Most overrated entertainment
EW’s own Dan Snierson likes to make fun of me for thinking I’m always right about everything, but he’s wrong — again. I don’t think I’m always right. I know I’m always right. So it troubles me when America comes to some sort of consensus that is obviously crazy talk. How can people be so easily duped? I ask myself. Because it couldn’t simply be that I could possibly be wrong about something, could it? Could it?!?
Well, at the risk of pissing off the vast majority of you reading this, I now present my list of the most overrated films, TV shows, bands, and other assorted entertainment-related things that have been worshipped and fawned over for way too long. (And I encourage you to do the same by sending in your own nominees at the end of this column.)
Okay, I’m outing myself. My big secret here at EW is that I’ve never sat through an entire episode of Friends. Why? Because it was annoying as hell! I believe my hatred of the program stemmed from the fact that it took to the air around the same time I moved to Manhattan after college. I was a blue-haired miscreant living above a drug-front deli in New York’s famed Heroin District, while the preppy bastards on Friends had jobs no better than mine yet resided in impossibly incredible apartments and hung out drinking coffee all day. Had I encountered these people in real life, I probably would have walked up to them and punched them in the face…and then gotten the crap beaten out of me because I’m actually pretty weak…but still, why would I want to waste half an hour watching them on television? I also have a personal rule: Whenever a TV character’s name becomes the title of a haircut, I’m gone.
Chariots of Fire
One of my proudest accomplishments while working at Entertainment Weekly was getting this movie thrown out of our Best Sports Movies Ever package. This tells you two things: (1) My accomplishments while working at Entertainment Weekly have been few and far between, and (2) People are starting to realize this film is not the outstanding cinematic achievement they believed it to be. Think about it: When you recall Chariots of Fire, what comes to mind? The music, right? What does that tell you — that the most memorable thing about the entire movie is its score? How the hell did this win the 1981 Oscar for Best Picture, beating On Golden Pond, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Reds in the process? I’ll tell you how — that damn music! Freakin’ Chariots of Fire! Where’s Jeff Probst with his snuffer when you need him?
The Grateful Dead
I don’t smoke pot or drop acid, so…
I don’t think Al Pacino always sucked — just for the past 20 years. He was the picture of dead calm in the first two Godfather films, and then dramatically switched gears to play a show-stopping bank robber in Dog Day Afternoon. And who can forget his turn as paranoid, coked-out Cuban drug lord Tony Montana in Scarface? Unfortunately, Scarface seemed to teach Pacino that bigger and louder were better, and the guy has been a major-league scenery chewer ever since. Whether hamming it up in Dick Tracy, pounding tables in Scent of a Woman (a Best Actor Oscar, really?), or trying to out-badass Robert De Niro in Heat, Pacino has lost any sense of nuance or subtlety. One exception: Donnie Brasco, in which he deftly portrayed a sympathetic loser of a mobster. But then he had to go follow that up with another over-the-top performance as — who else? — the devil, in The Devil’s Advocate. Pacino is overrated and so is his catchphrase. Hoo-ah? That’s the best you got? Hoo-ah?
See: Grateful Dead
Damn you, Pretty Woman! Damn you to hell for igniting the romantic-comedy craze and subjecting me to endless date-night movies that made me want to stop dating altogether. (Why do you think I got married?) And further damn you for being so unfunny and unrealistic. I hate this movie so much, I would seriously consider placing it above Sharon Stone’s Gloria on a list of the Most Annoying Films to Feature a Prostitute With a Heart of Gold. I hate it so much, I can’t bring myself to write any more on it because I can feel myself getting hot and tingly like I’m about to transform from Dr. Bruce Banner to the Hulk. Let’s move on.
The Clash’s London Calling
Okay, let me be careful here. I love the Clash. They were one of my two or three favorite bands growing up, and I still revere them to this day. London Calling is a great album. I remember seeing a Rolling Stone list of the best albums of the 1980s, and London Calling was listed as No. 1. I thought that was so rad, and I reveled in my heroes having the greatest album of the entire decade (even if, technically, it came out at the end of 1979, so its inclusion in said list was a complete cheat to begin with). And I started to believe the hype. But I’ve noticed something over the years: When I go to put a Clash album on, I’m a lot more likely to grab Give ‘Em Enough Rope or the band’s self-titled debut than London Calling. There’s really no debate that LC is the most ambitious of the three, and features songs like ”Rudie Can’t Fail,” ”Lost in the Supermarket,” and ”Train in Vain” that hit on all cylinders. But nothing on it can match the fury of ”Complete Control,” or the perfection of ”(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” (both off the debut). And you won’t find a better four-song stretch than Give ‘Em Enough Rope‘s ”Safe European Home,” ”English Civil War,” ”Tommy Gun,” and ”Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad.” It seems like critics have been a bit lazy and have decided to throw all their eggs in the London Calling basket, when, for my money, these two other albums have been left out of the discussion. So let’s discuss…
Six Feet Under
I can pinpoint exactly where I went from liking to hating this HBO drama: July 18, 2004. That’s the airdate of the episode ”That’s My Dog,” in which David picked up a hitchhiker only to then have that hitchhiker pour gasoline on him, stick a gun in his mouth, force him to smoke crack, and do all sorts of other unmentionable things. The violence didn’t particularly shock or disturb me, but it had all the subtlety of…Al Pacino! Look at me! Look at me! I’m on pay cable! We’re breaking all the rules! Don’t you want to talk about me to all your friends at the watercooler tomorrow? Aren’t I shocking? No, just disappointing. In truth, Six Feet Under had been slowly heading down this path, ignoring character development for cheap thrills and unrealistic, overblown storylines. But I hung on, because once I’m into a show, it’s hard for me to give up on it. With ”That’s My Dog,” I was finally able to cut the cord. Sure, I checked in from time to time after that, but it never brought me back — not even the much ballyhooed series finale. Some people called the finale ”genius.” Yes, a show ending its run to a montage-based music video: What a radical concept.
NEXT PAGE: Dalton’s obsession with Women of Ninja Warrior, his list of favorite zombie movies, and reader mail
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
I exposed my 5-year-old daughter Violet to a little girl power last week — Japanese girl power! Instead of allowing her to sit through kiddie crap like Dora or Dragon Tales or…honestly, I have no idea what 5-year-old girls watch these days — I let her take in the genius that is G4’s Women of Ninja Warrior. For those unfamiliar with this program, it’s a Japanese game show where competitors attempt to make it through insane obstacle courses without face-planting in muddy water or running out of time. And now the channel is in the midst of showing ladies attacking the course. (See, pumpkin, girls can do anything boys can do!) It’s actually our second-favorite Japanese obstacle-course game show. No. 1 would be Unbeatable Banzuke, also on G4. Violet, her older brother Dale, and I love Banzuke because the people on it don’t just have to navigate the course, they have to do it on their hands, on a unicycle, or some other ridiculous contraption, like a wheelbarrow shaped like a cat. But what kind of lessons are these programs teaching children, you ask? That if they spend thousands of hours training themselves in some near-obsolete form of transportation, they too might be able to make it on Japanese television! Big in Japan, baby!
A list of My Favorite Zombie Films of All Time: Watch it now…if you dare!!!
Hi, remember me? Okay, it’s been a while since I got around to writing a Glutton column — about a month, by my count. I could make excuses — been busy at work, was traveling, family medical issues — and in fact, I believe I just did! Anyway, I suppose this is a lame apology of sorts, and I’m sort of acting like the Fonz being unable to say he’s s-s-s-s-sorrrrrrrrry. But I am sorry. And I further apologize for all the future weeks that I’ll leave you hanging. Not like you care. I’m sure you have better things to do, like descrambling Doc Jensen or voting for that adorable David Archuleta on American Idol. Most of the mail that came in after the last column centered on the great Friday Night Lights debate of 2008, but you know what? We’ve gone back and forth on that show too many times. I’m cutting the cord, people! Since there’s talk that the football drama will make it to a third season, we’ll have plenty more opportunities to discuss the Dillon Panthers. Let’s move on to other subjects, such as everyone’s (except Oscar’s) favorite sound mixer, the grandfather of reality TV, and the great-grandfather of videogames.
So did Kevin O’Connell win anything this time around? For the first time in 7 or 8 years I actually considered watching the Oscars (I didn’t) just to see if I heard his name. —Bryce Gast
Had you watched, you would have heard his name, but not as a winner. For the 20th time, O’Connell was robbed — robbed, I say! The great thing about Kevin, however, is that he’s such a positive dude, he won’t let something like this get him down. He prefers to focus on being a 20-time Oscar nominee. (How many people can boast of that?) Plus, you know he’ll be nominated 20 more times. He’ll get his. And I can’t wait for that day to come.
Regarding your top five variety shows, where’s Sonny and Cher? That show was chockfull of cheesy goodness. —Jesssica Platzer
You know, I never got Sonny and Cher as a couple. Cher was long, leggy, and gorgeous, while Sonny was…well, Sonny. But that mismatch worked for them on their cheese-tastic variety show. Still, I say that the five on my list were even cheesier. Check it out and judge for yourself.
I was wondering…in this age of TiVo and video on demand, etc., why is it that Survivor never re-airs episodes like other reality shows (on Bravo and VH1) that re-air endlessly? Because of a mixed-up priority pass on my TiVo, I missed two episodes of Survivor and now I feel like, what’s the use of catching up? I know that they can be found on the website but I prefer my easy chair and TV :) —Kim Basinski
Wow, a Survivor question for me? I don’t know if I’m equipped to handle it. Isn’t that a reality show or something? Well, let me give it a shot anyway. The reason CBS doesn’t re-air Survivor episodes is actually pretty simple: Bravo and VH1 have 24 hours of programming to fill each day, so they rerun things ad nauseam, while CBS — once you factor in news, soap operas, and talk shows — has just a few hours a night to show its new programming. Doesn’t really make sense for the network to repeat a program twice in the same week, especially a reality show (most of which typically do not repeat well). However, I believe episodes of Survivor (as well as Big Brother, should you care to indulge in that sad sack of a cast) are available on demand on many cable systems, so you could check there. It’s worth it, actually — this Survivor season has been fantastic.
Any chance that Survivor Live will return this season? I miss seeing you every Friday! —Chris Wisdom
Okay, I know what you’re all thinking: This letter is fake. Dalton made it up so he could shamelessly plug his new Survivor Talk EW.com show where he and Josh Wolk interview the latest Survivor cast-off each week. I mean, just look at that phony-baloney name — Chris Wisdom? The whole thing is a fake! Here’s the thing, though. It’s real! I swear. Now, that does not mean that I didn’t decide to pick the letter to place in the column to shamelessly plug my new Survivor Talk EW.com show where Josh Wolk and I interview the latest Survivor cast-off each week, even providing the link twice for maximum shamelessness. But I didn’t make it up! Chris Wisdom does in fact exist. Show yourself, Chris Wisdom! Don’t leave me hanging! Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
My favorite game from the ’80s is Atari’s Space Invaders, and for the life of me I can’t understand why they exclude it every time they do one of those Atari game compilations like for PS2, etc. I already own two of those game compilations and Space Invaders is nowhere to be found. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you! —Sheree Griffin
With apologies to the genius simplicity of Pong, Space Invaders was the first HUGE videogame. I mean, everyone under the age of 20 was completely obsessed with it, myself included. But I’ll tell you a game that is truly overlooked when considering the classic games of yesteryear: Dig Dug. I loved dropping rocks on those dastardly Pookas and Fygers. And Burger Time also seems to get short shrift as well, which is a shame. I mean, how many videogames feature a dude in a big chef’s hat being chased by a giant fried egg?
Okay, so what are your nominees for most overrated film, TV show, band, actor, album, whatever? And are you out for blood when it comes to my zombie list? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to firstname.lastname@example.org, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. See ya!