Hello friends! I'm on vacation this week, but check out this classic I Love Television™ from the archives, which features hilariously old and quaint pop-culture references and a good description of what is still one of my fave shows of all time. See ya next week!
It's a pretty ridiculous state of affairs when a show like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is still considered to be one of the most subversive shows on television. Christ in a bag of cats, people! The show's not subversive if my grandma prefers Carson Kressley and his ugly belts to my twice-yearly visits to her rest home. (Old people can be sooooo petty!)
You wanna see subversive? I'll show you subversive! In just over a week, THE MOST SUBVERSIVE SHOW I'VE EVER SEEN will be returning for another slam-bang season—and it's called Wonder Showzen. [Which you can still watch on MTV's website, on DVD, or via YouTube clips—future Humpy.] In fact, this show is so subversive, I'm continually astonished it ever made it to TV. The mentally impaired brainchild of New Yorkers John Lee and Vernon Chatman—self-proclaimed artists, rock musicians, television executives, and sex-collective members—Wonder Showzen is a viciously hilarious antigovernment, antireligious screed disguised as a classic children's show... with naughty puppets.
Consider Sesame Street, Teletubbies, Zoom, or any number of kiddie shows you've come to know and love. Then take those same shows and add atheism, masturbation jokes, cannibalism, anarchy, and puppet-on-puppet oral sex, and you've got a pretty good starting point for Wonder Showzen. Hosting the show is a group of puppets led by a derby-wearing yellow furball named Chauncey who goes on a new adventure every week—which generally ends horribly. For example, in one episode, Chauncey and a (real) little girl named Kaitlin decide to take a rocket to outer space—and end up accidentally killing God (and then eating him). Whoops.
Wonder Showzen also specializes in live-action segments, featuring a cast of prepubescent kids in a variety of wildly un-PC situations—such as performing a musical dance tribute to slavery, or defining "love" as "something special between my dog's butt and the carpet." But my favorite segment is called "Beat Kids," featuring a 9-year-old child reporter named Trevor who interviews adults in a variety of occupations and pastimes. When Trevor visits the horse track, for example, he asks the trainers if slow horses "get sent to the chop suey factory." In another particularly offensive (and therefore hilarious) segment, he dresses up like Adolf Hitler and asks passersby, "What do you think is wrong with the youth of today?"
Much like the quickly paced kiddie shows it parodies, the jokes in Wonder Showzen are piled on fast and furious, with blink-and-you'll-miss-it gags involving pigs (what they call "Hindu kryptonite"), milking cows ("I saw my daddy doing that in the bathroom!"), and Abraham Lincoln ("It never occurred to me to shave my beard and free the slaves—though I have thought about shaving the slaves and freeing my beard!").
So did you hear that, Grandma?? That means it's time to dump Carson Kressley and check out the true "King of Subversive TV," Wonder Showzen. (And don't forget, Granny: There are no TVs in the chop suey factory!)
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4
10:00 FX THE BRIDGE
It’s a race against time when Marco’s family is targeted by the serial murderer! EEEEP!
10:00 FXX IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA
Season premiere! Note: Sunny moves to FXX tonight, followed by season premieres of The League and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Hit fxx.com to find FXX on your tube!
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5
10:00 FX WILFRED
Season finale! Could all this “talking dog” nonsense be because Ryan is actually DEAD? Let’s find out!
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6
9:00 CW AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL
Tonight’s episode: “The Girl Who’s Scared of Clowns.” Okay, Tyra… now you’re just being mean!
10:00 IFC COMEDY BANG! BANG!
Scott and Reggie welcome hilarious former SNL cast member Bill Hader!
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
10:00 NBC DO NO HARM
Series finale! A fond good-bye to the show that everyone watched once (at least the first 15 minutes of the first episode) and was never spoken of again.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8
9:00 HBO BOARDWALK EMPIRE
Season premiere! Nucky licks his wounds after his battle with Gyp Rosetti and sends a (probably dead) dove of peace to Joe Masseria.
9:00 AMC BREAKING BAD
Walt returns to his original cook spot in the desert with a shovel. What will he be burying this time?
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9
8:00 REELZ EXPLODING SUN
In this miniseries, a space shuttle on a collision course with the sun could mean “lights out” for the entire Earth and DO YOU GET IT HA-HA-HA-HAAAA!
8:00 NBC THE MILLION SECOND QUIZ
Debut! Contestants must answer trivia questions for 12 consecutive days and nights. Better stock up on cocaine!
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
8:00 PBS AMERICAN MASTERS
A documentary portrait of women’s rights crusader and tennis star Billie Jean King!
10:00 FX SONS OF ANARCHY
Season premiere! Jax is trying to make the business more legitimate… but the crime, sex, and violence keeps pulling him back in!
Find me on Twitter @WmSteveHumphrey.