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What I Watched Last Night

When I was a kid, Mystery Date was a board game popular with the neighborhood girls. The object, if I recall, was to see whether you wound up with The Dreamboat or The Dud when you opened the white door. Monday night, Lifetime Television brought something like this to television with Gay, Straight or Taken?

Nobody has ever told anyone at Lifetime that women have already been playing this game for ages in drinking establishments throughout the industrialized world, so now we've got this show. As we might imagine, they aren't any better at guesstimating who might be gay, straight or taken on television than they are in real life.

The premise of the show is simple: Find a reasonably good-looking woman, sit her down in front of three guys from a Brawny Paper Towel audition, and have her choose the one that floats her boat enough to accompany this complete stranger on an undisclosed vacation of some sort for an undisclosed duration at some undisclosed location. At least the hair on the back of your neck didn't stand on end for the bachelorettes on The Dating Game because Jim Lange always laid out the chaperoned itinerary.

But what's a reality show without the element of surprise? Here, the unsuspecting women are ambushed with a cell phone call that one of the Brawny guys is gay and one's already involved with a woman, leaving them to figure out which Brawny guy will eventually never call her again. Not only that - wheeee!!!! - she gets ambushed again when those calls are made by the girlfriend and boyfriend of the spoken-for Brawny guys, who inform her that if she picks their man for her own, they get her trip.

In the first episode, cutie Nashville nanny Kara meets Robert, Ryan, and Nick. They're no help at all because nobody's conforming to stereotypes like wearing rings, lisping, or dressed like anyone in The Village People, and they're all making ambiguous statements that gay and attached guys alike could make, such as liking children and being engaged once. Everyone knows men are lying bastards anyway, so Kara must resort to the state-of-the-art Gay Attached Manly Single Guy Detection System developed specifically for Lifetime by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: a ballet lesson, making ceramics, target-shooting blindfolded with a crossbow, and line-dancing.

How the show's developers neglected more accurate tests, such as dressing in the dark, choosing to decorate a room with or without neon beer signs, and cooking a meal that doesn't involve a can opener is beyond me.

When all this fails to give Kara a clear idea, the final Double Secret Detection Weapon is unveiled: inspect the contents of their travel shaving bags. Naturally, she's confused by the notion that for some of us, Jewel bags aren't luggage, we're completely aware that skin moisturizer and shower gel can help keep us from turning into dried-up hags, and a good manicure set helps keep our toenails and fish-scaler foot calluses from turning someone's $200 investment in a set of Egyptian cotton bedsheets into shredded rags.

In the end, Kara picked Robert to enjoy her vacation in the company of his rather unremarkable-looking girlfriend.

Since Lifetime is clever enough to sense a theme to its programming, both episodes of Gay, Straight or Taken? were followed by Shall We Dance, a Richard Gere/Jennifer Lopez film that has gay and straight men in it, too.

*

We observe something on Monday night's E-Vets: Things Pets Swallow on Animal Planet: Pets are stupid. The people who own them are stupider. Which is the only way dogs are able to practice their jobs as sword swallowers in the circus act with foot-long sticks.

The emergency room vets at the Alameda East animal hospital are as befuddled as anyone else over what possesses dogs, ferrets, rabbits, and even iguanas to eat inanimate objects like treble hooks still tied to a strand of monofilament, zinc coins, an entire bottle of Motrin, big erasers, nails, Christmas ornaments, and padlocks. My girlfriend is one of the befuddled, too:

Me: There was a dog that ate a couple of those big round river rocks people use for landscaping.
Her: What kind of asshole dog does that?

Interesting vet trivia: 1) Pigs ears are scary, and 2) rabbits can scare themselves to death.

*

Is there any Samuel L. Jackson movie in which he doesn't play angry, yelling black guy? Last night, he was angry, yelling black alcoholic guy with no credit and no family on the FX Network in Changing Lanes. Later, Michael Keaton was on WE TV as a laid-off Detroit car engineer forced to become Mr. Mom when his homemaker wife goes to work for an ad agency. Left to his own devices, he explores the fascinating world of soap operas, coupon poker, personal grooming, and Ann Jillian.

For more What I Watched Last Night.



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Posted on January 16, 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.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Don't Let Your Pet OD.


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