For those of us who work in the entertainment industry (obnoxiously dubbed from within as "THE INDUSTRY") the writers strike IS the news. Now, I won't go yammering on and on with my opinions on the matter (p.s. I do support the writers, obviously), but I do have something to say: It was bad enough when my boyfriend and about half of my friends lost their jobs in connection with the strike, but now it's really hitting home. That's right, it's messing with my TV shows. This. Means. War.
Because the writers haven't been working since November, networks have had enough time to burn through all of the previously written episodes of the shows I care about, like The Office, and Scrubs, and How I Met Your Mother, and 30 Rock. Of course the networks anticipated this happening, and so they've come up with loads more god awful reality TV shows and game shows. And then big fat suckers like me HAVE to watch them because there's simply no choice.
So I'd like to introduce you to what I've been watching lately. I've assigned each show to one of two categories: Shows That Are Making Me Stupid and Shows That Are Making Me Stupid But I Don't Care.
(-) Shows That Are Making Me Stupid
(+) Shows That Are Making Me Stupid But I Don't Care
1. PARANORMAL STATE
Everyone, meet Ryan Buell. You might remember him as the vaguely poetic guy from your 11th grade US History class who went out with that girl with chipped black nail polish and her hair died blood red. Well, now he's all grown up and attending Penn State. And when he's not busy skulking around the quad or working at the Starbucks in the student center, he tracks down ghosts and demons with his pals, The Paranormal Research Society. The PRS is made up of about 5 students, including Ryan, who is the founder. The rest of the members are, I'm guessing, his freshman year roommate, the girl who signed on because she has an insane crush on Ryan, some cute girl he met on facebook, and this annoying girl that none of them like, but she's the only one who knows how to use the digital video camera so they put up with her.
The episodes play out like a live action Scooby Doo: the gang gets in their van and drives to the site of that week's haunting. Then they turn out all the lights, hear a noise from the attic, and freak out. Zoinks! They always decide they need to call in their expert medium, an older gay gentlemen who arrives on scene and just sort of bosses around the demons for a while. In the end, the PRS never seems to rid the home of demons or ghosts, and nothing ever gets resolved. But I guess that's fair enough, because they only have so much time to spare before they gotta hit up happy hour at Patty O'Sullivan's for $2 drafts.
2. WHOSE WEDDING IS IT ANYWAY?
Network: Style Network
It's fitting that this show has such a clunker of a name because it's just about the worst wedding show on TV. The premise here is that lazy, ugly brides-to-be enlist the help of bitchy, french-manicured wedding planners to orchestrate the tacky self-important circus that is their Dream Wedding. Meanwhile, the grooms-to-be, who appear all but disgusted by their fiances and are always about 5'3" tall, loom quietly around in the background, sending text messages and sweating through their polo shirts.
I can't stress enough that the people on this show are terrible. The only moment of joy you can feel as a viewer is when an unexpected thunderstorm ruins the plans for a beautiful outdoor ceremony and then you get to see the bride cry and the wedding planner spring into action with Plan B: use white balloons to decorate the ballroom at the airport Marriot. Oh! And also when the bride wears a strapless wedding gown that causes arm fat to roll over the top and no one, not even her precious wedding planner, tells her that she looks lousy.
Apparently this show only airs in marathon form because I've never seen fewer than 3 episodes in a row. I don't know why I always feel compelled to watch one after another after another, except that maybe in a rare moment of optimism I assure myself, "Certainly the next episode has to be better than THIS." Well, let me assure you, it never is.
Network: History Channel
At one point the History Channel was all snotty and only aired historical programs. Documentaries about the Third Reich and the Red Scare, for instance. Well, clearly they have seen the light and dumbed it down for better ratings. And judging by the new line up, which includes the titles "Gangland," "Mega Disasters," and "MonsterQuest," they've left the programming decisions to a 13 year old boy.
This is an unscripted show that each week focuses on one particular monster that allegedly lives among us. Some examples: The Swamp Beast, Birdzilla, Giant Fish, and Mutant Canines. A whole slew of experts, scientists, and full-time whackos show you photographic evidence of these beasts, and then they interview whatever hillbilly saw the creature when he was out huntin'.
One episode I particularly liked was Lions in Our Backyard, about giant man-eating cats. One scientist showed these pictures taken by an automatic camera at like 3 am in Arizona of what was undoubtedly a giant jaguar. Seriously. Look! WTF?! So, fellow southern Californians, if you were already spooked by the regular ol' cougar, you should know that enormous jaguars, who could probably EAT cougars, are migrating up from South America.
But then, as if to calm the viewer down, the show moved on to this other guy who frantically explained how he saw a huge black cat in his backyard and hurried to take pictures. Since I don't have the actual picture to show you, I found one that closely resembles his evidence.
Wah-Wah. It was fabulous watching zoologists examine this "big black cat" photo because they were all like, "Are you kidding?"
Usually the shows end without conclusion. But this was not the case with last night's episode, which focused on one of the most terrifying monsters of all: The Flying Rod. Apparently these little buggers show up in photos even when no one can see them in real life. And then for the whole episode scientists were like, "It's a bird! It's a plane! No, wait, it's a mysterious flying rod!" Ooooo. And on video, they zoom around, disappearing and reappearing. I was like high on this one scientist's theory that these were creatures moving in and out of a 4th dimension. Yes! Ok, but then in like the last 5 minutes, total buzzkill. The culprit, as it turns out: MOTHS. I guess cameras can't quite take their picture fast enough.
Of all the new shows I've been watching, MonsterQuest must be my new favorite, although I'm not exactly sure why. I do know, though, that for an hour you believe in all sorts of mysterious beings lurking in our forests. And then five minutes after the show ends you could care less again.
Ok, I am exhausted from all of this typity typing. More shows to come in part 2.