Filling the Void: TV in 2008

TVA lot of my favourite television shows weren't seen in 2008. The Sopranos finished up in 2007 while Curb Your Enthusiasm and Flight of the Conchords took the year off. In 2008 I watched less traditional television than ever before, spending more time with documentaries and movies.

I was about to throw down my ten favourite television shows of 2008, but I didn't follow ten shows in 2008. Well, if I count my Sunday night Fox block, we just hit ten.

Here are the ten shows I watched in 2008, in order of preference.

  1. 30 Rock
  2. True Blood
  3. The Office
  4. Family Guy
  5. Dexter
  6. The Simpsons
  7. The Life and Times of Tim
  8. Great Britain USA
  9. American Dad
  10. Californication

I got excited about very little of the above in 2008, but I do want to spend a moment on True Blood. We watched HBO's True Blood "On Demand" and loved it. I'm not really a vampire guy, but this thing sets a sexy tone and keeps you interested throughout the 12 episodes. It also sets up season two nicely, and I'll be back for more.

Canadian Anna Paquin is super good as Sookie Stackhouse and it's created by Alan Ball, the dude who created my favourite television drama of all time. If you subscribe to TMN and get channel 308, do yourself a favour and check out True Blood.

True Blood

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The NewMusic

The NewMusicThe NewMusic first aired on CityTV back in 1979. As I mentioned yesterday, this show has been cancelled.

The NewMusic was smart. I watched this show weekly as a younger man, as it was the only music show that was both cool and smart. MuchMusic is now for the brain dead and pop addicts, but it wasn't always this way. I remember this CityTV show eventually started airing on Much, back when they actually played videos. Remember that?

I'm very sorry to see a show like The NewMusic can't survive in this day and age. I wonder if we're now dumbing everything down to the point it's a cut from Jackass and a one-liner from Larry the Cable Guy. I'm going to miss knowing The NewMusic is out there, covering popular music in a broad social, political and economic context.

Here are some of the big names who hosted The NewMusic.

  • Jeanne Beker (1979 - 1985)
  • J. D. Roberts (1979 - 1985)
  • Daniel Richler (1985 - 1987)
  • Laurie Brown (1985 - 1990)
  • Denise Donlon (1986 - 1993)
  • Jana Lynne White (1990 - 1996)
  • Avi Lewis (1996 - 1999)
  • Byron Wong (1999 - 2000)
  • George Stroumboulopoulos (2000 - 2004)
  • Hannah Sung (2004 - 2006)
  • Hannah Simone (2006 - 2008)

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Doing Away With Moses Znaimer

citytvAt Queen and John Streets, you'll now find Moses Znaimer Way. The CITY-TV founder has been honoured by city hall with a street sign bearing his name.

I find it ironic that they're resurrecting a sign to honour Moses while Rogers dismantles every stitch of ingenuity he brought to CITY-TV. Earlier this month, CTVglobemedia announced cuts that included the demise of The NewMusic, a show that was a legend for its part in launching new bands and the careers of a score of TV hosts and presenters. That's right Toronto music fans, The NewMusic is dead.

The NewMusic joins Ed the Sock, Amber Mac, Silverman Helps and Speakers Corner in the Rogers CITY-TV graveyard.

It's no longer Moses Znaimer's way.

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Californication Does Nirvana and Pearl Jam

musicI call it the show I love to hate. Californication is a David Duchovny series my wife and I watch and it drives me batty. It's so damn contrived and cringe inducing. It's that guy you know who tries so bloody hard to be cool, he's anything but.

We just watched the latest episode and it was surprisingly decent. I'd say it's the most watchable of the 22 eps I've seen. It also included songs from two of my favourite bands of all time: Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

"Heart Shaped Box" played during a flashback scene to the day Kurt's body was discovered and "Nothingman" played during another flashback to later that same week in 1994. It wasn't long ago that tunes from these two bands were off limits for film, television and commercial licensing. That's obviously no longer the case.

The first time I remember hearing a Nirvana song used for such a purpose was a Six Feet Under episode from the last season when “All Apologies” played in a flashback scene in which Nate Fisher talked about Cobain’s death. Now that Courtney has sold out to Primary Wave it seems Nirvana is showing up in video games, television shows and, any day now, a shampoo or jeans commercial.

Here's that awesome scene from Six Feet Under, a series I miss more and more each time I watch Californication.

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Jack White's Coke Ad

tvI never watch non-sports or non-news television before 9pm, but in need of a little break from a project I'm working on I just caught a little of a show called Ad Persuasion airing on IFC.

They opened with a Coke commercial from 2006 that I completely missed. The jingle was composed and sung by Jack White and it's a visual treat.

Here it is in case you missed it too.

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19th Birthday Horseshoes

shamrockSpeaking of the mid to late 90s, one of the television shows I enjoyed at that time was The Drew Carey Show. Although the show aired for nine seasons, there was a dramatic drop-off in quality after the first few years. I think I stopped watching Drew back in '99.

I heard he got the job hosting The Price is Right, but I've never watching television during the day so I've never caught a minute of the Bob Barker-less game show. Then, I was led to the clip below.

It's just some kid on The Price is Right on what happens to be his 19th birthday. He's got horseshoes, and it's fun to watch.

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Toronto One

TVHey, remember Toronto One? I just hit up the archives to throw down something from five years ago when I saw this entry I wrote five years ago tomorrow.

A producer for Toronto Tonight had asked me if I was interested in appearing on their program. The program aired on a new station known as Toronto One and was accessible here in Toronto on channel 15. I declined the invitation, because I didn't think I could pull of appearing as someone who viewed Star Wars as his religion.

Toronto One arrived and left in the blink of an eye. It was sold by Craig Media to CHUM Limited and then to Quebecor Media. It was re-launched as SUN TV during the summer of 2005, thus ending the brief life of Toronto One.

SUN TV's slogan is "Fun to Watch" which I find ironic considering it's home to the crappiest of crappy television and rather painful to watch. Still, Toronto One had good taste in potential panel guests for Toronto Tonight.

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HBO Canada

HBO CanadaI've got a new television station. Channel 302 is now HBO Canada and it's free with TMN.

On the surface this sounds pretty cool. I've been a huge fan of some HBO shows, from Dream On to Larry Sanders through Oz, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. Some of my current favourites are form HBO, including Curb Your Enthusiasm, Flight of the Conchords and The Life and Times of Tim. Yet this news that I finally get HBO (or at least the Canadian version) is pretty underwhelming.

You see, TMN is already airing those current favourites I mentioned, along with Entourage, Big Love and In Treatment. TMN also aired The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, along with all the HBO docs and movies. So this is a good thing, but not nearly as good a thing as it would seem.

Although I do see several hours of Real Time with Bill Maher scheduled today, so I for one welcome our new HBO overlords.

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Warren Zevon on Larry Sanders

tvHave you heard that tune by Kid Rock? The one that borrows from Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama?" Of course you've heard it, who am I trying to kid?

Every time I hear it, I think about how great Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" is and that makes me think about my favourite performance of that song.

It was an episode of The Larry Sanders Show and Zevon was complaining about always having to play "Werewolves of London" on television appearances. Let's just call this a begrudging "Werewolves of London."

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Seeing Things This Halloween

memoryYouTube user Retrontario frequently uploads fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips never fail to bring back a ton of memories for me, so I feature them from time to time.

Back in 1983, there was only one way to celebrate Halloween. You stayed home and watched Seeing Things on CBC.

Seeing Things aired on CBC Television from 1981 to 1987 and starred Louis Del Grande as Louis Ciccone, a newspaper journalist who solves murders with the help of his ability to see postcognitive visions. Del Grande had a pretty good career going, having written for King of Kensington before writing and starring in Seeing Things. Then, he just disappeared.

Now that's scary.

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