Category Archives: kath and kim

Best of 2008: Television


Yep, it’s that time of year again, time for everyone and their mother to pick what they thought was the best of the past year. I’m no different, so yes, I’m going to make you suffer through my thoughts. This time, it’s television.

For me the top ten TV series of 2008 were:

“Pushing Daisies” – While canceled, and unlikely to return as anything but reruns or DVD, this was a bright spot for me on the TV schedule. It was thoughtful, innovative and brilliant, and that’s not even going into the unique cinematic or storytelling techniques it used.

“Eli Stone” – Another unique show and cancellation victim. ABC canned both of them after giving them a second chance this season. I guess ABC has not only a bone to pick with fantasy, but also television that makes you think.

“True Blood” – Unique marketing set this HBO series apart from any other vampire series before it even hit the air with the “BloodCopy” viral marketing ploy. This TV adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series is the surprise hit of the year.

“Dexter” – In its third season this Showtime series about a serial killer who hunts other serial killers continues to amaze. Even when it’s weak, it is better than 90% of everything else out ther on the tube.

“ER” – This old favorite, now in its supposedly final season, has bounced back and become its best season in years with guest stars galore and maintaining its balance of believable characters and intense situations. I don’t want it to go.

“The Wire” – And I didn’t want this one to go either, but what’s done is done. I came late to the party here and caught up on DVD, but I have to say that “The Wire” is probably one of the best series that has beeen made for television, period.
“Parking Wars” – This reality series from A&E follows the employees of the dreaded Philadelphia Parking Authority around during their workday. It’s the only reality show of its type that even comes close to the entertainment value of “Cops.”

The bottom five of my top ten are rounded out by Cartoon Network’s “Brave and the Bold” and “Venture Bros.,” the BBC’s fourth season of “Doctor Who,” the still refreshing “Chuck,” and FX’s much-missed and unfortunately canceled “Dirt.”

In the honorable mentions and etcetera department would be “Smallville” and “South Park” as most improved series, and BET’s “Black Panther” and the CW’s “Reaper” as the most looked forward to series in 2009.

On the bad side, boos and hisses for “Heroes” and Everybody Hates Chris” for dying a slow death in 2008, and the worst show I’ve seen this year would, of course, be the American version of “Kath and Kim.”

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Attention Aussies! :-)

Here’s the quote, no, strike that, the entire paragraph from my review of NBC’s “Kath and Kim”:

”Surprisingly this is an American version of one of Australia’s most popular sitcoms. Now, either Australian television viewers have shockingly lower IQs than Americans, or NBC butchered this adaptation. Judging from the few Aussies I know, I would have to go for the second option. Way to go, NBC, now when are you bringing back “Manimal” and “Supertrain?””

Please understand first that this was a review of the absolutely dreadful American version of “Kath and Kim,” and understand second that this was not a comment on the IQs of Australians, but a comment on what idiots the folks at NBC are. And yes, I freely admit I’m more scared of Aussies than I am of bloodsucking network executives, who I think it has been proven, do in fact have smaller IQs than the rest of us. The American “Kath and Kim” would be proof of that I think.

It should be further noted that I have never seen the original, Australian, version of “Kath & Kim,” so I can’t comment on how good (or bad) it is. I believe I only said it was a “popular sitcom” – something I doubt you can fault me on. Honestly I can’t wait to see, and review, the original.

NBC’s Kath and Kim – A Sneak Peek

One of the things that differentiates Universal Studios in Orlando from Walt Disney World is the extraordinary number of folks wanting “just a moment” of one’s time to take a survey, watch a timeshare demonstration or just generally waste one’s time. Sometimes, just sometimes, these things are worth it.

I was grabbed on this most recent trip to Universal to watch a new television program and give my opinion on it. Heh, heh, they don’t know me very well. I had to assure them that I did not work for the media – you know, television, movies, newspapers, etc. I took note that they did not mention any form of online media, especially blogging. Like I said, they don’t know me very well.

It was the kind of thing where, just like on “The Simpsons,” you push a green button when you like what you’re seeing and a red button when you don’t like it. There was also a ‘tune out button’ to push when you reach the point where you would normally change the channel as if you’d had enough or became too bored. The program I watched was the yet-to-be-aired second episode of “Kath and Kim,” the new Molly Shannon sitcom vehicle on NBC. I hit that ‘tune out button’ before the title sequence (which I might add, at only a few seconds was one of the few things about the shows I liked).

Surprisingly this is an American version of one of Australia’s most popular sitcoms. Now, either Australian television viewers have shockingly lower IQs than Americans, or NBC butchered this adaptation. Judging from the few Aussies I know, I would have to go for the second option. Way to go, NBC, now when are you bringing back “Manimal” and “Supertrain?”

The three leads – Shannon, Selma Blair (who is shockingly bad), and John Michael Higgins (do not watch him jog…) – are at best uninteresting and at worst annoying and nerve-grating. I hated this. Shannon has a daughter and is about to marry again. The whole episode virtually revolves around two premises. One is the constant repetitive joke that Shannon’s character is old, and every bad joke and cliché you can think of is thrown into the mix, and none of it is funny. The second plot (and I shudder to even use the word in this circumstance) involves the concept of misunderstanding, a simple-minded one that is as old as sitcom television itself. Woman sees man with other woman and assumes the worst. Come on, this was ancient when “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” did it.

There are elements that are fun, but the problem is they are only background details. I liked some of the hip hop music inserted in places and the drag queens at the end were interesting characters – why not make the show about them? I hated her character, but there was no denying the charisma and presence of the unnamed actress who played Angel. She showed promise. Where’s her sitcom? Unfortunately she was barely in the thing, and the rest of the show was unfixable in my opinion.

I guess I picked the wrong day to do this survey. The next one was on the new “Knight Rider” which was being thoroughly hyped by the survey folks and had changes noted that, to me at least, did not sound promising. Val Kilmer as KITT? I had heard that a previous survey was about “My Own Worst Enemy,” Christian Slater’s take on the Jekyll/Hyde concept had received high marks. I would have liked to have seen that. As for “Kath and Kim,” avoid it at all costs when it premieres October 9th.