Love Shaft Monday, E4 One Tree Hill Monday, E4
Don't Trust The B---- in Apartment 23 Thursday, E4
Love Shaft is the latest programme built around the dubious challenge of getting young humans to mate. Zoos run similar schemes with pandas and flightless birds but those involve some dramatic tension. Here a shallow girl has to choose between a cocky (pea)cock, a man so poor he can't afford a shirt (I assume that's why he's shirtless) and a creepy friend who has stalked her all the way from home.
All are introduced into a confined space with her (an "elevator" or, if you will, "Love Shaft") to engage in tacky stunts.
In one sequence the female protagonist has to guess whether a massage has come from her muscle-bound love match, an old lady or a dwarf. When the old lady and dwarf didn't just beat them to death with their bare massage-giving hands, I lost interest.
The "will they won't they" drama at the heart of teen dramas is much more reminiscent of tentative panda mating. And when it came to "will they won't they" teen dramas, Dawson's Creek was the king and all since have just imitated it.
Dawson's Creek ended with Dawson producing a television programme about "The Creek" so this week One Tree Hill ended with a Dawsony person making a telly drama about "The Hill."
Of course, One Tree Hill had its own innovations. It perfected the pointless montage, in which characters gazed moodily into the distance to blandly emotive rock music.
This technique was originally devised as an insurance policy against bad acting (the music is sad, therefore the character is sad), but soon it became the unearned money-shot at the end of an hour of emotion-porn (feels like real emotion but leaves you feeling empty inside).
Almost the entirety of the One Tree Hill finale was done in the montage style.
Most of the angsty story arcs were resolved, so characters repeatedly said how proud they were of one another (I suspect One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn wants a hug). "It's funny how our past frames the person we used to be and never lets us be the person we are," gibbered bad-girl-come-good Brooke as though about to have a seizure.
Worse still, not only had these particular pandas mated, but they'd begotten cute precocious "children" of the Hollywood type.
These big-eyed abominations toddled around telling people they loved them, giving gap-toothed smiles and making people cry, before being sedated by their handlers and returned to the secure labs where they were created (the adoring looks given to these "children" by their "parents" couldn't mask the terror induced by their presence).
Anyway, by the time the adults had congregated at Hayley's club to sing along to the programme's own theme song I had succumbed to the television equivalent of food poisoning and was retching all over my computer.
Indeed, to paraphrase another writer: I am vomiting as I write this.
James Van Der Beek, who played Dawson in Dawson's Creek, bears some responsibility. His punishment is that he must spend all eternity being Dawson.
In the new heightened-reality sitcom from America, Don't Trust the The B---- in Apartment 23, he plays a version of himself forever trying to escape The Creek while simultaneously using the theme song to seduce women.
These bits are quite funny but really only make up a subplot. The main story concerns a good girl called June sharing a flat with a bad girl called Chloe (whose best friend is Van Der Beek).
It begins with Chloe admitting to June, "I screwed your fiance on your birthday cake and I'm going to be late with my rent," but ends by revealing that Chloe has one of those pesky secret hearts-of-gold beloved by telly writers. I know the way -- I have one myself.
Love Shaft HIIII
One Tree Hill HIIII
Don't Trust The B---- in Apartment 23 HHHII