Saturday, June 28, 2014

TFP Column: "The Crazy Ones" Dropped

(Contrary to logic and reason, I have decided to put new material up on this blog, but only in the form of the columns that I have done for the Toledo Free Press.  This is done for the benefit of those with time to waste, who likewise do not spend their time reading the website of this award winning weekly newspaper, and I will go back and add efforts that were published earlier this year.)

This particular effort was published on 5/26/2014. 
Entertainment, such as it is, invariably comes and goes over time. So it was with little more than a weary sigh that I first saw this headline, one I’d been expecting for some time now. Imagine my surprise however, when I realized it was little more than announcement that the CBS show starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar about an ad agency was not going to be renewed for next season. (As if a show starring Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Mork without Mindy wasn’t doomed to fail from the start.) 

Strangely, it was not until days later that another similar headline led to the discovery that the real “Crazy Ones” was likewise seeing the end of its days. I’m talking, of course, about the Lucas County Board of Elections (BOE), whose irresponsible irrationality and long unpopularity has at long last gathered the critical attention of those in charge.

The Lucas County BOE has, after all, been little more than a rather tedious and shallow reality show, with a poorly hidden (and even more poorly written) script of farcical nonsense — one with far less entertainment value than its coastal rich chick and wrestling counterparts.

Oh sure, there’s been nanoseconds of political intrigue, though only widely spaced in a mindless tedium of vitriol.  No one is going to confuse its efforts with “House of Cards,” however, nor any of its cast of characters with the likes of a Kevin Spacey. Drama there was in plenty, but most of it forced, no doubt produced as an unintended result of the overacting and poor performances of its players. As for suspense, none seemed forthcoming until very recently, when it at last appeared possible that one or more of the cast might fail on a epic enough scale to get voted off of this overworked version of “Survivor: The Island of Misfit Toys.”

If there were ever paid writers for this slapstick comedy masquerading as a bored melodrama, they should have long since been fired (and had their laptops confiscated to prevent further transgressions). If there was ever actually a script involved, it seems to have been long since shredded for use to line a hamster cage somewhere.

As for genuine humor, forget it. The occasional ham-fisted attempts at improvisation by the cast showed far more second tier than “Second City.” If this droll satire of an even more droll bureaucratic function found anything resembling amusement to its storyline, it was immediately trampled in the real life “Barney Fife” comedy of errors portrayed in its daily operation. While a trio of the characters in this sham may have provided a bit of comic relief (no doubt inadvertently), the only real relief for the audience will come with the final and permanent departure from the stage of these Three Stooges.

The recent accidental cliffhanger, however, has fast become a classic, one in which the stalwarts of the BOE seemed all but incapable of counting even the piddling few votes cast (less than 10 percent of those eligible to vote) in the recent primary election without making the process look like “Mystery Science Theater 3000 – The Lost Episodes.” The only things more pathetic than the voter turnout during this tired ritual were the poor performances of the cast, the lack of originality in the sob stories used rationalize their inevitable failure and the instantaneous inculpation of co-workers.

Apparently, however, Ohio’s Secretary of State (and ostensibly Director of Programming) Jon Husted finally had enough from Lucas County’s Gang That Couldn’t Count Straight and is set to put an end to its run. I would caution Mr. Husted and his transparency committee, however, against believing that this latest move may finally resolve the problems. The trick with canceling a bad show is not as simple as getting rid of the old one (which may be difficult enough, knowing the litigious proclivities at least one of the soon-to-be former cast members in particular). The real skill will shown be in helping Northwest Ohio replace this last tired effort with a better one.

As for the current version of “The Crazy Ones” in Lucas County, we must now bid them a fond farewell.  To the relief of most, they have indeed been canceled and the cast duly informed in writing that their days in the spotlight are now numbered. Knowing that, however, one can’t help but wonder if any of those packing up their desks is capable of counting them. 

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