Lowlight Reel

A richness of televisual embarrassments: The annual duds

SCOWLGATE: After the first presidential debate was televised, a video appeared on the Internet collecting all of the president's scowls and sneers into a chilling montage of disdain. A sitting president who couldn't control his facial responses any better than he could defend his policies, who repeated the same simplistic phrases like a stuck robot, causing some to speculate that the suspicious lump on his back might've been a battery. No way someone that incompetent could ever win re-election . . .

L'AMOUR FOU: I swore I'd never again watch The Surreal Life, that septic tank for has-been and never-quite-were celebs. But it sucked me back in this year with a freaky, spaced-out love match between Amazonian alien Brigitte Nielsen (ex-wife and co-star of Sylvester Stallone) and Public Enemy's Flavor Flav. What's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?

CRACK ME UP:My favorite TV gaffe of the year was a moment of unselfconscious, energetic ass-scratching on the part of pundit Andrew Sullivan at the end of Real Time With Bill Mahera burst of much needed comic relief after all that wrenching Election Day stress. His excuse: It itched.

DEAD AIR: Not only can anyone be a star via reality TV, but now apparently anyone can be a talk show host on CNBC. Execs aimed reasonably high with Tina Brown, moved down several notches with ad agency mogul Donnie Deutsch. But what were they were expecting from John McEnroe's hour-long chat spot—exclusive interviews with the Williams sisters? Weekly tantrums? Viewers fleeing in droves? Yeah, that must be it.

 
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