Tuesday, February 08, 2005

More Potpourri!

Let me try to make the case against camping as succinctly as possible. Imagine that you go to the zoo one day. You have a great ol' time. You see the primates, the reptiles, you even catch the 3:00 dolphin show. A fine day. Then, when the zoo closes, you don't leave. You stick around. For dinner you can have any snacks or drinks that you brought with you. If you need to go to the bathroom you go behind a bush. Then, at night, you find the most comfortable bench you can (probably next to the 25-cent petting-zoo food machine) and try to get some shut eye.

And as you're lying there, unsuccessfully trying to sleep on the wooden bench, you think "I had a great time today. Primates, reptiles... dolphin show. Good stuff. But, here's a question... why am I sleeping on a bench?"

Who Wants to be a Millionaire
The $100-$1000 questions. Is this not a complete waste of time? "According to the classic rhyme, Mary had a little... what? A. Goose.... B. Dog...." Wouldn't we all just rather watch color bars and listen to the Emergency Broadcast System's high-pitched tone for those two or three minutes?

Why do contestants always, ALWAYS use "ask the audience" as their first lifeline? This is your gimme! This is your sure thing! It's your ace in the hole! Why are you wasting it on the $2000 question? Wouldn't it be better to ask your friend the $2000 question? He ain't gunna know the $64,000 one, that's for sure.

Certain people can quickly identify an Avril Lavigne song from a sample lyric, and certain people know the atomic weight of sodium, but nobody knows both. Why does Millionaire require this impossible dual-knowledge from its contestants? Don't contestants on a trivia show have a right to presume that the knowledge they will be tested on is, at some level, knowledge worth having? Isn't is a cheap shot to ask someone who just correctly identified the poet Shelley to name the main bouncer on Jerry Springer? How could he possibly know?

The Uselessness of French
From 5th to 11th grade I had seven compulsory years of French. Why? What was the point? I never use this knowledge. Every day a little more of it slips away. I realize for much of the world, becoming a polyglot is an absolute necessity. But not here. And even if you want to make the case that learning another language is good exercise for the brain, why French? Wouldn't Spanish have been more directly useful? Wouldn't Chinese have opened up more of the world? Imagine if all of that class time had been used to teach, say, candle making. Imagine the great candles I could be making right and left, with total ease, after 7 years of grueling study.

The Apprentice
They're doing it again. They're taking a hot TV show, one that with proper care and nourishment could be a cash cow for decades, and they're running it into the ground through overexposure and oversaturation. See exhibit A: Survivor, exhibit B: Queer Eye, and hey, exhibit C: Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Nobody seems to want to acknowledge that the only reason Survivor became a megahit was because it originally aired in summer - a time with no other network primetime original programming. It had no competition. It was airing against reruns of sitcoms. It was the only game in town. It spawned the current reality TV revolution. Everyone thinks reality is a brilliant idea. It's an okay idea. Airing original programming in the summer is the brilliant idea.

And Millionaire. It had monster ratings for a while, spawned a lineup of imitators, and then died. People were expected to watch a whole hour of this show every single weekday. How long did they think they could pull that off? Isn't it fair to say that with a little moderation, they could have milked that phenominon for years and years? If they had made it, maybe, a twice-a-week show?

Now look at Apprentice. It's an honest to goodness hit, despite that it's not really that good. If this show had one series per year, it would run forever with stellar ratings. But that's not good enough, is it? Apprentice 2 ended and Apprentice 3 began immediately. No break. Apprentice 4 is feverishly in the works (the student body at my school were invited to audition just a few weeks ago). You realize what's going to happen. People are going to tire of this show and then it's going to die. Then there won't be any more Apprentice. Don't the people who make the show realize this?

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