Off The Island

As promised on the previous thread: a post about programs on the teevee that have no place in an advanced society.  My nomination:

Dateline NBC.  Seriously.  NBC is an honest-to-goodness news gathering organization.  And yet they devote two hours of primetime every week to fluff pieces.  Waste of time — as is CBS’s 48 Hours: Mystery and ABC’s 20/20.  Times are tough, people.  Hard news or GTFO.

Your suggestions for ejection from U.S. American television most welcome.


Man vs. Wild and Survivorman must stay. As must Les Stroud’s new show, uh, I think it’s called Off the Grid. I also plead for Nature, NOVA, Frontline and Independent Lens. And Antiques Roadshow — you get joy and schadenfreude on that show.

ADD: The History Detectives should go.

ADD ADD: And Destroyed in Seconds. But let’s keep How It’s Made even though that show is often a source of frustration b/c they take shortcuts sometimes and don’t actually show all of the steps in the process of how stuff’s made. So, fuck ’em. How It’s Made can go, too.

Kill off every CSI franchise but one (no saving Miami, David Caruso’s pompous ass must go). Cut Law & Order down to one show. Put Two and a Half Men on the catapult so it can die in outer space, choking for air. Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy can both die in a fire.

Dateline killed me. Local news producers hate the newsmagazine shows now, because the material they fill them with absolutely kill lead ins to 11pm newscasts….although, if you asked me a year ago, I would have been happy to see Dateline as my lead-in, because NBC was still airing the Black Donnellys and a reality show with Joey Fatone at 10pm at the time during the week.

ADD: TMZ can go suck tailpipe too, as can every single reality show on VH1. I feel dumber after two minutes of Rock of Love, The Flavor of Love, or Tool Academy.

Fox and Friends.
Fox News.
Anything with Chris Fucking Dodd.
American Idol, particularly since they sent Jason Castro’s fine-ass little brother home.
Anything with a psychic, con-man, or obsessive/compulsive detective.

Bring back some kind of Star Trek, please. But not like Deep Space 9 or Enterprise.

Oh, and abolish all re-runs of “Are you Being Served”, which, while British and mostly hilarious, has an older gay character that I think I am slowly turning into, minus the scarves, which terrifies me.

ADD: And that bad money advice show with the yelling guy, what is it called?

ADD: I like Grey’s Anatomy, but the storyline with the ghost has to go.

@JNOV: Hey! History Detectives is my favorite PBS show. Hands off.

Survivor, American Idol, Biggest Loser, that thing where people compete to see who will do the grossest things — all are bringing about the decline of western civilization.

@Mr. Tommmcatt Poon: Did I mention that Mr Sulu and his husband were two rows in front of me at Benedick’s play? I was thrilled.

@Signal to Noise: Also known as “Buy Bear Stearns!! Buy buy BUY!!!!”

1. Anything with Glenn Beck in it.
2. Fucking Lawrence Welk reruns on PBS.
3. Anything with John McLaughlin in it.

Agreed with reality TV.

Anything with a non talented celebrity ie: Paris, Kim, etc, etc, etc. Especially shows about the rich and talentless.

Any 21st Century Simpsons episode (sorry Prommie) I hate pretty much every Simpsons past 2000 and I loathe Al Jean and the rest of the “new” producers.

All infomercials.

Anything influenced by JJ Abrahms. I love the idea of telling an epic on TV, but I hate pompous asses who act like they do and then end up making up shit as they go along.

@blogenfreude: NOOOOOOOOOO! Am I the only one who shares Travis Morrison’s dream of “SoCo in bed / a sunny Sunday watching John McLaughlin / and having sex again and again”?

@mellbell: I like it only because it seems like the sort of thing McLaughlin would HATE.

(saw the Dismemberment Plan live in a dorm basement 7 years ago. easily in the top 10 of favorite live shows ever because it was a giant dance party.)

@Mr. Tommmcatt Poon: I have always been a Star Trek fan, and any franchise has been fine with me. And the new movie coming out in May looks fantastic, the young guys are very hott. But the only thing I really have an issue about is the obvious miracle of science that must have happened sometime in the late 21st to early 22 nd centuries…the curing of teh gheyz. There has never been to my recollection any character with the slightest inclination to homosexuality, human or any other life form (however my recollection of the original series is pretty sketchy, like most of my recollections of the 60’s). Personally I would have loved to have Capt Archer look across the dining table and say I love you Trip and want you now. And they get into some heavy liplock and groin grabbing.

@Signal to Noise: Professional question: Disregarding his treacherous disservice to the cause of comedy, how do local stations feel about Leno at 10 p.m.? Will that help or hurt their variety shows?

@Mr. Tommmcatt Poon: DS9 took a couple seasons to figure itself out, but it got quite interesting once the backstories were in place. And whatever his frustrations there, Ron Moore clearly got something useful out of it.

(And if this were io9, I presume the Babylon 5 fanboys would start chewing me out for my heresy.)

@AARPrick: Including Voyager’s flaming holographic doctor? Or was that too coded?


DARLING! Where have you been?


I am a Voyager fan. There, I said it.


Doesn’t count, he ended up with a wife in the last episode.

@nojo: I thought he had an emotional relationship with 7 0f 9. I read him as asexual..

anyway my point was the glaring absence of even one gay character in the entire Star Trek productions , not even a designer or hair stylist, WTF!!!

I vote that all news programs should be replaced with Murray Waas, Robert Parry, James Bamford, the guys who wrote ‘Inside Job: the Looting of America’s Savings and Loans’, Ron Chernow, Greg Palast, John Pilger, a team of 100 crack forensic accounts and 20 FOIA lawyers, all armed with boards soaked in transmission fluid. The program, “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” should run every day for 2 hours, each segment concluding with the protagonists being offered the choice of confessing and turning themselves in, or having the case referred formally and tracked by a full-time advocate who will press for prosecution until the case is resolved or the protagonist is dead. It will entertain the survivors while they gnaw on the remains of their pets and furniture.


It would have been nice to be included, you’re right.

@Signal to Noise: I saw them at my alma mater in 2003, somewhere in the middle of their last tour, and then again in 2007, on the second night of their reunion/benefit gig here in DC. They’re definitely up there with Of Montreal in terms of putting on concerts-cum-dance parties.

David Gerrold wrote a ST:TNG ep called Blood And Fire which was a thinly disguised AIDS metaphor complete with actual gay characters who weren’t stereotypes. It was shit canned by Rick Berman and Gene Roddenbury and one reason why David left ST.

He later rewrote it to fit his Star Wolf Trilogy as a novel called Blood And Fire.

Wouldn’t this be easier if we asked “what are the ten shows that should be allowed to live?” I mean, this is tooooo easy, almost all of the shows on TV suck shit.

What are the 10 that deserve to live?

@nojo: Most news people I talk to, no matter what their network affiliation, loathe the Leno @ 10pm concept — Peacock-affiliated folks because it will kill the ratings for their late newscasts (people watch Leno and then go to sleep); the others because if it works, they fear that the Eye and the Mouse House will copy the idea.

My limited knowledge tells me that NBC affiliates not owned and operated by the network are displeased and have likely said so, because selling local advertising on the late news is tough enough as it is right now. The Leno @ 10 project is like being asked to swallow an entire bottle of barbiturates and hoping the doctor will be able to pump your stomach in time. It’s completely on NBC for failing to produce any interesting original programming outside of The Office and My Name is Earl over the past few years.

Must go: That prison dogshit on MSNBC.
“News” shows where they interview fucking reporters, except Keith and Rachel, but quit interviewing reporters.
Talking head opinion shows on Sunday morning.
Soft journalism as practiced by the MSM.
Ripoffs of Mythbusters.
Reality shows.

@Promnight: I would keep Daily Show, Colbert Report, Rachel Maddow, Mad Men, Mythbusters, and for guilty pleasure, Project Runway, House and my SATC DVDs.

Oh, I forgot: any show with Rachael Ray on it must go. She makes food cry.

@Mistress Cynica: I’d say Daily Show, The Simpsons, My Name is Earl, The Office, Boston Legal, Good Eats, Deadliest Catch and its ilk.

@Promnight: in no particular order:

Daily Show, Colbert Report, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Good Eats, The Simpsons, The Office, Battlestar Galactica, Mad Men, House, and since I’m a sports junkie, I’ll make Inside the NFL number 10.

@Signal to Noise: She makes sanity cry, intelligence, taste, decorum, all of them cry, she makes all who despise perkiness cry.

I am the furthest thing from a misogynist, I think women are superior to men, I am prejudiced in favor of women, I think women are great.

But there is this one group of women, who give women a bad name. Most women I know hate these women.

They are, for lack of any imagination and the inability to hit this target succinctly, the perky cheerleader pageant weathergirl variety.

Cathy Lee Gifford. Rachel Ray.

They are the one’s marketed as sexy-innocent childlike girl-next-door you want to fuck the shit out of, or would, if you were stupid.

Meg Ryan.

The saucy cutie-pies, the perky quirky charmingly dumb.

I draw blank, anyone have any nominations?

@Promnight: None. Incinerate them all. Any show that doesn’t reduce viewers to howling rage like a decent newspaper should is just ignoring the truth to the advantage of the guilty. Here’s a concept show for you: “EVERY HOUR HE WALKS THE EARTH IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY,” a lighthearted look at genocidal monsters of the Bush Administration in which their crimes are compared to those of the executive leadership of Pinochet’s Chile, National Socialists’ Germany and Apartheid and a reasoned argument proffered that they should be tried at The Hague, found guilty and dismembered without anesthesia. At the end of the show, a quadriplegic veteran intones, “EVERY HOUR HE WALKS THE EARTH IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY,” before bursting into tear and screaming, “Avenge us! Avenge us, America, or lose your souls!”

@FlyingChainSaw: I like it. In my heart, I have that rage and thirst for justice. But I have psychological issues that require me to keep that on a low burner so that I don’t harm my family. I have a hard time compatmentalizing that rage, I can’t just write about it here, I would then start screaming and cursing and throwing bricks through tv screens, and that stuff is alarming to little kids and I don’t want to scare my son.

@Promnight: Have you ever imagined that this is the only sane response?

@FlyingChainSaw: Oh yes, rage is the only sane response. How the rage is expressed, that can vary, no?

Rage, interrupted by fucking Faye Dunaway.

Shit on fire – Lawrence Summers is on Charlie Rose. I hate that idiot.

Acceptance of tragedy, suffering, and evil, as inevitable parts of human existence, is necessary, it really is.

Humans will never be perfected, they will always be mean, corrupt, stupid, and they will also be intelligent, kind, loving, truthful.

The evil ones will wear so many faces, they exist in every belief and philosophy. Its not what you believe that makes anyone evil, its how they believe it. People who can content themselves with believing what they believe, and leaving others alone, have never harmed anyone. But those who beleive that the particular truth they believe in is the one Truth, the only Truth, and that people who don’t ascribe to their truth actually forfeit their human-ness, such that its okay to kill them like bugs, those ones are the dangerous ones.

There have been christians that think that way, muslims who think that way, mormons who think that way, there have been Paultards who think that way, PETA-tards who think that way, communists who think that way, capitalists who think that way.

Some people have some drive to impose themselves and dominate, they want to rule.

Some don’t.

Its people, people are good and bad, beautiful and ugly.

It has always been thus.

Bush is bush-league evil.

Revenge is never justice.

@Promnight: Yes, this is where bagpipe players come from.

@nojo: in which life fits into a convenient script. I love Network, hell, just about anything Paddy Chayefsky wrote is golden in my eyes.

@Promnight: To top it off, Rachel Ray promotes lousy tipping. Every waiter I know hates her fucking guts.

@Promnight: cutting down my exposure to morning shows has eliminated much of the useless perky from my life. I don’t have a lot of good candidates right now.


I’d give my left pinkie for another season of Veronica Mars.

TV? I’d say scrap it all except for Univision. There are some good shows, but nothing that I can’t catch on dvd at my leisure. Besides, there’s a perfectly good xbox plugged into the thing, and video games provide the courtesy of not interrupting the narrative every five minutes for another intrusive smarmy advertisement.

@Mistress Cynica: Princess, your common cause with those who live on tips, its so endearing. I am a stupid fucking tipper. I often tip 40, 50%, if I am drunk and I like the help. Not that the service is good, mind you, just that I like the help.

I have to admit, I gave up on 99% of network TV years go. See ya in Hayll, Comcast.

I snapped my leash when I discovered BitTorrent, so I’ve been watching alot of Brit shows like Skins and Torchwood.

I’m also watching DVDs of the shows I loved as a kid: Moonlighting, Remington Steele, Magnum P.I., etc. You know, the Classics.

I have no idea what any of you people are talking about.
If it’s not Nazis on the War (History) Channel, or Spongebob, or Adult Swim, or Brit Comedy/Dr Who on BBC America, or Deutche Welle News, or old movies on TCM, I probably have not seen it.
Oh, and RAI Italia is OK when they are not showing Sport. And NBC has a Sport channel that shows skiing and bobsled and that kind of stuff. That’s OK, too.


The game shows on Univision totally rule. I only catch about every third word, but good FSM the excitement is contagious.

@Original Andrew: I gotta admit I was hooked on Blaz Blazo a few years ago. Just for the entertaining content, mind you. Not the T&A. No, not that.


!Dios mio! You’re hardcore. I don’t think I’d understand the questions or the answers. Estoy triste–mi español se chupa.

@Original Andrew: I’ve graduated to the Italian stuff on RAI. My Italian isn’t that great, but I always just substitute “fuck me, fuck me, fuck me” for whatever the women who are talking say when I can’t translate properly. I find that strategy works well.
There is one really cool show that consists of some guy with a camera crew who just drives around in a big van with glass sides, filming whatever he comes across. That is a great show.


El italiano es más fácil, no? Es como español con un acento muy divertido, verdad?

@Original Andrew: OMG Torchwood! That show is rad, the main character makes out with other guys all the time, and then travels back in time to make out with dudes from the past! He’s like a gay, time-travelling Capt. Kirk.

@Original Andrew: No.
I had a friend in grammar school whose parents moved to the US when he was 7. Kid came over knowing no English, just Neopolitan Italian. He picked up the English quickly. His father became a Made Man for the Mafia in both the Old Country and the US. Anyway, little Sal was always looking for the angles. When we got to high school, he decided that instead of taking Latin, he would take Spanish, since it would be “so easy” for him. He failed it twice, and it took 4 years of Spanish for him to get credit for 2 years. I’ve always thought that was very funny, but then I guess you had to know Sal.

@drinkyclown: I’d kiss everything in sight, too, if Rose Tyler had made it so I couldn’t be killed.

@Promnight: I often do the drunken massive overtip at my favorite bar, but it pays dividends in terms of speed of service and strength of drinks.


Loved season one of TW. Season two pissed me off, over and over again (with the exception being Gwen’s wedding, of course).

Plus they killed [Redacted] and [Redacted]. Those bahstahds!


On DW, last season’s “Turn Left” was one of the finest in the show’s near fifty year history.

@mellbell: I tip 20% at a minimum, because I have a hard time stiffing people who do what I used to. I waited tables for the better part of two years in college and post-grad (as well as bartending) and I ran across some cheap fucks. I promised I’d never do that to any server — even the shitty ones, I just cut them down to 15%.

I think pretty much every old-school network/local affiliate news show can go, good riddance. There is no educational value to them and you can’t even say with a straight face that they keep us informed about current events. Just shit-can the whole idea and let the few cable news shows and local internet blogs worth their salt serve that function.

As for fiction, I believe Heroes says more about our zeitgeist than any news show. And I like vampire stories, so I’m looking forward to the next season of True Blood.

@Original Andrew: Yes, it had all the hallmarks of the classic SciFi story. It would have been hailed as a masterpiece during the 50’s and 60’s heyday of great SciFi writing. Unfortunately it was, I believe, Russell T Davies’ last “Dr Who” script. He was the impetus for the revival, and had the clearest vision of what Dr Who was really about. I will miss him.
I think the reason that David Tennant bailed on the series (after saying just a few months ago that he wanted to grow old after a career of being The Doctor) was because Davies was leaving the show.

Oh, I just want to say that I am not a complete Dr Who nerd, I just love SciFi, and I love goofiness, and since the 60’s, Dr Who has provided both.

@Pedonator: sorry, I’m not going to shit-can my line of work yet. It’s close, but for small towns and smaller cities, there aren’t enough resources at local papers and stations to cover everything — and especially if the stations are in the only major city in a state. They still serve a function at that level.

@Signal to Noise: In this “major market” the tv news serves up sensationalist local thrill-kills, summarizes the headlines from the major national media, and devotes a good half or more of its time to weather and sport. (And we don’t even really have weather here!)

If your local market, or dare I say community, is served better by your efforts, please keep on truckin’.

@Pedonator: Hey, the difference between 76 and sunny, and 78 and sunny, is a matter of life and death.

But my arrival in The Southland some ten years ago offered quick instruction in the difference between major-market and small-market television news. For one thing, Eugene doesn’t have slow-speed car chases.

@Signal to Noise:
I sure hope you’re right. Lord knows the hinterlands need something to feed them information that isn’t predigested pap designed to keep them docile and diverted from the real issues of their lives.
So, tell me again why I should watch any TV news?

@Pedonator: well, I’m headed for a so-called major market in a week (Portland is Top 25), so I may be superfluous soon.

Having spent 3 years at a station in a smaller market, I can say the smaller stations are still very much useful in the way local newspapers are — people were connected to it in ways that they just aren’t in big cities, for obvious reasons, and not everyone has time to care or reads the local papers — which face their own budget problems, resulting in A sections that intersperse too much AP content for my liking along with the important local gov’t stuff.

@nojo: Must admit that the occasional mass-suicide of web-geek-space-alien-spawn and the rare errant rogue tank wreaking destruction on Kearny Mesa does provide ephemeral justification for our local news anchor-barbies.

Don’t be dissin’ Bo and Ti, dude.
They caught the Katy and left you a mule to ride.
‘Nuf said.

@Signal to Noise: KOIN? KATU? KGW? KPTV?

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of their newscasts, but as crowded with Californians as Portland has become, I just can’t see that town going tabloid. Everyone at Powell’s would snicker the next day.

@nojo: I loathe the car chase culture of L.A. news. All that BS for, more often than not, a DUI driver who didn’t hit anyone.

@Ewalda: the problem with local news across the board is that management and consultants are largely interested in compartmentalizing it further, like national news…this forces it further into the “pap” segment, even on local issues. A reporter is only given so much time for the story, which does really controversial issues no good. Real journalism doesn’t happen in 1:30. You can get a basic summary, and bites from sides of a controversial issue, but there’s only so much a reporter can pack into that with the time allotted.

I’m not going to be presumptuous enough to suggest that local TV news isn’t, at its very heart, a gloss skimming or pap. It has to cover too much for that — in smaller communities, there are people who don’t have Net access and rely on the tube more — so you get bogged down in “news of the day” b/c each reporter and photographer has to produce a couple stories every day and you can’t presume that your viewers watch national news, whether on cable or the network. Stuff that requires more investigation, digging, and real questioning is tougher when you don’t have the resources.

I can’t give you a good reason to watch local news regularly, because, by virtue of having regular internet access, you don’t need us on the TV in that way. However, living in the heart of wildfire country has reinforced that TV and radio are really the best media when public emergencies break out and stations are doing extended spot news coverage (evacuations, school and traffic closures, etc.) It’s still a public service in that respect.

@Signal to Noise: Real journalism doesn’t happen in 1:30.

Which is why I stuck with print.

Radio was a lot of fun, but TV looked like schlepping camera and sound from one standup to another. And at the “beginning” of my career (which quickly became the end after I ran away to join the circus), I wanted the kind of grounding that researching and writing longer stories would provide.

Although the condensation of radio had its own valuable discipline: When you have only six or seven sentences at your disposal, not only do you have to make them count, you have to make them clear. Listeners can’t go back to the top.

@nojo: the schlepping has gotten better as camera tech improved, and all of the stations I’ve worked at are recording and editing video digitally now.

The problem now is that a lot of people who work in broadcast don’t have a very good writing background — learning how to write for print makes it easier to boil down into broadcast writing. They’re different disciplines, but journalism students should be encouraged, if not required, to spend time in both print and broadcast.

You’ll have to excuse my unfounded paranoia when it comes to naming the station, but I agree: PDX doesn’t seem likely to go full-on SoCal tabloid.

@Signal to Noise: Or skip classes and spend quality time at the student paper. You learn real fast when sources bitch at you the next morning.

Oh, and the first entry in your PDX pronunciation guide: Wil-LAAAAAA-met. You say “WIL-uh-met”, you’re toast.

@nojo: edited at the HS paper, wrote for the college paper. No better way to make sure everything’s double checked — because when you get that e-mail or phone call on Monday after Friday publication…yikes.

@Signal to Noise: You homies wanna talk long-term journalism?

/pours drink

I spent about four months on the road with a photographer once, then a couple of months writing a six-part series with a partner plus my editor and the editorial writer , It was an ad free special section a day, plus continuing coverage for at least the next six months. We won a shitload of awards, including a George Polk we got to pick up in Neuva York. The year before I about five months on the road with the same shooter then spent the summer writing before our project – a one shot special section – came out. All those plaques and shit are wrapped in paper in the garage.

I was helping Mrs RML hang some of her awards one time and said, “man, I remember when these were plaques.” “That was for first place,” she said.

@redmanlaw: Yeah, well I covered a fucking garbage dump for a year. Turned out the “local” guy fronting the new landfill was a shill for Waste Management.

And that’s as exciting as it got in McMinnville. The real story was CIA airline Evergreen Aviation a few miles from the office, but that was off-limits.

@redmanlaw: man, those are days long gone now. Sounds like about as much fun with work as that work can be.

I often thought about sending shows in for award consideration but when I realized that Golden Mics and APTRA awards make you pay to enter and that stations are less likely to pay for for the entry fees and the trophies, I decided to save myself the $200.

More PDX pronunciation entries:

Lake Os-WE-go
Mult-NO-muh County
Assholeville BEE-ver-tun

@nojo: Reporters and cops always know what’s going on in but it’s a matter of proving it (and, as you say, whether your boss will let you).

@nojo: I thought Beaverton was pronounced “NY-kee-town.”

@Signal to Noise: No, that’s the University of Oregon campus.

the only news shows i watch is stewart/colbert. i read my news on line from many different papers. not that there isn’t plenty of garbage, but i seek i seek!

i rarely even watch tv anymore, agree with prommie, it all sucks, easier to come up with 10 that can stay. my top ten:

boston legal (and anything david kelley writes)
L&O–the original (especially with lenny brisco)
the office
30 rock
my name is earl
animal planet
star trek–the original

bring back 6 feet under and deadwood!

i have a raging hatred of EVERY “reality show”, dancing with the stars, idol, can’t wait for survivor man to die, bourdain is a smug gourmand of the inedible, grey’s anatomy makes me want to check into a hospital, anything with a laugh track, i even voted oprah off the island, i want someone to die on fear factor, and prommie, has it escaped you that deadliest catch is the SAME SHOW every single episode???? the game shows make me cry, they have deteriorated since the glory days of wink martindale.
howie mandel? slow painful death, like how i feel watching you.

@redmanlaw:The commentators have soothing voices that send me straight to LaLa Land.

@blogenfreude: Yes. This.

@Signal to Noise: Yes. This, too.

@Signal to Noise: Anthony is Husband #4.

Goddammit, this is a great thread, but I don’t have time to read it all. I’ll try to resurrect it when I get home tonight.

Have a great day, All!

To be a female TV newsreader or weather girl here in L.A., qualification no. 1 is to have a bigger rack than Bullwinkle.

@FlyingChainSaw: Why do you want the boards soaked in transmission fluid? Is there something I need to know about transmission fluid? (After our family and our car were snowed in for several days recently, we found a great puddle of what turned out to be transmission fluid under the car after the snow had melted. Never before have I been so interested in said fluid.)

@lynnlightfoot: Makes the board heavier and subsequent swats stingier when it smacks the flesh.

@Mistress Cynica, nojo mojo*: I have fished the Willamette about an hour and a half above Eugene below some dam several years ago when I was there for the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference or a retreat for my old firm the Western Environmental Law Center. Caught one rainbow trout. Beautiful place.

*Powerpuff Girls 10th anniversary is this year

tj/Keef to Woodie: Quit Booze or Quit Band

“How do you know you have a drinking problem? When Keith Richards tells you to cool it with the booze.

@redmanlaw: You travel with your fishing gear? That’s hardcore.

@mellbell: All the time. It’s basically a mid-sized backpack of stuff with two 4-piece travel fly rods to cover the spectrum from panfish and trout to light saltwater, bass and even salmon.

Add a Comment
Please log in to post a comment