Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Big Switch

Look out for Laila.

ALI BOMA YE. All right. This is embarrassing. But it still has to be done. All of the dozens of you out there who are trying your best to live the InstaPunk Lifestyle are going to have to change channels on Monday nights.

No more Twenty-Snore. Jack Bauer died in China during the hiatus, and now there's some sort of impotent clone wandering pretty helplessly around L.A. while the parallel universe depicted in the show spirals into chaos. There's nothing left to attract our interest. Apparently, no President of the United States is ever again going to finish his term in this bizarro world. And the replacement Bauer has lost all his powers. He can't stand up to his evil father. He can't stop crying. He can't compensate, as he used to, for the fact that his agency, CTU, is staffed exclusively with losers, incompetents, traitors, and soap opera villainesses. He can't appear on screen for more than about 15 minutes an hour. And he can't stop a single terrorist act from happening.

That last item is pretty crucial. I mean, isn't that the whole premise of the show? Preventing the terrorist acts planned by the bad guys? Not this year. It's not even the middle of the season, and the terrorists have already nuked L.A. and put the President of the United States into a coma. And did we mention just how tired we are of the endless parade of fascist vice presidents who can't wait to ditch the Constitution in favor of rule by sadistic VP brownshirts?

Enough already. Rush Limbaugh can excommunicate me if he wants, but I'm abandoning ship. You can laugh if you must, but Mrs. IP and I are watching Dancing with the Stars instead.

Go ahead. Get it out of your system. Laughter is the best medicine.

Are you done yet? No? Okay.

(tick tick tick tick tick tick
tick tick tick tick...)

Now? No? Well, okay, then. I'm going to resume talking anyway, and you can catch up later, when you feel like it.

We like the latest crop of dancing celebrities. Clyde Drexler is charming, and he might actually have the talent to master ballroom dancing. John Ratzenberger is game, an old guy who joined the show late as a replacement but still seems determined to work his ass off. Heather Mills is brave (screw you, Beatles fans), and as early as the first episode, she's already overcome the handicaps of her so-so looks and awful dress to become a longshot contender. Apolo Ohno, the speed skater, has Mrs. IP's heart all aflutter. There's also an incredibly tall woman who's not without grace and a fat-ass Italian boy band alum who could take the whole thing if he can manage to lose 50 pounds before the finals. There's someone to root against as well. The country singer. Who thinks he can dance but can't.

And then there's Laila Ali. The daughter of Muhammed Ali. She's got all of her dad's star quality. She's also a boxer. And a dancer. There's no question she could kick Jack Bauer's ass, and her Russian dance partner is so intimidated by her that whenever he thinks the camera isn't looking he sneaks a testosterone injection into his overflexed bicep.

Watching her first dance number felt like some kind of time warp. I could see her father in her face, and as she glided and whirled to the music, I kept flashing back to the fourteenth round of the Thrilla in Manila, which is probably the most brutal three minutes of sport I have ever witnessed, a display of courage and athleticism and character such as I never expect to see again. But here's Laila, dancing, graceful and beautiful but nevertheless competing, as if ballroom dancing were actually some kind of sport.

Come to think of it, it is. This is the one show where the celebrities aren't just glitter and makeup. They're working really hard and accepting the risk of looking like an idiot every time they set foot on the dance floor. Kind of admirable. And kind of irresistible too.

Are you done laughing yet? Let us know.

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