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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 18, 2006

COMMENTARY
Top 10 reasons TV really turns us off

By Chuck Barney
Contra Costa (Calif.) Times

"Dancing With the Stars" finalists Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke. "Results" night on shows like "Dancing" are full of anything but.

ADAM LARKEY | ABC

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It's the end of another long, hard day. As we plop, bone-tired, into the couch, we turn our lonely eyes toward television, counting on it to provide some soothing comfort and escape.

Alas, all too often we end up feeling like we got punk'd. Not only does the medium bombard us with shows so rancid you can practically smell the stench through the screen, but it works on our every last nerve via an electronic assault of, among other things, ear-splitting commercials, mind-boggling schedule changes and trite plot devices.

With that in mind, we've put together a list of some of our biggest TV annoyances things that bug us to no end. Without further ado, let the rant begin:

1. Laugh tracks: Canned laughter long has been a major pet peeve (don't you dare tell us when to chuckle or chortle!). But in an era rife with unfunny sitcoms, it's downright insulting. Note to all comedy writers: If your jokes fail to provoke even a smile from your spouse and/or mother, a laugh track won't compensate for your deficiencies.

2. Padded reality-TV results shows: Sure, "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars" are good frothy fun, but the fun ends on "results" night when we're force-fed about 50 minutes of worthless filler and commercials, and only 10 minutes of material that we actually care about. Say it with us, people: "We're as mad as hell and ..."

3. Noisy commercials: So you have the volume on your TV set exactly at the point where it doesn't scare the cat and/or prompt the neighbors to take up firearms. Then, suddenly, a booming commercial comes on with decibel levels equal to those of a Rolling Stones concert. Horrified, you scramble for the mute button as earwax sprays the walls. Not even Jack Bauer was put through this kind of torture.

4. Premature cancellation: A network spends all summer urging you to go on a blind date with a show say, like "Smith" or "Kidnapped" and by fall, you agree to launch a relationship. But then poof! in what seems like an instant, said show is gone. No explanation. No goodbye note. It's just gone. Not only do you feel totally jilted, but you become gun-shy about ever committing to another such show. In the immortal words of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks: "Stop draggin' our hearts around"!

5. Character voice-overs: When does a TV plot device go from entertaining to irritating? When it becomes a tired cliche. Do we really need to hear Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) spew superficial bromides about romantic relationships over scenes from "Grey's Anatomy"? (That's so "Ally McBeal" and "Sex and the City.") And why does the voice of Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong) of "Desperate Housewives" live on two years after her character died?

6. Musical montages: Speaking of cliches, does it seem like every drama these days feels the need to finish out an episode with a painfully earnest song playing over scenes of emotionally fragile characters hugging each other, trudging through the rain, or staring off into space like little sad-eyed puppies? When, exactly, did scriptwriters run out of things to write?

7. Women as victims: The preponderance of crime procedurals is reason alone to kill your TV. But maybe we'd be a little less disgusted if these shows weren't constantly upping the ante when it comes to depicting grisly violence perpetrated against women. Even more troubling: This season, the trend seems to be spreading to teens and children. Enough is enough.

8. Intrusive promotional bugs: The doctors of "House" are frantically trying to revive a patient. They're pounding on her chest and yelling "Come on! Come on!" Meanwhile, you're so tense that you're practically leaving claw marks in your couch ... when what should appear at the bottom the screen? Goofy Bart Simpson reminding you to watch "The Simpsons" on Sunday night. Talk about ruining the moment.

9. Advance ad spots that promise or give away too much: Nothing irks us more than to be hit with a hyped-up ad that gives away a juicy plot development on our favorite show. (Why do you think we avoid Internet spoilers?) Well, maybe something does irk us more: Ads that deceive us into believing something huge is going to happen, only to eventually discover that we got played.

10. Schedule shenanigans: Raise your hand if you've had your DVR recording screwed up because some numskull programmer decided to start "The Nine" at 10:02 p.m.? Oh, we so feel your pain. OK, raise your hand if you sat down to watch "Studio 60," only to discover that some other numskull decided to shuffle shows at the last minute.