Wednesday, May 31, 2006

RUN FROM YOUR TVs

Canada has got to be the absolute worst place on the planet to be a TV viewer right now. You're better off going to Guyana or somewhere that doesn't have TV than to watch the dreck on the air in Canada right about now. No wonder Internet use is up in this country.

As you know, last week was the official end of Sweeps and the end of the regular TV season. The season finales for all the "good" shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives, and House and Law and Order and the CSIs, are all over. So now viewers plunge head-first into the junk pile that is week one of the Post-Season: the summer, rerun, junk programming season. It's as if the clock has struck midnight and all the shows on TV have suddenly turned into pumpkins. These shows are all crap, all of a sudden! And this week Canada, the land of some of the worst TV dreck out there today, has kicked the summer off by rolling out its own brand-new, cheap reality show junk.

Idol is back. Yes, just one week after we crowned Taylor Hicks and consigned this season of American Idol to the dustbin, Canadians have to put up with more lousy singers and more crabby judges on Canadian Idol, over on CTV. Worse yet, we get to see Ben Mulroney and his $400,000-a-year mug everywhere ad nauseum until we're sick of him. He's on the cover of both Toronto Life and TV Guide this week. Like Ryan Seacrest, he's everywhere--- though you have no idea why.

Moreover, CTV's entertainment news show eTalk Daily promises to get absolutely ruined. Instead of covering the same Brad and Angelina baby news that everyone else is covering, you can bet that eTalk is going to show nonstop coverage of Canadian Idol. They will milk this cow until it dies. As usual.

Over on Citytv, we get bombarded by another ripoff show: Canada's Next Top Model. Instead of Tyra Banks, this show will be hosted by Canadian supermodel Tricia Helfer. So we can't get away from these ripoff reality shows. Anyway, the premiere is tonight.

The worst one of the bunch is airing on Global TV right now on Sundays: From the Ground Up, hosted by Debbie Travis. The whole point of this show seems to be that Debbie Travis thinks that all young people are directionless slackers who need to be shaped up, so she puts a bunch of them to work on a construction project, trying to get them motivated. I really hate this show! More specifically, I hate Debbie Travis! She is totally condescending to all these young people. Why she's even on TV is a big mystery to me. Same with Mike Holmes ( of Holmes on Homes), Dr. Marla Shapiro, and all these other big Canadian TV "personalities" who are on the air for no discernable reason anyone can think of. Maybe they thought Debbie Travis would be a female version of Simon Cowell. Well if so, this show gives everyone from across the pond a bad name. As for the young people they got for this show, well, it's pretty obvious these folks are all wannabe actors rounded up off the street. This show is a waste of time.

Finally, CBC has the Stanley Cup Finals, which is bound to feature plenty of flag-waving from the CBC announcers, the usual brilliant insights from Don Cherry, and shots of drunken Edmontonians celebrating at bars, watching the freaking hockey game. As if there's nothing else for Canadians to do but to get drunk and knock over a few cars when your hockey team wins. Get some lives, people.

Thank heavens that NBC is also showing the Cup finals, most of it anyway, so that hockey fans can watch a half-decent, down-the-middle production as an alternative to the CBC's amateur-hour, bush-league jingoism. I know it's un-Canadian to say that the Americans do a good job covering hockey, but I just gotta say it.

AMERICAN TV: NO ESCAPE

The worst part about watching TV in Canada is that in addition to the useless dreck we get from the Canadian networks this summer, we also get to see all the cheap junk served up by the American networks. There's literally no escape from bad TV for us Canadians. We get to see Hell's Kitchen which is back again, we get to see Last Comic Standing which is back again, we get So You Think You Can Dance? again. Big Brother is due back pretty soon, too. ABC has plenty of junk planned: they have some dating show, How to Get the Guy, coming in a couple weeks, which looks like another cheap waste of time. Thursday, they'll bore us with the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee. That's right, they can't come up with better programming to show us, so we get to see a spelling bee on ABC! CBS is no better. Tonight, they air Game Show Marathon with Ricki Lake hosting all your favorite game shows in one hour. They plan to make a series of it. That's as low-rent as you can get.

Of course, Deal or No Deal on NBC ( and on Global/CH in Canada) is still on the air wasting channel space, though admittedly it's a guilty pleasure, and a lot of fun to tune into. (Babes with suitcases; good stuff). But still, what a dirt-cheap production this is. It is hosted by, why, who else. A Canadian. Howie Mandel.

Figures.

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