Friday, February 16, 2007

Joel Surnow's "Half Hour News Hour"

You're probably aware of Joel Surnow as the producer of "24," the action series that most of us love for it's excellent writing, exciting scenarios and clever, twisty plotting... and that so-called "conservatives" love for letting them vicariously live out a comfortably-naive empowerment fantasy wherein any terrorist threat can be dealt with simply through the right mix of macho red-tape-slashing, gunfire and Gitmo-lite "interrogation" - call it "Buffy: The Al-Qaeda Slayer."

Coinciding almost too nicely with the recent (moronic) controversy over whether or not "24" is "causing" detainee abuse by soldiers in the field (object lesson kids: stupidity, especially in regards to censorship, knows no party lines) Surnow has more-or-less opted to officially "out" himself as the allegedly-rare breed known as the "Hollywood Conservative." Granted, as "secrets" go this ranks somewhere around a former N'Sync member being gay on the "DUH!"-scale - Surnow and his show have been fetting rightie talk-show hosts for a few seasons now - but whatever, let him have his moment. Diversity of ideas in the media is overall a good thing, even if you disagree with them.

Anyway, the first new TV project to see the light of day from the freshly "outed" Surnow will be "Half Hour News Hour," purportedly a "conservative alternative to The Daily Show" that'll start airing this weekend. Those of you a little bit perplexed, having perhaps not realized that the broadly media-skewering "Daily Show" was somehow "liberal," well, understand that the show will be running on Fox News Channel; which has perfected the art of calling the competition biased in order to soften the edge of it's bias. Honestly, I've been looking forward to checking it out. I'm willing to hear from anyone, especially anyone I disagree with, especially if they can promise to be funny.

So, here's how Fox has been "teasing" the show:

Okay, so... cute idea, haphazardly executed. Troublingly, SNL did the same basic schtick with Al Gore months ago... and it wasn't all that funny then, either. Still, at least it demonstrates the glimmer of a "South Park"-style eagerness to raise a pre-emptive middle finger to your likely critics - though without 20th of Parker and Stone's acute comic genius. Also, it doesn't hold out much promise that the show will have the comic chops to withstand it's most daunting critique: That it's just a rip-off another popular show framed as an "alternative" to cover the copycat-factor. But, you never know...

...until you actually see footage from the show, which can now be seen here:

Hm. So... it's "The Daily Show," but with a mission-statement, flat hosts and jokes that were tired weeks ago. Oh, well. I'll reserve final judgement until I see the whole thing, but... yeesh. Pity, it would make the discourse that much more interesting if "conservatives" had a humor-based sounding board for their POV on a forum larger than that of talk radio, but the caveat is that it'd have to be GOOD. Sadly, it would appear that Surnow's people set out to do a right-wing "Daily Show" and instead have delivered a right-wing "Air America."