Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I think not...

“De gustibus non est disputandum”

Given that I have some very smart friends who don’t much care for “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” or “Louie CK” – and yet they regularly watch reality shows that for me hold all the appeal of being waterboarded -- I try not to judge anyone based on their television viewing habits.  That I like "Justified" and you like "American Idol" doesn't make either of us bad people -- just fellow naked apes with different tastes in viewing choices.  

There really is no accounting for taste.

Still, trying is not the same as succeeding, and as I cast my jaundiced eye upon the latest show in the media news, it seems I’m doomed to fail yet again. In its decidedly finite wisdom, CBS -- the prime broadcast network conduit for staid, boring, predictable television -- has decided to re-imagine the story of Sherlock Holmes with a show called Elementary, wherein a thoroughly modern Holmes is transplanted to current-day New York under a cloud of contrived disgrace.  Teamed with a gender-bending Dr. Watson (played by noted thespian cipher Lucy Lui), he will presumably solve crimes and apprehend loathsome miscreants in the Big Apple once a week during the 44 minutes allotted by broadcast television. 

Just what the world needs, yet another mind-numbing procedural rip-off: “CSI-Conan Doyle.”

Allow me a moment to projectile-vomit into the sink...

See, this represents everything I hate about the wasteland of American broadcast television. With a wealth of home-grown talent currently working in cable, the best a sclerotic CBS can come up with it to remake a wonderfully clever and innovative BBC show, and in the inevitable process of mass-market homogenization, dumb it down to the lowest common denominator for every wide-eyed, slack-jawed drooler across this Great Land staring hypnotized into the glowing screen each and every night.

Jesus, why doesn't CBS just cut to the chase and start televising cage-match "ultimate" fighting, Snooki Polizzi, and Monster Truck demolition derbies 24/7?*

It would be one thing if the BBC had given their gracious assent to yet another sloppy, opportunistic American hack-job remake of their crown jewel, but from what I've read, they refused in no uncertain terms.  CBS went right ahead anyway, with what Les Moonvies and his focus-groupies doubtless consider a bold new approach – casting Lucy Lui as Dr. Watson to introduce a little opposites-attract/approach-avoidance sexual frisson to a story that until now has been refreshingly free of such cliche. But let's face it, CBS has now devolved into a network utterly dedicated to cliche.  To expect anything else is akin to walking through Death Valley in August praying for rain.

I haven't been overly impressed with Lucy Lui's work to this point. Although she did a serviceable job in last season's "Southland," that particular role was right in her wheelhouse.  Casting such a brittle, fingernails-down-the-chalkboard actress to portray a thoroughly unlikable character possessing those very same qualities was a smart choice by the producers of “Southland,” and maybe she'll deliver a similarly unpleasant-but-effective performance in “Elementary” -- but  the show is such a blatantly cynical rip-off that it's impossible to care.

This kind of thing just makes me embarrassed to be an American working in our television industry.

The Shame showers down upon us all...

* And if any or all of those sound like worthy viewing to you, well, sorry about that -- we just see the world of entertainment through different eyes.


Ed (sloweddi) said...

You are correct in your TV viewing habits. The rest are wrong and in a just world, would be hunted down and shot on reality TV.
I am no longer surprised at any American network ripping off work from across the pond.
I think there should be a new reality TV show where a person with a large piece of wood stands behind both the network executive and the person pitching these copies, and, if it is dumb downed too much and is green lit... mayhem ensues.

BrigittaV said...

Heh. My thoughts exactly.

It's hard to believe this is the same network that gave us The Good Wife. But then, think of this: they also gave us Survivor.

Ed (sloweddi) said...

This is why I download everything. It lets me pick and choose from around the world. At my age, life is much too short for bad television... and bad films, which is why I stopped going to the movies. Our local recyclers is picking up the TV this week.

Penny said...

I'm hanging my head in shame, but yes, I TiVo'd and watched every single episode of "Dogs in the City"...!

Michael Taylor said...

Ed --

I hear you. Expecting anything good from the broadcast networks is probably a fool's game. The last broadcast show I really got into was "Lost," and even that was a guilty pleasure. The show made no sense at all, but with good acting and excellent production values, I bought in for the duration of the ride. Given the stiff competition they face from cable in terms of quality, I'm sure the broadcast boys will come up with an occasional exception to the rule, but those will indeed be exceptions.

BrigittaV --

I never could understand the appeal of Survivor. At all...


Like I told Ed, we all have our guilty pleasures, and no need to apologize. Hell, I still like "60 Minutes," which qualifies me for the "Get Off My Lawn Geezer Hall of Shame," so you just go right ahead and wallow in the warm, comfortable mud of that Dogs show. To each, his (or her) own...