The Weekly Pulse: Mr. Coogan's Groove Tube Update

THE OPENING CREDITS: Look at this!

** I’m having a hard time understanding how the past legal indiscretions of American Idol are slipping through the cracks”¦

** Since many of the primary ongoing storylines don’t involve him anymore, it feels like Dr. Carter has already left the ER. But it was made official this week. Now when he returns for a handful of episodes next season, NBC can pump the hell out of them.

** OK”¦HBO has renewed Deadwood. Now what about Carnivale!?!?!?

** Three of the seven cast members for the fifth season of The Surreal Life look terrific. The other four? Yawn”¦Try to guess and see who I mean!

** I love my friend Julie who works for the network and I hope things get better, but I still have to ask this: How much longer can MSNBC last with these atrocious ratings???

WELCOME TO IP TV NATION”¦

** Jonathan Baker and I discuss karma in our latest The Amazing Race column. We covered a lot and I did my best”¦

** Murtz scores again securing cutie pie and fellow Syracuse University alumnus, Eliza and J.P. to provide additional coverage of Survivor. Rock on!

** While we’re talking about Survivor, let’s get this done and over with”¦Carlos brings up a good point in teaser when he says “best tribe ever vs. worst tribe ever.” I still think this could have been avoided if the idiots running the show evened out the tribes a while ago. Anyway”¦Patrick gives out his midterm grades. He seems biased though. And Dan writes a lot, but he’s an episode behind.

** Lots of coverage for the latest season of The Apprentice as Chris Russo and Nick Warnock offer their comments on last week’s episode. We’re getting down to the nitty gritty already!

** We’re still rocking the house with the TV recaps and reviews. Not only can you read recaps of your favorite reality shows like American Idol, Survivor, and The Apprentice but John Duran is back with recaps of new episodes of Desperate Housewives and Lost.

** Sarah Quigley writes about Erin and the Home Depot task on The Apprentice. I think we were all surprised she laid such an egg there. But once she did, it wasn’t surprising to see her go.

** Who better to comment on the American Idol landscape than the lucky lady writing weekly recaps of it, Cheri!! Unfortunately, all her column proved is how unpredictable the voting can be. Jessica Sierra making it all the way to fifth place? A ballsy pick she paid for”¦

** Mathan recaps what he saw last week. He missed a great episode of Arrested Development!

** My idea for a new show: Everybody Loves Gloomchen“¦ It’s true, isn’t it?

THE CLOSING CREDITS: Mr. Coogan’s 5 questions — the guilty pleasure edition

At this point, I think we all know what a “guilty pleasure” is. Maybe it’s Hawaiian pizza, trashy romance novels, Neil Diamond albums, Internet porn or playing the newest version of Madden football on the “easy” level in order to beat the computer 88-14 and watch a favorite player double current NFL records. How about the movies Freejack or The Last Boy Scout?

They are those things in life that most people in their right minds wouldn’t want anything to do with or waste their time with. Then there’s you. Maybe you’re proud of it and don’t mind being made fun of by friends and family. Maybe it’s something you want to keep as secretive as possible to avoid ridicule from the people in your life.

Either way, you love and feel good about it and continue to do so no matter what kind of harsh things the rest of “civilized” society has to say.

As an avid television watcher, my tastes have changed over the years. I keep a much more critical eye on new shows and am not afraid to call out my favorite shows when they head into, what I feel, is a bad direction. Hell, readers of my columns will probably see this when I review new shows. I’m writing a lot more negative reviews in recent months than I am positive ones.

But there are those shows that no matter what anyone says, I still love and watch and will continue to love and watch until it’s not possible to watch anymore”¦We all have them.

Then there are others that might be classified as a guilty pleasure, but I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. It’s time to find out which is which”¦

1. A Cold Pizza question: Is this one of my guilty pleasures?Two weeks ago, I explained why I believe Sportscenter is not the ideal sports show and, frankly, why it annoys me. Many men who don’t share a room with a sleeping roommate or significant other who hate sports probably put it on in the morning as their getting ready for school or work.

Nop. Not me.

I’ll flip my channel to watch ESPN2 and watch the nonsense that is Cold Pizza.

Now, I admit that this show is completely ridiculous. Why ESPN thought it would be a good idea to have their own version of Today I’ll never quite comprehend. Jay Crawford and Dana Jacobsen are the talking head hosts. I guess they are ESPN’s version of Matt Lauer and Katie Couric. They anchor segments with journalists and former professional athletes who largely have no screen presence. They try their best but they are trying to pull off a “turning water into wine” level of miracle most times and it’s ridiculous.

Then for the hardcore sports part of it, the network attracted former newspaper men Skip Bayless and Woody Paige to talk about the most notable news of the day. But Paige is trying to be this hip, edgy cool guy but he often stumbles over his words and often has no idea what he is doing. Meanwhile, it appears Bayless is trying to the straight man, but it’s kind of hard to tell. I just know he looks like a robot with a weird smile but a decent head of hair.

So, if the show is foolish, why do I watch it? I guess because it’s not Sportscenter.

In that column two weeks ago, I talked about why I like sports talk radio so much. The show hosts dive into different issues and actually talk about them for more than 45 seconds at a time. And as they converse with each other, listeners can kind of listen on periphery and form their own opinions and maybe learn something they may have not known before.

Cold Pizza gets a lot closer to that format than Sportscenter and that’s why I like it better.

Cold Pizza is often hard to trudge through but at its core, it’s like sports talk radio with different people who follow sports for a living having conversations about what they know best.

Meanwhile, Sportscenterjust regurgitates scores and highlights with only the occasional Jeremy Schaap or Chris Connelly story to give the show a microscopic amount of heart. And in the age of the bottom line crawl, ESPN News and ESPN.com, I don’t need to sit there and watch a show for an hour only to get 45 seconds of attention for the teams or issues that I’m most interested in. Chances are, I can get everything I need elsewhere, so why not have a show talking about sports more instead of just spouting out sports scores.

But what do I know? Sportscenter is still the most successful sports show in the world. But think about it”¦.how necessary is it really?

My answer: Definitely a guilty pleasure since the show is awful. But my reasons are valid for watching it”¦I think”¦

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2. A The Ashlee Simpson Show question: This couldn’t possibly a guilty pleasure, could it? – In short, absolutely. What intrigues me most about this show is the main character herself. Formerly known as “Jessica Simpson’s little sister” she has managed to carve out her own niche of fans and admirers. She’s survived her older siste’s shadow; she’s survived the Saturday Night Live debacle; she’s even survived that God awful song that contains the lyrics “You make me wanna ya ya!”

She’s got her own sound, she’s got her own completely look that’s independent of her sister (even though it probably more resembles what Avril Lavigne was if she was a light beer or a diet soda) and with the exception of a few appearances on each othe’s reality shows and that terrible Pizza Hut commercial, they’ve stayed out of each othe’s way.

So, she has all that, I am so intrigued that she feels the need to convince her audience how grown up she is and THAT is what intrigues me about her so much.

Unlike her sister and husband on their MTV reality show Newlyweds, Ashlee is more than happy to spend loads of time in front of the camera explaining why she did certain things or how much she’s growing up or how she’s maturing or some other completely foolish and bogus claim that belongs in a press release, not in a show (supposedly) about her life.

Not only is it intriguing, but it’s just funny. If ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons were here commenting about the situation, he’d probably rank Ashlee’s dopey comments pretty high on the “Unintentional Comedy Rating” scale. I mean, it’s one thing for FAKE television characters to always babble on about their hopes and dreams and consider how “mature” they are. But it seems like Ashlee considers every moment in her life in the grand scheme of things and how it affected who she was and who she’s going to become.

And then she says things like (paraphrasing) “I really feel like I’ve matured in the last year. But I feel like I’m still a dork too.” Whether I was 17, 20, 25, or 35, if I ever uttered such trite nonsense, I’d likely get smack from someone.

And yet, there’s Ashley spouting off some philosophy about life that she probably learned in the children’s section at Barnes & Noble (assuming she even reads”¦she openly admitted to not using the Internet much within the last few episodes).

It’s hilarious. She’s certainly not trying to be funny; she’s trying to be profound, interesting and, God save us all, a mature role model for the kids that are watching her show every week. For those that believe it, it’s a noble effort by Ashlee. For those who don’t, it’s a big fat, joke”¦the kind that makes you shake your head in amazement while cackling like a hyena.

But it’s the kind of joke that makes me want to watch each week…We all need a good laugh.

My answer: Oh yes”¦Ashlee Simpson is definitely a guilty pleasure”¦

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3. A VH-1 question: Is the network itself just one big guilty pleasure? – VH-1 is elevating into the network that most resembles a candy bar. Sure it’s gooey, sugary, tasty and wonderful. But for the love of God, could you handle 10 or 12 candy bars without getting sick to your stomach?

With all the ridiculous series out now looking at celebrity culture, reminiscing about older, legendary aspects of popular culture, whether it be people, events, places or things or occasionally looking at the culture of music, VH-1 has seen its ratings rise from the ashes they were buried in before. Good for them. They’ve found some sort of formula (I guess you could call it that”¦) and made it work.

But in all honesty, how much pop culture superficiality can one person take? It’s evident the people running the network are smart people who understand the value of popular culture and many people’s interest in it. And it gets translated into I love the ‘90s: Strikes Back?

Here are some serious questions. Who actually sits through entire episodes of these series? Does anyone ever record them for posterity or even just to watch later? If the network ever had the nerve to release any of their series on DVD would you run to buy them the same way you buy The Simpsons or Friends? These notions seem ridiculous. Not only is the “rewatchability” of these shows quite low, the ability to even sit through an episode of one these shows is quite low.

To me, VH-1 has kind of become the CNN Headline News of pop culture. I’ll stop flipping around to check it out for five to seven to ten minutes at a time. But beyond that? I think I’d rather seek out repeats of Judging Amy than actively seek out a VH-1 series that will likely have a bunch of talking heads I won’t recognize anyway.

But for those ten minutes, I guess VH-1 could be considered a guilty pleasure”¦

My answer: Well, for 10 minutes while I’m waiting for another show to come on, VH-1 fits the bill anyway”¦

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4. A PoweR Girls question: I couldn’t possibly think of this as a guilty pleasure, could I? – Just last week, I trashed this show, calling it “disgusting.” I haven’t changed my mind about that, but here are five reasons why I continue to watch:

Lizzie sucks! – Normally that isn’t a good reason to watch a show, but Lizzie’s great because even though she sucks, she thinks she’s brilliant. It’s comedy gold! Mostly, it comes down to her addressing the camera. Unlike the other girls who actually appear to be somewhat honest in front of the camera, Lizzie THINKS she comes off that way but it’s evident that she writes her witty banter ahead of time, probably gets three or four takes to get it right and then picks the best when it comes to editing time. She’s not fooling me but the fact that she thinks she is just cracks me up every time I see her on the screen.

Kelly B. thinks she’s a star! – Yes, she’s pretty, hot, etc. But she’s not the model/actress she wants to be. Instead, she works full-time in an industry that works (behind the scenes) with models and actresses. In one recent episode, she talked about how great it was going to be to be on the red carpet for the MTV VMA’s, completely forgetting no one gives a rat’s ass about her. Jealousy will rear it’s ugly head and this isn’t going to go well as this series unfolds”¦I love it.

Rachel has no spine! – In an early episode, Rachel lost a client she worked on exclusively (Ruby Falls, a New York City club) after the client (probably unfairly) expected the club to be packed every night just because they hired Lizzie’s firm. Lizzie instructs Rachel to stay tough and that there will be “50 more Ruby Falls.” Rachel proceeds to cry for two days and gets herself so worked up she has to make a pit stop at a hospital.

Millie’s a diva! – She’s a junior employee, maybe even just an intern. Yet, she’s always got something nasty to say about her co-workers, most notably ones ranked higher in the company. Even more interestingly, while she stands around and hangs out, she astutely notes that she’s a great employee and “Lizzie knows who to go to when she needs something.” And in next week’s episode, she’s going to get ripped a new asshole for being the diva she is. Who doesn’t love watching a woman getting what’s coming to her?

Everyone takes their job too seriously! – These women plan celebrity parties, work with the entertainment media and basically enjoy a pretty fluffy career in a field developed purely because the entertainment and media industries are so ridiculously gigantic that celebrities can’t maneuver them by themselves. Yet, you’d think they were trading stocks, passing bills, or trying to save a death row inmate from a lethal injection at the last possible minute the way these people are running around like nut cases and getting stressed out. It’s wonderful to see that they all realize their place in society. Really refreshing”¦

My answer: All four are complete and utter disasters and it will be a raucous good time watching all of these “power girls” fall flat on their faces as the show continues. It may be disgusting thanks to Lizzie’s past conviction but it’s damn funny too. You’re damn right it’s a guilty pleasure”¦

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5. A The Bachelor question: Mr. Coogan”¦you couldn’t possibly think this show is a guilty pleasure, could you? – No, definitely not. The line has to be drawn somewhere. But this show is a guilty pleasure for loads of people out there. Either they root for their favorite girl or root against the girl they hate the most. Either they honestly believe the women taking part are in for love or they just want to watch so they can laugh later on when the couple eventually breaks up.

Sure”¦this season, ABC is trying to tease the viewers by sleazing up the show a little bit. Women are stripping to bikinis and allowing Bachelor Charlie O’Connell (the younger, uglier brother of somewhat successful actor Jerry O’Connell) to lick body shots off of them.

But if I really wanted to see women acting naughty, I’d watch Showtime: After Dark or just run a Google search for “naughty girls” and see what kind of video clips comes up. The LAST place I’d go to is to ABC, no matter what time it is during the day.

So, if I need that guilty pleasure, I’m going elsewhere”¦

Am I giving the wrong impression if I end this column now after saying that?

Ugh.

— Coogan

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