September 19th, 2007

Don't Hassle the Hoff

My So-Called Affinity For Television

Can you just, like, try to imagine every single movie, every single TV show about high school life? Of which there are many. There are comedies that end up speaking some greater truth, there are comedies that get it all wrong, there are dramas that get it all wrong, and there are dramas that run like they're secretly documenting your actual life.

And then there's My So-Called Life; a show so good it never should've been made.

I remember back when it was on ABC thinking that I should really be watching this show, but circumstance and my forgetful mind prevented my watching it past the first episode. Maybe it was too complex for my 13 year old person to fully appreciate. Granted, I was the wrong gender, but some themes translate across all boundaries.

No, it never should've been made unless the story could've been told. All the way. It ran 1 season, 19 episodes, and then it was yanked because - as usual - broadcast television doesn't realize they have a duty to put out the best product quality-wise. Instead they reach for those advertising dollars. Did anyone ever stop to think that if television ONLY showed quality programming - as opposed to this reality TV trash and the same derivative sitcoms year after year - all the fools out there who normally ignore shows like My So-Called Life, Arrested Development, Freaks & Geeks and the rest, they'd HAVE to watch.

There's this BBC show made by the same guys who created the BBC version of The Office. It's called Extras. The first series centers around the central character's quest to see some film time and actually get a line of dialogue or two (as he is ... a movie extra). The second series has our central character's sitcom pilot picked up on British television. The network has done its part to completely water down the humor, add a laugh track, and condense the comedy into a slew of catch phrases. In the end, the show is nothing like its creator envisioned, it's universally panned by all critics, and yet it's seeing tremendous ratings.

It's funny, but it's not. This happens all too often. In The Larry Sanders Show, Larry's offered a deal to produce a pilot of a sitcom and the network execs say what they're looking for is another version of Friends. Ergo, a show that had the opportunity to be original and cutting edge was dumbed down and made like a carbon copy. Remember Caroline In The City? Jesse? The Single Guy? Veronica's Closet? Remember those shows being even remotely funny? And yet they ran, they aired, and they lasted longer than they ever should've - which would've been Not At All.

It really makes you wonder, then, how these quality shows still get greenlit. Somehow, they slip through the cracks and end up saying more than a million Veronica's Closets.

Like I said, My So-Called Life never should've been wasted on broadcast television. They should've condensed the best 15-or-so hours, tacked on a proper ending, and released it as a 20-hour PBS documentary entitled How Television Should Be.

Take the pilot episode for instance. We meet Claire Danes, high schooler. She's in a transitory period where her lust for being good in school, for towing the line, is waning in favor of hanging out with these new friends: an alcoholic Rayanne and Rickie the bi-sexual. Of course, I'm over-simplifying things on purpose. Nevertheless, we get a strong essence of her dynamic with each of her parents, her old BFF, and how things are going to be with her new BFFs. By the end, she's been to a party, drinking outside a club she can't get into, talked to her life-crush Jordan Catalano more than once, and seen her dad talking to some strange woman when he was supposed to be playing pool with his brother.

I remember, when I finally started watching this show a few years after it originally aired - on MTV, one of their bright moves in their own transitory period from music to Youth Culture - that I thought A.J. Langer (Rayanne) should've been a bigger star than she was. In My So-Called Life, she stole every scene as the alcoholic high schooler with an absent mother. But, such is the entertainment industry, there aren't any good film roles for women, and if you can't catch a break on a quality show, you're pretty much reduced to guest-spots on already-established programs.

And here we are, with one of the first shows on broadcast television taking homosexuality seriously. All of these themes - adult in nature, high school in presentation - ended up making this show (along with the writing) as one of the greatest televised dramas ever made. And, surely, the greatest fictional account of teenage life.

Too bad ABC didn't have the foresight to see it my way.
  • Current Music
    Public Energy - Don't Believe The Hype
Don't Hassle the Hoff

Steve's Top Ramen Diet

Here's the thing with the Top Ramen Diet (which I think I should have published if it actually manages to work without killing me from the inside out): Top Ramen is disgusting. This is key. See, too many times, people with weight problems HAVE weight problems (and, in this case, I'm talking about fatties; those weight problems leading to people being unhealthily skinny I'm powerless to help) because they love food too much. They sit around thinking about what they're going to have for their next meal as soon as the last one is finished. They look forward to that pizza or those White Castle slyders or that big pile of pasta they're gonna make. And while they're eating? When their stomach is telling them they haven't eaten in 2 weeks even though their brain knows it's only been 4 hours or so, there isn't a better experience in life.

Scarfing down tasty food you enjoy is the number 1 cause for obesity in this nation.

Make no mistake; there's no "disease" that makes you fat. That concept doesn't even make any sense, diseases only serve in eating away at your body, they don't add body mass! They don't give you man-tits and force you to buy XXL t-shirts. People are fat because they choose to be fat; it truly is a life choice. Left to our own devices, people will dive into the carton of ice cream more often than they should. We'll opt for that third helping of mashed potatoes because they fucking taste good. We'll graze all day on chips and crackers and candy bars because when you don't really have any health problems of which to speak, the feeling of Hunger is possibly the worst feeling you'll have to experience on a day-to-day basis.

Nobody LIKES being hungry. Nobody sits around rubbing their growling belly thinking, "Ooo yeah, this is better than sex with supermodels!" No, they chomp down on that extra-large slice of chocolate cake thinking, "Now THIS is better than sex with supermodels."

BUT, when you're on the Top Ramen Diet, you actually prefer the growling belly to the experience of ridding yourself of it.

See, scientifically speaking, your body doesn't need all that much sustinence per day to survive. I mean, watch any of those survival shows on the Discovery Channel (at least, those where the British guy ISN'T cheating his ass off), and you'll see he's eating grubs and frying up snakes over an open flame. He's not eating from these elaborate meals with side dishes and second helpings, washing it all down with a couple cans of Coca Cola. So, I don't think I'm entirely in the wrong here when I advocate eating two PB & J sandwiches for lunch and one package of Top Ramen for dinner. I've got protein, fruit, grains, fats, and carbs. OK, so I'll go buy a bag of carrots or something. Really, though, that's enough to survive on. And, since it's so disgusting and tedious, I won't be prone to over-eating. Win-win, bitches.

Tack on an hour's worth of exercise and - knock on wood - I should be dripping pounds in no time.
  • Current Music
    Public Enemy - Pollywannacracka

Thank You, Tonight We Review An Aging Charles Bronson in "Death Wish 9"

I wish I was dead! Oy!

Charles Bronson may in fact be the greatest actor living or dead the world has ever known. Of course, he may also be the anti-Christ. Either way, there's no denying the fact that "Death Wish" is an awesome movie. I love how every time he leaves his home and walks alone at night, there's always some scumbag with a knife or a gun waiting to take what's rightfully his. Were the writers of that movie sitting around at a table saying things like, "So, what if we have him walking into a subway terminal - at night of course - and then these two black guys with knives come at him?"

"That's brilliant! And then, the next night, he can be out buying groceries ... and these two black guys with knives come at him!"

"Yeah yeah! And then, another night, he'll be out walking through the park ... and these two black guys -"

"Wait now, we've already done that."

"Oh, yeah ... well, what if one of them had a gun?"

"And he could be a terrible shot, missing Charles Bronson from five feet away!"

"Yeah, and then Charles Bronson - without aiming - could hit them as they're running away, from some thirty yards' distance!"

I'm telling you, this movie wrote itself as four fat guys got stoned and ate Fritos. I love how there's absolutely no storyline whatsoever, except of course for the dead wife and the husband gone blind with his desire for revenge. Then, it's just one random mugging scene gone awry after another until finally he's kicked out of New York City. Only to take up residence in Chicago and have it all to do over again. He doesn't even get the satisfaction of killing the three guys - well, the two guys and Jeff Goldblum - who killed his wife and raped his daughter! What, are they saving that juicy tidbit for a sequel? You mean I gotta watch MORE of these movies?

"Listen fellas, we gotta step it up for the sequel. Instead of having Charles Bronson go around shooting muggers who try to steal from him, why don't we ... oh man, thinking is hard. Let's just have Charles Bronson shoot a bunch of black guys for 90 minutes."

"Sounds good to me; the possibilities are endless!"
  • Current Music
    It was a Gummi Bear