January 18, 2005

My pop TV weakness.

I hardly watch any regular network TV shows. I'm a fan of a few HBO shows ("The Sopranos," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Da Ali G Show"). And despite all my carping, I watch "The Daily Show" daily. I watch a lot of cable news things. But network TV never seems worth bothering about. I watch some Sunday morning news shows like "Meet the Press." With the sole exception of "Joan of Arcadia," I skip all the network dramas. I've never even seen any of the recent/current shows about lawyers that you might think I would care about. I don't watch any network comedies and haven't since "Seinfeld" went off the air. I've only ever seen one episode of "Friends" (Brad Pitt was on) and one episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" (it happened to be playing on an airplane). And then there are the reality shows, which I generally avoid. I have watched a lot of "The Apprentice," but I got sick of it this season and skipped most of it. But I avoid all the other network reality shows ... with one exception. Bad though it is, and it's nearly always bad, I can't -- I won't -- stop watching "American Idol," which starts again tonight. Is it that they stay away long enough that we miss them or at least forget the all the horror and tedium? What is the strange fascination with watching a big group assemble and then be whittled down in stages until only one is left?

UPDATE: Now, I've watched it. I'm glad they've raised the age limit (to 28). Eight minutes into the show, I'm already sick of the promotions of second rate celebrities: Mark McGrath (I don't care!), Kenny Loggins (Kenny Loggins!!). And now, after I've watched the whole thing, what can I say but that I'm in for the season? One thing I'll add is that I really feel for the young people who seem not to have anyone to help them, to let them know what isn't appropriate. A lot of these kids are just guessing at what is good and making bad judgments, but if they only had someone to direct them, everything would be different. Some of them seem so all alone. It's really very touching sometimes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes: "Mr. McGrath spent this show making sure he did not overshadow the 'major' intellects he sat near. He played 'Celebrity Jeopardy' and mertilized (Calvin & Hobbes) all comers for days and won much charity money. He is one of the good guys although he came across as male bimbo on this show." I must admit, I had never heard of the guy and really was in no position to call him "second rate." I basically dislike the use of extra celebrities on the show, which is one of the many bad things about the show I overlook as I start watching it again.

By the way, did "Calvin & Hobbes" originate "mertilized"? Doesn't it go back a lot farther -- maybe to Snagglepuss? No one seems to care about Snagglepuss -- he's become a second rate cartoon cat -- but he was once beloved! He probably didn't originate "mertilized," I think, now that I am reminded (at the link) that one of his catchphrases was "Heavens to Murgatroid." So, well, I'll just "exit stage left."

AND YET ANOTHER UPDATE: I was just watching the TiVo'd "Daily Show" from last night (it's Wednesday morning -- I'm catching the show while scrambling some breakfast eggs), and I was surprised to hear Jon Stewart say "Heavens to Murgatroid." That's very weird! I haven't thought of "Heavens to Murgatroid" in, I think, decades. How can that happen? I guess we'll all start saying "Heavens to Murgatroid" now. When we were watching "Hair" over the weekend, I was struck by the hippie slang "bread." No one says "bread" for money anymore, but you don't notice when something once common stops altogether (not that "Heavens to Murgatroid" was ever common). By the same or not so similar token, I went to Target the other day to buy some string, only to learn that string is not really a common commodity anymore. I had to use the little telephone to inquire where string might be and was directed to a back area in Automotive where there was some strange natural jute twine packaged for the crafts market and some thick rope. I tracked down a salesperson and asked him about string. He said they were "phasing it out," but that maybe in the Spring there would be some kite string. Have I digressed far enough from last night's "American Idol" yet? I think so. Exit stage right.

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