overthinking the idiot box

October 17, 2005

Screaming Bimbos, Non-Reward Rewards, and Stunt Casting
The SMRT-TV Staff sounds off on their pet peeves for the new season

Michael Adams
I am a die-hard supporter of David E. Kelley's work, but I'm tired of his recycling of plots from previous series. On Boston Legal, Betty White's character is on trial for hitting a man over the head with a frying pan and stuffing his body into a freezer. That exact same story was done on Picket Fences ten years ago. And this is just the latest example. He has also re-used his own stories on The Practice and Ally McBeal in the past. It's true that Kelley is capable of spinning some of the most bizarre plots on TV, but he is disrespecting his audience if he thinks we can't remember that we've seen some of these stories before.

Andreanna Ditton

That's about as open as her mouth gets.
The Not Moving Your Mouth School of Acting: It used to just be regelated to Charmed, which didn't matter much because I watched it with a book open and Mike watched it with the sound off, but the practice has spread from Alyssa Milano throughout the teen oriented drama and it needs to stop. Is it botox, is it just an unfortunate makeup artist, or do these actors really believe that mobility of the jaw will damage them in some way?

As resident police beat writer, I can officially say enough with the crazy, tortured criminal profilers and the nasty sucking sounds of human cadavers. Enough with the foleys. I can't deal. Really. We have a nice crop of crime dramas on the books, and the viewing public has apparently stated that not even the words Law and Order can save what appeared to be a deadly dull show, so lets stop trying to find the next "profiler with a problem" and concentrate on making the shows that are on more interesting, engaging and character driven.

And the soundtracks, oy woe is me with the soundtracks, and while this applies largely to Cold Case, worst of the pack in the manipulative use of music to conjure emotion, I'm sending it out to all of the shows sprinkling the airwaves. Yes, I'm thrilled that The Shins got some exposure thanks to Zach Braff (as did Erasure), however, pop music has become an excuse for the inability of the directorsand actors to create a mood themselves. You're all herefore banned from ever using Sarah McLaughlin for anything ever again and stop using car commercials as your models for success. If your scene doesn't stand on it's own, do not dip into your pop culture satchel and dig out a new song that perfectly fits the moment. The lot of you are not Cameron Crowe, you lack his credentials as rock critic, and you're all starting to look like lazy sell outs.

Vicki Karigiannis
The CSI franchise. My first beef was that Grissom and Willows were too much like Mulder-and-Scully wannabees. I was able to live with the show's existence, however, so long as I didn't have to watch. But with Miami and New York soon following, taking over precious air-space, I knew there was no escape. Now, I'm just afraid we'll be getting CSI: Poughkeepsie very soon.

D. Roberts Keenan
NBC's stunt casting. What once was a clever way to bring in well-known stars into smaller guest shots on sitcoms and dramas (think along the lines of Sammy Davis Jr. on All in the Family) has become a tiresome exercise in overpromotion. When Mad About You plugged "Carol and Carroll" as Jamie's parents, that was somewhat forgivable because, well, Carol Burnett. When Kathleen Turner played Chandler's father on Friends, that was excused by a witty script and a knowing nod toward the running gags about the character. When Sally Field did her stint on ER, I started getting annoyed. When Will & Grace started booking every single name in the IMDb, that's when I stopped watching. Why does NBC seem to suffer from this trend more than any other network? I can only pray they don't find a way to follow the Diff'rent Strokes example and bring first lady Laura Bush into a Very Special Episode of Three Wishes.

Liz Shannon Miller
Ever since Everyone Loves Raymond developed into a bonafide success, all those decades ago, Everyone Loves -blank- has been the go-to headline for all those ultra-sassy entertainment news headline writers. And now that the show is off the air, now that the hilarity that is Peter Boyle has been freed from sitcom hell, America prepares to move on...

To Everybody Hates -blank-?

Aw, man.

Erin O'Brien
This season, reality show contestants are in for a special treat: the Non-Reward Reward! Because, after all, isn't a job well-done reward enough? What, you need more? Why not plant a tree? Team Primarius on The Apprentice: Martha thought physical labor was a great reward! In fact, Donald Trump liked the idea so much, he bestowed the gift of community service on one of his victorious teams on The Apprentice: Combover. And the contestants on The Biggest Loser can tell you that 1,000 steps on a stairmaster is the best reward of all! After all, why enjoy yourself, when you can suffer!

Or the audience can just suffer. Did we really need two Apprentices? And is it worth watching Martha now that she's trying to rebuild her image? Nice Martha is boring. I want evil-witch (as per Cybil Shephard) Martha!

Jenni Powell
I'm tired of women being cast in roles simply because they've got a good set of pipes on them. And I'm talking about their ability to scream, by the way. I know this has been happening for years and years in horror films, but it is, in fact, making it's way on to television as well. Perfect example: Shannon (played by Maggie Grace) on Lost. All the chick can do is be terrified. So is it any coincidence that now that the plane is done crashing and some of the initial terror has subsided, we aren't seeing much of Miss "I Had Sex With My Brother"? I think not. And good riddence.

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