Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Industry Shocker: America's Funniest Videos? Not that American

Ava and C.I. here. On Tuesday morning, repeated calls came in to both of us from a friend at ABC. By Wednesday, it was several friends at the network calling. (As well as a few "friends.") The original caller, the one we'd spoken to on Sunday, told us, that we "had to" write about the new development. We're not real big on the "had to"s even on a lazy day. (Not that either of us have seen too many of those.) But if it will stop the calls . . .

To bring everyone up to speed, in case you missed it, Sunday, at The Third Estate Sunday Review, we contributed this: "TV Review: America's Funniest F**king Videos." As Jim notes in "A Note to Our Readers" (those are collective contributions, the notes, but Jim has the last say because they are his favorite parts of each week's edition):

We wanted this up as soon as they finished it. They declined. They wanted to get the reaction of a friend at ABC first. The only argument we had with them over this (no, we didn't argue "Post it now!" -- we've learned that lesson at least) was asking them to go back and take out some qualifiers. This is a critique, it's opinion. They've established what they heard. (We all heard it too when they asked us one by one to listen to something and tell them what we heard.) Ironically enough, if we hadn't had so many technical problems, we wouldn't have this review. They both recorded Friday's America's Funniest Videos but they never had time to watch. When multiple techincal problems ensued, they end up going off to watch the show. C.I. was sick all week and wasn't really sure if there was a TV review inside. Ava was fine with taking a week off. (We were fine with it as well and suggested it when the technical problems first started.) The problems ended up giving them time to watch the show and once they did, they had to write about it. Again, we've heard the recording. We know what was said. We're guessing most people missed it or this would be the water cooler topic of the weekend. (They take it beyond the water cooler.)

We weren't going to post it without giving a friend at ABC a chance to respond. His reaction wouldn't have killed the review; however, we wouldn't have been comfortable posting it until he knew what we were writing of.

For anyone who missed it, we believe we heard the f-word (twice) on Friday's show. We played it for him over the phone after he'd assured us that would never happen (that word being aired). His reply (as noted in our review) "It sounded like the f-word."

Well ABC's gotten a few complaints. We didn't ask anyone to complain. We didn't provide a contact page or e-mail address. We think they're lucky the review's on a left site. Had it been elsewhere, say a right-wing site, they probably would have heard about this much more than they did.

Did the f-bomb get dropped? That's what it sounded like Sunday. To us and everyone we played it for. Doesn't mean it happened. It might just sound like that to people who are listening closely. (Other than the friend at ABC, we didn't tell anyone we played it for why we were playing it. We just asked them to listen and tell us what they heard.)

Now we've played it again today. At ear shattering decibils. (Or, to use a once popular term, "Cher Blare.") We believe we hear "totally, totally" in front of what we hear as the second f-word.

We could be wrong.

At least one affiliate has inquired about the broadcast due to a complaint (that's what we're told).* The official response has been crafted.

We'll happily go with that. It's just as awful as the f-word if you ask us. (As we noted in the review, we use the f-word. The f-word doesn't bother us.)

Here's how the official response (we're told) is going, "The clip that was aired was not of people speaking English." What you say! Hold on. "It was a submission from the Czech Republic." Not only that but Standards & Practice supposedly heard it before it aired. (We're offering the offical response, we know much more than we're telling here.)

That's going to be the defense? That words resembling "dude" and "totally, totally" echo in another language? Well have at it, ABC.

But in their rush to craft the official response, did they forget the title of their own show? We'll remind them: America's Funniest Videos.

It's not Czech Republic's Funniest Videos. We'll also remind them that Tom Beregon's only line about the clip is the following: "Some guys talk trash, some guys live it." That's all he has to say about that clip. On a show called America's Funniest Videos.

Now we don't think they're funny, let alone the "Funniest." Apparently, according to the official response, they aren't even necessarily "American." They are videos. But that's not what the feel good, toss the nation's name in the title, show promotes, now is it?

You think families are tuning in on Friday's to watch, "Funny clips from foreign countries?" No, we don't think so either. In fact, except when those types of specials promise sexual overtones, "sexy commercials from foreign countries" those specials don't do too well in the ratings.

What we thought we were watching, what we'd assume most people thought they were watching, was videos from America. Bergeron tells the audience at the end, "And remember, if you get it on tape, you could get it on cash." We didn't realize it was a global lottery.

ABC has their official response. We don't think it's an improvement.

But if that's what they're going to go with, go for it. Czech Republic's Funniest Videos!

How do you think that's going to play out to the viewers? Think they might wonder which videos are, in fact, American? We think so too. The premise sold is that we're watching videos from one region but that's apparently not the case ABC's presenting.

Maybe their official response will hold? Maybe no one has a videotape?

We keep copies of any show we review for seven days. If there's an issue that comes up, we go back to the show and see if we were incorrect. We'll hold on to our copies of this one a lot longer than that.

In the meantime, be sure to check out Czech Republic's Funniest Videos. Airing on ABC, the American Broadcasting Network.

The e-mail address for this site is

We have typos on accident in our reviews. We also have intentional typos. We were told by everyone calling from ABC that there were rumors of an e-mail coming into The Third Estate Sunday Review on this. It didn't come in which is too bad because we're sure that, just as they deny the f-word, they'll probably deny the "Czech" issue as well. We wish we had a copy of that.
But we did reply to everyone who wrote. This was the first time reading the e-mails on the TV reviews in some time. We stopped reading them a long time ago. Ty passes on questions and we provide answers to him. But one issue, for two people, that we came across tonight was: you mispelled ""
No, we didn't mispell that. We meant to type ""
That's one of the many private jokes we do for friends and quite a few friends at ABC got that joke. Ty does try to go through and clean up the typing for us. We appreciate that, though we didn't know it was being done. Now that we know it's being done, we make sure to explain the private jokes to Ty so they don't get "corrected." "" was intentional.
We delayed writing this when we realized that we'd have to write about this for a number of reasons (main reason for delay is that this is a busy week). Before this went up here, we contacted everyone involved with Sunday's edition to discuss where it should appear?
The feeling was that those who had read it wouldn't check back until next Sunday because The Third Estate Sunday Review posts only once a week. A number of their readers are members of The Common Ills community so it was thought that it should go up here. For the record we both felt it should go up (tonight) at The Third Estate Sunday Review. It will go up there Sunday.
We'll throw out something else. We're not interested in being interviewed. We've both expressed that repeatedly. If someone needs something on background or clarified, we're happy to help out. But Jim attempted to nicely turn down a recent request that came in to speak to us (Ava and C.I.). While we were in the e-mails, at TTESR tonight, we saw that the person Jim had replied to had written again and wanted to speak to us on the phone. In this instance, it's over a show we positively criticized. (As opposed to a producer who has been angry at us for months and apparently thinks that speaking on the phone will somehow solve it.) Negative or positive, every thing we have to say is in the reviews.
It was a very kind (and flattering) request but we toss those reviews out at the end of the all night marathon. We don't mistake them for art nor do we go back later and read them. We wouldn't if we had the time. We don't have the time. And a phone conversation about any of them isn't high on our list of things to do. (Or things to make time for.) We did reply to every new e-mail we came across. (On the TV review or on another feature.)
We're glad that so many people enjoy them. For those who don't, just follow our lead: don't read the reviews.
*We didn't encourage anyone to complain Sunday and we're not encouraging it now. But just for future ref, complaints to affiliates get better results than complaints to a network. An affiliate is more likely to listen to a viewer and the network's more likely to listen to an affiliate than to a viewer. While we're tossing out tips, note that if you're attempting to be cast for, say, a show on NBC and you're agent is doing nothing to help you, by all means go to the NBC website, have your friends and family as well, and praise yourself. As one of our friends can attest, that's how you go from cancelled show to "hot" (or semi-hot, no offense intended, ___) career.