Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

How have you been? Did you have a nice summer? How is the missus? Are the elves giving you any trouble? Does the Air Force fire missiles at you when you fly over Washington?

I have been a good boy this year, but you already know that because you are omnipresent: you see me when I'm sleeping, you know when I'm awake, and you issue nationwide Elf Alert System (EAS) tests. Anyway, I've held up my end of the bargain, so could you please use your quasi deity-like powers to give me the following items on my Christmas list?

Please tell CBS I want to see more football and less promos of their lame prime time programs. Oh, and if "Two and a Half Men" is America's #1 comedy, then I'm dating a Kardashian.

The next commercial pitchman who uses the phrase "(holiday or season) is just around the corner," should have Rudolph drop a dukey through his open moon roof.

Please make the FCC require all news programs that air segments on The Muppets (a Disney/ABC property), Justin Beiber, SpongeBob (a Viacom property), or Lady Gaga, to run a banner at the top of the screen for the duration of the segment stating THIS IS NOT NEWS, THIS IS A PROMOTIONAL PIECE.

When an advertiser uses his offspring in a commercial, please ask the IRS to deny that child dependent status on the parent's income tax filing. If the kid can be a television pitchman, he's earning income.

Please limit the number of country music award shows to no more than one per year. There's not enough good country music to justify more than that. And while we're at it, just give Taylor Swift her own category.

I like Brian Williams, but when he is anchoring, his job is to deliver the news. Present the facts. Nothing more. Every time any news anchor tells me how I should feel about a news story, please have somebody sock him or her in the kisser.

Please change the name of HLN to TMZ and be done with it.

Please tell producers of television dramas that the most important element of their craft is something called Honesty. It comes from the actors giving a moving performance that is inspired by quality writing and illuminated by creative and thoughtful directing. One of the finest moments I've ever seen on television was Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker giving a eulogy for a coworker. Archie didn't know until now that his friend was Jewish. He is conflicted. He's forced to work through some emotions. The camera moves in tight... I mean extreme close-up tight. The studio is quiet. No mawkish music. No coached audience reaction. No motion control camera. No tricks. Just Archie, a mournful, confused, and frightened man realizing the world wasn't always as simple as he thought it was, and that look his eyes as he finds the right words. Please, Santa, tell the producers of "Parenthood" and other dramas to watch Archie in that scene and learn from it. Turn off the grating, manipulating music in the last five minutes, and let the cast and the writing shine. In a world filled with internet scams and politicians and talk radio snake oil salesmen telling us what they think we should believe, we want... we need more honesty.

That's all I want for Christmas, Santa... a little more honesty. That's a lot to ask of television. But it's worth a try.

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