THE UNIVERSE: TIME TRAVEL
8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19
The History Channel
If you’re a long-time reader of The Televisionist, you know that I’m a freak when it comes to movies and television about time travel. With only a few exceptions, I’ll watch pretty much anything that deals with the issue of going backward or forward in time, even crapola like “Time Cop” — which I watch habitually any time it comes on. (“I’m still kicking,” Jean Claude Van Damme says in his weird accent, just before dropping Ron Silver into the time vortex of suck. “I must be on Broadway!” Classic). While fictional accounts of time travel can be a brain bender, that’s nothing compared to listening to the decidedly non-Van Dammian brainiacs that populate physics departments discuss the actual possibility of flitting around through history like Marty McFly. According to them — and this is a made-a-C-in-physics brain trying to encapsulate this here — it is apparently, theoretically possible; an idea that gives me great hope that I can someday go back to my high school prom and tell 17-year-old me that I split my pants before my date was able to spot my bloomers. Who knows what avoiding that ultimate humiliation will bring me? Presidency of the Federation of Planets, here I come! But, to get back to my point: The History Channel show “The Universe” has been one of my faves for awhile now, full of easily-understandable explanations of stuff that left guys like Newton and Einstein scratching their heads for decades. Lively, interesting, intriguing and often downright amazing, the show is the cure for all those drowsy hours you spent listening to some seat-filler drone on about science in high school. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. If you forget, I’ll see about coming back to remind you someday.
THE GREAT FOOD TRUCK RACE
9 p.m. Sundays
The Food Network
The influx of Latinos into Southwest Little Rock has brought a lot of great things into our lives: horchata, tortillas in bulk, and butchers capable of selling you a whole goat among them. The best bit of sunshine Latino entrepreneurs in that vibrant little corner of the city have brought me, however — and I’m just nasty-nice enough to be a bit shocked that I’m typing this sentence — is the surprising revelation that the best food around is found on four wheels.
Yes, I’m talking about the taco truck, that floating island of cheap and spicy goodness, roaming from place to place like the culinary Lone Ranger, spreading deliciousness and carbon monoxide in its wake.
Once I wrapped my mind around the idea of eating at a place that might not be there tomorrow, my life has been better for it. I wish to spread this gospel to others. It saddens me, therefore, that “The Great Food Truck Race” — the Food Network’s new reality show featuring eats on the go — doesn’t have a traditional Latino-run taco truck among them. Obviously, the producers knew that kind of deliciousness would make the contest a foregone conclusion.
What they do have is a literal smorgasbord of contestants and flavors. Among them: French cuisine with Spencer on the Go; gourmet cheeseburgers from Grill ’em All; LaLa Land eats from Ragin’ Cajun; high-end puddings from ‘Nana Queens (sadly — if not unpredictably — eliminated in the first round); Vietnamese sandwiches from the Nom-Nom Truck and more.
Roaming from city to city, contestants spar every week to see who can sell the most food. The truck that sells the least of their goodies every week gets gas money for the trip home.
The eventual winner will take home a grand prize of $50,000. Though reality show fare in general is wearing mighty thin for me, this one looks like a fun trip. At least a few viewings should definitely be on the menu.
THE KIDS IN THE HALL: DEATH COMES TO TOWN
9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20
If you’re a fan of comedy, there is a pantheon of Gods.
Near the top — if not the Zeus Chair — has to be the surrealist laughs of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, with guys like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin sitting in judgment over all.
Recent years have seen the installation of another light on the Mount Olympus of Laffs: The Kids in the Hall.
Though most didn’t know what to make of The Kids when they came to America in the late 1980s — thoroughly Canadian, welcoming of gay themes, prone to dressing in drag and mostly averse to hammering recurring characters in the “Saturday Night Live” model — principal players Dave Foley, Scott Thompson, Kevin McDonald and Mark McKinney have grown on me quite a bit over the years, both as individuals and as a group. Wry, smart and always funny, they’re the comedy troupe that might even give Monty a run for their money when they’re hitting on all cylinders.
This Friday night, IFC brings them back to American television for their first new comedy since their cult-fave show was cancelled some years back: “Death Comes to Town,” an eight-episode mini-series about death in a small town.
Each episode will be 30 minutes, and IFC plans to run them back to back on Friday.
Less sketch-comedy than The Kids’ television show of yore, but still chock-full of the surrealism and off-kilter humor the group is known for, “Death Comes to Town” revolves around what happens when The Grim Reaper comes (by bus, no less) to the small Canadian town of Shuckton, Ontario.
One of the town’s bright lights is discovered murdered soon after, and a mystery of sorts unfolds. I’ll be watching. If you want some chuckles, hee-haws and belly-laughs, you will too.
— David Koon