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DEAD PEOPLE ROCK!

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Oh, what I wouldn't do to be dead! Perhaps then people would finally learn to appreciate my brilliance. Yet, here I am, wallowing away in anonymity, simply because I don't have enough sense to become dead. In fact, being not dead is killing my career!

Let's face it, people: Being "dead" is HOT! Just think of all the so-so musical artists who suddenly became awesome after kicking the bucket: There's Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, John Lennon (who was AWFUL), that guy from Lynyrd Skynyrd, that other guy from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kurt Cobain, Jerry Garcia (almost as bad as John Lennon), Joey Ramone, Tupac Shakur, Aaliyah, Biggie Smalls, and two more guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd. Being alive did next to nothing for these people's careers, but once they chose to be dead? Ka-ZING! They're buried in moolah! (Still not convinced? OK, whom would you rather be: dead Johnny Cash, or alive and fat Wang Chung performing on Hit Me Baby One More Time? I rest my case.)

In fact, the only thing better than being dead is being in a band where one of your members is dead. That's when the REAL money starts rolling in! Lead singer dies in a motorcycle accident? No problem! Replace him with some longhaired sound-alike, and suddenly your shit-heel band is making more dough than ever. And if you're really lucky, you can capitalize on your bandmates' demise by scoring your own TV reality show!

Let's take Rock Star: INXS, for example (CBS, 9:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday). While the death of INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence may have been ruled a suicide, it's been widely reported he perished from autoerotic asphyxiation … or hanging oneself while jerkin' one's gherkin. However, this smirk-inducing rumor is given nary a mention on this reality contest in which 15 hopefuls vie to take Hutchence's place in the band – presumably because CBS can't offer autoerotic asphyxiation as part of the prize package.

The upside of Rock Star is watching 15 wannabes try to out-ROCK each other, via howling, off-key vocals, torn Levis and hilariously bad haircuts that look like the contestants fell asleep under a lawnmower. The downside? An underwhelming prize, which includes cutting an INXS album no one will buy, and a "world tour" made up primarily of state-fair appearances.

But the parade of the dead doesn't stop there! Debuting 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 27 on UPN is yet another "replace our bandmate" reality show – this one featuring hip-hop hotties TLC, who are looking for a stand-in for croaked partner Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes. Titled R U the Girl (No, eye am knot!), the show follows surviving members T-Boz and Chilli as they search for the perfect gal to join the band, record a single and then immediately disappear into anonymity – because after all, this is a UPN show, and again, nobody gives a crap.

Regardless, my life would be so much better if I were dead! My workload would be cut to nothing, I'd make more money and I'd be hailed as a genius – even though a retarded monkey could write a better column than I can. So what am I waiting for? Autoerotic asphyxiation, here I come!

For the love of God, somebody kill me!

THIS WEEK ON THE BOOB TOOB

THURSDAY, JULY 21
9 p.m. FOX THE O.C.
A funny repeat in which the boys visit Nana in Florida, and Seth ends up licking whipped cream off a coed.

9 p.m. ABC HOOKING UP
Gals search online for the perfect boy to hump in the second episode of this five-part series!

FRIDAY, JULY 22
7 p.m. SCIFI
FIREFLY
Return! Screwed up by Fox the first time around, here's the complete series of this awesome space opera by Joss Buffy the Vampire Slayer Whedon.

10 p.m. SPIKE SUPER AGENT
Debut! All-American football player Shaun Cody tests a pack of sports agents to see who can "show him the money." "Uggh" is right.

SATURDAY, JULY 23
8 p.m. SPIKE
THE BIG RED ONE (movie)
(1980) The world's greatest actor, Lee Marvin, stars in this terrific war flick directed by Sam Fuller.

SUNDAY, JULY 24
8:30 p.m. FOX
THE PRINCES OF MALIBU
The overprivileged Jenner boys nearly cause a race war when they invite a rap group into their honky stepdad's studio.

10 p.m. HBO ENTOURAGE
The poop hits the fan when Vince gets on the wrong side of teen queen Mandy Moore.

MONDAY, JULY 25
10 p.m. MTV
LAGUNA BEACH: THE REAL ORANGE COUNTY
Season premiere! Another season featuring the tanned, rich hotties of the real O.C. (I'll take Seth and Summer any day.)

10 p.m. E! KILL REALITY
Debut! A reality show about reality stars making a horror movie where they all get killed. Why not cut out the middle man and just kill 'em?

TUESDAY, JULY 26
8 p.m. BRAVO
SITUATION: COMEDY
Debut! Jack from Will & Grace hosts this Project Greenlight-style competition to find the next great sitcom.

10:30 p.m. COM STELLA
A bully threatens the guys when they take on a newspaper route. JERK!

WEDNESDAY, JULY 27
8 p.m. UPN
R U THE GIRL?
Debut! T-Boz and Chilli embark on a sexist national search to find a female replacement for Left Eye. What am I? Chopped liver?

10 p.m. FX OVER THERE
Debut! The new Steven Bochco drama about troops getting their asses shot off in Iraq!

steve@portlandmercury.com

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