Summer's almost here! Excited? Me neither.
Why should I be? It's bad enough that most people still have to go to work everyday, even as the weather tells them that that's exactly what they shouldn't be doing. The place to be is clearly a beach where men that look like McSteamy, Tyson Beckford and John Mayer are free to frolic like wild mustangs. I felt you recoil a little at the Mayer nod. Clearly, you haven't seen those poolside shots of him with Chinnifer Aniston. That's one cut sensitive guy with a guitar. Don'tjudge my crush. Especially since I'm pretty sure I saw you singing along with the New Kids at "Today". True, I can't prove it, but I have no qualms furthering malicious rumors.
"Down with summer" issue number two is of course the children—more specifically (insert nose wrinkle here) teenagers. I was in a diner recently, enjoying pancakes on a rainy weekday afternoon, when the comforting murmur of geriatric conversation was rudely punctured by a gang of teenage girls. There were only five of them, but it may as well have been an entire Hot Topic full because they were so mind numbingly loud. And mind you this was at like 11am—a time during the school year when public places can safely be deemed teenager-free zones. But not so come summer. They're free to roam about at all hours, chattering on endlessly about Facebook adds and Dannity Kane. Ick.
But matters like this pale in comparison to what you know is coming, my fellow telephiles. You know, as well as I that with every season finale we edge ever closer to the abyss of sleazy game shows and reality contests that is summer television. It's as if all of TV becomes "The Hills"—everybody gets really young, really blonde and really dumb. In short, we're Foxified, folks. Although, I shouldn't put it all on Fox when you consider NBC is proudly touting their "All American Summer". Cool, right? That must mean they're going to follow HBO's lead and bring us a really high-end miniseries about one of the founding fathers. It was really popular on HBO, props to NBC for picking up on that trend and running with it. Not so fast, Monk. All American summer means "American Gladiators" (Monday, 8pm) not heroes.You know, guys and gals in shiny leotards with names like "Rocket" and"Militia" and "Roid Rage". Why would we focus on actual American heroes during the summer? It's not like that's when we celebrate the birth of the nation or anything. Sucker.
It gets even scarier when you take a peek at what CBS is cooking upfor us come June. It's called "Swingtown" and no it's not about that dance craze you thought was dead along with Brian Setzer's career. It's actually about a town of swingers in the 1970s and it involves lots of censor-approved sexytime. And if you think the show couldn't get any cheesier than its unfortunate moniker, wait until you see the faux seventies staches and wigs on some of the dudes. Wow. When I was watching the trailer I kept waiting for Ben Stiller to show up so that it's clear that at the very least, the producers were aware they were making a comedy. I already saw the "Ice Storm", guys. I'm good on the swinger front. If by some snowball's chance I get a hankering, I'llwatch "Real Sex" not CBS.
Enter the game show realm and it goes from bad to gross. The titles alone speak volumes as to what we're up against—"I Survived a Japanese Game Show" (ABC) comes to mind along with the return of Fox's uplifting "Moment of Truth" and "Are You Smarter Than a FifthGrader?". If somehow you're actually a fan of the latter, you've already answered the question. Game over. Thank you for playing. The little bus will be here directly to see you safely home.
But you know, as much as I love negativity—in fact I cling to it like a life raft in a storm of sunshine and good cheer—there is a way to avoid having your brain completely Hiltonized by September. I speak of course of PBS, people! Old faithful. That bastion of publicly-funded brain power is the thinking person's ace in the hole. Documentary series like "Frontline" (good one tonight at 9pm by the way,
"GrowingUp Internet") and "American Masters" are an oasis in a dumbed-down Desert of Duh. Don't take it for granted. Bravo seems to have taken pity on us—and made a smart ratings move—by premiering the fifth season of "Project Runway" in July. Even ABC is countering some of their dumb with smart by premiering a new season of their globe-trotting sabotage reality contest "The Mole" (Mon., June 2,10pm) ensuring that fun TV doesn't have to make you feel as if you should shower afterwards. That's what the Internet's for.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Summer's Almost Here! Excited? Me Neither
Fancy a swing? The cast of "Swingtown". Photo Credit: cbs.
In response to overwhelming demand, I'm going to start posting my "The TV Set" weekly column as published in "The Examiner" a weekly paper published in Mt. Kisco, NY. Here's this week's: