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TeeVee Mailbag VII: When Readers Attack

Ingratitude! Thou marble-hearted fiend!

William Shakespeare wrote that and he wasn't just some limey full of hot gas. Because whether you're an Elizabethan playwright 'round about 1600 or just a bunch of schmoes with a TeeVee Web site circa 1997, nobody likes to feel that their efforts are unappreciated, their presence barely tolerated, their seemingly wry and clever comments treated like week-old doggie droppings.

And yet, here at the ol' TeeVee Mailbag, if ingratitude were water, we'd be smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Nary a day goes by that we aren't treated to a hearty serving of vitriol with a side order of loathing from the likes of you. And it just about breaks our collective hearts.

Because after all, what have we done to merit your scorn? We just run a little Web site, having a little harmless fun by aiming some well-deserved life-affirming malice at TV. We don't ask for much in return -- no money, no fame, no free and easy TeeVee groupies -- except for maybe, every now and again, a kind word. And snacks; we'll readily accept snacks.

But an occasional "Keep up the nice work, fellas!" or "Your repeated trashing of Tori Spelling really makes me chuckle!" -- that's too much to ask, apparently. Instead, we get diatribes, missives, unsolicited junk mail from people promising us that we can make thousands of dollars through some hare-brained pyramid scheme. And believe us when we tell you, it's driving us to drink, some of us more than we drank before these last ugly few weeks.

It all started when we got that e-mail from "Alex," a writer on the apparently rib-tickling orgy of comedy Over the Top. Alex, apparently eager to keep that cushy TV money coming, was quite perturbed that a good many of us Vidiots predicted Over the Top would be among the first three new shows to be canceled. Enraged to the point of blindness, Alex loaded up the scattergun and fired:

The truth is, not only were we not the first show cancelled, "Built To Last", "TimeCop", and "Danza" (pulled, not officially cancelled but might as well be) have beat us to the punch. Not only were we not the first cancelled, we weren't even the first on ABC.

Don't be surprised if we're still around at the end of the season when "Jenny", "Hiller and Diller", "You Wish", "Union Square", and "Meego" are faint memories.

And frankly, we have to apologize to Alex. Over the Top wasn't among the first three shows canceled. Rather, it was number four.

We regret our error. Let us know if you need a job reference.

Speaking of Over the Top, the dedicated legions of Tim Curry fans continue to wage their jihad against us for our thoughtless treatment of the one-time star of "Clue." Roxanne Leigh unleashed the following Curry manifesto:

Before I begin this letter, I would like to note that I am not some "woman with too much time on her hands" I am infact a sweet15-year-old girl from Houston, Texas. I would just like to ask where the author of the article "Heaping Gobs of Curry" gets off insulting all of the wonderfully talented cast members of the show "Over The Top."?? First of all Tim Curry is a genious. Even I, a girl who isn't even passed the ninth grade, can see that much. Tim Curry has pulled off such great and diverse onscreen characters as "Long John Silver" in Muppet Treasure Island, "Darkness" in Legend, "Pennywise" in Stephen King's "It", Mr. Hector, the Concierge" in Home Alone 2, and OF COURSE---- "Dr. Frank-N-Furter" in world famous and widely loved The Rocky Horror Picture Show. How could a man who brings such wonderful characters to life NOT be a genious? I would like to remind you that Peter Ko, the writer of the article I am responding to, said that he had only watched the show once before forming a very negative opinion of it. He watched it once?? You call that giving it a chance?? That isn't even fair!! You can't watch one episode of a Television show and brand it as aweful. You have to give it a chance, get the flavor of it.

I myself found the show side-splittingly hilarious. And keep in mind--I am a teenager, which means I am much more likely to be tuned into what is "hip" or "cool" in these times. May I also mention that I am a straight- A student and a member of the National Honor Society. So, this is no couch-potato idiot teenager you are talking to. I know what time it is in this world. And I also know what funny is. Funny is Tim Curry. Funny is "Over The Top."

In conclusion, I would like to say, that Tim Curry is an Icon, and an inspiration to all aspiring actors. He is a genious, and an all-around great guy. Shame on you for not knowing this without having a kid have to tell you.

Now granted, we aren't tuned in to what is "hip" and "cool" and damn few of us know what time it is the world, but we felt compelled to write Roxanne back to suggest that since Over the Top has been dead and burried for two weeks now, perhaps she should learn to let go. And we also made sure to point out that it's "genius" -- not "genious" -- and that perhaps the National Honor Society standards in Houston are getting a bit lax.

Roxanne was not amused by our seemingly playful teasing.

It is better to be a genius, than to know how to spell genius. I wouldn't be surprised if Einstein couldn't spell the word genius. I am as entitled to my opinion as you are to yours. How ever thoughtless and rude your opinion may be. I respect your opinion, but if you aren't going to be mature enough to handle the responses you get on your article---then next time, don't have a response section. My point is---- DON'T DISH IT OUT IF YOU CAN'T TAKE IT. It is my opinion that you have the maturity of a ten year old.

Once again--thank you for your time. And just so you know---I do not give out the title "genius" to just anyone. As far as I am concerned there are only four people in this world who have ever deserved the title--Madonna, Tim Curry, Stephen King, and Stephen Spielberg.

And, really, how can you argue with that? Especially Madonna and that cure for cancer she's been working on.

It's hard enough to take Roxanne's criticism -- she's a National Honor Society member, after all, and none of us landed on her list of "geniouses" -- but then Ronald J. Whalen came around and dumped a bucket full of salt into our open, sucking chest wound:


That's right. Unpleasant is how I find your website and it's articles. They're not funny like the article of Tom Shales (who writes for the Washington Post, who unlike all of you actually has a love for television) or even the articles by Entertainment Weekly TV writers who are intelligent and witty. Your articles are mean-spirited. I agree attacking a television programmer like Warrern Littlefield's shows is okay, but attacking the programmer her/himself is just plain sadistic. Thereby, your choices in what is good and what is bad is just plain wrong. I agree with something you say (like that Jenny McCarthy is an awful overrated moron) but the rest is absurd (Steven Weber's performance in The Shining mini-series was great, better than Nicholson's. Also The Shining was written by Stephen King and not Stanley Kubrick who directed & cowrote the original film). What makes me most angry about your articles is that you don't seem to have no real love for television and don't care about it and don't seem to want to hope it'll get better. You just seem to hate everything, but everything on television. IN A WORD, ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE FOR YOUR WEBPAGE ARE A BUNCH OF MEAN, OLD, CRUEL, SADISTIC S.O.B.s and if you don't like the state of television, then write about something else. So, stop whining and crying like a bunch of stupid jerk-offs.

Well, those stinging words sent us through a whole gamut of emotions. First, anger. Unpleasant? Sadistic? A bunch of stupid jerk-offs? Us? Just how does Ronald J. Whalen get off on telling us that -- the big, puffy loser! Why if he said that to our faces, we'd punch him right in the snout! Who would be the stupid jerk-off then, huh, buddy? Huh?

Then, denial. Ronald J. Whalen couldn't possibly have meant that about us, could he? He must have meant to send that to some other Web site. Besides, Steven Weber blew in "The Shining." And as good a writer as Tom Shales is, it doesn't change the fact that he's obscenely fat.

And finally, acceptance. Good God... we are bunch of mean, old, cruel sadistic SOB's. Knauss' hygiene is terrible. Jason Snell monopolizes the conversations at parties. Michaels -- unresolved issues from his childhood make him a thoroughly awful person to be around. Pete Ko? A sneering jackass. Ben Boychuk? A violent idiot. And James curses like a sailor, and is a Negro, to boot!

Have we all been so blind that we couldn't tell how offensive we were to sensitive souls like Ronald J. Whalen? Yes. It appears that we have been.

Troubled by this sudden rapture, cut to the quick, emotionally fragile, we received this letter from "Smilin' Jay," a subscriber to our e-mail list.


To which we say, et tu, Smilin' Jay?

Well, the people have spoken in a loud, clear voice. And to paraphrase Sally Field, you hate us. You really, really hate us.

Well, we know when we're not wanted. So effective immediately, we'll be disbanding the Web site and replacing it with something more acceptable to our readers' delicate tastes. So starting tomorrow, this address becomes the home site for "Hooray for Kitties! Your Online Guide to Raising Kittens." As for us, we're running away to join the circus.

We hope you're happy.

Additional contributions to this article by: Philip Michaels.


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