October 2, 2009
At Walkoff Walk, I write about who’s going to be invading your television screen this postseason: George Lopez.

At Walkoff Walk, I write about who’s going to be invading your television screen this postseason: George Lopez.

Know what’s also creepy? How the audience keeps laughing throughout this story. Weird. But my favorite part of the story is that the alleged extortionist threatened to write a screenplay about Letterman boinking a few staffers unless he got $2 million (or as they said on the local news this morning, “two billion”). I think I’d rather see the Sex and the City movie again than see that one.

October 1, 2009

Sometime last year, my girlfriend and I started having a friend over to watch Gossip Girl, a truly terrible prime time soap opera for teenagers. (Naturally, I really enjoy watching it.) When the season ended, we decided to continue watching programming made for children and settled on Make It or Break It, another drama, this time about gymnasts training for the national championships.

While many parts were incredibly unrealistic and silly, the show actually wasn’t that bad. Maybe I was just starved for some sports on TV, having recently finished watching the third season of Friday Night Lights, but I found it well done for a kids’ drama — especially one on ABC Familiy, home of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, the worst show in television history. There were even some excellent dramatic scenes in the season’s final episode.

Of course, there was also the above, perhaps the most blatant product placement in television history. Yes, the commercial and scene were one directly after another. And the product being plugged was Britney Spears’ new line from Kohls. The mind boggles.

September 30, 2009

Hugo Chavez Not A ‘Family Guy’ Fan

The United States is always chastising Venezuela for its conduit role in the trafficking of illicit drugs. What’s Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to do? Why, of course, criticize Family Guy.

Venezuelan state TV [on Sept. 22] broadcast an excerpt from “Family Guy” as an example of how the U.S. promotes drug use. The clip features Stewie… singing a song extolling the virtues of smoking weed. “We can observe how [the U.S. government] promotes and incites the population to consume that drug there,” said Tarek El Aissaimi, Venezuela’s Interior Minister. “There’s no subliminal message. It’s an animated cartoon where you can observe perfectly how they promote consumption and moreover they foster the legalization of marijuana.”

Considering the United States’ drug czar says legalization is not in his vocabulary, I don’t quite think Venezuela’s interior minister is on the mark here. The accusation that the U.S. government is promoting the legalization of marijuana through an animated baby, though, is the funniest thing I’ll hear all week. Nobody can sit through a Family Guy musical number without being stoned, though.

There’s a video of the clip at Drug WarRant.

One of my great joys in life is watching R-rated movies edited for broadcast television. (I have a boring life.) Such movies are usually hilariously edited to confirm with broadcast standards; for example, the FX version of Grandma’s Boy, a stoner comedy, almost completely eliminates the pot smoking from the movie. (Again: A boring life.)

My favorite, though, is when — instead of just censoring the swear words — the movie’s lines are re-dubbed with “acceptable” words and phrases. I recently saw American Pie on Universal HD and made a little edit of my favorite replaced words. Yes, MILF is now, “Mom I’d like to feel!” I think my favorite is the scene where the younger Stifler comes out of the closet and goes, “You guys are gonna fool around, aren’t you?”

I’m happy to report that American Pie has aged quite well; 10 years later, it’s still a funny, enjoyable movie. In other news, Jason Biggs was recently attacked by a monkey.

September 29, 2009
Sarah and I both thought last night’s Final Jeopardy was pretty easy. We do watch Jeopardy! nearly every night, so we’re veterans, but this was quite easy. Multiple newspapers recapped the tale of Italian immigrant Charles Ponzi during the saga of Bernie Madoff.I actually joked that a funny answer would be Mussolini. “Ahh, crap, what were we doing deporting him?” Apparently it was not a funny answer for everyone.

Sarah and I both thought last night’s Final Jeopardy was pretty easy. We do watch Jeopardy! nearly every night, so we’re veterans, but this was quite easy. Multiple newspapers recapped the tale of Italian immigrant Charles Ponzi during the saga of Bernie Madoff.

I actually joked that a funny answer would be Mussolini. “Ahh, crap, what were we doing deporting him?” Apparently it was not a funny answer for everyone.

If you’re a fan of late-night TV like I am, you’ve no doubt seen Cutlery Corner, the infomercial with a lot of lung capacity from host Tom O’Dell and a lot of knives to sell. Above is the Lawman Trapper, a knife apparently dedicated to law enforcement. You’ll see all the representations of law enforcement are there: An American flag, a cop car, a Grand Theft Auto-style wanted rating and, of course, outlines of police officers and a drug- and/or bomb-sniffing dog. Almost  brings a tear to your eye.

If you’re a fan of late-night TV like I am, you’ve no doubt seen Cutlery Corner, the infomercial with a lot of lung capacity from host Tom O’Dell and a lot of knives to sell. Above is the Lawman Trapper, a knife apparently dedicated to law enforcement. You’ll see all the representations of law enforcement are there: An American flag, a cop car, a Grand Theft Auto-style wanted rating and, of course, outlines of police officers and a drug- and/or bomb-sniffing dog. Almost brings a tear to your eye.

Above is the jingle for the Ab Circle Pro, currently being sold on your favorite shitty cable network (mine is NatGeo!) at about 3 a.m. I shudder to think exactly how this jingle came about, but it sure is catchy. It sounds like they got 15 people, none of whom could sing, together in a phone booth to record this one.

September 28, 2009

There’s a new infomercial out there for a new blender (technically, the Living Well HealthMaster Fruit & Vegetable Emulsifier) that’s endorsed by Montel Williams. The infomercial takes the form of a Montel Williams-hosted talk show, complete with guest appearances by noted (“noted”) TV psychic Sylvia Browne and Dr. Mike Cirigliano, an associate professor of medicine at Penn and Good Day Philadelphia TV doctor.

There’s nothing terribly over-the-top with this infomercial, except for the sad fat kid getting embarrassed in front of a live studio audience; it’s not even as blatant as those current infomercials that pretend to be news reports. It is pretty strange how Dr. Mike is introduced as “our own Dr. Mike!” as if it’s a regular daily program. And should he really be shilling for a blender at 3 a.m. on TV? Then again, this is probably more realistic than most episodes of the canceled Montel Williams Show. Surely, drinking a blend of fruits and veggies is going to be healthier than chowing down on a Baconator.

But what makes this infomercial truly great is how everything any person says on the show is immediately turned around by Montel into an advertisement for this blender (sorry: emulsifier). Check the end of the above montage of clips from the show: Sylvia Browne answers some person’s question about when her mother will get better from colon cancer. Montel immediately buts in with some spiel about how his blender will save you from getting cancer! Truly amazing.

Mankind’s Best Accomplishment

Most stuff sucks. We all know that. Even when that stuff is something that’s relatively fun to watch (professional American football), a majority of it still sucks. Consecutive false start penalties, injuries on kickoffs, punts that go out of bounds, extraordinarily long replay reviews, running plays into the line for a yard on 1st and 10 and, of course, the dreaded commercial break-kickoff-commercial break combo.

Enter NFL RedZone. Guys in my fantasy league have been chirping about it for weeks, and yesterday I finally gave it a look during the 4 p.m. games.

Wow. Truly, we have our first great accomplishment of the 21st century. RedZone, which has no commercials, takes away almost all the aforementioned drabness of football. The channel’s moniker riffs on football’s red zone (when an offense is in the opposing team’s 20 yard line) and that’s what the channel mainly shows: Possible scoring plays of every game going on at once. If there’s an 80-yard touchdown pass in a game, RedZone shows it to you almost immediately after it happens. When all the games are in commercials, the channel shows highlights from earlier in the day. It’s pro football nirvana.

The channel’s hosted by ex-Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia anchor Scott Hanson, and, despite the hectic pace of covering 5-10 NFL games at once, he does a good job. (He hyped Brett Favre too much yesterday, but what announcer doesn’t?) It’s amazing how quickly every highlight is shown, how quickly the channel goes from a touchdown in Cincinnati to a field goal in Seattle to an interception in Buffalo.

Obviously, the main audience for this is people hoping to keep up with players on their fantasy teams. But I really think it’s the ultimate product for those of us in the ADD-riddled generation. (Too much Sesame Street, a professor of mine in college once explained.) There’s very little downtime, and very little focus needed; once your attention shifts from one game, NFL RedZone is bound to flip to another one.

Frankly, I think this idea needs to be extended to other areas on television. College football is the obvious one. But what about, say, sitcoms? A channel could whip around through all the network sitcoms for a week and just show all the good jokes with none of the pain. Or one could zoom around the local news, showing only the best parts (i.e., the unintentionally funny moments). Or it could only show you the best parts of the movies currently showing on A&E, TNT and TBS (The Matrix, Gone in 60 Seconds and The Bill Engvall Show: The Movie).

The possibilities are endless. I demand this idea be adapted to more widespread use.

I’ve always thought television is bad. Not that it’s intrinsically bad for you, just quality-wise. The explosion of the Internet has taught us a lot about the signal-to-noise ratio of, erhm, crowdsourcing; television, though, has been mostly bad even though it’s done by professionals, working very hard to put out quality shows.Knowing this, there’s always the option to turn off the television and do something else. But I prefer option two: Embrace bad television and watch a hell of a lot of it. A hastily-written mission statement: On this blog, I chronicle the chronic badness of American television, celebrating soap opera plot twists, infomercial hucksters, nonsensical History channel programs, horrid sports announcers, ridiculous Family Feud answers and local news that’s funnier than any sitcom.And, of course, the best-titled show on TV, Beavers All Access.

I’ve always thought television is bad. Not that it’s intrinsically bad for you, just quality-wise. The explosion of the Internet has taught us a lot about the signal-to-noise ratio of, erhm, crowdsourcing; television, though, has been mostly bad even though it’s done by professionals, working very hard to put out quality shows.

Knowing this, there’s always the option to turn off the television and do something else. But I prefer option two: Embrace bad television and watch a hell of a lot of it. A hastily-written mission statement: On this blog, I chronicle the chronic badness of American television, celebrating soap opera plot twists, infomercial hucksters, nonsensical History channel programs, horrid sports announcers, ridiculous Family Feud answers and local news that’s funnier than any sitcom.

And, of course, the best-titled show on TV, Beavers All Access.