Thursday, September 14, 2006

TV Critics and Snoozeramas

Do you ever wonder about TV/film critics? Every once in awhile they seem to like something regular people like, but often they seem to delight in being contrary.

One thinks of famous errors in judgment. Like critics of the day panning Buster Keaton’s masterpiece, The General. (Film goers of the day also failed to appreciate it fully.)

The San Jose Mercury-Herald's critic, Josephine Hughston, dismissed the new film, writing that "it falls far below some of Keaton's other productions. . . .There is a feeble plot of a sort and considerable rather pointless comedy, although some of it is really funny."

I remember seeing a tv newscast with a review of one of Steve Martin’s movies. The reviewer ended by saying that the movie was too strong a dose of Martin and wasn’t funny. Then they played a clip from the film. It was funny, and you could hear people on the set laughing in the background as it ended. The reviewer sheepishly said something like, “Well, parts are funny, but a whole movie of it is not."

A review like the two above was recently published by Chicago Sun-Times TV critic, Doug Elfman, on The Path to 9/11. Here’s his opening:

I once sat in a car forever waiting for my mom to come out of a grocery store. I thought that was the definition of "interminable." I had no idea "The Path to 9/11" was in my future.

This is what happens during 4 1/2 lonnnng hours of "Path." Terrorists talk about killing Americans for Allah. FBI and other security officials try to track them but fail. 9/11 happens.

You don't say.

This is the most anticlimactic, tension-free movie in the history of terrorist TV.

Though other people found The Path to 9/11 "riveting", one wonders what sort of historical piece might keep Elfman’s attention. Probably nothing about a historical event that he happens to know the outcome of. One can imagine his reaction to a movie about D-Day.

Germans talk about killing Americans for Der Fuehrer. Soldiers land. Lots get killed. D-Day happens.

You don’t say.

Or his reaction to a movie about the Civil War.

Southern generals talk about killing Yankees. Battles take place. Yanks and Rebs get killed. Appomattox happens.

You don’t say.

I wouldn’t compare The Path to 9/11 to Keaton’s The General. But, I would compare Doug Elfman’s lapse in critical judgment to Josephine Hughston’s. Apparently ABC won it’s time slot on the two hour conclusion of The Path to 9/11. So, it wasn’t the snoozerama for most viewers that it was for Elfman.

It's one thing to point out flaws in the presentation, facts or logic of the docudrama. But, Elfman's need to claim it was 4-1/2 hours of boredom is not supported by millions of Americans who tuned in and kept watching for 2-1/2 hours one night and 2 hours the next night. Elfman's complaint of being bored says more about him than about The Path to 9/11.

Maybe he needs to deal with the scar he carries from waiting for his mom to come out of the grocery store.

Hat Tip: Always Right Usually Correct


George Berryman said...

Do you ever wonder about TV/film critics?

I am pretty sure Tom Shales is from the planet Mercury, where leftists grow on trees and federally subsidized abortion flows like waterfalls.

terrance said...

Political idealogy so consumes them that it cripples their ability to do the job they are supposedly expert at.

I never read my local newspaper's TV or film critics to get a good take on _any_ show, political or not. They have made themselves buffoons. It's really sad for them to leave such a legacy in their professional life.

Thanks for the comment, George.