Mr. TV: Flipping the Bird

When I started this holiday tradition in 2004, I forewarned you there would never be a shortage of stinkers, and this year has yielded a bumper crop. For this seventh annual edition of TV Turkeys, let’s start with MTV’s Jersey Shore.

I have to admit I watch it. There is just something sickly fascinating about these lazy, partying lowlifes, whose biggest concerns are who to “smoosh” with and picking just the right club to guzzle booze. Although Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino tried to go legit on ABC’s Dancing
With the Stars, he is out of his element when not dropping f-bombs in every other sentence.

I also got sucked into one of those trashy editions of Bravo’s Housewives, as nut-job Danielle spent the majority of season two in New Jersey plotting against her rivals. It was so bad it actually made the Kardashian’s oeuvre look like Emmy-winning material. Without the psycho babble of Danielle (have you seen her music videos?), it will be interesting to see if the series can keep its audience momentum.

I don’t want you to think I am picking on cable, so I’ll turn my attention to ABC for summer game show Downfall. Contestants atop a high-rise in Los Angeles were tied to a safety harness as fabricated prize facsimiles on a conveyor belt were sent crashing onto the street if not enough questions were answered correctly. A slow-motion recap from screeching pro wrestler host Chris Jericho was absolute torture.

Then there was ABC’s Bachelor Pad, a summer hybrid of The Bachelor and Big Brother that offered juvenile challenges like water balloon fights and, no joking, spin the bottle. Obviously, ABC’s summer budget is about $20.

Also on ABC this summer was new scripted drama The Gates, which tried to cash in on the current vampire craze as a potpourri of blood suckers, witches and werewolves roamed around a troubled suburban community in search of some decent dialogue.

Since summer on the networks is always populated with crap, consider Losing It With Jillian on NBC. I’m all for happy endings. Weight-loss stories and long-lost reunions get to me every time.  But the word predictable was an understatement here as diminutive drill sergeant Jillian cried with delight at the end of each episode as the bloated families all miraculously shed a ton of weight in a very short amount of time. Not only did the audience flee in droves, but ratings for Jillian’s day job, The Biggest Loser, have also lost weight.

Also on NBC last summer was a so-called comedy called 100 Questions, a laughless Friends rip-off about a bland young woman navigating though single life in the Big Apple with her equally forgettable buddies. What started as a 13-episode midseason order was downgraded to a six-episode summer run before it even debuted. That alone had my TV Turkey baster  ready for this bird.

One relationship comedy that made it on the fall 2010 lineup was Fox’s Running Wilde, the story of a rich Beverly Hills jerk (Will Arnett) who falls in love with a charitable environmentalist (Keri Russell). Would Russell—universally still seen as Felicity—really fall for such slime? And speaking of bad casting, who was the knucklehead who came up with the idea of Alyssa Milano as a divorced single mother in Pittsburgh who has trouble dating on midseason ABC sitcom Romantically Challenged? I’m pretty sure the former Who’s the Boss? babe could find a date in Pittsburgh in about five seconds flat.

Since I don’t want to leave CBS out of the mix, recent sitcom $#*! My Dad Says lives up to its title as cantankerous William Shatner roams around the set like a modern-day version of Archie Bunker, spitting zinger after zinger. But without his own “Dingbat” to soften the edge, what should be naively endearing comes across as harsh and nasty.