Ma and Pa America
I came home this weekend to see my folks for Memorial Day (which coincidentally means that I've eaten an unhealthy amount of food and it's only Sunday afternoon) and we got into a pretty interesting conversation about TV. For starters, neither of them knew what "the upfronts" were and I suppose it makes sense. If I didn't follow television as much as I do, I probably wouldn't know what the upfronts were either. Moreover, I would most likely have had the same question my mother had: "Why do they call it the upfronts?" I'm not 100% sure, but I think it has something to do with the fact that ad-space is being presented to advertisers "up front" and if they sit on it, they may not be able to get the spots they want at a later date.
It may be hard for some of us to understand the allure of watching men drive in circles for hours on end, but you can't deny there's big money in NASCAR, and FOX seems more than happy to renew and extend their contract with the auto racing giant. This season (the final race is Sunday) NASCAR will report an all-time season high, a status that hasn't been claimed since the NFL in 1981. Who would have thought that garnering substantial money for a network would be reason enough for them to let you stay? Of course, if I ran FOX I'd make them change the name from "NASCAR" to "Boring Race That Makes Me Lots of Money." The show would open with a picture of me holding a wad of cash in both hands and smiling into the camera.
Ed Treleven writes in the Wisconsin State Journal about a new trend among jurors who seem to have trouble differentiating between television and real life. It seems that the popularity of shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; CSI: Miami; CSI: NY; and CSI: Plus Calcium have resulted in more juries demanding forensic evidence, something that has prosecutors mildly concerned. The general consensus so far, however, is that CSI and its various offshoots have yet to cripple the American court system.
The only "danger" I see in CSI is that it seems to do for forensics what Indiana Jones did for archeology, which is to make a redundant and arduous job look thrilling and exciting. That's just blatant false advertising, especially when everyone knows the most exciting, action-packed job ever is "beaver orthodontist." Why haven't they made a show about that?
Noel Holston writes in Newsday about the lack of elderly people on the television landscape, a trend he doesn't see abating even as the baby boomers continue the grueling march to Oldsville. I think he makes a good point, as shows which I would categorize as "Things My Grandma Would Enjoy" have become harder and harder to find. Networks don't target older people specifically like they did back in the days of Golden Girls. And let us also not forget Matlock, a show which no one under the age of sixty has ever seen. I think trends tend to swing one way and then snap back, so I don't see television's youth fixation as permanent.
Ma: "Oh! Your father and I watched that American Idol yesterday, and you know what? They both suck! [BTW: this is the first time I have ever heard my mom say "suck."] The world is coming to an end if people think those two can actually sing! You know what they ought to do? Pack those two up and make them start over, ship 'em off to Julliard!"
Frankly, despite my unwavering, completely astute coverage of the AI circus, I agree. Guess it runs in the family.
Pa on Wheel of Fortune: "I tell you, that Vanna White. She looks like she been rode hard and put up wet. They need to find a new chick for that show. She's been around forever."
Ma: "[rolling eyes] Your father won't let me watch Wheel anymore because he doesn't like Vanna White. But it's my favorite show!"
Pa on the Overstock.com commercial: "Have you seen that one? That commercial for "It's all about the O?" Man I am so sick of that. [imitates sexy lady voice] Ooooh, it's all about the gold! It's all about the outdoors! That thing comes on every five seconds. I can't stand it."
Ma: "Yes, it really is getting very tiresome."
Ma on CSI: "Oh! I hate all those CSI shows! CSI Miami, CSI Las Vegas, CSI New York. There's too many! And they're so procedural, severed heads and cutting people up, and then they're always in the lab fussing over DNA or hair samples. Why cut all those people up when all you need is a hair sample? Chopping people up and looking into microscopes. So gross."
Well put, Ma, well put.
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