Archive for the ‘Reality’ Category
Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
There is a limited shelf life for Jersey Shore, at least with the current cast of sexers and flexers and douchebags and dingbats. After all, they will eventually reach an age where they might realize that dirty, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
That’s why, despite having been on TV for only two and a half years, they have already gone through FIVE TV seasons, and even have a spin-off show for Snooki and J-Wow. In Season Five, (on DVD August 28th from Paramount Home Entertainment), the gang is back from Italy and once again working at the T-shirt store.
The thing is, I have the whole DVD set. So why start every episode with “previously, on Jersey Shore…”? I have the whole season. I know what happened “previously, on Jersey Shore.” I know that the Situation was a whiny assbag, and that Deena was a desperate, sad stupid troll and that Pauly D was an obnoxious narcisist and that Vinny slept with lesbians and that Snooki got drunk and fell over. Skip skip skip.
Speaking of Snooki getting drunk and falling over, that is, of course, all she has ever done on this show. Except in season five, when she keeps peeing uncontrollably for some reason, and goes to the doctor. No one ever explains WHY she’s having these medical issues, and she chalks it up to a urinary tract infection. Or, because she’s too cool for real words, a UTI.
Strange then, to see that she just gave birth. On Sunday. To a child. Now, I’m not cynical enough to believe that MTV kept the news of her pregnancy a secret so she could continue to get hammered and fall down with impunity. But I AM just cynical enough to believe they timed the release of Season Five of Jersey Shore for the week that Snooki gave birth and got into the news again. Now that I can believe.
Thursday, December 29th, 2011
I spent much of my Christmas vacation lying on my favourite chair and not moving around much. I wrecked my back, you see, carrying a giant box of fire logs on a tiny patch of ice. So having lost much of my ability to move, I was fairly stationary. But antsy, because I hate not doing stuff. So I perfected Word Mole on my wife’s blackeberry. Then I watched the entire PBS documentary series on American Presidents…again. Then I ruined Christmas.
Now, I must say I didn’t ruin eveyone’s Christmas. Just my own. See, I had just received the fourth season of Jersey Shore, sent to me by Paramount Home Entertainment for Cynical Cinema. And I put it in my DVD player. And I watched it. The first episode was about the Jersey Shore gang travelling to Italy. Snooki and Deena seemed a little confused about which country was the one shaped like a boot – it was either Italy or Europe, they figured.
So they douchebagged their way to Italy (by way of Europe, no doubt), and got unpacked. I had worked out a little beer cooler beside my chair, which helped me get through the plane ride. In much the same way, it appeared that alcohol had helped Snooki and Deena through the same plane ride, as they kept falling down in the airport with stacks of luggage around them.
Things started to get interesting/perplexing during Beer #2. Mike “The Situation” confided to Ron that he and Snooki had been intimately involved a few weeks earlier, and then drunkenly professed his love to Snooki herself. This confused me. What rational person, drunk or otherwise, would ever admit to having had sex with Snooki? And even more so, who would ever make an attempt at a relationship with this sloppy drunken troll? None of this made any sense.
Then I got to thinking. Maybe there was another explanation. Maybe the producers of the show decided there hadn’t yet been enough drama, and asked the Situation to do something stupid to create some. But that didn’t make sense, because in the next episode Ronnie and Sam started getting back together. So that must have been what the producers asked the cast to do in order to create drama and fights.
Then I thought, cynically, that the Situation was just trying to increase his own fame – see, he and Snooki are the two biggest names from the Jersey Shore cast, and if they became a celebrity power-couple, like they combined forces to become the Snookuation or something, they could make more money in the offseason. But that seemed unlikely. Deena’s drunken move to have sex with some blond girl in episode three was more obvious as an attention-grabbing move.
On episode #4, beer #4, I started to think that maybe I was approaching this all wrong. Maybe the Situation IS as dumb as he appears. And maybe he believes that Jersey Shore is actually reality television. And maybe he thinks all reality TV is like Survivor. And perhaps he thinks that, like on Survivor, you have to be the biggest douchebag in the gang to win the $1 million?
I noticed that a lot of the cast members say “right now” or “at this moment” a whole lot. Like, they will say “I’m just not equipped to deal with this right now”. Or “I’m just an idiot at this moment”. It seems to me if they could just remove those two expressions from their vocabulary, they would unwittingly be speaking a whole lot more truth. I began to sink into a deep depression.
It then occurred to me that every girl the guys were picking up was American, living in Italy. The dirty booty call chick, the two slutty blonde twins, all of them! I once told my buddy Kent that he would never have sex with a girl who spoke English, because she would be able to understand what he was saying, and he would never get laid. He married a Japanese woman. It’s the opposite for the Jersey Shore idiots – they can only pick up American girls, because they are the only ones who know these morons are celebrities, and this might get them on TV!
When the two hot blonde twins came back to their house to have sex with several of them, I asked my wife to bring me some cyanide. It turns out we didn’t have any.
Finally, mercifully, the first disc was almost over. The pain was about to end, since I was definitely NOT going to get up and put in the second disc. Episode #4 was almost done, and beer #6 as well. By now, every person in the house hated the Situation. This created a dilemma for me. So…do I now like him? Is the enemy of my enemy my friend…or my enemy? I felt like Wesley Snipes in Blade II. The beer and painkillers helped me think this way.
Then just as I was about to stop the first disc, the Situation and Ronnie started a fight! A fight that was going to take place…in the next episode. On the next disc. And…I got up. And I put in the next disc. And my back screamed at me. My brain screamed at me. My wife screamed at me. My self-esteem screamed at me. Even my beer started to think I was less of a man. And it was right.
Thursday, July 21st, 2011
Jersey Shore is much like Pirates of the Carribean and Transformers. Not in the sense that it’s a giant action blockbuster with a multi-billion dollar budget, but in the sense that it continues to exist and churn out a product despite being devoid of all value. And in the sense that it will continue to churn out that product as long as nimrods continue to watch.
Paramount Home Entertainment releases Season Three of Jersey Shore on July 26th. It’s pretty much the same as the first two seasons of Jersey Shore. The seven usual morons (minus Angelina who never stuck around for a full season anyway) are back in the same house they occupied in Season One, working at the same T-shirt shop for no discernible reason.
This time they are joined by an eighth moron, a slutty drunk in the same mold as Snookie (they’re BFFs, you see – except for that other girl who is also Snookie’s BFF, and J-Wow who is Deena’s new BFF and some other BFFs through in. I think they misunderstand the acronym, which stands for BEST friends FOREVER, not BOILERPLATE friend FOR NOW.)
They get drunk and fight and yell and have sex with people. Ronnie and Sammy continue their frighteningly abusive and borderline psychotic on-and-off relationship. The guys are despicably mean to all the girls they bring over, but continue to get those girls because now they are famous and a lot of really stupid girls will do anything to sleep with famous people.
The girls get drunk and sloppy and screw off on work at the T-shirt shop, which makes sense because who cares if they have a job, they’re rich now anyway. (Although the show is of course careful never to mention the fact that they’re filthy rich. that would ruin the illusion that they’re real people.)
I just learned yesterday that a study shows Jersey Shore is not affecting public perception of people from New Jersey. Which indicates to me that people must have had an awfully low opinion of New Jersey residents already. Did we all already think that residents of New Jersey were soulless drunken muscular six-foot-tall stacks of hair gel covered in fake tan and filled with spider venom? Goodness. I feel for you, Jersey! Maybe the Real Housewives had something to do with it…but they weren’t mentioned in the study.
And still people watch this show. Almost 9 million people watched each episode of season three. I guess that still leaves this show far behind Transformers and Pirates of the Carribean in the money department. Maybe a more apt comparison would be to the Friday the 13th film series. Someone somewhere keeps making more Jason movies, even though they are devoid of purpose or value. And people keep watching the Jason movies, and it will never, ever DIE! Jersey Shore is the reality-TV version of interminable horror movies. Both scare me equally.
By the way, I am fully aware of the fact that, by writing and publishing this review OF Jersey Shore, I am just as responsible as those who watch it on television. In fact, possibly MORE responsible, since now when you google “Jersey Shore” you get 65 million and ONE results, instead of just 65 million. I won’t lie. I do hate this show. I do hope it goes away. But it’s a heck of a lot of fun to write something so negative. So thank you, Jersey Shore, for at least providing me with the opportunity to do this.
Friday, December 24th, 2010
Jersey Shore, I have discovered, works better when you think of it as a documentary. A nature documentary that follows the Greater Douchebag in its natural habitat. It’ll still piss you off. After seven minutes of the first episode of the second season, out on DVD December 28th from Paramount Home Entertainment, I was incensed. And sad. And just generally devastated about the state of the world in general. So…it’s like watching a really sad, devastating nature documentary. Like The Cove. I come out of both absolutely crushed by the capacity for human beings to be evil.
Remember LeBron James and The Decision? That painful, overly long, utterly self-indulgent one-hour special on ESPN where he finally announced he was “taking his talents” to South Beach? And by South Beach, he of course meant Miami. Well, the second season of Jersey Shore sees the cast members taking their talents to South Beach as well. And by “talents”, I mean “douchebaggery”. These people make LeBron look like the world’s most altruistic, unselfish person this side of Mother Teresa. And Jersey Shore Season Two makes The Decision look like a Barbara Walters special.
Which brings me to…Barbara Walters. This year, she chose the cast of Jersey Shore as one of her “most fascinating people” specials. I understand where she’s coming from here. The Jersey Shore phenomenon is so inexplicable that it truly IS “fascinating”. But Ms. Walters missed the mark by just a little bit. The cast itself is NOT fascinating. They are too vapid and empty and soulless to be even a little bit intriguing.
No, the special Barbara Walters did should have focused on the people who watch Jersey Shore. Not just those who pass by quickly, shrug and move on. The people who buy Snooki hats. The ones who purchase The Situation’s book. Pause and ponder this for a moment – The Situation made more than $5 million in 2010. Think about it. Now dry your eyes and keep reading. This doesn’t make The Situation interesting. Far from it. But it does mean that enough people like this dirtbag moron that they managed to buy enough Situation-related stuff in 2010 to make him a multi-millionaire. The world cries.
I think a few things about people who watch reality TV like this. First, if you watch reality TV and turn your nose up at documentary films, you’re a dink. Second, if you watch Jersey Shore, you’re basically watching Two Girls One Cup. It’s awful people doing awful things that, if you have an ounce of humanity inside you, will make you sick to your stomach. And if you’re buying Snooki hats, it’s akin to purchasing a Two Girls One Cup fan T-shirt. Actually, I should start marketing those…
Okay. That’s it. I can’t talk about this show any more. I’m too angry to live, and I can’t see my computer screen through my tears. I weep for you, soul of America.
Monday, November 8th, 2010
Genre: TV series, Lesbian, Drama, Reality
Country: United States
Starring: Rose Garcia, Jill Sloane Goldstein, Mikey Koffman, Whitney Mixter, Tracy Ryerson, Nikki Weiss
Eye candy: Everyone
Creator: Ilene Chaiken
DVD distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
Now that The L Word is no more, something has to fill the void. The void where there are no hot lesbians having sex with each other on television. And so here comes The Real L Word to fill that void, with REAL hot lesbians having sex with each other. So we get a reality TV show that has obviously been cast based exactly on the characters from the fictional TV show. That’s kind of a leap, isn’t it? Remember when they tried to make a “reality” TV show out of the “fictional” Gilligan’s Island? It’s kind of…weird.
So we have Whitney, who plays the “Shane” character from The L Word. And Jill and Nikki, the settled-down, married lesbians. And Mikey, the tough chick. And Tracy, the Mia Kirshner of the show, a supermodel-hot lesbian who is new to the scene having just come out of the closet. And so on and so forth. This show comes from the same person who created The L Word, so I guess she really understands the formula. But a lot of it feels pretty forced.
Now to the important stuff – how much naked lesbian sex IS there, you are asking. And rightly so. The answer is, a lot less than The L Word, a lot more than Spongebob. In Season One, out now from Paramount Home Entertainment, there is really only one hardcode, naked scene. It involves a strap-on. I find it humourous, if not flat-out disingenuous, that the scene is filmed so we never get to see the actual strap-on device. Like, we’re not going to be offended by two naked lesbians having full-on intercourse on screen, but seeing a plastic object shaped like a penis might push us over the edge?
In the end, sex or no sex, naked or no naked, this show is OK. I like many of the characters (sorry – real people) like Tracy and Jill and Nikki and Stamie. And there are decent villains as well, Rose being the lightning rod for my disdain as she cheats on her smoking hot girlfriend Natalie. But I can’t help but feel like I’m watching a half-assed copy of a show I once enjoyed more.
Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
Lock N Load is like a porno movie starring seven elderly people that you know in passing. Like, they’re in your grandma’s quilting club, and you find out that they have shot a tasteful classy adult film. Would you watch? Maybe not. But I sure would. Oh, the DVD would probably sit on my table for a few weeks while I worked up the nerve to put it in the player. It might even get put away with the others, and I might forget about it for a while. But the time would come where curiosity got the best of me and I peeked in on the really gross private lives of the old people on the periphery of my social circle.
And so it is with Lock N Load. I don’t want to watch it. Or, rather, I don’t want to want to watch it. Follow? I want to set this TV series aside, pretend it doesn’t exist, and go on with my life faking ignorance. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, but the idea of watching Americans rave about their guns, and buy their fourteenth assault rifle to go along with their existing cache of AK-47s, and talk about “what I’d do if some punk walked into my house” kind of makes my skin crawl.
But then, like the quilting porn, I do eventually put on the DVD. And I watch. And I find that once begun, it’s very difficult to turn off this TV series. For all those reasons I just mentioned. While it’s genuinely disturbing to see granny come into a gun store to purchase a magnum to hide in her Depends just in case some “punk” busts into her pad, it’s also fascinating to watch that purchasing process.
Josh T. Ryan is the proprietor of the shop, the “star” of the series who sells guns to everyone. He certainly knows his stuff – he can discuss, intelligently, all the proper attachments an old man can add to his AK-47, the Leopold Scopes and so forth, so that he can pimp his assault rifle like Xzibit would pimp someone’s ride. You want spinning chrome rims on that bad boy?
A true salesman, Ryan knows that he has to talk to each customer in their own language. So when the frightened neighbourhood lady comes in, concerned about the growing crime rate in her community, he makes sure she understands that a shotgun is the best weapon to scare off the neighbourhood hoods. He makes sure that she feels like a gangster when holding that shotgun, maybe even MORE badass than the thugs she plans to shoot with it.
And when the thugs themselves come in, sideways hats and baggy pants and all, he “relates” to them by talking in swear words, calling them “bro”, inquiring about their tats and saying irritating things like “straight-up gangsta, homey”. He bonds with customers by going shooting with them – the old ladies, the AK-toting elderly men, the seven-year-old kids with their rifles. He always seems to lose the shooting competitions though. Even the one held at the – seriously – “Family Shooting Center”.
Lock N Load really is compulsively watchable. It passes no judgement, but rather allows me to make up my own mind about the people who buy guns and use guns. I have made up my mind. They’re scary and nuts. Very often, someone will go on and on about their second amendment rights, and that they have a right to bear arms, and that they take that right very, very seriously. No one ever explains, however, how the “right” to bear arms translates to the “obligation” to bear arms.
Here in Canada, I have the “right” to health care. Universal health care, dont’cha know. Imagine that I injured myself, once a week, on purpose. Just to make sure I made full use of the free health care I receive. Sew my finger back on, I have the right. That’s basically the argument they’re making here, without really going beyond the basic Second Amendment! I have the right to my gun! I take that very seriously! I’ll shoot anyone who breaks into my house and wants to steal my silverware!
And so it goes. Episode after episode of old people and little kids and mild-mannered college students and gangbangers and everyone in between coming in to get their perfectly legal (they say that a lot) firearms. Excercising their second amendment rights (they say that a lot too) because if those rights aren’t excercised they could become atrophied. And shooting with the gun guy and striking the proper stance and posing like they’re in a gangster movie.
It’s creepy, at least to me it is, but addictive. Like I imagine quilt-porn would be. Lock N Load (I think it’s just the first season) is a Showtime show coming to DVD October 5th from Paramount Home Entertainment.
Saturday, July 17th, 2010
It is now abundantly clear to me how new “reality” TV shows get made. It is much the same way that the rest of the world gets made, it seems. MTV, in particular, is doing more to ruin the entire world than any other network. There was a time when the worst thing MTV could foist upon an unsuspecting public was that Blind Melon video with the little chick in the bumblebee suit, leading people the world over to think that Blind Melon was a good band, when in fact they were not. Now, however, MTV’s evil is more insidious. Now, it isn’t Blind Melon that is cool, it’s Tila Tequila and Heidi Montag and Lauren Conrad and an absolute ton of other gigantic douchebags.
Eight of those douchebags form the cast of Jersey Shore, the first season of which comes to DVD July 20th courtesy Paramount Home Entertainment. All the guys have six-packs and rippling oily muscles, but I have it on good female authority that outside the abs, none of these individuals are attractive. The same goes for the women, who are tabloid fixtures of late but are decidedly less attractive than one would assume, given how often they are photographed. On this show, everyone (women and effeminate men) takes several hours to get ready every day before leaving the house. I wonder how horribly ugly they would be without that kind of effort.
So it’s clear to me that MTV did not cast Jersey Shore based on the attractiveness of the participants. So what, exactly, were the criteria? It appears that they had to have two qualities. First, they had to be the eight Worst People In The World. I think Keith Olbermann could expand his nightly Worst Persons segment to eight slots, and rotate memers of Jersey Shore through on a daily basis, and never run out of material. Second, they had to be dumb. And not just regular-person stupid, like Joey Lawrence or Sarah Palin. No, they had to be staggering-stupid, the kind that makes you catch your breath and gasp in amazement. Did that muscular douchebag just lose an IQ contest to a box of Triscuits? Oh my. He did.
There’s also some Italian criteria here. Each character has to BE Italian. But more than that, each one of them has to be willing to undermine their entire culture by feeding the negative racial stereotypes that make smart, sensible, normal Italian people justifiably angry. They must call themselves “guidos”, and be proud of it. They must wear chains and tank tops at all times. If a tank top cannot be found, they must wear the tightest T-shirt they can find, and spend all of their time flexing. They must look feel vastly superior to that sad, lame mass of humanity who goes from day to day without the aid of spray-on tans, muscle grease, buckets of makeup and industrial size vats of many different hair products.
I wonder what it’s like to go through life with only one third of your day free? If it takes you four hours to get your face, hair and clothes on in order to leave the house, and you have to work for almost four hours later that same day, then you have only four hours to get drunk, fight strangers, display your boobs and say stupid, stupid things. There is so little time to create drama among your friends by backbiting and subtly being a douchebag. See, I don’t waste that kind of time on my hair. I have a full six, sometimes SEVEN hours each day wherein I can be a colossal jackass. It’s a luxury, I know.
Anyway, this is how the world now works. MTV decides that some vain, selfish, loser morons might make for entertaining TV. Then they hire Tila Tequila or the cast of The Hills, and go from there. Now, I have watched The Hills in order to review that show too. And the cast of Jersey Shore makes the cast of The Hills look like disciples of Stephen Hawking. Which, let me tell you, is an astronomical feat. Plugging the BP oil spill is a slightly less daunting operation than finding eight people dumber, more self-centred and more obnoxious than the cast of The Hills. But it has been done.
So. MTV hires Jersey Shore jerks, because they think they are attractive, and because they are jerks. And stupid. Then, MTV convinces people that this is good television. For some reason, perhaps because MTV has established its young-people bonafides many many years ago with videos like that bumblebee thing, young people buy in and watch the program. Because they are young, and their brains are not yet fully formed, these kids think that the Jersey Shore people are cool. Which makes them instantly much dumber. And then, a few years later, they have continued their downward spiral of stupidity to the point where now they are ready to be the stars of MTV’s next “reality” show. Then more young people watch that, and the vicious cycle continues.
Eventually, the world will, indeed, descend into a remarkable level of communal stupidity, as was foretold in the film Idiocracy, and we will, years from now, be watching Ow My Balls on television. In the meantime, we have Jersey Shore. I realize I have said very little about the show itself in this review. That was by design. Having watched the entire first season, I felt my brain cells numbing quickly, and I fear that if I continue to think about the show, I might wind up dumb enough to be a cast member on some future MTV atrocity. If you want to know what happened on the show, ask my wife. She is, as I type this, watching the special features on the television upstairs.
P.S. – I refused to watch the special features because one of them involves Michael Cera. And I love that kid, and I really don’t want to lose respect for him.
Saturday, December 5th, 2009
“I will not let finite disappointment undermine infinite hope.”
Genre: TV series, Reality
Country: United States
Starring: Newark mayor Cory Booker, police director Garry McCarthy, other community figures
Guest star of note: Jon Bon Jovi
Producer: Forest Whitaker
Run time: 260 minutes
DVD distributor: First Run Features
DVD extras: Interviews, behind the scenes, making of, introductions to each episode by Forest Whitaker
Brick City is a five-episode TV mini-series about Newark, New Jersey. Created as a labour of love by Forest Whitaker, this series follows the trials and tribulations of mayor Cory Booker, police director Garry McCarthy, former Blood gang members, former Crip gang members, school administrators and grassroots street ambassadors as they set about turning Newark from the Most Dangerous City in America into something good. For many years, Newark has been rife with gang wars, murders, drive-by shootings, official incompetence and political corruption. Now, with the election of mayor Booker in 2006, things might be turning around.
The series, which leads up to the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States in 2008, takes a look at the efforts of all these people as they try to create jobs, cut down on crime and foster a sense of community among the people of the city. Sometimes they have successes – like the brand new high school that opens toward the end of the series, or the drastic reduction in violent crime that has taken place over the past few years. And sometimes there are setbacks – drive-by shootings, the murders of young women, kids caught in the crossfire. As Forest Whitaker says in the introduction to the final episode, this series is more than a labour of love, but rather a labour of hope.
Although much of the series is devastating and sad, more than anything it is inspirational. Gang members who have turned their lives around. The Street Warriors group who take on the problems in Newark at the street level. Politicians who really seem to care and police officials who are doing some exciting things to reduce crime. This series is more than just a snapshot of a city in turmoil, it is a vision of a city lifting itself up out of that turmoil. Here’s hoping the turnaround continues! Brick City comes to DVD December 8th from First Run Features.
Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
“I’m sorry I threw feces at you.”
To hear the review
To hear the review
That is Kate, of Jon & Kate Plus Ei8ht, telling the producer of the show that she is sorry about tossing a diaper full of baby crap at her. Sorry. It was a bad day. Oh well, tomorrow’s another show. I mean, day. And, just like every other day (or show), we will see the same things. Kids running around and being cute, parents trying to keep up with all eight of them, and a married couple bitching at each other constantly. This show doesn’t become boring after nine minutes. It starts boring, it continues boring, it ends boring, and then it resumes being boring the following episode.
I guess just having eight kids is enough to make for a TV show. Oh my goodness, there are EIGHT of them! That’s CRAZY! But imagine, for the sake of argument, that your next-door neighbours had older twins and younger sextuplets. Would you watch over your backyard fence as they all played in the sprinkler? Or through the window as they did arts and crafts? Or would you just not care? If you’re the kind of person who would purchase binoculars so you could watch every movement of the sextuplets, then you are likely the kind of person who would enjoy this show. If you aren’t, then you are likely more like me. And you won’t.
Then again, I might be a little hypocritical here. After all, it’s shows like this that gave rise to the Octomom and that stupid, crazy, insane story that, against all reason, dominated cable news for like three weeks. That woman knew that for better or for worse, she would become a media celebrity the day the octuplets were born, thanks to shows like Jon & Kate Plus Ei8ht. And the hypocrisy exists with me because I would actually consider watching her reality show. At least she’s enough of a train wreck that weird stuff might happen. This is just a normal family. BORING!
There is also an argument to be made here about (for or against) fertility drugs. Anyone watching this show would likely make the against argument, I think. But I already made that argument when I reviewed Jon & Kate Plus Ei8ht Seasons One And Two a while ago. You can find that here.
It’s another testament to the bizarrely self-absorbed nature of this show (not even the people in it, but the show itself) that there are scenes where the family is watching their own show. I am assuming these scenes made it into the series because there is nothing else to see. There really is almost nothing going on here from one episode to the next that is any different or more interesting. I get it. The parents are exhausted. The kids are a handful. Mom has to make a LOT of food. OK. Really. I get it. And I’m totally bored.
Jon & Kate Plus Ei8ht, Season Three airs on TLC, and comes out on DVD May 5th from Alliance Films.
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
“My name is Ryan Sheckler. I am a normal kid. I like this girl. My life is normal. Except I am a pro skateboarder.”
To hear the review
To hear the review
I have no problem with the fact that Ryan Sheckler is inarticulate. After all, he’s a kid – what sixteen year old kid talks with perfect grammar and the timbre and pace of Morgan Freeman? None, of course. So it isn’t his fault that when he narrates his own reality show he sounds like he’s reading a teleprompter full of words that he barely understands. The biggest problem with Life Of Ryan is that the people who write that stuff for Sheckler to read are terrible. They write the stuff in the manner of Kevin narrating The Wonder Years, but Sheckler is no Fred Savage. The writers need to understand his limitations, and play to them.
Or, better yet, MTV could maybe not have made this show at all. Wonder Years reject writers half-assedly writing crap down for a sixteen-year-old kid to say does NOT make for compelling television. After watching the complete series of Life of Ryan, I liked Sheckler. I thought he was a really nice kid, and he’s pretty good with his two younger brothers. But he has little charisma. And his life is not terribly compelling. The show opens with his parents’ divorce, which is clearly played up by the producers to be more traumatic than it really is in order to make the show more dramatic. This is a theme (the silly drama stuff) that continues through the show, often in painfully contrived ways.
I know I’m going to get complaints about this. No review I have written, in all the time I have been doing Cynical Cinema, has received more complaints than the one I wrote about Rob And Big, which was just as bad as Life of Ryan. People who love their skateboarders just love their skateboarders, so no one better say anything bad about them. And I want you all to know, before you fire off those nasty comments – I am not saying anything bad about Sheckler. I like him. All I’m saying is that he is not even close to interesting or charismatic enough to merit his own show.
And this is MTV’s big problem – with Life of Ryan, with Rob & Big, with so many other shows. Just because Tila Tequila is quasi-famous as a MySpace whore, they give her a show of her own. Because Paris Hilton is quasi-famous as a tabloid whore, she gets a bunch of MTV shows. At the very least, Rob Dyrdek and Ryan Sheckler are not actual prostitutes. But MTV thinks that anyone will watch a show about a Professional Skateboarder regardless of how brainless, or how boring, or how stupid it is. I have to hand it to MTV though – they specialize in brainless, boring and spectacularly stupid, and people actually do watch this garbage.
Now, I must say that Life of Ryan is not stupid. Wel, Ryan Sheckler is not stupid. His writers are, but the show rests on him and he is not stupid. But he’s boring. And the show is boring. And it’s brainless enough to make up for the lack of stupidity and still make it garbage. This show is garbage. The complete series comes out on a three-disc box set from Paramount Home Entertainment on April 21st.
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
Download The Hills, Complete Fourth Season
“You never told Mom and Dad all this stuff about you and Spencer.”
“I don’t need them knowing every detail of my life.”
Genre: TV series, Reality show, and…I don’t know what else…garbage?
Country: United States
Starring: A bunch of douchebags
Eye candy: Lauren Conrad, Audrina Patridge, Stephanie Pratt, Heidi Montag, Lo Bosworth, Jayde Nicole, other losers
Creator: Adam DiVello
Run time: 10 episodes
DVD distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
Related reviews: The Hills Season Three
Umm…news flash, blondie. Your parents need only turn on their TVs, flip through the pages of a supermarket tabloid, or click on a celebrity website, to know exactly what is going on in your life. And I mean every detail. Not just your relationship with that unshaven douchebag that sits in your living room, but also your idiotic feud with your equally brainless ex-friends, your painfully stupid and irritating behaviour, and everything else imaginable. Statements like this one are the reason this show is ridiculous. Like so many Britney Spears songs, the silliness of The Hills lies in the idea that they want so desperately to be seen, to be recognized, to be famous, and they hope to achieve that fame by saying words like “why are you looking at me? Why are you taking my picture?” It’s ludicrous.
What’s even worse about this show is that the show itself gives these irritating people the license to over-dramatize things that don’t deserve to be dramatic in any way. These are hot young people who live in massive houses and have no worries about money at all, but they must create drama in order for their show to succeed and their fame to grow. So they cry about boyfriends and the people they hate and the people they love and their hangnails and their hairdos. These are things that barely cause a ripple in peoples’ lives when they are fifteen. These people are ostensibly in their twenties. But they have never progressed, emotionally, past the age of fifteen, because that is what makes good TV.
And how dramatic can your life really be when it’s clear the producers are setting things up to create tension, silliness and stupidity at every turn? The Hills should really be called the Oh Poor Me Show. And how can any of these “real life” people do anything or say anything against their “friends” when they know for sure those people will be able to see it on television? Why doesn’t the show ever show them watching the show? Are they making some pretense of not calling attention to the fact that it is a produced thing, and not necessarily “real” life? How can anyone stay happy after watching an episode of this show? And I don’t mean just the actors – I mean TV viewers as well.
The most irritating thing about The Hills, however, is not even the actors. Or real people. Whatever they are. It’s the soundtrack. It is apparently impossible for these TV producers to allow even the most innocuous line delivered by some airhead to go by without throwing in some music video with a powerful, Oh Poor Me song to play behind the shots of people driving to bars. There is more music in The Hills than there is action. You would think, with a “reality” show that follows people around all day, every day, with a camera, that there would be more actual content. I would think that. I guess I would be wrong. I guess these people are too vapid to fill a half hour show with staged drama. So we need more Dashboard Confessional songs. Please.
Now, I understand that I am not the target audience for The Hills. In that I can walk and chew gum at the same time, I read books, and I have an IQ that is higher than that of an apple. But the popularity of this show is such that it can’t just be idiots watching. Smart people must watch this show as well. And that is something I tried to figure out while watching Season Four. And I just don’t get it. I tried, Hills fans. I tried! Season Four comes out March 3rd, from Paramount Home Entertainment.
Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
“Group 14 is locked, loaded”
The second season of DEA debuts on Spike TV Tuesday, February 10th. It will be a new year, and a new city (now that they’ve done Detroit, they are moving on). But try as I might, I was all over Spike’s website, and I can’t tell at all what city it is going to be. I guess they are keeping that a big secret until they unveil their new show tonight. At the same time, the first season, DEA: Detroit, is coming out on DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment.
The first season sees a team of DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) officers trying to take down dealers and grow-ops and crack houses on the mean streets of Detroit. The cover of the DVD box says “you think you know what the letters DEA mean. You don’t.” Or something like that. I no longer have the box in front of me because I’m typing this up at work. I do remember, however, watching the series trying to figure out howmy perception, that “DEA” stood for “Drug Enforcement Agency” would be somehow changed by this program. I am still waiting. I still think that’s what those letters mean.
It really is a pretty cool world to observe though, that of the DEA agents who take down dealers, bust down doors, flip informants, and pile out of their team van like they’re the A-Team. Because this is a Spike TV show, a lot of emphasis is placed on the danger in the job. Every situation, according to the narrator, is “potentially deadly”. Of course, this is likely true – every situation could well end in a gunfight or a car chase or something bad. But after the fiftieth time hearing “potentially deadly”, I was pretty sure that no one would die.
The narrator treats this show like it’s Cops on steroids – only the most dangerous criminals, only the most Potentially Deadly Busts, Locked And Loaded, Guns At The Ready, and so forth. Which is fine, but tiresome. And really, there is more action on Cops, although that action usually involves shirtless wife-beaters, and is generally far less interesting.
In Season One, Detroit, you get to see all the behind-the scenes stuff. Talks with confidential informants. Drug dens full of HIV-positive needles. Taped phone conversations, car chases that last three seconds before being abandoned, and all the black humour and stuff that I would assume goes on behind the scenes at the drug task force. (I must say though, I’m not sure how concealed the identities really are of the people whose faces get blurred. That worries me a little.)
I like the show, I think it’s interesting, and for the time being the episodes are all available, in their entirety, free at http://www.spike.com/show/26319 It’s a good way to see if you would like the show, and since those episodes will likely not be up forever, the series is now available on DVD should you want to check it out further.