Tuesday, April 11, 2006

ETC: Five Things the TV Taught Me

We just flew in from Ontario and, boy, are my arms tired. (Badum-dum. Why, yes. I WILL be here all week.) Very little reading got done during the flight (and by "very little" I mean "none whatsover"); however, thanks to the magic of powerful satellites that are orbiting this great spaceship earth EVEN AS I WRITE THIS, I did have a chance to become familiar with a cross-section of afternoon TV offerings.

So I was watching Dr. Phil, something I've only done once before, and he was settling marital squabbles of the "I-want-a-jeep / Well-I-want-an-SUV" variety. It was pretty funny, actually. Couple after couple would come out, each partner would present his or her case, and then Dr. Phil would state who was right. I mean, how satisfying is that? Nowithstanding the fact that, as I understand it, real marriage counsellors aren't supposed to pick sides, who ever said Dr. Phil was a real counsellor of any ilk? Isn't the dude just an ordinary doctor who's written a bunch of self-help books?

So given that we're able to conveniently set aside all expectations of professional ethics, I will totally admit that I find the idea of this self-professed marriage "counsellor" just wading into a debate and stating "You are right and you are not" to be AWESOME. Because isn't that what we all secretly crave? For some random stranger to come along and tell our significant other that they're just WRONG, goddammit?

But wait a second... forget what I said about professional ethics and non-professional counsellors, because when I flipped a few channels down the dial whom did I find but Ms. Tyra Banks interviewing young women who suffer from anorexia and bulimia. Now, I certainly don't profess to have anything but a layperson's understanding of matters psychological, but isn't there something... hm... let's call it FUCKED UP... about the fact that on one station we have a medical doctor whose banal advice is exceeded only by the banality of its recipients, and on another station we have a former swimsuit model counselling people who suffer from a disease that has one of the highest mortality rates of any form of mental illness? I mean, if Dr. Phil is going to really help anyone, maybe his efforts would best be spent on young women who've suffered years of mental and physical abuse at their own hands. Of course, fifteen-second platitudes don't usually help people with powerful mental disorders, so maybe I can understand why Dr. Phil keeps anorexics and bulimics at arm's length.

I watched as much of Tyra and Phil as I could take, and then soothed myself with a hit of Sesame Street. Nothing to complain about there, other than this: has Ernie always been such a dink? I've never been a huge Ernie fan: I've always thought his obtuseness and seemingly laid-back demeanor were a particularly virulent form of passive-aggressiveness. I mean, what was UP with that time he ate all the licorice and drank all the grape juice under the guise of making the portions the same size? This time, he and Bert were supposed to be taking turns with their respective activities -- playing drums and reading a book -- but OF COURSE Ernie was calling the shots and only letting Bert read like one sentence before belting away with his crappy drum solos. Why does Bert put up with this crap?

Before I forget, I just wanted to mention that
Honey, We're Killing the Kids is one of the absolute worst TV show titles I've ever heard. Did the parents know the show was going to be called that when they agreed to participate? Did the kids? It makes my heart sad.

On the other hand, I've discovered that I have a seemingly limitless ability to watch back-to-back-to-back episodes of A Baby Story and get choked up each time a fresh, gooey new baby is placed on its mom's tummy. I need to learn to check my compulsion to yell "Just get the epidural!" at the TV screen, though. At least when I'm in public.

I also watched about a gazillion trailers for Flightplan, which was playing on the airline equivalent of Pay-Per-View, and I went from not caring one iota about it to having a burning need to find out what happens to Jodie Foster's daughter. This happens to me all the time. Curse you, all-we-have-is-this-suspenseful-kid-related-hook filmmakers! (I'm looking at you, you bastards behind The Forgotten! I'll never get those two hours of my life back!)

So can someone help me out and just tell me how Flightplan ends? Trust me, you're not ruining it for me because I have no plans to ever rent it. Jodie "Now That's What I Call Overcooked Ham!" Foster has had her chance with Nell. And then again with Contact. I don't care how adorable she was in Freaky Friday or how many Ivy League degrees she has, nobody should be allowed to get away with such egregious scenery chewing. Jody, if nothing else, think of your lovely teeth!


Mike said...

Zach and I watched The Forgotten in the theater because I thought, "Hell yeah Julianne Moore!" And I've gotta tell you, I loved the movie for a long time. At one point, I leaned over and with giddy glee said, "This movie is so fantastic -- the only thing they could do to fuck it up is if they introduce space aliens or some shit."

And then, 2 minutes after I said that, cue the space aliens. Goddammit.

Sweetie Darling said...

I won't put the spoiler here, but will suggest you check out The Movie Spoiler. (It's great - I hardly ever get to see movies unless they have cartoon animals in them, but I feel like I can keep up with popular culture this way.)

Anonymous said...

Jody gives in, showing a stereotypical female reaction of, "if everyone says I'm crazy, then I must be crazy!" That lasts about 2 seconds, then she continues to go batshit on everyone about why aren't they trying to find her daughter? Huh? HUH? Cuz, she's been kidnapped, y'all! In fact, she has - that nice air marshal (Skarsgard) is hijacking the plane, so he kidnapped the designer's daughter to force her to work w/him. Cute waitress in cahoots w/him rats him out, Jody has to race against time to keep him from getting off the plane w/out telling her where daughter is. This is all got pretty far-out, but when Jody finds the daughter - by her OWN self - and carries her through the (now off-loaded) throng of passengers and formerly disbelieving captain, everyone starts whispering among themselves, "she actually found her! Look, that's her daughter," while Pilot looks absolutely stunned. She and daughter ride off in ambulance, Marshal is arrested, all is well w/the world.

I actually liked this movie alot, because Jody F. gave interviews about how a man would never let strangers convince him he's crazy/having a nervous breakdown if his child had disappeared - he'd continue to kick ass and take names until he found her. Unfortunately, there wasn't a man talented to do her job of designing the jumbo craft, so we getto watch her waffle over whether she's crazy or not for a bit.

landismom said...

Ah, thanks for the spoiler, anonymous. I feel the same way, DG--the kid-in-jeopardy hook gets me every time.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I've wanted to - vaguely - know how Flightplan ended for a while now.

Now, who wants to tell me how Red Eye finishes?

Carrie said...

TV makes me crazy, especially Dr. Phillish programs. So let's turn again to books. Any manly men want to ake part in the poll on my site?

Doppelganger, know any bookish guys you can send my way?

(Sorry to hijack your comments, but I need your rabid followers' commenting strength to bouy my sad little world)


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Anonymous said...

Not to be a pain or anything, and it's not like I love him or his advice to death, but Dr. McGraw's doctorate is in clinical psychology. I often see him chastised as not being "a real doctor" or as not being qualified in psychology. I think this might stem from a few years ago when Dr. Laura was so controversial, and her doctorate is actually in physiology.

adventures in disaster said...

Though I am sure those that achieve a degree in clinical psychology are well educated they aren't doctors.
Having a doctorate doesn't make you a doctor.
You can get a doctorate in english poetry and everyone at the university can call you doctor.
But you are not a doctor.
Doctors go to medical school, then do a residency and finally do two years more in their speciality and some do a two year fellowship after that.
Once you finish THAT training you can tell people how to make their lives better.
SHUT UP Mr Magraw you aren't a doctor.
Man that guy makes me want to smack him.

Adam807 said...

So the evil plot in Flightplan hinges on SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS HAPPENING as to make it utterly ridiculous, even in movie terms. And all those things involve other people, who aren't in on the plan, doing particular things. If ONE of those points doesn't happen, the whole thing falls apart. The hell??

But my biggest problem with the movie is that when Jodie pretends to go along with everyone who thinks she's crazy, it's a pretty cool moment, and I was really into the idea that maybe her daughter actually isn't there. Then I looked at my watch and saw there was an hour to go, and knew for certain that the little brat was still alive somewhere, and couldn't enjoy another moment.

Anonymous said...

There were only two good things in Flightplan: Peter Saaarsgaaard and Sean Bean.

Veronica said...

I agree...Peter Saarsgard is wonderful. In an I'd-like-to-touch-you kind of way. Like everyone else has said, Flightplan was really quite mediocre.

Anna, you should totally see Red Eye! It's hilarious! I don't know if it's trying to be funny, but Cillian Murphy running around, trying to kill Rachael MacAdams after having been given an impromptu tracheotomy with a pen had us rolling. I'm glad I didn't spend the money to see it in the theater, but it was definitely worth the rental.

Anonymous said...

Re: Honey, We're Killing The Kids -- chances are, the producers didn't even know it would be titled that. Networks control show titles, especially when it comes to cable reality shows. I've known quite a few shows where the working title was something classy and appropriate, only to have the network change it to something trashy and not even on-point. (They're also known for asking entire series to be re-cut to fit said new title, which is extra special.)