A few weeks ago I mentioned a pet peeve that drives me nuts in sitcoms, that is when a studio audience gets a little to involved with the scene oooing at a kiss or applauding an actor simply walking into a scene (sometimes holding the scene up because the actors have to wait for the applause to stop)! But there are other pet peeves that have always bugged me. And today I wanted to run through them.
A pet peeve of course is something one finds annoying that the majority may not. So while there is nothing really wrong with these things, they just bug me. These are not specific to any one show, network, or genre nor are they plot related or character related (that’s another list), just little things that I see or maybe used to see on TV all the time that drive me nuts. I already talked about how much syndication edits bother me so I won’t get into that again.
#10.Answering the phone in one ring
Here’s a small one to start. You don’t see this anymore for obvious reasons, but ever notice in the old days how phone’s only have to ring once on these shows? Somehow the character is never far from the phone. I have seen shows that are smart enough to realize a second ring may be believable, but usually it’s once. Also answering machines used to have a habit of kicking in almost instantly, when in real life it takes a few rings. Some complain about how people often hear the incoming message but honestly I had machines that did that. The show Empty Nest went one up on all of this, every phone on that show rang the exact same way! Yeah. Sure.
#9.To many damn commercials/Medical and Drug ADS
When I was a kid my father always complained that there were to many commercials. It never bothered me then. Man does it bother me now. It just seems like the ad breaks tend to go on forever! But there is an even worst thing. Why do we need to have ads for the medications that cause 200 different side effects? Then they always ask you to ask your doctor about it. What doctor is going to say “What’s that? You heard about that on TV? I hadn’t even thought of that!”. We also get ads for illness’s which bug me. I am all for it if the ad is about a charity or benefit to raise awareness, but just to tell us that it’s out there is to much.
Oh yeah, let’s talk about this one! Ronald Regan used to love doing prime time press conferences, and delayed many show I was waiting to watch. But what used to really piss me off was how many times a show was delayed by Football or Golf some other damn sport. If I had a nickel for every time I waited patiently for Star Trek TNG to begin….Argh! If you’re really lucky it isn’t delayed, it cuts into the show and you miss something! And these days some networks like TV Land have weird ass times for the shows to begin and end. And even worst, TBS love to run the end of one show literally into the start of the next one. That makes trying to DVR the episode so much fun! Either I get the end of a different episode, or the end of the episode I am watching gets cut off because it started late! AARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Um, sorry about that.
#7.The laugh at the end of the episode
You don’t see this one as much as you did in the old days,but man was it around once upon a time. It was the same thing. Every episode the story was over and they needed to find something to wrap it up. What do they do? They have the characters exchange dialogue and make a joke, and suddenly freeze frame on the group laughing. This is so annoying, even Star Trek did it at least once! The Brady Bunch was really bad with this one,usually making Alice the person who makes the joke.
#6.”I’ll Explain it to you Later” or “It’s a long story”
From a story point of view I guess this makes sense. You donâ€™t want to bore the audience by repeating things they have already seen or been explained. But canâ€™t these writersâ€™ find a more original way of dealing with this? If I became aware of a situation and someone said that to me I would be angry. Explain it to me! These words are repeated so often I canâ€™t even list all the times I have heard it. Itâ€™s a writerâ€™s trick to avoid unnecessary exposition, and it really shows. It also gets overused, I have seen it used in scenes where it would have taken five seconds for the others to fill the character in. But instead we get â€œIâ€™ll explain it to you laterâ€. Annoying! Sometimes the writers will find a way for the character to be filled in (cell phones for example) so this may be disappearing these days.
Heck we even get this in Star Trek when Picard wants to know what is going on and someone will say “It’ll be in my report” or something like that. Argh!
#5.The “you’ve got cable?” joke
This was a big one in the 80’s, and it always drove me nuts! The gag is simple, a person puts the TV on and instantly they hear the sounds of people…you know. This is followed by a shocked expression and the line “you’ve got cable?” or something similar. Heck even Seinfeld couldn’t avoid a version of this gag! When cable first came around the big thing was the adult TV, which was of course eventually made pay per view when cable companies realized kids were watching. Then it became about the movies you could watch at home for free. But what bugs me even more is when the character turns the set on, reacts to the first thing they see but rather than flipping the station, just turns it off as if that’s literally the only thing on. It’s a contrivance to keep the character from watching TV and it’s annoying. Thankfully by the 90’s sitcom characters were watching TV as any normal people do.
They don’t do this anymore, but when I was a kid while credits rolled at the end of a show (remember credits at the end of a show?), a voice over would always come on. It usually was a promo for the next show or maybe the local news, or even something on the next day. And it drove me nuts! I don’t know why, but I hated these damn things! Sometimes they came on over a still image and that was ok, but usually it would come on over music or dialogue that I would have rather heard, at times literally playing over people talking! You still see these in re-runs of some TGIF shows when a voice comes on to announce the production company, but in the old days they were all the time on the networks. And I hated them every single time!
#3.”Stay tuned! We’ll Be Back with more after this”
We’ve all heard this one! The show is basically over, but they need to have one more commercial break. Of course, they want you to come back after the break so that you will keep watching the show coming on next. So they tease that there’s “lots more show” so stay tuned! Usually when the show does come back it’s a little tag and then the credits. It makes sense but it’s also really annoying. Just once I’d love to hear “Yeah the show’s basically over, you can go to bed now if you want”.
Oh this one kills me! Let’s say you’re going to air a re-run. But you want to trick the audience into thinking it’s something new. What to do? How about taking one line, or possibly a minor B story, and creating an ad around that? When people see the ad they will wonder what that is about since it they wont remember the random scene…until they watch the actual episode and see it was just a small part of the show. Brilliant! Yes I am teasing but networks have been advertising re-runs like this for as long as I can remember…and it drives me nuts! Maybe because I fell for it more than once. I also hate when stations take two shows and try to force a connection between the two because they;re on the same night. One recent example TBS tried in vain to make it seem like The Big Bang Theory and The King of the Nerds were connected in some way by showing a clip from the reality show and then a Big Bang clip apparently reacting. It’s just lame who would fall for that?
By the way news stations also do this kind of thing when they spend a whole night teasing a story and when you see the newscast the story lasts a whole thirty seconds!!!
#1.Inappropriate Laugh Tracks
I commented that I hate a studio audiences that get to involved in the show. But I am glad they are there. Yes I like the laugh track. It really does help to enjoy certain shows when you hear others laughing and having fun. The same way it’s more fun to watch a sporting event with a bunch of people. Or why a standup comedian does better with a larger crowd. Some shows almost need that added studio audience laughter. For instance in my article on The Earth Day Special I noted that the scenes with the sitcom characters are so DOA without that added studio audience. And I know that very often the actual studio audience laughter is “sweetened”, I don’t care that doesn’t bug me.
It does bug me when a show has laugh tracks when the show is clearly not funny, or there is no reason for the laughter in the scene, it’s just there. But even worst, when the laugh track is used on a show which is totally inappropriate! Here are some examples. Gilligan’s Island had a laugh track. Sure that makes sense. MASH had a laugh track, though not in the surgery scenes thank goodness (or the more intense episodes). Still it makes no sense to have it since we know no one is watching it live!! Besides MASH wasn’t that kind of show. The Flintstones and Jetsons had a laugh track. WHY??? THEY’RE CARTOONS!!!. Hanna Barbera had a thing with that though since it appeared in many other cartoons they produced in the 70’s, until wiser heads prevailed. The Muppet Show had a laugh track which was lame (though technically there was supposed to be an audience out there). Finally, I adored You Can’t Do That on Television as a kid but the corny, clearly fake laughter they randomly jammed into various scenes did get a tad annoying.
While I miss the standard three camera sitcoms they used to have, at least the shows that do not use that format are smart enough to stay away from adding stupid laugh tracks. From Wonder Years to The Office to Scrubs….all bucked that trend. And I read that MASH DVD’s give the viewers the option to omit the laugh track altogether. COOL!!
So what about you guys, any TV pet peeves that you want to share? I know some would say product placement but that doesn’t bother me. And some would also say re-runs, but do you guys think that bugs me?