1 - Late Night with David Letterman vs. 9 - 120 Minutes
4 - Monday Night Football vs. 12 - The Real World / Road Rules Challenge
Dave is up 6-0 over 120 Minutes and will move on to the next round. For my younger readers out there, there was a time when MTV (short for music television) actually played music videos and there was certainly a time when it had the pulse on the music of the culture. Music culturally has been stripped and divided into chunks of mediocrity with any brilliance obscured these days but back then, even when Debbie Gibson or Motley Crue (and yes, I consider the musical "talents" of both artists the same) were lighting up the music channel during the day, during late night (starting only on Sunday nights at midnight but I think at some point expanding throughout the week) MTV was actually playing brilliant "underground" music (mostly British new wave bands that had limited success here) and I was listening. But yeah. Dave will move on. In the other matchup we have a symbol of the downslide of MTV and our culture into a reality-obsessed nation clamoring for short-lived fame by rewarding steroid-addled alcoholics for exposing their bodies and mood changes for our entertainment. And we have football. Actually both are kind of similar. And as I'm writing this, I realize I've forgotten to include Hard Knocks among the potential great shows in history -- it definitely should have made the play-in at least, if only for the scene in which Antonio Cromartie is trying to name his children. But the point I'm trying to make, if there is any point to make, is that the Challenge is pretty close to the worst of our culture. And 120 Minutes was a brief shining light of good. So even though I will be watching with baited anticipation whether Johnny will literally freeze his Bananas off in the final challenge tomorrow night against psychopath CT (and equally nutso Diem), I can't move it forward. Although I still don't think sports should be in this category. Oh well, too late now.
Winners: 1 - Late Night with David Letterman vs. 4 - Monday Night Football (vote below)
3 - Saturday Night Live v. 6 - Survivor
SNL is up 6-0 on Survivor and will move forward. I was too young to experience the brilliance of the first seasons of SNL (Ackroyd and Belushi and Chase, briefly, and Bill Murray and Gilda and Jane Curtain), but even though I was very young, I still remember my dad letting me watch the Eddie Murphy SNL seasons -- Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood still resonates in my memories. And I was absolutely addicted during my teenage years -- the Billy Crystal/Martin Short season and the Dana Carvey / Phil Hartman / Jon Lovitz / Mike Myers unrestrained brilliance that dominated the late '80s. That class was followed by the subversive and ultimately wonderful Adam Sandler / Chris Farley / David Spade / Dennis Miller / Kevin Nealon years that were on when I was in college. And then I lost interest and I think the remaining years of the decade weren't very good when Will Ferrell / Cheri Oteri and their cheerleaders sketch seem to be the only thing I can remember (and not in a good way). Oddly, though, even as I stopped watching regularly, I have become a huge fan of the projects of recent alumni Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (Parks & Rec!) and Tracey Morgan. So I kind of think I missed some great episodes in the past decade, although whenever I watched I was always underwhelmed. The current cast is actually really strong and I love their other projects as well (Jason Sudeikas and Bill Heder and Kristen Wiig have all been brilliant elsewhere) but I'm still not a regular viewer. Still, it will move forward. And the recent Maya Rudolph guest hosting episode had a couple of the best segments I've seen in years. The other matchup is the death match between Jon Stewart's show and the spinoff that follows it on Comedy Central - The Colbert Report. I think LegFuJohnson made a good point when comparing the two -- if the guest is "bad" on Stewart's show, say some author of a book that doesn't interest you, since Stewart plays it "straight", the interview segment can be unfunny and not worth watching, while Colbert always plums humor from his interviews, regardless of the quality of his interviewee (and admittedly he gets way less "A list" guests than Stewart). In that way, Colbert's interview segment is better than Stewart's. On the other hand if Stewart gets a great comic foil -- like when Stephen Merchant was on recently and they spent the whole interview talking about their height difference, in hilarious fashion -- he actually shines brighter. So we could almost call that a push. The opening segment on both shows is typically strong, with The Daily Show often more political but The Colbert Report oddly more poignant in its attacks on Republican / Fox News insanity when Stephen sticks to his hard right "character" and speaks with a straight face exactly what these fucktards in politics and on Fox News actually believe. So again, it's almost a push. But while The Colbert Report has shined in its "outside the studio" pieces often featured in the second segment (including the brilliant "Better Know A Congressmen" series), Stephen is the star of all of these so he doesn't do them all that often. The Daily Show has correspondents doing these pieces and that's where Colbert got his start (and Steve Carell and Ed Helms and Rob Riggle and Mo Rocca and countless other comedians and comic actors). It's almost an SNL-like cast of stars, currently populated by the hilarious John Oliver (his 2-part piece on the US withholding funding for UN aid to poor countries was as brilliant as it was sad), and in that way, it does hold an edge over Colbert. Slight but an edge. Plus, I guess it is true that The Daily Show has run a hell of a lot longer. So it moves on.
Winners: 2 - The Daily Show vs. 3 - Saturday Night Live (vote below)