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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

400 posts later, Channel Surfing Enters Dreaded Sophomore Season

Just one look at the cancellations this year of a number of second season mishaps is enough to prove why TV execs dread the sophomore year of any show. Even bright and promising shows can tank in year two, when writers and producers -- so giddy their show has been picked up for another year -- forget the formula that brought them there in the first place (ahem "Heroes" ahem) and replace it with mediocre blahness.

Not all TV shows are susceptible to the second-season syndrome. Some -- most notably "Friends" and "Sex and the City" -- actually made up for the tragic schmaltz of their first seasons (taking out the whole Carrie-talks-into-the-camera-a-la-Zack-Morris bit, for example, made "SATC" actually watchable). Other second seasons actually stand out as the best of the bunch -- the quotable second season of "The Office," "The Sopranos," Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and "The West Wing."

Four hundred and some odd posts ago, our forefathers came to this nation... er... we launched this blog. On Nov. 11, 2007, "Channel Surfing" was born in the middle of a writers' strike. Our very own writers' strike -- coupled with our laziness -- is responsible for the month-long delay in this anniversary post where we muse on the possibilities for our second season, using the various gimmicks we've previously witnessed on the small screen with a few twists of our own.

The Flashback Episode

Malavika: The gang -- all suffering from the same bout of short-term amnesia -- forget their greasy Chinese leftovers in the office fridge. Coincidentally, they choose the day and time of the building-wide electrical upgrade, leaving them stranded in the conference room with nothing but white boards, markers and day-old lo mein to keep them from killing each other. (Also this explains their love for "Top Chef").

An epic game of "truth or dare" emerges as the best option to while away the time (over Adam's suggestion of a Lord of the Flies-esque pig roast that is immediately dismissed as lame) -- but there's one catch. The "truths" have to be things they've never revealed before. Genius! Meanwhile, the gang also has to prevent Sara from accidentally ingesting whiteboard markers, which her hunger-related delirium makes her believe are actually breadsticks.

The results are shocking as each character reveals a past. Tom apparently spent five years on the street as a hobo named "Ed," who got his big break designing Packers memorabilia from aluminium cans. Kendra was once known as the queen of international jig dancing, but had to give up her crown after a judging scandal (blame the East Germans). Sara may or may not have accidentally engineered a coup in an undisclosed Asian nation (no fault of her own -- someone mistook her for the Dalai Lama). Adam was a stand-up comedian, who lost his chops when an audience member's pet monkey attacked him during a set (he still has nightmares). Malavika was a 80s child star discovered on "Star Search," but had to change her name and abandon her promising career for IRS tax evasion reasons.

But the biggest reveal is the ending... turns out the whole thing was just a fantastical dream in the head of a hobo named "Ed," who had just feasted on some leftover Chinese food and was sleeping next to a snowglobe with the Press-Gazette building in it.

Unexpected Romance?

Sara: On a later deadline than usual, it was a scarce newsroom when catastrophe hits and Thomas and Adam find themselves bustin' booty to try and save Channel Surfing from a nasty virus that threatens to delete every post ever published. No more witty rants about "Top Chef's" Lisa. No more long, boring analysis of "Lost." Nothing.

Panic ensues as the two work to stop the virus before all is lost. As Roz fiercely types html code, Adam looks over his shoulder yelling, "Close tag! a href! a href!" Soon, the tension begins to boil over. Adam reaches out in an effort to right click, then stops, as his large man hand gently graces T-Roz's small Asian fingers. The two lock eyes. Adam brushes a stray piece of hair from Tom's face. Suddenly, Malavika shows up, as she had forgotten her notes from the Village of Suamico's budget meeting and needed them to help her fall asleep that night.

Afraid they've just been caught making goo-goo eyes at each other, Thomas plays it off and says the two were working on an intense "Pushing Daisies" post that required "soul searching." MJ buys their lie and scampers off, thinking nothing of it. The two breathe a sigh of relief, update the computer's Norton Anti-Virus and head home. The rest of the season, the newly sparked couple play a coy game of "will-they-won't-they" in the way of eye contact and facial expressions.

The time travel plot arc

Thomas: Unable to capture any real sense of mystery during Channel Surfing’s first year, the rest of the blogging crew places Thomas Rozwadowski’s beloved iPod in the middle of Walnut Street with the hope that he’ll get hit by a car and experience “Life on Mars”-style/coma-induced time travel while trying to retrieve it. This wacky new time-bending convention should also make up for the disastrous March addition of Sara Boyd, who readers found to be more annoying than Cousin Oliver on "The Brady Bunch."

Amazingly, the car crash hunch works, though Malavika, in all her evil glory, replaces David Bowie with Donny Osmond as the soundtrack to Thomas’ "flashback" at the moment of impact. Now in a 1973 Press-Gazette newsroom, the intrepid journalist has to figure out how to use a typewriter and can’t rely on Google to get his news, though he's also relieved to discover that no one knows who Brett Favre is and he'll never have to read another news blurb about how he sneezed or put a decapitated moose head in someone’s locker.

This whole "blog" mumbo-jumbo also draws raised eyebrows from co-workers who are too busy chain smoking and curling their thick 70s era porn mustaches to care. Plus, with personal computers more than a decade away, there’s no way to communicate any of Thomas’ witty banter, anyway.

Instead, he resigns himself to watching the Watergate hearings – it’s better than “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” – when suddenly H.R. Haldeman adopts Adam Reinhard’s voice and tells him that the Channel Surfing blog is in danger because of Gannett cutbacks and his genius is needed in 2008.

Is he really in 1973? Is he in a hospital bed dreaming all of this? Thomas must determine what’s real and imaginary, and ultimately, whether 2008 trumps 1973. After all, a zany sitcom idea about a guy tricking his landlord into thinking he’s gay so he can live with two gorgeous women is still four years away ... and might just be the golden ticket he’s been searching for.

Super special sweeps week guest stars!

Adam: 1) Having learned of the Channel Surfers’ venomous, but justified, lambasting of her cooking, personality, and ass face, "Top Chef" also-ran and water buffalo look-a-like Lisa Fernandes storms into the Press-Gazette newsroom, thirsting for revenge. She challenges the gang to a cook-off, to be judged by "Top Chef" host Tom Colicchio, the Foo Fighters, and President-elect Barack Obama. The catch is they can only use the microwaves in the lunchroom, which have been around since Eisenhower was in office. Lisa makes grilled shrimp with pickled shrimp salad, a shrimp cocktail, and for dessert, shrimp ice cream. Our heroes zap a bag of microwave popcorn, and win in a landslide.

2) With the touring production of "Wicked" enjoying a successful run in Appleton, it is announced that "Pushing Daisies”" cutie-pie Kristen Chenoweth will reprise her role of Galinda, which she originated on Broadway, for one night only. This sends Tom into a kind of fevered, slathering frenzy, and he immediately sets off to meet his pint-sized crush. After multiple attempts to gain access to the Appleton PAC’s backstage — including run-ins with security guards, several disguise changes (flower delivery guy, pizza delivery guy, the Tin Man), and a mishap involving trying to swing from the rafters into her dressing room only to get tangled in sand bags — Tom finally finds himself face-to-face with his lady love. The two share a touching duet of the theme from "Joanie Loves Chachi."

3) Oprah! (Who cares what the plot is? It’s Oprah!)

4) "Monk" star and Green Bay native Tony Shalhoub drops by for an interview with the Channel Surfers. All is going well until the room goes dark, someone screams, and when the lights come back, Adam is dead. The four remaining Surfers (and suspects), Tom, Malavika, Sara, and Kendra, urge Shalhoub to use the detective skills he’s surely learned by osmosis on his show to find the killer. Shalhoub agrees, and in the pursuing investigation, we find out the shocking truth: He has no idea what he’s doing. Real detectives are called in, and it turns out Adam simply choked on a cheese Ritz Bit. Shalhoub is ticketed for impersonating a police officer.

Second seasons are unpredictable -- they can be genius, they can be pitiful, they can leave the audience wondering why the networks decided to replace the show's writers with monkeys. Stay tuned to this blog to find out where this gang is headed this year.

-- Malavika Jagannathan, mjaganna@greenbaypressgazette.com, Sara Boyd, sboyd2@greenbaypressgazette.com, Thomas "Hobo" Rozwadowski, trozwado@greenbaypressgazette.com, Adam Reinhard, areinhard@greenbaypressgazette.com

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6 Comments:

Clever

By Anonymous Anonymous, At December 10, 2008 at 8:50 AM  

Don't sweat a second season. Pull a Whedon and cave in the fourth.

By Blogger Ms. Quarter, At December 10, 2008 at 3:28 PM  

Oh c'mon, Ms. Quarter, don't be ragging on Buffy Season 4. "Beer foamy!"

-Adam

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At December 10, 2008 at 4:48 PM  

That's the sexiest hobo I've ever seen.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At December 11, 2008 at 11:34 AM  

Roz, stop posting anonymously.

--Malavika

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At December 11, 2008 at 11:59 AM  

Tom could never be a hobo. He can't grow a five o' clock shadow.

By Blogger Antony, At December 12, 2008 at 3:08 PM  

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