Stay Tuned

By Margaret Lyons

Dear NBC,

Now that you’ve lost Friends and Frasier, you’re going to need some juice to keep your network alive. Lucky for you, I’ve been developing some new shows and tweaking some classics. Enjoy.

•Law & Order: Windy City. How is there no L&O in Chicago? New York cannot possibly support the upcoming fourth series in the “In the criminal justice system” vein. Law & Order: Trial By Jury. Hello! Chicago has 1) plenty of criminals, 2) a lot of cops, 3) at least a handful of lawyers. Also, the show is fictional, so even if our fine city were lacking in any of these areas, writers could totally make it up. The way the hospital on ER is right in the Loop. L&O:WC would feature an unlikely cop duo (old cop/young cop, girl cop/boy cop, black cop/white cop, pope cop/chimp cop) with a contrasting lieutenant (perhaps bald), a too-hot-and-young-to-be-a-lawyer female ADA or a too-moralizing-and-nasal-to-be-hot male ADA, and an endless stream of no good criminals who are killing, kidnapping, raping, scamming, and variously abusing the fine people of the Second City. Gimme a call, Dick Wolf. I will hook. You. Up.

•American Idol All-Stars. This formula has totally ruled on Survivor and Real World/Road Rules Challenge, and everyone who auditions for Idol signs like a lifetime contract or something, so this seems too easy for words. Gather up the top four people from the last three seasons and make them battle it out! Again! And it won’t be that bad because no one is that bad who’s made it to the top four, except for maybe Josh Gracin. And Jasmine Harris. And Nicki McKibbon. I would request that we up the ante by demanding that these butt-monkeys (just kidding Clay Aiken, I love you) write their own music, too, because any jerk at a county fair can sing really loud—this is a talent contest, fools, so show me some talent! Yeah, steal this one from Fox, NBC. Show them who’s boss.

•The New American Gladiators. How has this show not been resurrected? Everyone knows that American Gladiators is dope as hell. It’s not a bad Nintendo game either, by the way, and I think we’re due for another obstacle course-themed program. It’s patriotism meets reality meets suspiciously strong women, and I say that it can’t fail. Shows like Fear Factor or the World’s Strongest Man competition skirt the actual athleticism of: dodging high-speed tennis balls, racing up cargo nets, shooting Nerf arrows, swinging back and forth on gymnastics rings, and, most importantly, beating people with gigantic Q-Tips. What are television executives waiting for? Americans are more into steroids and beat-downs than ever. Plus, it’s all under the thin veil of oddly good sportsmanship, so it’s really just like the Olympics. But not in Greece, so, you know, better.

•I know I’ve been on this for a while, but ER is too sad. Seriously, it’s too sad. There’s got to be a limit to the number of people/fetuses that can die on any one show, and I’m absolutely certain that ER has way maxed that number. Why did Kerri’s lesbian wife die? Lesbian wives are hard to come by on TV; we ought to refrain from killing them off. Why did Carter’s baby die? We all know that Noah Wyle is just not going to win an Emmy, and no amount of fetus anguish is going to change that. Also, biracial babies are hard to come by on TV; we ought to refrain from killing them off. In the not-sad-but-extremely-sucky category, don’t bring back narsty stupid Rachel Greene (dead Dr. Mark Greene’s daughter, not Jennifer Aniston’s character on Friends). There is no shortage of slutty bitch teenagers on TV, and ER definitely doesn’t need one. It was only remotely interesting when Kirsten Dunst was a homeless slutty bitch, and that was like 10 years ago, plus Rachel’s character is really annoying and not at all deserving of any screen time, ever.

•The West Wing is boring and does not make sense. What the hell was Donna doing in Israel? Do we really send assistants on fact-finding missions to the Middle East? Admiral Fitzwallace, I understand. Senator ex-Mrs. Toby, I understand. But Donna? Didn’t Donna not graduate from college? And yet the White House has selected her, rather than any of the other giznillion people in America who might actually know something about the Middle East, to go on this mission, just because she wants to? Oh, Aaron Sorkin, come home to us. Josh has turned into an extreme wiener, and Jeremy from Sports Night was wearing a grotesquely shiny chocolate brown suit last night. Seriously, WTF? Make this show relevant again. It’s a goddamn election year.