film good 88.
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We've seen the future, and it's worrisome. Just back from a recent trip to the Old County, we can tell you that what looms on your television horizon (assuming that whatever's on in the US will eventually come this way) isn't pretty.
Some late-night channel surfing revealed some important truths about our staunchest ally. First, Americans are completely focused on one thing: hair, either totally removing it or doing whatever they can to replace it.
This was borne out by every infomercial screened at 2 a.m., all offering to either make viewers completely smooth or newly hirsute. Hair today, gone tomorrow, or vice versa.
The other obsession currently sweeping the US, and which has already begun to take over local airwaves, is poker. Poker is played by everyone - celebrities, non-celebrities, people with funny hats. In the morning, in the afternoon, 24-hour-a-day poker.
Then there are the "new" shows premiering this summer or fall: more American Idol clones that promise to take viewers "backstage," and various takes on "talent show" programs like Master of Champions, featuring amazingly skilled folks who can, for example, shoot arrows upside down or play jump rope with old automobiles.
Buddy shows are big too, usually featuring folks with unusual powers and wise-cracking assistants or friends.
So unless we can figure out some way of putting up a huge bad show-catching fence to block out all this silliness, you can expect to see it showing up here. And in case you're wondering, American movie channels are no great shakes, either.
Back home, we noticed with satisfaction that our local channels are beginning to screen new seasons of programs within mere months of their premieres in the US. So it is that new seasons of both the superb Rescue Me and the less superb Mind of the Married Man will be coming to Xtra Hot.
While we've trumpeted the gritty Rescue Me - still in the midst of its second season in the US - here before, those who haven't already latched onto the show should do so immediately.
As for HBO's Mind of the Married Man (Thursday at 10:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 p.m.) - like Rescue Me, strictly a "guy show" - a second season isn't necessarily good news. We missed the first season of this show about three married men in Chicago - a kind of married guy's version of Sex and the City - but caught some of the second and came away with mixed feelings.
The opening credits were wonderful, especially the song about a man who still loves his wife that plays along with black and white clips of, among other things, a man walking with his wife turning his head to watch a bikini-clad girl go by.
In fact, that's basically the premise of the show: married men struggle with the fact that their brains still function in Neanderthal mode. For columnist Mickey Barnes (series creator Mike Binder), that means having had a fling with a Korean "massage therapist" which he still flashes back on whenever his wife Joanna gets on his nerves.
Poor Mickey can't catch a break from Joanna, even when he really is trying to help get their son into the Peter Pan Pre-School two years ahead of time. And he is trying to change, to become the "New Mickey," even adopting "The Three-Second Rule," whereby one is allowed to ogle an attractive woman for three seconds; longer and it becomes lechery. Walking down the street, Mickey and his mates Doug and Jake put the rule to the test after spying a cute woman, with the screen flashing way past 3, to 21, 22... "Turn away at 4 when a woman is a 10?! That's bad math," says Doug.
The show also shows the protagonists doing what they'd really like to do in some situations, rather than what they're forced to do in order to avoid appearing like total cavemen.
Mickey's regular gig on a Chicago talk show has just gone down the tubes, and he wonders whether he and Joanna are on the same wavelength. But just when things are looking down, a "smile" appears on the horizon: a Web site featuring a woman doing bizarre things with kitchen appliances who turns out to be none other than the stuffy head of Peter Pan! Thinking that his wife (who's been complaining about her) will be delighted to know what the prissy schoolmarm does in her off hours, Mickey shares the site with her - earning him her scorn for ever having gone there in the first place.
Yes, married men just can't win in this series, but neither can viewers. The split-screen technique employed by the show may have been big in 2001, when the program premiered, but it's old hat now. And the laughs just aren't really there, except for isolated moments.
So while we gear up for the new season, keep following Rescue Me as your "guy show" and give Mind of the Married Man a pass.
And remember: Just because something is "Made in the USA" doesn't guarantee it's golden.