Column: TV programmers, Powers impersonators ripe for ranting

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 27, 2002

This edition of Random Chunks &045; that hail of rapid-fire rants, each strong enough to fill a few paragraphs, but too weak to sustain an entire column &045; begins with a gripe. It’s not an original gripe, but I’m not always an original guy.

What’s with network TV these days? Speaking of things that aren’t original, when was the last time the people who make TV shows thought up something new?

It’s almost funny how when one show makes it big, Hollywood spends the next three years trying, always vainly, to duplicate the success. When &uot;CSI: Crime Scene Investigation&uot; hit it big for CBS, some other network thought they’d try to ride the coattails with &uot;UC: Undercover.&uot; Hilariously, they thought the abbreviation in the title was what people liked. Talk about missing the point. How about &uot;TC: Traffic Cops&uot; and &uot;PFC: Precinct File Clerks&uot;?

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I also saw a teaser for a new show on ABC called &uot;Houston Medical.&uot; Wow. I’ve got to check that out. A show about doctors? That’s never been done before. Just like that show &uot;L.A. Doctors&uot; that was on a while ago &045; sure, the title tells us, it’s just another doctor show. But this one’s in L.A.!

It actually amazes me that in the opening credits of &uot;ER,&uot; they drop in &uot;Created by Michael Crichton,&uot; as if it took some kind of creativity for someone to come up with that premise: A bunch of people in a hospital.

Then there’s this spinoff craze. Once upon a time, &uot;Law and Order&uot; was an original concept and it was done well. Now, with three spinoffs already &045; all of them spun after the show was past its prime &045; NBC is milking it to death. And this fall we’re getting &uot;CSI: Miami,&uot; as if a change in location is enough to make us forget that it’s the same show.

What will this tradition of reheated TV leftovers will bring next? &uot;Knight Rider: The Next Generation&uot;? &uot;Baywatch: Oregon&uot;?

Some shorter chunks:

–How about that guy in Georgia who hid the hundreds of corpses he was supposed to be cremating all over his property? They were stashed in sheds, stuffed in underground vaults and dumped in the woods. Last week, he said he’ll face hostility before his trial because &uot;we live in the South, and I’m a black man.&uot;

Yeah, that’s it. It’s because you’re black. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that you’re an inhuman ghoul with pieces of grandma all over your back yard.

–I heard recently that the new security chief at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport wants to strike a balance between security and convenience. Well, for my part, I’ll take the security and you can chuck the convenience. If I get on a plane, I’ll gladly do so in the most inconvenient way possible if you can ensure nobody’s going to commandeer it and steer it into a national landmark.

–What’s the deal with trash bags? Have you ever thought hard about the trash bag/trash can relationship? Which one is the principal player and which is the supporting character? I mean, is the trash bag just a liner for the trash can, or is the trash can just a way to hold up the trash bag? I think the latter is true. All we really need is a way to keep the bag from going limp.

–The new guy on &uot;Blue’s Clues&uot; is not nearly as good as the old one.

I should not know this. The things you get involved with when you have a kid.

–The most unfortunate side effect of the new Austin Powers movie: People thinking it’s funny to say &uot;yeah, baby!&uot; in a bad English accent. Bulletin: This is only funny if you are Mike Meyers, and even then, marginally so.

–Do you ever write down your birthdate and accidentally write the year as whatever year it is now? Like 8-10-02? I have. I guess I’m not the only one. A conservation officer wrote down the offender’s birth year as ’02 when they wrote a 23-year-old a ticket for fishing with no license, and it wound up in the court records, then the Tribune, that way. In case you didn’t see the correction last week, a 100-year-old man was not actually sentenced to jail time.

Dylan Belden is the Tribune’s managing editor. His column appears Sundays. E-mail him at