The Insider: Meh-h-h-h-m-m-m-rie-e-e-e-e-s

Dec 28, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The Insider’s love affair with television developed relatively late in life.
For four Air Force brats who spent three formative years in Germany, English-language TV was often unavailable. And it would be years before a sense of irony would develop to make hearing Tonto address the Lone Ranger with “Vie gehts, Kemo Sabe?” sufficiently entertaining.
Through high school, TV was discouraged at home. For the following decade, working night shifts at the first of a handful of consumer and trade papers made TV not an option. And in those days, you had to actually be in front of the TV at the time a show was broadcast to watch it. It’s not up there with having to trudge through the snow to get to work—it was Florida—but it passed for a pop-cultural hardship for which The Insider compensated by drinking and otherwise misbehaving.
The first time The Insider finally saw “Saturday Night Live” live, she assumed she wasn’t getting the jokes because she wasn’t herbed up (as Jay Thomas says when retelling his Lone Ranger story to an always amused David Letterman on “Late Show’s” Christmas show, which is a tradition religiously observed here).
But eventually TV was embraced with a till-death grip, and the relationship since then has never been anything but very personal, beyond eclectic and extremely obsessive.
Since writing about TV became a job of 40-plus years, TV has been The Insider’s most constant companion (the lone marriage had barely limped to the 11-month mark when it expired).
There are the times of genuine sadness for those we’ve lost to death most foul and untimely and—now, as never before—by deconstruction.
But imagine having a job that required chronicling fashion dos and don’ts on the TV party circuit; being the canary in the TV coal mine; pimping for the programs and the people who make TV addictive, and hectoring those who made the bad or didn’t support good programming; as well as peppering an endless number of long-suffering people with an endless number of questions about why (fill in the blank) had happened.
The Insider is currently on the search for the reason why, at least in New York, there’s a hiccupy repeat of a couple of words at the end of Sam Champion segments on “Good Morning America.”
She’s wondering if the executives at WCBS-TV realize that their new letter-by-letter promo reads “TIT” before it reads “LATE NIGHT.” It’s guaranteed to stop the fast-forwarding but has not yet convinced The Insider to actually watch “Comics Unleashed” hosted by Byron Allen in a manner and format that defines “neither funny nor unleashed.”
She gets a kick out of getting a giggle out of Fox News Channel publicists when she asks when FNC is going to get an out lesbian for its lineup.
She’s paid to make gratuitous suggestions: It’s long past time for “Law & Order,” the show that begat a franchise that begat a back-end for creator Dick Wolf that would rival the GNP of most third-world countries, to retire the zinger at the end of the cold open. In hindsight, it’s a trope that should have died with Jerry Ohrbach, whose delivery has often been imitated but never equaled.
Why not have the Winchester brothers’ late and oh-so-lamented dad return from the dead once more on The CW’s highly entertaining and increasingly sophisticated “Supernatural” and bring with him Izzie, with whom he’s been having a ghostly affair on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”? Or so The Insider hears. She fell out of love and contact with “Anatomy” when the writers began relying on sexual musical chairs to drive the plots.
“Supernatural” remains high on the list of fan-f***ing-tastic but underappreciated shows that deserve bigger audiences than they’re getting. So do NBC’s “Life,” Showtime’s “Brotherhood,” Fox’s “Prison Break,” FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” and ABC’s “Life on Mars,” all of which produced heart-stopping season finales in the last month. Also on the list are the soon-to-return “Medium” on NBC, “Lost” on ABC and “24” on Fox.
C’mon. Would The Insider try to shove eat-your-vegetables television at faithful readers after she had fallen under the spell of the delicious magic TV can conjure up? Magic like the chemistry between David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel (who is Lee Remick reincarnate) on Fox’s “Bones,” or Mark Harmon as the steady center of CBS’ “NCIS,” or Simon Baker and his delightful third-swing CBS homerun “The Mentalist”?
No, no, no. Faithful readers know The Insider is into fun junk (“Big Brother”) and closed-captioning as a form of additional entertainment. But she’s also got a long record—you could look it up—of being an early adopter of “Police Squad,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Sopranos,” ABC’s original “Cupid” and “The View,” “Project Runway” “Veronica Mars” and “Two and a Half Men.”
Faithful readers can redeem themselves for having not flocked to HBO’s “The Wire” and “Deadwood” by resolving in 2009 to give earnest consideration to shows on the personal prime-time, must-see, albeit incomplete, list of fan-f***ing-tastic shows.
And The Insider will rest easy knowing her work here is done.


  1. The Insider’s work may be done but in being forced to the “done point” by her publication, we all in the industry are now denied a valuable window on and into the world we work in.
    One wonders what the vision her publication has of itself in the media future. Bland? Unneeded? Unnecessary?
    For me, I expect it to be all of the above and so herewith will be opting out of all its emails and offers.
    Good luck Insider. The smart ones among us will miss you.

  2. “Supernatural” remains high on the list of fan-f***ing-tastic but underappreciated shows that deserve bigger audiences than they’re getting.”
    AMEN!!!!! Though we have been getting some super ratings this season, no thanks to The CW!

  3. For the, “Life” of me, I don’t understand why “Supernatural” isn’t a Top 10″ show. Hunks, action, hunks, clever scripts, hunks, humor, hunks,thumping soundtrack, and hunks, at least one of whom can play thigh guitar to a perfectly lip-synched “Eye of the Tiger.”

  4. [sniffle] I’m not in the industry anymore, but I’m unhappy too.

  5. tissues, anyone?

  6. I, myself continue to be under the magic spell of David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel on Bones and enjoy it more than most other shows.
    It’s the only show I want to watch episodes more than once just to pick up the subtleties of the Booth Brennan relationship.
    May this magic long reign.

  7. I love Bones! I love watching Emily Deschanel & David Boreanaz mix up the magic on screen each week! Like I heard someone say earlier this week, these two are Sexy Perfection!

  8. It has been my great joy and unearned gift to know Grep for more than three decades. Those who came later to the unalloyed pleasures of her wit, acuity, and downright (if occasional) perversity — Big Brother, for God’s Sweet Sake? — surely join me in decrying the decision to cut her loose, while some remain on these pages, which will be paler and emptier without her, who seem little likely ever to approach her felicities of phrase, her pun-wallowing creativity, or her just plan damn good reporting, joined to lucid and intelligent writing.
    To paraphrase Christopher Wren’s valedictory: if you would look for what we are losing, just read that final column.
    And hope that she does not rest long. That wiser heads prevail. And that her byline does not flatline.
    Happy New Year, Michelle.

  9. would someone pass the tissues back, please?
    this feels sort of like being able to be a fly on the wall at one’s own funeral — minus the story that will be told then of being kicked out of a grateful dead party on my 49th birthday.
    thanks for the kind thoughts and warm reviews.


  11. Thank you for the fabulous Supernatural plug. I’ve been watching it since the Pilot and I’ve never had a show move me like it does.

  12. i tried it first on its first episode, as i try to do every new show, and was immediately hooked despite the fact that i am not a fright flick kinda gal. i get a kick out of everything about it, from the creaky car door to the rocking soundtrack and, as it has developed, the most existential conversations on commercial tv.

  13. “fan-f***ing-tastic”? I think it a pretty fair description of The Insider herself. 🙂

  14. Just wanted to say THANK YOU for the Supernatural plug !! Finally someone in the industry that knows a good show when they see one. I also agree with you on Prison Break, Bones, NCIS and the Mentalist.

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