Friday, March 22, 2013

Why "BJ and the Bear" is Better Than "Splash!"

I have a question for you, dear readers: Have you ever run smack dab into a TV show that was so outrageously STUPID, airing a test pattern in its time slot would have been a better choice?

I have.


Some of those waste-of-space programs were (in no particular order)...

"Cop Rock", where cops and lawyers sang and danced as they busted crack houses and presided over murder trials.

"We've Got It Maid", an alleged "comedy" where two guys hire a dumb'n ditzy blond to be their live-in maid. This upsets their girlfriends, naturally, who become obsessed about where she sleeps.

"Super Train". Intended to be NBC's answer to ABC's mega-hit "The Love Boat", this atomic powered choo-choo (complete with pool and disco!) was suppose to be the background for romance and intrigue. It wasn't.

"BJ and the Bear". A hunky truck driver named BJ cruises the highways with his loyal chimp (and acting superior), Bear. Poor BJ was constantly hassled by one Sheriff Lobo (your typical corrupt red-neck lawman) and later sought help from a bunch of lady truckers--one of whom was named "Stacks."

As bad as these shows were, however, they did possess a kind of wacky, "What were they thinking?!" creativity that you could respect. As horrible as, say, "BJ and the Bear" was, somebody still had to write it, produce it, direct it and cast it. And the actors, however limited their skills may have been, at least had to try and make you believe that a hunky truck driver named BJ traveled around with a pet chimp named Bear.

 That is not the case with the new ABC "reality show" "Splash!"

I have often railed against the baleful, pernicious trend of "reality TV" that has descended like a plague of locusts over both network and cable television. Often in vain, I must admit.


Because "reality TV" is not good for TV. It has obliterated scripted dramas, comedies, mini-series, movies-of-the-week and documentaries from the programming schedule. In their place is an endless proliferation of "competition" shows where people sing, dance, ice skate, model, cook, design, peddle inventions, survive in the wild, go through simulated marine boot camp, work for Donald Trump, attempt to find a spouse or swap wives.

And that's in addition to those other "reality shows" where you can watch "red-neck weddings", dance mom's going ballistic, "real housewives" having booze-fueled cat fights and the endless delights of "parking wars".

In short, "reality TV" has slowly but surely sucked out what intelligence and creativity still resided in network television just as a vampire sucks out the blood of its victims.

Which brings me back to "Splash!"

Simply put, who on God's green earth wants to watch a bunch of C-D-E and F grade "celebrities" of dubious "talent" get a crash course in diving and then watch a panel of judges grade their diving? Hosted by ex-"Blossom" teen idol Joey Lawrence?

If there is AN ACTUAL PERSON who thinks this is a GOOD IDEA FOR A TV SHOW, they need to have their medication adjusted. Pronto.

The fact that "Splash!" actually made it on the air is proof positive that network TV has thrown up its collective hands and yelled, "I quit!" Instead of meeting the challenge of cable, pay-per-view, VCR/DVRs and the Internet by investing in quality scripted programs, network TV would rather air brain-numbing "reality TV" nonsense simply because its cheap: no actors, no writers, no directors, no creative people at all. And, frankly, it's the coward's way out.

My advice to all those heavily paid network honchos? If you can't create or invest in quality scripted programming, just turn your network off for the night. Make the screen go blank. Air a test pattern. Show some courage. Don't come back on the air until you have something better to offer your viewers than a bunch of nobodies in swim trunks making jerks of themselves for a little chump change.

And that's final.

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