I was just sitting here watching Heroes, trying to forget that all television as we know it will cease to exist - I am seriously going to miss 30 Rock and The Office. With reports that Lost isn't coming back until 2009, AND The Wire going into its last season, I might just cancel my cable altogether. So here I was, enjoying what I think is a fun but rather fluffy show, I happened to catch the tail end of an ad for a new show on NBC. Or rather a !NEW AND IMPROVED! version of an old show.
You know what that show is, oh blog readers of mine? Think of the five most ridiculous, inane, cheesy shows you've ever seen. Got 'em? Well, I can only imagine that if you took a poll of those who grew up in the 80s, this show would probably appear on at least a few of those "worst shows of all time" lists.
Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen.
It's American Gladiators. And it's back.
First of all, just looking at this ridiculous photo over to the left here, did you forget how freakin' juiced up these chicks and dudes were?! Isn't it amazing? I mean, come ON! They make Barry Bonds look like he tries to beef up on McDonalds and Bloomin' Onions every day!
And do you remember how ridiculous their names were? Here's some samples - man, I love Wikipedia:
Nitro, Lace, Malibu, Zap, Gold, Laser, Storm, Ice, Viper...man, the list goes on and on.
And in a truly odd little tidbit of useless pop culture knowledge, Wikipedia also tells me that Joe Theismann hosted the first season of the show?! Damn. Weird. What a career he's had after leaving professional football.
Okay, so enough about the past here. We're talking about the bright future of television here! This particular incarnation of the show here is hosted by none other than Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali. I mean, I know they're paragons of fitness or whatever, but really?! I mean, doesn't that just seem like a disaster to you? Who's the color commentator on that team? Isn't it bound to just turn into Hulk and Laila challenging each other to bigger and bigger duels until one of them kills each other? Maybe I need to pitch THIS show! Can't be worse than the crap that this show is about to rain down on the American public.
Okay, so I'm rambling. The point is, this is the crap that we're just gonna see more and more as the WGA strike goes on. And it makes me angry. Okay, so I've worked on some really crappy reality shows, so maybe I just need to shut the hell up.
But really, my feeling on the whole thing is this - is this all really worth it for the television studios?! I don't claim to know a whole lot about the ins and outs of this strike, but I do know that what the writers are asking for is completely within reason. More and more we're going to see content obtained through the Internet. Hell, we might not even have TV as we know it soon. And it's crazy and incredibly insulting for the studios to expect that the writers are just going to lay down and accept that they just aren't gonna get paid for all the work that they put their lifeblood into.
All that aside though, I just can't imagine that it's even remotely a smart move for the studios not to give the writers what they want on this. Is American Gladiators really going to cut it? Is it a replacement for shows like 30 Rock that have a loyal audience? I don't claim to know much about television ratings either, but I think it's insane to think that a physical challenge show featuring a bunch of jacked up nobodies is going to be a valid replacement for the well-written shows that the studios are tossing aside.
But my biggest problem with the whole thing is this - all of this just shows me that these studios have absolutely no respect for the American viewing audience. They seem to think that if we are presented with the lowest common denominator, we'll watch it just 'cause it's there.
And maybe that's true. And that scares me more than anything.
And honestly - I wish that these studios felt more of a responsibility to present people with intelligent, fulfilling entertainment. But I just can't see that happening.
Someone tell me why I work in television again? Sigh...