August 3, 2005

The "remarkably clueless and elitist" Current TV.

The Chicago Tribune reviews Current TV -- the new Al Gore project. (Via the Corner.) Apparently, it's quite bad:
Promising "subjects that young adults can rarely find on TV" in one's press kit is foolhardy; advertising that the channel "will blow your mind," as one on-air host does, is downright lunacy.

All the new-media spiel that chairman Al Gore and other Current hype-meisters have been spinning of late sounds like some fairy tale from the dot-com boom. Given the hyperbolic pronouncements about how it would change the face of television and the Internet and the culture, blah blah blah, Current's first 36 hours were particularly disappointing.

There wasn't a whole lot of viewer-created content on the channel on Monday and through midday Tuesday (and Current's Web site appeared to be having difficulties posting the majority of viewer submissions), but it's interesting to examine the professionally produced segments that Current did choose to air in these early hours of its existence.

For a channel that is supposed to be aimed squarely at 18 to 34 year olds and reflect their views and concerns, Current's remarkably clueless and elitist. And a fair amount of the content could be found just about anywhere else.

We meet a couple of newlyweds who drive a Lexus and fight over whether to get a $1,200 icemaker (the expensive ones, you see, make clear ice, not cloudy ice). Young couples in New York City -- news flash! -- find the real-estate market daunting. We meet a couple who's just had a baby. Baby poop is, apparently, very smelly.

Thanks, Current, for blowing my mind.
From the Houston Chronicle:
Borrowing a term from Apple's iPod, the channel's clean-cut hosts call the segments (all eight minutes or less) "pods." Pods are shuffled as viewer requests pop up on the Web site....

Every half-hour Google Current looks at the most popular hits for certain topics or words such as "current," "dark" or "create." It sounds like a cool way to inject some freshness, but even those are repeated.

And where is the sense of humor? On the first day of broadcasting, Current TV seemed a lot like a grown-up version of Sesame Street — without the Muppets.

Is it wrong to make so much fun of them them the minute they launch? Maybe the techy methodology needs some time to kick in and work properly, so it might be unfair to judge them the way we would an ordinary TV show, where great effort would be put into making the debut show very strong. But they made the decision to draw attention to themselves before they started and they got the publicity they sought. They could have started small and built up their reputation slowly, but they wheeled out Al Gore, so they asked for it.


Goesh said...

At least they didn't remove the formaldehyde from the veins of Fritz Mondale and wheel him out.
Hi! I'm Fritz! Where am I at? Who are you? What am I supposed to say? Are my pants zipped up? Remember when he was wheeled out up in Minnesota in a literal, feeble attempt to replace Senator Wellstone, the Democrat killed in the plane crash?

chuck b. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AJ Lynch said...

Does anyone know the average age of the producers? I am guessing far older than their target audience.

Current reminds me of "Rock the Vote" run by an established business. Young people of any era cynically svoid packaged and obvious efforts to draw them into maturity.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I have long known Gore was a loser. He's got the WideAss (rhymes with Midas)Touch - everything he touches turns into crap.

kcom said...

"...everything he touches turns into crap."

How can you say that? He endorsed Howard Dean just before the Iowa caucuses.

Bruce Hayden said...

Ann, you may have a point that everyone is piling on pretty quickly. But I agree with AJ who questions how anyone of Al Gore's generation can expect to connect with someone of the target audience.

They might be able to pull this off. But my money isn't on them in this endeaver.

TallDave said...

Hey! Al Gore took the initiative that led to the creation of the Internet! Plus, Love Story was based his life (not any of yours). How dare you mere mortals question his judgment?

You just wait, soon this channel will be another trillion-dollar Al Gore authored phenomenon. Then you'll wish you'd been nicer.

Brian O'Connell said...

I don't get the channel, but judging from the videos on their website, the thing suffers from a terrible bout of earnestness. They should call it And as mentioned it appears to be a humor-free zone.

It's an entire network of America's Funniest Home Videos without the funny. The occasional shot to the groin would actually improve it.

It's about as fun (and calculated) as those "radical" anti-smoking ads.

Menlo Bob said...

The least hip thing Curent TV can do is want to be hip. Hip doesn't work like that. Hip is accidental rather than intentional. By the time ad revenue is rolling in they've telegraphed their demise. You wouldn't expect Joel Hyatt or Al Gore to know this.

CraigC said...

What a joke. And Dave, you forgot that Algore single-handedly cleaned up Love Canal.

TC said...

Brian, if they called it "" Jim Varney would rise from his grave and sue for character assassination.

TC said...

and who is this "aj" character? ;)

Dean said...

Brian's right, I have had the misfortune of watching 5 minutes of Current, and it unmistakenly reminded me of a "Truth" or "Stand" ad...I'm sure some of the graphics are the same. It lacks the professionalism of CNN, and the fun of FOX, it's the worst of every world rolled up into an easy to flip by package. I pity those reviewers who had to watch longer than I did...

StrangerInTheseParts said...

"Is it wrong to make so much fun of them them the minute they launch? "

That's what we all thought on day one of the Huffington Post. So how's quality over there trended in the intervening months?

Jim said...

I've got to get in on some of the "love" for Al Gore.

Remember that he's a "big fan" of Courtney Love and her band ... except that he doesn't know the title of a single one of their songs.

Al Maviva said...

They need a catchy new slogan... something like

"Hey, at least we didn't steal the startup funds from inner city Boys & Girls Clubs, like that other network headed by angry flagship liberals..."

Veeshir said...

I have to stick up for Current TV.
Although the inane chatter of their V-Jays, or P-Jays or whatever they call the 'hosts', is annoying, the "pods" aren't bad.
The ones I saw were pretty interesting.
One, of young people in Iran and how they act out, was very good but I am in fear for their lives as their faces were shown.
One about a cliff-jumper(with parachute) was okay.
There were a couple about suicide in Japan that were very interesting.
One about a "Street Artist" in LA who plasters his posters all over town was pretty good too. For you LAers, it's the Obey guy.

The second night was all a re-run though.
They need:
Better chatter,
Get rid of all the guys because they're nitwits,
New content.
I am not a big Al Gore fan, I still have my Sore/Loserman sign, but I have to say this ain't hateful.
The worst thing that they won't change is that the "pods" are up to about 5 or 6 minutes long so it's Short Attention Span Theater and a little annoying.
But I'll include it in my spin round the dial.

Esbiem said...

Yep, algor brought us the internet and along with it an engine to kick start the most profitable industry in the world, pornography, if you don't count the lost lives of women as a deficit against the bottom line, no pun intended. But it does have an upside - blogs and their continuing evolution into realtime video at one blog being born per second. Even algor can't talk that fast.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't get Current TV, but I did check out the website. Looks like the same stuff older media people always think younger people are interested in: extreme sports, male beauty, tattoos, etc.

And from what others have mentioned, it sounds like there is also the requisite projection of baby boomer issues onto younger generations.

I can think of a million things that a network could run to be relevant to youth, but it looks like those things wouldn't be on Current TV.

chuck b. said...

Yeah, the "P-jays" (too funny) and the "UP NEXT!" windows are kind of annoying--especially the two guys from Florida. I like the women p-jays better than the men. They seem less dorky.

I also like the progress bar in the lower left hand corner. If I didn't already watch most things on Tivo, I'd want to see that widely disseminated across all tv.

The Al Gore internet jokes are so 2000. snore... I thought I was reading the Rush Limbaugh blog for a second, but no, it's "Formidable law blogger Ann Althouse"! Is that new, or has it been there for awhile??

Elizabeth said...

My policy has always been that if it's in the public eye willingly, it's fair to make fun of it. Long live satire.

JFitz said...

You know when liberals use words like "hip" and wanting to be "real" for the coveted 18-34 set, that they are bound for failure. What kind of no-life person sits around and watches this drivel? Deepak freaking Chopra telling you how to find yourself? This was followed by a P-Jay opining "Damn, that was good."
No political agenda???Right.I am waiting for the first Ann Coulter segment or an advocacy piece promoting drilling in ANWAR. It will never happen. My friend Dave and I have a bet. When is the first radical makeover of the format. I guessed Christmas...I am moving it to September. The ratings with this stuff will be non existant. Even liberals are not this stupid...