This blog stands as a celebration. For the most part we discuss the good stuff. We sit in awe week in and week out of the moving pictures crammed into a tiny wire and illuminated on our magic picture boxes. But the best can’t look as good without the awful. Bad TV is usually just boring. It wallows with trite jokes or thin plots. Spectacularly bad television has its own glory. Which begs the question: what is the worst show on television today? I’ll include reality fare and cooking shows …anything on TV. My vote is a broadcast that fails on every level, but still is a tremendous viewing experience thanks to its bus crash-ian, train-wreck allure.
It’s a Canadian show. Canadian television is at its worst when it tries to be American television. Canada can’t do a solid three camera sitcom. Was King of Kensington the last one? Good ole laugh track and three acts. Hasn’t been done. The standard monologue and desk talk show is also a struggle. Strombo does something else. Mike Bullard was on for a while, but I never enjoyed it. And that is where we find the worst show perhaps in the English-speaking world. As a caveat it is basically a vanity project and infomercial, but its on nonetheless. The Being Frank Show. This show is a an hour-long talk show with commercials hyping up Frank D’Angelo’s food and beverage products. He’s the guy with Canadian rights to the very lovely Arnold Palmer lemonade and ice tea hybrid. Also, for the Cheetah energy drink endorsed by Ben Johnson (Be a Cheetah!). Frank is an avuncular, nice enough fellow who I guess tries to be a Sinatra type and revels in being an Italian stereotype. And he has a standard American style talk show. Poorly produced, with a loud mediocre band, his attempt at a monologue with lots of bombing and him wriggling his way out of the bits. He has two sidekicks: Ed the Sock and Toronto sportscaster Jim Tatti, who sit back and watch Frank try and fail. It’s mesmerizing. His audience is clearly either relatives or friends or are getting a lot of free iced tea. It’s very much like a 50’s mobster hosting a show, everybody has to laugh along at the gags because he is the boss. He gets solid guests for Canada: hockey players and stars of 80’s and 90’s Canadian shows like Street Legal pop by. The interviews are clumsy and sycophantic. Or, he will ignore the guests entirely and banter with the band. My favourite so far is Tony Rosato – the Italian-Canadian, former SCTV and SNL cast member. Had a nice run on Relic Hunter, but recently had some violent episodes and mental health issues. It was cringe-worthy yet fascinating. Frank had him on because he’s Italian and sort of famous. Tony was in rough shape trying to stumble through guest patter. Frank saying “Hey, Tony!!! How are you!! Tony responding “Its tough, been better…..”
I have become obsessed with this show, airing Friday nights, originating on CHCH from Hamilton. I don’t so much watch it as study it anthropologically. Frank is also getting bored with the show. He does little research about his guests and the show, lately, has been focused on hyping up Frank’s feature film. Yes, he’s beyond being a TV star, he wants to be a movie star. So he has made this good brother/bad brother mafia movie, Real Gangsters! The show often cuts to long trailers and behind the scenes featurettes. It stars Frank and a slew of Canadian character actors (Robert Loggia, some members of the drama ENG and a special appearance from Margot Kidder). It had a fake press conference and everything. Frank tells jokes…Frank acts and of course…Frank sings. He is friends with Mike Reno from Loverboy, don’t you know. They will cut to Frank’s nightclub act at various casinos. He has a big band behind him as he belts out standards, sort of on key, reading lyrics off a music stand. The first time watching it you are confused as to what exactly is going on as it really does look like some sort of uber-hipster parody of an unironic talk show. But you realize that it is a real life manifestation of the Bee Gee’s song “I Started a Joke”.
Raphael Saray is a freelance writer based in Flin Flon Manitoba. He hosts an unsuccessful daily podcast “The Best Person in the World” sponsored by Rock City Diner, known for their B.C flavour with a northern attitude. Closed Mondays.