Okay, don't say you weren't warned.
Yes, after all the stories and all the rumors, the television-viewing masses can see for themselves the FOX
Noise... er, 'News' Channel's attempt at intentional comedy.
No, the "Bill O'Reilly Variety Hour" is a no-go.
Rather, this is that 'Daily Show' imitation that readers of LTR have
been warned heard so much about. And the confident honchos at News Corp. are so proud of their new product that they will debut "The 1/2 Hour News Hour" in that prime slot of Sunday night at 10PM ET (a.k.a. the 'dead zone' for all-news channels).
And hoo-boy, what a lineup they've got for us. The whole thing starts out, naturally, with (drum roll please)... a Hillary Clinton joke! Yee haw!
A bad sign of things to come is when a network gives away the jokes in advance, in the hopes that some may actually consider it funny and want to check it out. So anyway, in their Sen. Clinton bit, the pseudo-talking head intones that, seeking to dispel myths that she'd appoint a bunch of political cronies if elected, Clinton promised to appoint "a diverse, multiethnic, multigenerational group -- of angry lesbians." Damn, my sides are hurting! Make it stop! Please!
So, if you guessed that the following gags will include topics like global warming, Barack Obama, the ACLU, Cindy Sheehan, hybrid cars, and Al Gore, yes, you are correct! You win a cute stuffed animal!
The whole thing is spearheaded by Joel Surnow, the guy behind the hit show "24," a rather mundane spy yarn consisting mostly of people standing around in control rooms while the hero beats the snot out of terrorist thugs. I tried to like the show, but it's a bit of a snore. For spy flicks, give me Jason Bourne or James Bond (especially the new Daniel Craig badass Bond) anyday.
And yes, that strange opening bit that imagines Surnow's Viagara-fueled Dominican wingman Rush Limbaugh as the president, with Ann Coulter as vice-president, will be there. No, Stephen King is not one of the writers. Urging viewers to tune into to the rest of the show, Coulter intones, "If you don't, we'll invade your countries, kill your leaders and convert you to Christianity." Funny, that line is straight from one of her books.
But the question deserves to be asked. Is this thing really 'fair and balanced'. Well, in the FOX 'News' definition of the phrase, it appears to be.
Will they just skewer the left, or will they jab at their own, like TDS does? Although no Republicans or conservatives are on the butt end of jokes in the first episode (keping with the whole 'fair and balanced' theme), writer Ned Rice did promise that the show will goof on the GOP "when it's appropriate, sure."
"But that's not the premise of the show," Surnow quickly added. "The premise of the show is: Let's balance out the 50 other shows that go after Bush and Cheney each week, that hit all the same talking points and all the same 'white Republicans are racist idiots'" material. But aren't they all racist id... oh, never mind.
So, will they talk about the war in Iraq? Seems everyone else is, right? Hey, Jon Stewart even has a name for it - 'Mess-o-potamia'. Surnow predicted his show would mock the media's reporting of the war. Or how Democrats handle it.
"We actually do a piece in the second episode about the ultra-sensitive reporting of terrorism," Surnow said. "It's sort of a piece against the way the media is so careful not to racially profile any suspected terrorists or terrorists themselves. I don't think the show will take a position, like 'We're for the war.' 'We're against the war.'"
Ahh... that whole 'liberal media' thing. But wait! Isn't FOX 'News' 'part' of the so-called 'liberal media'? Well, that logic went out the window long ago.
But what about Bush jokes? Hell, David Letterman gets great mileage out of those "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches" bits. As far as THHNH is concerned, don't hold your breath. After all, there are sacred cows, right?
"Liberals are endlessly entertained by jokes about how George W. Bush is stupid and ignorant," Rice said. "Despite the fact that he has a master's degree from Harvard University. He's been a governor, a president. He's had a massively successful life. But those jokes about him being dumb, they just never fail."
So, who do they make fun of instead? Yep, you guessed it. Keeping with the 'kick 'em while they're down' manifesto, they go after Air America Radio (!!). In other words, if you ever wanted to see the televised equivalent of the endlessly whiny Radio Tranquilizer, here's your chance. Help me, my sides hurt!
Nonetheless, FOX 'News' is so confident in this silly little product that they ordered two episodes and scheduled them in the death slot of Sunday late nights. The show will be surrounded by a few other comedy shows from the likes of Geraldo Rivera, Sean Hannity and Chris Wallace.
And if you'd like to see a sneak preview, the kind folks at FOX 'News' have put up a preview, introduced by the milquetoast Alan Colmes (though it's hard to tell if his mouth movements are being controlled by Hannity's hand in his back). See for yourself. On viewing it, I felt the jokes were so-so, and the hosts were stiff and awful. The pacing and elements are a direct rip from TDS. A bit more barf bag than popcorn bag, but to each their own.
So what are the 'real' critics saying? The Orlando Sentinel, after seeing the whole thing, says of it, "If we're lucky, we'll never hear of this dreadful show again." The Onion's AV Club, blasting the prerelease clip, offered, “If you're the least-talented member of your second-rate college sketch comedy group, don't worry. One day you could host a Daily Show ripoff on the Fox News Channel!" A Lost Remote commenter, meanwhile, has this dry observation: “I hear subtlety kicks in sometime during the second episode.” Reviews drastically differ along ideological lines. Bob Cesco at Huffington Post scalls it a comedy show minus the comedy, claiming that Republicans "can certainly appreciate good comedy. They just can't create it." Of course right-wingers like Human Events's Jed Babbin and Michael Medved liked it.
Needless to say, as stated here before, conservatives have an uphill trek in the way of being funny. P.J. O'Rourke is an exception, a hilariously funny conservative writer that, even though many disagree with his way of thinking, is often outrageously witty, and helped contribute to the glory years of the brilliant National Lampoon. Even conservative comedian Larry Miller has his moments. Unfortunately, most conservative attempts at humor tend to look more like the dreadfully unfunny "Mallard Fillmore."
Or, if you prefer really funny topical humor, don't forget that tonight marks the return of the oft-brilliant "Real Time with Bill Maher." Tonight, he welcomes "Late Late Show" host Craig Ferguson, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R-MD) and via satellite, John Edwards. It's on HBO tonight at 11PM ET. There are no sacred cows as far as Maher is concerned - he attacks everyone (unless they're women he thinks he can lure into bed). If you don't get HBO, you can also download the audio of the show later next week at iTunes. As for the FOX Comedy Half-Hour Hour... ehhh, who gives a shit.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Okay, don't say you weren't warned.