TV Critics Makes Suggestions for Lent, Plugs Roswell

From the “Seattle Post-Intelligencer”:

Make Lent painless with this sacrificial ‘miss list’

Wednesday, March 8, 2000


As kids, my brother and sisters and I would always have to give up five pleasurable things during Lent as a sign of our Christian self-discipline. I once promised to give up lentils till my mom reminded me I had never eaten lentils in my life. Still, it became a game among my siblings and me to forgo something we wouldn’t really miss. In that spirit of sacrifice on the EZ plan, I hereby abstain from the following during this Lenten season.

* “Providence.” After panning the first few episodes last year, I confessed that I’d somehow become addicted to this weekly taste of treacle, maybe because I grew up in Rhode Island. It certainly wasn’t because of the writing, which Melina Kanakaredes praised effusively at the TV Guide Awards Sunday night, but which is about as engaging as the fine print on a car-rental agreement.

* “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.” The party’s over. Time for Regis to pack it in and go looking for a successor to Kathie Lee. I realize he just signed a new big-bucks contract with ABC, which means “Millionaire” will overstay its welcome by a factor of jeezlouise, but when I’m surfing these days and I come across the all-too-familiar set with its high-tech gloss and overwrought music, my reaction registers somewhere between torpor and phlegmaticness. This is partly good, because I like to use the word phlegmatic, but bad for ABC because I hit the remote faster than you can say, “Is that your vinyl ant, sir?”

* “Ally McBeal.” Hard to believe I used to rearrange my schedule to see this show. Now Monday night rolls around and I don’t even remember it’s on. Maybe it’s just me, cuz the show is still Fox’s most-watched, but I prefer to remember the likable characters from the first season, not the unpleasant narcissists they’ve become.

* “The X-Files.” Don’t tell anyone, but it actually became the “Ex-Files” for me sometime last season. Maybe it was the move to L.A., maybe it was just the ennui creeping in during the sixth season. Or maybe the truth really isn’t out there in the ether. It’s in “Roswell,” on The WB.

* Local news pandering. After witnessing something on KING/5 last week, I’m really ready for a break from local news. Remember the story about the little boy in Chehalis who retrieved his mom’s handgun from its hiding place, took it outside and fired it into the ground in front of his playmates? In reporting the story, KING/5 interviewed two youngsters, one identified as 8 years old, the other 6. Even assuming that the parents had given their permission, did it occur to anyone at KING, especially in this post-Columbine era of raised consciousness, that putting kids on camera — especially kids who’ve barely reached the age of reason — is insensitive, manipulative and just plain icky?