b Papa Dog's Blog: Has-Beens on Parade

Papa Dog's Blog

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Monday, June 06, 2005

Has-Beens on Parade

It’s just as well I’m hard up for something to write about tonight, because there’s something left over from this weekend that I can’t believe I forgot to write about. Namely, we watched a truly awful reality show I had taped out of sheer morbid curiosity. It’s called Hit Me Baby One More Time and, like most of these things, is a knockoff of a show that aired in England under the same title. This time they even imported the original host, a gangly goiter named Vernon Kay, who looks like he just stepped off of the cover of a 1974 issue of Tiger Beat – the only factor belying that being the name “Vernon.”

The premise of the show is simple – it’s kind of like American Idol, only instead of a bunch of unknown wannabes in a singing competition, it’s a bunch of mostly forgotten almost weres. The episode we saw featured Loverboy, A Flock of Seagulls, CeCe Peniston, Arrested Development, and Tiffany. Upcoming acts include Tommy Tutone, The Knack, and the man I call, for reasons too silly to go into now, Vanilla Bill.

You’d think that watching this collection of one-hit geezers grasping desperately for one last shot at national exposure would be a sure-fire rush of tasteless fun. You’d be wrong there. The problem is easy to spot just from the lame title: “Hit Me Baby, One More Time.” What the hell is that? There’s no way this show should be titled anything other than American* Has-Been.** This evident lack of guts envelopes and sinks the show. It tosses out the cruel winnowing aspect that is a hallmark of most of these shows. Instead of one act getting kicked out at the end of the episode, they all get exactly the same amount of airtime and then a single winner is selected by audience vote (prize money going to charity). As a consequence, there’s not much in the way of cutthroat suspense. It could have been a truly savage and funny show if they’d had the guts to make one. Of course, they probably couldn’t get anybody to be on it under those conditions. But judging from the desperation-smelling way most of these bands plug their appearances on their web sites, maybe they could have.

In the first half hour of the show, the “rock stars” perform one of their old hits (or, in most cases, their old hit). In the second half, they select a number to perform by one of today’s future has-beens (e.g., Enrique Iglesias, Kelly Clarkson). Being old ourselves and unfamiliar with today’s nobodies in waiting, we fast forwarded over that part. In fact, some of the over the hill acts were apparently after our time. CeCe Who? Her hit was in 1992 or so. I guess I stopped paying really close attention to popular music sometime before then.

The most fun to be had out of the thing was the schadenfreude to be found in the sight of a bunch of portly balding guys in their fifties unexpectedly called upon to try to be rock gods again. It was kind of like Mr. Incredible coming out of retirement with that big belly. Loverboy, for example, looked a bit more like Blubberboy. And Flock of Seagulls – oh my god, all that band ever had going for it was weird hair. Now that main weird hair guy is more of a where’s the hair? guy. He has a sad stringy ponytail and wears a hairline-hiding Chuck hat.*** With Tiffany, the question was – hey, is she pregnant or just really unfortunately attired? Arrested Development, which ended up being the winning act, at least had energy. But then, they were the most recently charted one of the bunch. They probably don't even get the senior discount when taking the bus to the unemployment office.
*Though, of course, Loverboy is Canadian.
**And yes, I do understand it would probably hard to get acts to appear under that part of the title, but still. That’s what it should be called.
***Another reference there’d be no point in explaining now.


Blogger Judy said...

AHhhhhhh!!!! I can't believe I found someone else who watched this load of hooey, too!

They were ALL depressing. I mean, I was a huge Loverboy fan, and that was NOT what they sounded like. What happened??? I agree on the Tiffany comment - with child or lacking style? And Flock of Seagulls - I never really liked their song anyway, and to hear it again when they sounded like the just jumped off the old folks' truck...ugh.

Hopefully this show won't be around for too much longer and we can get back to our regularly scheduled reruns.

8:13 AM  

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