With two turkeys dominating our thoughts tomorrow — the one on our dinner table and the other playing the Packers at Ford Field — it's time for your idiot box watcher to perform his annual holiday rite of celebrating those things for which he is truly thankful.
I give thanks for:
• My health, because many people don't have theirs;
• A job, because sooo many people don't have theirs;
• The Metro Times, which continues to pay me money to sit on my keister and watch television (actually, I give thanks for this every year, but wouldn't you?);
• A family who made the decision this fall to dump Comcast in favor of AT&T U-Verse, which is like movin' on up from Melvindale to Metamora. Better channel selection, better on-screen program guide, better picture quality — just better. My wife realizes I have lost my mind indefinitely to the remote with the 900-plus channel options, but I promise to return to my senses once the novelty wears off.
As far as Thanksgiving blessings actually derived from the tube, how about:
"Let It Rip": Now this segment, on FOX2 News Edge, is what TV discussions used to be like before we got all PC. Sleeves-rolled-up, no-holds-barred, whooping, hollering, in-your-face arguing, with anchor Huel Perkins filling the role as gently prodding moderator. Somewhere, Lou Gordon is grinning.
Fringe: Frequently horrifying special effects, a flawlessly constructed mad scientist (John Noble), FBI investigations that often turn into father-son family dynamics. For network TV, Fringe is about as good as sci-fi gets.
Adorable dorks: Is it just me, or are Pauley Perrette (Abby on NCIS) and Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Spencer Reid in Criminal Minds) two of the hottest little creatures in prime time? When these series finally run their course, maybe they can spin off into a Big Bang Theory-type sitcom.
Charles Pugh: If he can be as exceptional a pistol-packin' City Council president as he was a street reporter and weekend anchor for FOX2, the future of our great city should be in good hands. If not, remember Gil Hill, Martha Reeves and the words of Alexis de Tocqueville: We get the government we deserve.
Shaun Robinson: The glamorous Detroit native and Access Hollywood host (and, in the spirit of full disclosure, my first cousin) became a first-time author this year with a self-empowerment book for girls, Exactly as I Am: Celebrated Women Share Candid Advice With Today's Girls on What It Takes to Believe in Yourself. Just how proud can you be of one relative, anyway?
Hoarders: Luridly fascinating viewing on A&E. And you thought your roommate was a pig.
Southland Rising Again: Now this is rich. Southland, the ultra-gritty L.A. police drama NBC canceled just before its second-season return this fall because it claimed the show was too dark (what, NBC bigdomes never saw The Wire?), has been picked up by TNT. The latest creation from producer John Wells (The West Wing, ER), Southland will get the royal treatment from TNT, airing the seven episodes NBC ran last season and the six new episodes the network ordered but chose not to broadcast. Word is TNT plans to pad the episodes with never-before-seen additional footage. TNT probably will air Southland alongside its original drama Dark Blue (hey, we know that's dark!) and, in a final affront, opposite The Jay Leno Show. NBC proves once again that it couldn't find a hit in a baseball stadium.
Billy Mays: This generation's ultimate blowhard TV pitchman, who died in June, is still hawking all manner of products in late-night infomercials, which to me is beyond creepy. May we all continue to have such value and effectiveness from beyond the grave.
Matt Millen: I'm extremely thankful Millen has returned to a profession he actually knows how to do, football color analyst, although I wish I didn't have to see him seemingly every time I turn on a game. I'm still trying to figure out how the shittiest general manager in NFL history, who never even bothered to live here while setting the Lions back at least 10 years, still holds any credibility as a football "expert," but as you can tell, I harbor no bitterness.
Monk: After eight seasons of mind-twisting mysteries — and that great Randy Newman theme song — the Defective Detective neatly enters television history with the show's final original episodes this month. But Adrian Monk surely will live forever in reruns, a fitting tribute for one of the genuinely good guys in the TV business, Tony Shalhoub.
Reruns of Law & Order, Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit: Between NBC, USA, Bravo, Sleuth, TNT et al., the sun never sets on an episode of Law & Order or one of its descendents. The bittersweet thing is, even in this 900-channel universe, a Dick Wolf production is often the best thing on TV.Jim McFarlin is a media critic for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org