Dave on Demand

The television week in review

by David Hiltbrand

The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)

6 January 2009


There is no bigger misnomer in pop culture than “reality TV”.

It’s almost an oxymoron. In physics, the observer effect postulates that everything changes as soon as it is subject to observation. That is never more true than when you put human beings in front of a camera: They immediately stop behaving and commence acting.

Not that these shows have any interest in capturing reality anyway. They are a contrived mashup of soap opera and Jerry Springer brawl, staged in a deceptive documentary style. What’s “real” about that?

OK, take a breath, Dave.

What has me in high dudgeon is that MTV, trying to halt a precipitous ratings’ slide, has just announced a slate of 16 new reality shows.

If they’re anything like “Bromance,” which the channel debuted this week, I’m putting a parental lock on MTV and throwing away the key.

“Bromance” gives nine young men the dubious opportunity to join the posse of vapid Hollywood club kid Brody Jenner.

At the start of this dismal and derivative show, the nine candidates are yanked out of their beds in the middle of the night by hulking security guards who throw black hoods over the guys’ heads and frogmarch them in their skivvies into a van.

They are then driven to the “Bro-mansion” to meet Brody. Because nothing gets a friendship off on a better foot than an Abu Ghraib experience.

Their first challenge: Hit the streets and convince two girls to come to the lingerie party Brody is thowing that night. Because isn’t that the quality we’re all looking for in a companion - the willingness to approach strangers with a sleazy proposition?

At the end of each episode, Brody dismisses one of the contestants as they all sit in his penthouse hottub.

The poor wet reject is then forced to leave reality and return to the world the rest us inhabit.

Hello, goodbye. Last summer, Fox excitedly announced they were bringing “Dollhouse,” a new show from Joss (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) Whedon, to the air as a midseason replacement.

Now the network seems to be curbing its enthusiasm.

If you’ve noticed, all the Fox promos of late have been touting “Lie to Me,” a new series with Tim Roth. That show will also get the coveted post-“American Idol” slot on Wednesdays.

Meanwhile” Dollhouse” has been pushed back to February and scheduled for Fridays, aka, the place where TV series go to die.

Whedon’s show hasn’t even debuted and it’s already on its last legs.

A modest proposal. In previous years, the flurry of college football bowl games already would be over. This year it extends through Thursday, and still doesn’t manage to resolve who should be national champion.

That’s why I loved it when President-elect Obama said in a recent “60 Minutes interview that he would like to see a playoff system installed for college football. I think every president should adopt bold sports initiatives.

If I were elected, my first act would be to rein in three out-of-control athletic franchises.

1) The Duke basketball team would be forced to play all its games with the players’ shoelaces knotted together like a chain gang.

2) When the Boston Red Sox take the field, the opponent would start each inning with a runner on third.

3) Henceforth Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones would be pressed into service as the team’s center - without helmet or pads.

It’s time to level the playing field.

A saucy senior. Cloris Leachman had herself a year, didn’t she?

First she turned up on the Comedy Central roast of Bob Saget, where the 82-year-old actress had the filthiest mouth on the dias.

On “Dancing with the Stars,” Leachman managed to be both the oldest contestant the show has ever had and the raunchiest.

She even managed to turn tossing the coin at the Rose Bowl before the game between USC and Penn State this week into a suggestive act.

This dame has rewritten the old Robert Browning couplet. Grow old along with me/The sex is yet to be.


Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at dhiltbrand AT phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com.

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