Wednesday, July 01, 2009

TV - The Boring and the Disturbing


I Survived the Charlie Rose Show!

I recently did the impossible. I sat through an entire broadcast of the Charlie Rose Show. It required the presence of General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, not because of the person, but my odd fascination with the frightening, monstrous company. I suppose if Leon Panetta came on the show, I'd be equally fascinated by his frightening, monstrous company. I freely admit that I need more to capture my attention than the typically boring political guests, Charlie Rose's soft questions, and that spooky, boundless black background that gives us the impression that they're floating in deep space. The looming darkness, enveloping the hapless subject, lends a disturbing sense of infinite doom. This show literally looks like it goes on forever, physically and temporally. The show has nothing to break up the monotony of an hour's worth of two people talking about politics in space. If they broke things up with a segment - any segment, or shot occasional meteors behind the somnolescent guest and host, the viewer's desire to be jostled free of the televised anesthesia might be assuaged. I don't admit to having a flawless attention span, but there is hardly a way to stare at a dismal, staid televised image for more than a few minutes, regardless of the nature of the conversation taking place. How long can any of us stare at a painting? If Charlie reanimated Jimi Hendrix and propped his tattered body onto the guest "hot seat", most people might make it through ten minutes, and it would be off to another channel. This is the rare example of a show that belongs purely in transcript mode. I know I would much prefer to read this show than to watch it. That's right, Charlie, just mail me the show. My television time is far too valuable for your motionless meanderings.




Can Someone Help The Six Flags Guy?

Many of us are all too familiar with the dreaded Six Flags Guy, a supposedly old man that dances relentlessly, occasionally driving a Six Flags bus to round up innocent bystanders. The man clearly is suffering from amphetamine psychosis, and when he's driving a bunch of innocent women and children around in a bus, it's a problem. If you see this bus behind you, remember, the man is speeding (in several ways), and move the hell away from the bus. For more recent promotions, the troubled speed king has broken his silence, with his popcorn kernel head popping out of the commercial's banner in 2.5D, screaming "More flags, more fun, Six Flags!" His demeanor for this tag is so aggressive and disturbing, certainly the children, who comprise 90% of the target audience, are cowering behind a couch, asking mom if that scary man has finished his televised home invasion. Somebody must help this man. My solution is to take all of the leftover bags of medication from Michael Jackson's house and funnel-dump them into this psychotic soul's expansive gullet. Several have noticed the Six Flags Guy's resemblance to Junior Soprano from The Sopranos.





Late Night with (unfortunately) Jimmy Fallon

I have born witness to late night train wrecks before. I watched Magic Johnson, Alan Thicke (many years ago) and Chevy Chase journey into the talk show circuit, and these programs ground to an eventual halt. Television critics and ardent viewers all look back upon these adventures as flops. The shows did what they could to copy their high profile competitors of the time, namely Letterman and Carson. At least they had an excuse - they were up against late night monsters. Most dismissed the shows as doomed, due to the stiff competition and supposed incompetence of the hosts, as perceived by television pundits of the day. As I mentioned, I had seen these shows, and I can promise you, nothing can compare to the agony felt from watching Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. I'm sure Fallon is a charming fellow in person, but his true personality, that which he is compelled to exhibit on his new show, does not translate well at all through the cameras. Fallon succeeded on Saturday Night Live by portraying other characters - not by just being himself. The experience with Magic Johnson's show proves that success in other areas does not create a competent talk show host. Fallon stares stiffly at his guests, the teleprompters, and occasionally, the cameras, as he delivers his canned dialogue with deer-in-headlights fashion. It truly hurts to see this robotic script-reader go through his motions and make no effort to even act comfortable in such an unsuitable role. Speaking of roles, couldn't ol' Jimmy just play the character of a real talk show host? Clearly his penchant for role playing garnered him significant popularity during his tenure at SNL, so why not let that momentum guide his hosting? In short, he'd be a lot more watchable if he weren't so...himself. They could have pulled a hot dog vendor from the Manhattan streets, plopped him into the host chair, and that vendor would have been equally camera shocked, but significantly more interesting. To make matters worse, the writing staff might possibly be the worst from any show I've seen, ever. There was an ill-fated sitcom with abysmal writing called "Buffalo Bill" back in 1983, and that had held top honors for worst writing. Fallon's show, however, threatens that 26 year-old honor. The punchlines during bits are painful and consistently met with nervous, isolated chortles from the hushed audience. They'll often take a promising premise, such as "New IPhone Apps", and take it right to hell, complete with overuse of a random outmoded celebrity, such as Kirk Cameron. With horrible writing, a stagnant host, silent audiences and an average lineup of guests, one would assume the show will be cancelled shortly. Right? Guess again. His competition includes the ratings-challenged Craig Ferguson's show, and most of the NBC propaganda has been brazenly trumpeting the fact that Fallon's show has been outgunning CBS during this troubled time slot. Many attribute Fallon's continued lead in the ratings (by a mere 200,000 viewers over Ferguson and Kimmel) to the coat tail effect from Conan O'Brien's move to the slot preceding Fallon. I am highly suspicious about these ratings, and can't imagine why Jimmy Kimmel's show, with far more creativity and energy, isn't the ratings leader. NBC should have grabbed Kimmel while they could, and put him into the spot ultimately filled by the hopeless Fallon crew. Kimmel is definitely the better Jimmy. If Fallon is still host of the show one year from this posting, I'll happily pretend to eat my hat.


Ambulance Chasers

It's inevitable that legal firms will take their cause to the national stage, and brazenly ejaculate their "come hither" pick-up line to hordes of likely candidates. Several have been conspicuous in their offers for, well, "help".

"If you or a loved one WAS diagnosed with mesothelioma..."

The dangerously poor grammar (the word in capital letters should be WERE - I'll explain later) should be an immediate sign of incompetence in litigation. The quote above is the opening line for a commercial seeking juicy, low-hanging fruit in the form of asbestos sufferers, should any still exist. Clearly, no intelligent rhetoric would be necessary to rope in any surviving, lungless fossils who have, to date, not had the wherewithal to seek out legal representation. Nevertheless, here they are, polling the masses, believing that pissing on the beach still hits many grains of sand, be they indiscernible until a later date.

[Begin grammar spiel]
As for my criticism of the poor grammar in the above quote, when a sentence has a compound subject, in this case, "you" and "a loved one", it is generally expected to use predicate that would match the first subject term spoken ("you"). The question here involves whether to use "was" or "were". To find out which one is correct, we simply would omit the extra subjects of the sentence and test how it would sound. If we removed "or a loved one" from the quote in question, we'd be left with "If you...was diagnosed...". Obviously not correct. Stupid writers! They're all stupid!
[End grammar spiel]

Speaking of that which is indiscernible, another creepy commercial comes courtesy of the fine folks at Binder & Binder.

During idle afternoons, presumably prime time for disabled workers and all things disgruntled, the folks from Binder & Binder sprinkle their commercial into the soundtrack of the day. The "voice" of the commercial, in the eeriest, scariest whispers imaginable, recommends that we seek revenge for whatever physical, industrial, or psychological malady that was imparted upon us by those "bullies" of the business sector. The nefarious narration makes one think of the Devil whispering in one's ear. One might even compare it to Mephistopheles from Marlowe's Doctor Faustus or "Sam" from the "Son of Sam" murders. Clearly, the script for this campaign was penned by a former victim of bullying, and perhaps years ago, little Ernie, complete with his broken glasses and dishevelled Trapper Keeper, thought, "I'll show those bullies! I'm gonna write scary copy in the future!" The commercial typically ends with a disturbing send-off, such as "Don't let the big guys keep you down". I would find it ironic if a law firm's ghostly, inspirational quotes ultimately sends some unstable bastard to a former employer for some .38 caliber "clean up work".



A Brief Acknowledgement of the Departed

Michael Jackon's demise was a sad conclusion to the scrapbooks of many people, like myself, who grew up in the 1980s. I will miss the black Michael Jackson, but he died 25 years ago. Once the masks came on, the chimp came out, and the kids went along, I no longer considered him the person he once was. Michael was dead a long time ago, and this was a final absolution. Farrah and Ed, they were the true cultural staples of television in their day, and both died still struggling for life. I'll particularly miss Farrah. As for Billy Mays, I don't understand his sudden deification, but I'm just happy that his screaming is finally quelled.

2 comments:

Xoynx said...

Dude! Where did you get that Farrah pic?! I fell hard for Farrah in the '70s, and I've had her other swimsuit photo--the famous, ubiquitous one--on my desktop since her passing. I've never seen other pics from that day's photo shoot, though. Wicked!

Jennifer Thoma said...

So glad you're back! Thanks for making me smile! I missed you.