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What I Watched Last Night

I had a crummy day Monday, so I grab a seat at the end of the bar at the Home Plate Pub in Hessville. That's where I find ABC ordering me somewhat rudely to ponder What About Brian since there's no question mark in there asking me politely. I haven't seen the show, so I do wonder: What about Brian? Did he fall down a mine shaft? Does he overcome adversity and teach others deeply meaningful lessons about their own lives despite having some sort of handicap that would defeat a lesser fellow? Does he save others from certain death through heroic surgeries or stunning lifeguardsmanship? Does he sell insurance? What?

An hour later, I still don't know what about Brian. Nor do I care. Brian's a self-absorbed ninny. So are his friends.

Erica the bartender tries to explain the show's appeal and how addicting it can become, but I'm not buying it because, well, how good do your entertainment choices get when you're stuck tending bar on the slowest night of the week? It's not that my crummy day fogged my impression of this show, or that I have anything against chick TV that's naturally stuck in the gravitational pull of shitty, problematic relationships. Nay, I love a fine heartwarming tale; I just don't like walking away with a raging case of diabetes from it.

Basically, this show is a version of thirtysomething if it had been written by Dan Fogelberg. For me or anyone else who got suckered into this show Monday, it felt like an hour-long 1980s Lowenbrau commercial that had guys bonding in very sensitive ways because "the night is kind of special" and your beer ought to be, too. And to show how wonderfully everyone was bonding and celebrating each other's company on Monday, the writers re-created the sugary dancing-in-the-kitchen scene from The Big Chill that everyone and his brother was stealing 20 years ago too, except this time using some 1980s-era song.

But Brian drives a really cherry Chevrolet Corvair convertible, so I imagine Ralph Nader is gnashing his teeth all over again.

Monday's episode was all about relationship strife and decision-making. The first decision someone made was to gather everyone together for a Big Decision Weekend in a big ostentatious log cabin that looked like something Abe Lincoln might have built if he were Donald Trump and liked lots of glass. The show's writers set the episode in late autumn because it's much easier to make decisions when you're decked out like a Timberland meets L.L. Bean winter catalog. And boy, were there ever potentially globe-stopping decisions to be made. Brian has strife because he can't decide whether to move in with his girlfriend, so he brings her along so the tribe of established women can treat her as the interloper in all sorts of petty, snippy little ways. Bored Married With Little Kids Couple have strife because she's pestering him to make a decision right today whether to have surgery to deal with some sort of dangerous ailment. Interracial Couple have strife because he can't decide whether to assert himself as a dog person or bend to her wishes that he be a cat person instead. Newly Married Couple have strife because he can't make a decision whether to go back to his old girlfriend, but they soon become Newly Separated Couple after the girlfriend shows up at the cabin.

Other than that, the guys spend a lot of time fishing and talking, but the only thing they do with all their jibberjabber is scare away the fish, leaving everyone's dilemmas to get solved when all the women admit that they love each others' earrings.

Rosanna Arquette has a regular role on the show, but she didn't have any big decisions to make in Monday's episode, so she wasn't on.

*

Speaking of shallow and self-absorbed, Brian was followed by Channel 7 burning through a bunch of its newscast allotment with a hard-hitting piece by Ron Magers over the best Chicago-style hot dogs and pizza in Miami.

Naturally, every member of the Eyewitless News team who did score a junket to Miami to demonstrate how far the puff envelope can be stretched looked very pleased to be there instead of freezing live on some dark expressway overpass with Storm Watch coverage of that quarter-inch of snow falling here in Chicago. If any one of the left-behinds at Channel 7 deserved a sympathy vote in the wake of Monday night's irrelevance festival in Miami, it was Jerry Taft. You just knew he was standing there in front of the weather map thinking, "What the fuck - like there's no goddamn weather in Miami????"

Tonight at 10: Ron expenses lunch and dinner with a piece on a restaurant that serves Eli's Cheesecake.

*

Previously, in What I Watched Last Night.



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Posted on January 30, 2007


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


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