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

Fall '99: "Oh Grow Up"

As part of the toughest military training in the world, Navy SEAL trainees are introduced to a perfectly demonic exercise known as surf torture. It's a pretty straightforward test of mental discipline: The young pups are ordered to sit on the beach while the waves of the Pacific Ocean lap over them.

But for those of you unfamiliar with the Southern California stretch of the Pacific, you can forget what you've seen on Baywatch. The ocean is not a tropical paradise -- rather, its temperature ranges anywhere from the upper 50s to mid 60s. That, my friends, is damned cold.

The trainees sit in the surf zone for 10-15 minutes depending on water temperature. They get out for a few minutes while a doctor checks all of them for hypothermia, and then it's back in the pool. This cycle continues for as long as the class instructors feel its necessary to break the wills of the trainees.

It doesn't take long for some of them to succumb: tough guys moaning and sobbing, pissing themselves just for warmth. The deafening roar of chattering teeth makes it sound like some bizarre maraca-players convention. If you're really lucky, you're in the middle of a storm, so the waves are big enough to knock you over, nearly drown you in salt water and give you just enough time to right yourself before getting hit again.

The instructors are on top of things, doing their best to get the trainees to give up. They'll set up tables with coffee makers steaming away, fresh cinammon rolls dripping with glaze and stacks of heavy blankets. They'll stand over the class using megaphones to remind the students just how cold and miserable they really are and how there's a hot shower waiting at the barracks. All they have to do is quit.

This works well. For those who don't give up, however, the cold is so overwhelming that hours later they will break into uncontrollable shivers at the mess hall just trying to drink a glass of milk.

Most of you will never know this kind of utter physical misery, and why would you want to? But for those few perverted few who think this sounds like a good time, you now have an opportunity to experience it without joining the Navy.

All you have to do is watch Oh Grow Up.

Sure, it's just a half hour, but just like the SEAL trainees counting the milliseconds until surf torture is over, you too will find time stopping. You think you're tough enough to get through it. That it really isn't bad, you've gotten through 28 minutes, that all you have to do is grit your teeth and it'll all be over in just a matter of seconds. Then you look at the clock and you realize it's only 9:35.

The show revolves around three guys in their mid-30s, Hunter, Norris and Ford, old college roommates. The three share a house, Ford having moved in after deciding he's gay and dumpig his wife. Hunter runs a construction company, Norris is a struggling artist and Ford is a lawyer. I'm pretty sure they live in New York. I have no idea who the actors are, nor do I care to find out. It doesn't matter, if they're still on television in two weeks, I will be very surprised.

Something happens in the pilot and then something else happens and before you know it, Hunter is meeting his teenage daughter that he never knew he had and she's moving to New York and Norris is trying to convince some gay Australian to sleep with Ford's ex-wife who likes his paintings.

Or something like that. Truth be told, I lost conciousness in the middle of the episode. Extreme pain will do that to you.

Oh Grow Up is the first television show I've ever seen that actually hurts to watch. It starts innocently enough with a gentle throbbing at the temples before progressing rapidly into the kind of pain once available only to certain members of the Navy willing to sit in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of the night. The only possible reason this show made it on the air is beacuse former ABC boss Jamie Tarses knew she was going to get canned and decided to inflict Oh Grow Up on the network as her final revenge.

I vaguely recall there was a daughter named Chloe and that when she meets her dad it is the most awkward, ridiculous reunion scene sice last week's Jerry Springer show. There was also a scene with Ford's wife getting drunk and calling her ex-huband a nancy boy.

And there was a talking dog. Well, not exactly talking like the Sabrina cat, but one that barks with the aid of subtitles. At the beginning of the episode, Hunter and his girlfriend kissed. The dog barked. The subtitle read "Get a room." I started whimpering like a little girl.

Visions of surf torture haunted me, except the instuctors weren't standing over me with hot coffee and blankets. They had TVs. One instructor handed me a remote and said "Go ahead, maggot, switch over to The West Wing. You know you want to. All you have to do is press the button, give up and watch some decent TV for a change. You don't need this kind of pain." I shoved the remote back in his face. I kept watching. I was too tough too quit. And too stupid.

I know this isn't much of a review, but like the SEALs starting to shiver hours after surf torture is over for the night, just thinking about Oh Grow Up is enough to induce a migraine. What we have here is a television show that should only be viewed on a dare or bar bet made by masochists looking to prove how much pain they can take. But be warned: you won't last long.

And unlike the SEAL trainees who earn a place of honor and distinction for holding on, you will only be subjected to the scorn and ridicule of friends too smart to subject themselves to that kind of pain.


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