Showbiz Commentary: Heidi Oringer

I think I could handle the concept of aging if I were allowed to do it on my own terms.

I realize that growing old is inevitable, and I do believe in the adage, "You are only as old as you feel." Trouble is, there are days when I feel like a teenager, and there are days when, instead of springing to life, I require inordinate amounts of caffeine to function and I hear cracks in my bones that sound louder than Rice Krispies with club soda.

I can deal with it, though. By the time I leave the house, I'm well-oiled and no one needs to know about my withering behind closed doors. It is the constant reminders that come from outside sources that are really starting to get to me.

As part of my maturity, I've come to accept that the television brain trusts are void of any good ideas. In my wisdom, I also embrace the reality that when they do manage to muster up a show concept they think is good (The Bachelor, Fear Factor) it is not their fault that they are wrong, but merely the fault of overindulging on Bacardi Silver and shots of Jagermeister. If they were sober, they wouldn't really believe that the viewing public lacks intellect, would they? If I didn't know better, I'd think they swam in the gene pool that lies below the underbelly of a catfish.

Silver, Puffy and Decrepit

Just when I think they've hit rock bottom, they go and wax nostalgic on us. In an effort that is far short of genius and actually closer to sheer laziness, they decided to dip into the archives. With the shows currently on the air becoming increasingly stale, these network braniacs figured they'd pull out old material with old stars and mix 'em up with the new ones. It is this little trick that is precisely what's making me feel my age.

NBC's Third Watch ran a show featuring the cast of Hill Street Blues. I, for one, was a big fan of HSB. It was an amazing show in its day, thanks to Stephen Bochco, who has also graced us with L.A. Law and NYPD Blue, among others. It was just that seeing Veronica Hamel, Ed Marinaro and Bruce Weitz a little puffy, going silver and clearly not in the physical condition to fight crime was a wee bit sad.

I didn't feel badly because they've aged; everyone does. It was more because I realized just how much television stinks now and how much better it was, and they were, then.

Not to be outdone, ABC coughed up the Laverne & Shirley Reunion. I say "coughed up," because the network's recent programs seem more like unplanned sputum than well thought-out programming. L & S was once a great show because it was about two plain-looking gals, their friendship and dating. It was mindless and littered with slapstick and physical comedy. Lenny and Squiggy were complete nightmares for neighbors, and in my unencumbered adolescence, it seemed hilarious. THEN! (Plus, it followed Happy Days and there was no point in changing the channel, especially since you actually had to GET UP and change the channel back in the '70s.)

So, when Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams appeared onstage in front of a studio audience to discuss the good old days of Laverne & Shirley, I thought, "Please don't show me endless clips because it's not gonna be very funny NOW." Needless to say, the hour was riddled with 'em. This made me feel decrepit, since nothing they did three decades ago is even mildly amusing today.

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