2005-02-14 12:25 PM

The Winter of Our Limited Attention Span

January and early February are hibernation time, even in warmish climates. Starting right after Christmas, I turn into a slug and don't start perking up again until the newspapers start running their spring training previews. ("Is Geritol the Answer for the Giants' Outfield?" I'm not making that headline up, which makes it even funnier.)

So I've spent most of my down time in the past several weeks reading intellectually undemanding magazines ("The magazine about SHOPPING!" "Oscar Preview!" "Healthy foods that MAKE YOU FAT!" "Brad And Jen: Their Final Days!") and rotting my brain out in front of the tube. Book reviews? You'll have to wait until March or April for that. But TV reviews? I gotcher TV reviews right here. Here are the shows that have been keeping the tiny hamster in my winter brain from falling asleep completely on her wheel:

Long Way Round. This one we had TiVo'd and just caught up on. Ewan MacGregor and his actor friend you've never heard of decide to ride around the world on motorcycles. Everyone tells them they're stupid to try this, and everyone gets cheerfully ignored. Hilarity (and broken-down bikes, sunburn and testicle stew) ensues.

Iron Chef America: The Series. TheBoy saw a couple of the Iron Chef America: The Specials and thought they were kind of lame. ("Especially the one with Shatner," he says.) But when I heard that Alton Brown was involved in the series, I had to TiVo it because I loves me some AB, and the show did not disappoint. They've really nailed the Americanization of this show, from the sports-style commentary to the intense wankery over ingredients, technique, and most especially, hardware.
When they rhetorically asked how Chef Tsai would create the perfect Peking Duck in one hour when it normally takes at least 12, and Tsai busted out an air compressor to get the right separation between the meat and the fat/skin layer so the skin would be extra crispy? I not only squeed, but I actually wriggled in delight. It's that geeky. It's that good.

Project Runway. (This show is almost over, but they're rerunning the whole series this week.) A competitive reality show that's based on actual talent rather than who can game the system best. (Well, mostly; watch and you'll see what I mean.) There's still plenty of drama without the dippy Survivor-style strategizing and theatrics -- after all, we are talking about fashion people here -- but it comes out of the personalities and the situation rather than, say, massive quantites of alcohol provided by the producers, or deceptive editing, or pneumatic bras. (I'm looking at you, Fleiss. ) It's refreshing to watch. Finale's next week, so go catch up.

All of the above are entertaining and just about as deep as need be when your attention span is like that of a gnat. Watch and enjoy.


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