The Televisionist, Dec. 9 

'THE LEAGUE': With Chad Ochocinco.
  • 'THE LEAGUE': With Chad Ochocinco.


9:30 p.m. Thursdays


When you think of fantasy football leagues you probably imagine the camaraderie between competing coworkers or the fun and fellowship derived from playing against family members. FX's "The League" is not about that kind of fantasy football. The show follows five friends as they duke it out for bragging rights, in a dog-eat-dog, deception-fueled competition to best one another that spills over into their everyday lives.

"The League" sports an all-star cast including "Human Giant" star Paul Scheer, YouTube sensation Jon LaJoie (check out his video, "Everyday Normal Guy" if you haven't already), comedian Nick Kroll, Mark Duplass and Punk'd alum Stephen Rannazzisi. What used to be a nice follow-up to "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" has, in only its second season, become the main attraction on Thursday nights thanks to great writing and a cast of characters you feel like you've known since college.

Being a football fan only makes the trials and tribulations of these five that much more interesting although you certainly don't have to keep up with the NFL to get the joke. But "The League" is ultimately a buddy comedy, at its best when we see the protagonists harass, harangue, embarrass, cajole, lampoon, insult, blackmail, trick, deceive and burn one another. Because, after all, that's how guys show love.

— Gerard Matthews


8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12

The Discovery Channel

Love him or hate him, you've got to admit that President Barack Obama has raised the intellectual bar in the White House quite a bit since he was sworn in. Where the previous occupant of the Oval Office was famously dim, Obama has been accused of actually being too smart, especially by those who are able to imagine that glorious day when Sarah "North Korea is our ally" Palin assumes her rightful place as leader of the free world. For now, though, I'm pretty happy with the idea that somebody who chews with his mouth closed is president. Call me crazy, but there's something comforting about knowing that the guy with his finger on the nuclear button has probably read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." And now I have a whole new reason to (heart) Barack: his appearance on the geekfest that is The Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters." While presidents have made appearances on television from time to time (Nixon's bit part on "Laugh In" comes to mind), this is the first in memory where the commander in chief did it to make our lives better — to show kids that it's OK to be a science nerd like the president. Here, Obama gets an audience with Mythbusters Jaime Hynemann and Adam Savage, and asks them to revisit one of their most popular myths: Archimedes' Death Ray, which says that the Greek father of science found a way to set enemy ships ablaze with only a big magnifying mirror and the sun.


Sundays at 8 p.m.


Exhibit A for why the E! Network should be scoured from the face of the earth and expunged from the historical record is that show where Joan Rivers and other funny-looking has-beens say things about celebrities that would make Santa Claus seriously think about suicide. Exhibit B, meanwhile, is the network's new reality show "Bridalplasty." Like some bastard brainchild of Joseph Mengele and Martha Stewart, Bridalplasty features a bunch of pretty-good-looking-already young ladies competing for — drumroll please — the right to be nipped, tucked, liposuctioned and acid-peeled into what our too-sick-to-exist society has convinced them is the picture of a perfect bride on her wedding day. I probably shouldn't get so worked up over a television show about consenting adults hurting themselves. I don't get mad, for instance, when the guys on "Jackass" get pummeled in the testicles for the millionth time. But I can't help it. I'm uniquely offended by our wholly self-loathing idea that says all women (and, for that matter, men) have to look, laugh, dance, talk and smell exactly the same in order to be beautiful. That they've found 12 women — and probably got applications from thousands more — willing to compete in order to get (and I am in no way making this up, as these are from the women's profiles on the E! website) their second toes shortened, gums reduced, inner knees liposuctioned and "suspicious looking" moles removed makes me very sad for our society. What's next? Here's an idea: "$100,000 Per Amputated Finger," coming soon to E!

— David Koon


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