Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Good Week for Television, the Worst Week for Pants

Only two weeks into the official new season, and TV has already gone right into the toilet -- literally.

On Sunday's installment of AMC's Mad Men (titled "Six Month Leave"), Joel Murray's Freddy Rumsen, known to like to take more than just a little nip during office hours, got a little "relaxed" and made a puddle in his pants. The 1962 solution to having an alcoholic running one of your crucial accounts? Offer him six months off, paid, to dry out. I found it fascinating that, whereas those deviating from the "ideals" of race and sexuality apparently deserve no respect in the Camelot Era, Peggy and Don both make it quite clear that Freddy's problem is no laughing matter.

Not to be outdone, on the very same night that Freddy was letting loose on Madison Avenue, an unlucky Louisiana cop met the same fate on HBO's True Blood. In an episode entitled "Escape From Dragon House," the offending officer stops Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Bill (Stephen Moyer) on their drive back from vampire bar Fangtasia in Shreveport, only to end up being "glamored" by Bill into surrendering his gun. Then, as our fave mixed living/undead couple drives off for home, we see just how badly Bill has quite literally scared the piss out of him.

And then there's the matter of True Blood's Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten), Sookie's nymphomaniacal brother. After nervously downing an entire vial of "V Juice" -- aka vampire blood -- rather than the recommended two drops, Jason develops a painful penile priapism that puts pressure on his poor pants.

And lastly, there's CBS' Worst Week. As much as I loved the pilot of this show -- and want to continue to support it as a new network comedy -- I was dismayed to see the moment in this clip, from the show's second episode, "The Bird." When Sam (Kyle Bornheimer) manages to recapture his soon-to-be father-in-law's beloved pet finch (after already having accidentally killed its mate), he doesn't do the logical thing, and make himself out to be a hero. Instead, he hides the poor creature in his pants pocket, only to have it mistaken for a bulging boner when he encounters his sis-in-law-to-be in mid breast-feed. And then, going for the laugh, Worst Week has Sam smack down the bird in his pocket, killing the poor thing.

I found it so hard to watch, if it hadn't been for my partner Frank shooing me away so he could watch Fox's Fringe in the next room, I would have given up on Worst Week right there. But since I adore the show's cast and think its writing is mostly clever, I will give Worst Week a third try next week. Just remember, CBS -- there's nothing funny about animal cruelty.

Desecration of one's pants, however -- now that's a totally different story.

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