Thursday, May 24, 2007

Television Review: "Riches"

It's Emmy's time. So they send DVDs of all the shows to members of the TV Academy, which includes me. The 'best of the best' (or so each network and cable producer thinks); wanting me to vote for them. So I tell me wife: "What do we watch tonight?" She says; "How about "Riches? That's been getting some heat? We have the pilot." "OK," I say enthusiastically. "I have never seen that. They must think that is their best show." And...we slip it in the machine, turn it on, and...not long thereafter...end of enthusiasm.

"What?" I say out loud. "A gypsy family who steals from just about everybody...on their way to meet a mother whose getting out of jail after two years in the slammer....who's a junkie besides"!? The pilot show follows them as they travel around the country and and steal more money...and when anyone gets hurt (like people die from their shenanigans!) they mourn and cry and look sensitive. I'm sorry...those sensitive looks...and a music score that tells you how to feel and when...I know they are supposed to make me identify with (that means, care for) this trailer park trash family, But all I am reminded of is the ls joke: In Arkansas you go to a family reunion to get a date.

Dad, of course, is a most capable fellow: he plays golf with the best, dances, philosophizes, seems totally capable in all things (although he does climax in 32 seconds leaving Mom unfulfilled...but she remains pleasantly understanding. She accepts the excuse that he's only quick because it has been two years since he last saw her. What world do they live in? Not mine. Id like her to have an advisory session with my wife!)

What is it with TV today? The only family's these days in TV-land who exhibit traditional values of any kind are dysfunctional families? No wonder James Dobson and his 'Focus on the Family' is pissed off. Is goodness only possible among gangsters and undertakers; "Sopranos", "Six Feet Under", etc.? Is it impossible these days to have meaningful and dramatic problems in a family with one wife, one husband, adults who are social drinkers, kids who study once in a while (I must admit, however, in "Riches" the kids in this family do study: how to steal, how to let Mom and Dad grab a 'quickie' in a rainstorm, etc.)

Pushing the envelope into weirder and weirder is not creativity and "meaningfulness". The "American Dream (and in this show they are purporting to deal with that concept seriously--of course!!!) is not simply dreaming to be rich through theft. It used to be about hard work and toeing the agreed upon or democratically negotiated line to create and earn your opportunity.

I'm sure I'm being knee-jerk unfair to this show; if I saw some additional episodes...which I won't...I'm sure there will be redemption somewhere. Unfortunately, I'm not interested in these characters redemption. I don't want them redeemed; I want them off the air. So the network (FX, in this case) can find a slot for a different "meaningful" 'push-the-cultural-envelope' show to replace them: how about a family of humans and canines who share an apartment (or large doghouse in big, overcrowded post-modern city), eat dog food together (vegan recipes) and have happy sex together...meaningfully, of course; sex which lasts longer than 32 seconds...the stars in the show being young dogs...and think it is great post-coital fun (for both dogs and humans) to shit on the shoes of anyone who works hard, saves their money, is good to their neighbor, and is sexually satisfied making sex with their spouse...or partner. However, I do have one request: in that new show I hope the grunting and groaning of sex a la 'doggy style' happens off camera!!! Sex for me has always been a participatory sport; not a spectator sport.).

In summary, I'm not sure yet whether I'll vote for "Riches". You see we in the Academy are honor bound not to decide who's best until we see all the shows. And I have professional integrity. Besides, this may be the best of the 2006 lot!


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