Thursday, January 15, 2009


Though I was pretty much raised on network TV, I admit I barely watch it these days, so who am I to second guess the wisdom of the programming poobahs at CBS? Nonetheless, I don't feel like I'm going too far out on a limb when I say their notion of giving John Mayer a variety show is a profoundly bad idea.

For one thing, you can't do variety shows anymore. Yes, I'm a devotee of the form at its worst (and watch out, I could bust out a Lynda Carter clip at any minute), but that's just it: The variety show is essentially a relic of a bygone era, a corny joke-and-music machine produced without any sense of irony whatsoever. To even attempt such a thing now--as we learned from that Rosie O'Donnell stinkburger a month or two ago, and that Jessica Simpson/Nick Lachey horror from a few years ago--is to admit to propping up a dead horse, a pointless effort in giving us a form of entertainment we clearly no longer want.

But the even more mystifying aspect of this concept is its host. John Mayer? Really?

Does anybody, anywhere, care about John Mayer? Isn't he mostly famous for boning Jennifer Aniston, when he's not boning a parade of anonymous supermodels? Beyond that, what? He seems like an affable enough presence when he has a guest spot on someone else's show, but so what? Is bland likability all it takes to get you a TV deal these days?

But presumably, the focus of the show would be on Mayer's music, which is...Let me put it this way: I used to date a girl who had a copy of Heavier Things on her kitchen counter, where it always seemed to stay. When I asked her if she ever listened to it, she said no, she'd ordered it through a record club and only played it once and never bothered giving it another spin. She'd left it on the counter to remind her to drop it off at Goodwill, but somehow always forgot. That's John Mayer's music: So utterly dull you can't even remember to dispose of it.

But hey, the ladies seem to like him (well, not any ladies I know, but apparently CBS has demographic studies suggesting they do), and he's vaguely telegenic, and maybe if he has a show he can persuade Aniston to guest star (which would be ratings gold, because her post-Friends career has gone so well) and presumably he knows other famous people who could stop by and hang out and...what? Be famous?

The very existence of this show could be more than just a portent of the End Of Days, it could be The Big One itself: The day the world is finally bored to death.