Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Scrubbing Up

Tonight, NBC's brilliant comedy Scrubs returns, and it's ready to fill the void about to be left by the departing Arrested Development in three ways:

1. By simply filling the quality comedy crater that's about to be created by Arrested's cancellation. With watchable sitcoms in the low single digits, it's nice to see that a few bright spots are still being nurtured by their networks, despite middling-or-lower ratings.

2. By employing Jason Bateman, late of Arrested, as a guest star. While not exactly a wholesale solution, it will at least provide a swab of bacitracin to we Arrested fan's scabby wounds.

3. Back to back episodes, week to week. After being MIA for the season thus far, and with the Olympics hogging major sweeps airtime, NBC can run two episodes of Scrubs each week for the forseeable future, while avoiding plugging in turdicious fare like "special encores of Joey!"

Welcome back, Scrubs. The masses may not fully appreciate you, but we true TV Geeks do.

Now if you'll pardon me, I need to go practice my "Finger or Toe" skills. They're a little rusty from the layoff.

After Watching Clark, I Feel Like a Dick

So Mrs. Geek and I couldn't take our eyes off of the train wreck that was New Year's Rockin' Eve 2006 the other night.

We know Dick Clark is a shrewd businessman. Everybody knows he owns New Year's Eve, not genera-hosts Ryan Seacrest or Hillary Duff (is that really what passes for pop music nowadays?) so who the hell could blame him for giving it a go? And above all, he figured his return to television after over a year of stroked-out seclusion would likely bring ABC a huge ratings reward, regardless of what kind of shape he was in (incidentally, that shape would be defined in the Geek household as "just not good at all").

So when Mr. Clark appeared on screen, never in closeup and with sad, slurry speech, we were taken aback. Sure, the press had been preparing us for the fact that this wouldn't be your father's Dick Clark. But we hardly expected it to be a Dick Clark more resembling a marble-mouthed great grandfather.

Sure, he looked reasonably good (from the extremely fast, wide shots the cameras gave us) but he was extremely hard to understand. We wondered aloud who wrote the overly complicated narrative that the rehabilitating Clark stumbled upon time and again. We cringed when he muffed the countdown at the end- though, working in television, we both knew it was just as likely a technical gaffe- it didn't make Clark seem any more like the ageless Dick we were used to.

The Washington Post reported that some viewers saw his return as "courageous." Others thought it was "morbid." Clark himself admitted he was in "bad shape" when he first had his stroke, and said he wasn't "perfect" for the New Year's show.

Uh... yeah.

Look, don't get us wrong- it's great to see his rehab has been successful. We're thrilled to see he's OK after what's been reported as a pretty big stroke. Our point is, he's wasn't OK enough to anchor what is supposed to be the happiest TV show of the year- a show that brings hope to all, especially those who want to wash the crusted on crud of 2005 off for the promise of a shiny, clean new year.

Instead of hope, with all due respect- he friggin' bummed us right the hell out, dude. It's sad to see a beloved figure age so quickly, so suddenly. And even though it's only a TV show, one so disposable, so forgettable, it hardly matters, it really seemed to set a disappointing tone for the new year. Maybe he should've sat it out, and left us with our memories of the old Dick, one who could effortlessly describe the moronic Times Square scrum and scum.

Alas, it seems that man is no longer. And that's upsetting.

Of course, anyone we tried to share our admittedly harsh feelings with informed us they thought it was simply great to see Mr. Clark back, and that we were being... well, you know... insensitive jerks. One friend even went as far as to call me a heartless dick.

And maybe I am. But I calls 'em likes I see them here at, and will continue to do so in 2006. So, hammer away, my ball-dropping buddies.

But there was one thing we all agreed on: at least we got to see him maul his wife on camera one last time. That was hott.

A Lifetime of Hurt, Thanks to Dish Network

Dish Network is starting the New Year with a bang- but less programming featuring banged-up women.

The first skirmish of 2006 has taken place, as the satellite service has dropped the Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network channels from its service due to a squabble over rights fees. Now, those twelve million viewers will be without such edgy, highbrow fare as original-only-as-a-technicality TV movie For the Love of a Child and ludicrous drama series Missing.

Oh, the humanity!

EchoStar, Dish Network's parent company, cries that Lifetime had requested an "exorbitant" 76 percent rate hike. Lifetime boo-hoos that it had offered to extend the existing contract through the holidays, but Dish smacked down the offer like an abusive, child support skipping ex-husband featured in a New Movie Monday of your choice.

Dish Network has a history of having an itchy trigger finger when it comes to these negotiations... in fact, a similar skirmish with CBS back in 2004 caused them to temporarily lose all of the Eye-related networks (Nickelodeon, VH-1, MTV, etc)- and to lose me as a subscriber. Well, that, and the fact they wanted to charge me about $400 for an HD receiver (which "received" about 4 HD channels, I might add). But for the purposes of this conversation, it was the CBS thing. Really.

I'm sure the legions of loyal Lifetimers will be howling over this. But it least it gives women a taste of what we sports fans (at least those of us in the NYC metro area) contend with every time one of these regional sports channels are due for a new deal. Blackouts cause much tooth-gnashing among the rank and file among the largely male sports fan populace. Hey, ladies: now it's your turn. Let's see how you like living without Valerie Bertinelli movies for awhile.