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December 27, 2012

Forget That New Year's Resolution

As you might expect, losing weight was again America’s number one New Year’s resolution. Of the 45% of us who make New Year’s resolutions, 38% vow to shed pounds. Sadly, you know how the story ends for most—their resolution eventually loses focus and few pounds get dropped.

The nice people at Destination America (DA) have stacked the deck even more against the weight-conscious. They’ve decided to kick off a deliciously devious series, “The United States of Bacon” (Sun, 10p), just days before 2013’s resolutions go into effect.

While watching US of B is far from eating the stuff, it’s a decent substitute. More important, DA quite possibly is providing a public service with this new series. With reports in September of a possible world-wide bacon shortage in 2013, pork-deprived viewers could calm their taste buds in the face of the so-called aporkalypse by tuning in to this series each week. That the aporkalypse later turned out to be slightly overhyped bull, is neither here nor there. 

Perhaps DA, though, is thinking most of itself with this series. Americans consume nearly 2 billion pounds of bacon annually. And while the average American eats nearly 18 pounds of it each year, sources in Silver Spring tell us the average Destination America employee consumes more than twice that amount.

While Travel Channel has broached bacon first, with periodic “Bacon Paradise” episodes, narrated by an unnamed announcer, DA takes a more personal path to the pig’s lower half. It’s dropped personable Chef Todd Fisher into the grease pit as the series’ host. Fisher—who likely soon will legally change his surname to Bacon, each week takes road trips around the country a la Food Network’s Guy Fieri. His lard-covered Holy Grail is reached when Fisher is in the company of people creating the tastiest and most decadent bacon concoctions. How about a bacon happy hour? Yep, Fisher visits the Saloon on Calhoun in Milwaukee that features a daily bacon happy hour; the bar provides up to 60 pounds of bacon strips alongside complimentary popcorn. Or how about a five-pound breakfast dish featuring eggs, potatoes and up to five meats, including, wait for it, bacon? Taking a healthy gulp of the mixture at a Kenosha, WI, diner, Fisher says he’s never been happier to eat garbage… for breakfast.

Similar to Fieri in physical stature and outgoing personality, but minus the cool clothes, spiked hair, vintage car and back-of-the-head sunglasses, Fisher, whose lower shirt buttons appear to be straining under a heavy load, clearly is having fun.  Why not? In the pilot episode alone he downs enough fat-laden pig belly to choke a small horse. Yet his enthusiasm for swine is something even a vegan could love, and he’s smart enough to know bacon is the star of this show.

While DA lacks the camera savvy and probably the budget of Food Network, Fisher and company’s pilot episode, largely in Milwaukee, is good viewing. It also likely sets the record for most utterances of the word “bacon” in a 20-minute span.

But this is more than merely an excuse to watch Fisher pig-out (sorry). Despite the fun, the man knows his subject, discussing the type of pig the bacon comes from, the way it’s cut and its nutritional merit. Hold on—bacon and nutrition in the same sentence? After downing a gargantuan burger topped with cheese, bacon and peanut butter, and a decadent bacon-wrapped meatloaf sandwich cooked in bacon grease and just prior to digging in to bacon cheddar apple pie (yes, you read that correctly), Fisher tells us of bacon fat’s health benefits. It contains no trans fat, he says, has only “slightly more total fat than butter” and carries “one of the highest protein-to-fat balances in any meat, fish or fowl.”

Perhaps, he’s right, but I’d swear my cholesterol rose 20 points just watching Fisher eat his way through Wisconsin’s pork paradise.

  • As we know, the beauty of cable is that it can cater to all tastes, not just those who take it as a compliment when someone says you smell like bacon. That’s why networks like Fearnet exist. For New Year’s eve, while most are making merry, Fearnet viewers will be counting down the hours of 2012 and ringing in 2013 with prime episodes of “Tales from the Crypt” (Mon, 6pET-6aET). While the 24 tales include classics like “And All Through the House” (6:30p ET), when a crazed Santa chases a murdering woman, and Emmy-nominated “Yellow” (2:30a ET), starring Kirk Douglas and Dan Aykroyd, perhaps the best reason to watch is the host. For its initial Shockin’ NYE’s Marathon, Fearnet has dug up the iconic Cryptkeeper as host. And despite a bit of rust, we have to admit the old boy hasn’t lost his charm.
  • You can criticize CNN for playing it so safe that it sometime seems dull by comparison to MSNBC and Fox News. Perhaps, but you have to give the network’s suits props for pairing Kathy Griffin with Anderson Cooper for its NYE’s coverage. For the 6th year this duo will be at Times Square to anchor the festivities. More specifically, after Griffin has uttered very un-CNN-like comments over the years, the fact that she’s back, and on live television, speaks volumes about the network’s interest in risk taking.
  • New Year’s Day also features a slew of marathons, on Style, WEtv, Ovation and USA, among many others. Of note is USA’s 24-hour “Law & Order” cavalcade, beginning at 6am. C’mon, you’ll be up at 6am, right?







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