Americans are Broad
|Photo by Sam Jones/Fox|
Keen Eddie, the new policier yeah, right on Fox (Tuesdays, 9 p.m.), is the kind of hopped-up Guy Ritchie knockoff that pulsates with so much energy it will make Ritchie himself, should he ever watch it, feel like an old man reared on the classics. Such is the fate of the contemporary trendsetter: One minute youre the idol of the Maxim lads, the next youre metaphorically rubbing Rogaine through your thinning hair. Anyway, he probably wont watch it. I hear Madonnas quite down on television these days, now that shes made her millions off MTV.
Since its one of the few dramatic series to get onto this summers schedule, already being swamped by a reality-show tsunami bearing everything from Surf Girls to Average Joes to American Juniors, one is tempted to be kind to Keen Eddie. It would be helpful, though, if the writers didnt treat viewers like morons wholl fall asleep if they have to listen to two lines of dialogue without something startling happening. What do I mean by this? Well, if Eddie (Mark Valley, Pasadena) eats a shrimp, it has to be a bad one so we can see him throw up. If he turns a doorknob, it must fall off in his hand. If he opens a bedroom door, there needs to be a couple behind it having sex. And if his dog meets a cat, he doesnt merely have to chase it (as dogs do), he has to fuck it (as dogs dont).
But then, Keen Eddie isnt really a drama, or a comedy its a cartoon. There are human beings in it, but they bear no more relation to actual humans than Bugs Bunny does to a rabbit. Something about London, where the show takes place, makes American TV writers nervous. Confronted with all that history, all that old gray stone, they jazz everything up instantly lest viewers think theyve wandered into an episode of Masterpiece Theatre. You may recall last years short-lived The American Embassy, also on Fox, in which a young vice consul gets a job across the pond. On the way over, she has sex on the plane and loses her luggage. Then, when she gets to her apartment, she finds out her roommate is a nymphomaniac and her next-door neighbor is a transvestite. Well, things turn out pretty much the same for Eddie: Hes sick on the plane, he loses his luggage, and it turns out that the apartment hes sublet is already inhabited by Fiona (Sienna Miller), a cute blond boutique owner whos bound to go nympho on him soon. (Yeah, but wheres the transvestite? ed.)
The story is as follows or perhaps I should say, as I was able to follow it: Due to a botched drug bust, NYPD Detective Eddie Arlette has to go off to London, where the drugs have ended up, hidden inside miniature replicas of Big Ben, all replicas of Buckingham Palace being sold out. Before you know it, hes been set upon by gangland freaks, hoodwinked by an actor pretending to be a criminal (comedian Alexei Sayle) and given a stern dressing down by his stuffy black British superintendent (Colin Salmon). Hes also got himself a partner called Monty Pippin (Julian Rhind-Tutt), a sort of aristocratic David Spade, who knocks off work at 6 on the dot and, despite being single, goes in for wife swapping in swanky sex clubs.
Needless to say, its all completely absurd, a carnival of hokey writing in a kinetic blur of jump cuts, slo-mo and sudden fades that make the average network cop show look like something taking place in a retirement community. The idea that interest and suspense should be generated by narrative and character is far too old hat for this crowd, which deals with all that stuff in the editing room. Still, Im told the 13-part series calms down later on, and if you close your eyes and listen to the music (Madness, the White Stripes, etc.), you may think youre in a bar with a decent jukebox. Or you could just go to a real bar and forget all about it. Of course, you wont be able to smoke, and you really shouldnt drive if youve had more than two drinks. What to do?
Maybe you should go abroad. Like Eddie. Or like the 24 contestants in The Amazing Race 4 (CBS, Thursdays, 8 p.m.), spinning madly around the world in a bid to win a $1 million prize. They started out somewhere in L.A., from where they had to drive through freeway traffic to the airport to catch a flight to Milan; then it was on to the Italian Alps, trudging through snow and dangling above chasms before making it to Venice (two contestants had been eliminated by then), where they dashed around the streets and alleyways, rode gondolas, and generally acted like bewildered tourists in fast-forward mode.
The competitors have been chosen with care, though not, perhaps, with quite enough of it to make them memorable not yet at least. Theres a gay married couple, a straight married couple, a lesbian couple, a virgin couple, a wives-of-NFL-players pair, two clowns, two air-traffic controllers, etc. . . . Watching them hotfoot it around Venice is like seeing a parody of the most abysmal form of travel, in which bickering lovers are always staring at maps, peering frantically at street signs, asking questions of uncomprehending locals, taking wrong turns, getting lost and never, ever, relaxing for a second.
How does a Venetian tell American tourists from all the other kinds? Theyre the ones running around with a camera crew behind them, saying things like:
Does this bus go to Venice?
I say we walk.
Run, Chuck, run!
We got it, guys, we got it!
Anyone speak English?
Youre being ultracontrolling here.
This isnt a street. Its, like, not even a hallway.
And to think this is the city immortalized by the likes of William Shakespeare, Thomas Mann, Patricia Highsmith and Nicolas Roeg. Wheres that little red dwarf when you need him? (Hint: Dont Look Now.) Oh well, theyll be somewhere else in the next episode anyway.
Though not in Paris, because The Real World (MTV, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.) has already grabbed it. More Americans abroad! And here I was thinking everybody was staying home this year.
Since the cast members arent going after prize money but just hanging out, at least theres time on The Real World to get to know people. Plus theres only seven of them, rather than 24, which helps, and no one gets eliminated at the end of an episode. So in terms of attention span, by todays standards were practically in Antonioni territory.
Paris looks good in the series, as youd expect. A shot of the Metro here (hot black couple French-kissing by the escalator), a touch of the Seine there. They even drag out an accordion player. Okay, hes a Turk, but you didnt think the French still played accordions, did you? Theyre up to le Moog synthesizer now.
There are three girls, three guys, and the joker in the pack, or sack Simon, whos gay, Irish and, at 18, the baby of the lot. Naturally, the girls spend a lot of time kissing and hugging him early on, while they decide who they really plan to spend time with, but one wonders how hell fare in the long term. Perhaps hell stun everyone by going straight and stealing away the pick of the female litter, 19-year-old Mallory from Chicago, who gave up a soccer scholarship to be on the show and has not, quote, had a relationship up to this point, unquote. But I doubt it. Hes spent way too much time plucking his eyebrows to turn back now.
Actually, most of the girls are in love with Ace, a hunky 24-year-old dude from Georgia. Ace is on the serious side, and the girls like that, but its driving Adam (from Beverly Hills) half out of his mind. Adams got the hots for Mallory, but Mallory doesnt care. Mallorys a mystery (but one someone will solve). In the meantime, while passions boil and tempers flare, bad boy Chris from Boston, who looks just a teensy-weensy bit like Elvis, is doing a nice job of biding his time and playing it cool. Without a shot being fired or a contestant eliminated, its almost what you might call suspenseful. Maybe the writers on Keen Eddie should tune in they might learn something.
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