30 Rock, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, The Office
The best episodic comedies on TV. 30 Rock is not as good as it once was. Modern Family is the best new show of the season. The Office gets less funny and more depressing every season. Parks and Rec is hit or miss (but more the former than the latter).
Project Runway, Top Chef, Millionaire Matchmaker, Launch My Line
Project Runway's last season (in LA) was terrible, but now that they're back in New York it's gotten back its old mojo. Top Chef continues to be great. (This season's winner, Michael Voltaggio, has a restaurant in LA that the wife and I are trying to go to. It's booked up for months in advance, of course). Millionaire Matchmaker is vulgar and depressing. A great way to remind yourself how lucky you are to be married and no longer going on blind dates. (By the way, I've concluded that blind dates are much harder on women than men. At least, they are on this show). Launch My Line is just horrible, but it's a competition show on Bravo, so by law I have to watch it.
On the Food Network. Four contestants have to cook a three-course meal. They are given random ingredients for each course and a set time. Example: for the appetizer, they MUST use scallops, goji berries, and pimentos. For the entree: bacon, kiwi, cornish hen, and ramps. Etc etc. After each course they're judged and one of the contestants is kicked off. Surprisingly great TV, especially because at least one of the ingredients in each course is way outside the comfort zone of just about everyone competing. ("I have to make a dessert using kale? What the @#)$*!")
Next Iron Chef
Not on very often, but an entertaining competition in which the winner is added to the Iron Chef cooking pantheon. Far better than the actual Iron Chef (at least the American version).
The Worst Cooks In America
Almost over, but incredibly entertaining. Twelve would-be cooks are chosen for their complete lack of cooking talent. (The first episode, in which each chef has a 'signature dish' evaluated by professional cooks is absolutely hilarious. A woman makes Mac and Cheese using cottage cheese, etc.) Then, the chefs are trained in rudimentary and not-so-rudimentary skills, with the best moving on each week. At the end (coming up next week) the two best chefs compete in a cook-off in front of professional food critics.
A new fave, (I believe it's on TLC?) BBQ Pitmasters follows a crew of competitive BarBQue cooking teams as they travel the country facing off against each other in high-intensity BarBQue Cookoffs. The prize money is niggling, but the competitors don't care. Intense people, intense judges--intense food. The unwitting star is a good old boy from Georgia named Myron Mixon, a man constitutionally incapable of uttering a single sentence that doesn't incorporate at least five swear words and one reference to his own status as best BarBQue pitmaster ever. (A claim he can generally back up). Good stuff.
Home and Decor
Before buying a house and getting married, I never imagined I would actually choose to watch shows about buying houses or decorating them, but I have and I do. Most of these are on HGTV and they follow one of three formats:
1) A person tries to buy a house
2) A person tries to sell a house
3) A person tries to redecorate a house
The best of these shows is called House Hunters International, which documents the efforts of people living abroad to buy or rent homes in foreign countries. A couple buying a home in Amsterdam first has to deal with the squatters who have taken up residence there (legal in Holland). A man in Tokyo hopes to find a bathtub large enough to actually lie down in. A couple in Malta debates the hassle of a commute from (some random town I haven't heard of) to (another random town I haven't heard of). Apartments in Berlin do NOT have appliances provided in the kitchen. It's all the little details that suck you in. It's also as close as I'll probably ever get to owning a villa in the South of France (three recent shows have been set there). Or, for that matter, in Uruguay. Strangely compelling.