Kish and I are big fans of HBO’s programming, which includes a number of extraordinarily well-done shows like The Wire, Deadwood, and The Sopranos.  This year, we have become hooked on the new half-hour comedy Hung.  It’s not at the same level as those shows — what current shows are? — but it has been enjoyable to watch from the first episode.

Ray and Tanya

Ray and Tanya

Hung is about the adventures (and misadventures) of Ray Drecker.  Ray is a former stud athlete who has fallen on hard times.  He teaches history and coaches the basketball team at a high school in the Detroit area.  In the first episode his house burns down and we learn that he is divorced from his wife, he has no savings or insurance to allow him to rebuild his home, and he has two troubled teenage kids.  Desperate for guidance and a plan, the hapless Ray goes to one of those cut-rate motivational how-to-make-money seminars and meets Tanya, a spineless sad sack trapped in a dead-end job.  After a heated encounter they decide to make Ray’s most noteworthy attribute — one that gives the show its name — the focus of their money-making venture, and the show is off to the races.

The leads on the show are excellent.  You can’t help but root for Ray, notwithstanding his new chosen profession and his general insensitivity, as he sleeps shivering in a tent outside his burned out home, tries to keep his family together, and is the object of pity from well-meaning students at the high school.  We are hoping that Tanya discovers her backbone as she works to market their “Happiness Consultants” business.  The show also has a fine ensemble cast that include Ray’s kids and ex-wife and her plastic surgeon husband, a mean-spirited neighbor and his curious wife, and the nervous motivational speaker.  So far, our favorite character has been the fast-moving “friend” of Tanya’s who takes advantage of Ray and steals his credit cards on his first “job.”

It’s fun to watch a show from the first episode, as we have done with Hung.  You don’t know what’s going to happen, and you hope it will be enjoyable.  So far, it’s been worth it.

The Mindless Drone Of Sports Talk Radio

We had our family retreat to Sawmill Creek Lodge this weekend and on the way home I decided to catch up on Cleveland sports news by listening to the Sunday morning talk show on WKNR, 850-AM.  I quickly came to regret my decision.  The two hosts broadcast about the most droning, repetitive show imaginable.  During the time I listened — and I admit I gave up after an hour or so — the principal theme was that Josh Cribbs is overrated, is simply a special teams player, isn’t among the top 100 players in the NFL, and is being ridiculous in asking for more money.  In the process the hosts kept saying precisely the same things, over and over and over.  Sprinkled in the endless Cribbs discussion were bits about whether Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson should be the quarterback for the Browns this year, whether Braylon Edwards will have a good year, and whether any rational baseball fan should ever buy a ticket to an Indians game so long as their current ownership remains the same.  The hosts even chuckled about Beanie Wells’ unfortunate injury on his first day of practice.  Even worse, the hosts occasionally veered into even more dreadful non-sports topics, like one host’s experience in the “mosh pit” at a bar mitzvah and his time in the “VIP” section at some local bar.  Do any listeners actually care about this kind of stuff?

Sports talk radio has to be the most irritating radio format ever invented, and today’s Sunday morning show on WKNR was Exhibit A for that proposition.  No sports “news” is ever presented on these shows, just opinions that are typically stated in the most over-the-top fashion possible in an effort to provoke bored people to call in and try to argue with the host.  I tuned in the show hoping to get some actual information about the Browns, and I tuned out feeling like the mindless discussion had, if anything, reduced my understanding of what is going on with the team.