Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 3: Clip Shows, Et Al.

I generally don’t watch most of these shows, although I will catch a few episodes from time to time. From the three genres, I generally like clip shows more, but it depends on the format. After clip shows, I can tolerate prank shows to a degree, depending on [who is doing] the acting. Fake reality shows are low on my list, so I will cover those last.

Clip Shows

Before I delve into this, I would like to be more specific about the types of clips shows I’m talking about. There are four kinds of clips shows you might see on television:

  • Viewer Contributions: These that are basically in the style of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” where people seen in home videos or personal events they taped for the shear hilarity. Since more and more video footage is being shared on the Internet, shows were created to address that, too.
  • Amateur Video: These are in the style of “When Animals Attack,” whereas those who film events that are often jarring and otherwise lack humor in and of themselves.
  • Sitcom or Drama Montages: These can occasionally be seen on serial programs as characters and actors flashback to important or favorite scenes, as well as share some behind-the-scenes and bloopers.
  • “Round Table” Discussions: These in the style of “I Love the 80s” or any show on MTV, VH1, or ESPN whereas celebrities and comedians comment on past events.

Viewer Contributions

From the first kind of clip show, I can tolerate parts of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0” the most. Daniel Tosh is certainly not the first to do what he does, even by current standards. There have been other programs (like Vh1’s “Web Junk” and G4’s “Attack of the Show”) that took footage from the web and had the host(s) make snarky comments on the video clips. And like I mentioned above, all of those have been inspired by AFV, particularly when it was originally hosted by Bob Saget. The thing about Tosh is that he has done the best impression of Saget thus far, and is even better than Saget is now. Tosh is able to do this douchebag routine, which he carried over from his standup act, and rattle off fitting comments for the clips he is given. No one is supposed to be comfortable with his humor, and there are hit and miss jokes even still, but it works for the most part and he shines best when talks to people during his Web Redemptions. On the flip side, there is a problem with “Tosh.0,” and it ties to my issue with “Jackass.”

Now, I don’t care for other clip shows in this same arena, beyond the reruns with Bob Saget and Tom Bergeron. The formula remains the same, but the thing is…those commenting on the footage have to bring their own humor and personality into it to make the show worth watching. In the absence of that, the show will fall flat.

One show I don’t like in this arena is MTV’s “Ridiculousness.” It about who is hosting. The host of “Ridiculousness is Rob Dyrdek . He is lacking in charisma and I hate hearing Chanel West Coast cackles at every joke.

Amateur Video

Every now and then, I might see something mazing from amateur videos. Either someone rescues someone from a falling bus or an animal. Maybe a criminal was captured with no danger to anyone else. But that’s rare. Other times, someone has caught a cop breaking protocol. Beyond that, I don’t much care for this genre of clip shows.

I have never seen the draw in programs like “When Animals Attack.” For one thing, it is obvious that there are made on a relatively small budget. They have lame narration and low-quality video footage.

Sitcom and Drama Montages

I generally hate clip shows that serve as throwaway episodes for various sitcoms/comedies, or just there to fill time in an episode of a drama. I don’t mind a montage for a decent talk show. For some reason, it’s much nice to look at old moments from those programs; maybe they hold more sentimental value for me.

“Round Table” Discussions

The best examples of the fourth type of clip show were VH1’s “I Love the 80s” and “Best Week Ever,” until the latter was destroyed. I discussed this in an earlier post in the series. Besides that, I think the format is overdone by other networks and by VH1 itself.


 

Prank Shows

Some prank shows of note are now defunct and they include those found on MTV Networks.

Honestly, I never really liked the MTV prank shows, with the exception of Punk’d — when Ashton Kutcher hosted it. It was fun to see him highlight what “That 70’s Show” viewers loved about Kelso while he and others found creative ways to fool celebrities. The formula went stale when the show became more about who was hosting the program, and if finally hit a low point when Justin Beiber was a host.

“Jackass” did have moments I liked. For example, there was the sequence where Johnny Knoxville was driving around with a baby doll on a van; he acted like a scared parent when he “realized it.”

However, I mostly did not care for the dangerous stunts on “Jackass,” nor did I like the pranks that involved members of the crew’s families. Sure, kids were told not to do some of the stunts they saw on the show — let alone film it — but there are far too many stupid people in general. Of course, this shit has been and continues to be copied, filmed, and posted on the Internet. People crave attention, and making videos like this is a surefire way to get it quickly, albeit dangerously. My complaints about “Jackass” are why “Viva La Bam” never appealed to me, either. I will admit though, that I was a bit amused with the skater park built in Bam Margera’s parents’ house.

The current prank shows I don’t really care for is Syfylis’ “Scare Tactics.” The ruses are built around science fiction, but only a few of them were genuinely funny. The show is known more for the bad acting. Also, Tracy Morgan was the host, the gig didn’t allow him to highlight his strengths as a comedian, imho.

IMO, the best current prank shows on are the rebooted “Candid Camera” (TVLand) and Betty White’s “Off Their Rockers” (Lifetime). There is a little bit of sadism to some of the jokes, but the targets will quickly be informed and the jokes don’t go too far.


 

Fake Reality Shows

There are three programs in mind that had premises I felt were completely asinine if not particularly sadistic, and that was at first glance. One past show was FOX’s “Joe Millionaire” (from 2003, and it had a sequel). There are also Spike’s “The Joe Schmo Show” (starting, 2003, two other seasons ran in 2004 and 2013) and this year’s offering from FOX, “I Wanna Marry ‘Harry.’” After seeing parts of some of these shows, I wonder if the makers were trying to outsmart themselves.

The first program sought to lampoon “The Bachelor” as it involved women who were looking for their 15 minutes of fame really being duped into believing that they were vying for the affections of a rich man. Here’s the kicker: The show made an effort to find out who among the women was more genuine, and if the last woman standing — who in the first season was Zora Andrich — decided to stay with “Joe” (Evan Marriott), the two would split $1 million.

I never liked the idea of “The Joe Schmo Show,” so I have only watched a little from two of its seasons, and I found those snippets to be incredibly boring. I remember seeing clips from the first season, where Matt Kennedy Gould took part in inane challenges inside a rented mansion. In the latest season, a man named Chase Rogan was participating in what he thought was a bounty hunter competition, featuring actor Lorenzo Lamas. Come on, are you telling me he wouldn’t realize that crap was fake?

The point of Joe Schmo was to lampoon different genres of reality competition shows, but the format would be better if all “contestants” were actors playing archetypes normally found on reality shows. A relative newcomer would be one of the actors, but his/her inexperience would be highlighted. Now, if the audience is being pulled in to see the newcomer struggle, it would be much funnier seeing that person struggle with their lines and being challenged by more experienced actors to ramp up the absurdity. Even this needs to be done in small increments.

After having watched “I Wanna Marry ‘Harry,’” I have to admit it was entertaining. The format was very much like “Joe Millionaire,” but I got pulled into the cattiness and craziness — the latter mostly coming from Kelley, who was stated to be 24 at the time.

Also, LOL at this:

Still, I hated the idea of a bunch of young women being fooled and competing for a fake prince. Like its predecessor, the young man was looking for a potential mate who liked him for him while lying to her the entire time. That idea is so repugnant.

Also, many viewers have questioned whether or not the women had a clue from day one that they were not really competing for Prince Harry’s affection. It just seemed preposterous that a dozen Americans who were in the early- to mid-20s could be so clueless and not really know how Prince Harry looked like and realize that Matthew Hicks — who I thought only looked like a cross between William and Harry, but loosely — was not him. And let’s not get into how preposterous it would be to have a dozen Americans compete for a foreign prince’s affections. How could FOX find all these girls?

Another thing I hated about the show was Ryan Seacrest. He was a producer, as if he didn’t have too many jobs already.

Finally, I hated how stingy FOX became. If Matt’s chosen contestant accepted him after learning of his real identity, the two would split $250,000. It was a cool mil over a decade ago and you can adjust for inflation. What gives?

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