So almost all your favorite TV shows are on hiatus now. But don't panic! There's still new Futurama, plus a Greatest American Hero marathon. But more importantly, some of the strangest programming of the year airs during these summer doldrums.
Welcome back to our weekly guide to the best fantastical television, featuring sneak peeks at seven days of sweet, nasty televisual brain damage. Are you ready? Here we go!
Animal Planet is having a marathon of River Monsters: Unhooked, from 6 PM to midnight. Get up close and personal with piranhas, Amazon flesh eaters, and many other revolting things that want to kill you.
At 9 PM, my local PBS station is showing a 2004 documentary with the fascinating title A Program About Unusual Buildings. And maybe yours is too. Check your local listings.
Tonight, Twilight's Kristen Stewart is on Letterman, and Robert Pattinson is on Ellen DeGeneres. And Evangeline Lilly is on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Maybe she'll drop some hints about her role in the upcoming Real Steel.
Movies: How much excitement can you stand? There's X-Files: I Want To Believe on Cinemax at 1:30 PM, Aliens In The Attic on HBO at 2:30 PM.
But the real pick of the day is Brainstorm, the 1983 movie about a technology that allows you to record people's brainwaves. It's airing at 10 PM on TCM. All we really need to tell you is that it features people recording their experiences of having sex, so all their coworkers can watch. And Christopher Walken watching the most psychotic brain recording ever, with disastrous results. This is the film that will help you survive the long wait for Inception. Don't believe me? We posted an insane clip here. And here's another:
Warehouse 13: To get you nicely caught up for the return of this artifact-hunting show, Syfy is running a W13 marathon all day, from 9 AM to 4 PM. Remind yourself why you like this channel, by checking in on Artie and Claudia. This is definitely our pick of the day.
The Transformation Age: At the very least, my local PBS station is showing this special at 3 AM Wednesday morning. The full title is actually, The Transformation Age: Surviving a Technology Revolution with Robert X. Cringely. With a title like that, can you resist? Check your local listings to see if this 2008 program is showing up where you live.
Lost's Matthew Fox is on Jimmy Fallon.
Movies: Is it worth calling in sick just so you can stay home at watch Rob Schneider in The Hot Chick, on Comedy Central at 3 PM today? Let's put it this way, if you really need to feign illness, The Hot Chick will give you convincing symptoms of nausea and hydrocephalus, among other things. I guarantee an hour of this body-swapping movie will make your head swell up and cause you to forget who the president is. Watch the whole thing, and you may become sick enough to take a whole week off. Don't believe me? Watch this:
Possibly less brain-injuring is X-Men Origins: Wolverine, on HBO at 5 PM. Oh, and there's also The Spirit, on Showtime at 3:30 PM. An embarrassment of afternoon riches, really. And in the evening, there's Prophecy, in which mercury poisoning creates a deadly creature that stalks the woods, on TMC at 6:15 PM. And at 9 PM, Lifetime has horror classic The Gate. Finally, at 11 PM, Syfy has My Name Is Bruce, starring none other than Bruce Campbell. And if you can stay up late enough, The Goonies is on AMC at 1:30 Wednesday morning.
Eureka: Get reacquainted with the town full of wacky super-geniuses by watching a Syfy marathon, from 9 AM to 4 PM. You wouldn't want to stumble into Cafe Diem unprepared, would you?
True Blood: Speaking of marathons, HBO is showing the first three episodes of the current season back-to-back, from 8 PM to 11 PM.
Mythbusters: It's our pick of the day. Get tipsy and watch three alcohol-themed episodes in a row. First, at 7 PM, there's "Cooling A Six-Pack," in which the team discovers the fastest way to cool some beer down. Then at 8 PM, there's "Vodka Myths," in which we investigate just how bad an effect vodka has on your personal hygiene. And then at 9 PM, there's "Alcohol Myths," which explores whether beer goggles actually exist, and how easy it is to sober up. There's got to be a drinking game associated with these episodes.
Movies: Universal Soldier: The Return is on FX at 10 AM, and you can get a taste of just what a brilliant piece of film-making it is here. Also, at 9:30 AM, TMC is showing Dracula: Dead And Loving It. "Let me show you the deep, raw, passionate, unbridled sexual frenzy." "But Lucy, I'm British!" Yes, it's the Mel Brooks movie you've never seen.
At 8 PM, Cinemax has the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito vehicle Twins. And at midnight, the Spanish language channel Telefutura is showing Mad Max: Más Allá De La Cúpula Del Trueno, starring Mel Gibson and Tina Turner. This may actually be a decent movie in Spanish, and at the very least you'll learn how to say "Two men enter, one man leaves" to your Spanish-speaking friends. (If you don't already know, that is.)
Futurama: How could our pick of the day be anything else? A new episode, "Attack Of The Killer App," airs at 10 PM. This is the show's long-awaited mockery of YouTube, Twitter and all the other internet fads that weren't around the last time new episodes were being made. This time around, Fry posts an embarrassing video of Leela online. Comedy Central is also showing reruns from 9 to 10, and one more at 10:30. Here's a somewhat poor-quality clip:
Also, Twilight's Taylor Lautner is on Letterman. Maybe he'll talk about his Stretch Armstrong movie. And Twilight's Dakota Fanning is on Jimmy Kimmel.
Movies: Superhero campiness can be yours! At 7 PM, Showtime is showing Superhero Movie, the spoof which might almost be as funny as Meet The Spartans... although it helps if you're still buzzed from the Mythbusters drinking game. And then at 8 PM, Disney is showing Sky High, the superhero high school film.
Movies: Color Me Kubrick is on TMC at 6:20 PM, and it's our pick of the day. This is Stanley Kubrick, director of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining, like you've never seen him before — as impersonated by a deranged con-man (John Malkovich.) The funny parts are really where the Kubrick imposter starts spinning weird tales about the utterly strange movie he plans to direct next. (Go to about 2:40 in this video.)
There's also Spider-Man at 7:30 on HBO and (shudder) Space Jam on Encore at 8 PM.
There's no new Doctor Who this week, thanks to the holiday weekend. Instead, the weeping angels two-parter co-starring Alex Kingston as River Song gets re-run, from 8 PM to 10 PM, and then again from 11 PM to 1 AM. That leaves us without a pick of the day, I'm afraid, although these episodes are worth checking out if you haven't seen them.
But maybe our pick of the day is the Biography episode about Will Smith, airing on A&E at 7 AM. Aren't you a bit curious to learn more about the man who's done as much to shape cinematic science fiction in the past decade as anyone else I can think of?
Movies: Syfy is showing the 1997 classic Asteroid twice in a row, at 9 AM and at 11 AM. This is followed by Post Impact at 1 PM, Earthstorm at 3 PM, Polar Storm at 7 PM and Supernova at 9 PM. Meanwhile, Encore has Reign Of Fire at 1:30 PM and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is on HBO at 3:30.
Or if you're still craving superhero campiness, FX has My Super Ex-Girlfriend at 2 PM and Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer at 4 PM. Plus Spider-Man 3 is on FX at 8 PM.
Or you could hold out for quality, and watch Hellboy 2 on Cinemax at 7:45.
Also, at 12:30 Sunday morning, you have a choice between Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope on Spike, or Alien Sex Files 3: Alien Ecstasy on Cinemax. Choose wisely, and bear in mind that George Lucas has not added any weird CG elements to Alien Sex Files 3, as far as we know.
Because of the July 4 holiday, there's no new True Blood this week. I know. Didn't we kick the Redcoats' asses for the express purpose of being able to watch V-blood orgies and dirt sex on a Sunday evening? Consider this King George's revenge. Also, possibly less upsetting is the news that there's no new episode of The Gates on ABC.
But all is well, because of Sunday's pick of the day. Syfy is showing a 20-hour Greatest American Hero marathon. That's right: 20 hours. You remember that show. "Believe it or not, I'm walking on air," yadda yadda. By all accounts it hasn't been repeated on national television since its original 1983 airing, and I believe the DVD versions are badly butchered due to music clearance problems.
But that's not all! ESPN is broadcasting a Hot Dog Eating Contest live at 9 AM (or probably noon EST), and then repeating it promptly in the following hour. Not strictly science fiction, I know, but our post-apocalyptic descendants will one day watch this program and weep at the collapse of civilization in progress. Plus I would imagine there's a lot of science to eating the maximum number of hot dogs in an hour.
At 10:30 AM, Nickelodeon is showing two apparently new episodes of The Adventures of Fanboy and Chum-Chum, an animated show about comic-book nerds who dress up in superhero costumes and go on adventures. Featuring the voice of The Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac. Also, starting at 11 AM, the Cartoon Channel is showing a slew of previously unaired episodes of Canada's Metajets. How meta can a jet get?
At 5:30 PM, Current TV has a new documentary called Laughably Bad Movies. Apparently it's about just what it sounds like. Not sure how they plan to cover such a rich topic in one hour, but it'll be fun to see them try. Also, at 8 PM, National Geographic has a rerun of a virtual tour of the ocean floor with the scary title, Drain The Ocean. And at 10 PM, Discovery Health teaches you about Surviving A Super Tumor.
And then Adult Swim also comes to our rescue — there's a new episode of the ocasionally science-fictional Boondocks at 11:30 PM, called "The Story Of Lando Freeman." And at midnight, there's a new episode of Squidbillies called "Clowny Freaks." Here's a snippet of a recent Squidbillies in which they go on the Holodeck and discover that Obama is evil.
Movies: Batman Begins is on FX at 8 AM Fantastic Four is on FX at 11 AM followed by another airing of Rise Of The Silver Surfer. At noon, E! is showing Independence Day, somewhat fittingly. And at 3 PM, FX has X-Men 3, which can just about tide you over until Tim Burton's Batman airs on WGN at 5:30. And then WGN follows that with Burton's Beetlejuice at 8 PM. BBC America has the James Bond film Goldeneye at 11 PM. Finally, at 11:45 PM, discover why we love the first Charlie's Angels movie, as it airs on TBS.