We watch... so you don't have to.

TeeVee Mailbag XV: Summer of Mailbags

Well, we just returned from vacation here at the ol' TeeVee Mailbag, and to tell you the truth, we're kind of glad to be back. Our vacation photos didn't turn out, and we got sunburned--right here, on the bridges of our noses--and wouldn't you know it, we lost all our travelers' checks.

Then, we get back to World TeeVee Headquarters after getting off the red-eye from Newark, only to find out that the whole place has gone to hell. The widow Feeney--TeeVee's cantankerous landlord--went and raised the rent on us while we were gone. Those seemingly nice boys down at thestreet.com) forgot to stop over and water our plants like they promised, and now we've got withered banana fern leaves all over the rumpus room. Plus, our goldfish died, so you can understand how broke up we are.

But at least your e-mail was here to greet us when we got back. There it was, mixed in with weeks of old daily newspapers and hardware store coupons and Boychuk's Victoria's Secret catalogs--a pile of virtual mail that almost reached the vaulted ceiling.

Well, that choked us up a bit, quite frankly. Sure, we can come off as gruff and grumpy, maybe even a little asshole-like. But we only do that to hide the longing, the yearning that gnaws inside each of us to be loved and accepted by our readers. And when we see that you folks take the time to write--even when we abandon you for two months because we're too lazy to keep cranking out this piffle year-round--we get choked up that you took the time to let us know you care.

Of course, then we read your e-mail, and find out what a bunch of miserable, little ingrates you really are, and we're back to being gruff and grumpy and, yes, even a little asshole-like. Take this offering from rupert@girex.net, who writes:

Were your balls surgically removed?? How can you not enjoy feasting your eyes on the beautiful Faith Ford. Or, maybe your one of them homo types. One thing for sure, don't plan on making a career out of whatever your doing on this web page: you "suck" really bad even though I imagine you have alot of practice at sucking.

That's right, Rupert. We're all gay. Every manjack of us. When we're not sitting here writing articles--our sucky articles, that is--we're busy listening to show tunes and arguing over curtain patterns and having gay sex with one another.

We thought we had everyone fooled, Rupert. But not you. No, using all the deductive powers your obviously advanced brain could harness, you read that we had no interest in watching aging bimbo Faith Ford stumble her way through another tedious sitcom and came to the conclusion that other people--stupid people--never could. That we're all a bunch of prissy little fairies.


Now, the old Vidiots--the grumpy, asshole-like Vidiots-- would spend the next six paragraphs mocking Rupert and inviting our readers to experience the thrill of personally ridiculing him by showering him with abuse at rupert@girex.net. That's rupert@girex.net.

But not the new Vidiots. You see, we're coming up on our second anniversary, and we like to think that we're not just getting older and more tired, but wiser, more mature, a bit more reasonable. Instead of hurling insults at our readers, we want to dialogue with them. Instead of laughing off their perfectly reasonable complaints with cruel taunts, we want to nod reassuringly and promise that it will never happen again. We want to be both kinder and gentler.

And we're going to start doing that... right after we get through sneering at this last batch of e-mail, of course.

Let's start the ball rolling with this little ditty from Alexandra Monk, all the way across the Atlantic:

Do you keep records of people who've won big money prizes on game or quiz shows? The reason I'm asking is this--I work for a production company in London, and we are trying to contact people who have won lots of money (i.e. $500,000 - $1,000,000) and invite them to London to help us promote a new game show we are about to make. I don't know if anyone there can help me, but I would appreciate any help you could offer as to how to go about finding who these people are, and how to contact them.

Yes, Ali. We're sure you and your British pals would just love to get your mitts on America's most precious asset--our quiz show winners. Then, once you've introduced yourselves to the grand prize winner on $ale of the Century and the College Week champion from Wheel of Fortune and the feisty senior citizen who bid the closest dollar amount without going over to craftily win the Showcase Showdown on The Price Is Right and lured them over to England, you can imprison them and tap into their awesome brain power to restore the British Empire to its former glory.

Well, nothing doing, Ali. We'd love to commit treason for you, but there's a little thing we have called "patriotic pride" that prevents us from selling the Stars and Stripes down the river. Unless you land us a spot on your game show, that is. Then, everything's up for negotiation.

And while we're on the subject of xenophobia, here's a letter from Friederike Bach:

On behalf of the German fans of THE SENTINEL we would like to voice our concern, anger, rage, and sadness bout the decision of not putting THE SENTINEL on UPNs fall schedule. We do NOT appreciate UPNs decision. THE SENTINEL is an excellent show, full of humor, good stories, bone-chilling action and fabulous actors. It is something worth watching, something worth waiting for every week.

People all over Europe and the rest of the world sell love with the series when it started two years ago. We loved UPN for it's brilliant ideas to put such a fascinating show on the air. Friendships, real friendships were formed because of the show. People from across the miles came together in the name of THE SENTINEL. Events like the wonderful Sentinel con were joined by many fans from all over the planet.

But in one single moment UPN, shattered dreams and hopes based on an extraordinariness series. That's very dumb. However, we trust the United Paramount Network to reconsider the decision. THE SENTINEL is a show with potential. Don't let such a good series of the hook. Save it!

We're happy to report that the prayers of Friederike--and indeed, all German fans of The Sentinel--have been answered. Having nothing but dead air to fill anyway, UPN is planning on bringing back The Sentinel as a midseason replacement show.

We're not sure how much influence Friderike's letter had on the folks at UPN. But you know how it is when Germans start making demands. One insensitive remark and, bam, someone's just annexed the Sudentenland.

Fanatical devotion to low-rated TV shows isn't just a problem in the Fatherland, though, as Mary Sherman proved with a letter so long, we can only include the highlights:

Prey, for me, is an exceptional show. It combines all the right elements, intrigue, suspense, mystery and romance with thought provoking story lines. That has me wanting to see more episodes next season.

As a first time writer about any TV show, I'm not sure in what and how to write too make an impact or have anyone listen. So I've listed a few things why a Network would want to add Prey to their line-up.

"Prey" is a supported program by Viewers for Quality Television and Viewers Voice.

"Prey" fans on the Internet and SF Conventions are looking for Merchandise on Prey. A book series, T-shirt's, Cups, Posters, Trading Cards, CD's, and Video Tapes basically any product associated with Prey.

"Prey" Internet fans web sites(24) are growing daily with major campaigning going on from these sites.

"Prey For Us" campaign has placed 2 ads in Daily Variety in July.

"Prey" is a proven show with a strong dedicated fan base that is continuing to grow Vs an unproven show.

In my personal opinion, this show needs to grow and to develop into the hit it really is. Currently the shows that I watch are not on any Major Networks. I go where the shows are.

We would appreciate any support you could give in these efforts, our "Prey for Us" Campaign Coordinator is Gina Evers and would be delighted to answer any questions or provide you with any further information.

Oh, we'll "prey" for you all right. We're praying that you never get our home addresses.

Continuing our theme of misguided fealty to TV programs, Jennifer Gerra took us to task for Christopher Stanton's article about NYPD Blue. If you remember, Chris suggested that NYPD Blue had slid so far in quality, that now only viewers with brains the size of a pea would mistake it for innovative, interesting entertainment. As Jennifer proves with this letter, Chris may have overestimated.

NYPD Blue, and Walker, Texas Ranger are the two best shows I have ever seen in my life! What you are saying about NYPD Blue is completely wrong!,you have no right to diss a show as good as this one! I never really had an interest in cops until I started watching NYPD Blue,now when I grow up I want to be a police officer and it's because of NYPD Blue!,and I'm glad.

NYPD Blue and Walker, Texas Ranger driving young people to careers in law enforcement? Internal affairs divisions across the country will be working overtime from here on out.

Also dropping us a line to let us know what dumb bunnies we are was Lisa Gomez, cheesed off to the highest order after we pointed out that Jon Seda--the suckiest actor to ever walk the planet--has made the once-great Homicide well nigh unwatchable.

I totally disagree with your article on Jon Seda. He is by no means near to a fart on any Thanksgiving dinner. Okay people have a hard time adapting to new characters especially if they have been a loyal Homicide viewer for a long time. Of course Seda brings in a whole new attitude and look to the show, but that's what change is all about - that's why they cast him. Not everyone accepts change that easy - I personally think it's about time if you are a "true" homicide viewer to get used to it (he's back this season) The shows back this season, this change accounts for something.

You hear that, Homicide viewers? It's your fault that the show is a hollow shell of its former self... you and your ridiculous standards. If only you were to make like Lisa Gomez and accept Jon Seda's one dimensional portrayal of a cliched cop, you could also enjoy the second-rate story lines, stunted character development and lackluster pacing that's now par for the course at Homicide. Then, you'll appreciate the brilliance that is Seda!

The frontal lobotomy also helps.

Folks, we perfectly understand unhealthy obsessions with TV. Why, we used to be quite the fans of the early '80s series Voyagers. We would watch every episode and dissect every plot and dream each night that Jon-Erik Hexum would appear in our windowsill, begging us to join on him on a high-spirited romp through history. We even grew out our hair to look just like Meeno Peluce.

And friends... that's as sick today as it was back then.

Television can be many things--a source of information, an easy way to decompress after a criminally hard day at the office, perhaps on occasion a provider of entertainment. But at the end of the day, it's still just television... dumb, stupid television.

We Vidiots have our favorite TV shows just like anyone else. But should The Simpsons or NewsRadio or any of the rest ever fade to black, we won't be pooling our allowance money to spring for ads in Variety. We won't be hanging out in chat rooms, recruiting like-minded fanatics to join our crusade against the TV executives that done us wrong. And we certainly wouldn't fire off angry e-mail to a bunch of total strangers whose only crime was to cast aspersions on our viewing choices.

Because, frankly, we'd fear their public mockery.

Additional contributions to this article by: Philip Michaels.


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