Jeremy Eaton

YOU KNOW, IT'S PRACTICALLY impossible for me to guzzle down a tumbler of liquor, or snort a line of coke, without a concerned I Love Television™ reader interrupting me with an ill-timed, yet very important question: "Wm. Steven Hump-Me, why does most TV suck dead duck dick?" Well, to them I say, "What do I look like? Some kind of coke-snorting swami?" However, since I Love Television™ readers are more important to me than any line of blow, I'll pause to reflect on why I think most TV sucks dead duck dick--but after that, it's back to more toot for the snoot. Okay? Okay.

In my goddam opinion, television has taken an abrupt and downward spiral into the crapper ever since 1990. This was the year that an integral part of television writing was declared obsolete; the year network executives put the kibosh on what's commonly known as "the catch phrase." Now, a "catch phrase" is a short yet memorable turn-of-phrase repeated ad nauseam by a television character in order to ensure recognition by an audience.

Well, sometime around 1990, every network executive suddenly got a bug up his ass that told him, "Hey, executive! I'm a bug up your ass, and catch phrases are strictly squaresville, daddio!" And suddenly, as soon as FBI agent Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks uttered the words "damn fine pie," the catch phrase simply disappeared from the television landscape.

Since that time, TV has been cursed with a string of forgettable series and characters--because let's face it: without a catch phrase, most characters are about as interesting as watching Sam Donaldson pick dandruff off his toupee. Imagine for a moment, if YOU lived in a world populated with TV characterswho would you rather have pop by for an unannounced visit? Frasier, or Lenny & Squiggy ("Hello!")? Jimmy "J.J." Walker ("Dyn-o-mite!"), or that gay black guy from Spin City? The Fonz ("Ayyy!"), or the cast of Law and Order?

Fun people have catch phrases, and conversely, boring people do not. Hey, I change catch phrases more than I change underpants! Here's mine for this week: Whenever I see somebody with an awesome booty, I wait till they pass, then turn, shake my hand at chest level, and say, "Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout!" True, it's not the funniest catch phrase in the world, but that's the secret of comedy: Repeat anything enough times and sooner or later, they'll be pissing their Pampers.

Without catch phrases, mediocre actors cannot distinguish themselves within a role. The last one to do so was Urkel in Family Mattersbut only because he dressed like a goddam idiot. Remember the guy on Suddenly Susan who committed suicide? I don't eitherbecause he didn't have a catch phrase!

But just because the networks are lazy sacks of horse cookies doesn't mean I can't help make the world of television a brighter place--by dreaming up some catch phrases for TV's more popular characters. For example, Dr. Quinn, Frontier Proctologist, when perturbed might say, "Well, stink my finger!" Whenever Moesha enters the room, she could slap herself on the ass and yell, "OWW! Check out that juicy fruit!" And whenever Ally McBeal needs a snappy retort, she could say, "I've got bulimia, so why don't you shut up?"

Catch phrases and the Hump: "Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout!"