I asked him what he considered a "guy" show. Turned out it was a lot of Saturday afternoon programming on KLRU: Robot Wars, Home Time, Computer Chronicles, and Motorweek. With the exception of Monday Night Football, we shared many of the same tastes. It wasn't exactly a détente between Venus and Mars; it was, rather, with all respect to my reader, a common leaning toward things geeky.
Yes, I have a fondness -- a weakness, even -- for Geek TV. I'm not sure I qualify as a bona fide geek. (Though I recently installed software on my laptop, which gave me an enormous thrill.) But the conversation got me thinking about shows I've never talked about because I was (unconsciously) keeping my geek/dork side closeted. But I've decided to free my inner geek/dork. Here are some of my geek/dork picks:
Robot Wars (PBS) and BattleBots (Comedy Central): Similar premise, two different shows. Teams construct homemade robots, the sole purpose of which is to destroy other homemade robots. The atmosphere is like a live-action video game -- lights, smoke, fireworks, and high tech music blare in the background. The action itself is a cross between a demolition derby, all-star wrestling, and a caffeinated science fair. The bottom line: The shows satisfy the geeky desire to figure out how to make something from nothing, followed by the adolescent thrill of blowing something up. There is no physical violence between contestants. It's bot against bot. Geeky, cool fun. Robot Wars airs Saturday, 5pm, on PBS. BattleBots airs at 9pm on Comedy Central.
The Lone Gunmen (Fox): This show isn't doing well ratings-wise, and it had some mighty big shoes to fill in The X-Files time slot (it moved to its regular Friday slot last week). The reviews have been mixed, and I disagree with remarks that describe it as a dismal failure. The bottom line: I like the high tech espionage toys. Where can I get one of those devices that look like a retainer and change the timbre of your voice when you speak? Then there are those cool facemasks that characters rip off, just like they did on old episodes of Mission: Impossible. And what's up with Zuleikha Robinson, who plays the mysterious Yves Adele Harlow? Is she working for good or for evil? Well, that's part of the fun, now, isn't it? And Stephen Snedden as the consummate dumb blond (Jimmy Bond -- get it?) can be laugh-out-loud funny. The show teeters toward embarrassment when it veers too close to body humor. It clicks when it isn't trying so hard to be funny. Last week's episode prologue, in which Snedden's Bond explained in a voiceover the importance of heroes, while mangling historical facts ("It's like when China bombed Pearl Harbor ...") was a hoot. Like Freaks and Geeks, Lone Gunmen features a palette of unlikely leading characters that are refreshingly doofy and unconventionally appealing. That, plus I like the gadgets. Check out The Lone Gunmen on Fridays, 9pm, on Fox.
Good Eats (Food Network): If there was ever a cooking show with a high geek factor, this is it. Host Alton Brown not only explains how to cook certain meals, he goes into details about the science of food, the physics of cool culinary gadgets, and the chemistry of how foods like cheese are processed. He's a film buff, too, and this comes out in episode titles like "Silence of the Leg o' Lamb" (set to air Saturday) or "Fry Hard" (an episode about all things deep-fat fried). The use of pop cultural and film references are sometimes clever, mostly dopey, but always entertaining. Good Eats usually airs on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Check local listings for air times.
In case you haven't heard, the 73rd Annual Academy Awards Show is this Sunday, March 25, 7pm, on ABC, hosted by Steve Martin.
Your Oscar Ballot
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Best DirectorStephen Daldry, Billy Elliot
Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Steven Soderbergh, Erin Brockovich
Steven Soderbergh, Traffic
Ridley Scott, Gladiator
Best ActorJavier Bardem, Before Night Falls
Russell Crowe, Gladiator
Tom Hanks, Cast Away
Ed Harris, Pollock
Geoffrey Rush, Quills
Best ActressJoan Allen, The Contender
Juliette Binoche, Chocolat
Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream
Laura Linney, You Can Count on Me
Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich
Best Supporting ActorJeff Bridges, The Contender
Willem Dafoe, Shadow of a Vampire
Benicio Del Toro, Traffic
Albert Finney, Erin Brockovich
Joaquin Phoenix, Gladiator
Best Supporting ActressJudi Dench, Chocolat
Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock
Kate Hudson, Almost Famous
Frances McDormand, Almost Famous
Julie Waters, Billy Elliot
Best Screenplay (Adapted)Robert Nelson Jacobs, Chocolat
Wan Hui Ling, James Schamus, and Tsai Kuo Jung, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Stephan Gaghan, Traffic
Steve Kloves, Wonder Boys
Best Screenplay (Original)Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous
Lee Hall, Billy Elliot
Susannah Grant, Erin Brockovich
David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson, Gladiator
Kenneth Lonergan, You Can Count on Me
Best Foreign FilmAmores Perros (Mexico)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Taiwan)
Divided We Fall (Czech Republic)
Everybody Famous! (Belgium)
The Taste of Others (France)
A complete list of nominees can be found at www.oscar.com/nominees/nominees_home.html.
And there's still time to enter the Chronicle Oscar Contest: www.austinchronicle.com/oscars/.
E-mail Belinda Acosta at firstname.lastname@example.org