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May 5, 2020 7:44 am  #1


Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Over the years, broadcast television has presented us with ridiculous reality, dumb dramas and crass comedies. But this may be the ultimate in naval-gazing stupidity, the zenith of how far we’ve come and how low we can go.
 
On Thursday, Fox will debut a new series called “Celebrity Watch Party.” The concept is absolutely breathtaking: it’s a group of b-list celebrities (Rob Lowe! Raven Symone! Meghan Trainor! Joe Buck! Ozzy Osbourne!) watching recorded TV shows and then commenting on them.

That’s it. That’s the show.
 
Yep, we’ve finally hit the nadir – a show that shows people sitting in their living rooms watching TV. It’s actually been done before. Apparently this thing is very popular in Britain, where it’s called "Gogglebox" and has been very successful. There was also briefly a version of it on U.S cable channel Bravo for a few years. But it’s never hit an actual American network before. Until now.
 
I have no idea if this thing will fly – at a time when all production has stopped, this is a remote-style broadcast that can be done in the middle of a pandemic. But will you spend an hour watching someone watching TV? It seems Fox thinks someone will.
 
I admit to not having seen it yet, and I’m probably not likely to ever do so, so maybe it's not fair to judge it. But will you really give up an hour of your time to watch someone else watch TV? The mind fairly reels. If you're curious, it airs Thursday at 8 PM. 

 

May 5, 2020 8:42 am  #2


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

If people can watch The Masked Singer and take it a face value, (no pun intended) they'll watch anything.
 

 

May 5, 2020 8:43 am  #3


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

"reaction" videos have been very popular, on the internet, for some time now. it was just a matter of time before broadcasters would try to capitalize on their popularity.
 

 

May 5, 2020 8:51 am  #4


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

These watch alongs have been happening for a while.  Many podcasts also have something similar.  

 

May 5, 2020 9:08 am  #5


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Here's the ultimate angle I just thought of: a special live edition of "Celebrity Watch Party" where they view their own show while it's on and commenting on how well it's going. It would be like a mirror reflecting a mirror which is reflecting the first mirror, while reflecting --- well, you get the idea. 

And while I appreciate the Internet adopting this concept over the years, as I consider this, I realize this idea actually precedes not only the web but computers themselves. On the latter years of the 1950s sitcom show "Burns & Allen," the writers decided to give George Burns a "magic TV set," which he used to tune in the show while it was on the air, and comment on the action, the plot and even the acting.

In a few memorable instances, he even turned the channel to see what else was on and discovered every other station was showing the exact same western, the most popular genre in that decade. I even recall an episode in which he made a gun with his finger and "shot" one of the cowboys, who fell off his horse. He explained he had to do it, "Those were NBC cowboys and they were chasing CBS Indians!" 

It was absolutely hilarious because it broke the third wall, and no one had ever admitted that characters on a TV show were actually characters on a TV show. 

So I suppose it has been done before in some way - although I can guarantee you, it will never be done better than that show from the early days of the tube. (By the way, if you've never seen it and your interest has been piqued, may I suggest the episode called "Too Many Fathers?" It is, in my mind, the quintessential Burns & Allen episode that is the perfect example of what the show was all about. I've seen it dozens of times and it always makes me laugh out loud. You can see it on YouTube here.)

So here's an idea - I'll watch Burns & Allen on Thursday night. I guarantee you, nothing on Fox will even come close.

     Thread Starter
 

May 5, 2020 9:14 am  #6


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

the original hank wrote:

"reaction" videos have been very popular, on the internet, for some time now. it was just a matter of time before broadcasters would try to capitalize on their popularity.
 

Too right! I just specifically did a search for a couple that have showed up when I was looking for just the song itself.

Here are reaction video search results for;
Led Zeppelin's Good Times Bad Times and Rush's YYZ.Out of shear curiosity I watched a couple of minutes each.

On a similar thought tangent, a few years back, my grandson started watching other kids' posting videos of themselves playing video games. To me, at least, this was the equivalent of watching your brother playing a game and he wouldn't let you play along with him. I asked him why he was watching videos like that and he really didn't have an answer other than his friends were doing it too. In analogy, their dads were likely watching people (professionals) on TV playing football and not playing it with their kids. That sort of thing has been around for a very long time. It kinda makes sense that TV execs made the jump in thought that by now, 'we' would be willing to watch professional actors watch other TV shows.

Oh Covid-19, take me now!




 

 

May 5, 2020 9:18 am  #7


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

RadioActive wrote:

So here's an idea - I'll watch Burns & Allen on Thursday night. I guarantee you, nothing on Fox will even come close.

It would be very embarrassing for Fox if Antenna TV could gain better ratings than them. 

 

May 5, 2020 9:40 am  #8


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Gee. I wonder if it will get simsubbed here.

 

May 5, 2020 10:46 am  #9


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

While I fully admit that I ain't no celebrity (but I sometimes like to think of myself as a legend in my own mind), I can not remember the last time I watched any programming on the mighty FOX Network...

all things being equal, and that being said, if a network was going to mount such an effort, does it surprise anyone that it would be FOX ?



 

 

May 5, 2020 11:05 am  #10


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Radiowiz wrote:

RadioActive wrote:

So here's an idea - I'll watch Burns & Allen on Thursday night. I guarantee you, nothing on Fox will even come close.

It would be very embarrassing for Fox if Antenna TV could gain better ratings than them. 

I know it airs in the morning on Antenna TV, but it's a lot more convenient to watch it on demand on the web - no spots and no waiting! And most of them are there if you search for them. It was actually on the air just before I was born, but I discovered it - believe it or not - while in a hotel room in Florida in the 60s when I was on vacation with my family. We were there for a week and I couldn't start the morning without seeing it on one of the local stations that was rerunning it then.    

Today, Burns & Allen remains one of my all time favourite shows that I find a lot of people have never heard of or seen. Too bad. It's one of the funniest half hours ever made. And while some episodes are better than others, in the eight years the filmed version was on CBS, they never made a bad one. 

     Thread Starter
 

May 5, 2020 1:26 pm  #11


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

RadioActive wrote:

Today, Burns & Allen remains one of my all time favourite shows that I find a lot of people have never heard of or seen. Too bad. It's one of the funniest half hours ever made... 

Agreed, and I would also add "The Jack Benny Show" as well.... 

I recall first seeing reruns of Burns and Allen on Channel 47s "All Night Show" host by Chuck and Ryerson....
 

 

May 5, 2020 1:36 pm  #12


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

The old Family Channel in Canada used to run it commercial free for years. One of the only things I ever watched on that outlet. I, too, loved Jack Benny, a guy who could make you howl with laughter without saying a single word, just staring out at the camera.

If you'll indulge me, just one more thing about Burns & Allen, which as you can probably tell is something of an obsession for me. It's the only show that dealt with a cast member change in the most unbelievable way possible. 

As many here know, the saga of the two Darrins on Bewitched was never addressed. Dick York had to quit due to back ailments and he suddenly became Dick Sargent. They never addressed it on the show and it's become something of a legendary moment in that long running franchise. There were some snide references to the two Beckys on Roseanne, but it was mostly glossed over as well. 

Not on B&A. When the actor who played the role of the next door neighbour left and a new man was brought in at the start of Season 4, it was not only referenced, but became an amazing 90 secs. in TV history. George Burns literally stopped the show in mid-plot to introduce him. What happened next is something no show has ever dared to do again. It's one of the reasons I love the program so much. 

Now remember, this was in the middle of a show already in progress, plot and all. If you're curious how it was handled, you can see it here.

     Thread Starter
 

May 5, 2020 1:51 pm  #13


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Wasn't Mystery Science 3000 based on this premise? 

 

May 5, 2020 2:48 pm  #14


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

I assume you're referring to the Fox show. And yes,it was similar but at least you got to see most of the [terrible] movie. I'm guessing there will be clips from hit shows in the mix of the newcomer, followed by presumably hilarious bon mots from the "celebrities." 

To me, it's just the concept of watching people watch TV on TV that's almost surreal. Perhaps if it's a hit, they'll do an aftershow, called "Talking Celebrity Watch" in which a new group of semi-famous people will discuss on TV how they just watched the other semi-famous people talking about what they just watched on TV as the home audience watches it all on their TVs! Talk about a meta experience... 

     Thread Starter
 

May 5, 2020 3:21 pm  #15


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

"Can TV sink any lower than this?"

Hell, yeah.  People have been asking that question since the 1950s, and they haven't failed yet.
 

 

May 6, 2020 12:10 am  #16


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

grilled.cheese wrote:

Wasn't Mystery Science 3000 based on this premise? 

Thank you!  I was going to make the same comment. 
People here seem to have missed all of pop culture after 1980.

Last edited by Prod Guy (May 6, 2020 12:11 am)

 

May 6, 2020 8:11 am  #17


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

RA: I did a little digging on Youtube and found the premiere and followup episode of Burns & Allen [Oct 12,26 1950] and their Thanksgiving episode [Nov 22, 1951] all with original commercials from Carnation Evaporated Milk "from contented cows" It was amazing how the ads were directly written into the script. In the Thanksgiving episode, the ad starts around the 17 minute mark and runs for almost three minutes. It must have been incredibly difficult editing the episodes for syndication.

 

May 6, 2020 8:34 am  #18


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Actually, those really early ones were done live and only exist on kinescopes. While they survive as historical artifacts, I'm pretty sure they were never syndicated. Those were done live between 1950 and 1952 and it wasn't until after that, that they switched to the films that are shown today. 

It was another clever conceit that they wove commercials into the filmed versions as well (mostly for Carnation), although not surprisingly, they've all been cut out in the syndicated episodes available today. 

As much as I love the B&A show, those early ones don't live up to the standards of the later versions. Like many early live TV shows, they did musical numbers in the middle of the program, more like a variety show than a sitcom. After they took it to film, they dropped all that detritus and it became the classic that still makes me laugh out loud to this day.

Gracie justifiably gets a lot of the acclaim (it's said she suffered migraines every week from trying to memorize and make sense of the bizarre dialogue they gave her, but pro that she was, she always delivered it perfectly.) But it was George who came up with a lot of the concepts and ideas, including that magic TV set and the idea to let viewers in on the fact it was a TV show. 

(In one scene, they're in a hotel in New York and it's snowing like crazy outside. George decides he wants to deliver his weekly comedy routine, so he goes outside, looks up to the sky and says "Hey Sidney! Stop the snow! I want to do my monologue." Less than a second later, the snow stops, George does his thing, then looks back up and says, "OK Sidney! I'm finished!" and the snow starts falling again, as he puffs on his cigar and gives a knowing look to the audience. You just don't see stuff like that on television even now.)

I could go on about this all day (and I already have) but it's sad that this gem is so unfamiliar to so many now. It's as unique and brilliant as anything that's ever been made, even if it is in glorious black and white.   

     Thread Starter
 

May 6, 2020 10:14 am  #19


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Actually, one episode of Burns & Allen was filmed in colour. The season 5 premiere which aired Oct 5, 1954. That episode ended with a twist. Gracie said Say Goodnight George... and he did.

 

May 6, 2020 10:23 am  #20


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

That's right. It was the only episode they ever did in colour and it's too bad they didn't convert over then. But most shows in those years remained in B&W. That colour show is in syndication, but it too, is in black and white, I suppose to keep in lockstep with all the other ones. 

Too bad. I'm not sure how many people know that Gracie Allen had one blue eye and one brown one. Not sure if the camera ever caught that difference. The episode is on YouTube, complete with the original commercials. The salesman in the store scene at the start of the show is played by King Donovan, who a few seasons later would guest on 8 episodes as Blanche's freeloading brother Roger.   

     Thread Starter
 

May 6, 2020 1:41 pm  #21


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

When watching the colour episode, what I noticed most was the natural colours of the clothing worn by the actors and actresses. Mostly grey, beige etc. The only outstanding noticeable colour was Gracie's red lipstick and the red and white can of Carnation milk. Once the 60's arrived and colour programming became more prevalent, the networks wanted to make sure viewers knew they were watching a colour show. Gilligan wore a RED sweater while the skipper was clad in a BLUE golf shirt. On Bewitched, when not off to work at McMahon and Tate, Darrin was often seen wearing brightly coloured cardigans.

 

May 6, 2020 6:24 pm  #22


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

grilled.cheese wrote:

Wasn't Mystery Science 3000 based on this premise?

In a timely segue, MST3K riffed one of its own first-season shows on Sunday (i.e., post-KTMA, but far enough back that it predates current-form Comedy Central). Not a bad effort, and MST3K is a property where low budgets actually work in its favour.




 

 

May 6, 2020 9:49 pm  #23


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Now THIS is really a "Celebrity Watch Party" - Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander discussing their favourite episodes and moments from Seinfeld as part of a charity benefit. Now this, I would watch (or will, when i get more time.) 


 

     Thread Starter
 

May 7, 2020 1:30 pm  #24


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

RadioActive wrote:

Now THIS is really a "Celebrity Watch Party" - Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander discussing their favourite episodes and moments from Seinfeld as part of a charity benefit. Now this, I would watch (or will, when i get more time.) 


 

I just watched this remarkable video and if you're a Seinfeld fan, while it's long, it's a must.

Some of the behind the scenes stories we never knew are simply incredible. The infamous mall parking garage episode where Kramer is carrying that air conditioner was supposed to end with them getting in their car and driving away. But after a long night of shooting when they were near exhaustion, the car wouldn't start - something that wasn't in the script. They left it in that way. 

There's also stuff about "The Contest," perhaps the most famous episode ever. And the true inspiration for "The Nip," the one involving Elaine's embarrassing Christmas card slip, who, it turns out, wasn't a woman at all.  

But perhaps the most astounding revelation is that Jason Alexander was not the first choice for George Costanza. Instead, they tried for Danny de Vito, Chris Rock and - of all people - Paul Shaffer, David Letterman's band leader. Even Larry Miller, the infamous doorman from one of the later episodes and a personal friend of Seinfeld's, was considered - which Alexander was sure meant he wouldn't get it. 

Of course, he did. But can you imagine Seinfeld with those actors in that iconic role? The mind reels.

     Thread Starter
 

May 7, 2020 9:14 pm  #25


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

To finish this thread where it started, I actually tuned into "Celebrity Watch Party" on Thursday. I can honestly say it was the worst 20 minutes of television I've ever seen. (And I've seen The Trouble With Tracy!) I say 20 minutes because that was all I could manage. And I almost never turn off a show halfway through.

At least Mystery Science Theater has people making sarcastic remarks. This literally was B-list celebrities watching TV in their living rooms and saying absolutely nothing even remotely entertaining while doing it. If this is a hit, I will lose all faith in humanity.

Can't wait for the reviews to come out, but I suspect I won't be the only one who feels this way. It was a new high in lows. Thank God somebody invented the remote.

To address my own initial question, Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This, the answer would seem to be a resounding no.

     Thread Starter
 

May 21, 2020 1:15 pm  #26


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Well, I thought the show where B-list celebrities comment on other TV shows was bad, but then I saw this - CBS, the so-called Tiffany-network, will be showing a "How to Give Yourself A Haircut From Home" special on Friday May 29th. And of course, B-list celebrities - including P.K. Subban and Kelly Osbourne, because all of these seem to involve at least one Osbourne in some way -  will guest as they cut their own locks from home in front of an international television audience. 

So we've gone from watching people watching TV shows to watching people giving themselves a trim on a major network..Turns out it's not just the virus that can make you feel sick. 
.
And I'm not alone. Here are just a few comments from readers of TVLine.com

"This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. Pathetic.. what is next, celebs sitting on the toilet?"

"Boy they are getting pretty desperate. This is beyond stupid."

"I watched a show about extreme tag last night and I’ll probably watch the mini golf show tonight. I have no standards anymore. I’ll watch."


What I want to know is - what happens when the director yells "cut?"

CBS to Offer Quarantine Style Advice With Haircut Night in America Special

     Thread Starter
 

May 21, 2020 2:05 pm  #27


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Thank goodness there are TV listings.  Reading the description would have meant I never would have watched it. Thanks for the heads up though to make doubly sure. OTOH,  The "Dishing with Julia " show is rather fun. Some famous chefs watch Julia Child's old TV shows and comment.  I don't think there are a lot of episodes, but then again I don't know how long you could sustain a theme like that.  But the other chefs point out things like the fact she's cooking on an electric stove. Or how she recovers quickly from some pretty major mishaps. No re-takes in those days it seems. And she never, ever yells at people nor takes joy in reducing them to tears like some ars- wipes I could name. Grrrrr.   Man I wish one of the contestants would clock one ars- wipe in particular. Now THAT would be must- see TV!!

 

May 21, 2020 8:54 pm  #28


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

I’d rather watch an infomercial. That’s saying something.

 

May 21, 2020 10:45 pm  #29


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

Radio111 wrote:

I’d rather watch an infomercial. That’s saying something.

I agree, but I'd like to be entertained by something fresh and new that is not yet available here: 
https://ca.shopatshowcase.com/collections/on-tv?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIlcONjsfG6QIVD4TICh2mEw2NEAAYASAAEgKIUvD_BwE

 

May 22, 2020 4:13 am  #30


Re: Can TV Sink Any Lower Than This?

I think the lowest TV ever sank was the show "Fear Factor", where people would lie in coffins with rats and other such stunts. "Masterpiece Theatre" it wasn't.


"The radio craze ... will soon fade." - Thomas Edison, 1922