Category Archives: Television

T-Mobile is Off My Radar

Perhaps you’ve seen the TV ad?  It begins with a family scene, where the father has gotten one of that company’s cell phones, which permits the selection of certain people as “favorites.”  Everyone is making suggestions as to who should be among his “favorites,” and the eight-year-old son, in front of Mommy, suggests that Dad put in the number of the woman he stares at during the son’s ball games!  There is absolutely no reaction from anyone.

The teenage daughter then suggests her boyfriend (who has a mustache), and the Dad says that the “fine print” indicates that no kid with a mustache is permitted, and then he proceeds to call his daughter “dude.”

Using behaviors destructive to families is not my idea of good sales practices.  T-Mobile is off my radar.  I can’t imagine a group of executives sitting around in a brainstorming session thinking this would make for a great sales incentive.  I can’t imagine TV executives agreeing to play these ads.  I can’t imagine anyone at home watching and thinking “this is cute,” and feeling driven to buy T-Mobile’s products or services.  I can’t imagine ever buying one of their products.

Good Guys vs. Bad Guys in “The Closer”

I have been a big fan of the television show The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick.  It has a great ensemble cast, and it’s fun to watch the (generally implausible) twists and turns as she has those “aha!” moments, based on some innocuous comment made by someone totally unrelated to the situation at hand.

One recent episode, however, ended on an entirely amoral note.  Frankly, the plots are often too complicated to summarize, but here goes: an illegal alien takes sanctuary in a church to avoid deportation and to avoid becoming a murder victim at the hands of international drug-dealing “bad guys.” The bad guys are “setting up” the illegal so that he will end up in prison, where they can kill him for his lack of loyalty.  Apparently, if you’re the target of a “hit,” being in prison makes you quite accessible, because you’re surrounded by bad guys who’ll contract out the job in exchange for cigarettes, comic books, or whatever.

A policeman from the drug-providing country comes to “help,” but turns out to be one of the bad guys.  Kyra, the “closer” of the title, upon discovering his true mission, threatens to put him in jail under the name of the illegal in order to 1) scare him into talking, and 2) possibly give the illegal good guy a new identity.

I thought that the threat was a clever ploy.  However, the “bad guy” foreign policeman didn’t collapse under the threat.  Kyra followed through with her threat, and he was subsequently misidentified as the illegal alien “good guy” and murdered while in custody.  Now the illegal alien had his own special type of witness protection program.

The program actually ended that way – with no one questioning the immorality or illegality of Kyra setting up the foreign cop for murder by his fellow bad guys.  It just ended up with everyone being content with the outcome.

While it is particularly satisfying to me when bad guys get their just deserts, it is not satisfying to watch role-models misuse the system to exact their own vengeance.  I was tremendously disappointed with the writers and producers, and with Kyra for agreeing to leave the story line intact.

First Comes Sex…

When I was a kid, all the sitcoms showed married couples sleeping in separate beds.  Evidently, it was unseemly to show married couples sharing the same mattress, lest the idea of “sex” pop into anybody’s mind!

These days, it appears that TV finds marriage unseemly – but not the sex.

A recent study by the Parents Television Council shows that marriage gets little respect on network television.  Instead, extra-marital, kinky sex, partner-swapping, and pedophilia are more likely to get center screen.

The report said that visual references to practices such as voyeurism and sado-masochistic sex outnumbered married sex references by a ratio approaching 3 to 1.  The report contends “Behavior that once was seen as fringe, immoral, or socially destructive has been given the imprimatur of acceptability by the television industry and children are absorbing or even imitating it.”

When parents want to identify and block such programs via the V-Chip, they’re lulled into complacency by the inaccurate and inconsistent designations, such as “S,” signaling sexual content.

The programs the Parents Television Council included in their report were from four weeks of scripted shows on the major networks at the start of the 2007-2008 season.  ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, and NBC, the networks in the study, all declined to comment.

It’s disgusting that the so-called “family hour,” the first hour of prime-time TV, which draws the most young viewers, contains the highest ratio of references to non-married sex vs. married sex.

The Moment of Truth

In a never-ending supply of lows, TV’s newest contribution to the destruction of dignity, modesty, and compassion is on the Fox Network, entitled “The Moment of Truth.”  The basic concept is to have people admit to immoral, illegal, embarrassing, stupid, crass or just plain dumb behavior while attached to a “polygraph,” which purports to determine whether the answer given by the contestant is “truthful.”  Truthful answers are rewarded by cash, up to a half-million dollars.  It’s sickening to see what some folks will destroy in their own souls and relationships for money – even a lot of money.

The New York Times (January 25, 2008) described a scenario on the series’ premiere show: 

‘Ty, a personal trainer, said ‘yes’ when asked if he has delayed having children because he is not sure that Catia, his wife of 2 1/2 years, would be his ‘lifelong partner.’  After he replied, a disembodied female voice delivered the verdict:  ‘The answer is….(long dramatic beat) TRUE!’  The camera panned to Catia, who stopped smiling and murmured ‘I’m dying here.’  Her friend, April, turned to her and asked in a semi-whisper ‘Is it worth $100,000 to learn that?’”Well, financially, it wasn’t worth anything because when Ty was asked whether he had ever touched a female client more than was strictly necessary, his “no” was determined by the polygraph to be a lie, and he lost all his winnings

This is sick stuff.  All truths ought not to be spoken.

There is a new film out with a plot that I believe appropriately condemns society for caving into the basest part of human nature.  There is a “bad” guy who murders people and puts their lingering, torturous death on the Internet live.  The more people who log on….the faster and more horrific the victim’s death.  What happens?  Well, more people log on.  The parallel is inescapable.  Shame on Fox, but more so, shame on us.