PASADEMA, Calif.--Critics went ape this morning at the Discovery Network sessions at press tour.
Hot off yesterday's heady PBS sessions, the first day of cable brought the usual collection of freak shows and reality junk. Two dudes who pick up rocks in the dessert were promoted as Meteor Men. An urban farming show called The Fabulous Beekman Boys was dismissed by one critic as "Gay Green Acres."
Two shows from Investigation Discovery and Animal Planet provoked much stronger outrage.
Prison Wives was about people who marry known killers serving life sentences in the slammer. A few of these prison partners sat on stage, including one sheepish-looking former airline pilot. Fatal Attractions (a title that could have applied to either series) was about nut jobs who keep deadly cats, snakes and other man-gobbling critters.
One woman admitted her two chimps used to have their own bedrooms in her house, wore clothes and drove around in toy Hummers. Her chimps are half-brothers to Travis, the killer monkey who attacked a friend of an owner. You might have seen Travis profiled on Oprah.
One woman on the panel spoke lovingly about her big panther kitty, who was put to death after he used her as a chew toy. "He may have ripped off half my scalp but I love him," she said.
The critic from Philly, Jonathan Storm, had heard enough. Did you say you have new shows featuring little people and pit bulls? he asked the network prez. "Does this mean you'll also do giants and chihuahuas?" Basically he wanted to know if Discovery had any limit when it came to exploiting people and animals for ratings, or, as Stormy put it, from making shows about "crazy people who take dangerous animals into their homes."
For an instant, the crazy people on stage looked like whipped dogs. Then they perked up. This is a nice hotel.