Five TV show argument starters
If you're at this site, that means you love television, and if you love television, you have some pretty strong opinions when it comes to its content, its history, its future. So let's fight about it.
After the jump are five opinions/ideas that I have. You're probably not going to agree with me on some of them (or any of them), but I think they're a great jumping-off point to get some
arguments intelligent discussions going. Be warned that the following contains opinions that are probably going to tick you off and maybe even some that will make you think I've lost my mind.
1. The 90s cast of Saturday Night Live was better than the 70s cast.
I know, I know, this is heresy in the land of SNL. Rich is doing a cool history of the show and it was groundbreaking. The 1970s cast had Belushi and Curtin and Aykroyd and Murray! They had Lisa Loopner and the land shark and the Bass-O-Matic! They weren't even ready for prime time, for God's sake! How can you say the 90s version was better?
Because it was. Look, I loved the original cast of SNL, and I'm old enough to have been in front of my television when it premiered in 1975. But look at the talent that the late 80s-to-late-90s cast had. Phil Hartman! Mike Myers! Jan Hooks! Toonces! Robert Smigel! Church Lady! Jack Handey! I think the later cast had more versatility and took more chances and had better riffs on politics and current events. And when it comes to quoting characters that cast members portrayed, I can think of many more quotes from the 90s cast than the older cast (sorry, wild and crazy guys).
I think part of our love for one era of a TV show over another is when it came in our own life, how it affected us, what it meant to us. Maybe that's part of why I love the Phil Hartman years of SNL more than the Dan Ackroyd years. But I also happen to think that overall it holds up better.
2. Ryan Seacrest isn't so bad.
No, I'm not drunk right now (though I have had a lot of caffeine today). But come on, be fair. Beyond the fact that he hosts a show that a lot of people hate, and those "is he gay?" questions that no one should even care about, why hate the guy? I don't see anything wrong with the him. In fact, he seems like a rather ambitious, talented guy. American Idol would fall apart without him (he controls the show perfectly). He has said many times that he wants to be the next Dick Clark, and with his work ethic (hosting Idol, hosting on E!, doing a daily 5 hour radio show, hosting a weekly top 40 show, producing TV shows and specials, etc), he's well on his way.
3. Heroes' second season was great.
Oh, I know, bleeding eyes Maya and her dumb brother were the Nikki and Paolo of NBC, but beyond that, the season turned out pretty great. Fans were (and maybe still are) up in arms because the second season supposedly wasn't as good as the first. You know what? It wasn't, but not because the second season was so bad, it's that the first season was just so crazy good (cliffhangers at the end of every episode!). It was still new to us. The second season almost had to start out the way it did, because the makers had to restart the show in light of the events of the first season finale. While I agree that Hiro stayed in old Japan maybe two episodes too many, the show just kept on getting better and better as the season went along: the people in the pic being murdered one by one by an unknown killer, Syler seducing the twins to get him to the U.S., the mystery of why Nate was disfigured in the mirror and why Peter had amnesia, the cast additions of David Anders and Kristin Bell. We'll never know what exactly would have been the final verdict on the second season because of the writers strike, but I think that at the end viewers would have forgotten the slip-ups and said it was great.
4. Conan O'Brien and Craig Ferguson are lame talk show hosts.
I've gone back and forth with this one. Both O'Brien and Ferguson seem like good chaps, and they can both be very, very funny, depending on what they do and what they're doing. But they're not late night talk show hosts. O'Brien still, after over 10 years, is uncomfortable in his monologue. Tonight, for me, do this: count how many times he says "yeah" in his monologue. And his interviewing technique consists of trying to overpower his guests with his comedy. Part of this is to save the interview, I understand, but a big part of it is not knowing when to let go. I really wonder what's going to happen when O'Brien takes over the Tonight Show next year. Totally different audience and vibe. It's going to be interesting to see what he does.
As for Ferguson, he relies too much on that damn audio box that has things like whip noises and animal noises. Every time he says something like "naughty monkey," it's because he has nothing else to say, and I change the channel. Funny, David Letterman repeats a lot of gags too, but with him you sense they could go off in odd, unpredictable directions. Ferguson just says "naughty monkey," mugs for the camera, and the audience howls. I don't get it. And while I appreciate the sort of extended story monologue he does, that gets grating too.
5. They should release TV show DVDs with commercials.
Again I say that I'm not drunk right now (nor am I doing any of this). And let me make clear that I'm not talking about the ads that often come before the show/movie starts on our DVDs, the ads from studios for other DVD collections or other movies. I'm talking about the commercials that air when the show airs on TV. That's right, I would like to see regular commercials on DVD sets.
Before the torches and crowds start lining up at my front door, let me explain that part of this is nostalgia. I own thousands of videotapes from the 80s and 90s, for such shows as Spenser: For Hire and Stingray and Riptide and Remington Steele and Max Monroe: Loose Cannon, and the tapes contain the original commercials from the 80s and 90s. I love watching this stuff. It's like a tiny time capsule, a look at the products and trends that were happening at the same time the show originally aired. Why not do this with DVD sets? Maybe they can make an ad version of the DVD and an ad-free DVD version, so we can choose. Of course, this might not be cost effective (though I would bet advertisers would love this idea and foot the bill), so maybe there could be an option on the DVDs to watch an episode without the ads, sort of like you can shut the commentary track on and off.
Just a few thoughts. Feel free to argue amongst yourselves and with me in the comments.