December 4, 2008

All Animals, All the Time (My Christmas Wish List)

Print More

This Thanksgiving, I was thankful for a lot of people, places, things, vegetables, animals and minerals. One thing I wasn’t thankful for this year was TV. And no, I don’t mean in general, because you should know that I freaking love the boob tube and will watch it, like, non-stop when I gots da time. The programming this Thanksgiving, however, was hardly the cornucopia I am used to.
Let me give you an example of my desperation: I was reduced to watching The White House: Behind Closed Doors on the History Channel (narrated by Antiques Roadshow and First Lady Laura Bush) 3.8 times. The first two times were voluntary, but the second two were because I couldn’t sleep and needed a sedative. No, the show wasn’t as seductive as it sounds (it was not The White House: Eyes Wide Shut) but needless to say, somewhere on watch #3.5 I was hooked again, relearning the story of Truman’s complete gutting of the interior, only to be replaced later by steel and concrete garters. Could you believe it?! The entire interior! Gutted! Replaced! And done only by sending materials (including a crane) through windows and doorways! Holy ish!!
But I digress. What I was really looking for this Day of Thanks was the crappiest of the crap. After all, why did my dad and I upgrade to Digital (i.e. 180 channels) if I’m not getting any niche pulp?
Seriously, though, what gives?
“Well, if you’re so smart, what solution would you suggest?” you might snottily retort. Simple: animal shows. Lots of ’em. Featured on every single network, not just on Animal Planet.
Why? Well, I’ve done a lot of personal research, and I’ve come to a few conclusions. Aside from being avid fan of — ask anyone who’s ever walked in on me while I’m alone in my room, sweet-talking my computer screen (“Oh, hellooooooo, Mr. Bunny! Look at you and your lil’ carrot, just munching away … munch munch, crunch crunch. Oh, I could just put you in my shirt pocket!”), and staring at pictures of animals in various states of repose — I’ve ferreted out some other assumptions, too.
Just last week, I nearly cried tears of joy while viewing a video of a housecat getting his kicks riding on top of the family Roomba.
So here’s where the rest of my “research” comes in: I sent said video gem to, like, six friends, who all had the same reaction: “Sooo cute!” To corroborate my “study,” here’s a direct quote from a Wall Post, the author of which will remain anonymous (until you troll my Wall, ya creep)]: “I died. The grad students at Stella’s are leering[.]”
Thus, my hypothesis: I think animal videos/shows, more than Extreme Archeology or Ice Road Bus Drivers or Deadliest Catch or whatever, are probably universally adored and, hence, the perfect TV entertainment.
As a tribute to my animania I’ve compiled a list (…not really) of two shows whose zaniness either utterly failed or decidedly won the hearts of millions.
First, the bad egg. This lil’ stinker, hosted by Chuck Woolery, had a one-off run on Game Show Network (GSN) a few Saturdays ago.
Let’s hear New York Times columnist Neil Genzlinger’s vitriol against the abomination: “[The Meow Mix Think Like a Cat Game Show] is not only one of the most embarrassing half-hours in the history of television, it is also a significant step towards the collapse of civilized society.” Tough words, but the show apparently deserved it.
The premise was simple, but stupid (a redefinition of the “KISS” philosophy, perhaps): The competing field of eight cats and their owners are narrowed through a series of questions and obstacle courses. The winner of the 1 million buckaroos was based on — get this — the cat/owner combo with the “strongest psychic connection.”
Given the failure of Think Like Your Cat, maybe the secret to animal shows is to nix any competitive elements and simply let the animals “do their thang.”
Enter Puppy Bowl. It’s been shown on Animal Planet for the last four years as an alternative to the Super Bowl. Its premise? Simple, and only seemingly stupid: 11 puppies run around in a shoddily constructed “stadium” wherein they play for three hours. That’s it. What if they play to the point of exhaustion? No problem! There are pup “subs” always at the ready. And if they “piddle” on the floor? A referee stops play and disinfects the area.
If you thought you’d get sick of watching puppies roughhouse for the equivalent length of the film Titanic, you’d be dead wrong. I’ve seen adults drool over particular puppies and yell at the TV when they were “subbed out.”
Now with this “research,” I won’t go as far as to say that this type of TV program could promote world peace, but I do declare that animal shows will impart a sense of joy to you and yours this holiday season (unless your heart is cold and three sizes too small, Grinch). “Mare-y” Christmas, “Hop-py” Hanukkah and Happy “Caw-nzaa,” Cornell!

My “Exhaustive” Evidence: