Tuesday, May 31, 2022

TV: Death To Twitter -- though the zombies in the Water Cooler Set live on

All things come to an end.  Calm down, this isn't our final column.  But we are noting that there are beginnings and there are endings.



Take Tom Cruise.  He's been hyped and pimped like crazy in the lead up to TOP GUN: MAVERICK. We've heard nonsense from the media like "the critics say it's his best film ever."




He became a star in 1983 with RISKY BUSINESS and that's still one of his high water mark films when it comes to quality.  Others?  MISSION IMPOSSIBLE -- the first one only -- and THE FIRM.  In those films, strong directors and strong casts  Three high water marks 


That's sad.  He's acted in 44 films and only three qualify as quality.  


What he's done is make and remake the same film over and over for years.  And while TOP GUN: MAVERICK will have a huge opening weekend, look at the film as his WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?


Joan Crawford and Bette Davis starred in that film.  


Joan started making films in 1925 and became a star in 1928 with OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS.  She was one of the few stars of silent films who continued to be a star as films became talkies.  She was a film star in the 20s, the 30s, the 40s, the 50s and the 60s.  


Tom Cruise is really the heir to Crawford.  He's been a star in the 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s and 20s.  That's five decades.


With JANE, Joan seemed assured of more stardom.  But that wasn't the case.  That was the point where movie goers celebrated her and then kissed her goodbye.


She made a few more films, but that was the end.


Tom turns 60 this July and it would have been smart for him to try to do something besides his formulaic films.  Paul Rudnick long ago (DAYS OF THUNDER) noted how Tom always needed the older man around to help him on his life experience.  In this film, Ed Harris fills in as the boss and mentor and we suppose they think it's a 'twist' that there are younger actors than Tom in the cast, and these actors take off their shirts for a football game.


It's not a twist; however, it may be the reveal.  


The storyline and the conventions of JANE tied Joan to the start of her long ago career (her character Blanche is shown watching TV as an old movie Blanche did plays,it's actually 1934's SADIE MCKEE that Joan starred in).  

Here is Tom, on the verge of 60, playing in a sequel to his second big film and one from 1984.  The sameness registers with the audience -- whether they realize it or not.

He's not helped by appearing opposite Jennifer Conley.  Especially not with Laura Dern and Sam Neill speaking to the media last week about how their 20 year age difference could happen all those years ago when the first JURASSIC PARK was made.  Jennifer's 51.  

Meg Ryan was in the cast of the original TOP GUN and her character's son (played by Miles Teller) is a major character in the sequel but she's not in the film, not even a cameo.  She played the wife of Maverick's best friend Goose.  Would have been a nice touch to bring her back.  They didn't bring back his romantic interest either, Kelly McGillis.  

They're sensitive to the criticism -- especially with regards to Meg because, yes, with Anthony Edwardss' Goose dead, the film really does require a scene with Meg and Tom.  They're also aware that there is zero chemistry between Jennifer and Tom.  But Tom rarely has chemistry with a female onscreen.  There's Rebecca De Mornay and there's . . .  Well, there's Rebecca De Mornay.

Even with JERRY MCGUIRE (aka THE MICHAEL JACKSON STORY), Tom had more chemistry with the child actor than with Renee Zellweger.  Renee went on to two Academy Awards (and a possible EMMY for THIS IS PAM) and Tom went on to a series of vehicles where everyone worked hard to notice that he never managed to connect with a female actress onscreen.  

It's hard not to notice the lack of chemistry in the latest film.  And it's hard not to notice the way the cast keeps trying to pimp Jennifer's character and pretend like there's a romance on fire on the screen.  

The film exposes the threadbare nature of Tom's acting and of his film choices.  It also exposes his face and that 'natural' aging process.  That's what we're all going with, right?

Actresses have been served up to the wolves for far less cosmetic surgery but with Tom we're all supposed to look the other way and pretend that he looks natural and that he looks like a 60-year-old man.  We're already pretending that TOP GUN: MAVERICK is something new from Tom so they're already asking a lot.

You can only pretend for so long.  

NETFLIX has found that out.

Since NETFLIX went into woke mode, it's had nothing but trouble.

People can differ on when that happened, but we tend to see December 2017 as one of the key moments in things going out of control.  That's when Andy Yeatman was at his child's soccer game.  A woman comes up to him and just asks if he works for NETFLIX and then how come they haven't fired Danny Masterson who was accused of rape?


Trying to watch his child's game, he mumbled a few things and that should have been the end of it.

But it was whine time.  The woman, according to HUFFINGTON POST, was one of Masterson's accusers.  And that's the end of the world!!!!!

Who honestly gives a s**t?

Seriously.  Danny Masterson's trial is due to start this coming August.  The court will determine whether or not he raped anyone.  (We have no opinion on the case one way or the other.  We're so impartial, we could serve on the jury.)  

Whether you were raped or you weren't, a child's soccer game isn't the place for a confrontation and a parent trying to get away from you isn't cause for them to be fired.

We don't know if the woman was raped.

We do know that she and the mob she ignited got a person fired.

Danny Masterson had nothing to do with child programming at NETFLIX.  That was what Andy Yeatman was over.

He lost his job because of this nonsense and an online mob.

What NETFLIX has since slowly learned is that the Twitter world is vocal but not that large and not really that important.

They're good about virtue signaling online.

But they aren't subscribers, they aren't viewers, they don't result in large viewership.

That should have already been obvious in 2017.  ABC served up WHEN WE RISE -- a noble mini-series but not a strong one and not a good one.  Twitter was alive with WHEN WE RISE.  Yet it bombed on television -- despite Guy Pearce, Mary Louise Parker, T. R. Knight and many other well known names.   It was what we were supposed to be want to watch -- "well meaning."  But it wasn't worth watching.

If we wanted preaching, we'd all be in a church on Sundays.  

We want entertainment when we watch a mini-series or a series.  

Well meaning has a short-shelf life.  

SOME LIKE IT HOT is a hilarious film to this day.  Many 'message' films from the same time period aren't even remembered.  

It's the sort of point Jon Stewart and Jerry Seinfeld are getting at in HBO's two-part documentary GEORGE CARLIN'S AMERICAN DREAM.  

Another point from that documentary: Comedians are going to tick you off.  The only comedian who ever said exactly what someone wanted them to say was Charlie McCarthy (the dummy used by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen).

Dave Chappelle was going to be the death of NETFLIX.  

Remember that?

Twitter was all over that.

But it didn't happen.  They created a lot of noise but Dave's STICKS & STONES special was a hit then and continues to be streamed.  

Of course, the biggest example of the woke nonsense was the firing of Roseanne Barr and the cancelling of ROSEANNE.  ABC and Sarah Gilbert told Roseanne that unless she turned the characters she created -- her characters from her stand up -- over to them, the entire crew would be out of work and it was too late for them to get new jobs because all the television programs about to go into production had already done their hiring.

They blackmailed her.  

Now maybe you've never created anything in your life and, as a result, you're so deeply stupid that you do not realize that what they did was not normal.  

Neither Roseanne Barr nor ROSEANNE was pariah.  The Twitter brigade insisted she was and that she was over.  But FILMRISE was streaming ROSEANNE and while others announced the death of the show, FILMRISE continued to stream the show.  There was no fall out.  And then COZY got on board, CMT got on board, TV LAND got on board.

Twitter took offense to her joke.  The rest of the country really didn't care.  They knew Roseanne and they knew she wasn't a racist.  They'd stuck by her before when she was supposedly someone who hated America, for example, after her controversial performance of the national anthem.  

We'll come back to Twitter but the point is that sometimes comedians tell bad jokes -- it's the same as sometimes Mariah Carey hits a clinker while she's singing.  It happens. It's not the end of the world.  

You watch a comedian to laugh and for some people that's all it is.  

Some comics you like, some you don't.  And that goes to personal taste.

In the HBO special on Carlin, the point is made -- repeatedly -- that a comic doesn't offend.  You make take offense to the comic, but stop treating your personal response as a universal one.

It's a matter of taste.

The same as whether you love a comic or not.

We don't love George Carlin and we never did.  His rhythm grated on us, as did his speaking voice and his mincing ways, and he was too hung up on word play.  It wasn't witty and it wasn't funny -- to us.

We can admire what he did.  It's not what was portrayed in the documentary.  He was a 'straight' comic in the 60s making fun of the hippies and the drug users.  This was not code -- as an idiot claims on camera -- the parents of the baby boomers were laughing at the 'stupid' hippies and their pot use covered in George's routine.  He grew tired of that audience and reinvented himself as the voice of the boomers after he chafed at club dates with opening acts who'd just finished a run in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.  He realized this was the death of comedy and he was a part of it.

So he refashioned himself as a comic of the boomers and hit college campuses.  And then, after hitting big that way, he sold out -- as he'd done before -- and outlets like SCTV began parodying him -- hilariously so.

Then it was time for another reinvention and now he was railing against the baby boomers for . . . selling out -- the same thing, please note, that he'd spent the second half of the 70s doing.  

Now George is an influential comic and he's beloved by many.

But he doesn't make us laugh.  Richard Pryor?  Yes.  Lily Tomlin?  Absolutely.  Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and all the others from that group -- yes.

The fact that George Carlin doesn't give us the giggles doesn't mean he's a bad comic or that he's not funny.  He's just not our type.

His word play is just too fey for us.  But word play is important to all comics.  And sometimes a joke is nothing but word play.  Some times a joke is nothing but a shock.  It's told to be shocking.  Some are silly and intended to be.  Some are works of juxtaposition.  

Don't assume that the comic's persona is the human behind the comic.  Don't assume that every line told is 100% the personal belief of the comic.  

This is entertainment.  Grasp that.

Does that mean someone can't object?  

Twitter users aren't wrong to object.  They have every right to object.  But to try to destroy someone's career?  No.

When Chappelle was facing fallout, we noted that it was part of the dialogue and it is.  He has his stand up and the audience has the right to their reaction. It's a conversation in the public square.  

It's how we navigate.  

And we applaud the woke for standing up for groups that usually don't get stood up for.  

But the method they pursue of trying to silence and cancel people isn't what democracy is about.  Fair enough, they may not be interested in democracy.  If that is the case, they should make that clear.   If they are interested in democracy, they need to support free speech.  Ann long ago provided the solution to those opposed to remarks Dave Chappelle made in STICKS & STONES.  The answer is always more voices, not fewer.

If it's lost on young Twitter, they have the excuse of youth.

There is no excuse for The Water Cooler Set -- a group of out of touch critics who don't know a damn thing about entertainment.  They are the idiots who applauded the single camera comedy -- and applauded it as 'new' and 'revolutionary.'  Hint, to the idiots, nothing that took place on, for example, THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER (ABC, 1969 to 1972) is ever going to pass for revolutionary.  Each year, the top rated sitcom -- true throughout the '00s, the '10s and, yes, '20s -- is a sitcom recorded before a live audience.  And when they go off the air?  The biggest syndicated hits are sitcoms recorded before a live audience.  

We take the damage these prigs have done seriously because we like to laugh and the sitcom industry they've fostered -- that steals from Christopher Guest's films and never acknowledges the theft -- is just not funny.  We like to laugh.

They weren't, however, content to ruin sitcoms.  They also had to ruin dramas.  

They wanted to pretend to be woke so they spent a lot of time finding 'meaning' where the was none.  That included Viola Davis taking off her make up on HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER -- a scene that's been done to death on TV.  It was, where's that word they toss around all the time, "revolutionary."  No.  No, it wasn't.  If it was revolutionary, it probably wouldn't have made it onto network TV in the first place.

Not content to invent/insert meaning where there was none, they now felt the need to pretend that signifying was better than actual stories that moved audiences.  Why deal with an emotion when a slogan would get cheers from The Water Cooler Set?

They did a lot of damage but their time is over now.  NETFLIX can't afford to curry their favor anymore.  Each year, the streamer has borrowed money and each year Wall Street's been willing to bet "Next year!''  That's no longer the case and a lot of crap that never entertained is getting the axe and a lot of big deals are not going to be ended because they didn't pay off in terms of bringing in viewers.

And it's not just NETFLIX.  PARAMOUNT+ is a new streamer.  And the execs are making it clear that garbage that the former CBS ALL ACCESS streamer put up with will not fly on PARAMOUNT+.  Of course, we are speaking of THE GOOD FIGHT starring plastic surgery victim Christine Baranski as Diane The Human Telegraph Machine.  Why write dialogue when all Diane delivers are sermons?

It was a crappy show from the start with non-stop nonsense and virtue signaling.  And it never pulled in an audience.  But at CBS ALL ACCESS, it kept getting renewed.  PARAMOUNT+ aired the fifth season, looked at the numbers and decided the sixth season being filmed would be the show's last.  It had no real audience.

THE GOOD WIFE had an audience.  It had stories to tell.  It dealt with politics and with partisanship and it dealt with much more.  THE GOOD FIGHT was just a one-note program and it got awfully tired watching White Baransky boss around all the people of color.  

While The Water Cooler Set pretending THE GOOD FIGHT was breakthrough television, the industry knew better which is why the show never saw an actor nominated for an Emmy and never saw a writer or director nominated for an Emmy.  The only two nominations the show ever got were for music because the industry applauded anything that shut those annoying stick figures posing as characters up for even 30 seconds.

Once upon a time, TV critics championed shows that told involving stories.  The Water Cooler Set wasted their time on sloganeering and we see the effects of that -- so many bad TV dramas being propped up that NBC runs for safety with the mediocre Chicago shows on Wednesdays and the LAW AND ORDER shows on Thursdays -- six hours of bad TV.  Thank you, VULTURE, NYT and the rest of you garbage hacks.  

Again, the Twitter crowd -- the best of it -- is about making a better world and we applaud that.  But, no, we don't applaud 'critics' treating one dimensional characters and stories as great if they happen to match their politics and, no, we don't applaud a man being fired because he tried to get away from a woman who accosted him at his child's soccer game, a woman being fired and forced to sell off her creations because otherwise people will be out of work, or attempts to kill a comedy special because you don't like what the comedian said.





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