Now, given my track record predicting public tastes, or even explaining them after the fact, it's no wonder no one consulted me on The Change. And I would have gone the other direction. I would have renamed the magazine When Shit You Might Possibly Find Doesn't Insult Your Intelligence Is On, and I would have printed it on an index card folded in half and marketed it as "1/16th the Size of a Nano!"
(Incidentally, the new Guide was just crammed into the old Rack at my supermarket check-out, sorta half-rolled up. Must be digital marketing.)
Right from the cover you can spot the changes, and not just because it says "ALL NEW!" at the top. Because now, in addition to the cover star there's a sidebar of three orbiting associate stars. So you not only get Ty Pennington, who has room to stand up and stretch, you get Ellen DeGeneres, a guy from Lost, and "Warrick" and his "Secret Wife" from CSI. Although I suspect they may just rotate those four in the coming weeks, and toss in a Desperate Housewife or two. Since they're all rolled up anyway, what the hell?
(Incidentally, what the fuck is the deal with Ellen DeGeneres? She funny. I mean, she's fucking funny, and without having to say "fuck" a lot, or ever, even, but she indicated her willingness to peddle her talent in whatever embarrassment someone would pay her for so long ago I've lost track of when it actually occurred. Here she's our debut "Guest Columnist" and turns in an 18-pt page of material so lame it's not only obvious that she asked some toady on her staff to write it with fifteen minutes notice, on Friday afternoon; it's obvious she didn't pay him anything for it either.)
Rest assured that once you get past the Editor's Note, which, rest assured, will assure you that they've got a New Attitude, that TV is More Exciting Than Ever, and that all Your Old Favorites are Still Here, you'll get a half-page photo of Survivor labeled "Moment of the Week", followed by a two page spread featuring the "21 Shows You've Gotta See!" That's a full 22-1/2 hours worth of programming, one half-hour of which (the debut of The Colbert Report) I gotta see, and 22 hours of network dreck you couldn't pay me to watch. But then I'm part of the old, analog readership.
Let's liveblog the first issue and see how long I can stand it...next page, Bruce, Demi, and Ashton! Overleaf, Nicole and Paris! Uh-oh, all the way back at page ten. Show's over. Why, hello, Tom and Katie! They're expecting, it seems. Okay, that's it. Four pages.
Letters: I'm sorry, but Letters, or "Mail", just isn't the same set in a typeface normally reserved for books intended to be read to children, let alone that the letters are now "answered" by TV Guide™ "critic" Matt Roush. They manage to cram in four letters, a sidebar, and the tvguide.com poll, which asked "If Oprah ran for office would you vote for her?" 35% yea, 65% nay. No undecideds, which is kinda surprising this early in the election cycle. Also, I'd have liked to see the numbers vs. potential opponents. Oprah vs. Mitt Romney. Oprah vs. Bill Frist. Oprah vs. that guy from Lost.
I gave some consideration to chucking this entire piece and substituting a direction to the reader to turn to page 80 ("Monday Highlights") under "Comedy", where you find the aforementioned debut of The Colbert Report, which includes this nugget for the digital generation: "...his name is Stephen Colbert (pronounced Col-bare)." Pretty edgy of them not to spell out the "Stee-ven", I thought. But if you're seeking real insight into the ALL! NEW! ATTITUDE! at the Guide, you'll want to head straight for everybody's returning favorite, "Cheers & Jeers":
JEERS: to Keven Smith for flushing what little hipster cred he had left by doing a guest spot on Joey.
The torch has been passed to a new generation of hipster.