Sunday, January 18, 2009

Remote Possibilities

Happily, "Parts and Labor" has brought me a few jobs writing humor pieces for other magazines and websites. This is a column I recently did for Metrosource Magazine. Enjoy! -- DB

"Remote Possibilities"

Last November, I got a little tense. It might've had something to do with our crashing economy, the approaching election or maybe it was just that seven pounds I can never seem to lose. Who knows? But the collective stress resulted in my catching a nasty cold. Feeling that I finally had a legitimate excuse to collapse, I dropped onto my sofa for a couple of days of well-earned R&R. As I snuggled under my comfy chenille throw ($63 from Pottery Barn), it seemed like the perfect time to catch up on the current slate of TV shows. After a lengthy separation, TV and I were finally ready to kiss and make up.

You see, in the fall of 2005, I did the unthinkable. I disconnected my cable. Shocking, I know, but I’d gotten sick of shelling out $78.00 a month for a service I rarely ever used. It was a little weird at first, but soon I was watching tons of DVDs and eagerly reading newspapers, blogs and many informative books. Being the conniving sort, I could always get myself invited to somebody’s house if any must-see events came up (like the finals of “American Idol” or the Academy Awards). But recently, I'd been thinking that since I supposedly work in the entertainment industry it might be a good idea to reconnect with the wonderful world of television.

I was astounded to discover how much TV had changed in my absence. In the past, I could always count on TV to relax me, lull me, put me to sleep even. But now, no matter where I clicked, something disastrous or disturbing was on. Instead of the police dramas I used to love, there were grizzly “procedurals.” Reality shows (once populated by sexy over-achievers) were now overrun by weeping fat people and screaming children. Thinking a little game show action might be fun, I tuned into “Deal or No Deal,” but watching Howie Mandel frantically dodge his disease-ridden contestants kept making me worry that (instead of a cold) I might have contracted West Nile Virus or Asian Bird Flu from one of those foreigners working down at the Starbucks. Even smart shows like “Dateline” and “20/20” now dedicated entire episodes to the probing question: “Why would these seemingly normal Midwesterners commit such murderous acts of rage?” Hmm. Maybe because they live in the Midwest. That would be my guess.

Soon, my thumb was getting sore as I frantically clicked around the grid trying to find something fun, light and (dare I say it?) “entertaining.” PBS invited me to stay tuned for an intimate (and depressing) “Portrait of Alzheimer’s” followed by a cheery program about our solar system called “The Dimming Sun.” According to TV Guide, if I tuned in tomorrow, I could catch a show about the history of criminal punishment featuring segments on “execution by wild animals” and “the most perverse instruments of torture ever devised.” Not to be outdone in the torture department, the Oxygen Network offered me “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency.” After a few minutes of watching Janice in action, I clicked over to a program on how to survive a shark attack, but oddly could not tell the difference.

Over on the History Channel, I found “Shockwave” which could best be described as sort of tragic version of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” Here I got to watch footage of a plane crashing into a lake, a 12 year-old boy hanging from a ski lift and a gasoline tanker exploding in a crowded urban area. Deciding to give Oxygen another shot, I caught an episode of a fun little show called “Snapped” where I learned why women (when killing each other) are much more likely to shoot each other in the face.

Hopefully, I’m not turning into one of those people who can only watch reruns of “The Golden Girls," but it does feel like all the networks could benefit by lightening things up a bit. I’m not saying that everything is wretched. In fact, there are a few shows I can definitely recommend. If you want to see what spending too much time with Tony Danza and Marilu Henner will lead to, I’d suggest VH-1’s “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.” If bi-racial train wrecks are your thing there’s “Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane” and for those who dig “blond-on-blond-on-corpse” action, you should absolutely check out E’s “The Girls Next Door” ‘cause there’s nothing better than fake boobs and an 82 year-old man in silk pajamas. Hot, hot, hot.

Copyright 2008 Quitcher-Bitchyn Entertainment, Inc.
www.daviddeanbottrell.com

David Dean Bottrell is an actor (“Boston Legal”) and screenwriter (“Kingdom Come”) who writes a weekly blog about being strangely middle-class in Hollywood at
www.partsandlabor.tv

1 comment:

Man. Hat. In. said...

Congrats on the writing gigs. Fantastic! I really related to this piece. I did not have a TV for ages and never missed it and then I thought"Wait. Aren't I supposed to be looking for a job in TV?" So now I am $80 + a month to watch the "Daily Show" which I can see next day on HULU. I thought I couldn't live without "Dynasty" when I went away to college. Or "Six Finger Under" when I had to make cable cost cutbacks. I survived both.