MTV has launched an attack on your Sunday Night attention span with four new shows aimed at the male demo. Bottom line: I’ve come to not really expect much from MTV, so I was pretty impressed with the lineup. The real gem in the bunch is Travis Pastrana’s Nitro Circus while the least entertaining is Rob Drydek’s Fantasy Factory. Either way it makes for a solid 2 hours of Sunday night, at least until Entourage comes back. Here’s the breakdown on each.

The College Humor Show

The original shows that College Humor Dot Com has been putting out are funny. Sometimes. When they are on the internet. While the characters and concepts are good for 2-minute videos, I’m not sure they translate to TV where there’s a need to have stories that can cover a 30 minute time slot. The difference is that with the internet, if I think something sucks, I can find another video.  Or I can look at boobs.

Like a drunken game of beer pong, the first episode was hit and miss. It was geared toward 1) people who are in college 2) people that work at internet companies who write jokes for a living I am inherently bias since I 1) am not that far out of college, and 2) work at an internet company where I write jokes for a living. I thought a lot of the setups were funny-because-they-were-true. The rest of the world might not agree. At the end of the day the show seems like one long commercial for a website with a few giggles thrown in the mix.  I say the internet has won this round, but it’s definitely worth hanging in for the next episode.

Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory

Dryrdek has been a pro skater since the age of 16, and he totally acts like it.  The show opens on Drydek and his cousin Drama talking about getting Lamar Odom to invest in a new Asian Fusion restaurant. It’s a boring conversation and seems to be in the vein of forced-reality-acting where we are supposed to learn about the back-story through staged conversations. It’s broken up when the two decide it would be a good idea to get the dog to skateboard, which is also boring. Then they shoot hoops off a ramp while ditching into a foam pit. 

The rest of the show follows Drydek as he does a bunch of nothing and tries to convince Odom to invest in his new restaurant, broken up by skate sessions and basic stunts in the ‘Fantasy Factory.’ It’s mildly entertaining to see Drydek act like an asshole as he tries to “Mogul Up.” But the show never really gets beyond the premise of “I have a warehouse with a few skate ramps, and a lot of money to buy new skate ramps.” When I watch skateboarders, I want to see them falling down stairs and kick-flipping over moving cars. I don’t care about them tasting the menu at their restaurants. I cant help but think that the real problem with the show is a weak premise and poor producing. I might have made the mistake of watching this show after Nitro Circus, where the stunts are just on another level and the people are way more interesting. I’ll watch one more, but will need to be wowed by something big to get hooked.

Nitro Circus

Travis Pastrana comes up short on Bob Burnquist’s mega ramp while trying to back flip a Big Wheel and hits his head so hard that he goes temporarily blind. While most people would call it a day, Pastrana climbs back up, drops in, screams down the ramp, hucks the Big Wheel and nails the landing. The entire show is about the type of balls and persistence it takes to pull of these types of stunts, and to be at the top of your game as an extreme athlete. And it is totally entertaining.

Jackass is one of my favorite shows of all time. I don’t really like watching people get seriously injured. But I love watching people get kind of hurt, especially when their friends are there to laugh at them. While Jackass really staked its territory with fire-crackers-in-the-butt kind of jokes, Nitro Circus is more about going really, really big. It was always fun to watch Bam Margera get kicked in the Balls by Johnny Knoxville, but it’s more impressive to see Pastrana dive out of a plane with no parachute. Which he does. And you should watch. The characters are not drunken skater punks. They are serious extreme athletes and professional stunt men, with a few exceptions. I’m definitely looking forward to more episodes. We have a serious winner.    

How’s Your News?

Premise: People with disabilities can also be news reporters!

Reality: No they can’t, but it’s funny to watch them try!

Bobby, one of the reporters comprising the How’s Your News Crew is the opposite of mildly retarded; he is so retarded that he speaks in gibberish. When he interviews people it’s garbled to the point that there are no questions, just noises. It’s well suited to personalities like Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel who can pretend they understand and make up their own responses, making their own interviews in the process. For everyone else, including the likes of John McCain and random Venice Beach tourists, it’s just awkward and uninteresting, and so is the show.

The show never builds on itself. It starts off as disabled people interviewing celebrities, and never really hits the money. We don’t learn anything from the interviews, except for random facts about the interviewers. After thirty minutes it’s just not all that interesting to know that Jeremy, who looks like a disable Michael Cera (but less awkward) likes to play the drums. It’s all very cute in a Special Olympics kind of way but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s more about entertainment than inspiration, particularly since the Executive Producers are Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I could be jaded. Maybe this is the closest the pair can ever get to something like community service.  I could see showing this to a group of fourth-graders who are not blanketed by irony, and then leaving them with a message about how disabled people can live and work like normal adults. But since the show deals with taboo topics of sex and drugs (and airs at 10:30pm) it’s very much a show intended for an older audience. I will be giving it a second chance next Sunday. 

Full Length Episodes can be found HERE.