Monday, March 31, 2008

CSI Caramba

Andy Warhol said a long time ago that in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. He was almost right, but I’d like to amend the prediction to something more likely: Within the next 15 years, every place, thing and person in existence will have their own TV show. And that TV show will be a spinoff of either “CSI” or “Law and Order.”

That’s because “CSI” and “Law and Order” are locked in an ever-escalating arms race to develop more, more, more, more and even more spinoffs. The battle between the franchises could prove deadlier than the last arms race, the Cold War, because there is more money behind it and the effects could be deadlier. I have another prediction, in fact: In the future, “Red Dawn” will be remade as a flick about network executives, not commies, conquering a small lakeside town while a ragtag band led by Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen will fight them off. Bad TV is much scarier than Soviets with machine guns. “Amish in the City” proved that much.

Do you think I’m kidding about this? Take a look at your TV guide and you’ll notice that there are approximately 75 “CSIs” this year on the CBS schedule. “CSI: New York,” starring Lieutenant Dan, is getting all the press, but there are now “CSIs” of every state capital and for half of the second biggest cities in each state. Tucson got passed over, because everyone in Hollywood hates Tucson, but look for “CSI: Casa Grande” in the midnight-1 a.m. Wednesday slot. That one will be about Casa Grande’s one cop, a Central Arizona Community College dropout who hides in the bushes in the Interstate 10 median and pulls over people driving 7 miles over the speed limit.

Not to be outdone, “Law and Order” retaliated by making 72 new spinoffs, jacking its total number of shows to 76. One of the most interesting looks to be “Law and Order: America’s Funniest Home Videos,” featuring Bob Sagat hosting an hourlong series of comedic shorts in which various people get hit in the nuts… Illegally! I’m not quite as excited for “Law and Order: Mayberry,” which takes the lazy route and inserts the likeness of Screech into old episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” I hear they’re making poor Opie into Screech’s assistant. Ron Howard never saw it coming.

The “CSI” pimpmasters have got it easier, because all they have to do is take a new city, slap it with a group of lackey detectives and haul in another fading actor from the unemployment line. reports that the guy who played Alan on “Punky Brewster” is starring in “CSI: Minneapolis/St. Paul.” He was going for “CSI: Salt Lake City,” but got beaten out in the audition by Fred Savage.

“Law and Order,” meanwhile, tries to think of entirely new concepts for each new show. “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” looks at things from the criminal’s perspective, and “Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit” looks at things from the perspective of special victims and the units that help them, but I just don’t get “Law and Order: Eye of the Fly,” which shows crimes unfolding through the eyes of a housefly. I tried to watch a few episodes, but the camera moved around too much and the buzzing sound was distracting. Plus, I think it’s a little illogical that a fly would be interested in a house robbery. Bread crumbs and dog poop hold more appeal.

The “Law and Orders” are getting so out of hand, that they even offered me a show based on my life, “Law and Order: Sitting on Your Ass and Watching Football,” which has me thinking they’re running low on ideas, since sitting on your ass and watching football has little to nothing to do with crime. I was flattered but had to decline the offer anyway because “CSI: Santa Fe” offered me the part after Gary Coleman turned them down.

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