tv reviews

I enjoyed writing my first television review a few weeks back so much that I have decided to do it again, this time with a show I like. My Boys is a summer show on TBS that centers around P.J. (Jordana Spiro), a fun, funny and attractive 30ish girl-next-door/tomboy who works as a sports journalist in Chicago. P.J. has one ‘girly’ friend, Steph (Kellee Stewart) who is into fashion and make up and men and is essentially a satiric, yet loving send up to the Sex and the City gals (last season My Boys had an episode that lampooned the whole Sex and the City gang, and it was quite funny regardless of your feelings about Sex and the City). The rest of P.J. friends are guys (Kyle Howard, Reid Scott, Michael Bunin, Jamie Kaler, and Jim Gaffigan). Guys’ guys. Well, kind of. As a guy who likes sports and beer and poker (these are the basic events–yes ‘beer’ is an event–that most My Boys episodes are centered around), but is also into a few other things, I am self-aware enough to know how nerdy, silly and fun it is to spend so much time on these pastimes. My Boys is clever enough to understand this and its male characters are all alternately nerdy, silly and fun, while pretending and failing to be macho. These types of characters on other sitcoms have only one trait: that they are insanely stupid (and not in the smart, Homer Simpson way). These idiots all have gorgeous wives who are way too good for them, but love them anyway. I hate this. Moving on.

Nothing big happens on My Boys. In fact, it is a pretty classic sitcom, in that it is a bunch of friends who have jobs, but don’t work much during the show, hang out a lot at a central location (on My Boys it is either the local bar or around the poker table at P.J.’s house), deal with love/relationship issues and have those mini, semi-mundane daily adventures that we all have. Obviously, these very same ideas have been dealt with countless times with great success (my generation always looks to Friends and Seinfeld for sitcom comparisons and these comparisons are certainly apt with My Boys), but it is a testament to the writing of Betsy Thomas and to the comedic/improvisational talents of the actors (there a few stand up comics in the cast, most notably Jim Gaffigan) that make My Boys seem somehow fresh and likable. I promise you will actually find that you care what happens to these fictional characters, and that is a pretty rare find in sitcoms these days.

my score…75



I have never written about a tv show before, but last night changed all of that with the premiere of the new CBS show, Swingtown.

There is a lot of crap on television. The networks have very little to offer (Lost and 30 Rock are two notable exceptions–and ok. I admit it. I love CSI. I know, I know. I can’t help it. But only the original. That Miami one is laughably bad and I have never stayed awake past the opening credits for the NY one.). Cable actually has some decent shows (The Closer, Madmen, Monk, Psych, Top Chef, Weeds, My Boys (new season starts June 12!)), but the seasons are short and sporadic. Given the slim pickings, and my love of lazing about on the couch at night, I am always on the lookout for new shows that will allow me to continue to not move. It is for this reason that I gave Swingtown a shot.

Swingtown, perhaps the title tells you this, is about a neighborhood somewhere in 1970’s suburbia filled with swinging couples; that’s right: partner swapping; that’s right: fireworks, blow and a basement orgy room. The show ostensibly follows two couples: one just moves to the neighborhood and has never heard of this crazy swinging (they were high school sweethearts and had kids right away, so they missed the decade of the 60s; oh and they only moved from a few blocks away–where swinging does not exist.), the other is the collective yoda of swinging; plenty of platitudes about how having sex with others has made their marriage stronger. The second couple seduces the first couple and here we go. There are some other elements to this show, involving kids and old friends, but really who cares. What is important is that all interactions in this show, whether involving the kids or adults, is about sex. Oh, and a bunch of camera shots of stereotypical things from the 70s, like $64,000 Pyramid, stupid clothes, and stupid hairstyles. It is very important that the viewer knows it is the 1970s. I am pretty sure that in the next episode an afro and an eight-track player will have an intellectually stimulating conversation about the Watergate scandal…and then have sex.

I don’t know if you have gathered this yet from my review, but I did not like Swingtown. In fact, it is one of the most insanely and inanely stupid things that has ever existed. And it is not because it is about swinging. There can probably be a decent show with swinging at its core (look at Big Love and polygamy), but this is not it. No, it is because the direction is awful and the cinematography is awful and the acting is awful, though it would be hard for the acting to be any good when…they have to spout the most ludicrously abhorrent writing ever put to paper. The wife and I could not watch more than five minutes of Swingtown without cracking up and changing the channel (we had to give ourselves breaks, so we could make it through. Even when something is laughably bad, it is still really irritating to watch.). What more can I say: Awful. I have never applied my movie rating system to tv, but I will give it a shot…

My score…6.*

* The 6 points that get Swingtown above a 0, come from a wonderful scene when a 12 year old girl kicks the everloving shit out of a twelve year old boy because he had told friends that they had almost had…wait for it…sex. And the way this girl gave delivered her vitriolic speech after the ass-whopping was priceless. It was like the best of Training Day, The Sopranos and Fight Club all wrapped up in braces and pigtails.