If you were starting a television network from scratch, what kind of stuff would you program? Me? Well, just getting some ideas rollin’ here, but I would probably start off with a solid block of infomercials – gotta pay the bills. Then, at 9AM we would start a daily eight-hour block of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, arranging the replay schedule so seasons two and three would play much more frequently than seasons one, four, five, six, and seven. At 5PM, there would be some sort of travelogue show where Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and I just go on dope trips. Next, a fifteen-minute version of Jeopardy that cuts out all the bullshit. Probably some syndicated TV eps in there too (Only the good seasons though!) Then, a “classic” ep of the Victor Cruz/ Me travelogue show. Prime time would be some scripted drama adapted from a Scandanavian scripted drama. Late night is a free-form Zooey Deschanel talk show followed by a free-form Eli Manning talk show that is like Comics Unleashed, but with Eli Manning, Iman Shumpert, and John Mulaney. They have a lot of opinions that they need to get out there. Back to the infomercials after that! Alas, I do not have a television network. Esquire Magazine does, thought. And they have decided to air three shows. The Esquire Network began this summer essentially out of nothing, as cable lifestyle networks often do. Originally, this network was supposed to take the place of G4TV. However, it actually took the place of the Style Network (which, thank God, because I am not sure what I would have done if I didn’t have a place to see the latest gadgets and what t-shirts my favorite podcast regulars wear in real life). But! G4 still exists. And so does the Esquire Network with its three shows. Given that Esquire already has a magazine and website, they already have a “brand” as the kids call it. Their television network skews to the fans of this brand – a male audience, but not the filthy sweat-pantsed and constantly bonered viewers of Spike TV. No, Esquire viewers are wearing slacks or fancy jeans that mask their constant high-end, modern Wall Street boners. Esquire viewers get their sophisticated boners from the three main Esquire programs – The Getaway, Knife Fight, and Brew Dogs. “What if Anthony Bourdain was a bunch of different hip but accessible celebrities and he only went to very fancy places?” Well question-asker, Esquire Network has an answer to your made-up question! The Getaway features various famous people going to the great cities of the world and mostly just buying things. At various points they will meet other celebrities. That is especially the case with Rashida Jones. Ms. Jones runs into Adam Scott, Chris O’Dowd, and Ronan Farrow (who is both Mia Farrow’s son and also a living version of the gifted violin player from Boy Meets World).Some of this is probably the hand of the editors and television producers showing itself, but I also like to believe that when you are a beautiful woman or man, other beautiful women or men just show up behind you in the pub. Locations for The Getaway are mostly international and intriguing, but then Ryan Kwanten goes to LA and Josh Gad goes to New York and Paul Feig ends up in Boston. All those are great cities (probably! Have never been to them. Have never been on a plane. Mostly spend my time on this bean bag chair) but if the Esquire Network is paying for a lavish cosmopolitan excursion, maybe dream bigger than LA, True Blood. Aziz Ansari does not put feet to floor in the morning for anything less than East Asia. Learn from Aziz. Everything on that show looks gorgeous since beautiful things are the key to travel television. Each episode presents talking heads with various locals telling people things about their city, their language, and their culture. Another thing that happens, is the focal famous person will drink one drink before the scene cuts to the next day. The celebrities then talk about having a big night, which leads me to believe there is a boatload of heavy cocaine use that Esquire is not showing us. If anything makes travel TV, it is gratuitous cocaine use. Please give the people what they want. Most cooking competition shows have some sort of stakes (or at least steaks!) but Knife Fight exists in a world of no stakes. I guess “bragging rights” are stakes just like the law school applications I’m working on and my Canadian girlfriend are stakes (AKA not real things!). Chef Ilan Hall (from Top Chef season 2 – you know the one where they cut that guy’s hair and the best chef got kicked off because of the incident and then everyone shaved their heads in solidarity with the kicked off chef while also really sticking it to the bullied chef [Not to get too political, but the Miami Dolphins could have learned a thing or two from Top Chef season 2]). Mr. Hall spends a lot of time comparing his kitchen to a battleground and a war zone. Kind of a strange take as I think those things are nothing like the kitchen of an upscale restaurant used for after hours cooking competitions. If Mr. Hall believes that, he might not know what wars and battles are. For example, Braveheart does not have a whole lot of confit and classical sauce talk in any of its acts. Something the Esquire Network, particularly Knife Fight, loves is referencing other television shows. The amount of Top Chef talk on the show makes me believe it was initially pitched as Top Chef 2 the Streets. “Top Chef this, I was on Top Chef that,” say the hosts and competitors and everyone all the time on this show. Sometimes they also do CrossFit. Knife Fight is great at cutting out the bullshit though. It recognized the fun of simple Top Chef challenges and competitions, added some CrossFit, and voila. This show. There are celebrities, too, including Elijah Wood and Drew Barrymore. Speaking of Drew Barrymore, Knife Fight is not better than Whip It. Have you seen Whip It? You should. Probably best sports movie of the past thirty years, and yes I have seen Rudy and honestly Rudy the guy just seems like a dick. The most incomprehensible show on Esquire is Brew Dogs. For all the talk on the sidewalks and avenues you hear about craft beer, there has yet to be a show about how fucking annoying those people can be. Enter Brew Dogs. The hosts, James Watt and Martin Dickie, seem like nice people. However, in the second line of the introduction, they mention that one of their clams to fame is hosting “beer-inspired protests” which, come the fuck on. Just brew beer, nerds! Don’t nerd this up more than it needs to be nerded. With Ken Marino’s beer sitcom upcoming, Brew Dogs had to strike while the craft beer iron was hot and there weren’t fourteen different shows about it already. In each episode, Dickie and Watt will go to a city, meet a brewer, and decide to brew the ultimate “CITY X” beer in some wacky way. In Philadelphia, they brew a beer on a float. In Portland, they brew a beer on the Willamette River. In San Diego, they brew a beer in a train car. Basically, Brew Dogs becomes an exercise in not spilling huge vessels of boiling water on two Scottish men. That is surprisingly watchable! In the various cities, Dickie and Watt will also go to restaurants to make beer pairings, talk about different breweries, and also just ambush people with alcohol. Another one of their goals is to convert one million craft beer virgins. If you had checked out with the beer protest shit, get ready to check out again! Firstly, come on. Secondly, most of the people they talk to seem pretty receptive to free beer. When they go into a spa in Denver, the fellows ask a group of women what their favorite beers are. These women are very familiar with a wide variety of beer styles. Not really the type of people the B’Dogs were hoping to convert, as they are already certified Denver BEER HEADS. Do better scouting for your garbage segment! A lovely woman in Philadelphia does say she doesn’t like some dark beer. After a dramatic look on their faces, she suddenly changes her tune, mostly out of pity. Have better standards for your garbage beer conversions! Again, Brew Dogs moves quickly and shows nice places you might maybe want to visit. There’s a ton of photogenic food and even more photogenic people. For being a show about beer nerds, Brew Dogs succeeds greatly in showing you how grating beer nerds can be sometimes. That sounds way harsh as Dickie and Watt just seem to be gregarious and enthusiastic. I wish they would give me free beer! But maybe not make an hour show about it. Esquire is going to have some new shows. One is about finance guys boxing to feel alive. I think it’s called Total Assholes. One is about scouting realty for bars. It might also be called Total Assholes. One is about Baron Davis wearing clothes. That sounds legit. These assumptions might be unfair. Boxing finance guys only might not be assholes. Bar realtors might not be assholes. Baron Davis is definitely not an asshole. However, the rub is that you can make a fair assumption that the Esquire network is kind of jerky. You might think that from commercials and billboards. But it’s not 100% jerky! It has the air of douche with pretty pictures. A ringing endorsement, I say!
The Esquire Network? OK!