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People actually watch this stuff?!

I returned home from work and assorted errands late this evening, so after fixing myself some dinner, I did a rare thing and sat down in front of the television for something other than a movie or video game. I figured there had to be something remotely interesting on TV.

Little did I realize that it is the middle of summer and there was nothing but absolute rubbish on (I don’t have cable, so my options are limited, though I doubt cable had much more to offer). On 4 of the stations there were reality competition shows. I thought a few years ago everyone said “reality tv” had hit it’s peak? Well, it seems to have morphed into “talent shows”, which almost seems worse to me. Here is a rundown of what I saw while flipping between shows, trying to decide which was worst.

NBC – What is seemingly the last network to latch onto these shows has what seems to me the worst of them all in “America’s Got Talent“. This unabashed “American Idol” ripoff has broadened the talent pool beyond singers to include dancers, comedians, jugglers (yes, jugglers) and even ventriloquists (I kid you not). Add in a couple of washed up celebrities (welcome back to TV David Hasselhoff and Brandy), and the critical British judge for us Americans to love-to-hate, and you apparently have the hit of the summer. Oh, and did I mention Regis Philbin plays the annoying host (anyone remember Ed McMahon hosting ‘Star Search’? Why didn’t they just bring that back?). Let’s hope this show fades out as fast as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”.

FOX – The geniuses over at FOX have reserved singing exclusively for their other hit show, so this summer they turn our focus to the next obvious show-worthy talent, dancing (what, that wasn’t obvious?), with “So You Think You Can Dance?“. I must admit that I have an extremely low interest in the art(?) of dancing, and even less tolerance for the types that appear on this show, so I really did not watch this more than 30 seconds total tonight. I just happened to catch a backstage interview with a couple of the performers who thought they should win based on their “hotness” (their words, not mine) alone. I think you get the point.

UPN/WB/??? – For some reason I thought these two fringe networks had merged, and I can’t remember which one was airing reruns of “America’s Next Top Model” tonight. I guess when you’re a dying network, you don’t bother to make new shows like everyone else for the summer, and you just rerun old ones. I just find it hard to believe they’d rerun a competition show like this. Gee…I wonder who is going to win? Oh, the suspense of it all. This show was not worthy of airing the first time, let alone a second.

CBS – Finally, we have your grandparents’ favorite station, CBS, trying to appear hip for the younger generation with “Rockstar: Supernova“. I was apparently sadly mistaken in thinking that this show was a one-time deal last year when they set off to find the new singer for INXS. They are back in full force this year, trying to find a singer for a specially made-for-TV “supergroup” (lamely dubbed “Supernova”), which features Mr. Carmen Electra (Dave Navarro), the bassist who quit Metallica and is now seemingly trying to find his way back to fame & fortune (Jason Newsted), our favorite drummer turned porn star (Tommy Lee), and Cleveland’s own brief Guns N’ Roses rhythm guitarist (Gilby Clarke).
I would have to admit that this show was the most watchable of any, though by no means good. Tommy Lee looked awful and strung out. I guess he spent his time in the dressing room snorting some coke instead of putting on makeup. Jason Newsted took up way too much camera time, I guess so people could think harder about “where do I know that guy from?”. But I guess that’s better than Gilby Clarke who was the definite “who is that guy?” guy. They all sat around a table acting all chummy and praising the contestants while occasionally laying into them just to show them who is boss. I managed to see parts of 3 performances by the contestants, including covers of timeless rock favorites by Tonic, Evanescene and The Killers. Want to hear some of your least favorite rock songs of the past few years made even worse? Tune in each week!

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