From the time I was about 11 until I was out of high school (so this puts us at about 1987-1994) I was a big fan of sitcoms. Not all sitcoms mind you. Being a child of the eighties there was literally not enough time in the day to watch every sitcom that NBC, ABC and CBS produced, though to be fair I can't remember a single CBS sitcom until "Murphy Brown" or so.
But ABC and NBC? It was a new golden age for sitcoms."The Cosby Show." "Night Court." "Cheers." "Diff'rent Strokes." "Facts of Life." "Webster." "Who's The Boss." "Growing Pains." Sweet Christmas, it was a time to watch some situation comedies, I tell you!
(CBS had the previously mentioned "Murphy Brown" in addition to "Evening Shade," which was brilliant, but those were the exceptions to the CBS rule. CBS existed for one purpose for me; to show "The Flash" series and since that only lasted one season the whole channel could have gone up in flames for all I cared.)
The sitcom died for me the day "Seinfeld" and "Friends" came on the scene. Both of these were immensely popular, which to this day baffles me. I know people liked these series and I can't for the life of me figure out why. They were boring. Boring and retarded really. I mean it's like Corky from "Life Goes On" reading the phone book: sure you can laugh at the guy with Down's Syndrome and the weird way in which he talks, but he's reading the goddam phone book, so what's the point?
"Friends" was about six people I didn't give a shit about doing things that, in the end, annoyed the piss out of me. "Seinfeld" was NEVER FUNNY! It wasn't. If you thought it was that's fine, but for me the show was about four douche bags who were constantly trying to humiliate and fuck each other over on a weekly basis. Sure George had that bad ass Justice League poster over his bed, but I'm not going to watch a show because of a poster. And then there's Kramer. Why did this man become a cultural icon? Can someone explain this to me?
On the other hand, don't. I don't want to vomit blood tonight.
So the sitcom I loved as a youth was dead. A wacky family (either those related to each other or those that chose to be) thrown together with messed up situations coming their way was out. In their place we got the friends living near each other and doing a whole hell of a lot of nothing. Sometimes there were married couples, like "Mad About You," but that never made the situation better. Outside of "Wings" the nineties were a dead zone of humor and things in the new millennium weren't any better.
"Everybody Loves Raymond" makes me want to kill. I hate this show. I want this show to burn in hell for eternity. I know it has ended, but TBS and other channels refuse to let it die. This show created a template for sitcoms that causes me to wake up in a cold sweat and then have to cry myself to sleep because such a thing exists in the same world that I live in.
The format is simple: take a husband and father who means well but always seems to screw up, usually by saying or doing something so stupid that retarded kids mock him on an hourly basis. He has a wife, who delights in proving how much smarter she is than her husband and constantly berates him for the dumb things he does. The supporting cast is up in the air, but will usually involve a parent-in-law that the wife or the husband is forced to deal with and a brother or friend of some sort. Sometimes there are even kids. Put it all in a pot and you have a shit stew that is guaranteed five-year run. There were some variations on the theme. For a time it was the chubby guy with the hot wife, but mostly it was the guy getting into some situation that a friend or his wife or the in-laws or Cousin Ricky the child molester has to get him out of.
I loathe sitcoms now.
So why the hell did I participate in an audience survey for one?
Last week I got a call from some group that wanted me to watch a sitcom and tell them what I thought about it. Having nothing much going on I figured what the hell and had them send me the package. Yesterday, the day I was supposed to watch the show, the package arrived in the mail and contained:
a sealed DVD
a booklet full of products to choose from to look through and choose from before watching the show
a booklet to do the same damn thing after the show
a survey form and instructions
It hit me while looking through the first book that the endeavour had more to do with commercials than the show. Suddenly I smelled a rat. The whole thing felt like a set-up. I read through the rest of the directions and found out what was expected of me. Apparently there are prizes involved, which I don't care about because I participated more out of boredom than to get free shit. Still, it's amazing how much crap was in that book.
The instructions told me not to put the DVD into my computer, not to take notes and to watch the show only once. On the back was a survey to take after the show which contained the usual bullshit questions that all surveys contain. After doing all of that I popped the DVD into my player (which had to be connected to a television, they were very firm on this) and after going through a few menus I finally got to the show.
I want to have the people who were involved in this killed. Killed only after watching their families getting raped and killed Death Wish style. This show was... God, I can't articulate how moronic this show was.
It was called "The Rocky LaPorte Show" and it goes like this: Rocky is an average guy who works for the phone company. He has a wife, a smart ass daughter, a brainy son and a wacky friend. The plot (and I insult all plots by calling it a plot) is that Rocky (played by supposed stand up comedian Rocky LaPorte) is trying to figure out what to get his wife (played by one of the Cusaks) for their anniversary. His daughter pleads with him to get something good because she's tired of her mother coming into her room and crying after Rocky has fucked up in some way. After consulting his friend Sean (played by Matthew Glave, who was Glenn in The Wedding Singer) he buys a large fake diamond for $1,000 and then can't give it to her after she gets him season tickets to his favorite team. So he returns the fake diamond (to the jewelry store which was first staffed by the very amusing Missi Pyle and then by the guy from the WaMu commercials) after learning how to dance and impresses his wife with a romantic evening.
About as funny finding out you have the HIV.
Sure Sean was kind of amusing. Sure Missi Pyle was funny. But that was it. This show was a cookie cutter sitcom that would probably do well on Monday nights on CBS. Nothing about this show was original and Rocky had the stiffest delivery ever. It's like they shot the dress rehearsal and called it a day. It makes me wonder if this is how pilots usually look because if that's the case I'm surprised that anything gets green-lit.
Filling out the program evaluation was problematic mostly because I couldn't find enough space to write, "What the hell were you people thinking? Is this the best you have to offer? I know it said that this show is old and that it may be broken down in its component parts to be used in other sitcoms but, sweet baby Jesus on fire, this show sucked. And why were there commercials? What the fuck were commercials doing on a DVD like this? Oh wait, you wanted to see if I would remember the commercials later. That's why you gave me those books that look like the ordering guide to a convenience store. It all makes sense now. It wasn't about the show at all, was it? You bastards. How can you sleep at night by fooling those who are simpler than I am? Well, I see through your game now. So you need to just fuck off and die and you need to fuck off and die right now."
There wasn't room for this. Instead I wrote, "The whole show is like every other sitcom CBS produces." Which gets my point across but isn't as dramatic.
So that was my experience as being a member of a test audience and this is what I've learned: the next time someone calls and asks if I watch sitcoms and then offers me a chance to see a new show I am going to tell them to go to hell and die.
Thank you for your time and attention.