Friday, November 04, 2005

Second chances

"Second Chance" was the name of an awful late '80s sitcom starring Kiel Martin as yet another dead guy too good for Hell and too bad for Heaven. To tip the scales one way or another, he gets sent back in time to try to influence his teenage self -- played by a young Matthew Perry during his show-killer years -- into being a better person. Like I said, awful, and things got even worse when Fox decided to ditch Martin and the whole time travel gimmick, focus on Perry and his imitation Fonzie pal and redub the show "Boys Will Be Boys." For me, the sad thing isn't that I remember this much about "Second Chance." It's that I remember it so well that I could recognize that "Boys Will Be Boys" took place in the weeks leading up to the events of "Second Chance," meaning that if the revamped show had lasted more than a few episodes, the writers would have had to bring back Martin or do some fancy tap-dancing. Why do I know this? Why did I recognize it at the time and why do I still remember it now? Why is my brain so cluttered with this level of TV minutiae? Why, as I point out in today's All TV column, was I actually able to spot plot logic discrepancies between "Category 6" and "Category 7"? But while we're on the subject of second chances, I gave a couple of Thursday shows one last shot last night, and I think I'm glad I did. Though a rerun of the "Apprentice" four-way firing didn't do much for me, I decided to check out the follow-up, if only to see the reaction of the contestants when nobody came back to the suite. Turned out to be one of the most entertaining episodes I've seen since the first season, with a good mix of genuinely competent contestants (Randal and Marshawn seem like the favorites to me) and people who are crazy but not repellent (Markus is gone, but Clay shows promise to me as someone whose demise will make me laugh). All that, and Trump at his socially retarded worst, asking if Clay was gay 57 different ways, harassing Adam about whether he was a virgin, and then heartily endorsing the concept of sex to him. He was about a heartbeat away from asking Carolyn to initiate Adam into the ways of love. Good times. I'll give it another few weeks at least. "The O.C." was a tough show for me to give up on, seeing as how I wrote an entire book about it and all, but the season had been just awful in the first few weeks, so when I had a VCR/TiVo conflict the night of the last episode before the baseball playoffs, I shrugged and decided to skip it. I didn't have that conflict last night, so I figured I'd give it one last shot, and it was a marginal improvement. For one thing, the evil Dean is on his way out. (And was I the only one waiting for him to answer his phone and hear Homer Simpson telling him, "Hello, Dean? You're a stupid-head!"?) For another, while Taylor Townshend is as big of a cartoon as the Dean, she's at least giving Summer something funny to do other than break up with Seth again. The show's still completely burnt-out and not what it was in the first season, but if I could ride out "NYPD Blue" for 11 years, around half of which were lame, I can probably stick with "O.C." for the one or two years until the show ends. Good "Survivor" last night, too. I knew Jamie wasn't going, because I can think of only one example in the series history where the editing was this blatant about a surprise boot that actually happened (Rupert on Pearl Islands). We've seen people get cocky about a numbers advantage in the past, but never at Jamie's obnoxious in-your-face level. My only hope is that Rafe and/or Cindy didn't pull the trigger yet because they can do the math and know that the time to pull this off is one or two Tribal Councils down the line. Because if any of Jamie, Judd or Stephenie wins, I'm going to be really mad I toughed it out. One disappointment: nothing on the Hogeboom/Hawkins blatant lie front this week. Where was Gary explaining that he learned how to carry stuff on his head from being a landscaper? Or that landscaping showed him how to gather firewood? Something? Anything? Frankly, I think "I'm a landscaper" should become the defacto lie for every reality show. Take last night's "Apprentice," where we could have seen something like this: Trump: Adam, is it true you've never had sex? Are you, in fact, a virgin? Adam: No, sir, I'm a landscaper. Am I right? Am I? Is this thing on?

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