Sunday, December 9


TLC (a.k.a. The Learning Channel), a cable network devoted to... uh, well... I'm not really sure what they're dedicated to, but they're dedicated to it - is launching a couple of new programs to fill the winter void. At the end of each calendar year, most major networks take a prolonged (4 to 6 weeks) break from original programming. And no, I don't count holiday specials as new, or original programming. TLC has decided on two different programs to fill this program gap.

The first, is a tired attempt at a tired format: the talk-show. Fashionably Late With Stacy London features What Not To Wear co-host, Stacy London - a barely tolerable presenter with a less-than original take on one of the deadliest genres. Yes, many people — from sports greats, to radio personalities — have taken on the talk show, only to find their careers in tatters. From Megan Mullaly (from Will & Grace), to Joan Rivers to Magic Johnson, the field of talk shows is strewn with bodies of talented, or at least notable, people. So what makes TLC think Stacy London, with her tired, "this is a party! does everybody need a cocktail?" intros can hold a show on her own? I guess you have to measure the success of the show in relative terms: TLC isn't the most-watched network on basic cable (that goes to USA), so if only a few thousand people turn in, I guess it could be considered a hit.

The other show seems like a breath of fresh air, delivered into two tired genres: reality TV and beauty pageants. Yes, Miss America: Reality Check, with host Michael Urie (one of the only watchable parts of Ugly Betty), TLC will guide us through the run-up to the Miss America Pageant (MAP). The MAP has a trouble past, having once been a major ratings getter, to ending up on the Country Music Channel. But TLC picked up this would-be cultural relic, and with a single move, thrusts it back into the forefront of cultural relevance... maybe. It remains to be seen if this move (and re-shape) will serve only to solidify MAP's cult following, or doom it into further obscurity. I'm hoping Urie, in his hosting duties, will manage to bring both levity and fabulous humor to the fold: something this tired ol' pageant desperately needs.

No need to guess which show I'll be watching, and which one I'll avoid like an STD.

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