Sunday, 3 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #423: Boring & Predictable

Welcome to the show folks...


Flailing failing network NBC has announced that they are reversing their policy on pilots, and ordering more than they have in years, and they have also renewed their venerable crime/legal drama Law & Order for season 21, soundly trouncing
Gunsmoke for the record of longest running television drama.

I have to admit that this story is one of those "if a tree falls in a forest when there's no one around, does it make a sound?" kind of conundrums. You know what I mean, if a show breaks a record, but if that show isn't watched, or really worth watching, does anyone care?

Sadly, no.

And that means a lot coming from me, because I used to be a huge
L&O fan. I go back with the show all the way to George Dzundza, and that's saying something. But there were things about the show in later years that not even the charms of Jerry Orbach as Detective Lenny Briscoe could cover up for.

I'm talking about a distinctive decline in quality.

When the show first started it was a bare bones procedural drama. You knew extremely little about the personal lives of the regular characters, because the show wasn't about their lives, the show was about the lives of the people in and around the investigation and trial. This format freed the show from the traps of soap-operatic plot-lines about regular characters with personal lives out of control, and brought you fresh stories about fresh people every week. (Even though they did use the same actors over and over again in different parts.)

Also the stories always had some sort of twist, like a clue pops up to change the game, someone changes their testimony, or a legal decision tosses everything for a loop. No matter what, the only certainty was that the story you were watching during the first half, was going to go on in a wild new direction in the second half.

The show also would pick up stories "ripped from the headlines," by presenting fictionalized versions of actual criminal cases, sometimes cases that were literally occurring in the press as the show was airing.

But all good things come to an end, even when the show keeps chugging along.

First the show became painfully predictable. There was a time that you didn't know what the ending would look like, but now, it's as sure as the tides. The moment they show that a character is either religious (specifically Christian), politically conservative, a businessman, or all of the above, you know that they will prove to be, if not guilty of the murder in question, at least guilty of some other moral atrocity.

Plus they stopped "ripping" from the crime headlines, and ripping from political headlines, creating thin veiled screeds against people who show-runner/head writer Rene Balcer wouldn't invite to a weekend party at his house in the Hamptons. The viewer sits there going: "Ooh, he must be Rush Limbaugh he's got to be guilty of something," or "That must be Bill O'Reilly he's got to be guilty of something," and pretty much up and down the talk radio / Fox News / fundamentalist Christian / Republican party membership roster. These crimes are almost never committed for personal reasons, but are committed because of some ideological derangement on the part of the killer, or to cover up their moral hypocrisy. All presented with mock debates between characters where they decide that guilty of murder or not, they are still somehow fundamentally terrible people who do terrible things.

So the show went from being a drama that held you until the end, to one where all you needed to see was someone with a cross, or a flag on their wall to know who did it, and why. I don't care if writers include their politics in a story, as long as they don't insult my intelligence when they do it by being boring and predictable.

That's why I, and millions of other viewers, had to give up on
L&O, and really can't get excited for them breaking the record. It's not enough that you last, especially on NBC which literally has nothing else to put on, you should try to burn a few calories at least try to tell interesting stories.


Kathy Griffin did it again, on the anniversary of scolding a heckler with the witty riposte of something like “I don’t go to your job and knock the dicks out of your mouth” has done it again, dropping an "F-bomb" during CNN's New Year's Eve broadcast.

And lo and behold, she's getting all sorts of coverage for it, just like the last time.

Which means that 2010 will feature just as much celebrity related horseshit as 2009, if not more.

Kathy Griffin's a washed up sit-com second banana turned basic cable reality "star" who feeds on as much media attention as she can get to maintain the bizarre undead state of her career. She can't get any positive attention for her "comedy" work, because she is fundamentally unfunny, so she says "fuck" on live television, or tells Jesus to "suck it" at an awards show, and toss all those "media watchers" in a tizzy, because they are the only ones who watch her, and their writing about her justifies her career, if not her existence.

Personally, I find it boring and predictable.

A lot like her act.


After months of wrangling, dangling, and mangling, Time Warner Cable has inked a last minute deal to keep carrying the channels owned and operated by Fox Broadcasting.

Now this was probably the most boring and predictable story of all. Because all you needed to know was that two big media companies were going into a negotiation to know how it would go.


Both sides enter into the negotiations expecting to not make a deal that pleases both parties, but somehow pull something that makes their side "win" over the other.


Both sides attempt to screw each other by making demands that make the other side's part of the business untenable. This goes on and on, threatening to turn the whole business upside down, and potentially damage both companies.


Both sides realize that trying to get a leg up over the other can only damage both, and finally make a reasonable deal that both sides can live with, only after wasting untold time, money and effort on strategies that only served to prolong the suffering.

Such behavior is as certain as the tides these days.

Gee, is it just me, or is everything about TV lately getting boring and predictable?

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