TORONTO – A quick search to find out what the ‘FX’ in ‘FX’ stands for reveals that its actual meaning is “FOX Extended.” The channel is an extension of the FOX brand that features superb and risqué programming with the awesome liberality of cable.
The best part?
It has been a long time coming and Canadians will finally have the chance to catch up on everything FX-related when FX Canada launches today at 9 pm. I had the opportunity to attend the launch party for the channel and here’s a primer on its programming along with my thoughts and recommurtzdations on what shows to watch.
The League: I have never understood the fascination with fantasy football leagues. I wasn’t sure if that stemmed from my own lack of athletic ability or if the idea of sitting around with friends scheming over statistics and injury reports over one of the Manning quarterbacks was my idea of a good time. That’s why I was skeptical when I initially heard about the concept of The League. The show stars an ensemble cast including Canadian Jon Lajoie (as Taco MacArthur), Stephen Rannazzisi (Taco’s brother Kevin) and Nick Kroll (Rodney Ruxin) as a few of the guys who “compete” and take the practice of prognostication to a whole new level. And yes, that is actually what the show is about. A fantasy football league. If the concept of making a show about picking football players and scoring their statistics sounds like writers are running out of ideas, you’re wrong. The premiere episode is hysterical! While I never thought I would use the Seinfeld analogy, there are some undeniable similarities between the sitcoms. The former hit for NBC celebrated the fact that it was about ‘nothing’ when fans of the series will tell you that it was so much more as it hilariously looked at relatable moments in everyday life. Similarly, The League is not just about guys picking fake teams of NFL professionals for a pool. It hilariously examines the concept of male bonding in a satirical way. It makes you laugh over and over again. There are many Jewish references in the program (the second episode is titled “The Sukkah”) and this was the only part that I found confusing. It appears FX Canada will jump right in with the launch of the third season and forego the first two, and while I initially thought that this would be a problem, the format of the show isn’t serial enough to really notice a difference. I mean the first episode features a porno being shot in the location of where the fantasy draft is taking place! While I was watching, I could actually hear a collective “porn? I’m in!” assessment coming in from guys everywhere. Out of all the shows that Canadians will now get to see on FX Canada, this one surprised me the most. It truly is the definitive Desperate Housewives for men and a total touchdown. Not just a fantasy touchdown, but a real one. (Premieres tonight @ 11:30 pm / regular timeslot is Thursdays @ 10:30 pm)
Sons Of Anarchy: Sons of Anarchy is a hit. It’s truly the flagship program of FX and soon will be the talk around watercoolers everywhere. Scratch that. It will be talk around Starbucks locations everywhere and it is that fact that truly defines the show’s crosswide appeal. While the show initially appears to be just about a motorcycle club dealing weapons, it also is a deep character examination about friendship and family. Based loosely on the idea of Hamlet, the show focuses on Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam), a man who is conflicted by his bond to his riding buddies and their increased willingness to go outside the law to achieve their goals. He is flanked by the president of the club (and his stepfather) Clarence ‘Clay’ Morrow (Ron Perlman) and his mother Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Segal). It would be impossible to describe the show’s greatness in just a few words, but when I was prepping for an interview with the show’s Kim Coates, I can tell you that I literally tore through two seasons in two days. The show is original and groundbreaking. It breaks stereotypes and bonds brotherhood with badass bikes. Catch it while the motor is still running. (Premieres Tuesday November 1 @ 10 pm).
American Horror Story: American Horror Story has been getting a lot of attention in the States. At first glance, it shouldn’t work. It’s a horror series from the producers of Glee (yes, Glee!) which stars Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton as parents who move into a haunted mansion. Certainly, given their previous roles on The Practice and Friday Night Lights respectively, McDermott and Britton would not be my first-choice leads in any horror-based drama. I also thought that the premise had been played out. While it’s a cute idea to launch a show like this on Halloween, that’s all that I thought it was. A series that would have been better served as one of those Stephen King made-for-TV specials. Like the other FX programming though, all prior and preconceived judgments have to be reserved. This show is addicting and well-acted. It only takes the first five minutes of American Horror Story to forget that McDermott was Bobby Donnell and Britton was Tami Taylor. The show is intoxicatingly scary but isn’t based on random acts of gore. Instead it is plot-driven, concentrated in suspense and is only complimented but not defined by jump-out-of-your-seat shocking moments. My absolute favorite storyline is how McDermott’s character, Ben, sees their housekeeper as a hot French maid that wants nothing more than to seduce him while everyone else sees her as a 60-something housekeeper. Funny? Yes. Disturbing? Mmmhmm. Must-See? Definitely. (Premieres tonight @ 9 pm / regular timeslot is Wednesdays @ 10 pm)
Wilfred: Wilfred is the new network’s main comedy. While it is not as dark as American Horror Story, there is a similarity in the sense that it is also about someone seeing something differently than everyone else. Elijah Wood plays Ryan, a young man still trying to find his place in the world when he forms a friendship with his neighbor’s dog, Wilfred. While everyone else sees Wilfred (Jason Gann) as an animal, Ryan sees him as an offensive, insufferable and actual person and the pair’s friendship is hilarious but heartwarming in a very strange way. The reason the show works is its originality (despite being an Australian spin-off). It’s crude and cringe-worthy but colorful and cute at the same time. Wilfred is a winner. (Premieres tonight @ 11 pm / regular timeslot is Thursdays @ 10 pm)
**Photos Courtesy Of Rogers Media / FX Canada
Tags: American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy, The League, Wilfred