Being a TV junkie, I confess to reading Tom Dorsey's column in the CJ. It used to be for information, now it's for a wicked form of fun in which I try to determine which shows Tom actually watched and which ones he read the press release for.
What irritates me the most is that Tom is not truly a critic, or even a reporter. His name gets a nice picture and plenty of space, but only on a rare occasion does he write something that can truly be considered criticism. And many times, he misses the mark completely.
Consider his column on Barbara Walters 10 Most Fascinating People. My comments are in bold.
Walters' list of 10 most fascinating people includes some duds
Besides Christmas shows, bowl games and basketball tournaments, the end of the year always means a flurry of TV specials reviewing the people and events that made news.
Barbara Walters, who is semi-retired from ABC, has been doing her "10 Most Fascinating People" of the past year since Bill Clinton's first year in the White House. Julia Roberts and Tim Allen were hot that year.
Every year Walters leaks the names of some of the celebrities to get people to tune in and leaves out the rest of the bunch to tease the audience into tuning in to see who they are. That means the folks used as bait probably aren't going to be crowned Most Fascinating. That's a good thing, because Tom Cruise and Teri Hatcher are two of those whose names have been released ahead of tonight's show at 10 on ABC. So here we have a column based on the fact he's not seen the show, but read the press release.
Why Cruise? Not for "War of the Worlds," which was less than a box-office blockbuster. WOTW made $234 million domestically to date in a down box office year, and is, according to Box Office Mojo, the number 2 movie this year and 43 of all time. I guess Tom was looking for #42. Additionally, it's Tom's biggest grossing movie. So it must be for hooking up with Katie Holmes, who is young enough to be his daughter. But, as my wife and Oprah Winfrey keep reminding me, he still looks pretty good to them. I think that means better than I do. Interesting to me that he fails to mention the second most compelling reason that Tom Cruise is fascinating (read: A train wreck), his devotion to Scientology and his nutty interview with Matt Lauer and Extra.
The showbiz couple seem happy when he stands on tippy-toes to kiss her. Now that I've got that cheap shot in, I'll just say that when the lists of who's in and who's out are made for 2006, I think Cruise will wind up being out unless Holmes saves him by delivering a lot of cute baby pictures. But come on, Cruise is one of the 10 most fascinating of the year? I don't think so. His story is certainly more interesting than alternatives Tom mentions below.
Hatcher is last year's news too. She was on everybody's magazine cover and interview show last season for being one of those "Desperate Housewives."
"Housewives" is already slipping in the ratings while "Grey's Anatomy" is on the rise at ABC. Ellen Pompeo, the cutie doctor in training on that series, is the hot star of the moment. She is? Either her or Hugh Laurie, as the anti-physician hero on Fox's "House."
There are some TV guys Walters is overlooking, too, for their comebacks. Topping the list would be Mark Harmon on "NCIS," followed by David Caruso on "CSI: Miami," Mandy Patinkin on "Criminal Minds" and William Petersen of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." They might have made the list if they had married women young enough to be their daughters or if their shows were on Walters' network. The comment about ABC is probably deserved, but three of those shows predate Desperate Housewives by several years and with the exception of David Caruso, I wouldn't say any of these people really made a "comeback".
Walters herself has made some top 10 lists. Check out amiannoying.com, one of those Internet sites that prove there's room for anything on the World Wide Web. Interestingly, it appears that she's NOT on the top 10 list here.
She was deemed irritating for posing softball questions. Why? Just because she asked some celebrity what kind of a tree they'd like to be? If Tom had done some research, he'd have found that the celebrity was Katherine Hepburn and the question was asked of Kate in response to HER saying she'd like to be a tree. The Web site also faults her for tap dancing as a kid under the alias Babs Elliot and for insisting she be photographed only on the right side of her face-lift. Oh, yeah, she also pronounces "R" like "W." And you thought I was hard on Cruise? Yeah, you were terrible.
I e-mailed my criticisms to Tom and the paper and got this response.
Thanks for your input...I was referring to the critical reaction and reviews of "War of the Worlds" ...I did do an Internet search on Walters and the tree comment. The sites I saw said Walters initiated the tree exchange,. What's a crutrnacker?
I can't remember a time when I've heard blockbuster used to qualify critical response, but if that's what he meant, so be it. As for the tree exchange, I will admit it is tough to find the full story of the tree, and most sites portray it as though she asked the question without prompting. But, I was able to find the story I read easily and quickly in the Wikipedia. And reading the story, I remembered Barbara showing the full clip on a special she had, which made it clear that Katherine Hepburn caused her to ask the tree question as a follow up.