Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Amazing Race, Phil and Pat, and lots of other rambling

Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan congratulates Uchenna and Joyce Posted by Hello

And the winners are:
Uchenna and Joyce, who take home the million on The Amazing Race, in the show's most-watched finale ever. Rob and Amber came in second, foiled by two small things: a friendly pilot and an inability to find anyone in Miami's Little Havana who could translate English into Spanish.

Truth be told, Uchenna and Joyce completely deserved to win. They could have ditched their taxi driver at the end, whom they did not have enough money to pay in full, run in and won the million dollars. Instead, they stayed outside, begging for money until they had enough to pay the driver, and then they ran in and won. That's class.

What's more, viewers got to watch the couple's relationship get stronger and stronger. Joyce became determined to do whatever she needs to to have a child after the racers found themselves at an African orphanage full of smiling children. Joyce allowed her head to be shaved in order to win a leg of the race, even though she cried through the whole thing. And Uchenna proved himself to be a man of honor, hugging Joyce in the nook of his arm while she cried and he kept on swallowing his pride and asking strangers for money. Toward the end of the show, the couple confessed that they had been talking about splitting up, but running the 40,000 mile race around the world brought them back together and made them stronger than ever.

I have to admit that I found myself disappointed by Rob and Amber's loss, even though they drove by the overturned Jeep, because I just can't let go of my fandom. On the other hand, CBS paid for their wedding in the Bahamas and they won a bunch of trips on Race and they seem to be legitimately in love, so I'm not really crying for Rob and Amber.

I will say that Rob and Amber have proven that they are that very rare thing - true reality show stars - for two reasons. 1) They've either won the money or come super damn close twice. That's not a coincidence. And 2) Ratings for Survivor: All-Stars and The Amazing Race 7 were both huge, bigger than other outings of both long-running series, and Rob and Amber have to be credited with bringing viewers to the set. Or at least me.

So we all know what that means: On May 24, I'll be glued to the set, pathetically watching the creatively named Rob and Amber Get Married. And probably crying.

Random TV musings: Um, didn't CNN cancel Crossfire after Jon Stewart told the show's hosts they were ruining democracy? (Extremely excellent MTV Headline: Jon Stewart Bitchslaps Crossfire ) Because if so, I'm still waiting. This horrendous program remains on the air, because it shows up every day during my CNN watching. Oh wait, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post reported in January that CNN was going to be including Crossfire as part of Inside Politics. Altogether it makes for one big snoozefest - Crossfire teamed with Inside the Blogs tied together by uninteresting newsreading.

In the same Washington Post article, CNN President Jonathan Klein said about Carlson: "There was zero fit between what he wanted to do and what we wanted to do. He's best suited to host a head-butting talkfest, and that's not the kind of program we wanted to do in prime time. . . . Our network is about roll-up-your-sleeves journalism, powerful storytelling."

Dude, have you watched your network lately? If you think reading from a teleprompter and interviewing talking heads all day long is powerful storytelling, then OK, it's super-powerful. Otherwise, not so much.

It happened and the world somehow did not end: The show I was most sad to miss in the past week was Dr. Phil's surreal interview of Pat O'Brien . We've met Mr. O'Brien before, and visited him at my new favorite blog: (which sadly is over now because selfish Pat left rehab and returned to television. But you can visit the hilarious writer of this blog, who happily outed himself on May 2, at Utter

It's unclear in this scenario who is exploiting whom because the exploitation sort of overlaps in confusing, swirling patterns until I feel like I need to take some drugs and check into rehab myself. (And then maybe I can get on Dr. Phil and become superfamous. Hey, I think I'm on to something here.)

Phil opens up the interview by asking Pat: "The studio did not coerce you into coming here?" Pat does not say what we're all thinking: "Hell no. They didn't have to ask twice. I know who signs my paychecks. Plus this is TV, man. TV!"

A little review for the 99.5% of you that don't follow the ins and outs of the media world: Megacorporation Viacom owns a bunch of companies, among them CBS and Paramount Domestic Television. Paramount produces both Dr. Phil and The Insider, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that a special featuring Pat's confession would be hosted by Dr. Phil and air on CBS during May sweeps. When TV executives suddenly realize that they have a star that’s going through a horrible time in his personal life, what do they do? Put him on in prime time! Have him tell Dr. Phil his most embarrasing personal secrets. It’s sweeps for God’s sake. Something's gonna explode soon, right?

Another TV kid tragically grows up: I'm not a big fan of Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle, but I ended up watching it on Mother's Day because my brother-in-law had control of the remote and he wouldn't let me watch Deadwood, which he referred to as that F@$& show, which isn't so incorrect, but it is the best show on television in my humble opinion.

Anyhoo, I could not fail to note that Frankie Muniz has finally reached the stage to which we all knew he was headed. Instead of being a cute little kid, he's now a really weird-looking, short teenager whose head is too big for his body. This seems to be the unfortunate fate of all cute child TV stars (see Gary Coleman and Danny Bonaducci). And don't try to tell me that Raven Symone is the exception. Just because you were an adorable child on The Cosby Show 15 years ago, does not, and I repeat, does not, mean you should get your own show on The Disney Channel.

Finally, here’s a list of things that are not actually news: the Runaway Bride; Paula Abdul’s alleged affair with American Idol contestant and developing television executive Corey Clarke; Priscilla Presley’s Elvis musings. A feature on the extend of Presley’s plastic surgery, however, might make sense for Primetime Live to do right after Extreme Makeover.

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