Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bad TV - Good TV

There's only about 50 days left till the mid-term elections, and it's about 50 days too long if I have to keep watching campaign ads. One that I've seen a few times recently is the latest from California Gubernatorial candidate, Phil Angelides.

Phil, of course, is nowhere to be seen in the ad, because nobody wants to see Phil. Instead we see Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and President George Bush. The scene is a campaign rally for Bush, and Arnold is speaking. As Arnold smirks his way through what a great president Bush will be, the sub-titles remind us of the 130,000 soldiers in Iraq, that gas prices have more than doubled, and that the national debt is out of control again (etc.).

The spot ends with the slogan, "Arnold Schwarzenegger is for George W. Bush - Is he for you?"

Alright, if you've been here before you know I'm not a huge fan of either Schwarzenegger or Bush, but what has this commercial got to say about the race for California's chief executive?

As an attempt at a negative ad, it fails miserably. It's a great negative ad if Bush were running for governor, but he isn't. Arnold has been in office a few years now, he's got a record to look at, and the worst Phil can say is "Arnold voted for Bush?" If Angelides can't think of anything bad that Schwarzenegger has done as Governor, it makes me wonder if maybe Arnold ain't so bad after all.

I've got an idea! How about Phil Angelides actually tries to tell us something positive about himself? Naaah.... that'll never work.

One of the times I saw this ad was during the premier of Aaron Sorkin's new NBC show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The opening sequence, with Judd Hirsch pulling a scene out of Network was brilliant. The rest of the hour showed promise, but the opening alone is why I will be tuning in again next week to see what else they can do.

Mik Moore, on the jspot blog, has pointed out the similarities between the Studio 60 opening episode and the first episode of Sorkin's West Wing. Basically, Aaron Sorkin, it seems, doesn't like Pat Robertson. But, Sorkin is very careful to point out that he can talk with moderate Christians. Nuance, folks - nuance.

I've been a Sorkin fan since long before West Wing - I still miss the short-lived Sports Night (1998-2000) - and am pleased to see good, crisp writing return to network TV.

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