"Oh My God! They Killed Cupid! You Bastards!"

It seems quite ironic that February will see the last showing of the fantastic show Cupid on ABC. Guess there's not much sentimentality amongst the network boys, hmmm? Excuse me while I launch into a rant here. We've covered TV in the past in this column (the second one, September 1997) but that was more of a "confessions of a TV junkie" thing. This is going to have a bit of that, while I talk about the shows that really float my boat at the moment, but it's also going to contain a lot of hate-filled ranting about the idiots who run television, film and comics for the least-common denominator. And I been reading Ellison, so there will be plenty of cynicism and foul language. C'mon and act elitist with me for a second. It'll be fun.

So Cupid was doomed from the start and I knew it. It was smart, funny and it took some thinking about. No wonder nobody watched it. There weren't any toilet jokes, there weren't any women with huge cleavage jumping out of chairs and attacking each other, and nobody was talking about how their trailer-trash mom is a whore who stole their boyfriend. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Springer, you effacious fuck. 90% of America may be dumber than a post, but why do you feel the need to up that average? Why don't you, and Cops, and World's Funniest Dangerous Police Chases Magic Revealed just go and occupy the 3 a.m. timeslot with the infomercials and every other stupid program that I could have produced when I was five. Why can't we have stuff like Cupid, or Ally McBeal, or The Practice, or the Simpsons, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or anything else that isn't predictable and stupid and trite? Not that I watch McBeal or the Practice, mind you, I've caught them a couple times but they didn't catch my attention. But I'll be damned if they don't have sharp writing and solid acting. And I know some might give me hell for including Buffy in with those shows, but just because it's a genre show doesn't mean that the smart writing and plot twists are any less.

Cupid started out on Saturday night, paired with the new Fantasy Island. Both good shows, although FI was fairly predictable, but was saved through a great Roarke played by Malcolm McDowell. On Saturday nights. Death for almost any show. When it finally got moved, they moved it not to Monday at 7, where the competition would have been light and it would have been a nice lead-in to Ally McBeal and then the Practice (yeah, it requires network hopping...guess we know why they didn't do that, huh?), or Tuesday at 8, where it would have been a nice follow-up to Buffy and probably would have competed well with Felicity, or Wednesday at 9 after all their comedies, one of which has the very talented and popular Jenna Elfman. They didn't move it to Friday, which is also not a great timeslot but at least wouldn't have had any competition. No, they move it to Thursday, opposite NBC's flagging must-see TV lineup. Not a completely boneheaded move. Reruns of Flipper: The Next Generation could beat out Veronica's Closet, and Frasier wasn't unbeatable. But then the shitheads gave it a week to impress them and when it didn't, they yanked it.

You know where Cheers, X-Files, Seinfeld, Simpsons, all started out? The bottom. Right near or at the bottom. Give them a year, you know where they were? About the middle. Where are they now? Top of the charts, except for Seinfeld and Cheers, which retired at the number one spot. X-Files is making a mint in movies, merchandising and some other m-word I can't think of right now. Simpsons is an *animated* prime-time show that has been running for what, seven or eight seasons? More? But the clueless idiots want instant hits. It's the same mentality we see in the comic book field, although I can understand it there, because they followed their mindless strategies for so long they isolated most of their audience and they don't have the cash to take chances anymore.

So there's not much to look at on TV anymore. I watch X-Files, and I think "Full Disclosure" is a bunch of horseshit, just like every other time Carter has promised us answers. He's been obfuscating for so long, even he doesn't know where the hell he's going anymore. There's Buffy, which rocks, and is my favorite show. Crusade's constantly being retooled, and I have serious doubts we'll ever see it. Animation is ramping up, with Batman Beyond being a pretty good show, Simpsons getting back to form after a somewhat lackluster season, Dilbert showing promise, and Futurama showing even more. There's even a few good comedies, like most of the stuff on Wednesday nights on ABC (guilty pleasures all, but not too bad). And then there's the good stuff I don't watch. But I figure, with three major networks and two little tiny starting ones, that's what, 10, 15 hours of decent programming? That's sad. Sadder still that it's not because there's any lack of talent out there, but because the networks don't have any patience. Their market is shrinking, just like the comics market did, and they're going to wind up in the same boat except that they can't jack up the cover price to woo back the fanatical viewers.

Well, I'm running low on space and time, so I won't get too much into movies, like Jon "Let's have Superman fight some polar bears" Peters or Akiva "Batman & Robin" Goldsmith. In fact, I think there's actually a better quality/crap ratio in movies than in TV. And given the state of movies today, that says more about television than any hate-filled rant I could spew.

Randy W. Lander

Previous ColumnNext ColumnBack to Home