"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for24 April 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.






It began, one imagines, with a simple epiphany: Talk shows are interesting, sort of, except for all the talk.

From this crucial insight, a multi-million dollar programming directive was crafted: "If it's not interesting without the sound, don't bring it to me," declared executive producer Richard Dominick to his loyal staff of freak-hunters at The Jerry Springer Show. Ever since, Springer has been bitch-slapping, sucker-punching, and finger-jabbing Oprah's saccharine, book-reading ass all over the Nielsen charts, playing the triumphant Lord of the Flies to Oprah's cloying Lord of the Dance. When Animals Attack without the animals, The Jerry Springer Show is number one in TV "talk," and Springer even has a big-screen biopic in development.

But how long can the good times last?

The Jerry Springer Show is as dependably explosive as porn now - except that even the most rudimentary spank tape delays the payload for as long as possible. On Springer, the guests enter stalking: Within seconds, arms are flailing, chairs are tumbling, hair extensions are flying, and shiny QVC blouses are bursting at their over-burdened seams. After such fast-forward confrontations, where can the show go? All the guests have to offer is their all-barrel-no-bullet savagery, and while that may crowd-please the first few hundred times, it's hard not to anticipate an inevitable ratings divorce.

Of course, Springer has a financial incentive his audience lacks, so maybe he's unaware of how easy it's becoming to click past his show. Ultimately, however, the show's singular commitment to giving sullen bipolar adulterers the same access to televisual affirmation that the Ariana Huffingtons of the world enjoy is a noble one, and we couldn't imagine the TV landscape without it. Which is why we're hoping to help Jerry emerge from the uncharacteristic rut he's fallen into by offering the following makeover tips.

Next... Too Many Words, Not Enough Sticks or Stones

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