Sunday, December 31, 2006

In No Particular Order, the 2006 List of Things That Make Me Want to Scream

  • The sound of Christina Aguilera saying the word "Candyman." It means I'm destined to spend the next 30 seconds with my head in the oven.

  • People who complain about their favorite show "jumping the shark" and demanding that it be canceled immediately. With their can't-do, Chicken-Little attitudes, I pray that none of these people is ever given "pull the plug" power over a loved one. (They also seem to forget that if the show is canceled, odds are it will be replaced by a really bad show.)

  • News anchors who use the slang of those they cover in order to seem cooler. For instance, firefighters are allowed to call each other "smoke eaters"... Anchormen should just say "firefighter."

  • Networks that cancel shows too quickly. In 1982 NBC introduced four ratings turkeys: Cheers, St. Elsewhere, Remington Steele and Family Ties. How lucky for them and us that those shows were given time to breathe. I challenge you to go back and watch the first seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Cheers or The Simpsons or Newhart or The Bob Newhart Show or The Dick Van Dyke Show or Green Acres or Get Smart or Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie or Larry Sanders or yes, even, Saturday Night Live and see if you can recognize them as the (arguably better) shows they later became.

    (And a special scream for networks that cancel serialized shows without resolving them.)

  • Pundits who say that this was the year "the voters spoke" and "made their voices heard about Iraq." The response to the voters' voices? We're "surging" in Iraq, sending more troops in for at least the next 12-24 months. Something supported by less than 15% of Americans. I wish someone would bring democracy to us.

  • People who say that the problem with Studio 60 is either that it's set backstage at a TV show -- and who cares about that? -- or that it's too smug and sanctimonious. They forget that The Mary Tyler Moore Show was also set backstage at a TV show, and that the smuggest sanctimony in TV history never seemed to hurt M*A*S*H*.

  • Cable channels that punish viewers for watching them by running the same promos over and over and over within the same show. Sci-Fi, USA, A&E, Bravo, G4, etc, all seem to hate their audiences with a passion. (And no one who watches even an hour of UHD can look at another Monk promo without weeping.)

  • The way botox and plastic surgery are turning people's faces into death masks.

  • Instant foods or detergents whose directions tell you to fill the package to "just below the line." Why not just move the fucking line? Is the line's location somehow sacred? What was it, placed there centuries ago by the Incas?

  • Any local news promo that asks a question. "Is the star of one of TV's top shows calling it quits?" "Is your ________ actually making you sick?" "The investigation: Was ____________'s death not an accident?" You don't need to watch. The answer to these questions is always no.

  • When Tim Russert is reading a quote, and we get to the third screen of text. You know what, Tim? Just email us the whole article on Saturday, and then we'll all be up to speed on Sunday.

  • That every set of comments on Digg, no matter what the topic, devolves into either "red state vs. blue state" or "Macs vs. PC's." Sometimes, bafflingly, both.

  • That the TV pundits who go on and on about what a strong candidate Hillary Clinton would be are all right-wing pundits. Apparently she's locked up the briar patch vote.

  • That Barbara Walters is still lecturing us as if she were on "the high road."

  • That Star Jones is still working.

  • That Elisabeth Hasselbeck still draws breath.

  • That Japan might be militarizing and developing nuclear weapons, and no one seems to be talking about it.

  • That Howard Kurtz of Reliable Sources seems to sing every sentence to the same demented tune. As if every sentence were a question he was both asking and answering: "Morley Safer, Bob Schieffer and Byron Pitts? On Ed Bradley". "Dan Rather on why he believes Fox News? Is spouting the party line." "How to sell? A shrinking newspaper." (Howie, find another cadence? To use when you read.)

  • That the news media breathlessly report every move Paris Hilton makes, and then snidely ask why we find her so fascinating. Answer? We don't.

  • That everyone makes fun of Britney Spears for having married an unemployed, irresponsible, substance-abusing loser, but no one makes fun of Laura Bush for doing the same.

  • Any RadioShack commercial.

  • That Dick Cheney shot a man in the face, didn't report it for 24 hours, lied about it, and declined to be interviewed by the police... and no one seems to care. Seriously, if you ever injure someone while driving drunk, wait until you've sobered up before you report it. See how funny everyone finds it.

  • Any discussion of expensive women's shoes.

  • The thing that is ruining eBay: greedy sellers who counter low prices with ridiculous shipping charges. If, say, a DVD is selling for five dollars, but the shipping is fourteen dollars, why would anyone buy it?

  • Email newsletters that make you jump through hoops to unsubscribe. If I click on the "unsubscribe" link I expect to get a screen that says something like, "We're sorry to see you go, thank you." I do not want to be asked for a username and password, or asked for my address, or anything else that takes more than two seconds.

  • That Americans were so outraged by Mel Gibson's insulting Jews that they didn't have time to notice that Lebanon and Israel were at war... or that Iran was preparing for NoHolocaustiCom '06.

  • That Americans are outraged by Michael Richards' insulting a table full of black people, and seem to have forgiven George Bush for negligently allowing hundreds of people in New Orleans to die, many of them black. Also, I would advise the millions of victims of famine and genocide in Darfur that we would probably care more about them if they were being slaughtered upstairs at the Laugh Factory.

  • That Gerald Ford's pardoning of Richard Nixon is being portrayed as having "saved a nation from an ordeal." In fact, it birthed the idea that you can flagrantly violate the law and your public trust and still live a nice life writing books and giving speeches and walking on the beach. If Richard Nixon had been tried and imprisoned, people like Tom Delay and George W. Bush might not behave the way they do.

  • That Gerald Ford was against the war in Iraq, but didn't say so publicly while he was alive. When we could have used his help.

  • The Head-On commercials complaining about how obnoxious the other Head-On commercials were. It's one thing to unknowingly make commercials that make viewers want to eat revolvers... It's quite another to know you're doing it and not stop.

  • The computer guy who came to my parents' house to set up their wireless network, and told my Mom that she doesn't have to use Firefox or worry about security or spyware or viruses because "Vista is going to get rid of all that."

  • And, finally, the thing that most made me want to scream in 2006:

    Michael Musto.

    Whenever I see him on TV, I feel as if I'm a high school student who's missing my prom because I've been cornered outside by the least popular kid on the A.V. Squad and he's babbling away about something I don't care about or understand and he's not taking any of my polite hints to let me go. Thank God in Musto's case I can change the channel.

    Unfortunately, what I'll probably hear when I change the channel is Christina Aguilera saying "Candyman"...

    Despite all this, I hope you and everyone you love have a happy and scream-free 2007.


gina said...

Happy New Year, Mike! Thank you for creating such an entertaining blog and for all of your kind comments at my site.

Now that 2007 is here, it's time to get ready for the return of LOST and American Idol! Hope to be able to chat with you about both of them soon :)

Ken Levine said...

I love your list, Mike,

The only exception I would make is that for my money, the first year of CHEERS was actually the best... despite getting its ass kicked by both SIMON & SIMON and TUCKER'S WITCH.

Happy New Year.


Michael Markowitz said...

Gina, one of the things I loved most in 2006 was thisisgina. Thank you and such a happy new year to you, too!

And yes, Lost and Idol coming back is the reason 2007 will be happy for me. We will chat aplenty! :-)

And for me it's all about Jack Bauer. 2007 should be renamed "24"07!!!

gina said...

Oh my God, how could I forget about '24'?! I still haven't finished watching last season after that FOX fiasco last summer. I need to bump the DVDs up in my Netflix queue!

peeky said...

A) Am I crazy? I thought Gerald Ford DID say (recently, but not in the last couple days) that the war was a mistake. 2) My problem with Studio 60 is when the humans say things that no human has ever uttered.

Boski93 said...


Please tell me where and when I should start building your shrine. Because what you delivered was pure genius.

Michael Markowitz said...

gina, oh my god, I forgot all about that Fox fiasco!!! Seriously, you need to see Season 5 ASAP! I am either proud or ashamed to say that I just spent my Xmas break watching all the 24's in order (so I guess tecnically I watched "120"), and IMHO Season 5 is the best.

I also had another revelation about 24, but I have to wait until after you've seen season 5 to share it

Peeky, if talking like real humans were a requirement for TV characters, the only show on TV would be The Office. There certainly would be no Grey's Anatomy or Ugly Betty. Besides, I hear real humans talk all day, and it's overrated. I watch TV to get AWAY from real humans.

Bosk, a thousand thanks. You may build the shrine anywhere you like. If I'm going to be invited to visit it, however, please build it in Paz Vegas's bedroom.

Anonymous said...

I love your list, you could have gone on and on. How about these. During sweeps months on local TV, the reporter comes on at 7:15 and says tonight at 10:00 we have a report that may save your life. What if I die of the thing in the next 2:45 minutes. Or how about when ET comes on and says "The lost tapes" of some stupid already over exposed loser. Just a few to add to your list.

musiclover929 said...

You mean cancelling serialized shows like Kidnapped and the Nine? I think it shows a serious lack of imagination on the part of TV execs. "Lack of Imagination" was also the reason the government didn't predict 9/11 and Bob Woodward used it in his book about Deep Throat.

Michael Markowitz said...

anon, I am so with you. I blogged once about a great related promo problem:

And if I didn't blog about a promo I once saw I should have: on a Friday they promo'd that something in your office parking garage was the number one cause of workplace deaths. Details Monday at 11. YIKES!

In the words of Kent Brockman: "On the eleven o'clock news tonight: A certain type of soft drink has been found to be lethal. We won't tell you which one until after Sports and the weather with Sunny Storm."

music, Kidnapped and The Nine are perfect examples. (they say the Nine will come back... I hope so) The worst example is Day Break. When this premiered, I thought, "Finally, someone gets it." I've talked over and over about how reality shows succeed in part because of their short runs and their pact with the audience. Here ABC made a pact to run a 13-week, serialized, complete story. And what did they do? Shitcan it without warning. Without putting it on the web. They've even completely Orwell'd it off the abc web site. That's real respect for the audience.