REVIEW: Joey, the Complete 2nd Season (DVD)
There is no such thing as bad television.
After popping in disc one of Joey season two, I assure you that I still believe this to be true with every inch of my bloody, pulsating heart.
Admittedly, there are a few shows out there that — to an untrained viewer — initially seem like garbage. Jennifer Love Hewitt whispers sensually to ghosts. Trash bin. Charlie Sheen is a sex predator living with some closet gay and a small child. Total landfill material.
Joey Tribiani moves to LA to become a serious actor. Hmm…
I refuse to libel these shows by labeling them “bad television.” There is no bad television, only bad consumers of television. For the purposes of this review, I’m going to refer to these shows collectively as. . .
Terrivision. n. terr-i-vis-ion. (tĕ’əvĭh’ə)
A clever and catchy mash up of the words “terrible” and “television” created soley for the purposes of this review. All rights Reserved, 2008.
Terrivision is not bad. It’s a challenge. You need to create a backstory that will allow you to enjoy whatever terrivision you are being exposed to. Anyone who is creative should have no trouble making Joey just as entertaining as the Sopranos.
Here’s my default strategy. When I don’t have the time to research an effective backstory for the characters on, say, Corner Gas, I just view the program under the assumption that at least one of the actors is blackout drunk. One of the supporting actors knows, but is keeping their mouth shut. The boom operators and camera dude exchange glances, trying not to giggle.
This always worked when Richard Karn (a.k.a. Al Borland) was hosting Family Feud. He was chugging Seagrams in his dressing room during commercials, and groping female Feuders during shots of the game board. Everything he said or did became uproarious, and I had a solid half hour of entertainment when nothing else was on.
So in order to appreciate Joey for all his brilliance, I needed to give him a backstory that would make the show work for me. So, I thought about it: he’s just moved to a new city. He has all new friends. He doesn’t even so much as reference his old Friends in this new series. It’s as if they were left behind in some other televised dimension.
What could have happened in Joey’s life that made him move to a new city and abandon everything that was once important to him?
Maybe he didn’t HAVE a choice.
And just like that, I have my backstory:
THE UNITED STATES FEDERAL WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM.
It was a rainy night in New York City. Joey Tribiani had just finished an audition uptown, and he was walking down a deserted back alley in hopes that he’d make it to 20th Ave. to grab a taxicab. The audition didn’t go so well that evening, did it Joey? But his night was just about to get worse.
As Joey is about to pass by a back entrance to a seedy bar, a metal door slams open and two men come bursting forth from the basement staircase of the building. A taller, full figured man dressed in leather is pressing a short Asian man with a white collared shirt up against the brick wall. He’s holding a gun to his head.
“This is a message to your people,” he says. “Don’t fuck with Jimmy’s money!”
“Here. I’ll write it in blood.”
Bang. Lights out.
Joey knows he’s just seen something he wasn’t supposed to, so he turns around the opposite way, sprinting for the street.
“Hey you! Don’t move!” Bang, Bang, Bang.
Joey receives three abdominal gunshot wounds and goes down. Lights out for Joey Tribiani.
He wakes up in a hospital bed, but he’s not in a hospital. Two men tell Joey that he witnessed a murder performed by a man who is pretty deep into organized crime. The gunslinger left Joey for dead. Thankfully, a neighbouring shopkeeper heard the gunshots and the police showed up before he could finish the job. The bad news is, they know Joey is alive. They know he’s alive, and they’re out for blood.
The men, who we later learn are FBI, advise Joey to move to L.A. They tell him to keep his first name and his last initial.
Leave everything else behind.
So, Joey T is currently living in Los Angeles. Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica and Pheobe all think he’s dead. In fact, they went to his funeral. Now that his Friends have moved on, Joey T is living in Los Angeles, learning, loving, and laughing all the way (that last bit was from the back of the DVD box, incidentally).
Suddenly, everything Joey says has deep meaning. After a quip like, “HEYY, LADIES ARE SEXY AND I’M NOT SMART,” you can really see the fear in Joey’s eyes. There’s subtext to every single quote, and you’ll find yourself wondering if Jimmy’s coming to look for Joey in the City of Angels.
Dammit Joey, maybe attempting to be a professional actor wasn’t the best career choice if you’re trying to lay low.
So you see, with a little creativity and access to Wikipedia, you can turn terrivision into excellivision. It really grinds my gears when people are all, “Oh, I don’t even have a TV. I prefer films,” or “I don’t watch TV, it’s SO BRUTAL.” The onus is on the viewer. If you don’t like the show, you aren’t trying hard enough.
In short, Joey sucks so much ass, but I had so much fun turning it into something great. I’m like Professor Xavier and shit. And you can be too!
Oh hey, the magic bullet infomerical is on. I like to pretend it has real magic in it.