Archive - Mar 9, 2009

Cold Played Out

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Memo to television producers: CUT IT OUT.

Yes, it's that time again. Time for a Moratorium Monday, one of a series of infrequent regular features of You Are Dumb where I see something going on and beg for it to stop. They never stop, of course, but I feel at least a bit better having voiced my objection for the record.

And the Moratorium for this Monday goes out to America's television production community. who have spent the better part of the past decade overusing the living shit out of a particular device, and I simply cannot fucking stand it anymore. It's gotten to the point where I can't watch a single hour of television without the last five minutes being spoiled by a mournful montage of Our Characters Now, set to some shitty current soft-rock hit.

STOP IT. I'm begging you. I mean, it's a ridiculous crutch to begin with. Borrowing the cultural emotional impact of someone else's art and bending it to your will. If you've done your job right, I know that he's happy, she's sad, and that other guy is facing an uncertain future with trepidation. I don't need a goddamned slow-panning recap set to some Coldplay ballad or, even worse, Hallelujah. Why not spend that time making five more minutes of THINGS HAPPENING.

For example, I watch "House". I'm not sure why. I guess there's something incomprehensibly appealing about a really smart guy who constantly gets away with being insulting and rude to those he considers his intellectual inferiors, and who gets away with it because he's always right*. But that's what I watch the show for. Unless someone's peeing blood, or Hugh Laurie is being a condescending prick to people who you ultimately learn actually deserve it, you're wasting my time. And during all those lingering shots of hallways, snow, or snow-covered hallways where some douchebag is playing a piano and opining about the meaning of it all? Extra special bonus time-wasting.

For another example, I watch "Ugly Betty". Because it used to be ridiculous and funny. But this season, I've noticed a remarkable correlation. The show is getting duller, more ordinary, and shittier, while at the same time, the number of songs that end with what I've just decided should be dubbed emo-ntages has shot through the roof. Here we have a show whose entire context could support any number of mid-show montages using tunes that DON'T make you want to weep silently in your corner seat at Starbucks, and what do we get? Slow pans and shit music, week after week. It's enough to make a grown man... well, write about it on the Internet, actually.

Third example! I am positively bursting at the seams with examples. I am told that I would enjoy "Scrubs", and I have little reason to doubt this. What I've seen of it tells me that a fair percentage of each episode is absurdist workplace comedy, which is a personal weakness I can comfortably blame on Dave Foley. But you know what happens every single time I try to watch it? EMO-NTAGES. You know what? I don't need my wacky hijinks balanced with caring about the characters' lives. I don't. Wacky hijinks are, and always have been, their own reward. Plus, Scrubs is a half-hour show, so you end up with twice the emo-ntages by weight over a whole season.

You know what the worst part is? I don't even know who to blame for the emo-ntage. I have a suspicion, but it's one of those things that's impossible to research because Googling terms you just coined is wildly unsuccessful. But I suspect I blame Joss Whedon. He used to pull that shit on Buffy all the time, and I remember not hating it then, so odds are I hadn't been overexposed to it. Which means it may have been new. But I can't be sure, plus Firefly didn't have any emo-ntages in it, and now that Dollhouse has started, I have a whole new set of things to blame him for.

The whole situation is just immensely unsatisfying. in a way that's difficult to convey. If only there were some way, in an all-text format, to show me looking out a window at the Minneapolis night, a thousand-yard stare in my eyes and a Five For Fighting song playing in the background. Then the shot could cut to each of you, and as the song swells, every last one of you vomits into the nearest garbage can. Then I'd finally win that goddamned Emmy.

*Ignoring the three prior act breaks when he's wrong, of course. Nobody gives a shit about those.