Friday, July 23, 2010

Boob tube...

During the Summer, I try and catch up with all the TV I can’t watch during the school year, and I also watch some of the worst television. Speaking of lots of crap, here are a few more shows that occupy way too much of my bandwidth…

Pawn Stars:

This show is odd, there’s just no way to describe it. You don’t really want to watch it, but once you start, you’re addicted. It’s like watching a car crash-some of these people are desperate to score some quick cash…so desperate, I’m surprised they’re not running a blood bank in the back of the store. “Need a quick $100, come on in and drop a pint. We’ve got barely used needles, we promise!”

For those of you without The History Channel, “Pawn Stars” is a “reality” show about the operations of the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. In my opinion, very little of this show is “real”. The History Channel wants us to believe that these guys (3 generations of the same family of high school dropouts) have instant recall of inane details of mostly insignificant and irrelevant items. For some items, they call in “experts” who are other dealers or auctioneers. What the show doesn’t advertise heavily is that they prescreen the items (kind of like “Antiques Roadshow”), thereby “pre-educating” themselves to make it look like they are much smarter than they really are. When they’re speaking to the camera, they’re reading cue cards prepared by the History Channel experts who makes them sound better. This show partly makes my skin crawl due to the skeevie nature of the people who work there, and the desperation and terrible negotiating skills of the people selling their possessions, and their souls.

Man v. Food
Deep inside me somewhere, I want to be half of Adam Richman, the host of this show. I want to be the guy that travels all over the country sampling the best, and worst, of bar food, I just don’t want to eat as much.

For the uninitiated, on “Man v. Food” of the Travel Channel, Adam travels the country, sampling the “best” (“Rocky Mountain Oysters” anyone???) a city has to offer in a half-hour show. Each show follows a formula where he tries a couple of local joints, culminating in him visiting some locale in a city that has a “food challenge”. The challenges are usually relating to eating a massive quantity of food in a set time limit, or eating foods reputedly to be the “hottest” or “spiciest”. The challenges have recently ranged from eating 6 chicken wings covered in a spicy sauce that includes the “ghost chili pepper” (the hottest on Earth), to eating 12 “brisket sliders” which were small brisket sandwiches that were comprised of challah rolls stuffed with brisket, atop a fried potato pancake, covered in cheese, along with a pound of onion rings, all within a half hour. Another episode had him eating a 72-ounce steak (“The Big Texan”) or drinking 6 24-ounce milkshakes. Ugh. I’d hate to have to clean his bathroom.

There is something very embraceable about this show. First, Richman does not have your typical TV-friendly looks. A chubby, jocular Ivy-league educated Jewish guy from NY force-feeding himself a massive amount of food is no George Clooney. But I suppose, this makes him my type of guy (though I am often confused for George Clooney). He could actually be my hero. Second, his constant stream of pop-culture references really resonates and his shock when presented with the quantities is often funny, and occasionally laden with expletives. I love this show!!!

Cake Boss on TLC

From the network that brings you “The Little Children”, “The Little Chocolatiers” and “Little People, Big World” and seems to obsessed with dwarfs, they bring you essentially the Sopranos running a bakery, “Cake Boss”.

The Junior Palette loves this show. So much so, that we took a road trip to Carlos’ Bakery, the actual location, in Hoboken, NJ. I have to say, Hoboken is not nearly as big a craphole as I expected.

I admit, this is a guilty pleasure, but I don’t know why I like it. Maybe it’s the amazing cakes and the construction/decorating process that interests me, or maybe when things go wrong, it seems that the owner is thinking about having someone “whacked”. Either way, the show is a hoot. If you like good bakery drama, this show’s for you.

Undercover Boss

We love this show, but it’s about as staged as they come. The premise-CEOs of some of the largest companies in American “go undercover” to get a better sense of what really goes on in their workforce and locations. At the end of each hour, the true identity of the CEO is revealed to those he or she have come in contact with, and allegedly big changes or decisions are made based upon what the CEO has observed.

Some of the companies featured are Waste Management,, White Castle, Hooters and Roto-Rooter. While interesting, do you really believe that the CEO of Hooters was “shocked” that some people have a negative view of his restaurants? Who would have thought that some people find his waitresses’ outfits offensive? He was “very surprised” to find out that some people thought he was selling the girls’ looks more than their food. Shocking.

However, this show can have some unexpectedly touching moments. Like on the Waste Management episode, when the CEO was being trained to drive a collection truck in upstate NY. The driver/trainer pulls up to a house, and the resident of the home comes out and meets them. The driver introduces the CEO (not knowing he’s the CEO) to the resident, who turns out to be developmentally impaired. The three of them have a nice conversation, but a minute later, the CEO is shown behind the truck crying. It turns out that his daughter is also developmentally impaired, and he is touched by the relationship his driver has with this woman. It reached him in a way that he never expected. When he finds out that this female driver has to use a coffee can as a toilet while driving her route, at the end of the show, he swoops in and makes wholesale changes to the routes to the benefit of his drivers.

While the show is staged to a large degree, I hope it comes back, though these sorts of surprise/reveal shows have a limited shelf life, since employees are now on the lookout. I’m thinking about doing it at my own job, but I recognize my boss...he's a real putz.


Anonymous said...

it is a great medical facility here in boston...
we get the best doctors ....
senior palate

Anonymous said...

and you've lived to tell baout it.

Anonymous said...

I agree about your boss and we also like Undercover Boss and it's extremely staged though I always cry.