Dave on Demand: Lowliest night of the week

Saturday, once sparkling with TV's gems, has become the realm of the repeat and the second-rate.

Posted: February 25, 2012

Your TV hates you. How do I know? It's never there when you need it.

Seriously, wouldn't you like some entertainment on a Saturday night? Ha! Let's take a gander at what the networks are offering this week, shall we? ABC starts off with Wipeout, its painful pratfall game show. Literally adding insult to injury, it's a repeat.

In fact, the night has become such a den of reruns, it'll save us time just to list the original programming. To wit: back-to-back Cops on Fox, 48 Hours Mystery on CBS, and The Firm on NBC.

In other words, two series that always seem like repeats anyway and a third - The Firm - that NBC has given up on and is merely burning off the episodes already paid for.

I know, I know, there are a thousand other options out there. But most of them are expensive. Take your family to the movies and you might as well get bottle service at a nightclub.

"Hey, honey, whatta you say we blow the whole paycheck and go IMAX?"

I'm talking about network TV, or as I call it, proletariat theater.

It once crammed Saturday nights with its most savory delights: All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mission: Impossible, The Carol Burnett Show, Kung Fu, The Bob Newhart Show. (You want to throw The Love Boat in there, that's on you.)

The networks will tell you they stopped trying to compete on Saturday nights because people were no longer watching. But that's a real chicken-and-the-cracked-egg argument. Like a restaurant that because of slow business on Tuesdays announces it will serve a limited menu on that day: leftover fishcakes and refried fries. That's not going to increase patronage.

If you want us to watch on Saturdays, you're going to have to do better than Rules of Engagement. In reruns.

Very retro. On Fox's Alcatraz, the latest convict to emerge unchanged from the mists of 1963 committed a mass poisoning, the aftermath of which went viral. A man sitting next to him watched a clip of the crime scene on his smartphone. The con asked, "What is that - a TV?"

This marked the first time on the series that any of the criminals, who have been mysteriously slingshot 50 years into the future, has shown the slightest unfamiliarity with modern machinery, gadgetry, weaponry or technology. Imagine that.

Disputed results. New Directions took the regionals on Glee this week. Hardly surprising, given their can't-miss competitive strategy: always go last and sing twice as many songs as the other groups.

But I think I detected something that must be an infraction in the show-choir rule book so often cited: When the ladies covered Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (Whatever Doesn't Kill Me)," there were some female chorus members I've never seen at McKinley High.

Ringers? Really, Mr. Schuester!

Any port. Seen the new McDonald's ad, where the boat captain's fish finder goes off and he excitedly scrambles below to find his crew all opening pristine McDonald's takeout bags and pulling out steaming Filet-o-Fish sandwiches?

In the middle of the ocean? What, did they go to a Float-Thru window?

One fell swoop. Funniest line of the week belonged to Adam Carolla on Celebrity Apprentice. Donald Trump asked the men's team captain, Paul Teutul Sr., which of his players were on the bubble after week 1. Senior selected Arsenio Hall, the only African American in the cast, and George Takei, who is both gay and Asian.

A clearly amused Carolla said to Trump, "You told Paul to pick two guys to bring back to the boardroom, and he picked three minority groups to kick off the show. Nice going, Paul."


Contact television writer David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv. Read his blog, "Dave on Demand," at www.philly.com/dod.

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