The Great Digital TV Revolution occurs tomorrow, and Hair Balls is worried for those of you still clinging to your rabbit ears and MacGyvered-aluminum-foil towers. While we applaud those who have drawn a line in the sand and refused to feed the cable and satellite beasts, we urge you to get a government coupon for a digital converter box.
Why is that, Hair Balls, you ask. Well, how else will you continue to enjoy the exquisite mainstream network and syndicated fare your non-cable-owning ass has been glued to all these years? You know exactly what we're talking about: The CW, Chuck Norris Total Gym infomercials, Joel Osteen's joke of the day, and Telemundo's caliente bikini-clad women on rollerskates. Regular network TV is simply a goldmine -- and this is just a tiny sample of what you'll be missing out on if you don't get a converter box.
The People's Court
Our favorite real-life courtroom show by far, this latest version of the One That Started it All features a jurist who is decidedly more attractive than Joseph Wapner. Judge Marian Millian brings a real dramatic flair to the courtroom, as evidenced by this clip, where she brings the wrath of God down on this smarmy law student/plaintiff. But Millian's freakouts are only one of the attractions; we also like the cut-aways to Times Square, where a microphone-wielding Harvey Levin takes a break from his TMZ star-fucking to see how sidewalk sophists render fender-bender verdicts. Then there's the post-game breakdown, with the dude who stands in the hall outside the courtroom, asking each party how they felt about the judge's decision. Spoiler alert: The winner is always "pleased with the judge's decision." The loser is always "disappointed."
The Magic Bullet
If you don't have cable, there's a good chance that you may have become something of an infomercial connoisseur, and without that digital converter box, you will miss out on what has to be both the most entertaining and most frightening infomercial of the past five years.
Too often, infomercials sacrifice plot, setting, and characterization for cheap, repetitive, Manchurian Candidate-esque ACT NOW ploys. Not the Magic Bullet infomercial, which features a motley cast of the most suspicious houseguests you could ever imagine. It takes place the morning after what was apparently a night of cul-de-sac bacchanalia, with the guests sitting around a counter in a suburban kitchen.
One man is extremely hung over and has no recollection of what occurred the night before; only not in a funny, benign way - more like in a this-guy-could-have-possibly-killed-a-tranny-hooker-and-stuffed-her-in-the-laundry-hamper way. You want to inspect his shirt for bloodstains and fear. Then there's Hazel, a bedraggled muumuu-clad beast of a woman who has clearly failed at life. A cigarette dangling from her Whatever Happened to Baby Jane-painted lips, Hazel momentarily forgets her nightmarish circumstances when she sees two fast-acting, fast-talking sprites pouring muffin batter out of what look like two enormous dildos. You can't help but be drawn in by this freakshow, which is centered around a product that actually looks like it kicks ass. And now that there's a new version of this baby, do you want to be left behind in the dust?
There are fewer daytime dramas more compelling than telenovellas. Sure, they can be a bit tricky to follow if you don't know the language, but the subtle music cues and restrained acting should keep you posted on the basics. In this clip, for example, the woman with the crazy eyes is admonishing the one who sorta looks like Catherine Zeta-Jones for borrowing her soduko book without asking.
"This is my house with the fancy chandelier!" Crazy Eyes says. To which CZJ responds sharply: "If you think that soduko book was all I stole, your brain is in the trash can, senora!"
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"You whore!" Crazy Eyes shouts. And so on. This is riveting stuff, and you'll be kicking yourself if you miss the season cliffhanger where a priest reveals an ancient family secret on his deathbed, and some gay dude gets slapped by his beard.
Jack Van Impe/The Second Coming
If you don't have cable, there's a good chance you've stumbled upon more than your fair share of evangelical programming.You've probably seen Christ arrested and crucified a thousand times and gone through your share of ministers begging forgiveness for being temporarily homosexual or funneling funds to the Caribbean. But some of these shows deliver not just the "good news," but the hard news. Rexella and Jack Van Impe have, for thousands of years now, morphed their life-forces into all manner of speaking beast and man to herald the arrival of Christ, which should happen...any minute now. Wars, signs of life on other planets, gargantuan brooches on persimmon pants-suits -- these are just a few signs Rexella tells us point to the end of days. Jesus will soon come and carrying those of us who have donated to the Kingdom of Heaven -- but, if you don't have a digital converter box, you'll totally be Left Behind.