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Video Digest: August 4, 2006

Televised dread: Gibson & Stewart; Sorkin reborn and Network revisited; condom-head man; paint and exercise at the same time; that hot hot hot Appalachian State University

This week I went through the five stages of Mel Gibson: fascination, followed by disgust, horror, pity, and, at some point I suppose, hunger. By Tuesday, I was already sick of all the noise: Who really cares? And who ordered all this delivery sushi? But I did appreciate this Daily Show clip, sending up the network news reports of Mel’s meltdown. (Mel-tdown? Does that work? I may have a job in network news yet.)

While we’re on the subject of dumbed-down television: The pilot for Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming primetime show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, leaked this week. I’m not suggesting the show looks bad—actually, it looks pretty great—but it opens with an on-air rant about the lobotomizing effect of TV. Seems someone’s been watching Fear Factor, and they’re pretty cranky about it. As the head of a live comedy sketch show being neutered by censors, the fantastic Judd Hirsch gives us a nice on-air meltdown:

Note: This video has been removed from YouTube

The touchstone for this kind of scene (and for a show about making a live show) is the 1976 Sidney Lumet-directed, Paddy Chayefsy-scripted movie Network. Below are three key scenes for your viewing pleasure. Impatient viewers looking for the money line can skip to the six-minute mark, but just know this: You’re making their point for them.

If Aaron Sorkin and Paddy Chayefsky think network news and reality television are intellectually bankrupt, imagine what they’d say about the condom-on-his-head guy:

The point is that we don’t want to be passive viewers. We can’t just take everything they give us. We can’t just languish on the couch, watching people eat worms for money. We should be productive, stay active. We should order sushi. Or: Paint and exercise at once!

So stay cool, kids, and avoid meltdowns. And if you thought the weather was hot, just wait till you see this promo for Appalachian State University.

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