Monday, March 31, 2008

Free Radio: Boom or Bust?

The American public has always been fascinated with celebrities. The endless racks of tabloids at the supermarket are testament to this. Specifically, we like to watch celebrities hit rock bottom. I think South Park did a fine job with this phenomenon two weeks ago in the Britney Spears episode.

It is refreshing to see celebrities turn the tables on the American public once in awhile for a bit of self-parody. I recently finished watching the HBO series, Extras. In that show, a prominent celebrity guest stars each episode and is made to look like a buffoon. I will return to Extras in the future, but for now, I am going to talk about a great new VH1 show, Free Radio.

Free Radio is reminiscent of The Howard Stern Show in that it is a mash-up of radio and television. The main character is Lance Krall, an intern (and improv comedy actor) that lands the dream job of hosting his own show at a prominent radio station. The show is called “Moron in the Morning.” In the course of the half-hour, Lance belittles and discredits celebrity guests, often unintentionally. On this past week’s episode, he complimented Ray Romano for his show, which was great “for the first few seasons.” Lance speaks his mind about celebrities we often go out our way to protect. We prefer to pick apart a person’s personal life but not professional work. For Lance, nothing is off limits. The truth is, Everybody Loves Raymond did suffer with time. It just took a dimwitted intern to tell the star of the show that. The supporting cast is wonderful too.

Free Radio takes all the problems with American celebrity worship and makes them funny. The stars go on the show voluntarily and are in on the joke. Celebrities are most compelling when they are vulnerable.

Verdict: Boom. If you can spare a half-hour on a Friday night to watch this show, do it. Otherwise, invest in DVR, TiVO, or perhaps a VHS tape. You will not be disappointed. This is one my favorite new shows.

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