The new gameshow lows

The new gameshow lows

Visual mass media has hit a new low.

Sweeps week is still a ways off, yet that doesn’t seem to prevent the networks from wading pell-mell into the sea of bad ideas and God-awful show concepts that should’ve been shredded by an irate janitor.

Why do these programs not get aborted at the pilot stage? It’s because of a force far older than television, radio, or electricity itself: Dick Clark.

Richard Wagstaff Clark was supposedly born on Nov. 30, 1929. That is almost exactly one month after Black Tuesday and the start of the Great Depression.

As if the country wasn’t wallowing deeply enough in it’s own sad economic and emotional state, we are cursed with the birth of the television anti-Christ.

Dick Clark’s latest macabre brainchild is a new intensity-based game show called “The Chamber.” In it, contestants are locked into a confined vessel that comes equipped with enough torture devices that it would coerce O.J. to admit to crimes he didn’t even commit.

Contestants are assaulted with either blazing heat and flames or icy blasts of freezing water as they progress through seven levels of gradually intensifying punishment. Temperatures can reach as high as 140 degrees or as low as 20 degrees below zero.

Amidst the torrent of disturbing punishment devices, contestants are assaulted with a barrage of stupidly easy pop trivia questions, each worth a thousand dollars.

Well, you’ve finally done it, Dick. You’ve finally created a show that actually makes me dumber as I watch it. The venue for this Mecca of lowbrow idiocy? You guessed it, the FOX network.

Premiering in tandem with “The Chamber,” (but on ABC, the wonderful dunces that brought us “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”) is a similar stress and intensity-based program dubbed “The Chair.”

They share similar characteristics: they both rely on stress and a high-pressure situations for artificial drama, their titles are means of executing prisoners, and their concepts were engineered by the Devil’s Royal Advisor, Dick Clark.

Clark’s been doing the New Year’s Eve celebration for as long as the world can remember (not 100 percent positive on that yet, I’m still talking to residents of Belarus), and he seemingly hasn’t aged a day. Either we’ve perfected cyborg technology or Dickie’s struck a deal with the Underworld.

ABC has kept Wagstaff on far much longer than appropriate. His clout with the wrinkled community is his only trump card. Seems ironic that we celebrate the New Year as a rebirth of youth and jubilance, yet we get confronted by the grim face of death when we turn the television on via the “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve Bash.”

His health is failing, make-up artists rush to reconstruct his mask during commercial, and there’s nothing he can say that we haven’t heard before. Face it, Dick Clark is a rerun.

I cringe to think of the next program that comes out of the ninth circle of Dick Clark Productions. The lethal injection perhaps? Maybe the firing squad?

Everyday people being blindfolded and lashed to a post in the middle of a private Central American hacienda, as a small group of guerrillas stand 10 paces away berating the contestant with a barrage of Guatemalan-music trivia questions for money. Answer wrong: get shot.

The first contestant should be none other than the man himself. You’ve bashed your last New Year’s Eve, Dick.