Mar 05 2005


Carry-out chicken pot pie from Central Market and Joan of Arcadia

Twisty Judges Things

My night of televised cop-show partying started off gently with a so-so store-bought chicken pot pie. Then it dipped a toe into the murky waters of Joan of Arcadia, escalated into serial rape with NUMB3RS, and finally went blooey with CSI, the incomparable and undisputed TV king of dead-chick dismemberment porn. To recap:

Joan of Arcadia is Strangers With Candy gone horribly wrong, a saccharine teen drama in which a plucky heroine grapples gamely with important social issues while God, appearing intermittently in the shape of a beautiful goth-punk boy, pesters her with cryptic life-lessons and forces her to help people.

If you will float away with me now to a bizarro-world where crummy television dramas warrant feminist critique: this Joan of Arcadia show is problematic. By rights it should rank pretty low on the Patri-O-Meter because the actor who plays Joan is neither anorexic nor dressed like a hooker. Her best friend, a sort of live-action Peppermint Patty, is positively butch. Of the male characters, only one is a cop — a broadcast TV record — and the rest are geeks. Joan’s boyfriend is a sensitive, 98-pound art student. Even the jock is harmless; he’s in a wheelchair. Cock chop!

But this is America, so naturally the promise of this non-stereotypical cast is cancelled out by the non-denominational but sublimely patriarchal and totally insipid Supreme Deity motif. The show loses even more points because Peppermint Patty has a boyfriend, when anyone who’s ever set foot in a girl’s gym can tell she’s queer as a steer, and also because Joan is whiny. Still, this show will have considerable kitsch value someday. Score: null.

GoatsheadNetwork television viewers adore rape. There is a competition between cop shows to see who can give us the most violated women for our buck. Thus,"a brutal series of rapes!" was the theme of last night’s Numbers. There were twelve. That’s a lotta rapes!

This cop show has the handsome, eccentric, infantile male math professor who scribbles strings of equations on chalkboards until he comes up with the genius algorithm that solves his cop brother’s murder case. The math part is diverting, but the rest of this show sucks shit through Hefty bags. Two female characters exist only to enhance the maleness of the two leads. Lots of arresting, artsy shots of dead young women suffocated with plastic bags, Goat’s Head Soup-style. Nice.

Score: crappy.

CSI needs no introduction. On no other show does the camera linger so lovingly over so many beautifully lit slabs laid out with so many exsanguinated stone cold foxes. Last night’s episode featured women-in-prison, a perennial crowd-pleaser, plus a female corpse that had been affixed to the underside of a bus, gradually spewing gore as it tooled down the highway.

Score: really crappy.

America loves mutilated dead chicks!

Which is why CSI is the highest rated TV show in a country torn asunder by the horrifying spectacle of Janet Jackson’s mammary. Parents Television Council, the goody-goody "family values" group that showcases titillating descriptions and clips of risqué shows on its website–purely cautionary!–says it all with this enticing summary:

Graphic images, including close-ups of corpses with gunshot wounds and other bloody injuries, are common. Other graphic scenes have depicted cannibalism, a fully nude female corpse, and mutilated victims of a deranged killer. Sexual situations are extremely graphic. In the past, scenes included a brother and sister having sex, men receiving S&M beatings from a dominatrix in a sex club, pornographic snuff films, and a woman making a sex video for her 15-year-old stepson. Foul language on C.S.I. includes "damn," "hell," “bastard, "bitch," "ass," and "asshole."

Kick ass! Parents Television Council gets a really crappy score, too.