4B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, September 18, 2003
NIAMH SLEVIN - CAUGHT AVAsTGARDE
The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magaz
An inquiry to the immortality of the Sou
TO THE GOOD PEOPLE AT NBC
By Charles Paradis
Daily Weekend Editor
Why do you hate us so? Oh sure, it's
not like you've done any physical
harm to us or made slanderous
remarks about our mothers. No, you prove
your vengeance as you continue to hit us
where it really hurts.
With this new tirade of mindless, dreary
programming, you seem to try to dumb us
down more and more every season.
Now, I've gotten used to this kind of treat-
ment from the other networks. I mean, FOX
was never really known for its quality broad-
casts with series like the infamous "When
Animals Attack" and "Cops." Sure, "Ally
McBeal" seemed original for its time, mixing
legal melodrama, a scarily thin blonde and dig-
itally enhanced dancing babies. It's not hard to
see why that one didn't last. "The Simpsons"
was perhaps FOX's only legitimate claim to
fame, and even that has arguably gone down-
hill in recent years.
ABC appeared wholesome for a while; who
wouldn't love the Wonderful World of Disney,
right? Yet, even this Sunday-night schedule
could not preserve its goody two-shoes image
forever. Despite success with shows like "The
Practice" and "NYPD Blue," it eventually
stooped to the level of its fellow networks and
cultivated its sick fascination with reality
everything: "The Bachelor," "Celebrity Mole"
and "The Bachelorette." (Just between friends,
"According to Jim" isn't about to pull the sta-
tion out of the dregs of programming either.)
I stood by you, NBC, when you decided to
drag the dreaded "Good Morning, Miami" on
for yet another endless season of limp laughs.
And I defended you when you first joined the
bandwagon of reality TV. Everyone else was
doing it; why shouldn't you get in on the
But, of course, that was merely the begin-
ning of your downward spiral to the kingdom
of crapulence. "Fear Factor" wasn't quite des-
picable enough apparently so you had to cre-
ate a few more shoddy "reality-based" pro-
grams in order to corner the market. However,
this time you couldn't just rely on cheap
"Survivor"-esque thrills to win the viewers'
hearts. People wading in vats full of rodents
or eating various bug particle cocktails was
just not entertaining enough for modern view-
ers; although, the audience won't exactly
reject these delights when nothing better
strikes their fancy.
Thus, "Meet My Folks" came into being.
While the competition's dating shows focused
on one single twenty-something looking for
his/her match made in heaven, NBC preferred
to leave that all-important decision to irra-
tional family members. As much as we all
enjoy watching maddeningly shrill girls
whimper during absurd lie detector tests, this
had to be one of your most pathetic attempts
to boost ratings.
But wait! You then followed up with the con-
verse situation in "Who Wants to Marry My
Over the summer, you wanted to break the
monotony of "Must See TV" repeats, so you
introduced the second installment of "For
Love or Money." That's right. You made not
one, but two attempts to make this concept
interesting. Through a series of games and
quasi-dates, a woman falls in love with her
hunk and then waits for him to decide if love,
the kind you find during a couple of weeks on
a dating show, is worth more than one million
Tensions rise in those last 10 minutes, as the
audience lingers in front of their televisions to
hear Mr. Right's long-awaited answer. He says
two words, then cut to commercial break. He
adds two more words, then cut to commercial
break. Finally, he admits he chooses love,"
thank goodness, because what kind of man
would he be if he actually picked the money?
Although this goldmine came to its unfortu-
nate end, NBC bounced right back with its
end-of-the-season piece de resistance, "Race
to the Altar."
Kids, what were you thinking? Did this gen-
uinely seem like quality programming to you,
or have you ceased to care? After all, if
America's watching, does it really matter what
you're feeding it?
Sadly, the summer is over, and you're in a
bind. The substandard shows from the previ-
ous season had to be cancelled, and now you
have to fill the void with their replacements.
But you're not worried. You've got some big
stars on your side: Whoopi, Alicia Silverstone,
that woman from the GLADD bag commer-
cials. You are certainly golden now.
After all, you're not working with the same
ideas as last year. You're covering all new turf
in exploiting the American fear of other cul-
tures and the obsession with getting a little
something-something at the end of the day.
With "Whoopi," you have an Iranian hotel
handyman (of course, he has to be a former
militia man with experience in making
bombs), who thinks his Chinese guests are
going to give him SARS.
In your vast line-up of dating sitcoms, you
prove that everybody wants a little sex in their
lives. This pitch is sure to prove your contin-
ued originality and sophistication. You're not
willing to compromise that in order to produce
a fleeting HBO rip-off, right? "Coupling" and
"Miss Match" are bound to be this season's
hits, don't you think?
I just don't understand. The Peacock used to
bring us shows about absolutely nothing, and
we loved them. "Seinfeld," "Friends," "Mad
About You" - the list goes on. They were
funny, they were simple and they had little to
do with the state of the world around us.
We watched strangers wander aimlessly
through their adult lives and laughed because
they weren't us. These people were kooky in
all the ways we wished we could be. Too bad
they're just a tad out of date for you. You're
moving on to bigger and better things.
We've entered the era where people willing
to eat horse rectums on camera reign supreme
and watching someone else date seems more
appealing than going out to do it ourselves.
We're moving on. Reality shows require more
air-time and marketing creativity than silly lit-
Of course, we understand that you are only
following the network trend, and no one can
blame you for that.
- Niamh Slevin really does like TV she just
has good taste. If you agree with her or want
to contest her views, e-mail her at
After a brief summer hiatus away
from Ann Arbor - and, more
importantly, away from local restau-
rants - I was eager to return to my
old haunts and taste some of my
favorite dishes once I stepped back
on campus. On Monday, I walked
into Ashley's for lunch, expecting
the quality that had made it - up to
this point - my favorite local bar.
Nevermind the variety of beers on
tap, the centerpiece of my Ashley's
diet begins and ends with the deli-
cious Soul Sandwich.
Growing up in the south, the com-
bination of pulled pork barbecue and
coleslaw is a taste that reminds me of
home. For me, this is no novelty
meal, but rather a staple of cookouts
and family dinners.
I enjoy it not because it is exotic,
but because it is basic comfort food.
The name, Soul Sandwich, implies
the hearty goodness of the creation.
Saying it soothes the psyche.
Imagine my dismay when after I
ordered the sandwich my waitress
turned to me with a I'm-now-going-
to-crush-your-dreams smile and
said that they no longer served the
I was flustered.
Quickly, I scrambled to find a
replacement. But it just wasn't the
same. You cannot replace a meal
that you have anticipated for
months, with a simple bit of
Caribbean Jerk Chicken, no matter
how good it is. You just can't do it.
It is like replacing the victor's feast
with cookies and graham crackers,
no offense to the graham crackers,
but it just cannot be done.
Equipped with the new knowl-
edge that there would be no more
Soul Sandwich, I left Ashley's a lit-
tle wiser, and a little sadder. My
sense of disillusionment was mag-
nified by the finality of the event.
At least when I found out there was
no Santa Claus my parents contin-
ued to give me presents. This disas-
ter, on the other hand, offered no
easy solution to preserve my happi-
ness, while still being fully enlight-
ened as to the truth of the situation.
Since that fateful day I have won-
dered if Ashley's thinks it is too
good for the Soul Sandwich. Has
the once humble pub risen so high
that it can now scoff at we mere
bargoers in search of a small bit of
I've tried to figure out what could
have possessed them to cast off the
Soul Sandwich, but in all honesty, I
cannot think of a single good reason
to remove it from the bill of fare.
What would inspire someon
take to destroy the happiness o
many fans of the sandwich? Are t
sadists at work on South State Sti
Or is it simply a matter of laziness
If you go to Red Hot Lovers
can get them to put some cole s
on a barbecue sandwich. I've d
it and it is very good, but it isn't
same. Nothing can replace
experience of those hardw
tables, a pint of cold beer an
steamy sandwich that could ma
University Musical Society
Half-Price Student Ticket Sale
Sat, Sept 20
9 am - 12 noon
call 734-764-2538 for more details
or stop by the
Michigan League Ticket Office
check out our season online at
For one day only at the beginning of each semester, UMS offers
HALF-PRICE TICKETS to students. This extremely popular event draws
hundreds of students every year - last year, students saved over
$104,000 by purchasing tickets at the Half-Price Student Ticket Sales.
Some perfomances have a limited number of tickets available, so get
It's easy! Just make your way to the Power Center that Saturday
morning and wait in line to receive a sequentially numbered order
form. Fill it out by 12 noon with the number of tickets you and your
friends would like to purchase for each event. Turn it in and be on
your way. Pay when you pick up your tickets, October 1 - October 31
at the Michigan League. It's as simple as that! Get cheap tickets to
see the world's best music, dance and theater!