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On Beating Dead Horses 

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Okay, has anyone ever actually "beat a dead horse"? You hear that phrase a lot (especially in this column), but have you ever seen or heard of anyone

actually going through with it? I'm really wracking my brain here, trying to think of any conceivable occasion where one might be inclined to physically assault a dead horse. Okay... how about this: Let's say the horse was the mastermind behind a huge Ponzi scheme that robbed me and my family of millions. But before I could have the horse arrested, he overdoses on a big pile of snort he was enjoying with some high-priced call girls and drops dead on the spot. I rush into the room to find him dead, and seeing that my opportunity for revenge has been dashed, perhaps I would be tempted to beat the horse - you know, out of sheer frustration.


However, since there would still be some cute hookers hanging around, I'd probably just chill out with those guys first. And you know what? After a couple of snorts of leftover horse coke, I'd probably realize I have some grudging respect for this dead animal - even though he totally ripped me off. I might even think, "That horse really had some huge balls." And who knows? Maybe I'd peek under the horse's leg to see if I was right.

So even though the horse may really deserve it, I'd never beat him. Because... he's dead. And only a freaking idiot beats a dead horse. And yet? That's what the ABC network continues to do on a regular basis!! (Anyone who wants to nominate that last sentence for the "Segue of the Year Award," feel free.)

You've undoubtedly noticed that this is the final season of Lost, yes? And when it goes, so goes ABC's dominance in the field of television science fiction. Oh, sure - they've fought tooth and nail to hold on to that dominance by loading up their schedules with a pantload of sci-fi selections like V, FlashForward, and such blessedly short-lived shows as The Nine, Day Break, and Life on Mars.

Unfortunately, ABC has yet to realize that Lost was one of those rare "lightning in a bottle" shows that popped up, captured the public's imagination, died a slow painful death, and then disappeared to be replaced by the next flavor of the moment. It happened with Twin Peaks, it happened with Seinfeld, it happened with The Cosby Show, it happened with Friends - and yet? These networks never seem to realize that it was the innovation behind these shows that made them popular - so instead of searching out creative new shows, they settle for Law & Order... and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit... and Law & Order: Criminal Intent... and Law & Order: Trial by Jury... and next season? Law & Order: Department of Dead Horse Abuse.

So my advice to ABC: Just let Lost go. Forget the whole sci-fi copycat craze, and start focusing on innovation. Find the next Sopranos. Scour the screenwriting community for another J.J. Abrams or Joss Whedon. Rip off a crazy Japanese game show - just stop beating the dead horse. It makes you look like an idiot, and I'm pretty sure the horse doesn't like it.

Has anybody contacted PETA about this "beating dead horses" business? steve@portlandmercury.com


thursday 1

8:00 CW THE VAMPIRE DIARIES Nothing makes a double date more awkward that when your boyfriend eats the other couple.

9:00 FOX FRINGE Season premiere! Hilarious fashion faux pas ensue when Walter recalls his experiments during the new wave '80s!

friday 2

8:00 ABC WIFE SWAP Season premiere! Featuring a mother who treats her 14 plastic dolls like daughters. Get the straightjacket ready.

10:00 CBS MIAMI MEDICAL Debut! A team of trauma surgeons is joined by an intriguing new doctor, who will surely turn out to be not so intriguing.

saturday 3

7:00 ABC THE TEN COMMANDMENTS - Movie (1956) Moses pulls out all his best tricks (including splitting the Red Sea) to impress a girl.

sunday 4

9:00 VH1 TOOL ACADEMY Season finale! It's down to the last two tools when the tools compete to see who is the least toolish.

10:00 AMC BREAKING BAD Walt refuses to stop producing meth, leading Skyler to resort to drastic measures (yes, even more drastic than nagging)!

monday 5

8:00 FOX 24 Two back-to-back episodes! (Jeez, if they're in such a rush, why don't they just rename the series 17 and a Half?)

10:00 BRAVO CHRISTIAN SIRIANO: HAVING A MOMENT Debut! The "FIERCE!" winner of Project Runway gets his own show where he designs for celebs like... Tori Spelling? This could be AWESOME.

tuesday 6

9:00 ABC LOST An entire episode devoted to Desmond, who will be forced to choose between the island and Penny. (Choose Penny! Choose Penny!)

10:00 ABC V Anna invites a select group of earthlings to participate in her new "prostate extraction" program. SIGN ME UP!!

wednesday 7

8:00 FOX HUMAN TARGET Chance gets the opportunity to pollute the royal bloodline when he hooks up with a hot princess.

9:00 FOX AMERICAN IDOL Okay, we're at the final nine. Is it interesting enough for me to watch yet? No? Okay, let me know.

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