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Ten things about television that must be stopped

So you're probably sitting there thinking, "Well, there was Homeland, Girls, and Mad Men came back. New Girl was cute. And Boss turned out to be brilliant. It was a good TV season."

No, you're not thinking that. Possibly you've been watching the student protests in Montreal and thinking, "What the hell are they complaining about?" Possibly, right now, you're thinking, "What the hell is Doyle complaining about today? Get to the point."

Well, I will. Yes, it has been a fabulously interesting TV season. Rich in successes and failures, the season just ending has been a salient lesson in the madness of it all. No doubt you will remember last fall, when certain trend-news was being shoved down your throat. One trend being copycat Mad Men things. Oh, it was a thing to behold. Noting the fascination with Mad Men, geniuses in L.A. dreamed up period-piece dramas Pan Am and The Playboy Club. And, well, nothing much happened in the end. Both are now cancelled. The Playboy Club lasted about three weeks.

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But, putting aside the fleeting trends and pseudo-trends, there are things that are just downright objectionable on an ongoing basis. That's what you're thinking, isn't it? There are things about television that must be stopped. Herewith, a season-ending list.

1. Hating Megan Draper on Mad Men

Hello, excuse me? This is madness. Every Monday since the wonderful Jessica Paré appeared on Mad Men as newly-minted Megan Draper, wife of Don, there was an outpouring of online snark. The fictional character is ceaselessly and seriously described as "polarizing," as if she was in your face every week trying to irritate you. It's fiction, people. Hate something real that matters.

2. Incomprehensible weather reports

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The state of weather forecasting on TV is a disgrace. There are now two- and three-part reports. A few minutes of gibberish about "precip" and "activity" is followed by a cheery promise that you'll be told whether it will rain tomorrow several minutes later.

3. Reality shows featuring the Palins

Coming soon – like, next month – "former Dancing with the Stars contestant and author Bristol Palin." That's the official description of her reality show. It's called Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp. It will "explore her pressures raising toddler son Tripp as she maintains her close relationship with the larger Palin clan." Why? Why, oh why?

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4. Hopeless Canadian versions of cheesy U.S. reality shows

Sorry, but Canada's Got Talent showed that Canada doesn't care so much. Apart from the noise created by Rogers, the show's broadcaster, there was no noise. We can do better than that.

5. "It doesn't get bigger than this"

CBC keeps using that phrase to promote the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's the most over-used term in sports and, yeah, if it's the Kings versus the Devils or the Rangers, it does get bigger than that.

6. News anchors musing publicly about how great their news report is

Lisa LaFlamme is on CTV about every 10 minutes in promotions for CTV News, looking soulful, serious and deeply in love with CTV News. Pastor Mansbridge is seen all busy and proud of CBC News. Helloooo? The news is not a lifestyle trend-thingy. And it's not all about you, the anchor.

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7. "Pain at the pump"

There are, actually, other phrases to use when gas prices go up. It's true, really it is, and not just a rumour. Other. Words. Exist.

8. Moving shows around, willy-nilly

Hardly any print TV guides exist these days. Skimming through the online listings to find a show is deeply frustrating. Broadcasters, please stop shifting shows here and there unless you're offering a cash prize for finding them again.

9. "Hey!"

Saying "hey!" has replaced "wow!" as the idiotic must-use phrase for weather, sports and news reports. "Hey, it's a great day outside." "Hey, the game's not over yet!" Hey, hey, hey that's moronic. And, wow, but please stop.

10. Riot porn

It has become clear again, during the student protests in Montreal, that TV coverage seeks out the isolated incident of vandalism or a scuffle and sticks with it. Nothing else matters, visually. How about answering the question, "What the hell are the protesters complaining about?"

We could go on, you know. But, hey, you can make your own list. If the "precip" and "activity" happens to keep you inside right now.

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More

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