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TeeVee Awards 2000: Worst Half-Hour Show

There oughta be a law. If a massive, soulless corporation repeatedly produces products that are dangerous not only to those that use them, but innocents standing nearby and the environment in general, that corporation needs to be punished, and punished hard. Enormous punitive fines, strict governmental oversight, the public execution of top executives -- whatever it takes to get them to stop.

Of course, with politicians in their pockets and the public addicted to their poison, these coporations won't allow such extreme measures to happen anytime soon. So it's a matter of baby-steps, small gestures that can get a foot into the regulatory door.

And that's why we were at TeeVee advocate the testing all half-hour shows on mice before a single human being is exposed to them. Despite being vehemently opposed by the networks, such a move is simple common sense: how much suffering could be prevented with this precaution, how much pain?

In an independent TeeVee study -- funded by People for Arbitrary and Vindictive Cruelty to Animals Hee Hee Hee Lookit'm Squirm -- three groups of white lab mice were subjected to the three nominees for the coveted TeeVee Award for the Worst Half-Hour Show. The results are illustrative, and disturbing.

For instance, the group that viewed Ladies Man completed the test lethargic and sluggish, unable to answer simple questions and obviously incapable of operating heavy machinery. Placed behind the wheel of a car and instructed to drive a test course, the group registered the equivalent of a 6.3 blood-alcohol level, unusually high even around TeeVee writers.

The mice that viewed Then Came You turned violent, singling out the weakest member of the group and slowly killing it with dozens of vicious mouse nips. The carcass was then raised on a spike as a warning to others. One observer described this as a metaphor for the show itself.

And, finally, the group of mice that were subject to Shasta -- long a suspected level four biohazard -- began twitching violently only seven seconds into the credits. At the three minute mark, milky white cataracts had formed over the mice's eyes, and the first appearance of Jake Busey caused each mouse to almost instantly lose all its fur, leaving only mottled pink skin. By the end of the airing, those mice that had not spontaneously burst into flame and been reduced to smallish lumps of charcoal had obviously gone insane, repeatedly scrawling "REDRUM" on the sides of the test chamber using their own excrement and the ashes of their compatriots.

Those of us here at TeeVee who have watched Shasta can only hope that it has left us sterile. We shudder at the genetic horrors that would be produced should any of us ever manage to get laid.

This show, obviously, poses a significant risk to human health and the future well-being of the planet at large. If the government, humanitarian organizations, and the world's churches aren't willing to do anything about Shasta, then we at TeeVee will have to get the word out: Shasta wins the Worst Half-Hour Show Award, hands down, and very likely for all time. We're tempted to retire the category, never condemning anything again if Shasta -- all of Shasta, including the actors and writers -- is sealed in a concrete bunker deep in the Arizona desert and forgotten entirely.

We half-suspect that worse shows may have been planned -- Shasta airs on UPN, after all -- but they ended up violating the laws of physics, keeping them safely in the realm of the theoretical. Shasta, apparently, is as bad a show as there can be.

So bad, in fact, that Shasta pulled a trick well-known to credit cheats and federal Mafia witnesses: it changed its name, in an attempt to flee its past. Originally broadcast with the warning-label title of Shasta McNasty, the show now manages to lure in an unknown number of nature lovers, innocently looking for documentaries, and leaves them with the spectacle of slack-jawed hipsters hooting unfunny nonsense at each other and the midget they've got running between their legs.

It's hard to describe how singularly awful Shasta is without resorting to ancient ur-tongues that have words for "like getting your eyes eaten by beetles." Not only inept in execution -- with bad writing, bad acting, bad blocking, bad scenery and, more than likely, bad catering -- but massively muddle-headed in conception. Why would anybody want to watch tattooed and dreadlocked morons with poor impulse control on their TVs when they look out the window and see them on the street every damned day of the year? Hey! How about a show that exactly mimics the experience of flying cross-country with a screaming baby, too?

Oh, God, the pain, the pain.

Shasta, plainly put, is as bad as they come, the best argument yet for a massive nuclear war that will plunge humanity into a thousand years of darkness. Limitless agony, slow death, the shadows of loved ones seared into walls -- all sound a lot better than allowing another episode of Shasta to come into being. Oh, sure, wiping out civilization may seem a high price to pay to get one small "comedy" off the air.

But that just means you've never seen it.

Additional contributions to this article by: Greg Knauss.


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