TOO GOOD FOR THE LIKES OF YOU, PT. 2: The idea that TV has never been better apparently tore through the Televisions Critics Association convention in Pasadena last week like a brush fire, at least as a new talking point for people who spent a week making Joey jokes and eventually ran out of things to talk about.
Looking for some kind of consensus on this whole “best TV ever” thing, the Hollywood Reporter got together a panel of TV critics and asked them to confirm or deny rumours that the fall season of shows is so good that they’re contemplating a lemming-like mass suicide, having been deprived of the life-affirming ability to complain.
Matt Roush of TV Guide seemed unwilling to make the definitive statement that TV is in the middle of a golden age (“Oh geez ... I don’t want to make any blanket statements.”), but opted instead to do a call-out to his favorite shows. “There is a variety of good programs,” Roush said, “between great thrillers like 24 and supremely entertaining shows like Grey’s Anatomy. The original CSI is still great, and we have cult shows like Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls and guilty pleasures like Project Runway. I would watch many of these shows even if I wasn’t paid to, and that’s a testament to the quality of television right now.”
What I find disturbing is that a TV critic feels obliged to qualify his love of a show like Project Runway as a “guilty pleasure.” As an attitude, it’s so 2000, carbon-dated to an era when, as the Reporter story put it, critics regarded reality TV “as something akin to a resurgence of the black plague.” Frankly, TV as a whole is one big guilty pleasure, so making distinctions between dreary “quality” programming like CSI and something as genuinely entertaining as Project Runway just makes TV hacks look like a second rate clique, afraid of blowing it in front of the cool kids.
Another relic was Roush’s argument that it’s hard to proclaim a golden age with the relative lack of decent sitcoms on the air, compared to the ’70s, when you had shows that were both critical and popular hits. “Two and a Half Men is funny,” said Roush, “but it’s not the kind of show people tend to write about as an emblem of our times the way they did with The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family or even Cheers and Roseanne.” Sitcoms long ago started looking like the desperate guy at the party trying too hard to be funny — comments like these make professional TV critics look even more clueless than television executives, longing for an era when there were three networks, nothing much on cable, and things were so much easier to understand.
PICK OF THE NIGHT: Motor City Madman and survivalist nut Ted Nugent takes five tenderfeet on a painful voyage through his world tonight on the 9 p.m. OLN debut of Wanted Ted Or Alive. Two bimbos and three guys who you wouldn’t want to have your back in an intense backgammon game spend a week hunting and killing for money under the watchful eye of the Nuge. Sleazy and nasty — like all good reality TV — and it has to be said up front that animals are harmed in the making of this program.