Monday, February 18, 2008

Montel Needs a Job, yet Jerry & Maury Stay On

Not a lot of fuss was made over the recent cancellation of the Montel Williams Show. It was almost as if it were some dirty little secret that he was unceremoniously kicked to the curb after an astonishing 17 years on the air. The few outlets that made mention of it skewed it to make it sound like Williams had a tantrum-like meltdown and flew into a rage while being interviewed on the Fox and Friends news show. I call BS on that.

Williams was indeed interviewed on Fox & Friends, and was asked to comment on Heath Ledger’s death. Instead of being a vacuous Hollywood mouthpiece, Montel used the interview to say he was repulsed by all the coverage of Ledger and to point out that TV networks had continued to extensively cover Ledger's death while ignoring the deaths of 28 US soldiers killed in Iraq since the beginning of the year. Montel expressed sympathy for Ledger's family and remorse for his passing but also encouraged the three interviewers to recognize the absence of coverage for the US soldiers killed in Iraq. The interviewers sought to point out that their audience wanted celebrity news and it was more interesting than soldier deaths. How utterly asanine. Those three asshats had no idea how many deaths there had been and took a wild guess at 20. They then tried to backpedal out of their hole and say that it was "the nature of the TV beast" and that they had to talk about Ledger for the sake of ratings, because everyone already knew there was a war on.

Three minutes into this segment on Fox, one host cut off Montel in order to go to a commercial. Montel did not return after the break, and four days later Montel was cancelled after Fox affiliates dropped the show. I guess that the squeaky wheel got the grease.

Most people only know Montel as a TV host and actor, but before he went into broadcasting, and afterwards as well as a reservist, Montel was in the military himself. Williams enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1974 and while training at Twentynine Palms he was selected for training at the Naval Preparatory School (kind of like junior college for the military); a year later, he was accepted into the Naval Academy. In 1980, he graduated with a degree in engineering and a minor in international security affairs. Upon graduation, Williams was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy. He retired after 22 years of military service as a Lieutenant Commander, having spent much of his time working in Naval Intelligence.

Here’s a link to the video of Montel on Fox & Friends:

I always liked Montel and his show. It was less hokey than most talk shows, unless that looney “psychic” Sylvia Browne was on. (You know, if she was such a great psychic, she’d have seen the show was going to be canceled and warned Williams.) Montel also veered away from a lot of the tabloidy sensationalism of some shows, or just the plain outright ludicrous idiocy of the Jerry Springer Show.

As an aside, I watch Springer maybe twice a month if I’m home from work early enough and there’s crap-else on the telly. It’s that hideous trainwreck that you look at and feel guilty for doing so, yet you just can’t avert your eyes from it. Not that it was ever even remotely close to highbrow entertainment, or even decent talk-tv, but the show has degenerated to become a mocking parody of even itself. I’m not quite sure when the show jumped the shark, but jump it most definitely has, as the last time I looked the plots of the stories concerning the “guests” (and I use that term loosely) were so trite and predictable that each show has now become the same over & over again, like a white-trash Groundhog Day.

You start with a redneck love triangle, often involving siblings, which ends up in an orchestrated fist fight where no punches actually land (yet both end up shirtless and still wearing their cheap ties and remote mic sets), showing off pasty white beer bellies and prison tattoos. All the while, this bizarre “half-man” named Kenny wanders the stage walking on his hands, a ventriloquist dummy laughs inanely while stage manager Todd Schulz exhorts the crowd to chant like a cult, and this drunken character named Reverend Schnorr (think Bobcat Goldthwait on Valium) performs some sort of pseudo marriage ceremony for whatever two halfwits are left standing.

Invariably the show ends with the audience taking verbal potshots at the guests and several audience members lift their shirts to earn “Jerry Beads”. Springer then gives a 30-second mock sermon about the show’s subject, tells us all to take care of each other, and I’m left feeling about 10 IQ points dumber than I was an hour previously.

Equally as mind-numbing is Maury Povich’s show. I’m pretty sure that MoPo has only ten actual show subjects and just rotates through them, as he has done for the past 17 years or so. Oddly enough, Montel, Springer, and Maury all began airing in 1991…

Maury’s Ten Show Themes:

1. Who Be My Baby Daddy?
Maury tests dozens of guys to find the one who knocked up the woman on stage claiming that she’s “one billion percent” sure that so-and-so is the baby's father. The more certain the mother is, the more likely that she’s wrong, and she runs off crying and flopping on the floor backstage while the releived non-father dances onstage and hi-fives he crowd. At least 25% of the shows are on this theme.

2. I Have a Secret to Confess
And of course this secret may ruin our marriage/friendship/family, etc.

3. Out of Control Oversexed Teen Girls
Idiot enabler mothers who won’t just put a boot up their bratty/slutty daughter’s ass come to MoPo for help. The girls get screamed at by drill instructors and spend a night in boot camp, and are miraculously cured by show’s end.

4. Abusive Controlling Husbands/Boyfriends
Crying wives and girlfriends turn to MoPo because their men treat them like they live in Saudi Arabia, and Maury brings out another screaming yet sympathetic drill instructor who takes the men to a funeral home and cures them by show’s end.

5. Are You a Boy or a Girl?
Drag queens, trannies, and mannish women in evening gowns dance around the stage, while idiots in the audience scream out their sexual identity opinions, swearing up and down that “That’s a dude” and “She’s a woman”. And they are almost always wrong.

6. I Was a Dork, Now I’m Hot
Pretty self-explanatory. People who were fat/dorky/shy/etc. in high school bring someone onto the show from their past, usually a former tormentor, to flaunt their new physiques, generally surgically-enhanced, and make that tormentor feel like a complee and utter tool.

7. Secret Crushes Revealed
Oh, Maury, I like someone and am too shy to tell them, so I’ll bring them here on TV and tell them, since I’m not too shy to do that.

8. I Survived Tragedy
A logging truck flipped over on me and I lived. A pit bull chewed my arm off after my husband threw acid in my face. I fell into a wood chipper…

9. Lost Family Members/Friends/Lovers Reunited After 20 Years
Why bother using Google to look up someone from your past when Maury can do it for you?

10. The ubiquitous Flashback/Update Shows
Where memorable guests from the last 3 months of shows come back to update us on all the latest trials and trevails of their stories, leaving everyone warm & fuzzy.

It could be worse I guess. I could be watching John Edward conduct a séance in the round.... I see a man, or a woman…..and a J…John? Jack? Jerry? Joan? Jean? Or a P….Pat, or Paul or Paula……and I keep seeing this image of a rubber duck and a bottle of tequila……

1 comment:

Randy Barnett said...

Can't say I ever watched Montel. I've watched Jerry twice (I think) for entertainment value. That usually lasts about 5 minutes.

Not sure I understood from the comments what Montel's purpose was in bringing out the facts. That there were too many and we neede to get out of Iraq? If so, he needs to be on a different network. All of the networks are biased, Fox is just biased differently.