Finger On The Pulse
I was watching an episode of The Wire the other day, because that’s exactly the kind of with-it, up-to-date guy I am. My middle name is Zeitgeist. I have my finger so firmly on the pulse of this nation that I’m about to steal the nation’s watch. I am hep to the jive, even though I’m not sure what the word “hep” means, and up until a week ago, I thought that “the jive” was something that you treated with hydrocortisone. I am up to fucking date is what I’m saying, just as long as that date is June 2nd, 2002. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go dance the Charleston on top of a flagpole.
I tend to watch television series only after they’ve aired to completion for the simple reason that I rarely watch television. Mostly that’s because television sucks, but in the case of HBO series, it’s because I don’t like waiting an eternity between shows. Here’s how the schedule works for HBO:
- Premiers a show about the inner workings of a New Jersey mafia family
- Show becomes wildly popular and a critical success
- Season one finale brings in record numbers of viewers
- Producers decide to take 47 years off between seasons
Because, really, why would you want to keep giving people what they want? Make them fucking wait for it! Call it the Axl Rose method. If something is hotly anticipated, it stands to reason that it will be even more hotly anticipated by their grandchildren, right?
The Sopranos drove me up the goddamn wall with that shit. Two and a half years between seasons? It’s like the cast consisted of method actors who insisted upon doing real time just so they could really get into the heads of their characters. I gave up on the Sopranos until after the series finale, then bought the entire series on DVD and spent the next two months engaged in a Sopranos marathon so intense that when I finally left the house, all I could do was grab my crotch and yell, “OHHHH!” which, to tell you the truth, was problematic when it came time to pick my kids up from day care.
The other thing I didn’t like about the schedule is that each season consisted of only 10 episodes. Ten. That’s it. When I was growing up, a television season consisted of 26 episodes and started each fall. So, for instance, let’s say that you were a fan of the sitcom Happy Days. In October, new episodes would air. And, barring a holiday or some other important event like Jamie Farr boxing Charo on Battle of the Network Stars, you’d see a new episode each week until spring rolled around, at which point you were committed to an insane asylum, because Happy Days was fucking retarded.
That’s a full season. Not 10 episodes. And it starts in the goddamn fall. I remember about 15 years ago the show Survivor was brand new. I blinked my fucking eyes and they were on season six. One season per year, assholes. Any more than that and we have a hard time keeping track of who we hate. (Bonus advice: Voting people off of the island is fucking boring. Catapulting people off of the island is Ratings Gold.)
Another show that I had a problem with on HBO was Six Feet Under. I started out liking it, because it was quirky and weird, but after a while it just became too… gay. It was way too gay. Look, I don’t care about other people’s sexual preferences. Who you dump your bodily fluids into on your own time is none of my concern. And I’m certainly not the type to stick my head in the sand and pretend that there is no such thing as homosexuality. Having gay characters on TV doesn’t bother me at all.
But after a while, Six Feet Under (a series centered around a family-owned funeral home) just started getting gay for no other reason than that it was getting attention. I got the feeling that Elton John was probably watching at home, thinking, “Whoah, that’s really fucking gay!” (I also remember thinking, “I really doubt there’s that much fisting going on in your average funeral home, but just to be safe, I want to be cremated.”)
I also tend to miss out on television series because I spend so much time
watching Bolivian amputee porn reading. I do not want to waste a single moment watching ultra-shitty TV (I paid my dues in the 70’s, thank you). So I wait until everyone starts talking about this great new show, and then I REALLY ignore it because great new shows tend to be the fucking worst. Happy Days? Survivor? That show where they laugh at people who can’t sing?
But every now and again, people that I trust will tell me that I’m missing something truly great, like Breaking Bad. Then I catch up on the series and wait along with everyone else for the penultimate episode in which, at long last, Walter White finally explains what the word penultimate means (it’s a type of mollusk).
The point is, I’m higher than Jesus right now. No, wait, that isn’t the point. The point is that I watched an episode of The Wire. Ever seen The Wire? If you haven’t, you’ll probably want to ask your parents if they remember it. It’s a gritty, realistic tale of urban decay that probably drove realtors in Baltimore fucking batty.
“You know how hard it is to sell real estate when HBO is describing the neighborhood on prime time TV as ‘America’s Taint’? REALLY GODDAMN HARD!“
I find myself fascinated by the series, as it gives me a glimpse into a world that I will never experience. But I wonder how people in that world see it. I mean, half of the characters in the show wouldn’t be able to afford HBO, and the other half are in jail, but the rest of crime-ridden Baltimore: Do they like the show?
I don’t think I would. Can you imagine slogging through an urban landscape of misery and despair each day, coming home, turning on the TV, and seeing a replay of the entire thing? “I don’t need to watch this on TV, asshole. I can just look out the fucking window!”
And that probably explains Happy Days. Why watch your TV friends get shot just like your real friends when you can watch Tom Hanks kick the Fonz in the face? As a matter of fact, I bet if I created an entire network that showed nothing but clips of celebrities getting kicked in the face, it would get HUGE ratings. I’m going to get right on that. Expect the first season to begin in six years.
The Wire. Sounds interesting. But not quite as interesting as that gay show. It’s like a blimp pulling a banner that says “Fuck you”. Now that I know it’s there, I can’t not go check it out. Perhaps take a picture.
There was a scene where Michael C. Hall (aka Dexter) removed a dude’s tighty-whiteys with his teeth, and I remember thinking, “Dude, if you are straight, you deserve ALL THE EMMYS for that scene alone.”
Television schedules are just as bad here. If I do get interested in a series, the fuckwit tv station will change the broadcast time, show two or three new episodes at various times, show six reruns, run two more new episodes, end the season, pretend they never heard of the show, and then advertise the hell out of the series’ return.
Tonight’s GRAND MUCH-ANTICIPATED SHOCKING FABULOUS RETURN was The Dome, probably the worst adaptation of a Stephen King book ever. It was all downhill after the split cow.
I think Picket Fences was better than Six Feet Under.
My boss would tell us about The Dome at work, and the only thing I could say about it was, “That sounds really fucking stupid.”
But, hurray! It’s back!
Question: How much of your prime time TV over there is American-made? (It would be funny if they dubbed it into “Australian”, wouldn’t it? But I’m guessing even the morons in charge of TV would balk at the expense.)
Gotta say I loved the first season of Small Time Gangster.
You’re a type of mollusk.
Typed that on your laptop, did you Walter?
You never saw me.
The Wire was awesome. And depressing. I was so upset by season four that I never watched the final season. To this day my husband is beside himself over it. “What do you MEAN you’re not going to watch it?”
I’m not sure I will ever look at Idris Elba and not think of him as Stringer Bell.
Ohno ohno ohnoohnoohnoohno…
One thing I am VERY good at is figuring things out when I’m given nowhere near enough information to warrant my conclusion. But then I’m right anyway, and I learn things I’m not supposed to, and now I think I know what is about to happen (I’m a little over half-way through Season 4.)
What? I have no idea how I gave anything away, but if I did then that totally sucks – sorry!
American-made (or other) tv shows numbers would be 45% or less. There is a regulation that free-to-air commercial prime time programming must be at least 55% Australian content. I don’t know what defines “Australian content”; I think if a wombat walks by the set, that show will qualify. Most tv seems to me to be lifestyle or reality programs, with a few bad dramas, so it’s pretty much the same crap you get.
I think we are all fine with understanding English in any accent; dubbing is not necessary. Although I did notice that the ads for “Mom” had the voice over guy saying “Mum”. But he is a mis-pronouncing twit on his best days.
In reply to your question up there…
My enter-key control is lacking.
What I meant to say was:
You’ll notice a lot of the time when there’s a large gap between seasons the show doesn’t turn out to be utterly shit. I’ll allow it.
C’mon, the Sopranos didn’t need THAT long between seasons! They could’ve bred some Italians and had them lead a real life of crime, which, now that I think about it, would be a very good way to get realistic plots and dialogue. Hmmm…
Very clever, HBO…