By Melissa Wun, for Channel101.com
This month's lineup is another tremendous disappointment, dominated by predictable, testosterone-driven storylines, mysogyny and pornography.
Now that I've written that sentence, I can take the rest of the year off, and you can just reread it every 30 days or so. That is, of course, until something changes at Channel 101, or in the minds of its viewers, who are turning out in droves to support it as it goes from bad to worse.
Speaking of worse, let's talk about Computerman, a show which seems intent on geting more and more...flamboyant...with each passing month. This time, the entire show is set in a pink hotel room, and includes a "fight" scene that is little more than two grown men in their underwear rolling around on a bed. What's wrong with that, you're asking? Have I not seen Will and Grace? Do I not consider Showtime's groundbreaking original series Queer as Folk to be quality entertainment? Yes and yes. But episode 2 of Computerman is nothing but homophobes getting together to mock homosexuality in order to elicit giggles from fifteen year olds. Everyone involved clearly hates gay people, the irony being that they're all clearly gay, since they're clearly having the time of their life. When is the audience going to come to their senses and realize that without Jack Black's fame, Computerman wouldn't be worthy of Tom Green's cutting room floor?
Rob Schrab did us one favor this month: Ringwald and Molly was only three minutes long. I'm hoping this is a trend that continues until the day I can miss an entire episode by blinking. Just when you think episode 2 of R&M will be tolerable- the characters begin with a nice song- they're smuggling narcotics and evading the police. All nicely packaged in an animated style that begs young children to watch and learn. In a better country, Rob Schrab would be in prison, but in America, he's a cult figure, a low-rent Kevin Smith. Schrab shows you what he thinks is "cool," and if you agree, congratulations: you're now a fan, commence applause.
Time Belt is certainly Computerman's smarter, more talented brother. Firstly, as an actor, I'll take the square-jawed, meaningful Tallman over the mush-mouthed, sleepy-eyed Harmon any day. Secondly, in all ends of production, from script to sound, Time Belt takes its job seriously while Computerman shoots from its nervous, gyrating hips, winking at the audience the whole time. Time Belt even has a female character in episode 2, although she is little more than a slave and is violently disposed of to make way for dueling penises. Commendations go to actress Maria Lay for adding depth to the cardboard role. Unfortunately, like all women in Time Belt, her character is now dead. Overall, Time Belt is superior to Computerman, but we don't need better Computermans. We need anti-Computermans.
The only candidate for this job would seem to be Second Time Around, and it's no coincidence that 101's only character-based series is produced, in part, by a woman, Andy Goldblatt, who also plays the lead. But Second Time, whose pilot promised an engaging story, centering around a unique love triangle, defaults, in its second episode, to farcical nonsense, making fun of the handicapped and stripping Goldblatt herself down to her underwear- undoubtedly Scott Chernoff's idea. It's clear that this show, surrounded on all sides of the playground by boobs and fart jokes, is caving under the pressure. I would bother to pray to Athena that Goldblatt's conscience begins to plague her, but what would be the point: If Time Belt is any indication, the minute Miss Dawson evolved as a character, a musclebound maniac would snap her neck.
Finally, we have the worst crime of all: The out-and-out theft of the fifth slot at the hands of alleged wonderboys Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone. Not only was their ITV Buzz Countdown one joke, the one joke happened to be an image of two porn stars fornicating on a sofa. A text book parlor trick, swallowed hook, line and sinker by the audience. Without thinking twice, the hooting and hollering crowd put a bullet in the head of Brently and Mrs. Gould, the only other 101 show with substance. It's not going to shock you to learn that Schaffer, Samberg and Taccone are repped by UTA, whose client list is a book of Channel 101 mugshots: Jeff Davis. Jack Black. Dan Harmon. Rob Schrab. The usual suspects in any case where you find your sensibilities raped.
My hopes were high in June. Now, one month later, I weep for the unavoidable future of entertainment.
Melissa Wun is a TV critic and associate professor of cinematic studies at UCLA. This was written for the Channel 101 website some years ago.