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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Boob Tube 

Nothing's on television. Nothing is ever on television. What passes as entertainment for most people often leaves me scratching my head and saying "HUH?". I sometimes wonder is the entire world small minded for watching stupid sitcoms with light-hearted family humor, or if I'm small minded for demanding action, car chases, and explosions. I usually determine the former group is dumber, because family humor is stupid - whereas to deny ourselves chaos, mayhem, and the suffering of others is to deny what makes us human. Simple enough conclusion, but the thought still creeps across me once in awhile.

So I have decided to list a few of the TV shows I like to watch, followed by shows I despise. If you do not see your favorite show mentioned here, please do not get angry that I have forgotten it. Truth is, I probably haven't forgotten it, I probably just don't fucking like it but don't hate it enough to mention it. You simple-minded prick.

Shows that are coolness:

Mythbusters - Colorful special effects gurus Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage build things, smash things, beat each other over the heads, and blow shit up in the name of science...all the while acting like Jim Carrey on speed. And unseen narrarator bad mouths their appearance, their work ethic, their mothers, and their libido while they build scale models and full sized recreations to prove or disprove urban legends, such as determining whether dog piss can make baking soda explode.
Pros:
Engaging hosts, funny as hell, things get destroyed, and above all it's educational.
Cons:
Most episodes don't hold up well to multiple viewings. Sometimes the tests are obviously flawed.

The X-Files - Who doesn't know this one? Two FBI agents, one male and one female (oooh...sexual tension), attempt to solve paranormal mysteries all over the country for the FBI's secret "X-Files". Will it be a monster of the week, or a mytharc episode exploring the depth of the government's involvement with extraterrestrials? Who IS that smoking man? The show's over now, but I still watch re-runs sometimes. I was a big fan of of TXF when it was still on (actually right from the first episode back in '93), and it never quite rubbed off.
Pros:
Great dialogue and direction...very atmospheric. The first episodes had a great "clever use of low-budget" feel to them. Inventive. Mark Snow's scoring was the best television has had since Angelo Badalamenti's work on Twin Peaks.
Cons:
Underacting abound. The show got pretty bad in it's final few seasons...I stopped watching it during the final year.

Ghosthunters - I'm a big paranormal enthusiast (although I'm something of a skeptic), and ghost hunting was a hobby of mine in high school. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that the Sci-Fi channel was going start a series that followed a ghost-hunting team (in this case TAPS - The Atlantic Paranomal Society - which is a group I had heard of before) on their normal routine as they attempt to gather evidence in haunted places. What I'm greeted with is a bunch of goofy bastards running around on infrared camera bitching at each other about not being able to find the house when they were driving there three hours earlier. Well, if you want reality, there it is.
Pros:
The show doesn't appear to be heavily staged like most reality shows. Some episodes end up with no evidence or inconclusive evidence. Actually kind of creepy.
Cons:
The investigators themselves aren't exactly objective (one of them is a "demonologist"? What the hell?). Way too many scenes of the pussy-whipped group leaders trying to convince their wives to let them go ghost hunting. The team is totally made up of unlikable jackasses that would be best off lying dead at the bottom of a crater somewhere.

World's Scariest Police Chases, World's Wildest Police Videos, Police Videos, et all. - A car thief in a black IROC Camaro is flying down a stretch of Georgia Interstate. The dash camera in the pursuing police cruiser captures the moment as the Camaro hits speeds in excess of 120 mph, starts leaving the cruiser behind, then loses control and flies head first into a big tree. All the while white-haired prune cock-knocker Sherrif John Bunnell gives his overemotive, smart-assed commentary from behind clenched pearly whites: "Another high performance car with a low performance driver. Now this punk with no respect for other peoples' property will end up someone else's property in a state penitentiary." Lots of crazy action, true crime, and douchebag cops caught on camera.
Pros:
Terribly exciting and violent. Fun to root for the criminals. John Bunnell is funny.
Cons:
The show has too much social conscience, rarely showing the (more common that you would think) videos where the criminals get away. Brown-noses cops way too much. John Bunnell is still a cock-knocker.

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! - I could actually spend all day just writing about the Showtime series (serieses?) that I watch, because they probably have overall the best lineup of any network. But I'll only cover one: Smartass extraordinares Penn & Teller take every bullshit thing that some people believe in...from psychic powers to global warming to God...then explain why it isn't real. Great science and logic backs up everything they do. And best of all: Believers in these things get REALLY pissed about this show.
Pros:
See the pros for Mythbusters, only subtract "things getting destroyed".
Cons:
Occasional gaps in logic. The show is only half an hour long.

CHiPs - This goes under "guilty pleasure". An infamous series that featured a white and a Hispanic duo of motorcycle cops (both of which juggled their police careers with their active bachelor lifestyles), CHiPs premiered in 1977 as an attempt to create the first realistic drama about a highway patrol department on television. Although it was successful at this to start with, the show eventually got gimmicky ("Now they're fighting a guy with a jetpack! Laser guns on the back of pickup trucks!"), and through it all, Ponch and John were never allowed to use their guns. Not once. They never even drew them. And I should also mention the weird effect the staged car crashes had on my childhood. Scenario: a white 1972 Ford Country Squire wagon rearends a blue 1968 Pontiac GTO, goes airborne, cuts a spiral, then lands on its roof and explodes. All of this in super slow-motion, set to twangy 1970s guitar music with synthesizer backing. This was some hip shit during the time.
Pros:
Chases, crashes, motorcycles, and cool 1970s haircuts. Cool late '60s and early '70s musclecars were cheap during this time period, so a lot of them were used on the show ("Hey! There's a '70 Dodge Super Bee back there!").
Cons:
Dopey storylines, especially later in the series. Bad dialogue. Bad "flatbed filming". Cool late '60s and early '70s musclecars were cheap during this time period, so a lot of them were destroyed on the show ("They just blew up a 1971 Trans Am! Bastards!").

Shows that blow:

Joan of Arcadia - Follows the adventures of a high school girl who talks to God. God tells her to do thing. Strange things, which somehow always end up for the better. Pat Robertson would be proud.
Pro:
At least it encourages people to ponder a subject most don't even want to think about.
Con:
Well, for starters, it's a preachy load of horse shit...

American Chopper - Follows a bunch of old flabby mamma's boys who pretend to act all badassed while they're building incredibly stupid-looking motorcycles. The shop is lead by "Paul Sr.", some grey haired asswipe biker who thinks he's hot shit but is overall about as intimidating as a double cheeseburger.
Pros:
Unless you like modern custom choppers: None.
Con:
Just stop bitching at each other already, you bilge-crapping ass-hats.

American Hot Rod - American Chopper, only following the day-to-day trials of Body Coddington's Hot Rod shop.
Pros:
See the Pros for American Chopper, only replace "choppers" with "hot rods".
Con:
See the Con for American Chopper.

Overhaulin' - Yeah, I devoted an entire entry to this one. Some dicksponge gets his car stolen by the show, they laugh as how beat-up it is, then proceed to destroy and rebuild it as something "cool", under the watchful eye of ultra-tacky billet aluminum worshipping hot-rodder Chip Foose. Then they give it back to the owner with an attitude of "Yeah, your car sucked, but now it's cool thanks to us. Bow down."
Pro:
At least the cars aren't junky anymore.
Cons:
Some moral questions. Annoying hosts. Chip Foose is almost as overrated as Troy Trepanier and Boyd Coddington. 9 times out of 10 the cars looked better when they were junky.

Tru Calling - Uber-hip CSI wannabe follows some dorky bint with a stupid name as she goes back in time to prevent murders from happening after hearing dead people talk to her. In the meantime she poses in tank tops and tries really hard to look like Jessica Alba. Yeah, that's the size of it.
Pro:
Good idea.
Con:
Bad execution.

Family Guy - This blatant Simpson's rip off was mercifully cancelled from Fox's lineup years ago, yet thanks to the cult following it has maintained since then, it's now scheduled to return. The rundown: A fat ugly dumb guy goes on fat ugly dumb guy adventures in a generic town inhabited with wacky characters, and is supported by his scratchy-voiced wife, his dipshit son, and his self-centered daughter, along with his mysteriously smart baby who never ages. Does this sound familiar yet? How anyone can so much as crack a smile at this show is a complete mystery to me.
Pros:
Occasionally interesting story ideas. The dog is cool.
Cons:
Cheesy animation, some of the most annoying voice acting in cartoon history, awful comic timing, almost totally unoriginal.

Seinfeld - Although long since ended, this show is still heralded as a masterpiece of subtle, sophisticated humor by people who wouldn't know subtle, sophisticated humor if they found it in a mailbox in an enveloped marked "Fragile: Subtle, sophisticated humor inside". Follows the adventures of Jerry Seinfeld as he worships Superman and deals with his dumbass neighbors.
Pros:
I applaud the attempt at subtle, sophisticated humor. The story elements were cleverly linked.
Cons:
Jerry Seinfeld is not funny. He never has been. The same goes for everyone else on the show. If you're going to make a show of this caliber, it would be beneficial to get funny people to act in it. Timing is crucial to good comedy.

There are probably more shows to add here, but I'm getting bored with this and it's definitely long enough right now, so I'll end it here. And as always, stay tuned for more bitching.

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