Last Night's TV, Tonight's Schedule
In a rare upset, I thought the second hour of last night's Fox animation block was much funnier than the first. The Simpsons had some good laughs (with a nice callback wrapping things up: "Is that a real thing?" "No!"), but ultimately disappointing, with yet another job for Homer, and yet another woman trying to seduce Homer, but failing because he really loves Marge. And Bobby episodes of King of the Hill are usually lackluster, and this was no exception. Even the B story, with Dale trying to collect quotes from the gang, was weak.
Family Guy had its usual collection of great sight gags (like Peter's Donald Duck costume), but also a solid story, about Brian's reluctance to commit to, and ultimate loss of, his longtime girlfriend Jillian (played by Drew Barrymore). I also loved the revival of Brian's long-discussed novel (which Lois mocks mercilessly, and hilariously). When Family Guy has more continuity and a more believable and grounded plot than The Simpsons, things are going in a strange direction. Also nice: H. Jon Benjamin, veteran voice actor of Squigglevision animation such as Dr. Katz and Home Movies, as the convenience store clerk who bonds with Chris over cheesy movies.
American Dad was surprisingly strong right from the opening newspaper gag: "Al Gore honors Carlos Mencia for recycling jokes." I loved the conceit that all of the Smith family's vacations have been faked by Stan, by plugging everyone into the goo-filled virtual reality machines while he and Klaus the fish watch some Hoyas basketball. The repeated returns to the goo were hilarious, as was Francine's scream as she leaps off the cruise ship, "I'm in the GOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Goo is funny. Roger the alien works better when he's playing against the family rather than going out on his own, but I did enjoy bits of his Tootsie-turned-cruise-ship-singer-turned-stripper subplot (as when he gets a nickel tip down his g-string -- "Cold cold cold!"). I know it's not for everyone, but I like this show more often than not, and last night's was one of the best.
I flipped over to catch a few seconds of Desperate Housewives during commercials, to try to catch glimpses of Dana Delany. And oh my, she is still so damn lovely. But mostly I kept running into Felicity Huffman and her cancer storyline. Was her removal of the wig, revealing her sickness to the other neighbors, also the first time it was revealed to the audience? Good shock, if it was. And also, a nice echo of Marcia Cross' legendary wig removal from Melrose Place.
Tonight's TV presents a bit of a scheduling dilemma: CBS's How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory, NBC's Chuck, and The CW's Everybody Hates Chris (which I'd like to catch for creator/narrator Chris Rock's first onscreen appearance) and the debut of Aliens in America, are all on at 8:00. I can only watch one hour and tape one hour, leaving the third one out. Fortunately, research reveals Chuck will be repeated on Bravo, of all places, Sunday afternoon, so I can skip it tonight. Tape CBS, watch The CW. Problem solved!
I also plan on tuning into Two and a Half Men (which, as I keep saying, I've given up on) for the guest appearance of Janeane Garofalo. Which means I'll be taping Heroes, and then watching Journeyman at 10:00. Good night for TV!