'Tis the season! Oh sure, it's all bright and shiny at first, but right now all you really want to do is zone out, right? Since there isn't much to see on network TV (reruns, low-rent reality shows, crap) the best way to accomplish this is by surfing through cable and taking in one of the many marathons the cable networks have concocted for post-Christmas viewing. This is not a new programming strategy, but it seems to have blossomed this year. Here are a few of the notable marathons to coddle your inner slug.
For day slugs: A countdown of the 100 Greatest TV Characters runs in hourlong installments from 1 to 4pm on Friday, Dec. 28, on Bravo.
The Food Network will air back-to-back, hourlong Chefographys of their most popular chefs. The inimitable Paula Deen is featured first, followed by grill boy Bobby Flay, cake doctor Sandra Lee, and the network's loudest host after Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray. "What, no Emeril?" you ask. Well, it seems Emeril is on his way out. He recently finished taping his last episode, and a new contract has not been signed. No hard feelings, it seems. Just time to move on. The Food Network Chefographys start at 1pm on Saturday, Dec. 29.
I don't understand the appeal of Myth-Busters on Discovery, but viewers seem to love it. Catch the "best of" episodes of the series on Monday, Dec. 31, from 9am to 2am.
For night slugs: HBO runs an Entourage marathon starting at 6pm on New Year's Eve. An hourlong break occurs at 11pm to air Cathouse: The Musical. For the uninitiated, the Cathouse series takes viewers inside the Moonlite Bunnie Ranch for an insider look at what happens in a legal brothel (it's located outside Vegas, baby). Anything goes at the Bunnie Ranch, so what else is left to do but break into song and dance? Forbidden Broadway director Fred Barton whips the girls (so to speak) into shape. Then it's back to Entourage into the wee hours of the morning.
Starz spin-off network RetroPlex, which features films from the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies, features a Pink Panther marathon on Dec. 30. First up is The Pink Panther at 11pm, followed by A Shot in the Dark, The Return of the Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau, Trail of the Pink Panther, and Revenge of the Pink Panther. If you didn't laugh hard enough the first time, you can watch the marathon again starting at 9:45am on Dec. 31. Check local listings for specific airtimes.
For laughs with a saw-toothed edge, tune in to this stand-up comedy block on Showtime on (you guessed it) New Year's Eve. First up, Mo'Nique: I Coulda Been Your Cellmate at 10pm. The queen of sass takes her act to a women's prison and lives to tell about it – or maybe it's the other way around. Following Mo'Nique is Paul Mooney: Jesus Is Black – So Was Cleopatra – Know Your History. The "cruel and unusual" Doug Stanhope: No Refunds follows. Next up is Joe Rogan: Live. Closing the evening is Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip. Just when you thought it was over, you might stick around for When Stand Up Stood Out. The award-winning documentary feature covers what is known as the "Boston Gold Rush," when a league of hard-edged social commentators and comedians hit the Beantown scene in the late 1970s. Denis Leary, Steven Wright, Colin Quinn, Janeane Garofalo, and others are featured. Check local listings.
On the local front, ME Television will announce the winners of the first annual ME Television Viewer's Choice Awards on New Year's Eve at 9am and 9pm (during Tex-Mix!). Categories include Best Austin Video, Best ME Live!, and Best Studio Performance. More than 200,000 viewers voted online for the winners. Nominees include Girl in a Coma, Joe Ely with Reckless Kelly, Jumbo, Gary Clark Jr., and many others. ME Television airs on cable Channel 15.
Mark Your Calendar
The fifth and final season of The Wire premieres Sunday, Jan. 6, at 8pm on HBO. The final 10 episodes will reflect on the "media's role in addressing – or failing to address – the fundamental political, economic, and social realities depicted over the course of the series."
WGA Strike Update
Soon after the last "TV Eye" went to press, the Writers Guild of America announced it would not offer waivers for writers to participate in the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards (the latter scheduled for February). This is widely considered a blow, as the award shows are considered "the Switzerland of the industry." The WGA did grant a waiver to the Independent Spirit Awards, to be hosted (and co-written) by guild member Rainn Wilson (The Office). As for the effort by Worldwide Pants to broker a waiver to allow writers to go back to work on the Late Show With David Letterman and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, no news at press time.
As always, stay tuned.