The creators of the insanely plotted Fox show 24 threw bedraggled viewers a bone recently -- a March 12 episode that relied more on dramatic heft than frenetic pace. It was a welcome turnabout: Keeping track of the kidnappings, murders, and split-screen multiple story lines that make up "the longest day" in counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer's life has been exhausting. Unfortunately, the show's writers followed up that beefy, character-driven episode with yet another slip into the implausible/predictable plot twists that usually stalk B-grade horror movies.
As a fellow viewer told me, "One thing I can't handle is how much this show is predicated on stupidity."
This week the world of boxing sank to new lows: The city of Washington, D.C., granted the squeaky-voiced pugilist Mike Tyson a license to fight, and Fox aired Celebrity Boxing, featuring Tonya Harding v. Paula Jones.
There's a depressing logic in the connection between the two events. After all, if Tyson -- a convicted rapist who has sunk his choppers into two opponents -- gets licensed to box, then why not Harding? To her own thuggish credit, the infamous ice skater's supporters bashed opponent Nancy Kerrigan's knee. Harding's also done time for attempting to brain an ex-boyfriend with a hubcap.
America, you know Bernie Mac. You might remember him from Spike Lee's The Original Kings of Comedy. He was the guy who made you squirm with his talk about America being too scared to give an angry black man a TV show. He riffed on the nieces and nephew he took in after his sister ran afoul of a drug problem, and he yelled about going upside the kids' heads. Remember him?
Every season of CBS's Survivor has to open with a barf shot, and this season was no exception. The spew-scene came before the first commercial break last Thursday night. On a turbulent three hour boat ride to the show's latest extreme landscape, a faceless female character propelled lots of white frothy stuff into a black bucket. Through her mouth, of course.
The barf serves as a reminder that Survivor is coming from the gut (that elemental place from which both power and primitive instincts spring). It typically makes its appearance on the contestants' rough journey to an obligatory exotic locale -- Pulau Tiga, the Australian Outback, Africa, and this season, Nuku Hiva, in the Marquesas Islands near Tahiti.
For those of you tired of the spandexed, Apollonian beauty of Olympic bodies, TV had a special treat Thursday night -- FOX's The Glutton Bowl: The World's Greatest Eating Competition. As the teeny ladies of ice skating were warming up, thirty-four athletes of a different sort were smacking their bellies and glowering at each other, preparing to demolish bowls of mayo, sticks of butter, and other delicacies in the network's latest headline grab.