Couch Potato: ESPN looks to change line-up with history lesson

Houston establishments can now return to leaving that slime in the ice machines without fear of public humiliation. Marvin Zindler is dead. The consumers’ crusader and the local television hero who brought injustice and revulsion to light via his segment on Eyewitness News was taken by pancreatic cancer at age 86.

Though the word "anchor" was often thrown around with a smile in reference to the ostentatious newsman, he was an undeniable force in this, the fourth largest city in the nation, and for that, he will be missed.

Ay Caramba!

Homer and the gang have, after 18 long years, made the leap from the small screen to the big screen. Fans of the iconic program have expressed everything from delight and relief to apathy and rage, which is to be expected with any such project. However, after relentless press, the film debuted to leading box numbers so the prevailing sentiment ought to be obvious.

In true Simpsons fashion, the audience enjoys several laugh-out-loud moments (many at the expense of Spiderpig) while learning a great truth. The series creator Matt Groening learned that, in fact, people are willing to pay upwards of $10 for what they can get on TV for free.

Boys have all the fun

The two television channels that cater most conspicuously to those of the male persuasion have unleashed some of the most interesting programming as of late. They satisfy the swashbuckling that men crave without sacrificing any of the dramatic substance that must carry the program in lieu of a football or half-naked woman. It turns out that men can have their steak and eat it, too.

There are certain things that every American ought to know. What better way is there, then, to enlighten the masses than through the eyes of baseball? After all, while times change, the game does not. This must be the thought behind ESPN’s eight-episode miniseries The Bronx is Burning that first caught viewers’ attention July 9.

The drama takes the top NYC headlines from 1977 (such as the Son of Sam murders, municipal bankruptcy and summer blackout) and puts them in the context of the baseball diamond. Though it may sound more like a history lesson, the action and drama surely equal that of the Yankee’s World Series win the program immortalizes. The series may be half over, but the episodes air occasionally on the brotherhood of ESPN channels.

Two new programs from SPIKE will have viewers – of both sexes – tuning in for more than the daily marathon of CSI.

Speaking of CSI, everyday people will get the chance to join Grissom and the gang, at least in spirit, as the premise for Murder. The program takes people like me who have seen every episode of the forensic phenomenon right from the couch and puts them to the test of processing real imitation crime scenes.

From the mind of Real World co-creator Jon Murray, Murder would be reality TV, but for some reason, it doesn’t seem quite so grotesque. In lieu of larger-than-life monetary awards or a catapult in the limelight, the winning team chooses a worthy charity to which to make a donation.

The Kill Point takes your everyday bank-robbery-gone-wrong hostage situation and manages to turn it into a kind of tour de force state of the union drenched in testosterone and suspense. Funny thing is, to play the hyper-manly roles of the heist ringleader and the renegade negotiator, SPIKE managed to find two of the unmanliest guys to hit the silver screen in recent memory.

In 2000, John Leguizamo played a gay midget artist and more recently a lovable but dim-witted sloth. Now, however, the only thing sharper than his tongue and general manly demeanor is his three-piece suit.

Viewers might remember Donnie Wahlberg from his pivotal role in The Sixth Sense, but most likely won’t because he has since gained more than 40 pounds as well as a real set of cojones.

This month raises several questions about changes of scenery. Can America’s favorite family feel at home away from its prime time Sunday slot? Is there enough room on the tube for both Hollywood’s Leguizamo and Wahlberg? Will Marvin Zindler continue to be our Eyewitness after death? We can only hope so.

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