Video Vault: By the Spies

Vault has been picking up a lot of chatter of late from The Spies, who, in their anonymity, keep their eyes peeled on almost everything that moves. The conversation of late is all about the best in television viewing…

A moment about them. The Spies live here in the Video Vault, are extremely opinionated, diverse and relish keeping us in our place. The Spies, no kidding, see EVERYTHING. Their lives are shallow and incomplete so they fill in the dark void with movies and television. It is a sad existence, yet we cherish them. Many times, The Spies, in the same way the American people are way ahead of their chosen leaders, clue Vault to something we never would have seen. The difference being that here in the Vault, we listen to our constituents.

And seeing as how Vault has given up the little box mostly, having become bored with “Survivor” and “American Idol” (although we like the new show, “The Next Great American Band” which is a pretty well thought out “band idol”), I asked the spies to allow me to use their observations (almost) verbatim.

The Spies were thrilled at this. They’ve begun discussing now who will play them in the movie version of the Video Vault. They are almost out of control now… If you’d like to join the ranks of these creative weirdos… We say that lovingly, of course… all you need do is send your opinion to us at and you’re in whether you like it or not. We identify spies via first name and town because we are privacy nuts…
Verizon, after all, is watching US…

Anyway, The Spies have been watching a lot of teevee lately. Here is what THEY think.

Mario from Boston writes:                                      

A few programs that I enjoy these days are:

“Californication” – David Duchovny stars in this Showtime series where he plays a down and out writer who is currently a one-hit wonder. it shows the events in his life from womanizing to missing his ex to raising his child. Duchovny does a great job acting and his ex has an amazing smile. It’s a great little program to watch.

“Ghost Whisperer” – Jennifer Love Hewitt plays a young newlywed with the unique ability to communicate with the earthbound ghosts of people who have died, and who seek her help. She uses her gift to relay significant messages and important information to the living, but sometimes the messages she receives are intense and confusing. As a result, she is often met with questions and skepticism by the survivors. Has a nice kick of chills and scares every now and then and Love Hewitt can be very nice to watch as well.

“Tell Me You Love Me” – An HBO series that is a relationship drama that brings viewers into the lives of three couples in committed relationships with intimacy problems. The script is mostly good and there is an occasional nude scene or three per episode.

Other TV or Movies I’ve heard about are:
Star Wars TV series – supposed to be about the secondary characters around the Star Wars world.
Speed Racer movie – they are making a movie on this. John Goodman (Roseanne’s tv husband will play “Pops.”

Star Trek movie – a movie that is early Kirk with a new cast.

Thanks, Mario. We see in your selections a couple very definable themes going there! Nice smile, indeed… What we want to know is who is going to play opposite Goodman in the role of “chim-chim.” -V.

JR from Minneapolis-St.Paul is one of our keenest of spies. JR writes:

Just tonight I saw one of the funniest half hours of TV I’ve ever seen. Maybe it wouldn’t be as funny if you don’t know the characters, but the episode of “My Name Is Earl” that made me laugh so hard and showed me images I’m still trying to process is called “Creative Writing.” Anyone interested can watch it online at Other than that, I’m really enjoying the BBC’s new version of “Doctor Who.” The second season of “Heroes” hasn’t been as interesting as the first. New shows worth checking out are here.

“Reaper” – A guy discovers on his 21st birthday that his parents sold his soul to the devil. Now he must recover souls that have escaped from hell while still trying to keep his day job at a Home Depot type store. Has some elements similar to “Ghostbusters” or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

“Pushing Daisies” – Hard to describe this show that has such a different look and feel to it. The hero is a man who loves to make pies but also has an interesting ability to bring back the dead with a single touch. But, he can only bring them back for a minute. If he touches them again, they die. If he doesn’t touch them within that minute, someone else in the vicinity dies. To complicate things, he brought his childhood sweetheart back to life but now can’t touch her again or she’ll die. He works with a detective in solving murdeers by simply asking the victims what happened. it’s a mystery mixed with a romantic comedy. All of the characters are indeed characters.

I’m re-watching all the episodes of “Lost” in anticipation of its return in February. Oh, and even better than “Earl” was the Vikings beating the Bears last week.

JR. What is going on with this unearthly obsession with death, ghosts and reapers lately? Are the spies feeling okay? Scott from Clearfield writes…

“Damages” on FX network with Glenn Close and Ted Danson has been my favorite show this season. It is one of those shows you had to watch from the first episode or it doesn’t make much sense.

My only other “not-miss” shows are “Brothers and Sisters” on Sunday night and “CSI” on Thursday night and “Boston Legal” on Tuesday nights.
I hear so many people talk about “My Name is Earl,” but I keep forgetting to watch it. I tried some of the other new sitcoms but could not get into any of them. I love the cast of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” on FX network, but after about six episodes I gave up on it. Only got a few chuckles out of it.

I recently picked up the DVD of the first season of “Picket Fences,” one of my favorite shows years ago. Also, I got the full four season set of a great half hour show called “Keen Eddie,” I think I am the only person who ever heard of this comedy. I thought it was only on for a couple of seasons and was excited to see the first two seasons I missed before I discovered it on USA.”

Mac from Houtzdale writes…

“Earl” is a great show and NBC putting full episodes on line is the perfect way to catch up or be introduced to a new show. Which brings me to the show that airs just after “Earl,” “30 Rock!”

I got caught up on line last spring and couldn’t wait for the new season. If you were ever a fan of any season of Saturday Night Live, you have to love “30 Rock.” I think it’s the best written comedy on TV… Guess that’s why they won an Emmy. Loved Tina Fey when she was head writer on SNL and doing “weekend update” and this show is just a natural progression from there.

Not just Tina Fey, though. The whole cast, including Tracy Morgan finally finding a slot on TV where he can play a hyped up version of himself, is a riot. Who knew Alec Baldwin would work in a comedy? But going back to his spots hosting SNL, you can see why he fits.

Another favorite is “The Office.” When the American version debuted, I had my doubts that it could stand up to the BBC version. But, once again, casting is everything and the right actors were placed in this series about a tiny paper manufacturing company in Scranton, Pa.

Finally, a show that returns to the Thursday line up this week is “Scrubs.” I never watched it in its prime time run, but it has been in reruns about 750-825 times a day on Comedy Central. Started watching because I am a fan of Zach Braff’s movies and had heard it was a funny show. Casting again was key and I found myself genuinely caring about the characters and how their lives intertwine. ALSO… great music selection on the show, which is so evident in Braff’s movies (“Garden State” and “The Ex” etc.). How can you go wrong with a show that opens one particular episode with Colin Hay, lead singer of Men At Work, doing an acoustic version of “Overkill?”

So, yeah. I’m a nut for NBC’s Thursday night line-up. Have been since “Cosby,” “Cheers,” and I think “Night Court” might have run in there at one point too. Then you had your “Friends” and “Seinfeld” years and now, today, you still get a solid two hours every Thursday evening starting at 8.”

Dan from Ottawa is perhaps our most thought provoking (read: disturbing) of The Spies. We find him actually becoming a character from a favored teevee show… Yikes

I am modeling my personality on the character of “House.” Great show with a really nasty lead character. “History Detectives” on PBS is excellent. It’s a shame that it is only on during the summer. As for comedy… “Little Mosque on the Prairie” is pretty witty. It’s about a Muslim community in a small prairie town in Canada. It reminds me of “Northern Exposure.” It’s quite popular in Canada, but there were news stories that some people in the U.S. were up in arms about a show that presented Muslims in a good light. It’s popular here because it’s just good family entertainment. The funniest show on TV has to be the Sunday afternoon showing of the Buffalo Bills game. I had season tickets for both the 2-14 years (85-87) and this year could rival those glory days. Oh, yeah… “The Trailer Park Boys” is pretty good.

Dan. “Little Mosque on the Prairie?” We’ve got to see this. And you shouldn’t despair so much about your Buffalo Bills. They’ve been playing pretty decent lately. Mario is back and he’s got a link for “Little House…”

Dear Dan,
Yeah, you are right, “Little Mosque on the Prairie” is a great show, quite funny and well scripted. You can catch the episodes on YouTube. Here is some commentary on it via CNN here.

Per your comment, “Some people in the U.S. were up in arms about a show that presented Muslims in a good light.”

Imagine there are Americans who don’t realize that not everyone is either good or bad. Oh, I forget, there are probably millions of these black-n-white uneducated, unenlightened people in the U.S. Sorry.

But seriously, this show highlights the misunderstandings and stupidity found in those that don’t understand the moderate Islamic community in the U.S. It shows that westerners fan the flames of hatred much more than the western Muslims. Its like saying that all Christians are the same. Isn’t that true? You know some Christians think its okay to bomb clinics, so all Christians must think bombing clinics and killing doctors is okay. Right? Some Christians like to invade other countries on false pretenses and killing over 100,000 innocent Iraqis is just accidental collateral damage. Don’t all Christians think that killing innocent people is just collateral damage? Hopefully, for those on the fence on this, this will make you realize that most folks in any group are passive people just wanting to make a good living. Yes, but as most of us know, there are bad in any group, but this is typically a small percentage of folks.

And not only is this show well scripted, discusses relationships that are not dis-similar to our own, but highlights our silliness and dogma in funny ways. Its a great watch.

Matt from Clearfield thinks that when he likes a show it is sure to fail… Perhaps networks employ regular people to wring the necks of stupid executives… That would be a nice line of work…

Okay, okay, I know it’s kinda taboo, but NBC has decided to air “Heroes” opposite Monday Night Football. The show is just too damn good to NOT watch though. It’s highly episodic, so if you miss one, you’re screwed. I’ve watched them on the internet if I miss one, so that’s a cool feature.

I would like to point out that I miss shows like “Magnum P.I.” because they’re NOT episodic. I have very few T.V. shows that I regularly tune in to because so many shows today force you to watch them every week or you get lost.

I buy the season’s post-mortem and watch them that way, but these really good shows don’t last because once the initial following drops off, there’s little chance new people will tune in because they’re out of the loop. My favorites were “Dead Like Me,” “Firefly” and “Deadwood.” All cancelled.

I’m the death knell for good T.V.

I watch the History Channel, Science Channel and National Geographic when there’s not football, baseball or hockey on.

Shawn from Clearfield writes…

Right now there are only two things I have to watch: “Heroes” and “Smallville.” I checked out a few of the new shows and none of them really caught my interest. If I have a spare moment and need to watch something it is usually the History Channel or Mythbusters. Tonight, I picked up the 3rd and final season of “Veronica Mars.” That should keep me in good T.V. for another couple weeks. And has anyone heard that Mel Brooks is doing a “Spaceballs: The Cartoon?” That should be fun.

Dave from Philipsburg has some pretty out of the way suggestions and embroils Ottawa Dan in the following conversation about obscure sci-fi…

DAVE: I see “Futurama” when I get home about 3-4 a.m. on Saturday mornings… or is that Sunday mornings?… on Cartoon Network. Either way, I’m watching it while eating Sheetz something-or-other and have a Pina Colada-flavored FUZE.

Both “Dead Like Me” and “Firefly” were EXCELLENT. Also, sort of in this vein that I rarely have gotten to see is “Eureka.” Really good. Funny. And Jo, the deputy, is WAY HOT.


Also love “Mythbusters.” Usually watch it after I’m getting around Sunday mornings and having my Cheerios. And Mel Brooks is doing a “Spaceballs” cartoon? Hmmmm. I’ll watch out of respect… but I dunno if I expect much.

And, oh yeah, “RED DWARF” RULES MY SOUL!!!!!!!

DAN: The missus likes “Red Dwarf” too. I never understood the attraction of low-budget, British sci-fi. I hear it is the storylines that draw in viewers but I ain’t one of them. As close as I get to brit Sci-fi is “The Avengers.” Truth is I don’t really care all that much for any sci-fi but I will sit through some of it. By the way, the greatest show in TV history has got to be “The Adventures of Ellery Queen” with Jim Hutton (mid 70s).

DAVE: It’s because they’re HILARIOUS and, often, absurd. “The Avengers” was pretty good, “The Prisoner” was odd. But those were older and, as you alluded, not really sci-fi. “Red Dwarf” could’ve been on a pirate ship and still been just as good. (Though, the guy who evolved from a cat while they were in stasis would’ve been difficult to explain… but someone could’ve figured something out. Maybe taking a page from The Odyssey and having sirens turn him from cat to human. I DUNNO!) Regardless, haven’t seen R.D. in several years.

DAN: We have a channel here called “Showcase” that has “Red Dwarf” every weekend. Great channel that shows really odd stuff from Canada and around the world. Its the station that has “Kung Fu” every morning.

DAVE: A network where shows go to die (Or, in the case of “Kung Fu,” never should have been born)? We have one of those too: It’s called CBS!

Okay, okay. We’ll end on that zinger of Dave’s. Humor is often about how true something is, don’t you think? Well, The Spies are sure to be buzzing now that “Red Dwarf” has appeared on our radar screens. Until next time… Enjoy!

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