Love my woman, love my baby, love my biscuits sopped in gravy.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

On CSIs and Tivos

I find that ever since Tivo has been added to the entertainment center, I'm watching a lot more TV that I would probably skip otherwise. Now it's possible to watch everything that is even slightly interesting. Reality TV is the best programming on TV these days, which frustrates actors. Garry Shandling said something to the effect that he likes commercials now because there are real actors and a plot. Thank goodness for Tivo, then, because I'm skipping all of that.

Turns out if you watch three hours of TV a week you're going to see something like 3.7 days of ads in a year. So get a Tivo, and add six months to your life over the next 50 years. And put down as the guy who referred you.

Problem is, I end up using that extra time to watch more TV. I have a feeling that extra six months will all be CSI, Andy Griffith, and reality shows.

There's the Get A Job genre of reality TV, which started off with the Apprentice. This is a fun show to watch, and one that takes itself pretty seriously.

Luckily, the spawn of this has been the Fox angle on it. Fox tends to take a concept someone else came up with, usually, and improve on it. They actually have two Get A Job shows, both of which are compelling.

The first, called My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss, debuted Sunday and is a send up of the Apprentice, where the contestants are humiliated time after time by an actor playing a billionaire.

This guy puts them through the ringer with a straight face. He tells one that he's too short to be on the show. He hits on the girls. He has them panhandle for money, and the losing team has to sleep under a bridge.

The other show they concocted is called The Rebel Billionaire. Now, everybody knows the Virgin name brand, but the guy behind it is an English entrepreneur (on trip manure) who has more nerve than any of them, and will apparently do any daredevil stunt FOX can conjure.

He takes his hopefuls, who are playing for his job, up in a couple of hot air balloons and has them walk a 4x4 across between them. The losers of this event have to climb on top of the balloon and have tea with him. It is ridiculous.

I guess Fear Factor has shown that there is a group of people, mostly from Los Angeles, who will do anything for fame and fortune knowing it only lasts a few weeks. They must think, "If they just see me on TV eating a pile of dog butts, they'll know, deep down, that I'm the next Lindsay Lohan."

Another reality genre out there is the Take My Wife, Please category. This is another one conceived by one network and duplicated by Fox.

Here a mom leaves her family, and goes to live with another family for a week or two. It freaks everyone out, and usually, every one in the whole show ends up crying because of the situation.

For instance, one mom could be a pampered, fat pig, who has no rules in her house other than don't eat the almond rocas out of the kitty litter box. She will invariably be put into the house of a mother who cleans five hours a day, eats only rice and drinks only water, and is in top physical form. They trade spots and hilarity ensues, as they say.

There's also the Mary Poppins variety of reality show, where a person with common sense but dressed like Ms. Poppins is sent into a house full of young brats in hopes to get them to stop biting and beating up their parents.

There's the I Was A Teenage Drag Queen shows, like the Swan.

On top of all of this there's the Put A Dozen Idiots In A House And See What Happens type (which includes Survivor), and the Philanderer's Island genre, where contestants perform unspeakable acts for money. They all do that, though, right?

Also, we cannot neglect the It's a Mad, Mad etc etc World genre, like the Amazing Race.

Tired of reality TV yet?

It's worth looking at at least one show that has real actors in it. CBS has a show which started out pretty good, and since it did well, decided to make three versions of it. Of course I'm talking about CSI.

You would think they would have learned from Regis and his millionaire show that ran five days a week in prime time on ABC that you can overdo it. So far, though, their efforts have been successful.

Hopefully these programs will die out in the order they came out. First there was the original CSI, which takes place in Las Vegas.

This is the Green version of CSI, where everything has a green tint, and the lead character finds a dead body and starts quoting obscure poetry and literature. In the last year or so, he has grown a beard, to make him look smarter. He tends to look at people over his glasses quite a bit as well, to enhance his professorial style. It's those little acting tricks that make it real, baby.

Next came Red CSI, which is supposed to be in Miami. The filter they use on this show is red, so David Caruso's hair blends in nicely with the skies. He's the pistol packing CSI and every week finds a way to shoot someone.

This guy always has a nice little zinger for the captured crook. His delivery is well planned, too. Say a guy killed a harem of prostitutes by smothering them in chocolate.

"You'll never pin it on me, see!" he says to Caruso across a red table.

"The evidence," pauses Caruso, "proves otherwise." Another dramatic pause.

"And that, my friend," he says, taking off his sunglasses and wincing toward the ground, "is sweet." Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

Third in line is Blue CSI which is in New York, and has the best actor of the bunch in charge, Mr. Gary Sinise, probably best known as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump. He's the most realistic of the bunch, too, as far as I can tell.

His character is a step above his cohorts on this show. As with most of the franchise, the supporting actors in this seemed to have been hired for their good looks. There's a Ryan Seacrest lab dude, who is hard to take seriously, and an even funnier lady with huge lips and uh, stuff. Sinise's character seems to be the only person hired for his acting skills. He's more human than the rest.

Thanks to the blue hue everyone on this show looks cold or suffocated, and it's hard to tell the dead bodies from the live ones, but for the makeup job that shows half a head or a missing limb.

So yes, there is a lot of TV out there, and I haven't been this hip to what's on since I was about 13.

Tivo, I don't know whether to thank you or curse you. At least the Twilight Zone was being recorded while I wrote this.

I guess that means thanks, Tivo!

You cute little TV bug.


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