Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Death of Originality

Well, whatever else I was going to write about just got tossed. One of my favorite new shows has been canceled, and while I'm not surprised I am of course disappointed. (Though it's one less distraction, right? Wrong. I don't watch that much tv anyway. I haven't watched American Idol since I lived overseas and there was nothing else on the satellite.) Of course, this latest victim is just indicative of the utter dearth of imagination that plagues the average TV exec - and dare I say the average TV viewer that elevates the mindless dreck of the reality show and the "so cliched it hurts and yet we're still aiming for the LCD (lowest common denominator) of humor so we'll retread the fart jokes or angry mother in law endlessly" sit-com.

Seriously, has anyone bothered to actually watch these shows? When was the last time a sit-com was funny without retreading the same jokes? Yet those shows are given ample to time to succeed, or at least achieve mediocracy. Sure, some of them are true gems, and I enjoy them, but mostly I don't find them funny. I'm no humor Philistine, either, I like the Stooges and the Marx brothers. Pixar's short "Lifted" which was very much in the vein of classic physical comedy is hands-down the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. But I also like cerebral jokes, too, and if the humor is low-brow I'd prefer it wasn't condescending.

Equally unexpected was that this one was a sci-fi show (time travel) though they kept the geek factor low. Those never succeed, or at least very rarely. For every Battlestar Galactica that makes its, and shows why these shows should succeed, there's a Flash Gordon that argues for pulling the plug. Journeyman fell somewhere between those, but much more on the end of BG than FG. (Hey, there's a certain symmetry to that comparison, isn't there. I guess we could label this latest casualty a CG or DG level show... Or not, having realized there's only so far you can push any literary device.)

The only good thing is that like many shows, knowing the writer's strike was imminent, they wrapped up the major plot points. There was plenty of room left to explore, but at least the faithful few - far too few apparently - won't be left hanging.

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