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Crying all the way to the bank

First up, a disclaimer: I've seen about one half of one episode of American Idol, when Ayla Brown -- the daughter of a prominent Massachusetts Republican state senator and a Boston TV journalist -- was on. That was the night she was cut, so I didn't watch any longer. Other than that, everything I know about the show I've learned from blogs and other second-hand coverage -- and even then I'm not really interested.

Last night, I was about to shut off the TV when I heard a "teaser" that Howard Stern's "Vote For The Worst" move to "sabotage" American Idol and keep the worst performer -- some goofball named Sanjaya Malakar (which, apparently, is the Hindu translation of "William Hung") -- on as long as they can, while more "worthy" singers are voted off, might be illegal.

That sounded absurd, so I kept the TV on and listened from another room. Eventually, the "legal experts" came on and expounded their theory: that Stern and his listeners are "interfering" with a commercial enterprise, and are damaging the financial viability of Fox's highest-rated show.

To which I reply: so what?

Stern and his lackeys and minions are doing exactly what Fox is asking them to do: call a phone number and cast a vote for the singer they want to keep on the show. Their motivations are utterly irrelevant.

In fact, Fox is probably profiting from the whole thing. Callers pay for each phone call, and there hasn't been this much buzz about the show before. In fact, it's probably brought out a certain "crossover" effect, as some Stern listeners might actually tune in the show just to see if Sanjaya is as horrible as people say, while Idol fans might go seeking out Stern just to hear what he -- and others -- are saying about the show in general.

As far as Fox being concerned or offended or injured by the whole foofaraw, all I have to say is it couldn't happen to a more deserving network.

I've watched some Fox shows. "Bones," for one. I also loved "Married With Children," once I realized that the show as little more than a live-action cartoon -- and a brilliant one.

But the Fox Television Network is also the network that has done more to befoul the airwaves than any other broadcast network. Remember such classic shows as "Temptation Island," where couples were enticed to cheat? "Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire," which blended those two great institutions, gold-digging and prostitution? Not to mention such highly educational nature documentaries as "When Animals Attack," parts one through whatever. And that's just off the top of my head.

Fox is also known as "The Network Where Good Sci Fi Goes To Die." They had -- and killed off -- such shows as Millenium, Space: Above And Beyond, Brimstone, Tru Calling, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Futurama, and Firefly.

Oh, Firefly. I could devote a whole article to that one. In fact, I think I did, at least once.

Fox had all the ingredients of a smash hit there. They got Joss Whedon, the genius behind Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, gave him a whole bunch of money, and told him to make the show he always wanted to make. He gave them a sci-fi western unlike anything ever seen before, a fantastic ensemble cast, and quite frankly some of the best-written and crafted television seen in a very, very, very long time.

And Fox did every single thing they could think of to kill it. They rejected the pilot and gave Whedon a weekend to write a new one. They bumped it off the schedule at a whim. They showed the episodes completely out of order. And, to add insult to injury, after they announced they were cancelling it, they aired the original two-part pilot -- as the very last episodes aired. The whole experience pretty much ruined TV for Whedon, and the success of the "Serenity" movie was a huge F-U to Fox -- and they had it coming.

Last year, I think, there were complaints that Idol was too "mean" in its opening rounds to the contestants, prolonging and exacerbating what apparently is called "the freak show" phase. Could this be a backlash to that?

I don't know, and quite frankly, I don't care. For most of its existence, Fox has been more than content to plumb the depths of the public sensibilities, to survive as a bottom-feeder on the basest, crassest, most exploitative elements they can get on the air. That people even more tasteless and vile are now turning on Fox is a delicious irony. It's like the old saying about mud wrestling with a pig.

I think I'll nuke up some popcorn and watch -- from a safe distance, of course. "When Cretins Attack Cretins" could be the next big hit for Fox.


Comments (24)

Just FYI - phone calls to v... (Below threshold)
pjaykc:

Just FYI - phone calls to vote on American Idol are toll-free.

I believe the movement was ... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

I believe the movement was started by a website(s) not necessarily tied to Stern.

Jay Tea, I don't disagree w... (Below threshold)
goddessoftheclassroom:

Jay Tea, I don't disagree with your beefs against Fox, but "24" and "Bones" are the two best shows on.

Sorry Jay Tea, but your cre... (Below threshold)
smartguy:

Sorry Jay Tea, but your credibility has just been blown. When I hear someone describe "Married with Children" as actually being "brilliant", I tend to not listen very closely after that.

And that was right after you so carefully distanced yourself from any suspicion that you might glance at American Idol. Interesting.

While Fox has killed a lot ... (Below threshold)
No One of Consequence:

While Fox has killed a lot of otherwise good shows, I can't fault them for the death of Millennium (assuming you mean the X-Files-ish show starring Lance Henrikson). I was impressed when the show killed off Catherine, but it went south quickly after that.

I just keep trying to care.... (Below threshold)
Joe:

I just keep trying to care....and I just can't.

Just a quick note: Hindu=pe... (Below threshold)

Just a quick note: Hindu=people, Hindi=lanuage.

I liked Firefily/Serenity a... (Below threshold)
American Barbarian:

I liked Firefily/Serenity a great deal but Serenity was a flop in theaters I think it only took in 25 million domestically. The really big f-u to fox was that the series DVDs sold a boat load. (I didn't actually see the series until a friend made me watch it on DVD)

FOX certainly has shaken up... (Below threshold)

FOX certainly has shaken up the airwaves with some great programs. MILLENNIUM with the great character actor, Lance Hendriksen, was a great dark and gruesome for the first two of three seasons as a Chris Carter masterpiece. THE X-FILES, BRIMSTONE and TRU CALLING are all were dark greats as well. BONES may be FOX's answer to CSI, and combines some great morbid crime scenes with a great mix of sexual tension, comic relief, and decent drama to be a great TV show.

'TIL DEATH is nearly as good as EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, and I'm pleased that this program has been given a second look by viewers. Only the shortlived HAPPY HOUR, which I actually enjoyed for some reason, which had no discernable plot or premise seemed to be the biggest recent turkey comedy for FOX. HAPPY HOUR used a nothing premise of a fellow who mixed drinks in his apartment, and never locked his door, for a roomate and his female boss and others to walk in through the unlocked front door to simply hang some jokes on. The sexually charged humor was indeed funny, although the show was a complete headscratching mess and doomed from day one. One totally incoherent TV critic called the show, "FRIENDS with an edge". What?

I do miss some of the old FOX shows like the ones that revealed magician's secrets. These masked magician specials were fascinating. But the endless bad drivers or animal attack shows left me cold. Some of these bad driver or crime shows were hosted by a once popular Portland, Oregon police detective who was forced to resign after a scandal which it was claimed that he stole some drugs from the police evidence room for use at a private party. It was hard to respect him after that.

I'm not much of a fan of AMERICAN IDOL. But Sanjaya is such a funny phenomenon that I'm beginning to take more interest just so I can laugh. This is nearly as funny as the shortlived Willian Hung phenomenon.

For a network that once seemed to be challenged for decent ratings at one time, FOX has certainly found it's groove, pushing NBC into a surprising fourth place despite many great shows on this network where now only DEAL OR NO DEAL, HEROES, ER and LAW AND ORDER:SVU now draw decent ratings. STUDIO 60 and 30 ROCK both look like they're living on borrowed time, and NBC will likely have ratings woes next year while FOX remains on top with CBS.

Some NBC shows like LAS VEGAS are losing two important characters, which could doom the series. And some of the cast changes to the LAW & ORDER franchise shows this season were not for the best, although all three will likely return again next year. But unusual actor Eric Bogosian was a great addition to LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT. Bogosian continues the past trend of highly skilled NYC stage actors on LAW AND ORDER programs, although Bogosian hardly mentions this work on his MYSPACE page. That's good Bogosian! Despite an aloof and often nonpersonal style onstage, Bogosian is very devoted and available to his fans which he considers to be "lifelong friends".

Don't hold out hope that THE CLASS from CBS or ACCORDING TO JIM over at ABC will be back next year. Both look like goners at this point. GEORGE LOPEZ and a few other shows look like they're on the chopping block as well. THE KING OF QUEENS could have done well if CBS didn't air the awful THE CLASS in it's spot on Monday. The nine year old comedy still had plenty of life in it, but now is going away. FOX's lineup looks pretty secure for next year with far fewer changes by comparison.

FOX is known for lowering t... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

FOX is known for lowering the bar for entertainment programming while carrying water for the political party of the hour.
Note Moloch's early endorsement of Hillary as W's poll numbers dropped.
Giving Moloch US citizenship so he could realize his dream of a worldwide media conglomeration (handy for politicians) was a BIG mistake.

smartguy, DITTO!

Umm .. Briscoe got kind of ... (Below threshold)
pennywit:

Umm .. Briscoe got kind of weird there at the end.

--|PW|--

HAL 9000: I can tell from t... (Below threshold)
George:

HAL 9000: I can tell from the tone of your voice, Jay, that you're upset. Why don't you take a stress pill and get some rest?

bryanDirtbag-huh?... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

bryanDirtbag-huh?

Space: Above and Beyond was... (Below threshold)
Brass:

Space: Above and Beyond was just getting good when they cancelled that. You are absolutely right about Fox being the death knell for good sci-fi.

And of course the ongoing v... (Below threshold)

And of course the ongoing verbal assaults on anything "Fox" by liberal sock puppets has absolutely no relevance to this, does it?

I have no horse in this race - I detest reality shows and won't watch them. But I think people take shows like "Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars" WAY too seriously.

Stern (not anna's...the oth... (Below threshold)
moseby:

Stern (not anna's...the other one) is delusional if he thinks he is affecting the outcome. He's a "has been" with hardly the listening audience (or influence) he used to have before joining sirius. More likely it is FOX itself and all of those crying teenage girls with cellphones...

Sanjaya Malakar (which, app... (Below threshold)

Sanjaya Malakar (which, apparently, is the Hind[i] translation of "William Hung").

That's simply classic.

Outstanding.

In Fox's defense: it does have both 24 and House -- two of the best shows on TV.

I still hold it against Fox... (Below threshold)
Robert:

I still hold it against Fox when they killed Alien Nation!

Why can't people get the di... (Below threshold)
notion:

Why can't people get the difference between "Hindu" and "Hindi" and "Indian"! The first is a religion like Christian, the second a language like English and the third a nationality like German. So you should have said ...which is Hindi for William Hung.
Seems like you don't learn much in school in this country - sad.

Rupert Murdoch got rich on ... (Below threshold)
blackcat77:

Rupert Murdoch got rich on tabloid journalism so it's not exactly shocking that his television network would be tabloid as well. I've never watched a single episode of "Idol," and my wife gave up on it after the first season. I gave up on "24" when they senselessly killed off Jack's wife in the final minute of season one, thus completely wrecking a brilliant show. Now, from what I hear, it's turning into a parody of itself, as most very successful shows do -- I was a huge fan of "Lost" for the first season but since then, they seem to be struggling to get weirder every week. Bones is pretty good but they're going the soap opera route which is the death of so many good dramas, most prominently "Crossing Jordan."

As you might be able to guess, I'm not too happy with the state of television at the moment. Too many lame, insipid dramas, too many shows which long ago ran out of steam but refuse to die, and of course there are the nitwit game shows like "Deal or No Deal," "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader," etc. Thank goodness for Netflix...

As for "Idol," it gives me great pleasure to see someone throwing monkey wrenches. A real talent wouldn't survive long on there anyway because it seems that to be a success, you need to be a Britney or a Justin Timberlake -- the very worst of pop music.

A discussion this in depth ... (Below threshold)

A discussion this in depth on FOX TV and not one mention of Prison Break? W.T.F.

The show is entertaining to... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

The show is entertaining to me. ww

I never saw Firefly ... (Below threshold)
suhnami:


I never saw Firefly until I saw Serenity in the theaters. Even though I knew nothing about it, I loved it and bought the DVDs. What an absolute shame to have not only cancelled a series, but to not even give it a fair shake. Too bad the movie didn't do well enough to warrant the possible two sequels that Universal signed on for.

Anyhoo, Fox, like all networks, has winners, and losers. Someone bashed Jay for liking Married with Children. Easy kid, not all entertainment needs to be high brow wine n cheese parties. We all have our guilty pleasures.

Fox makes the rules for 'Idol' and allows a total tool ( yes sanjaya or whatever his name is) to even make it to the final group. Don't think they can really bitch if people want to thumb their nose to vote the worst dude to near victory.

At any rate, I've vowed that if I win the lottery I will bring Firefly back somehow. Truly on of the greats that never got to shine.

I have to say I disagree wi... (Below threshold)
Joe:

I have to say I disagree with your whole article. If you do not like a show or a network then just dont watch it. I personally do not like CBS I do not throw them in the ditch and spit on them. I just do not watch it. That is what is so great about TV if enough people do not watch it will go off the air or change on its own. Same goes for American Idol or Fox. If you do not like it then why watch it and why waste your time voting. American Idol does not hurt anyone because you have a choice to watch or not watch. People trying to ruin the show have a choice as well.




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