Erin Payton and her inner circle dissect television in 2013.
Basic Cable & Netflix |
HBO & Cable | Sports & Reality | Sketch & Variety | Finales

For the record, they are ranking on the Neapolitan Scale, which they just made up: “Chocolate” being the tops of each category, “Vanilla” being . . . vanilla, and “Strawberry” being the flavor that’s still in the carton when you throw it away.


Chocolate – NBA All-Star Weekend: Everyone planned their February around the NBA All-Star Weekend, right? Friday night’s Celebrity Game had Common, Usain Bolt, Josh Hutcherson, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan,[ref]Yes, you read that correctly. He ‘schooled’ the other team with 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists.[/ref] and game MVP Kevin Hart playing with former NBA greats Clyde Drexler and Sean Elliott and WNBA stars Maya Moore and Tamika Catchings. Saturday is my favorite day with the Skills Challenge (won by Blazer Damian Lillard), Three-Point Contest (won by Cavalier Kyrie Irving) and the Slam Dunk Contest (won by Raptor Terrence Ross). The weekend ends Sunday night with the All-Star Game. The NBA does a great job sponsoring the hell out of every event without annoying the fans.


Vanilla – Super Bowl XLVII: Aired on CBS, the Super Bowl pitted the Baltimore Ravens against the San Francisco 49ers. Like most athletic events, the game will be most remembered by its biggest star, Beyonce, who was erroneously blamed for blacking out the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans (can that building catch a break?) for 34 minutes.[ref]It was later determined that the device installed to prevent a power failure . . . caused the power failure.[/ref] Mz Sasha Fierce magnanimously threw a bone to former Destiny’s Child groupmates, who appeared for a few songs before shuffling offstage to go count their royalties at the Pop Stars Senior Center. The game itself seemed to be devoted more to the rivalry of the two coaches, brothers Jim (49ers) and John (Ravens) Harbaugh and the final game of Ray “Plea Bargain” Lewis, who preened and pranced his way to his second Super Bowl victory. Over 100 million people came for the commercials (which cost $4 Million for 30 seconds and included the mushy gushy guy raises a Clydesdale and reconnects with it later at a parade  but had few other memorable moments) but stayed for the game.

Strawberry – Major League Baseball: The only thing sadder than being at a baseball game with five other people in your section is watching those games on TV. But at least at the game, you can double fist an Old Style and a foot-long hot dog.[ref]Technically, nothing is stopping you from doing that at home too, but neither tastes quite the same outside the ball park.[/ref] I am not sure what is going on with the MLB, but people don’t seem to be showing up used to be. And depending on who you read or watch, they’re not tuning in either. Check out Keith Olbermann’s take on the subject.

Competitive Reality

Even I can’t watch every show in this category, so here are my thoughts on the ones I love and the one that got away.[pullquote]race[/pullquote]

Chocolate – “The Amazing Race Despite finally losing the Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program to “The Voice” this year, “The Amazing Race” continues to churn out quality season after quality season. Host Phil Keoghan remains boyishly, eyebrow raisingly charming, the contestants fit into clichés but still manage to be root-forable, and the challenges remain fun to watch. Even that Travelocity gnome hasn’t gotten annoying.

Chocolate- “Top Chef” I’ll watch “Top Chef.” I’ll watch “Top Chef All-Stars.” I’ll watch “Top Chef Masters.” If you bring Stefan back for every season, I’ll watch “Top Chef Orangutans + Stefan.”

Vanilla – “Project Runway” PR seems to be going through an identity crisis at the moment. After 10 amazing, snark-filled seasons, Michael Kors has sauntered into the sunset and has been replaced with Zac Posen, who hasn’t yet filled the Tan Man’s blazer. Pumping out two seasons in 2013, the first one took a chance with a Teams format that fell very, very flat. The contestants hated the challenges and each other, and it showed on the runway. The second season reverted back to individuals, but added a few other changes: The judges did not know whose garments were whose on the runway, they got an up close inspection of each garment–likely to ferret out who sewed and who stapled–and Tim Gunn got a Tim Gunn Save. The changes were neither amazing nor destructive, and “Project Runway” stays safely nestled in our DVR (come back King Kors, your legion of fans miss you). To read more about seasons past, check this out.

Vanilla – “So You Think You Can Dance” SYTYCD continues to cha cha its way into the low-to-mid millions of U.S. households. After 10 seasons, host Cat Deeley and the panel of “jidges” have their schticks down pat and the contestants continue to get better every season. The most recent season brought us the welcome return of guest judges Christina Applegate and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as well as some fresh faces–Jenna Elfman was witty combined with a secret dance background while Olympian Gabby Douglas was . . . there.

Strawberry – “America’s Next Top Model” I am still so angry at Tyra Banks for firing the Jays and Nigel from ANTM that I won’t even watch the show in syndication, even though technically the three lads were still on those episodes and would probably get royalties from it. Tyra would get more. I can’t do it. I heard something about her adding male contestants to the show and I’m sure it was all very stupid. Like Tyra is for firing the Jays and Nigel. Hmpf.

Strawberry – “American Idol” Riddle: What’s steaming and black and blue all over? Answer: Me punching myself repeatedly at the thought of having to watch Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, and Nicki Minaj’s wigs judging a season of “American Idol.” Apparently I wasn’t alone in leaving this season off my DVR. Not even the cat-fighting between the female judges could raise the ratings.

In 2014, “AI” is overhauling the panel again with ‘Notleavingtiltheydragmeoutkickingandscreaming’ Randy Jackson absent and replaced by Harry Connick, Jr. (swoon). They must have bought Jennifer Lopez the Hope Diamond and thrown in the state of Delaware to boot because she is returning, along with Urban. I’ll try two audition episodes to see if the magic has returned.

“Dancing with the Stars” fans: take a trip down the past two season’s memory lane here.