In The Golden Age of television, not every second of TV-viewing has to be a prestige moment. Sometimes you just want to flip through the channels and tune out a little. That’s why shows like Shark Tank and The Real Housewives of New York are such a relief for me: my brain transforms from a tightly-wound ball of rubberbands to something that resembles Jello. It’s nice to let your brain wobble now and again.
In such a state, I’ll sometimes just click through the channels, land on whatever, and watch for a few minutes. Such was the case, a few weeks ago, when I stumbled upon ABC’s The Gong Show. Now as a former employee of ABC, I probably shouldn’t offer too critical an appraisal of this strange enterprise. Mike Meyers plays a character that’s like a deranged cousin of his Austin Powers. The world of the show is slightly unsettling: where are we? What year is this? What is happening?