Friday, November 28, 2008

The Vacuum That Both Sucks and Blows, Dept.

Well, it's been a while--a mega-long, fucking while, children--since your sobsister viewed anything on network television as wretched as Friday's Rosie Live!. The "return" of the variety show. Or, as it turned out, the wooden stake, silver bullet and garlic shiv through the heart of the variety show format.

Christ, I mean, even the network felt compelled to weasel-word its P.R. puffery:

Just as Ed Sullivan, Carol Burnett and ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN, captivated the hearts of audiences across the country, the unpredictable Rosie O'Donnell will bring that grand tradition to a whole new level!

Would that "whole new level" be up or down? Who can say? Not the network, clearly.

Rosie will kick off the hour doing what she does best -- sounding off about current events, pop culture and whatever is on her mind. From there, anything can happen as Rosie, her celebrity friends and fans sing, dance, and laugh in a primetime variety show like no other.

Yes, it truly is "like no other." In the same way that a two-headed calf and a shit sandwich are sui generis.

But, sobsister, what exactly made it so relentlessly, irredeemably sucktastic, I hear you ask? Oh, very many things. So very goddamn many. For your convenience, here's a short list.

1) Rosie O'Donnell has zero fucking talent. She actually sucks talent out of those around her like a talent vampire. I remember watching her host Stand-Up Spotlight on VH-1 in the '90s and thinking she must've fucked the entire crew to get the gig. I mean, even the grips and crafts service. Because she was so unbelievably charmless and unfunny. And, now, America's Favorite Eternal Amateur™ is trying to bring back the variety show format that she supposedly loved as a child, but tragically forgetting that those shows were founded on entertainment. Not on an unbreakable fascination with one's self in the televisual equivalent of a dog licking its balls. For example, if you're hosting a renaissance of the variety show format, an opening monologue that describes in Proustian detail the undergarment you're wearing that reshapes your copious body fat into breasts is probably not the sort of material that Ed Sullivan would've chosen to deliver in a comparable situation. Your audience is no longer comprised exclusively of self-medicating housewives and graveyard shift stoners, Ro, and there's a significant difference between "host" and "star," so, before you vanish up the asshole of your self-regard, you may want to take into consideration the fact that, for example, no-one outside your immediate family ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever wants to see you sing and dance. Because--reality check and spoiler alert!-- you can't do either. Not even a little. I mean, you make Ashlee Simpson look and sound like the second coming of Ethel Merman, Mary Martin and Gwen Verdon, capeesh? And, honest, it's not enough that you're "trying." That shit flies on the tee ball field, but not on television and not on my time.

2) Liza Minnelli really needn't be seen in public any more. Leave me with the memory of Cabaret and Liza with a 'Z'. I mean, I can see how a prime time gig on a Big Three network would be attractive to her--the unenviable price being a duet with the Talent Vampire--but the unfortunate cosmetic work she's had done and the shit through which she's had to wade as a function of her illnesses and lifestyle have made her look and sound at least twenty years older than 62. It's like watching a high school hygiene film on the ravages of drugs, booze and neediness. And who was it, exactly, who thought that an opening number featuring a woman who can neither sing nor dance doing both and another woman whose appeal would seem to be founded entirely on how well she's doing, you know, considering would attract anyone outside a coterie of those who rubberneck at highway mishaps?

3) Who the fuck is Ne-Yo? Is he Usher's considerably less charismatic brother? And why is he on my screen? Did I lost a bet with Good Black Music?

4) The Talent Vampire actually has the brass knockers to feature a musical segment--featuring the otherwise-charming and -underutilized Jane Krakowski--in which she lists the crap she's giving away to audience members. So classy. She makes Oprah seem like Alistair Cooke at Edward R. Murrow's.

5) Ha ha! A segment with Clay Aiken in which both of them are cutesy-coy about being homosexuals! Oh, this must be considered ever so cosmopolitan and risqué by very, very old people in Des Moines.

6) Oh, Alanis Morrissette? 1995 called. Asked why you'd left your talent and appeal back there. She sang an interminable, nasally song about something. Life? Love? Wolverines? The sort of performance where the audience started applauding before she was finished. As a hint. Thanks a fucking load, Canada. Bastards

7) No, really, Rosie. This isn't your ghastly daytime show. You don't have to be in every number, sketch and scene. And you don't have to pretend to be even vaguely "turned on" by Alec Baldwin and Harry Connick Jr. You're a lesbian. We totally got that. And no shout-outs to your four children. This isn't PTA Talent Night at Commack High. Fuck, you're annoying.

8) Ah, novelty talent numbers. Jugglers. Acrobats. It's like watching European weekend programming. Or the lounge act at a Las Vegas hotel too chintzy to host a Cirque de Soleil spin-off. What, no quick-change artists? No human Slinkies? What a rip. I'm totally writing to the programming director at RAI.

9) Wow, a big finale with Gloria Estefan! I feel fifteen years younger! Is it time for President Clinton's first inauguration? *ha ha!* But seriously, the fact that it's been fifteen years since Li'l Gloria was even vaguely relevant doesn't in any way diminish the entertainment value of having her tell a couple of lame jokes and then do a duet--but, of course, a duet; Gawd forbid anyone should steal the Stand-Up Spotlight--with Rosie. (I wonder who else Rosie could feature in the handful of future episodes before network executives release themselves from the basement in which she's apparently locked them. The Baha Men? The Rico Suave guy? The ghost of the "where's the beef?" lady?) And, not content with a closing musical number that features both Gloria Estefan and boy dancers dressed as foodstuffs, she brings out Rachael "Ray-Ray" Ray! To sing!! Christ alfuckingmighty! Talk about a black hole of talent. I'm amazed that the audience didn't find its face sucked off by the vacuum on that stage.

Yes, indeed. Rosie O'Donnell "brought back" the variety show on Wednesday. Much like Jack Kevorkian offers wellness care to his patients. Or Hitler sponsoring a Hadassah summer camp. Sweet Jesus, it both sucked and blew. A hundred years of songwriters and entertainers spinning at 78 RPM in their graves. Catch it next time. It's so wretched, it'll clear your sinus passages like wasabi and your colon like an all-bran depth charge. And the Talent Vampire, having mutilated both the daytime talk show and the variety show, will surely soon decamp to feast on another genre.

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