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Six Angry Vidiots: Brick Through The TV

There's an experiment that medical science does -- if, for no other reason, then because medical science can -- where they wire up a rat to an electronic joy buzzer. And the rat soon discovers that every time he hits the joy buzzer, he floods his senses with a rush of serotonin -- sort of the blue-favored Kool Aid of the body's little chemical helpers. That serotonin cocktail makes our little rat friend feel good... real good. So good, in fact, that soon he's forsworn all his other ratly duties -- eating, resting, spreading plague through 14th Century Europe -- just to keep pushing that buzzer for that hit of serotonin over and over again.

We here at TeeVee sympathize with that poor, dumb rat. And no, it's not because we're the subject of bizarre experiments at the hands of medical science. That was back in college when we needed the money.

No, we feel a certain kinship with our rodent amigo because in the line of our TV-watching duties, we're also pelted with the same stimulus over and over again, until any other sensation from the outside world -- hopes, fears, the love of a good woman -- has been muted. But unlike the rat, we're not felled by a couple of shots of serotonin with a endorphin chaser. What deadens our senses is the steady stream of mediocre programming we're exposed to every wretched day of our Vidiot lives.

In the history of television, there have been more than a handful of great shows -- some of them well-known, others overlooked. There's been as many truly awful shows -- many forgotten, others seared into our brains no matter how much we try to think of calm, blue oceans. But the mass of shows lead lives of quiet mediocrity. Laugh-track ridden sitcoms that last long enough to wind up on the USA Network at mid-morning before fading completely from the scene. Bland cop and doctor and lawyer shows that seem to blend together until you can't remember whether the main character is supposed to be arresting a guy or transplanting his liver or arguing in court that he shouldn't be arrested until doctors have a chance to give him a liver transplant. And then there's Dateline. Eye-glazing, soul-killing Dateline.

The point is, we're big fans of a few shows that are on the air right now, and we piss and moan about having to watch a bunch of others, but the bulk of programs that we might see in a given season leave us feeling so indifferent, we're almost oblivious as to their existence.

Like Working. Did you know Working went off the air? We sure as hell didn't. And, ostensibly, we're supposed to be up on this sort of thing. And 90210 -- they're still making that show, and they're going to keep doing it next year. Christ, haven't those kids died yet? Where the hell have we been? Certainly not paying attention, that's for sure.

We should be full of opinions and ruminations and cutting observations about things like Becker and Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place and 7th Heaven. But, fact of the matter is, we aren't. Those shows are like the TV equivalent of porridge -- not too hot, not too cold, just bland enough for someone somewhere to like it.

We don't like it any better than you folks. But we accept it.

Still, while we've been lulled by the soothing monotony of most TV shows into just shutting up and taking our whooping, every now and again, something comes across the Trinitron so awful, so galling, so bile-inducing that even jaded souls like us sit up, take notice and spring into action so that crap such as this will never haunt our airwaves again.

We call this phenomenon Brick Through The TV.

The idea is simply this: Every now and again, when surfing through your 50-channel universe, you will come across a show bad enough that merely changing channels or turning off the TV will not undo the damage you've suffered. No, you have to destroy the instrument that brought this pain into your life, even if it means ruining a couple of hundred dollars worth of home-entertainment equipment.

Elvis Presley understood this. Rumor has it that in his heftier, jumpsuit-wearing days The King would express his displeasure with the quality of programs on TV at any given time by shooting out the screen. Then, presumably, he would pass out from the pills and his handlers would hose him down. But that doesn't mean Elvis, pill-induced stupor aside, didn't have the right idea. He's on a postage stamp now, you know.

It doesn't matter who you are or how low your standards may be. Somewhere on that TV of yours is a program so offensive to every fiber of your being that it will drive you -- an otherwise sensible human being, a pillar of your community, a respectable member of society -- to terminate your Magnavox with extreme prejudice. Kick the screen in. Bash it to pieces with a mallet. Hurl a brick right through it. Anything to help you sleep again at night.

For the next few days, we Vidiots will share with you the programs that shock us out of our mediocrity-induced stupor and have us rushing out to the nearest construction site to find just the right cinder block for the job. Maybe by warning you that these shows are out there, we can save you considerable heartache and massive TV repair bills.

But we wouldn't bet on it. Best stock up on those bricks, just in case.

Additional contributions to this article by: Philip Michaels.


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