Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tickle Me Dead

Well, we all knew it was coming.

Elmo's gone postal. With the introduction of the little red bastard a few years ago, it's a wonder that Sesame Street is still on the air. This is because Elmo is the Cute Kid of the Rating's Apocalypse.

All the Sesame Street gang were getting a little long in the fabric tooth and Elmo, I imagine, was supposed to give the show new life. Normally, this shtick is the canary in a T.V. show's coalmine.

Sesame Street, however, still endures because it's not a sit-com. But no sit-com has ever weathered the shit-storm known as "Abnormally Adorable Child Introduced to Bolster Failing Ratings." Screenwriters seem to believe that this will reenergize a failing show.

Apparently screenwriters don't have children. If they did, they'd know that children are black holes, sucking energy from every adult within a mile radius. Conservation of energy folks. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Childhood energy comes from adults. Children are energy vampires.

Anybody remember the old show Mad About You, starring Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser as wacky New York couple, Jamie and Paul? After several seasons, the ratings started to drop and the writers knocked Jamie up. The pregnancy stage was mildly amusing, but once the child, named something dreadful like Mabel, popped out, angst replaced humor.

"Tonight, on a Very Special Mad About You, Jamie deals with Mabel's first runny nose." Very special is code for "The writers can't afford a therapist and are working out their i-shoes through the characters."

The show was cancelled soon after.

The new cute kid is the kiss of death on "family" shows as well. Think The Cosby Show. Once again, when the show's glamour was starting to wear thin, the creators decided a cute kid was just the ticket. Rudy had grown up, so here comes Raven Simone's preternaturally cute character.

That child was the iceberg to the show's leaky Titanic. She was also a very young Mary Sue. The instant she walked on screen, all other characters had to put down whatever they were doing, and bask in the radioactive glow of her cuteness. Bill Cosby, previously the acerbic father figure was transformed into a bland, doting grandfather in search of a vat of jello pudding where he could drown the rest of his creative energies.

Malcolm in the Middle recently added another kid to the roster. Worse yet, they delved into another irritating archetype--the thirty-something mom who, after three or more kids, is still too stupid to master birth control. Oops! She's pregnant.

Oops! There goes my lunch.

The new spawn was an example of the miracle of television. I.e., the little brat went from infant to two-year-old in a matter of months. This happens when the writers realize that babies are boring characters--eat, poop, cry, and if you're lucky, sleep.

"Let's make him two. No one will notice," says the screenwriter.

And this my friends, is what happens when you, The Writer, decide your viewers (readers) are stupid. "The viewers? They're morons. Sure the writing sucks so loud you can hear the noise on Pluto. But kids are like diamonds. Women love 'em. And men? Do men even watch this show?"

Now back to Elmo. Elmo has been deprived of his role as television show destroyer. So he's hitting the franchise where it really hurts--in merchandising.

"Who wants to die?" Snerk.



Graphics and Content Copyright © Patricia Kirby 2005