Sunday, July 02, 2006

TV: TESR Investigates: NYC

We were in the land of milk & honey, poolside, well we might have been later. Right now we were in the middle of a party, in the middle of conversations, on opposite sides of the room when both our cells went off.

It was Jim talking in two phones at once because God forbid he make one call when he can make two calls.

"Ava! C.I.! If your brains haven't gone to mush and browned like guacamole left out too long, we need you here in NYC!"

NYC? It's summer. It's hot there. There's no breeze. Next month, everyone who can will be fleeing and you want us to fly out there?

"Well, you don't have to stay the whole week, just long enough to get some set-up shots then you can return to California where crap is so freely churned out."

From across the room, we caught one another's eyes and shook our heads. Bad dialogue should be left to the hacks that work for Jerry Bruckheimer. As if reading our minds, Jim said: "Jerry Bruckheimer."

Like Drew and Lucy in the first Charlie's Angels, we began walking towards one another while we held our cells to our ears.

"Jerry Bruckheimer," we whispered softly.

Not with hushed reverance but because we both know those two words can kill a party faster than anything else.

"Yeah, you two missed a show. There's another one. CSI: NY. It's supposed to be a real turkey that stars a turkey."

We stood immobile because in that show they don't even have the energy for head turns. We tried to stand still dramatically but we feared, like the actors on the show, we just looked like we'd forgotten our lines. Long pause.

Cue opening theme music.

If we still have time, we might still get by
Every time I think about it, I wanna cry
With bombs and the devil, and the kids keep comin'
No way to breathe easy, no time to be young

But I tell myself that I was doin' all right
There's nothin' left to do at night
But to go crazy on you
Crazy on you
Let me go crazy, crazy on you, oh

Quick shots of streets in NYC. No real point to it but it plays "real."

We stand talking to people in front of a construction site because, dig it, it's real! It's gritty. It's "life." Deal with it.

We bring up CSI: NY in various long shots and the people become excited.


"Questo e orribile!"

"Nooit opnieuw!"

"No puede suceder!"

In one language after another, the message is the same: "For the love of God, they must not come back." After explaining we weren't a scouting crew for locations, most were able to calm down.

We thought about pulling the typical CSI move that the NY franchise especially favors -- screwing with someone just because they were a minority and we had a badge. It plays well to the White CBS audience but we passed because we have to live with ourselves. We also didn't arrest anyone but agreed that, if we were going to do, we'd read them their rights first. That step doesn't play on CBS where the target demographic appears to be Scalia and Thomas.

So we headed to the office. Was it time yet for one of those scenes that go nowhere but make us look real? No? Oh, okay. Let's do corny humor.

"Hot enough to fry an egg!" said Ty nodding to us as we stepped in. "Speaking of poultry, did you find out anything on the turkey?"

We shook our heads "no" and headed for a window unit. Dona stopped us en route and pointed to a room.

"Corpse is in there."

We nodded and looked at one another. Taking a deep breath, we opened the door.

There it was all right. Filmography of a Hacktor. Everything but his Scarborough Country appearances. Guess doing happy talk to counter Abu Ghraib was such an embarrassment that even he doesn't want to own that?

"Is there anything worse than being in both Snake Eyes and Reindeer Games?" asked Ava out of the right side of her mouth.

"How about being the second banana in both?" asked C.I. going for the left.

"Mission to Mars, Imposter, I mean . . ." Ava began before stopping. "Screw this. I don't care that he does it. I can't spend an entire review talking out of one side of mouth."


"I don't even remember him in Reindeer Games. Did anyone see that movie for any reason other then Ben's butt?"

"Sure you do," explained C.I. leafing through the filmography and missing the latter portion of what Ava said because that's how the show's scenes play. "Remember the long hair trying to be Steve Buscemi and failing miserably?"

"Oh yeah," Ava replied nodding as C.I. went into convulsions.

Alarmed Ava asked, "Are you okay?"

"Sorry, Quick and the Dead," C.I. explained pointing to the filmography.

Understanding, Ava rushed to open a window.

We were in Jim's office now.

Jim, "There's bad TV. Bad TV people will even defend. But then there's CSI: NY. It's such a turkey that no one defends it."

We exchanged a look that said, "Thank God, we write these thing without any help now." We wondered if Jim was speaking particularly dull because he was tired or because he was trying to get into the spirit of CSI: NY?

Ava sighed, "Well what do you expect from a show that stars a man who looks like he spends hours plucking his eyebrows?"

"We're talking about," C.I. said leaning in very slowly, because on the NYC based spin-off no one moves to quickly or too much, "a hack who fancies himself as the American Daniel Day Lewis even though he's consistently inspired more yawning than panting."

"How did he get a show? How did he get a career?" Jim asked.

"I think 'career' is a bit generous," C.I. objected trying to do the Jack Webb pose Gary Sinise favors.

"'Pubes stick together," Ava offered. "It's like that laughable church theater group he started. I mean, what was that but freaks on parade? Him, Terry Kinney and John --"

"Don't say that name!" C.I. interrupted choking. "There's a reason his career's in the toilet."

"Uh, sorry to interrupt," Jess said stepping into Jim's office, "but the hactor's filmography's starting to stink up the building. What do we do?"

We took it as our cue to leave. We didn't agree to film the disposal scene.

"Hey," Jim offered, "Maybe you could work in a joke about how his pal Bully Boy spared his life on Thanksgiving? Get it? 'Cause he's a turkey. Funny, right?"

We were out the door and down the hall. We tried slinging our rears but there were no tight blue jeans on this show, just really, really bad clothing to match the really, really bad acting and the really, really bad dialogue.

"How about," Jim hollered, "if you write something about those bags under his eyes looking like a turkey waddle?"

We headed for a bar where we tossed back many drinks.

How did someone so untalented continue to get so many (minor) breaks? We tried to ask the most obvious questions in the world in the most uninteresting manner -- we were striving so hard to be just like CSI: NY.

See this show doesn't do twists and turns. It fancies itself as the most "straightforward" of the CSI shows. So people sit around a lot unless it's dialogue-less scenes with annoying music -- in which case people stare or do a lot of entering and exiting rooms. It was too hot for the latter and, besides, Aretha was on the jukebox.

"I love how he fronts the so-called grassroots group that the Defense Department funds," Ava said ordering another drink. "You think maybe the Defense Department pays people to watch his show?"

"That would mean it had viewers," C.I. said gulping to catch up and then ordering another drink.

"Nothing happens on the show. Repeatedly. It doesn't even use the sex and death combo that the others milk like crazy! I guess that's because the hacktor didn't 'cross over,' he was always a Pube."

"The show's as boring as his hairstyle," agreed C.I.

"Yeah and what's up with that? Does he think the Jack Webb 'do makes him look less like an aging Norma Desmond? And what's up with all the hair anyway? Have you ever seen so much bad hair on TV outside of a televised RNC convention?"

"All I know is, I'm so glad that we agreed not to give up hair care products in our effort to emulate that show," C.I. said not making eye contact because people on these shows, the leads, tend to look at each other only after delivering lines, not while saying them.

"Is it any wonder that only Marg Helgenberger has emerged as a star in the franchise? She's the only one with any sense of style. If you're gonna go slumming, do it with some style."

"What you two talking about?" asked the bartender.

"CSI: NY," we replied together.

"Not in my bar! I run a nice establishment, you want to talk that crap, you take it somewhere else."

"We don't like the show," Ava explained while C.I. stared at the guy like he was a suspect.

They do that a lot on the show. Have one actor speak to a witness or suspect and just let the other stare.

"Oh, well that's different," the bartender said warming up. "That guy in it, he looks like a child molestor. He's just creepy."

"A friend of ours thinks he's a turkey," Ava offered.

"A turkey? Gobble, gobble. Loking out the side of his head? Yeah, I can see it."

The bartender was bored with the World Cup and asked if we minded if he changed the channel.

We shook our heads no, downed our drinks and threw some bills on the counter top.

We were almost out the door when we heard "Th-th-th-that's all folks!"

We looked at one another.

We looked at the TV.

Porky Pig!

Our looks said "Of course!" and the dialogue may have said it as well. It's rare that they don't underscore and explain every moment on CSI: NY.

After the commercial break, we were standing near a smiling family. Like the show in question, we wanted a 'happy family' bit to go out on.

The father grabbed the carving knife, a plate and sliced into Gary Sinise.

Our mistake was in listening to Jim who dubbed Sinise a "turkey" when he was clearly a "ham."

Hams always get work and cured ham certainly explained the face.

As slices of Sinise were served up amongst the happy family, we tried to do that half-smile he does at the end of every episode but since we both possess generous, full lips it didn't quite work.

["Crazy On You" -- the song quoted above, was recorded by Heart and written by Ann and Nancy Wilson.]
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