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MUELLER: Why would you watch CBS?

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Mueller_WEBI love March Madness. I love crashing on a comfy chair and watching two colleges I’ve never heard of duke it out on television, ignoring the fact that, yeah, I definitely have a six-page paper due tomorrow that has yet to be started.

But this year, I saw something that horrified me. It made me sick to my stomach. Every time I turned on the TV, I couldn’t help but see it.

No, it’s not Louisville guard Kevin Ware’s shiver-inducing, oh-I’ll-watch-the-replay-it-couldn’t-be-that-bad-oh-my-God-why-is-it-bent-like-that leg injury during the Cardinals’ game against Duke last Sunday night. That places second on this list of worst things I saw during March Madness, as well as second on my list of all-time worst sports injuries (Buffalo Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk’s injury still reigns supreme. Look it up if you dare).

Instead, the worst thing I saw during March Madness this year was the bombardment of ads promoting CBS’s current lineup of television shows. Yes, it might be a bit of hyperbole, but hear me out.

Since we see the same ten or so commercials throughout the tournament, I managed to memorize the Coke Zero ad. I’d hate to know what valuable information got pushed out of my brain to make room for that. But I also had many opportunities to see what CBS is calling entertainment these days.

In my opinion, it doesn’t look like much.

CBS appears to have a surplus of two things: terrible comedies and generic crime shows that look even worse in an HBO/FX/AMC universe.

Let’s talk about these “comedies” first. Two sitcoms CBS was shoved down tournament fans’ throats were “Rules of Engagement” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Now, I’ve heard good things about “How I Met Your Mother” – I’ve even seen episodes that wrangled a few chuckles from my cruel, emotionless heart. Jason Segel is a perfectly charming everyman, and Neil Patrick Harris’ career arc never ceases to fascinate me.

Let’s be honest, though: “How I Met Your Mother” needs to be put out of its misery. It may have been fresh and fun at the beginning, but now it reeks of strain, using the same jokes over and over again, and most importantly, can he meet their mother already? There’s just no reason for it to still be cranking out episodes.

There’s also no reason for “Rules of Engagement” to be on air. For those who have been blessed to not know “Rules of Engagement,” it’s a sitcom starring David Spade and Patrick Warburton that has somehow run for seven seasons. Seven seasons! That’s more than “Arrested Development” and the British “Office” combined.

In the constantly repeated ad, Spade meets his Indian co-worker’s family, wearing stereotypical Indian garb and making poses like a Hindu god that I’m sure will amuse the canned laughter. Plus, the jokes are delivered by Spade, whose brand of smug humor for idiots is about as funny to me as “Saving Private Ryan.”

Then there are the dramas, all of which appear to be interchangeable variations on cop/detective stories. They may be decently acted and shot – save for “NCIS,” which, judging by the ads, was shot with a Vaseline-smeared lens – but what disappoints me is the lack of originality. Each show attempts to lure audiences to tune in by using plotlines already done by other CBS dramas.

The featured episode of “The Mentalist” is about a mystery involving a dead actor, which I believe has been done in every single “CSI” spinoff ever aired. The episode also allowed star Simon Baker to make a “that’s pitchy” joke that just made me uncomfortable and drove me to vow to never lay eyes upon the silly detective show.

“Hawaii Five-O” trumpeted a plot about a shark-related murder, which was the premise of not just one but two past “CSI: Miami” episodes (from seasons two and four, in case you’re wondering).

Some readers may criticize me for writing this column judging these shows by their ads without watching full episodes. Guilty as charged, but this was CBS’s chance to show audiences its best material. It had a sporting event that had me riveted to my TV set for hours at a time; it would never have a better chance to sell me on watching one of its many programs. And it failed abysmally. I’ve never been more desperate to avoid the channel’s programming.

It blows my mind that in this television renaissance, when some of the best entertainment, acting and stories are being developed, a channel not only produces insipid, flavor-free material but thrives off of it. CBS is routinely the most-watched network, which I would guess is partly because younger audiences don’t watch TV on TV anymore.

The sadder reason is that people just like watching bland, predictable television. It ends with justice being served and heroes being proven right with nothing challenging in sight. It’s wallpaper paste disguised as escapism.

These are the things that provided a dash of depression to my time watching Florida Gulf Coast dismantle San Diego State. Luckily, whenever things got too heavy, an awesome upset happened or a buzzer-beater went through the net. Or I saw an ad for a show on TruTV, and CBS didn’t seem that bad after all.

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1 Comment

One Response to “MUELLER: Why would you watch CBS?”

  1. McRib1 on April 4th, 2013 11:49 am

    Rules of Engagement is actually quite funny. I understand, however, how one might want to appear discerning by being hyper-negative. Sitcoms are an easy target. Go ahead, mueller, lets see you make someone laugh.

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