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

Unfortunately, The Children Are Our Future

Hey! You! The 35-year old jet-setter type in the back of the room. You just got a nice promotion and a raise that will let you buy that Porsche you've been dreaming about since you were a kid. Your wife just made partner at the law firm and the two of you are expecting a second child, a boy this time. Plus, your favorite show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, continues to prove just how damned entertaining TV can be when done right.

Life is good, no?

Sorry, bub. Not for you, it ain't. You probably don't realize it, but you no longer matter. As far as The WB, Buffy's network, is concerned, you're a fossil, best left to paleontologists or CBS. Your low-six figure income and hard-earned credit rating? Useless. Unless you plan on stocking up on Noxzema and Surge.

As Jamie Kellner, head of The WB, says "Our connection is the 12-34 age group. We never want to be No. 1; we never care about household ratings. When people judge us based on household ratings, we kind of laugh at them."

Want to know why so much of television is garbage? You now have your answer, thanks to Mr. Kellner. The heads of all the other networks may not say the same thing, but they all have the same strategy: lure the young 'uns. Why? Because, and let me try and put this as delicately as possible, adolescents are idiots.

Teenagers have always been morons, except now they're rich too. Last year -- this is true -- they spent over $100 billion dollars, 95 percent of it on non-threatening boy bands. Rich people are good customers, idiots are good customers, but rich idiots are a marketing weasel's wet dream.

And so we come to The WB's new fall schedule, rife with crap 16-year olds with gold cards will find appealing. Those of us without overly-permissive parents to spoil us and indulge our brattish whinings without a hint of discipline will have to schtup over to the Big Four who, perhaps not coincidentally, are in their death throes.

Sure, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a show without equal, is on The WB, but that kind of good will only gets you so far. The network suits also had the good sense to tank The Wayans Bros., Unhappily Ever After, Sister, Sister and Smart Guy.

No, not Smart Guy! Anything but Smart Guy!

The network will be breaking new ground this fall, adding Friday nights to its programming lineup. Unfortunately, The Steve Harvey Show, For Your Love and The Jamie Foxx Show will be the shows anchoring the move, with a new animated comedy The Downtowners slipped in between them. For this, The WB is expanding? For The Jamie Foxx Show?

New on Sunday nights will be Jack & Jill, a romantic comedy about six twenty-something urbanites. Sound familiar? Yeah, well you're wrong. This isn't just another Friends rip-off, because Jack & and Jill is an hour long.

Safe Harbor, from the creative team behind 7th Heaven, sails onto Monday nights at 9 p.m. For those of you suffering since Golden Girls went off the air, Rue McClanahan stars as an eccentric grandmother while Gregory Harrison, last seeing drooling into a cup on Trapper John M.D., portrays a sheriff at a idyllic beachside community. No word yet on whether or not a huge shark will be featured in a sweeps-month story arc.

Following Buffy on Tuesday nights will be the spin-off show, Angel, featuring the character of the same name who leaves Sunnydale for Los Angeles to help people along with another Buffy regular, Cordelia. Angel is supposed to be a darker, more adult take on the Buffy universe, although judging from the last few episodes of Buffy, its hard to imagine how without resorting to cockfighting or snuff films.

After Dawson's Creek on Wednesdays will be Roswell, an X-Files for the 'N Sync set. The show revolves around high-schooler Max Evans and a couple of friends who are the alien progeny of the 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico. Fearing capture by the government, Max and his friends must elude government agents out to get them, all the while chasing after the elusive one-armed man. Or something like that.

We can only hope that Jeffrey Jones will portray the lead agent, a bumbling former principal named Rooney. Also slated to guest star are the Backstreet Boys as an alien-human hybrid band, a genetic experiment in musical talent gone horribly wrong.

The final new drama for The WB is Popular, described as "the story of two girls at opposite ends of the teen-popularity spectrum." Yes, this is what TV needs, more teenaged angst. And such realistic teenaged angst it will be!

The pretty, popular girl will be a Sarah Michelle Gellar clone who drives a white BMW. The ugly, unpopular girl will be a Sarah Michelle Gellar clone with glasses and a black BMW. The popular girl will spend her time whining that all she really wants is a nice guy while the ugly one, the one that looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar with glasses, will whine about how she can never, ever get a date.

Which pretty matches up with what I remember from high school.

Whatever you think of The WB's pandering to the segment of society most responsible for MTV's Jesse Camp, you have to admire their determination. The fate of the network rests in the hands of people who couldn't identify Mexico on a map, much less the southwestern state with a similar name that one of their shows is based in.

There's a phrase for situations like that: the blind leading the blind.


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