Favorite Waste of Time
Review 'Em? I Hardly Watched 'Em!
By: Randy Harward
The Waste's wife recently took a crack at my TV watching habits: "You're no longer accustomed to TV you have to actually pay attention to," is the gist of what she said. At the time, I'd been sucking the TV teat for a diet of Cheaters, Blind Date, Maximum Exposure, Austin Steven's Snakemaster and other no-brainer fare. This had been going on for about four months. At least.
One night, it occurred to me that I had completely blown off my "favorite" shows: The Daily Show, ETC. All the stuff I had to actually listen to and sometimes reflect upon. When I finally reverted back to my typical TV habits, I found that I was constantly using the rewind function because I was constantly getting lost. I got to wondering what that said about my current state of mind.
There were a few times I was in an altered state of consciousness. That would account for some of my choices, perhaps even tell us the flashpoint. But being a reasonable facsimile of a grown-ass man (assuming one's standards are low), those particular activities have been curtailed such that you'd think I'd have snapped out of it, got my head right, and returned to my usual TV viewing habits.
I began to wonder if this poor judgment extended into my DVD reviewing. Was I paying close enough attention to these DVDs I was supposed to be reviewing? Was I somehow rendering an opinion on something I only half-assedly watched? Potentially, yes.
Yet in this realization was another. Realization. It's pretty basic--definitely not a scientific breakthrough. Goes like this: the merits of a program can be determined by how much attention a viewer affords said program. With the possible exception of Snakemaster, the shows I was watching were utterly worthless, only interesting to a point (that point being when you've seen everything, when there's nothing...no entertainment, no education, no cheap thrill, to be gleaned from the show). Actually, I believe this would be at least a derivation of the Jump the Shark theory (see http://www.jumptheshark.com).
Consequently, I saw that I could measure the merit of the films and television shows I review in this column by how long I could stick with them. Yes, this would only be true and accurate according to my tastes but hey--so is any review. And reviews can be boiled down to two things:
1. It sucks or it don't.
2. The Opinions and Assholes Theory.
Therefore, the point at which I gave up on a product would be relevant.
Wonderfalls (Fox): Two episodes. That's all I could take. For a show that had enough juice to get a fan-appeasing Complete Series DVD release, this sucks hard. The premise: a bitter smarty-pants hallucinates and ends up doing fucked up quirky stuff. Could at the very least be semi-endearing if said lead character wasn't so grating...alas, she makes squeezing a saguaro cactus between your butt cheeks sound like a jolly good time.
Lost in Space Season 3 (Fox): Some "cult favorites" run on nostalgia or being a quaint antiquity. I got three episodes into this before I suddenly realized I was missing Cheaters. Never went back.
Angel Season 5 (Fox): Something about the Buffy spinoff keeps me watching. I don't know why--some shows are just kinda good and totally cheesy, which is a great blend. Finished it.
The Lone Gunmen: The Complete Series (Fox): This X-Files spinoff at least wasn't as bad as Millennium. If you haven't already figured it out, this puts the three X-Geeks on their own for Three-Stoogey sci-fi fun. Yes, it does get the juices flowing. Still, not that great...the stories needed more, and the characters couldn't survive out of context. Nevertheless, I plan to finish it...see above.
The Pretender: Season One (Fox): Five episodes so far...will finish it because of the escapist adventure element. I love pretending I'm something I'm not. I totally relate to this guy. Except he's better at playing pretend. Would buy this one.
Sideways (Fox): Holy shit...great movie! And as such, I will not spoil even a bit of it by synopsizing or "reviewing" it. Some films just need an unqualified recommendation. Then you discover them like you discover a new (ideally attractive) lover's body--not that I've had the pleasure, but it sounds good?
Open Water (Lion's Gate): Cheap-ass shark film is surprisingly good--taut and exciting mostly (a few spots limp along, but that's because we're supposed to feel time passing slowly). It's also a total drag. Now I know why studios insist on happy endings. All that stuff about drag endings not testing well? That's because there are enough bummers in real life.
I Heart Huckabees (Fox): See Sideways.
Viva La Bam Season 2 and 3 (Paramount): I was way too hard on this show when I reviewed Season 1. Bam is a spoiled little shit, but he's also funny. And if his family will take the abuse? All the funnier. We should all live vicariously through this guy. We'd feel like we got over on our own parents while giving them the peace they deserve.
Dog the Bounty Hunter: The Best of Season One (A&E Home Video): Watched it from start to finish in two days. White trash, mullets, a moralizing mulleted white trashy bounty hunter that calls himself Dog and compulsively vacuums? Does it get any better?
Greatest American Hero Season 2 (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Finished it in three days even though it really started to suck. It's that escapist adventure thing again. And nostalgia.
Doogie Howser, M.D. Season 1 (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Oh, come on--this show was so lame. Why did people watch it? Like some snotnose would actually get to practice medicine. I'm all for suspension of disbelief, but I can't believe this fuckin' shit (Note: it is not lost on me that I just raved about a superhero series. It's actually more believable). One episode.
21 Jump Street Season 2 (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Ha-haaaaa! Cops passing for high school students and solving crimes that most high schools never see. Why did I watch it back then? Because I was in high school and wanted to be these cops or at least have a locker next to one. Why did I watch all of Season One? Why'd I make it all the way through Season Two? Same reason, a decade and half later. Why do superheroes and undercover cops in high school rate better than a zit-riddled doctor? Because those fantasies endure. Is this a good place to end a column? It has to be. I'm bored.