart clearly has fun doing this show, a finely tuned mix of news reporting parody, satirical commentary, and celebrity interviews. It is hands down the funniest and freshest late-night comedy show on TV.

“Firefly” Gets Extended
Fridays, 8/7c on Fox
I’ve praised this innovative sci-fi series twice before, yet the ratings are still in the sewer. Fox has very cautiously ordered two more episodes – not a full season yet – but it’s better than cancellation.

“Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” Ranks Third in its Time Slot
CBS put this shameless grab for ratings up against “The Bachelor” finale and “The West Wing” only to finish behind them. You might conclude that sex doesn’t always sell, but then “The Bachelor” finished first with strong numbers, and though it's not as gratuitous, it's still a sex appeal-driven show. Viewers, for a change, opted for the less sleazy offerings. The volume of complaints prompted a prominent FCC commissioner to advise an agency review of the definition of indecency.

“girls club” Cancelled After Two Episodes
The ever-prolific David E. Kelley needed a very jolting wake-up call. The viewing public wisely chose not to watch yet another law show from Kelley with a ridiculous premise. Did he get the message? Will his next show be set in the real world? It remains to be seen.

To be sure, this list is far from complete – there are dozens of praiseworthy television goings-on – but for now, the list stops here. Happy Thanksgiving!

Note: Program Notes will not appear next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

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