June 09, 2004

Channel Surfing

I know I'm tempting the television gods with a question like this, but: can television shows possibly get any dumber?

Thanks to my long-awaited cable access, I can now surf through a staggering number of channels, but what I'm discovering is that having a staggering number of channels just means I have access to a staggering amount of bad television.

To illustrate my point, let's visit some of the more distasteful television tidbits out there today that are apparently passing as entertainment.

Trading Spaces: My girlfriend used to love this show with a passion, but even she's finally getting tired of it. Think long and hard, people. Would you trust your neighbors to transform a room in your house into something different, if limited to $1,000 and the questionable interior decorating skills of someone with very few qualifications?

American Chopper: A large grumpy man, who I would be scared of from ten miles away, yells at his sons while they build loud motorcycles. It's always the same scenario. Will they finish the chopper on time? Long answer: yeah. Short answer: yep. How they can devote an hour to this crap is beyond me.

The One That Got Away: This is, of course, a reality television show that has nothing to do with reality, which means, of course, that my girlfriend loves it. Which means, of course, that I have to watch it. The premise? A guy with rugged good looks and questionable intelligence is hooked back up with several women from his past who all, for some inexplicable reason, profess to love him. It's great for the guy. I mean, really, he gets to canoodle with a harem of adoring hotties. You know, just like real life! Eventually, darn it, he has to choose just one, at which point, I'm sure, my girlfriend will find another reality television show to watch. Somebody shoot me.

E! True Hollywood Stories: Take the following template and make it into a television show. Tell the story of a Hollywood celebrity, and be sure to talk about their descent into drug abuse and subsequent recovery. It's enough to make me wonder if that's a prerequisite for stardom. Imagine, if you will: you're auditioning for the role of a lifetime, and you're perfect for it. Suddenly, the producer approaches you: "Hmm, it says here that you've never had a drug problem. I'm sorry. I just don't think you're right for this part. Here's a vial of cocaine. Come back after rehab."

World Poker Tour: We've all felt the urge, haven't we? You're in a casino, and you're just burning with the desire to go over to the poker table to watch people play poker! What? You haven't felt that urge? Well, tough! There's a television show devoted to it anyway. How is this stuff entertaining? HOW?!! Is it the huge amounts of money the players are supposedly wagering? Because, I have news for you. . . they're not actually wagering any money at all. It's play money. It's a fictitious number that looks impressive but, in reality, they're just keeping score. It's points, nothing more. And why do the announcers talk in hushed tones? Is there a baby sleeping somewhere in the back of the room?

Celebrity Poker Showdown: Consult the above gripe, except add a bunch of lesser-known celebrities who really aren't all that good at poker.

The O'Reilly Factor: If ever there was a forum in which a grumpy man can shout at people he disagrees with, this would be it. It's like a political version of American Chopper, except the large man is replaced with a small man with creepy eyebrows that make him look like The Joker from the Batman movie.

I could go on, but there's work to be done.

Posted by Ryan at June 9, 2004 11:11 AM

Tuesday nights at 10 pm, turn on FX and watch The Shield. Its not uplifting tv but it is extremely well done and riveting.

Beyond that, if its not sports or a Groening cartoon then I'm likely just not interested. I'm getting a Tivo soon so that I can reclaim those lost hours of endless surfing and never finding a damned thing worth watching.

By the way, HGTV has some decent shows along the lines of Trading Spaces but not as stupid a premise.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at June 9, 2004 01:31 PM

You hit it right on the head Ryan. Factor in that Charter raises cable rates every year and you'll understand exactly why I had my cable disconnected 6 years ago and have never looked back. See you at the lake.

Posted by: Bruce at June 9, 2004 02:24 PM

Can it get dumber?! I don't think you've even messaged the tip of the dildo (I mean) iceberg... Where is Layne today, by the way? What about that "reality" show "the surreal life"? What about 100 years of Jerry Springer (is there any trailer park left untouched)? And yes, it will get lower, I understand that you will be receiving the "Trailer Park Boys" soon. Wait for it America!

Posted by: leah at June 9, 2004 03:55 PM

er, massaged the tip of the iceberg...

Posted by: leah at June 9, 2004 03:56 PM

After seeing some of what Fox considers to be "reality shows" ("The Swan," "Man vs. Beast," "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance," et.al.), I've figured that television can't go any lower (and I keep getting fooled by shows that lower the bar even more).

It's gotten to be like watching a train wreck. You want to turn away, but you can't...

Posted by: mhking at June 9, 2004 10:18 PM

I'm forced to subsist on Queer Eye and Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

Posted by: Heidi at June 10, 2004 11:31 AM

Bleh on Queer Eye but a big thumbs up on ATHF!

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at June 10, 2004 01:26 PM

Best description of the O'Really Factor ever.

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