Screen Savors: No news is good news

Giving new meaning to the term 'filler material' HOT sinks to a new low with the sub-par program 'That News Show.'

mark little 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
mark little 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
What in blazes has gotten into HOT? In its search for content to fill its "new channels," the cable provider has come up with mostly junk. Recently, it's stooped so low as to assign two half-hour slots a week on its HOT Zone channel for That News Show, a round up of offbeat news items you can probably catch on YouTube. Although watching That News Show is a little less stressful than watching real TV news - no serial murderers, North Korean nuclear tests or VAT on fruits and vegetables - the result is grade Z TV. "If you're looking for news that's live, local and logical, that isn't this news show," intones hostess Nancy Regan (no, not the ex-president's wife), "this is That News Show." Well, at least she's got that right. This Canadian import is where "we monitor hundreds of newscasts from dozens of countries to bring you the weirdest TV news you'll find anywhere," promises Nancy. Promise fulfilled. First there was the cell-phone throwing contest in Finland (with the folks at That News Show provide a map for the geographically challenged) won by Michael and K from Germany, appearing as Pope Innocent and Pope Not So Innocent, offering "a winning combination of exercise and exorcism." Oh, sorry. We forgot to warn you. The folks at TNS are pun-crazy. Almost every segment is introduced with a "punny" intro. "Dog Day Afternoon," for example, was a rather pedestrian item about a service that watches Bostonians' dogs while they're away, described as, "a solution for dogs with a little too much time on their paws." Down, boy. Correspondents Mark Little and Amy Kerr are game for just about anything. Little ends his dog story with, "In my career as a TV newshound, I've stayed in places a lot worse that we just saw - a lot worse." To which Nancy replies, "You should really get yourself an agent." Indeed he should. Besides the cheesy quality, there's also the annoying fact that the Hebrew subtitles totally block out viewers' ability to read the rolling news reports at the bottom of the screen, a la Fox News or "real TV newscasts." We caught one, about a guy asking a cop in a marked police car if he wanted to buy some cocaine. Actually, this program would probably best be viewed in some altered state of consciousness. There was an item about a new series of dog toilets in China "they claim gives them a leg up on rival manufacturers." And another on the World Pillow Fight League in Toronto, with commissioner Stacey P. Case noting, "We have a lot further to go before the pillow fight league is put to bed." Believe it or not, there were even two items from Israel on this schlock show. The first featured Saya, a bionic secretary at Ben-Gurion University who was developed in Japan. It can say, "Nice to see you, who are you looking for" and supposedly show surprise and sad expressions. We weren't convinced. But we were appalled by the sexist comment made by reporter Amy Kerr. With the camera fixed on the robots legs beneath the robot's miniskirt, she offered, "At Ben-Gurion University, where heavy emphasis is placed on artificial intelligence and robotics, Saya is a perfect fit. Even if her most valuable assets are hidden under the desk." The second Israel item involved a company that takes requests over the Internet for someone to pray for them at the Western Wall. Not exactly groundbreaking news, as similar services have been around for years. So no, we won't tell you about the Bangkok World Toilet Expo (which was titled "Mad About Loo") or the doggy dance in Denver, featuring canines dancing with humans, with the reporter noting that "not all dogs can cut a rug as easy as they can pee on one." This program's pretty much an insult to intelligence. It is certainly not worthy the already high cable bills. It seems that HOT doesn't seem to care much. We noticed they're sticking yet another rerun of Greg the Bunny in the schedule soon. That News Show gives even fluff news a bad name. Enough so that somewhere Chet Huntley and David Brinkley are spinning in their graves. HOT subscribers should be screaming bloody murder and give the cable folks the news that they won't stand for such silliness in place of better programming. That News Show airs on HOT Zone on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 12:52 p.m.