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Hour of Despair

This is proof that not all Vidiots get along. Not too long ago, one of our kin -- and I'm not saying who, but it's the one with the bad taste, the black eye, and the butt-ugly mother who calls himself Chris Rywalt -- opined that Happy Hour ain't a bad way to kill time if you've just mainlined heroin, you're about to follow it with a cocaine chaser, and you need something to take the buzz off. Or words to that effect.

I, on the other hand, am looking to buy a new television. And it's all because there's a large hole in my JVC about the size of... well, quite frankly, about the size of Ahmet Zappa's head.

To recap: Happy Hour is a, remarkably enough, hour-long variety show on the USA network starring Zappa offspring, Dweezil and Ahmet. You may recognize Dweezil as the oddly-named son of Frank who before this was perhaps best known as the jammin' guitarist in the classic video accompaniment to Don Johnson's magnum opus, "Heartbeat." You recall this video: it's the one where Sonny Crockett wails about lost love while inexplicably touring the war-torn streets of Libya. As for Ahmet, you won't recognize him since, to my knowledge, he has never done anything in his life before.

Which, of course, makes him the ideal person to host his own TV show.

(Author's disclaimer: I realize this brick requires me to confess that I watch the USA network. Well, screw you. Once you get used to pro wrestlers with breast implants or overcome certain plot failures -- say, Santa Monica bike cops patrolling the beaches of Venice or leggy blond secret agents who roam across Europe incognito -- it's not so bad.)

The premise behind Happy Hour is simple. Ahmet acts like an ass. Dweezil feigns appreciation for his antics. Lady dancers in flower prints gyrate. The clock ticks from sixty to zero. All the while, hack celebrities -- the kind of people who, three years from now, you couldn't name on a bet... and I never said the words "Kathy Griffin" -- take out a second mortgage on their 15 minutes of fame. Which is to say, they do whatever Ahmet tells them to do because at some point, their agents, publicists, or advisors convinced them that their moribund careers need to be revived and killed again.

But really, it's a hootenanny.

If Dweezil were to one day turn to Ahmet and violently clock him upside the head with his Stratocaster, I still don't think I'd be happy. There is absolutely no justification for some programming executive having loosed Ahmet Zappa on an unsuspecting public. He doesn't sing so much as scream. His shameless mugging (not since Jenny McCarthy has a performer demonstrated such a firm grasp on the nuances of the bug-eyed face) and desperate "look at me" antics would ideally lead to him getting Saturday school, if only there was a first grade for 42-year olds. He's not funny unless you're the type who -- and, boy, do I hate dredging up this memory -- found Sue Costello the epitome of high comedy. And did I mention he acts like an ass?

I suppose this show is made all the more offensive because, as I noted earlier, the Zappa offspring have never accomplished anything in their lives. To some extent, I can understand doling out screen time to other entertainers -- Howie Mandel, say -- who have a well-established track record of mugging shamelessly and annoyingly for the cameras. After all, hard as it is to understand, the man has established through years of touring backwater dives, third-rate casinos, and the occasional Madison Square Garden that he has an audience. Not a big one. Not a smart one. But it is an audience.

But Ahmet Zappa? Who in their cocaine-induced stupor thought that we as a society had a unrequited longing for Ahmet Zappa? At least make him take a small college tour so drunken frat boys can pelt him with rotten apples and demonstrate his lack of popular appeal.

On second thought, drunken frat boys may be the target audience.


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