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What I Watched Last Night

There are a few adages out there that say you can't go home again, but if you do go there, they have to take you in. That may be true, but if they do take you in, nobody has to be all that happy about it. That's pretty much how things shook out for Nick Garrett, the main character in October Road, a new ABC show that premiered Thursday night. It's a program that really ought to be called What About Nick, since it follows he same sort of roadmap as What About Brian, another contestant in ABC's festival of overcooked feelings and sincerity.

This is exactly why people not affiliated with network TV came up with stuff like BodogFight and Spike TV. Besides, if you paid close enough attention to October Road, you'd know where the writers of My Boys go to pay the bills when they're on hiatus because there aren't too many things in October Road that make a lot of sense, either.

Anyway, 10 years and maybe a few years out of high school ago, Nick (Bryan Greenberg, tripping the "chick TV" alarm by looking suspiciously like Dr. McDreamy of Grey's Anatomy) left his air-guitar playing friends, his girlfriend Hannah (That '70s Show hottie Laura Prepon), and newly-widowed dad (Tom Berenger) in his hometown of Knights Ridge, Massachusetts, to spend six weeks backpacking across Europe. Now, even a moron knows six weeks is nowhere near enough time to take in all the bad toilet paper, bad food, and bad manners in France to make the effort worth it. So, for some reason nobody mentions - except I'd wager it has something to do with blowing most of that time getting to know Amsterdam's hash bars and window girls - he doesn't bother coming home. Instead, he ends up who-knows-when in Manhattan, writes a famous book called Monkey on a Snare Drum that pretty much shits on everyone he knows in his hometown, and develops a raging case of writer's block accompanied by a side dish of existentialist confusion.

Meanwhile back home, Dufresne College invites him to do a one-day seminar - apparently on how to write books that screw people you know, given that the place was named after a literary character named Andy Dufresne who managed to screw a warden he knew in nearby Shawshank really good, too. Thinking a trip home might cure his writer's block because certainly there must be a lot more new people there by now to shit on in a new book, he comes home to find Hannah got pregnant 10 years ago and now lives with the town's oh-so-rich pizza king, and his close cadre of friends have abandoned their dreams of being window installers to shovel mulch as lawn and garden maintainers. As it also happens, another one of those friends hasn't moved off the couch since he started watching all the 9/11 news coverage ("Why should I? . . . I've got TiVo now, and it's dangerous out there."). But the whole bunch of them still get together in Agoraphobic Friend's front room to play air guitar to "The Boys Are Back In Town" with tennis racquets.

See kids? The National Council on Drug Abuse was right: Excessive marijuana use among loser high school friends does too suck the will right out of you.

Needless to say, everyone's pissed off at Nick because the his literary screw job. But the October Road locals aren't pissed off enough to express themselves in perfectly acceptable pissed-off ways - like beating his face in with a brick - because everyone needs a celebrity friend to hang out with, even if he is an asshole. The head-scratching continues when, instead of giving the seminar as he was hired to do, Nick bolts offstage after a bunch of townsfolk show up to the auditorium in some halfhearted Frankenstein-like "kill the monster" mode, except without any rakes or scythes and burning torches. And what happens next in further completely-unbelievable fashion? Nick is offered a teaching job at the school, which is a rather considerable accomplishment for someone who has no formal teaching credentials. Christ, life should be that good for everyone.

Anyway, Nick decides to stay after he drives around the neighborhood and having a lot of 8mm home movie flashbacks of the days he left behind. Hannah's overly-precocious paperboy son Sam (yeah, like we don't know it's Nick's) seals the deal when he breaks glass in case of fire by invoking literary metaphor comparing a sandwich he doesn't want to Nick's need for some Grasshopper-like character-building journey without having to be Chinese and lift a bowl of hot coals with your wrists first.

The unemployed My Boys writers continue their ever-increasing need for blood during the obligatory dude-gathering scene in the local tavern, when they showed off their collection of brand new nonsensical slang terms that, I guess, cover fucking and taking a piss, such as: "creasing," "ducky love," and "I gotta go hang a rat."

Maybe in next week's episode, they'll give us something to replace "you go, girl" too.

But the entire hour wasn't pointless, as I made a small personal TV-watching discovery that I'd like to pass on to anyone with a wife or girlfriend who likes to jabber on during the program instead of waiting for the commercials like the rest of the world: Activate your TV set's closed captioning and hit the mute button. You'll be able to take in everything that's going on while still following every word she's saying.

The only drawback to that, though, is you can no longer use a dislike of subtitles as a reason to avoid foreign films. But even that's not so bad, because an hour and a half with a silent wife or girlfriend and a foreign film will still be better than an hour of her jabbering AND October Road with the sound on.

Just stay away from the French ones. They suck.


Check out the What I Watched Last Night collection.


Posted on March 17, 2007

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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