Monday , April 22 2024
Henry Rollins takes the talk show format on an intense and intensely satisfying journey.

TV Review: The Henry Rollins Show

Okay. Maybe it’s because my cable company doesn’t carry the Independent Film Channel (IFC) or maybe it’s because I’m simply out of touch with the universe as I’m too busy swimming in my own imagination, but how the hell did reality zip by me fast enough for me to be able to talk to you about the second season of The Henry Rollins Show?

I didn’t even know there had been a first season — and I consider myself a Henry Rollins fan! Crap. I wonder if this means that Henry will make a pit stop on one of his numerous trips across the country (or world, really) and head to Arkansas in order to smack the real world back into me? Probably.

Luckily, when the opportunity arose for someone to have a chance to write about the aforementioned second season, it didn’t matter that I currently don’t have the ability to watch the show on IFC. Nope. Instead, I was sent a sampler DVD containing the first three episodes in their entirety.

Have I ever mentioned how much I adore being a part of Blogcritics? Well, I do.

Whether talking about Rollins as an author, poet, spoken-word performer, front man for Black Flag or any of the various incarnations of the Rollins Band, or simply as a human being, the first word that comes to mind is “intensity.” That, above all else, is really what drew me into wanting to get a look at what The Henry Rollins Show was all about.

The Henry Rollins Show may be the most unexpected thing ever to have graced my television screen — a talk show hosted by Henry Rollins. Whoa.

After watching the sampler DVD — repeatedly — I feel comfortable telling you that this is the most unusual talk show that I’ve ever watched. I mean that in the best possible way, though. Instead of the usual inane pabulum and self-promotional bullsh*t that is the usual fare for such shows, Rollins offers up something that is at once genuine, engaging, stark, personal, and (of course) very intense.

On the season opener, for instance, you get the visual oddity of seeing Henry Rollins sitting and having a conversation with Marilyn Manson that not only leaves you feeling like you’ve gotten to see a bit more of Manson that he usually likes to reveal in an interview. Of course, I’m not saying that he was openly weeping and having a Kleenex moment with Rollins, but he does seem intrigued by the fact that Rollins isn’t just babbling away at him with the usual list of questions he’s probably been asked over and over since he first broke onto the scene with Antichrist Superstar.

Rollins, who comes across as a very genuine fan of music, actually engages Manson in conversation, and in turn gets his attention and gets him to actively participate in the process.

The same goes for the other two episodes on the sampler, which feature Rollins sitting and talking with Ben Stiller and John Waters. If the thought of Rollins in an intensely personal one-on-one with Marilyn Manson or Ben Stiller doesn’t immediately make you curious, allow me to promise you that the interview with John Waters certainly will. In each interview, Rollins seems comfortable and deeply interested in the person sitting right across from him, and in what they have to say.

That is so damned refreshing in a talk show.

Now, while getting to see Rollins sitting, talking, and generally picking the brains of his guests is worth the price of admission alone, there is a second part of his show. Much as a typical talk show, you see, The Rollins Show uses the bottom third of its time to feature musical artists, giving them the stage (literally) and allowing them to freely express themselves in ways that might not be so easily stomached on any of the major networks.

The musical guests on this sampler are Peaches, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, and The Mars Volta — and each one of them seem to really appreciate the openness of the situation and the ability to just play whatever the hell they feel like playing, for however long they feel like playing it.

The Mars Volta, especially, really seems to have appreciated that part of it.

Smart, funny, engaging, intelligent, and imminently entertaining, I cannot tell you the amount of phone calls that my local cable company will be getting from yours truly as I fight for IFC to become part of my available channels. The Henry Rollins Show is something that I think is worth at least that much effort on my part. Look for it on Fridays at 11:00 p.m. EST.

As a side note, the first season is currently available on Rollins’ own label, and will be mass released in June. Mine has already arrived, and has shown me that the three episodes of season two were no fluke. All three discs, comprising twenty episodes in total, are just as smart and funny.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Head on over to IFC and check out the show for yourself; if you don’t have IFC, either pester your television provider enough to get it, or become fast friends with someone who does.

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