By Margaret Moser
That "Max for Me" do-it-yourself schedule I played with for last week's
column really got me hooked on the notion of customized TV schedules available on
the Internet. The best one I have found yet is TV Guide's: http://www.tvguide.com/
. It is very tedious to assemble your own viewing guide but ultimately very rewarding.
(It also does not include ACAC or AM15 but it does include Austin's
local independents carried by the Time Warner Cable system, KVC and KNVA.)
Once set up, the individual shows in the grid can be clicked on for specific
episode information, just in case you need to know if the Friday 2am TBS showing
of Leave It to Beaver is the one where he gets stuck in the billboard
You still have to sort through the listings but it does pay off to have a schedule
that leaves out those stations you don't care about (that would be ESPN and
FNN for me). What you end up with is a cyber-version of a grid much like the
Statesman's "Show World," which is a sensibly designed format, albeit
in minuscule print.
Looking at these customized grids is also an exercise in seriously self-indulgent
viewing. I can't imagine having children and having time to sort through all this
information. On the other hand, discriminating parents may find that this sort of
guidance allows them to monitor what shows their children watch better than those
infernal rating codes plastered on the screen.
Here's a cockeyed look at various shows that turned up on my TV Guide grid
- Fri, Jun 20: Politically Incorrect (ABC, 11:05pm). Some
of the bite of host Bill Maher's humor has been diluted since the show jumped
from Comedy Central to network TV, but he can smirk with the best of his guests.
My all-time favorite show was last November's post-election show when rapper Chuck
D. and former Governor Ann Richards looked like they might end up as running
mates. Tonight, Jon Secada, MTV's Chris Hardwick, Wendy Wasserstein,
and comic Jonathan Katz are the scheduled guests.
Sat, Jun 21: Xena: Warrior Princess (KNVA, 1pm; WGN, 3pm). Not just
a surprise success in syndication, Xena has grown in leaps and bounds as one of the
best role models for girls on television. Lucy Lawless is tough and sassy
in the title role but plucky Renee O'Connor as Gabrielle gives the show a
keen comic edge as another solid female role model. These will be different episodes
on each station. (Two notes of interest: 1) Renee O'Connor's mother Sandra is married
to Threadgill's Eddie Wilson and 2) the Kelley Deal 6000 band did a great video salute
to Xena in the song "How About Hero?" which was a winner in this
year's SXSW Film video division.)
Renee O'Connor - Texas girl does good! O'Connor plays Xena sidekick Gabrielle
and has her own cult following.
- Sun, Jun 22: Daria (MTV, 8pm) The Nineties animation trend continues
(even HBO is getting into the act with Spawn). Although FOX's
The Simpsons get credit for reviving this form, MTV gets the points,
having launched Beavis and Butt-head and Aeon Flux, and
swiping Ren & Stimpy from NICK. Originally a side character
on Beavis and Butt-head, MTV gave smart-girl Daria her own delightfully cheeky
series. This week, she accompanies Quinn to the plastic surgeon, who instead regards
Daria as the blank canvas. Bet it keeps you in stitches, yuk yuk.
- Mon, Jun 23: Travelers (DISC, 4pm): One of my beloved birds-and-bees
channels travels to Cajun Country this week for an episode of Travelers titled
"Festivals Acadiens: Lafayette, Lousiana." Although the focus of the show
is scattered -- rare is the effort to distinguish Cajun music from zydeco -- the
exuberant look at cooking, dancing, and other festivities of the annual event is
as infectious as the music itself. While they're there, Travelers also ventures
into the swamp and goes eye-to-eye with them alligators.
- Tue, Jun 24: The Mary Tyler Moore Show (NICK, 10:30pm); M*A*S*H
(KTBC, 11:05pm): Sometimes the best television is the old stuff. Few shows genuinely
hold up into syndication (witness the gaseous Saved By The Bell) but
both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and M*A*S*H broke brave
new ground and retain that edge today. Tonight, Mary (Mary Tyler Moore) confides
a big secret to Murray (Gavin Macleod): Lou (Ed Asner) has slept with
Sue Ann (Betty White), while the 4077th (the original cast with Alan Alda,
Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, and Loretta Switt) think a cease-fire
- Wed, Jun 25: Pacific Palisades (FOX, 8pm): You didn't think you'd
get through this column without at least one reference to a trashy fave, did you?
What's notable (and it may be the only thing notable) is that FOX is smart to use
the summer re-run doldrums to establish this steamy new Spelling melodrama. Of all
the prime-time network shows this week, this is the only one that's not a repeat.
I also use the summer to catch up with other shows I like but am too busy to watch
during the regular season but for sheer escapism. This week's potboiling synopsis
has that hottie plastic surgeon (Dylan Neal) in a lather over having to operate
on Frank's wife; Jessica (Jocelyn Seagrave) returns to work at the firm while
trying to avoid married ex-lover Robert (Greg Evigan), whose wife Kate (Finola
Hughes) attempts to gussy up herself to keep his attention.
- Thu, Jun 26: Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World (HBO, 7pm). This
unusually moving hour-long tribute to tennis player Arthur Ashe was first
broadcast in 1994, and neatly avoids the treacly sentiment that often sticks to such
after-the-fact shows. Narrated by Ossie Davis, Ashe's life is detailed lovingly
and humanely, following him from his childhood through his fervent and un-self-conscious
dedication to international civil right and humanitarian causes, his success as one
of the first great black tennis players, and the dignity in which he faced his death
from AIDS in 1993 at age 50. The grace with which this particular show was put together
is remarkable, not only for its subject matter but the way in which it balances the
often-alarmist nature of the subject of death by AIDS with the story of a man whose
memory in death is as powerful as his lifetime achievement. With all the attention
heaped on pathetic celebrities like O.J.Simpson, it's truly refreshing to see a man
like Arthur Ashe -- so worthy of being honored -- get the attention he deserves,
even in death.