Wednesday, Jan. 24
The scene : Outside St. Vincent Ferrer High School on Lexington Avenue and 65th Street. The date : Jan. 22, 2001. The topic : How television is treating teenage girls, the most coveted demographic of them all.
To start things off: What’s up with Dawson’s Creek ?
“I think it’s getting boring,” said Rachna Singh, a 17-year-old senior.
” Mad boring!” cried Kishauna Sinclair, also a 17-year-old senior. “I think they are cute, but they have to have more of a story. There’s just nothing going on.”
“It’s too slow ,” said Rachna.
“I like that show,” said Kishauna. “That’s a real good show.”
What about, you know, the talk that the show’s ratings went into the toilet because Keri Russell cut her hair?
“That’s the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my entire life,” said Kishauna.
Rachna: “Her hair is cute short.”
Up the street, The Observer caught up with Megan Tazzi and her talkative crew. ” Dawson’s has gone downhill,” blurted Megan, a 17-year-old junior. “I used to be addicted to it, and now it’s like, pfffffffffffffft. I don’t know what’s happened.”
“It ran out of topics,” said Jen O’Connor, 16.
“It’s getting, like, mad cheesy right now,” added Katie Flaherty, 16.
“It is cheesy and stuff!” said Megan. “And the actors are not really, like, 15. They’re, like, 25.”
Katie: “They’re, like, supposed to be our age, and I’m like, naaaaaaaaaww .”
“Dawson was with Jen in the beginning and then Dawson was with Joey and then, like, Pacey’s now with Joey,” Megan said. “It’s getting too like they’re all in the family. It’s a big triangle.”
“I like that show,” said Jen.
“She’s a pretty girl,” said Katie.
“I like her with the long hair,” said Megan.
” Noooo , that is so seventh-grade,” said Megan. “They got so stupid. They don’t have any new stories.”
“I used to watch Popular ,” confessed Katie.
“I used to watch Charmed !” admitted Carolyn Molloy, 16, a junior.
Time changes killed shows like Popular, Megan said. ” Popular changed to Friday nights, and that’s rough because you can go out on Friday and then, like, you don’t watch it,” she said. “We’re not home at 8 or 9 p.m. on a Friday night.”
Do you guys miss Beverly Hills, 90210 ?
“Gosh, sooooo much,” Carolyn said.
“I didn’t really watch it toward the end, but the early ones ….” Carolyn paused wistfully. “I miss Party of Five , too.”
What about Jackass , MTV’s latest disposable hit du jour, with the guy who’s always getting hurt doing stunts and stuff?
“I love that show!” said Jen.
“I hate that show!” said Katie.
“Tom Green you get tired of,” Jen explained. “But Jackass , that’s a great show. It’s just people making fools of themselves.”
What about Carson Daly?
“Ugly,” said Megan.
” Really ugly,” said Katie.
“And what is he trying to be, like a musician or something, with the chains and the painted nails?” Megan asked. ” One nail?”
Still, Carolyn offered a thoughtful defense. “There aren’t many people who can get along with Britney Spears and Limp Bizkit,” she reasoned.
“I can’t stand him!” Katie said. “I hate him!”
Anyone go for the Food Network? Ming Tsai? Bobby Flay? Anyone?
“My brother’s obsessed with that,” said Megan.
“My mom watches Lifetime,” said Carolyn.
Jen said she watched Jack & Jill . There was hearty laughter in her face.
“I like it!” she protested. “It’s really funny.”
O.K., but just to confirm: Dawson’s Creek stinks, right?
” Dawson’s is dead,” said Megan.
” Dawson’s is felt up !” said Katie.
” Seriously ,” said Megan. “I give it, like, a year.”
Excuse me, what did Katie say Dawson’s Creek was?
“It’s just, like, felt up –like, it’s just gone,” she explained.
“Yeah,” Megan said. “It’s felt up .”
Tonight, while Megan Tazzi and her St. Vincent Ferrer posse go start trouble somewhere, you latch yourself to the felt-up Dawson’s Creek . [WB, 11, 8 p.m.]
Thursday, Jan. 25
Traffic, Traffic, Traffic ! People are losing their minds over this movie. It’s a nice film, Benicio is great, but it’s not a classic. If you hear one more person say that horn-rimmed geek-chic director Steven Soderbergh (who officially looks like every 30-year-old male in the Park Slope-Carroll Gardens-Williamsburg axis) has joined the ranks of “visionary American directors,” you are hereby sanctioned to plunk them over the head with a crusty baguette and remind them what it was like to sit through Kafka .
Since the film was inspired by a British television miniseries called Traffik that actually ran over here in the States on Masterpiece Theatre , do those elegant PBS types have any plans to capitalize on the movie’s success and air the original again? “This sort of surfaced a couple of weeks ago,” said Johanna Baker, a publicist for Boston PBS station WGBH, which purchased Traffik ‘s first go-round in the U.S. “It would be wonderful if it would appear, but right now they [are] just investigating whether the rights are even available from Channel Four in England.”
Ms. Baker said that the miniseries aired in England in 1989, then in the U.S. on Masterpiece Theatre in 1990. “Some people have fond memories of it, but it was 11 years ago,” she said. “Right now, we can’t seem to find if it’s on home video.”
So make a prediction, Ms. Baker: Are you going to air it? “The best that can be said is that Masterpiece Theatre and WGBH are trying to investigate the possibility,” she said.
O.K., then. Tonight on PBS, it’s a repeat episode of the better-than-expected reality series 1900 House , in which a British family lives under strict turn-of-the-century conditions. See if the kids can keep their paws off the pharmaceutical-issue cocaine! [WNET, 13, 8 p.m.]
Friday, Jan. 26
Ah, those frisky lads over at News Corp.–they can’t resist any opportunity to needle their beleaguered colleagues over at CNN, where the carnage continued last week. On Tuesday, the News Corp.-owned New York Post added this cheeky little graphic to its story about the CNN layoffs: “CNN: THE CHEAP NEWS NETWORK.”
Nothing like rubbing it in, huh? News Corp.’s Fox News Channel, of course, is in heated competition with CNN, but Post business editor John Elsen said the graphic was the paper’s idea alone. “It had nothing to do with Fox,” Mr. Elsen said. “Just having some fun.” A CNN rep said the network had no comment on the graphic.
Oh, well, all’s fair in the media-heavyweight world. After all, didn’t Ted Turner once vow to squish Rupert Murdoch “like a bug”?
By the way, we hear that CNN résumés are starting to pile up at Fox News. You never know–tonight on Fox News, best-selling author Bill O’Reilly may read some aloud on The O’Reilly Factor . [FNC, 46, 8 p.m.]
Saturday, Jan. 27
One day until the Super Duper Bowl! Said Bowl is usually two things. One, it’s usually a crummy game, over by the second quarter, whereupon you’re trapped on a sofa, bloated from Corona and nachos, flipping over to Animal Planet and listening to your friends drone on about how “wild” pandas really are. Two, the Super Duper Bowl is usually only memorable for its advertising.
So what better way to prepare for game day than by throwing on your New York Giants jersey (preferably with the number of wide receiver “Emporio” Amani Toomer) and rumbling over to the Museum of Television and Radio, where you can take in the museum’s unimaginatively titled yet pleasing documentary, Super Bowl: Super Showcase for Commercials . Narrated by Frank (“Take my wife, please !”) Gifford, the film showcases three decades of commercials from TV advertising’s night of nights. “There’s really nothing like [the Super Bowl] in terms of advertising,” said Museum of Television and Radio television curator David Bushman.
For all the hullabaloo, Mr. Bushman said that Super Bowl ads weren’t really so super until 1984, when Ridley Scott’s futuristic spot for Apple Computer, featuring a javelin-throwing hottie breaking up a dimly lit, Orwellian disinformation seminar, changed the form for good. “People still talk about it today as possibly the greatest ad of all time,” said Mr. Bushman. “It ran only one time.”
Things have degenerated somewhat in recent years. We recall a lot of ads with talking lizards, football-carrying beer bottles and that unspeakably annoying Pepsi girl with the tight curls, but no TV event sees such destination viewing for commercials. Some big ads debut on the Academy Awards, Mr. Bushman noted, but only the Super Bowl has sneak previews and post-game analyses. (There’s also that dippy USA Today poll, wherein the paper sticks a bunch of rubes in a room with control clickers and asks them to rate the spots–which is apparently a big deal, according to Mr. Bushman.)
One saving grace: not a lot of dot-com ads this year. Last year’s Super Bowl ad roster was infested with free-spending tech outfits trying to make a name for themselves. There were 17 dot-com ads in all, Mr. Bushman said. This year, there are a measly three. Super Duper Schadenfreude ! Tonight, super slap-happy CBS has its own Super Duper Bowl ad worship, Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials . [WCBS, 2, 8 p.m.]
Sunday, Jan. 28
O.K., today is Super Bowl Sunday. The big game is on CBS at 6 p.m., but the network’s exhaustive pre-game coverage actually began at 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 7 with a heartwarming profile of Giants assistant strength-and-conditioning coach Craig Stoddard.
If you are not a footballaholic, you have options. TNT has Gone With the Wind at 7 p.m., ABC has Babe , TBS has Steel Magnolias and NBC throws in the towel with Good Burger . If you stick with the game but are looking for something else in the third quarter, when Baltimore is leading 22-0 and you’re cursing all those corny Times columns you read about how Kerry Collins has “changed,” you can take out your frustrations on the UPN network, which has wisely slotted Rambo III at 8 p.m., just when the city’s Phil McConkey-loving shut-ins and compulsive gamblers will be tempted to toss their Panasonics out the window.
Then again, those Giants may win. Go, Tiki! [WCBS, 2, 6 p.m.]
Monday, Jan. 29
Tonight, CBS has Family Law . Then again, the Giants and Ravens may still be trying to score. [WCBS, 2, 10 p.m.]
Tuesday, Jan. 30
Tonight on PBS, the increasingly grating Alan Alda hosts a Scientific American Frontiers special called Life’s Little Questions II . Among the questions: What is laughter? Why can’t people tickle themselves? Here’s another: Where is my remote? [WNET, 13, 8 p.m.]