Sunday, October 26, 2008

Somebody has to kill the Babysitter

Over the course of this past thanksgiving weekend I had an opportunity to re-watch a cable TV classic (i would never actively seek the movie out but when it is on TV I will stop and watch).  The hilariously dark comedy Cable Guy was on and I stopped to watch.  Now cable guy might be my third or fourth favorite Jim Carey movie, behind 1. Dumb and Dumber 2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 3. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and I don't think it even has that many laugh out loud moments (the basketball scene, the medival times scene,  the karaoke scene  and the part where he pretends to walk down a flight of stairs).  The reason I like it most is not because it points out the hilarity of speech impediments and schizophrenia (Me, Myself and Irene is another hilarious film made by Mr. Carey that finds the hilarity in mental illness).  The main reason for enjoyment is that I know my mom hates it.  She thinks it is a movie making light of a sick person and his problems, she also feels awful that she took me and my friends to see for my birthday when I was like 10.  She thought it was terribly inappropriate and was upset that she exposed our young minds to such a grotesque comedy (she is easily offended).  Every time me and my brothers find it on TV she leaves the room and shouts at us from the other room every time she hears us laugh... "He's SICK!  its a SICK movie!".  This most recent viewing i think i picked up a subtle subtext to the movie.  I think there was a message buried under all the old TV references.  And it is this message i would like to relay to you this evening.

TV sucks.  Not all TV...there are quite a few exceptions to the rule but this might amount to 2-3 hours a week (4-5 when/if LOST and Battlestar Galactica return also this number might increase quite a bit if you get HBO).  Seeing as the week is made up of 168 hours of television programing and there probably 6-7 stations commited to producing "original" television (the rest focus on reruns, design shows, reality tv and reruns of design reality shows).  That is approximately 1092 hours of programming (i realize prime time is only a fraction of that but i'm trying to make a point).  The makers of televison get it right about 0.2% of the time.  This has probably been true for a long time and I am not the first to stumble across this.  I think the equation for crap has become increasingly obvious.  The makers of television have a fool proof system of making shows that will fail.  You start with a recognizable actor who is either looking to restart his/her career or springboard from one successful show to one of his/her own.  They play the part of a cop/doctor/crime scene investigator/secret agent/husband/wife and sometimes all at the same time. You add a sexy-talentless co-star and land a few important sponsors so your main character drives the latest american made automobile and uses the best Dell computer and the coolest cell phone that Verizon will give away for free in few weeks and it will look dated if the show ever gets to reruns.  sprinkle with a hint of sex.  then you can just sit back and watch no one watch.  The best shows are filled with actors you have never heard of before.  The story and characters were written well before casting ever began.  Famous actors are not necessarily the problem they are fine when they are on the peripheral and simply support the story (ie Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock and Tracy Morgan in 30 Rock...Tina Fey is just plain funny and she was obviously allowed to make the show she wanted.  that is why that show is a success).   The problem is assuming people will be lured into watch anything with a familar face on it (Oh look its the brother from "Everybody Loves Raymond" and the lady from that PI show that is often advertised but i have never seen it...oh and they are bickering about married life...what a treat).

anyway,  I was gonna try to delve into this deeper but i'm sure i am testing your patience as it and if you disagree with my ideas I would love to hear your exception to my rule.  I will gladly explain why your example a) is the exception that proves the rule or b) makes you an awful human being and you should never be allowed to have a Neilson's Ratings box attached to your TV. 

I am going to attempt a little experiment (its okay.  I'm a scientist)  I'm gonna watch TV only when I know there is a good show on (this may require a TV guide).  This will most likely make me feel like I am paying too much for cable and it will also free up some time for other things.  What are these other things?  I will tell you when I figure that will probably involve spending more time on the Internet seeing as winter is quickly approaching and outdoor activities are becoming cold.  A few moments specifically lead me to this decision i) I have a strategy for Deal or No Deal (but i do not see the banker as an adversary yet).  This is the equivalent to having a Rock Paper Scissors strategy but without the real world applications. ii) I successfully deconstructed the stupidity of celebrity reality TV(oxymoron?) while watching Brooke Knows Best.  The fact that i had to figure it out rather than just rely on my gut instinct that these shows are stupid...its pretty obvious...was most disheartening.

On a Completely unrelated note...I just saw that Vicky Christina Barcelona movie.  I did not realize it was a Woody Allen Movie.  It was pretty funny and made Barcelona look like a different planet.  I was mostly upset with the casting of Javier Bardem as a bohemian painter who seduces Scarlet Johansson and Penelope Cruz (very funny in this movie...i did not know she spoke spanish).   After he played that guy in No Country For Old Men he should be barred from playing the romantic lead FOREVER.   This is like Freddy Kruger being cast by John Hughes to play the part of Jake Ryan opposite Molly Rigwald in Sixteen Candles.


  1. ok. number 1. best scenes from cable guy include 1 - when they are talking on top of the satellite thing. reality is, father doesnt' know best anymore. it's a kick in the face on a saturday morning by a steel toed kodiak workboot and a trip to the hospital. bloodied and bashed. best line in this movie. 2 - when they are in the cable truck and he says 'you really wanna know my name?' and he turns with the funniest smile on his face ever. basketball was funny for 2 minutes until they start playing. the medieval stuff just wasn't funny. finally i'd like to conclude that eternal sunshine is the far inferior movie. i don't even know how cable guy could be number 4. like wtf. and you think you can critique TV? gimme a break if you can't even list the funniest jim carrey movies. tv sucks. just stop watching it all together. all you need is the internet and some love. i've said wayyy too much for a comment.

  2. just wanted to point out that mom didn't take you to see cable guy, she took dan and all of his friends.
    stop lying