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Fox "Octomom" Special Is the Runt of the TV Litter
August 19, 2009  | By David Bianculli
octomom-in-car.jpgAlready this year, the Fox network has presented Osbournes Reloaded, a variety series so bad, and so poorly received, Fox shelved it after a single showing. You'd think that would be a lock for worst TV program of 2009 -- but tonight, Fox presents Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage.

Would that it would remain so...

It's not fair, in most cases, for critics to come to a work of art with predisposed opinions, except about the aggregate quality of the artists participating in the project at hand. But there are times when you can smell the stench before you even open the lid, and -- based on the on-air promos alone -- this is one of those times.


I remember being on the Today show once, debating an executive from E! Entertainment who, at the time, was arguing the "value" of The Anne Nicole Show and complaining that most TV critics had formed a very harsh opinion of it after sampling only the premiere episode. I don't remember what I said in response, but I do remember what I was thinking. It was one of the only times I censored myself on live TV.

"If you hand me an ice cream cone," I was thinking, "and you've filled it with excrement instead of ice cream, I don't need to lick all three scoops." (Thinking back on what I was thinking, since I was talking to myself, I may not have used the word "excrement.")

Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage (this is where I'd normally insert the day and time, but I don't want you, or anyone, to watch it) has that kind of offal flavor.


Here's the scoop: You see footage of Nadya Suleman, the "Octomom," perched on her bed with her many babies, twitching and rolling while she looks at them like they're pieces of an Ikea bookshelf she has no idea how to assemble. You see her driven to her home and confronting absurdly flocking hordes of photographers, and screaming, in a voice raw and grating enough to dive for the volume on your TV set, "What am I, the president? NOOOOO!!!"

NOOOOO, Octomom, you're not.


With your six previous kids -- and who needs Jon & Kate Plus Eight when you have Octomom & Six & Eight More? -- you're closer, in TV terms, to a freak show than to a sweet family drama called Fourteen Is Enough. Add in the recent disclosures about a past as a stripper, and a reported fascination with Angelina Jolie, and you're a cautionary tale.

And if, as many accuse, you're in it for the publicity, watching this TV special would only make us a nation of enablers. Most of the smelliest TV guano this summer has been rejected instantly and resoundingly. It would be nice, though not necessarily expected, if Fox's Octomom TV special suffered the same fate.




R. Orr said:

Reading your blog:

How I long for the return of Lost!

I don't even turn on the tv anymore unless I'm watching a show from my dvr. I'm tired of hearing about the dramas of Jon and Kate and Octomom and all the other so-called "reality" tv stars. I've never watched any of these shows. I don't care about them. I don't want to know about them - but these people are everywhere and they don't seem to be going away anytime soon. Can't even watch the morning news shows. It's degrading when people like Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts are reporting the activities of these people as if it's news. Enough is enough.

Sorry for the rant, David - love your website, your daily picks, and your blog.

[The rant is fine -- we're all mad as hell, I think, and want to scream that we're not gonna take it any more. But this time, the TV is the problem, not the solution, as in Paddy Chayefsky's "Network." And hey, it didn't end well there, either... -- David B.]

Comment posted on August 19, 2009 11:39 AM

Eileen said:

Your ice cream cone reference made me laugh! How true.

I have absolutely no intention of watching this trash. You mentioned that Lonesome Dove is on tonight, so where else would any normal thinking person be. Ah, the miniseries. And yes, this was one of the greats. Why would you want to see/hear Octonut when you can bask in the combined charms and talents of Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones?

Years ago Robert Duvall came to an office I was working at to screen some 16mm footage of Pope John Paul II; he was contemplating portraying him on a tv miniseries. Needless to say, he was absolutely the nicest, most pleasant guy you'd ever want to meet. When he was leaving I asked him for an autograph for my daughter; he very graciously obliged, and laughed out loud when I asked him to sign it "Boo Radley". He was very flattered that we loved this movie character as it was his first screen role.

So let's all watch the always entertaining Mr. Duvall tonight & tomorrow night.

[Eileen, what a great story -- and, as always, what great taste. -- David B.]

Comment posted on August 19, 2009 2:27 PM
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