Friday, May 09, 2008

Another Countdown

Anyone who has cable or satellite TV is inundated with countdowns. Have we, as a society, lost our patience and attention spans to such a degree that we need our television encapsulated into digestible, 40 second nuggets? Along with the success of "clip shows," countdowns have overtaken the American airwaves.

At one time, it was Casey Kasem who "counted them down," the Billboard magazine top ten or top 40 popular songs. That was okay. It was fun to know what the most popular songs were, and to hear them again on radio.

And if you did not want to hear them, then Casey was syndicated on only one channel in each market, and his countdown was easy to avoid.

But countdowns are everywhere now, and for the most part they have no meaning. Even Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" on MSNBC has lost some of its charm ("though not its wit," I was tempted to add, but his obsession with Bill O'Reilly has weakened his show). But at least Olbermann, like Casey Kasem, actually has something to count down. The top news stories of the day have relevance in the same way as the top-selling music singles do. (And if you are asking yourself, Is he suggesting that cable news reporting has stooped to the level of counting down pop hits? the answer is, um, yes, mostly.)

There's no relevance, rhyme or reason to counting down the "Top 10 Shark Attacks." How can that truly be measured? And who cares?

Television itself has jumped the shark.

I envision the pitch meeting at FOX: "We have a thousand hours of stock pelican attack footage in the vault. Why don't we bring in a kid to write a top ten pelican attacks show to air during prime time sweeps?"

"Brilliant! I'll alert our advertisers!"

So for the three people who regularly read my blog, here is the

Pacific Grits Top Ten Annoying Television Countdowns:

10. Disasters of any kind. It's a shame outlets such as the Weather and Discovery Channels have jumped on this bandwagon.

9. Celebrities being bad.
Please! Enough!

8. Best theme parks, roller coasters, hotels, restaurants or travel destinations.

7. Murders, murderers, or other gruesome crime-related countdowns.

6. Any countdown show that has the tag "Caught On Tape" in its title.

5. The AFI. Several years ago, the American Film Institute counted down the 100 most popular movies of all time. It was a nice idea and an entertaining hour or two of television. Now the AFI are counting down one hundred of anything and everything having do do with movies: The AFI 100 Heroes and Villains, The AFI 100 Best Movie Quotes, and the recent, ridiculous AFI 100 Years 100 Cheers. Come on! What's next? The AFI 100 Years of Foley?

4. Food- or cooking-related countdowns of any kind (Food Network excepted).

3. Celebrity countdowns of any kind - best dressed, worst dressed, weddings, shocking moments, and so on.

2. Any countdown featuring D-list comedians no one knows making unclever and unfunny comments about whatever is being counted down.

1. Television "moments" shows. These glorified clip shows require no ideas, no script or imagination. Do we need some D-list celeb counting down something nonsensical like "wackiest sit-com moments" or "most amusing game show responses?"

These countdown shows are reality television at its worst. And I do mean it when I think the entire industry has jumped the shark.

Oh, and yes, I do watch them. How can I look away from the train wreck television has become? I only wish they could get Casey Kasem for the Weather Channel's Ten Most Outrageous Tornadoes caught on tape.


Chuck said...

"Television itself has jumped the shark."

LOL. That has to be the funniest line I have read all week.

Why? It is absolutely true.

Brilliant post.

Auntie Joyce said...

I could not agree with you more! TV shows have hit an all time low. I spend most of my time surfing the channels, only to have to start all over again because it took so long to get through them all. Where are the John Wayne's and Humphrey Bogart's. Life was better with a six shooter, a shot of whiskey, and a good cigar!

Steve said...

Great post and very funny!

Watching TV to me is like rubber-necking past a highway accident. You can't look away because you might see something gruesome. I find myself flipping channels endlessly. The third time around the horn I usually turn it off...

Martha said...

I think you're on to something here. Mostly all I watch is news, weather, sports, American Idol, and that's about it. I don't watch hardly any shows on a regular basis anymore. Love the pic of the Fonz too!

Alan said...

Great post. I would make comment, but I'm slap in the middle of the "Top 10 best Top 10 shows of 2007" hosted by Michael Richards. His most brilliant work since the Laugh Factory monologue.