Friday, August 27, 2010

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

What was the name of that Bruce Springsteen song some years ago, "40 channels (and nothing to watch)"?  Something like that.  It's a wonder no smart producer has decided to have a reality show where people sit around on warm summer nights with no baseball game on TV and try to find something watchable. 

We have a couple of hundred channels on our digital Comfinity (formerly X-cast) cable, most of them devoted to purchasing, storing, cooking, and digesting food.  Some of the other channels are there to bring us shows and movies that no one in their right mind
would want to watch
and old shows and movies that no one watched the first 17 times they had the chance to.  

After a few rounds spinning the remote the other night, I wound up on the MGM movie channel. They were showing "Madhouse," a 1990 movie starring John Larroquette, Kirstie Alley, John Diehl and the inimitable Alison LaPlaca, who I always felt had the chance to become the Eve Arden of the 1990s, until everyone figured the original Eve Arden would have to do.

In 1990, when everyone else was out buying acidwash jeans and those goofy Zubaz pants, I was home watching this movie over and over again on Cinemax. I thought it pretty much represented the apex of comedy, with Larroquette and Diehl doing their crazy pantomime dance to "Bernadette" and the young, funny Ms Alley, fresh off her success in "Summer School".

But re-watching the movie the other night brought to mind the words of another person who forced his way into the public zeitgeist in 1990: Mr Bart Simpson, who pointed out that he never knew that something could both suck and blow at the same time.

What had seemed so doggone funny a mere 20 years ago now seemed forced and banal.  Sure, Alison LaPlaza strutting around with in that brash persona of hers still amuses, and Kirstie can still wring more laughs out of one raised eyebrow than anything that Kathy Griffin can raise, but the movie just simply was not funny or interesting or compelling or anything else.  So I went and tried to figure out which of the 1,915 songs on my iPod had to go to make room for more Ke$ha.

I told my movie-lovin' friend Lisa about all this and she said she had the same experience with re-viewing "St Elmo's Fire" 25 years after it broke out.  Ridiculous characterizations, improbable plot lines, friends who would not even be acquaintances in real life, stuff that never happened to anyone for real: these are the things that made St Elmo now as hard to see as St Vitus's Dance. 

And that was the name of Sonny
Crockett's boat. Guess I won't be watching any Miami Vice reruns either.

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