August 28, 2013


Syrian President and all-around ass hole Bashar al-Assad.


When I hear terms like “surgical strike” applied to the utter shit-storm that is Syria, I cringe. Aside from the fact that the United States doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to speedy exit strategies, the complexity of what’s going on in Syria makes Iraq and Afghanistan look like the PONG of war zones by comparison. My foreign policy strategy with regard to Syria is this: STAY OUT.

I fully agree that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is an evil butcher who cares about one thing: maintaining power. He doesn’t give a hoot what the rest of the world thinks and he has even less regard for human life. It should come as no surprise that he would lob chemical weapons at his own people. The man is a megalomaniacal loon. Trying to apply our standards of human decency, honor and reason to his actions is a lost cause.

I also agree that there is a major humanitarian crisis specific to the refugees who have been fleeing Syria en masse. THAT is where the United States should be fully engaged with personnel and resources. How about shifting some of that aid from an ungrateful Egypt and using it to help Syria’s neighbors? You know, the ones who have been sheltering the tired, poor and huddled masses. With one bold, strategic move we could remind Egypt of the largesse of the United States and do it in a way that could easily be spun as non-punitive and humanitarian.

Republicans love to talk a big game about the need for people here to start taking care of themselves. Why not apply the same Conservative principles to Syrian refugees and reward their actions accordingly? These people are perfect examples of amazing personal responsibility: they left everything behind and fled for their lives. They got off their butts and got the hell out. They (and the countries that have accepted them) are in dire need of assistance. The type of assistance that the United States could provide at a fraction of the cost of any military action inside Syria. Hey, that also means saving money. The GOP should be all over that too, right?

Nope! Instead we have the party establishment, conservative pundits and old geezer Republicans like John McCain and Lindsay Graham getting all moist for some good, ol’ fashioned bombing (and, to be fair, more than a few big ticket Democrats are right there stroking along side them). Never mind that most Americans want to stay as far away from this conflict as possible;  war hawks have had more than a year of priapism with regard to Syria and it looks like they’re about to get the full release they’ve been craving. You can almost picture little Johnnie banging his wanker with utter abandon right now. These guys never met a war they didn’t love…until they have to pay for it or take responsibility for the messy aftermath.

As a Lebanese-American, I have more than a little mistrust for the key players on both sides of the war raging in Syria. Sure, Assad is a bad guy but at least he is the enemy we know. The rebels are largely Muslim extremists who themselves are a fractured morass of tribes and loosely organized militia units. If you think deposing Assad is the second to last stop on the “Free Syria” express, I have one word for you: Iran.

Whenever we stick our nose into other people’s conflicts, we tend to get burned. We have no talent for nation-building but, since the end of WW2, have become experts at arming insurgents who later turn those weapons against us. Time and again we go all cock of the walk in foreign hell holes and time and again we end up with another Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan or Osama bin Laden. Our success in Grenada notwithstanding, we spend a hell of a lot of blood and treasure that gets us little more than another massive kick to our star spangled groin.

 Syria has all the red flags of another U.S. boondoggle. I suspect we’ll ignore the warning signs like we always do. I hope I’m wrong…on all counts.

CLICK HERE for an excellent overview of the Syrian crisis from McClatchy.


The 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington D.C.  CLICK to visit the website for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change.


Embedded below you will find the entire six page “I Have A Dream…” speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Click on any individual page below to enlarge the image. It will automatically open in a new browser tab or window.
CLICK HERE to access an archival PDF of the complete text of the speech. You will be able to view the document in an online PDF viewer as well as download a version for offline viewing.
CLICK HERE to visit the website for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change.
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August 23, 2013


CLICK image to enlarge, download or share. Please include attribution.
In words and actions Russia has proven itself undeserving and unworthy of hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. CLICK HERE to get a horrifying glimpse of what life is like for LGBT citizens trying to do something most of us take for granted: the act of going about their everyday lives. What is going on in Russia is an insult to all decent humans and an affront to the spirit of The Games.

In addition to the video I link to above, here is a particularly good segment from the 8/22/13 episode of ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES. He sits down with Russian journalist Masha Gessen for an incredibly powerful conversation about what life is like for the LGBT community in Russia today.


August 22, 2013


CLICK to visit the LOCK-ON archive on RONTHINK.


BIOSHOCK fans rejoice! The game you know and love is back and back big time. BIOSHOCK INFINITE is a winner. Even better, it’s now it’s available at a reduced price. See “Editor’s Note” below for more info.

BIOSHOCK is one of the greatest first person shooters of all time. BIOSHOCK 2 had a big shoes to fill and wasn’t as great as the original. Still, the sequel avoided the dreaded sophomore slump of most game franchises by delivering a satisfying experience. BIOSHOCK INFINITE takes everything that was great about the original and multiplies it by a 1000!

CLICK to visit the official BIOSHOCK INFINITE site.

The third chapter in the BIOSHOCK saga is set in 1912 in Columbia, a floating city launched by the US government to promote “American values.” The city was soon turned into a twisted religious utopia by it's founder Zachary Comstock after he claimed he received a prophecy about the future and began referring to himself as "The Prophet". You play as Booker Dewitt, a private investigator from New York City with a checkered past. He is transported to the floating city with one mission:  "Bring us the girl, Wipe away the debt."

CLICK to visit the official BIOSHOCK INFINITE site.

The girl in question is Elizabeth. She also happens to be Comstock’s daughter. He refers to her as "The Lamb" and has kept her captive in the city for most of her life. Comstock claims she is the savior of the city and, by confining her to it, he will keep her safe from a “false shepherd” who wants to kidnap her and bring about the downfall of Columbia. Elizabeth has the ability to open tears in reality, each of which lead to an alternate universe. This “super power” becomes a crucial factor in the game play.

CLICK to visit the official BIOSHOCK INFINITE site.

After rescuing Elizabeth from her prison, Booker intends to return her to New York City. Of course, things don't go as planned and the pair soon find themselves in the midst of a civil war for control of the city. To avoid any major spoilers, this is as much of the story as I’m willing to give away. Unlike the protagonist from the first game, Booker has a voice. His conversations with Elizabeth reveal more snippets of back story as you play the game.

The city of Columbia is the real star here. Unlike the dark and dreary underwater city of Rapture from the first two games, Columbia is an expansive, multi-level metropolis that is a joy to behold and explore. It's upper levels are a colorful “steam punk meets Main Street USA” confection, complete with bright marquees on shops and barber shop quartets. The lower levels range from a factory to a shantytown.

CLICK to visit the official BIOSHOCK INFINITE site.

I spent my first hour or so with the game just exploring the city; watching the citizens go about their lives and listening to their conversations. It is during this exploration phase that you soon realize Columbia is anything but a utopia.

Statues of the Founding Fathers litter the city. Here they are worshipped as saints and referred to as "Father Washington, Father Franklin,” etc. There is also a healthy dose of racial segregation and prejudice hanging in the air but it is crucial to the story and is not handled in an offensive way.

CLICK to visit the official BIOSHOCK INFINITE site.

BIOSHOCK fans will be able to jump right in and have no problem with the combat. It remains unchanged from the original. Plasmids are replaced by Vigors but function in essentially the same way (tonics you drink that give you special powers). There are more weapons to chose from in this game, everything from pistols to machine guns, but it’s all pretty standard stuff. The vending machines from the original game are also back. You can use them to buy ammo, health kits etc. They’ve used the same sound effects and voices for the machines from the original game, a nice touch.

The one addition(and its a great one) is the skyhook. You use it to connect to the skyline, a roller coaster-like track that connects sections of the city to one another. You can also use the skyhook as a melee weapon, breaking people's necks with ease and, in some instances, decapitating them. Still, it’s all done without being overly gory. New players will find the combat easy to learn and a lot of fun.

CLICK to visit the official BIOSHOCK INFINITE site.

Elizabeth is essentially your AI sidekick throughout the game, opening tears in reality and pulling in ammo, med kits and cover for you to use during combat. You'll find all of this essential as the battles in this game are fierce! Even playing on medium difficulty, I found myself close to death quite often and in need of her help. An even bigger plus: Elizabeth can take care of herself. There is never the added burden of having to make sure she stays alive while you beat back the next enemy. The interactions between Booker and Elizabeth are a great addition to the game and there is a pretty big twist at the end that I didn't see coming.

CLICK to visit the official BIOSHOCK INFINITE site.

If you loved the original BIOSHOCK, you won’t be disappointed with BIOSHOCK INFINITE. If you’re new to to the franchise, I have no doubt you’ll find this game a blast to play. Even better, the first two installments cover a separate story so there’s no need to play them first. Give BIOSHOCK INFINITE a spin and let me know what you think!

CLICK HERE for the Machinima-exclusive “Beast of America” BIOSHOCK INFINITE trailer.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The price of BIOSHOCK INFINITE has been reduced drastically since it was first released in March at a $59.99 price point. It is currently available used for under $30 and new for under $40 on both Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms. The price of a new version of the game has fluctuated quite a bit on Amazon in the past week. It’s been as low as $29.99 and might be worth tracking on a Wish List for a few days before you buy if you want to save a few extra bucks. Click icons below to order.

CLICK to order BIOSHOCK INFINITE for Xbox 360 from Amazon. CLICK to order BIOSHOCK INFINITE for PS3 from Amazon

August 21, 2013


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Spider and web shot with a Nikon D40X. Original color image was de-saturated and re-rendered in black and white using a combination of GIMP and PAINT.NET.


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A beach rose in full bloom just after pollination by a bee. This image was originally shot in color using a Nikon D40X. The image was then fully de-saturated and re-rendered in black and white using a combination of GIMP and PAINT.NET. The black and white image was not digitally tinted. To get the effect seen above, the original color image was laid on top of the black and white rendering in GIMP. The two photo layers were then digitally combined with the color image set at 0.75 opacity.

August 16, 2013


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A late summer hibiscus flower in full bloom shot using a Nikon D40X. The original color image was de-saturated using GIMP. Photograph by Ron Hebshie.

August 15, 2013



No, Rick Perry did not make the list. Top 5, maybe, but not Top 3. He’s just too easy a target and much less of a current threat than these three nut jobs. Forget about their party affiliation. I’m convinced they’re on an entirely different planet than the rest of us. Of course, they each hold an elected office so a majority of the people who turned out to vote supported their oddball platforms. That means they’re not the only inmates running the Lone Star Asylum.

Senator Ted Cruz: Proof that ignorance and an Ivy League education are not mutually exclusive.


Forget about the fact that he looks like a mash-up of Sean Hannity and one of those sad sacks you find trolling Christian Mingle looking for a Jesus lady. Ted Cruz is a Tea Party crack-pot masquerading as a guy with all of his faculties intact. He is certainly proof that just because you have an Ivy League education doesn’t mean you will legislate intelligently, rationally or coherently. Like most on the extreme Right these days, the Tedster loves to hear himself talk. His favorite three words are: “Obamacare,” “Obamacare,” and “Obamacare” (with a brief break for “Benghazi,” “Benghazi,” “Benghazi” back when that was the faux scandal of the moment for the GOP). He’s an immigrant (from Canada) who shows little real interest in fixing our broken immigration system. He’s half Cuban but you’d never know it…until he can use it to raise a buck or advance his political career. The Newtown massacre did nothing to lessen his hard-on for a semi-automatic and he is equally turned on by DOMA. What has Cruz accomplished since he hit the Senate this year? Other than blowing tons of hot air, not much. That he took the seat vacated by highly regarded vet Kay Bailey Hutchison just adds further insult to injury. Ted Cruz isn’t stupid but you’d never know it.

I'm Louie Gohmert and I LOVE TO YELL.


Oh, Louie! You madcap, angry douchebag, you. Unlike Cruz, there is nothing that will convince me this guy isn’t about as sharp as a broken Ginsu. Worse yet, he’s a box of rocks who is completely convinced that he’s the smartest guy in the room. Not only does Gohmert get moist hearing himself yap, he’s also a cheerleader in the “if I just keep yelling, it must be true” wing of the GOP. Much like those Tea Party dicks who showed up at town hall meetings a few years back just to scream over everyone, Louie is all sound and fury that signifies nada. He loves his guns almost as much as he does the moment sperm meets egg and he has an uncanny ability to tie just about anything to that Righty chestnut: the erosion of Judeo-Christian values. Gohmert is a loud and proud birther and he’s virulently anti-gay. Even worse, the guy sounds like a complete doofus. A hate-spewing redneck with the speaking style of a backwoods bumpkin and the political talent of the loser in a mock-election at your local elementary school.

Yep, she's as stupid as she looks. Texas House member Jodie "Rape Kit" Laubenberg.


Here’s a bucktooth, down home gal who makes Louie Gohmert look like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking…combined. She doesn’t just sound like a complete dumb-ass every time she opens her mouth, she IS a stunningly stupid person. Jodie Laubenberg is so devoid of gray matter that when she contradicts her own political stands you’re pretty sure she’s too addle-brained to even realize it. She never met a zygote she didn’t profess her devotion to and she’s a one-woman show for the dangers of AquaNet being left in the hands of the clueless. Where might you have heard the name “Jodie Laubenberg” recently? She’s the bat-crap-crazy idiot who thought rape kits were some kind of magical womb broom. Yep pardners, "In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out.” Her words, not mine. Enough said.


August 13, 2013


CLICK here to watch THE AWESOMES on Hulu.


In the spirit of full disclosure, the new Hulu original series THE AWESOMES was already at a huge disadvantage right out of the gate. I am not a fan of television animation. I’ve never been able to sit through a full episode of THE SIMPSONS. I don’t think FAMILY GUY is a little slice o’ brilliance. I stopped watching SOUTH PARK several years back (right around the time it became as insufferably self-impressed as creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone). With that said, I’m also pretty sure that if you are a fan of the genre, THE AWESOMES is going to land in your house with a thud.

THE AWESOMES are a motley crew of seriously flawed super heroes. After their leader retires, Prock (Seth Meyers), his sad sack of a son, takes over. All the quality members of the group immediately flee and go solo. Prock has to re-assemble a team or lose government funding (don’t ask). He does so by cobbling together a new band of heroes from among those that were rejected in the past. Hilarity ensues. Except it doesn’t.

Prock (Seth Meyers) and dad Mr. Awesome (Steve Higgins) in THE AWESOMES. CLICK IMAGE to enlarge.

The biggest problem with THE AWESOMES are the long gaps of tepid dialogue that fill the space between a few very funny moments. For a series with 14 (!) credited producers, there should be a lot more meat on the bone. The best moments are sight gags and spit takes but THE AWESOMES needs more than an oblique GOLDEN GIRLS reference and tired send-ups of racial stereotypes to make you want to come back for more.

You have to point the blame finger at Meyers. In addition to his voice work, he is also the writer and executive producer. Hence, the weaknesses in the script are compounded by Meyers penchant for giving SNL cast members more work while they’re on break from killing comedy at NBC. That means for every scene with exceptionally sharp turns by Taran Killam (Frantic) and Paula Pell (who steals the show as Gadget Gal) you also have to endure funny-free VO from Bobby Lee (Sumo/Tim) and the always dreadful Kenan Thompson (Impresario). At least we now know both Lee and Thompson display the same stunning lack of comedic talent when you can’t see them mugging for the camera as when you can.

Some of the motley crew that is THE AWESOMES. A Hulu exclusive. CLICK IMAGE to enlarge.

It’s also odd that Hulu has chosen to bleep the profanity. It’s both disconcerting and only makes THE AWESOMES seem more toothless and pedestrian than it already is. It’s not that I want the show to be a superhero riff on SOUTH PARK; it’s just that by having no backbone it really makes you wonder why Hulu bit when several other networks had already passed. In just about every way, THE AWESOMES feels like a neutered, MOR version of DRAWN TOGETHER, the wildly vulgar, politically incorrect and pee-your-pants hilarious animated series that ran on Comedy Central for three seasons (CLICK HERE if you don’t know what I’m talking about…NSFW).

You know you’re in trouble when a show can’t even manage to cobble together a minute of compelling footage for a ComicCon trailer. That’s the reality of THE AWESOMES and it’s probably not going to help make the series a fanboy favorite outside the after glow of a well-orchestrated “sneak preview” campaign last month.


August 8, 2013


This is what happens when you watch too much TV. Landon Liboiron wolfs out in the Netflix original series HEMLOCK GROVE.

We’re in the thick of the dog days of summer. That odd, sticky and sultry window between the warm months and the first chill of fall. It’s perfect weather to crank up the AC, crack open a Wailua Ale from Kona Brewing Co. and escape with some mindless entertainment. 

More and more, networks and streaming media services are filling summer months with original series programming. As audience fragmentation continues and competition for eyeballs gets even more fierce, content providers are downright paranoid about conceding June, July and August. Almost extinct is the old-school habit of stocking schedules with nothing more than re-runs and burn offs.

While it is harder to find quality programming when the temperatures are high, it’s also a perfect time to latch on to a new guilty pleasure. These are shows that exist for one reason: entertainment. No deep social messages, pesky thinky stuff or anything that would require excessive firing of your synapses.

I’ve watched a ton of stuff on air and online so you don’t have to wade through the swine to find a pearl. This isn’t a list filled with obvious choices like the crap Bravo runs 24/7/365 or the latest “I’m a pregnant/drug addicted/loser teen desperate for my 15 minutes” stuff that defines MTV these days. No Honey Boo Boos, swamp dwellers, sharkosauruses or slutty Amish on this list. That’s not to say you’re about to stroll down the entertainment high road. It just means you won’t feel like you have to shower after a spin with these yummy bon bons.

So you can tune in, turn on and catch up with the fluff you might have missed these past few months, please refer to the handy “Ronthink Guilt-O-Meter” created especially for this post. Based on that beloved terror threat thing from the post-9/11 Bush years, it’s a perfect tool to help you decide what to watch, what you can admit to watching and what you should probably keep to yourself.
How guilty do you feel about your TV pleasures?Each entry below has been assigned an appropriate guilt level based on the amount of shame you can expect to feel when you watch. I’ve arranged the list in ascending order, starting with the shows least likely to make you a social pariah. Enjoy!
WHODUNNIT? on ABC is just like one of those murder mysetry parties you or your friends have thrown...except it's good.


Remember those “do-it-yourself” murder mystery party kits? The ABC series WHODUNNIT? is sort of like one of them…except it doesn’t suck. In this ambitious (by summer TV standards) unscripted series, contestants are sequestered in a lavishly appointed mansion where a prize of $250,000 is up for grabs. The twist? One of them is a “killer” who picks off an unsuspecting “victim” at the end of each episode. The person who does the worst job of solving the weekly slaying (more HOWdunnit than whodunnit, actually) is the next one on the chopping block.

WHY GUILTY? Some viewers were so stupid they thought the first murder was real (I kid you not). ABC had to add a “post-death” interview with the offed contestant starting with the second episode. The prize is a little chintzy. After all, this is ABC not GSN. Plus, you get the distinct impression that more than a few of the contestants are several cards short of a full deck.

WHY PLEASURE? It’s a darn good little show and the “murders” are quite elaborately staged (see video below). They don’t make you wait until the next episode to find out which of the newly “scared” contestants ends up on the morgue slab. It’s not rocket science but the show clearly has a sense of humor about itself and “the killer” enjoys taunting the more annoying contestants with well-deserved personal barbs. The bromance between hot Kam and hot (but dumb) Ulysses was fun to watch…while it lasted. Bonus points: the first one “murdered” was an ex-NFL cheerleader.

WHODUNNIT? airs Sundays at 9PM E/P on ABC with next day streaming on Hulu.

Watch THE EXES on TV Land and see if you can figure out WTF is going on with Donald Faison's teeth.


OK, the premise is asinine and the first season of the show was crap but once THE EXES found its mojo, things started looking up. It also happens to be one of the most gleefully dirty sit-coms on television. While not nearly as accomplished as HOT IN CLEVELAND, it’s a world away from TV Land crap like RETIRED AT 35 (RIP). When it’s firing on all cylinders, THE EXES is a damn funny half hour. TV Land has also ordered 10 more episodes for the current season. Oh yeah…can anyone tell me what’s up with Donald Faison and his freakishly white teeth?

WHY GUILTY? It’s a TV Land original that isn’t HOT IN CLEVELAND. Enough said.

WHY PLEASURE? Kristen Johnston is the main attraction here and Kelly Stables is pitch-perfect as her sexually liberated assistant. Season two featured a couple of laugh-out-loud episodes, including a profanely funny guest stint by Zach Braff playing a closeted pro athlete (see video below) and an entire episode that was one very long (no pun intended) and very funny dick joke (Google “The Exes cucumber” and see for yourself). The vintage vibrator-centric season three opener was more hilarious than a show like this really has a right to be.

THE EXES airs Wednesdays at 10:30PM E/P on TV Land with streaming on Hulu 21 days after first airing.
The cast of MELISSA & JOEY on ABC Family.


I’m not sure exactly what season MELISSA & JOEY is currently in (thanks to the oddball way ABC Family parses out original series episodes) but it’s been a big ratings winner for the network since its debut in 2010. It’s also damn funny so, if you're comedy snob, you should probably skip to the next entry on this list.

WHY GUILTY? It’s not on the ABC Family “cool list” like PRETTY LITTLE LIARS or TWISTED. It’s not a “prestige” title like the recently cancelled BUNHEADS (which I'm still angry about) or the terrific new drama THE FOSTERS. It also stars a Lawrence brother and a former teenage witch. Yes, they do outfit Joey Lawrence in some if the tightest shirts on TV but the show is also self-aware enough to constantly poke fun at the muscle meme.

WHY PLEASURE? It’s probably one of the most subversive sit-coms on a network where you would never expect to find such a thing. While THE FOSTERS has turned controversy into ratings gold, MELISSA & JOEY has been getting away with tons of hanky-panky and adult humor since 2010. Melissa Joan Hart and Lawrence have genuine chemistry and the comedy chops that come from growing up on television. The two younger principles, siblings on the show, are played by Taylor Spreitler and Nick Robinson. They’re two of the most pleasant teen actors on any network. MELISSA & JOEY deftly weaves broad comedy and slapstick with issue-oriented social messages that are refreshingly honest and well-handled. I’m sure conservative folks would be horrified at Hart’s wine soaked version of parenting but I also suspect, for the vast majority of viewers, this modern spin on the family sit-com will resonate and ring true.

MELISSA & JOEY airs Wednesdays at 8PM E/P on ABC Family with next day streaming on Hulu. Earlier seasons are available on Netflix.
ONE LIFE TO LIVE is back with fewer episodes and a lot less clothing. Watch it on Hulu.


When ABC dumped daytime vets ALL MY CHILDREN and ONE LIFE TO LIVE in 2012, soap fans flipped out. It took more than a year of stops and starts (and some incredibly complex deal making) but both shows returned with original episodes at the start of the summer. The twist? They are now online originals (aside from the poorly handled re-run test on OWN) airing in a truncated “volume” format that means fewer episodes and seasonal scheduling. Of the two shows, ONE LIFE TO LIVE has definitely made the transition with more grace. It’s not that ALL MY CHILDREN is bad; it just feels like it’s not having as much fun playing in this new sand box. With that said, OLTL does look better and has a stronger cast and writing team.

WHY GUILTY? It’s a soap…and it was cancelled.

WHY PLEASURE? There is something oddly reassuring and wholly appropriate about the the dramatic path OLTL (and AMC) took from oblivion to re-birth. The jury is still out on how long the reformatted shows will last. It hasn’t helped matters any that there have already been a few production and scheduling hiccups since the re-launch. Still, it is heartening to see iconic TV vets at least trying to find their way in a very complex media landscape. Even if the pair doesn’t survive for long, the fact that they are back at all says a lot about the potential of online-only original series and the power of fan-driven programming support campaigns.

OLTL and AMC are available on Hulu. The first season finale for both shows is August 19th.
The heavily airbrushed cast of the ABC Family comedy BABY DADDY. 

BABY DADDY is sort of like THE EXES of ABC Family. Not nearly as funny or sharp as it’s more seasoned sibling MELISSA & JOEY, it’s still a pleasant way to spend a half hour. It’s one of those shows I keep telling myself I won’t watch but then every time I see a new episode on my DVR, I press play on my remote like a reflex.

WHY GUILTY? It’s a “classic” sit-com (in the FULL HOUSE sense of the word) with a modern skin slapped on. You do feel kinda bummed if Derek Theler doesn’t take his shirt off at least once an episode. The cast is relentlessly appealing but comic timing is all over the map.

WHY PLEASURE? Two words: Melissa Peterman. Her comedy skills are flawless. She does incredible stuff with often thread-bare material. She’s a bawdy broad…and I mean that as a high compliment. Jean-Luc Bilodeau makes a guy who is really kind of a jerk into someone you want to hang with and there is the aforementioned thrill of a shirtless Theler. A fun drinking game is to take a shot every time Tahj Mowry (younger brother of Tia and Tamera Mowry) desperately tries to remind us that he is very, very, very straight. Really. He is. Totally.

BABY DADDY airs Wednesdays at 8:30PM E/P on ABC Family with next day streaming on Hulu. The prior season is available on Netflix.
If TWIN PEAKS had a screwed up baby it's name would be HEMLOCK GROVE, a Netflix original series.


Remember TWIN PEAKS? Not the kick-ass first season. The second one. The season that was an aimless, rambling mess and was probably being made up as it stumbled along. HEMLOCK GROVE is like that…but good. Not “good” good. Train wreck good. Delicious, audacious, insane, mind-bending and gloriously messy. It’s like a dessert you know is bad for you but you just can’t stop eating it. Netflix has picked the series up for a second season. HEMLOCK GROVE also snagged two Emmy nominations, one for visual effects (see video below for why).

WHY GUILTY? It comes from Eli Roth, the douche bag responsible for the first two HOSTEL films. It’s a Netflix original that has none of the aspirations of the exceptional HOUSE OF CARDS. It’s about werewolves, the third most overexposed film beastie after zombies and vampires. Dougray Scott seems to be channeling the scenery chewing performance of Piper Laurie from CARRIE but with none of the “I can see your dirty pillows” glee.

WHY PLEASURE? The show knows it is ALL of the above…and damn proud of it. Still, it’s a gorgeous looking affair that can hold it’s own against any network series (at least as far as production values are concerned). As terrible as Scott is, the rest of the cast is quite good, with especially strong turns from vets Famke Janssen and Lili Taylor. The younger set is also in capable hands with nice work from Bill Skarsgard and Landon Liboiron (almost unrecognizable from his TERRA NOVA days). BATTLESTAR GALACTICA geeks (like me) get a special treat with both Aaron Douglas (aka “Chief Tyrol”) and Kandyse McClure (aka the ill-fated “Dualla”) filling supporting roles. McClure is clearly having a blast with her wackadoo take on the character of Dr. Clementine Chasseur. Best of all, the gore is kept to a minimum even though torture-porn guru Roth is pulling the strings. The first wolf attack happens largely off screen but the way it's shot makes it even more horrifying. Check out the much ballyhooed “transformation” sequence and add HEMLOCK GROVE to your Netflix queue.

HEMLOCK GROVE is a Netflix exclusive. All 13 episodes of season 1 are now available.
The horny ladies and gents of MISTRESSES on ABC.


It took a few years (and a misfire at Lifetime) but the stateside adaptation of the BBC series MISTRESSES has been steaming up the ABC line-up all summer. This re-tooled MISTRESSES is a near perfect concoction of delicious trash spiced up with a top-notch cast and some surprisingly sharp writing. I watched it to make fun of the show and ended up getting hooked.

WHY GUILTY? It’s a U.S. reformat of a well-received British original (check out season one on Netflix to compare). The ABC version ramps up the sex, drama and bat-crap-crazy with plenty of illicit hook ups and some eye-popping girl on girl action (see video below). It’s basically a show about horny people who cheat on their spouses and/or partners in some very creative ways.

WHY PLEASURE? This is a potboiler with a hidden agenda: hook you with the sexy stuff and then make you watch as karma bitch slaps each of the characters for their various indiscretions. The UK original is a shade or two darker to be sure but, it was no SHERLOCK or BROADCHURCH so TV snobs can unruffle their feathers. Yes, Alyssa Milano and Yunjin Kim are the stars but there’s breakout work being done every week by the campy, vampy and wonderful Jess Macallan. No matter what happens with MISTRESSES, she deserves a starring role in something, somewhere. Oh, did I mention hot shower sex?

MISTRESSES airs Mondays at 10PM E/P on ABC with next day streaming on Hulu.
ESSEX: proof that the Brits can get just as lowdown with their unscripted fare as we do.  

Shhh…do not tell ANYONE I watch this piece of trashy, trashy trash. Picture a mash-up of JERSEY SHORE and any of those awful “housewives” shows from Bravo and then add British accents (really thick ones). The result? THE ONLY WAY IS ESSEX. THE smoking gun if you’re looking for proof that UK TV can produce an even bigger pile of gutter clump than several US cable nets combined.

WHY GUILTY? Every character is self-absorbed, self-impressed, “hot” in the Vivid Video sense of the word, vain, dumb and without any redeeming social value.

WHY PLEASURE? Every character is self-absorbed, self-impressed, "hot" in the Vivid Video sense of the word, vain, dumb and without any redeeming social value…BUT they’re British. That means the producers of the show are well aware of how massive a crap fest ESSEX is and they have no problem making as much fun of the principles as you will (see videos below). The show has been a huge hit in the UK, where it is still running. Hulu has exclusive rights to the show here and earlier seasons are available without a Hulu Plus subscription. Now, close your shades, turn off that auto-post social networking feature and take a ride on the spray tan side of the UK.

THE ONLY WAY IS ESSEX is a Hulu exclusive. Season six premieres August 15th.