Titans Article #34

At its worst, `Titans' made for the season's best laugh

(By MARK McGUIRE - Albany Times Union)

Looking back on this past television season, we can forget the XFL (easily) and put aside for a moment "Survivor" and the mean redhead game show host and all those big stars who thought television was easy until they got smacked down by a ratings freight train.

No -- for now, let us remember "Titans."

The Aaron Spelling prime-time NBC soap was a critic's dream pinata: horribly written, poorly acted and riddled with plot lines implausible enough to make Danielle Steel laugh.

Worst of all, "Titans" was so out of tune with the prevalent trend, reality TV, that it earns the distinction of being my Anti-Show of the Year. "Survivor," like it or hate it, easily earns Show of the Year honors for setting the standards of that trend.

Here are some of my other award winners for the year:

During the season's Best Scene, you wish you paid attention in Latin class. In the season finale of "The West Wing" (NBC), Martin Sheen's President Bartlet went off on The Man Upstairs -- in an empty cathedral, no less. You heard the devout president call God a "feckless thug" before breaking into Latin invective and knew you were a voyeur to the sort of spiritual intimacy rarely seen on screens big or small.

The season's Best Exchange goes to Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico) and Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) of "The Sopranos" (HBO).

After the two kidnapped a Russian mobster then lost him in the desolate New Jersey Pine Barrens, they called Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). Because of a faulty cell phone, Paulie misheard the resume of the mobster, a former Russian Interior Ministry commando who had killed 16 Chechens.

"He killed 16 Czechoslovakians," Paulie passed along after losing Tony's call. "The guy was an interior decorator!"

"His house looked like (bleep)," a confused Christopher replied.

The first C'Mon The Guy Deserves Just One More Sixth Chance award goes to Robert Downey Jr. ("Ally McBeal," Fox). He might accept an Emmy this fall via satellite from prison -- but no one would be surprised if it was awarded posthumously, either.

Some other awards

Biggest Surprise: Charlie Sheen and "Spin City"

Best Miniseries: "Anne Frank"

The I Can't Believe I Still Have a Job: NBC Sports guru Dick Ebersol, who presided over both the underperforming Summer Olympics and the amusingly ill-conceived XFL.

Best Self-Immolation: Laura Schlessinger.

Best Innovation: "ER" and "The Sopranos" presented episodes in widescreen format, which will become the norm in five or so years.

Best Cosmic Joke: After seven years aboard "Star Trek: Voyager" (UPN), Robert Picardo's holographic but evolving doctor, who was called "Doc," finally settled on a name: Joe.