Only a few days into 2009, the first television trend of 2009 is already clear. I'm talking about, of course, death. Unlike sex, death (and its forerunner, violence) are welcome on television sets across our fine nation. Whatever the reasons, death is going to be hot on television this year, and not just because 24 is back on.
Consider the campaign where people miss calls because they don't have AT&T. Over the summer, the ads were light and playful; the worst that could happen by not having AT&T would be not meeting Michael Phelps. Now tragedies befall customers of other cell phone companies: A house explodes, a TV news reporter and his crew die in a building implosion, even a snowman melts and dies.
Or there's the newest season of The Biggest Loser. "This time," the announcer says, "their lives are on the line." Apparently this season's contestants are the fattest they've ever had. I have to imagine this super-sized season will be the most successful yet, as Americans like nothing more than to watch fat people keel over and die.
It doesn't stop at individual death. This is Armageddon Week on History ("the" and "channel" were dropped last year): the station's primetime lineup is all about how the world will end, soon, and how you are powerless to stop it. Sunday night's kick-off was a two-hour special called Nostradamus 2012 (it also airs Thursday at 8 p.m.), which focused on Dec. 21, 2012, the day Nostradamus, a secret code in the Bible that ex-Phillies catcher Darren Daulton uses to predict the end of the world.
One might be wondering what will happen once we all die. History has that covered, too: Last week was Seven Deadly Sins Week, and a seven-part documentary series that reminds you that unless you repent now, you will end up in Hell.
And what causes the seven deadly sins? Why, demons, of course. The episode on sloth quoted a preacher: "I have run into people possessed with the demon of procrastination ... he prefers the name procrastination to sloth."
Well, look, at least we all have a new excuse for when our TV columns come in late now, and we even know what name it wants to be called. This should tide us over until we all die. Thanks, History.
In Memoriam: David Brenner