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Leave It On!

Women of WrestlingFor a split second, it seemed like a wacky idea for a TeeVee piece: What if I were to actually participate in National TV Turn-Off Week during April 23-29? Seven whole days, joining the "millions of people around the world who will rediscover that life can be more rewarding, interesting and fun without TV," as the self-appointed TV Turn-Off Network (formerly TV-Free America) tells me. Nothing but reading, gardening, riding bikes, balancing my checkbook after ordering a $30 membership from www.TV-Turn-Off.org, and who knows what else? Maybe I could even join in on the more committed "Cold Turkey Turn-Off," which runs from April 23 to July 15! No TV for 12 glorious weeks! What a life-enhancing experience it would be!

Then I put down the crack pipe and came to my senses. These lunatics had nearly sucked me into their godless commie cult! Forgive me father, for I have sinned. It's been three days since my last Access Hollywood....

Going without television is just not an option for me, but not merely because of this sweet TeeVee gig. The very existence of some TV shows, I'm convinced, depends upon my continued viewership. Whether or not I'm really the only one watching them or just the lone voice who'll admit to it is irrelevant: These programs need me even more than I need them, and no semi-organized group of fanatics is going to browbeat me into pulling the plug. Go calibrate your solar panels and leave us alone, you dirty hippies.

Why else does Son of the Beach (FX, Tuesdays) continue to air if not for my own pleasure? Sure, the numbers show the Howard Stern-produced comedy to be the most happenin' thing on the FX cable net... which ain't sayin' much. (How many 90210 reruns can there be, anyway?) And still, I get the feeling that I'm the only person who appreciates the over-the-top, under-the-bottom Baywatch satire's snappily dense gags-per-second scripting and unerring attention to detail.

For sheer funny, SOB makes Airplane! look like Requiem For a Dream, but writer and star Tim Stack's bonehead genius elicits zero props from the snooty TV-critic intelligentsia. Well, they can all just suck my Horatio Hornblower.

And can we talk about 18 Wheels of Justice (TNN, Tuesdays)? Of course not, because I'm the only one who watches it. Male model Lucky Vanous is federal agent Chance Bowman, undercover in the witness protection program and fighting crime across this great country's highways and byways with his teched-up Kenworth "super truck," kinda like Knight Rider meets Convoy.

Yes, we're all asking ourselves, How can this not be the greatest show in basic-cable history? Add in the occasional B-list country music star and G. Gordon Liddy as Chance's evil mob nemesis, and you've got... hell, who cares what you've got? Despite molasses pacing that's slower than an uphill rig with the jake brake on, 18 Wheels is downright inspired -- and shot on a budget of about 38 bucks (not counting costar Billy Dee Williams' contractual Colt 45 amenities). Why anyone would even suggest a national TV turn-off week when a gripping action-drama like this is available is beyond me.

WOW: Women of Wrestling (syndicated, barely) is another tube gem that fails to spark any water-cooler chatter 'round my office. (Keep in mind, water-cooler chatter at my office usually begins with "When are we going to fire that creepy guy, anyway? Oh, hey, Bill! Uh, how long have you been standing there?")

WOW, one of the only TV wrestling shows left not owned by Vince McMahon's WWF, is also the most gynocentric and multicultural, which makes it at least as socially relevant as anything on Oxygen. Female grapplers like Latina Caliente, Asians Jade and Lotus, Polynesian Paradise, Guatemalan Jungle Grrl, Iranian Farah and others face off against all-Americans like L.A.'s Disciplinarian, Nebraska's Farmer's Daughter, Texas' Charlie Davidson, New York's Jacklyn Hyde, Nevada (State Prison's) Caged Heat and more in bouncily brutal matches every week. It's a veritable Rainbow Coalition, with a more demographically pleasing soft-porn/soft-violence angle.

Knuckle under to the TV-Turn-Off Nazis and chance missing mega-mulleted Selina Majors take on 200-pound biker chick Thug in another hysterical WOW steel-cage match? I think not. Culture is far too important to me.


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