8 Fake TV Shows From Movies We’d Actually Watch
Usually when a fake TV show pops up in a movie, it’s meant as a broad dig directed towards television’s vast wasteland of 24/7 junk food entertainment. Movies like to pretend that they’re somehow superior to TV, as evidenced by the many parodies of low-rent cop dramas, sitcoms and reality shows that have popped up over the years.
Ironically, many of these fake shows actually look pretty great, and are often the most memorable part of the movie. Let’s take a look at eight fake TV shows that we’d actually watch week-to-week. There’s more entertainment value in 30 seconds of one of these shows than in an entire season of ‘2 Broke Girls.’
‘I’d Buy That For a Dollar!,’ ‘Robocop’
The genius of this running gag that appears on TV screens throughout ‘Robocop’ is that we never really know quite what we’re seeing. Is it a cheesy, ‘Benny Hill’–esque sitcom? A game show? An ad for a local car dealership? (It is Detroit, after all.) According to screenwriter Ed Neumeier, it’s actually a bawdy sex comedy called ‘It’s Not My Problem’ starring smarmy funnyman Bixby Snyder and some buxom beauties. Hey, future Detroit is pretty grim. People need something to laugh at.
‘Fox Force Five,’ ‘Pulp Fiction’
While we never see any footage from Mia Wallace’s (Uma Thurman) failed TV pilot, the description she gives to Vince Vega (John Travolta) at Jack Rabbit Slims makes it sound like ‘Charlie’s Angels’ plus ‘Kill Bill.’ (So basically, the greatest show of all time.) Led by the wonderfully named Somerset O’Neill, Fox Force Five is a team of female secret agents comprised of a Japanese kung-fu master, a black demolitions expert, a French fox (whose specialty is sex) and Wallace’s character Raven McCoy, a knife-wielding bad girl with a penchant for cheesy puns. It’s a wonder that Tarantino hasn’t turned this lost gem into an actual movie.
‘Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime,’ ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’
As a person, Sarah Marshall is kind of awful. As an actress…well, she’s also pretty terrible in that regard. But ‘Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime,’ the ‘C.S.I.’-esque drama on which she costars with William Baldwin (channeling David Caruso’s signature sunglasses-plus-corny-pun maneuver), is kind of awesome. A pitch-perfect parody of lurid police procedurals, ‘Crime Scene’ could be easily slotted on CBS between ‘The Mentalist’ and that Judd Hirsch show about the cops who use math or whatever.
‘The Night the Reindeer Died,’ ‘Scrooged’
‘Scrooged’ opens with a look at the fictional IBC Network’s holiday fare, a line-up overseen by Bill Murray’s maniacal programming executive. This being the late ‘80s, the offerings mostly consist of TV movies and wholesome, star-studded variety specials. ‘The Night the Reindeer Died,’ starring Lee Majors as a gun-toting hero who defends the North Pole from terrorists, is exactly the sort of throwback action nonsense TV could use more of right now. If we had one Christmas wish, it would be for Lee Majors to team up with Santa for realsies. Runner-up: ‘Bob Goulet’s Old-Fashioned Cajun Christmas,’ a holiday special that finds the beloved crooner dodging a hungry gator.
‘The Golden Ghouls,’ ‘Stay Tuned’
The 1992 comedy ‘Stay Tuned’ throws John Ritter and Pam Dawber into a hellish TV netherworld run by Satan (played by Jeffrey Jones of ‘Ferris Bueller’ and sex offender registry fame). In order to save their souls, the couple must survive 24 hours in a world of twisted programming with pun-y titles like ‘Three Men and Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘Duane’s Underworld.’ (The fact that ‘Wayne’s World’ is already a fake TV show is a coincidence completely lost on the filmmakers.) While the joke runs thin after a while, it’s hard to deny the appeal of ‘The Golden Ghouls.’ It’s only a matter of time before some ghoulish TV producer puts Betty White in a house haunted by CGI versions of her late costars.
‘Wheel of Fish,’ ‘UHF’
Imagine if the UHF network in Weird Al’s cult comedy actually existed. Not only would we get cinematic classics like ‘Conan the Librarian,’ the game show ‘Wheel of Fish’ would be broadcast on a daily basis. Hosted by Gedde “Long Duk Dong” Watanabe, ‘Wheel of Fish’ was way ahead of its time. The absurd premise would kill with the Adult Swim crowd, while the catchphrase (“Stupid! You’re so stupid!”) sounds like something Gordon Ramsey might bellow at a ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ contestant after tasting their mediocre foie gras. Now if only there was an actual UHF channel still in existence that could broadcast this gem…
‘The Truman Show,’ ‘Truman Show’
Considering that we live in a world where obsessive hoarders and children named Honey Boo Boo can become television stars, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been a reality show based around a protagonist who doesn’t realize that he’s on TV. (Fox’s short-lived ‘The Joe Schmo Show,’ which put an unsuspecting contestant in a fake reality show competition, came close.) At the time of its release, ‘The Truman Show’ predicted the rise of reality TV. The fact that an actual ‘Truman Show’ would be considered tame in today’s television landscape is more than a little alarming.
‘The Running Man,’ ‘The Running Man’
Speaking of concepts that are approaching their due date, we are seven years away from ‘The Running Man’s’ future of convicts fighting for survival on live television. While morally questionable, it’s hard to deny the ridiculous awesomeness that is the “Stalkers.” There’s Buzzsaw, who, (you guessed it) wields a chainsaw while hunting Schwarzenegger. And how about Dynamo, an opera singer who literally shoots lightning bolts from his hands? Sure, the whole thing is a metaphor for television’s control over the masses via lowest common denominator infotainment. But hasn’t Fox News followed that mantra for decades?