Rely on your back catalogue #4

(if this doesn’t make sense to you, see the previous post)


05:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
05:30 Dougie, Howard & Beth
06:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
06:30 Don’t Go There
07:00 Upside Town
07:30 Dougie, Howard & Beth
08:00 Five Kids And A Dog Called Jack
08:30 Five Kids And A Dog Called Jack
09:00 Capital Punishment
09:30 Capital Punishment
10:00 Rodeo Dad
10:30 Dougie, Howard & Beth
11:00 Rodeo Dad
11:30 Don’t Go There
12:00 Rodeo Dad
12:30 Upside Town
13:00 Four Kids And A Dog Called Jack
13:30 Don’t Go There
14:00 Don’t Go There
14:30 Don’t Go There
15:00 Don’t Go There
15:30 Don’t Go There
16:00 Don’t Go There
16:30 Don’t Go There
17:00 Capital Punishment
17:30 Don’t Go There
18:00 Don’t Go There
18:30 Don’t Go There

19:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
All hell breaks loose when Beth finds a family of immigrants living in her garage and Dougie gets a new job at the Homeland Security Department.
(R) (S) 3073-5466-112
19:30 Capital Punishment
There’s a new face on death row when Frank’s lawyer lets him down. Unfortunately, as love-struck Jimmy is about to find out, Frank isn’t the only one who’s lost his appeal.
(R) (S) 8492-6066-320
20:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
Howard is having trouble adjusting to his new gender, while Beth and Dougie have been misdiagnosed with each other’s cancers after a mix-up at the hospital.
(R) (S) 0065-9811-002
20:30 Don’t Go There
In an act of cruel and premeditated brutality, Latisha forces Chantelle to “talk to the hand”. There’s also a tedious subplot involving  a lost cat.
(R) (S) 5444-9007-656
21:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
The gang are caught up in a tense hostage situation and for some reason, Dougie is suffering from uncontrollable flatulence. The whole things smacks of lazy writing.
(R) (S) 2047-6340-812
21:30 Rodeo Dad
After 136 episodes, Mikey has finally begun to suspect that his father is in fact a professional rodeo clown in this unfunny and ill-thought-through sitcom.
(R) (S) 2210-8654-000
22:00 Don’t Go There
Oh God, this one again. Well, the plot is pretty much the same every time, so my summary becomes superfluous if you’ve ever had the misfortune to see an episode.
(R) (S) 2020-5478-941
22:30 Upside Town
I mean, have you actually watched these things? Have you ever actually sat down and watched them? Week after week, episode after episode. It’s just relentless.
(R) (S) 8005-7403-997
23:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
A misunderstanding takes place. One character is hilariously camp and makes innuendos. Someone repeats someone else but changes the word order slightly. There must be more to life than this.
(R) (S) 1111-4723-067
23:30 Capital Punishment
I mean, what’s it all for? What’s it actually for, this stuff? What is it supposed to do? I can’t remember the last time I laughed. I mean, a real, honest belly-laugh that makes you feel that everything might just be alright after all. What happened to them? I’m sure I used to laugh.
(R) (S) 6300-8726-771
00:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
Is it only me, or does everyone feel like this? When did we stop laughing? When did “comedy” become a genre instead of a device and lose all its power? These things aren’t comedy. They aren’t funny. They don’t make life better.
(R) (S) 1010-7465-333
00:30 Rodeo Dad
Mikey spooks the horses whilst rehearsing for the big talent show. Steve loses his hat. Miranda discovers she is pregnant. But who’s the father?
(R) (S) 8349-0766-150
01:00 Don’t Go There
01:30 Three Kids And A Dog Called Jack
02:00 Capital Punishment
02:30 Two Kids And A Dog Called Jack
03:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
03:30 Don’t Go There
04:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
04:30 Two Kids And The Tattered Remains Of A Collar


  1. "Illegal immigrant" is a slur. There is no such thing as an "illegal" person. The preferred term is "undocumented immigrant" -- please edit.

  2. That’s a far better term and I wish it was in more common usage in the UK. Unfortunately, here the term “illegal immigrant,” with all its dehumanising implications, is used almost exclusively. In fact, I’ve even heard it shortened to simply “illegals,” which I’m sure you’ll agree is indicative of a pretty repugnant attitude. This is one area where you guys are definitely running ahead of us in the “basic human decency” stakes, at least when it comes to nomenclature.

    Given that “undocumented immigrants” would shift the character’s voice towards a specifically American idiom, let’s split the difference and leave it at “immigrants,” shall we?

  3. Er...or, perhaps, just don't edit it at all, as - slur though it may be - it has *not* "changed" in the States, political blinders notwithstanding. Give the U.S. credit for, let's say, landing on the moon (and then very quickly forgetting we could do it), but don't give the nation credit for upping the stakes on polite nomenclature. PC-addled public speeches aside, the usual terminology used in normal conversation on the street, in the workplace, at still the same old, same old. The only thing to debate is if that's bad or good - "true or false" is kind of moot, since the evidence is overwhelmingly pervasive if you have any contact with people outside of your immediate social circle on a daily basis.

    My wife *was* an "illegal," as *she and her friends* will almost invariably put it. (And no, we didn't get married for the papers, as our green card interview pretty well demonstrated!) The terminology isn't the problem - the *policies* are. I often wish the ardent fans of "political correctness" would figure that bit out, and thereby do something useful. And no, altered terminology does not "change the minds and hearts" of those you force it upon; since there's no such thing as Thought Police (as yet), how 'bout we just change the *laws* so it won't matter when people inevitably continue to think their malicious little thoughts in private?

    More importantly, when did comedy (yeah, exactly, a device and not a genre!) become subject to the editing whims of random passers-by? You're not writing this as "Joel," Joel - you're writing this as an unnamed TV listings author. Should the writers of "All in the Family" have curbed Archie Bunker's language to bow to softer dispositions? Or was the point of his character *that he didn't do so*? (Should rhetorical questions be answered?)

    You're an excellent writer, Joel, and an excellently funny one; there's no need to change the tone or phrasing of a piece for such trivial or outright ludicrous reasons, especially on the say-so of one individual. The choice is totally yours - don't "change back" if you don't want to, but don't change "forward" just because Allison tells you to. "Please edit" indeed, Ms. Magazine.

  4. Interesting argument. This feels more like a characterisation issue than anything else. If the character comes across as insensitive or offensive on the issue of immigration, that's kind of a distraction from the gag being constructed. I'd have no hesitation in saying "illegal immigrant" if that was appropriate for the character, but it seems like it's more noise than signal. I don't lose anything by cutting it, so I cut it. Picking your battles is an important editorial skill...

  5. Absolutely right, and battle well-picked. My umbrage was taken not with your editorial choice, but rather Allison's undeserved pretensions of authority. ("Please," in a context such as her comment, is anything but a polite term.)

    My apologies for the amount of verbiage in the previous comment; fickle, wholly subjective and entirely unsolicited demands that any creative types "edit" their work based on a third party's personalized zeitgeist of what is appropriate or not tend to hit one of my hot buttons. If there's a better reason than Allison's ill-conceived, poorly written and utterly misguided command presented, then it's worth considering (as in this case, which was your decision). I just despise the sneering, smug, superior attitude evoked by her comment; intended or not, as a professional writer (on a blog, even!), she should be well aware of how to couch terms in writing so as not to convey dismissive, curt or downright rude behavior. If she did intend to come across that way, she's out of her mind and far out of her depth, seeing as how completely incorrect she is from a factual standpoint. If not...well, if one has any skill in writing (or gets paid for it), it shouldn't take much more effort to make one's meaning clear.

    Or just use an emoticon to alleviate the tension. ;)

    Incidentally - it certainly didn't distract from the humor in my view, as I thought this was wickedly funny and devastatingly on target (with regard to the crap writing in the majority of television shows), as I find most of your writing to be. Nice!

  6. Joel, thank you for the reasonable, thoughtful explanation and editing a term. I've read your blog for ages and I will continue to enjoy your blogging.

    GE, you're really worked up over this. I used the URL of the team blog where I write; I didn't cite any credentials that give me the "authority" to critique a xenophobic term like "illegal immigrants." And where did you get the idea that my post was poorly written from? There are no spelling or grammar mistakes. I didn't curse or call names. I made my point and requested a change. And yes, "please" is generally conceived as a term of politeness (not that you're someone I'd consider an expert on civil discourse). It's downright ironic that you spent no less than 7 paragraphs critiquing my "rudeness" by calling me every name in the book. Oh, and nice use of your "illegal" wife as a reason to use problematic language. GE, you have ZERO authority to police my criticism of a term that costs people their humanity.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Spot-on as always. There’s one particular cliche in TV listings that’s always bugged me, and which I’d like to see lampooned; namely the code-word “beautiful” to signal “woman”— beautiful physician, beautiful CEO, beautiful taxi driver, etc. If a woman has a profession that is generally associated with men, she must be beautiful.

  9. Oh, Allison. Suffice to say:

    1. Rude behavior deserves rude behavior (though I was more "acutely perturbed" than rude); saying "please" is by no means an indicator of politeness. If you truly think that saying "please" automatically excuses any negative behavior, words or actions...well, actually, I find it hard to believe you do think that. Whatever your faults, you're not a stupid individual.

    2. I did not "use" my "illegal" wife - who, of course, is both my *legal* wife and, now, quite legally in this country - as any "reason" whatsoever. She agreed 100% with everything I wrote, and was baffled by your assertion. She's reading this over my shoulder right now, looking at your writing with a distasteful expression.

    As for "problematic language" - I *agree* that it's not a great term, and never sought a reason to use it. I explained that it *is* used, and not just as a slur, despite your claims; after Joel's response, I felt this fact was lost.

    3. The *term* costs no one anything. The *policies* in place cost many people many things. Since I have experienced these policies *personally*, I find it bothersome when this disparity is ignored.

    4. If "no spelling or grammar mistakes" and a lack of profanity is your benchmark for "non-poor writing," I congratulate you on somehow getting a job as a freelance writer. You may wish to study harder at Chatham.

    5. You offered a curt, unsolicited definition of terms, presented as fact though not necessarily universally shared. Then you made a "request" in two words. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it certainly doesn't come out quite so pleasantly - even with a "please" attached.

    I explained my counterpoint very clearly, with both passion and precision - and did not make any request that Joel change anything. I respected his decision, *even when* his decision was to honor your request (or at least to compromise).

    6. The "authority" wasn't in any citation or credentials (or lack thereof). It was in your tone. You're a writer. You know this.

    My mention of "Ms. Magazine" was a deliberate poke at the fact that, as you're a journalist, your initial comment was even more astounding, being incompletely researched and ill-prepared. (This is not an insult - it indicates that I *expect* better, which means that I implicitly assume you're capable of it.)

    (...and nicked by the 4096-character limit...)

  10. (...Oh boy, do I apologize for this double-post, Joel!)

    7. Aside from the obvious fact that the paragraphs I wrote were not all about you, verbosity is not a drawback to communication. It helps provide clarity. Had I provided a single paragraph of less than twenty-five words expecting a complex topic to be fully covered and understood, *that* would be "rude."

    8. There are a great many names in the book I didn't use, Allison. You didn't deserve most of them. My ire was reserved almost (though not quite) entirely for *what you wrote* (and the general trends within that viewpoint). You simply didn't come across very well, hence my occasional barb directed at you.

    9. And finally: yes, I absolutely do get worked up over people who police *language* rather than specifically working out the major factors behind that language. (As in your article regarding Reese Witherspoon's award speech.) Language grows, evolves and even dies. Thinking that your own experientially-biased view of a subject should dictate the language applied to it suggests either egoism or myopia.

    Do you *not* get worked up over issues you're passionate about? Militant apathy fights only one thing: progress. If something bothers you deeply, getting outraged is a good thing. You're awfully "worked up" over Reese Witherspoon's speech. I'm not opposed to your getting worked up over it (whether I agree with your position or not).

    You've used a poor tactic: dismiss your interlocutor because he actually cares about the issue you're discussing. That is a disingenuous approach. It's downright disappointing coming from a professional writer. William Lenz would be mortified.

    As a last point - it's comedy. Comedy doesn't require adherence to social mores or expectations in any culture, linguistic or otherwise. In fact, that's frequently the point of the comedy itself. (Not so in this case, as per Joel's explanation, but that doesn't change the more general statement.) I'm quite genuinely cringing at the fact that I just expounded upon a socio-political issue (at length!) in the comments section of a very funny comedy blog, which I did specifically to correct a misrepresentation and assert the sanctity of creators' rights. If you understand these issues as well, then you should similarly be cringing that you even brought it up in the first place. You've read Joel's blog for many times have you commented before this specific burr got under your saddle? (And yes, you can say the same to me - I already pointed that out for you: I do indeed care about this topic! Why you think that's a *negative* thing is well beyond comprehension.)

    Joel - profuse apologies, once again, this time for the verbosity, the double-posting, and for derailing your thread. As I stated initially, and apparently had to reiterate because Allison was quite condescending about the thought that someone might actually care about real issues (rather than mere words), language police wandering into more delicate jurisdictions definitely bother me. At your request, I'll certainly refrain from responding to Allison any further. That won't deter me from reading and laughing at your comedy.

  11. I have now replaced "immigrants" with the phrase "filthy subhumans." I hope this settles the matter to everyone's satisfaction.

  12. I dig it. Much more succinct. :)

  13. As a filthy subhuman, I am highly offended by the suggestion that our people would stoop so low as to appear on a sitcom.

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  15. GE, I just love that you *still* need multiple paragraphs (16!) to dress me down while I can do it in one. I'm absolutely fascinated by the amount of time you've spent responding to my comments, as well as reading my blog posts on Ms. You've given Internet Trolls new standards to sink to -- bravo, sir! I'll keep writing about social justice and why I think even comedy should acknowledge people's humanity rather than engage in slurs such as "illegal immigrant." Thanks for (unintentionally) reaffirming the importance and necessity of why I do the writing and work I do.

  16. Careful Allsion, GE seems dangerously obsessive, if further provoked he might decide to take his stalking to the next level. Worse yet, both he and his wife will look at your writing with "distasteful expressions" *and* "cringe" at the ***same*** time.

  17. Yes, you've proven the point quite succinctly, Allison. Not yours, incidentally. But it's certainly proven.

  18. This is my first time reading the comments on this blog, but is everyone always so hyper politically correct? Or is this just sarcasm I'm not picking up on? Because if it isn't, it's really putting me off from looking at any other comments.

    So, forgive my ignorance, but what is wrong with "illegal alien"? An alien is someone who is not originally from the US (it could be any country, but I only know US terminology). An alien who legally enters the US with intent to stay for a long time is an immigrant. So there isn't any such thing as an "illegal immigrant" since an immigrant is, by definition, legal. For that matter, there is no such thing as an "undocumented immigrant" by the same logic.

    The term "undocumented alien" would seem confusing, since many people could be "undocumented aliens". I've driven into Canada, and just flashed my passport to the border guard to get in. I was not documented, at least not by any personal information (I don't know if this is still true), so I was technically an "undocumented alien", however everything I did was legal. So really, the best option is "illegal alien". The intended meaning isn't "illegal person" but "person who did something illegal". I'm no expert on this, but I never heard of anyone say it was offensive. But in any case non of this should matter. Because all of these articles are fictional works intended for humor, not some socio-political dissertation.

  19. Hi Anonymous.

    Yeah, this conversation took off in a weird direction that doesn’t have much to do with the original post. I don’t want to delete it because it’s a conversation worth having – this isn’t necessarily the ideal venue, but who am I to tell people what to talk about and where?

    For the most part, the comments sections here tend to be full of people (a.) taking the joke and running with it, (b.) mentioning real-life books, films and TV shows that fall into the traps being illustrated and (c.) explaining that they can’t come and see me perform because they live on the other side of the world (which remains a poor excuse – surely it’s worth an expensive, environmentally damaging aeroplane journey to see some almost-competent stand-up that works better written down).

    1. Hey! As an airplane, I find it offensive that you would call us environmentally damaging. Airplanes today get an average of 48 miles to the gallon per SEAT, which can mean at least 800 miles per gallon on a full flight! And such figures get more efficient the longer the flight (such as the other side of the world). Let alone cars, who are deemed efficient when they get 35 mpg for the entire thing. And don't get me started on motorcycles.