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TV Misery: 5 Shows That Need to Throw in the Towel

Photography by Regan Walsh

One of the great tragedies in life is watching a once good show morph into something plain unwatchable. At first, it starts out with a few bad episodes, and you figure things are bound to get better. However, it just gets worse and gradually you find yourself understanding why that one guy, Steven Cowan, blasted his TV with a shotgun because he was pissed over Dancing with the Stars(or maybe that’s just me).

Here are just some of the shows on television right now that need to get cancelled ASAP. Afterwards, we can light a candle in remembrance of their former selves.


5.  Once Upon a Time


Mistake #1: Never kill off the main eye candy after only seven episodes (especially when it is Irish babe Jamie Dornan). This fatal error in the first season upset many fans that had grown attached to the sheriff of Storybrooke. Oh Graham, we hardly knew ye. With the premise of fairy tale characters unaware of their true identities and stuck in the real world as part of a curse enacted by the Evil Queen, the show was a big draw for fairy tale lovers and Disney fans alike. Watching the Evil Queen, the mayor of Storybrooke, try to get rid of newest resident Emma Swan(who didn’t know she was the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming) to prevent her from realizing her destiny of breaking the curse made for good, fluffy television. However, it got completely off track for its second season. First, there was the tendency to reiterate the same phrases over and over. You could make a drinking game out of how many times Charming and Snow White said “You found me.” In fact, some of the dialogue from last season is still making me cringe. Secondly, inserting Rumplestiltskin into pretty much every fairy tale was unnecessary. Moreover, never deciding what direction to take with the Evil Queen was frustrating. Either she stops using magic or she’s a villain. Pick one and stick with it. And making Peter Pan possibly the villain for season 3? No. All in all with its ever expanding world and cast, the writing can’t keep up.


4. Vampire Diaries


Everything started to go downhill the moment Klaus (the OG of vampires)became a regular character in season three. In beginning, Vampire Diaries was about the main protagonist Elena Gilbert finding out her new boyfriend and his brother were vampires. Plus, she is the doppelganger of their former lover/vampire maker, Katherine. Oh, and might I add her best friend Bonnie is the resident witch, and her hometown is a haven for the supernatural. Gradually as the show became more entangled in vampire mythology, it got too caught up in the idea of the original vampires. On top of being an extraordinarily lackluster villain, the decision to turn Klaus into a potential love interest for Caroline made no sense. It was the so contrived and forced it caused secondhand embarrassment. One minute he’s killing everyone in Mystic Falls, the next he’s doing crappy drawings of horses to show his sensitive side to Caroline. Then there was that awful werewolf/vampire hybrid storyline and the never-ending love triangle between Elena, Stefan and Damon continued to be never-ending. Let’s not forget Bonnie getting reduced down to a plot device. Also the constant back and forth over whether Damon has really redeemed himself (spoiler alert: he hasn’t) got old. Not even turning Elena into a vampire last season brought any life back into this mess of a show. So it’s time to go “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on these bloodsuckers and put a dagger in it.


3. America’s Next Top Model


So the firing of the Jays(Miss J and Mr. Jay) was the final kiss of death for this reality show. And let’s be real, no one misses Nigel Barker. Miss J was the runway walk expert and judge who filled the screen with his over the top presence. Without Miss J, who was going to help the contestants perfect their runway walk into an effortless glide now? Who Tyra? Nope. Plus, Mr. Jay was the creative director on all of the photo shoots and gave advice to the models to get the best shots. Together with Tyra, they were a ridiculous, unstoppable trio. As expected, replacing an entire judging panel was a recipe for disaster. Tyra’s dynamic with the new judges just isn’t the same and the judging is consistently inconsistent. Bryanboy as the social media correspondent could literally be fulfilled by anyone. While it’s true ANTM always had a flair for camp, it seems as if the last few seasons aren’t even trying anymore. Over the years, there have been bad music videos, human hair dresses, Canada, Greek salad, and even hot dog themed photo shoots. No wonder this show lost its steam, everything has been done. So the only thing they have left is to try and outdo the ridiculousness of last season. How Tyra ever managed to get VOGUE involved in this disastrous competition will always be a mystery to me.


2. Law & Order: SVU


This procedural drama about detectives in the Special Victims Unit in New York City was getting stale as it entered into its double digit seasons, but then Detective Stabler left after the 12th season. No closure whatsoever. Arguably, the core of the show was the relationship between partners Stabler and Detective Benson. It should’ve been cancelled right then and there. Yet, NBC probably didn’t want to let go of the last successful show in the Law & Order franchise without a fight. Adding two new detectives to fill the void didn’t work. More of Fin and Munch being hilarious wasn’t cutting it either. Bad ripped from the headlines stories couldn’t heal the pain. Stabler really was irreplaceable. Putting Benson through another severely traumatic situation where she was held captive by a rapist/murderer in the last season’s finale was the last straw. Of course in the recent season premiere, warrior princess Benson was able to get away from her captor’s clutches, but honestly why go there at all? She’s been through enough. Bring back Stabler and have him ride off into the sunset with Benson. End scene.


1. Glee.


Was there really any other choice? When the pilot of a show is better than the series as a whole, you know it’s time to throw in the towel. The first season made you root for the underdog glee club New Directions to win all the awards and prove they weren’t a joke. In retrospect, given that Ryan Murphy was the creator it never stood a chance. Trying to remember back when Glee was satirical, witty, and didn’t have practically 20 songs per episode was a challenge. Once the second season came around continuity got thrown out the door and keeping track of plot holes became a lost cause. Despite having such a large ensemble cast, only a handful of characters were lucky to get adequate screen time. Before, the songs in an episode had meaning and connected with the overall arcs in the show. Yet, it rapidly became about the Britney Spears episode, the Lady Gaga episode and then the Britney Spears episode again. Serious issues started getting played up for shock value. Case in point, naming last season’s episode about a school shooting “Shooting Star”. There’s also that one time they did a body swap episode and another episode there were some ginger supremacists. Let that sink in, ginger supremacists. Last season introduced a bunch of new students to McKinley High, but nothing about these characters is inherently lovable or standout. Season 5 needs to be Glee’s swan song because it has gone long enough already.

New concerns over cell phone radiation

Cell Phone Graphic
Written by Thomas Figg-Hoblyn
Photo by Ryan Leibrich

Recently I brought up the idea of writing a story about the dangers of using a cell phone because of radiation to some of my colleagues on staff, and immediately someone interjected “I thought that got debunked years ago.”

And that was pretty much the end of it. I gave up on the idea – and forgot about it.

Two days later as I bounced up and down on a red and gray Muni seat riding the M Line, the subject of cell phones and health circled back to me in the form of a young boy, about four years old, who sat across the aisle from me completely captivated by his mother’s white iPhone.

The brown-haired kid was all up on the smartphone trying to move his slobber-covered index finger on the screen to the frantic pace of some colorful game.

He held that phone like a rainbow flavored snow cone on a hot day in Texas – his eyes bugging out in pure ecstasy as he played – all the time pressing that phone closer and closer to his face.

Then inexplicably, he licked the phone, and then kept right on playing.

It was then and there that I decided to find out if cell phones were really dangerous.

I felt an obligation.

If this kid was coveting his mom’s cell phone like a sugary-treat, then odds were that other kids were doing the same thing.

And according to the Pew Research Center, 91 percent of Americans use a cell phone.

SF State student Arthur Abelardo talks on his smart phone
SF State student Arthur Abelardo on his phone

I started digging around to see what I could find out.

A quick Google search using “are cell phones safe” and/or “are cell phones dangerous,” as well as almost anything related to cell phones and health (I used almost a dozen) turned up a sea of legitimate articles focused on radiation, cancer, and cell phones.

The more I read, the more creeped out I became – to the point that I moved my cell phone to the other side of the room.

My favorite companion and gadget suddenly had a sinister side.

Here are the highlights of the search.

The World Health Organization recently re-classified cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen similar to car exhaust.

A report titled “Cell Phones and Cancer Risk” produced by The National Cancer Institute states that cell phones emit radiation that can be absorbed into the tissues where the phone is held.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently opened an official inquiry regarding the safety of cell phone radiation emissions.

CBS Channel 58 of Minnesota reported in an article titled “New concerns over cell phone radiation” that even though for years scientists have insisted there was no connection between cell phones and cancer, now there were credible experts re-evaluating the position.

An attorney interviewed in the story says that some lawyers are currently pursuing class action suits, and that  brain tumors were being associated with extensive cell phone usage.

The Guardian reported in August that a new Tel Aviv University, Israel, study, that studied the saliva of heavy-cell phone users compared to non-cell phone users, found that the saliva of heavy-users showed indications of higher oxidative stress, a process that damages all aspects of a human cell, including DNA, through the development of toxic peroxide and free radicals – a major risk factor for cancer.

An international study published in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Medicine states that adults who have used mobile phones intensively for at least ten years, experience an increase in brain cancer, salivary gland cancer, and even rare eye cancers; and some men diagnosed with testicular cancer had the cancer occur in the testicle that was closest to the pant pocket where they stashed their cell phone.

As reported in The Telegraph by Richard Alleyne, Italy’s Supreme Court ruled that a businessman’s tumor was caused by a causal link between his illness and cell phone use.

Inside Edition reported that  Tiffany Frantz, a 23-year-old who stashed her cell phone in her bra since she was a young-teen was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, which was attributed to cell phone radiation.

After scouring the web I decided to go see a local expert on health, Erik Peper, Ph.D., professor of holistic health at San Francisco State University.

Erik Peper, Professor of Holistic Health at SF State smiles next to his biofeedback computer program. The biofeedback machines can measure the effects of cell phone radiation on the body.
Erik Peper, Professor of Holistic Health at SF State smiles next to his biofeedback computer program. The biofeedback machines can measure the effects of cell phone radiation on the body.

“Dr. Peper” as I like to call him, referred me to his fact-filled blog called the Peper Perspective  , which goes granular on explaining the dangers of cell phone use.

Peper says that all cell phones emit radiation by definition because they connect to a local cell tower, and as long as a cell phone is being used for talking, texting or streaming data then it is talking with the cell tower and emitting radiation.

To demonstrate Peper placed a cell phone next to a student volunteer who was connected to a biofeedback machine. Right before the phone rings a significant spike registers on the computer in micro-volts showing the high-frequency cell signal going through the subject.

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