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

No TV? No Dice

It starts with a long, rambling anecdote. It always starts with an anecdote. Maybe it will be about a movie I saw last weekend. Maybe about some girl back in high school who spurned my ham-fisted advances, leaving me with unresolved self-esteem issues that still haunt me 10 years after the fact. Maybe it will be about baseball. Yes, baseball... I like baseball.

The 1946 St. Louis Browns were a forgettable team. Two years removed from its only pennant, the franchise fell back to its perennial second-division status as top-line ballplayers like Ted Williams and Hank Greenberg returned from World War II. At 66-88, St. Louis finished 38 games behind the league-leading Red Sox, with only the equally woeful Philadelphia Athletics there to break the Browns' fall. A lame-duck team about to bolt for the green pastures of Baltimore, the 1946 Browns are remembered only by a handful of fans, the most circumspect of baseball historians and the biographers of Vern Stephens.

And now, after the anecdote, comes the transition. Because just as the St. Louis Browns of 1946 were a forgettable team in nearly every way -- slick hitting shortstop Vern Stephens excluded, of course -- so is this a forgettable TeeVee article.

Why? Because I am not allowed to write about television.

I was never behind this TV Turn-Off Week argle-bargle. When one of my colleagues proposed this crazy scheme -- it doesn't matter who, this isn't about blame -- I made my objections known. "Collier," I said, "this is the stupidest idea you've ever come up with."

I said that then. I stand by it now. Because if I can't write about television, I am a dead duck.

I have no problem saying this -- I am not a terribly bright man. I have very few interests in life and minimal conversation skills. I don't read newspapers; instead, I have interns read me brief summaries of the news until I get the gist of the story. If it's not about sports or television, I quickly lose interest. I have three books to my name -- Total Television, Leonard Maltin's Video Review Guide and a collection of baseball stats -- all to aid me in writing those accursed anecdotes.

In the past, I could coast, get by with some witty repartee and my encyclopedic knowledge of Happy Days. But thanks to TV Turn-Off Week, I've been exposed for the fraud that I am. The emperor has no clothes. My world has turned upside down. We have gone through the looking glass. Night is day. Black is white. The dish has run off with the spoon.

I feel like that guy in that book who was living a lie and, as a consequence, had all that stuff happen to him. You know the book, right? By that dead guy? I think he was foreign...

Oh, God, I'm an idiot.

The other day, I was at a cocktail party, and everyone there was discussing this big to-do about the little Cuban boy. Their talk frightened and confused me. "Why all this fuss over Ricky Ricardo and his son?" I finally asked. "I Love Lucy hasn't been on the air for years."

Someone threw their martini in my face.

I don't know how the other Vidiots feel about this, frankly, because I never read their work. I mean, I've tried. But most of the time, what they have to say puts me right to sleep. Especially Snell. So maybe they're as flummoxed by all of this as I am. They strike me as people who get flummoxed easily, as anybody who's ever seen Wrenn try and work a copier will attest.

Say, what if this is just one of their plots -- one of their carefully hatched, devious plots to embarrass me? None of them like me, you know. All of them resent my success: Rywalt, Collier, Boychuk, that chick who writes for us all the time-- Lita? Rita? I've never bothered to learn her name. Anyhow, they all hate me.

I bet they got together in one of those late-night fast food runs that they never invite me to. "Let's have a big ol' TV Turn-Off Week Extravaganza to shame Michaels and make him look like a jackass," they probably said. "And let's get more hot-sauce packets for our tacos!"

Well, I'll have none of it. No shaming. No jackass-looking. No hot-sauce packets. I will turn the tables on my oppressors. I will turn the hunters into the prey. I will return their snide back-biting with such a vengeance that they will run away in disgrace, never to be heard from again.

Just like I did with Ko.

I will review my co-workers like I review TV shows. And I will do it with all the ferocity that I normally reserve for the likes of Kirstie Alley.

Soon to enter his 29th season, Ben Boychuk is in a creative rut and desperately needs a Sweeps-month stunt to juice his stagnating ratings. Perhaps a trip to an exotic locale. Maybe adding a precocious moppet with a sassy mouth. Anything to distract the audience from Ben's haircut.

James Collier may seem like a funny guy to today's unsophisticated audiences. But where are the "Your mama's so ugly" jokes and "Did you ever notice how white people can't dance?" japes that have proven so successful for Sinbad and Jimmie Walker?

I have always found the character of Greg Knauss to be unconvincing and forced. My vote? Recast the part of Knauss with the redoubtable Peter Falk. I smell spin-off!

No. Wait. It's Jason Snell that I smell. A capable leader for TeeVee, sure, but his personal hygiene? A disaster of E.A.R.T.H. Force-like proportions.

I thought we had fired Chris Rywalt months ago.

While many of the other Vidiots seem to get along with Liza Schmeiter -- or whatever she's calling herself these days -- I find to be a dreary presence around the office, especially after she rejected my latest crude pass at her.

Gregg Wrenn has the smarts of a burglar and the innocence of a three-year-old child. No. Wait. That's the other way around.

There. I'm sorry you folks had to witness such ugliness, but I've been pushed around long enough. Suffered too much abuse. Been neglected for too long.

Much like Vern Stephens and the 1946 St. Louis Browns.

Because along with anecdotes, articles must also come full-circle.


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