Last week, I listed my five favorite science fiction television programs.  That was fun and I’d do something like that every week, but I clearly couldn’t get away with it for very long for a lot of obvious reasons, not least of which is that after a while, I’d start to bore myself.  But doing that list got me to thinking about one other way that the glory that is Netflix (or Amazon or Hulu, or one of the other wifi entertainment options available these days) has dramatically improved our lives.  Not only can we watch programs and movies that are really good, we can watch some of the worst programming ever created.  Stuff that’s so bad, it’s actually kind of fun to watch.

Granted, you have to have a bit of masochism in your soul to derive pleasure from the failed attempts of others at creating entertainment, and if you have that type of personality like I do, I’m sure the right combination of therapy and medication will fix you right up.  I am presently doing neither therapy nor medication, so I still get my jollies from watching dumpster fire television programming.

A few months ago, my wife and I binge-watched (or at least did the equivalent of binge-watching that us elderly folk can manage) a program originally aired on the SyFy channel called Wynonna Earp.  It’s a Canadian production, but I wouldn’t hold that against them.  The story follows the escapades of Wyatt Earp’s great-granddaughter, as she uses the special powers granted her as a birthright to fight a marauding band of “revenants,” sort of a wild west version of undead bad guys.  Eventually, a team forms around her to provide assistance as she carries out this supernatural war.  If all this sounds familiar, it’s because about 90% of this is a blatant ripoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, enough so that I wonder why Joss Whedon hasn’t sued the producers yet.  And it would be every bit as good as Buffy if it weren’t for some of that trivial stuff like writing, directing, and acting.  Sometimes, the parallels almost get a little bizarre.  During the course of the first season, one of the characters (Wynonna’s sister) develops a lesbian relationship with another character.  It was almost like the writers were sitting around a table in intense concentration trying to create a credible plot and one of them in a moment of inspiration spoke up and said, “Hey, maybe we should have a lesbian relationship. After all, it worked on Buffy!”  I suspect the phrase, “It worked on Buffy,” was used a lot in all of their production meetings

Yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be campy, so a lot of what comes off as poor quality is intentional.  But Buffy itself was originally supposed to be a campy ripoff of vampire movies and I’m not sure doing camp on camp is quite what I’d call creative.  Anyway, we actually muddled through all thirteen episodes of the first season and I expect we’ll probably muddle through the twelve episodes of the second season at some point.  It’s not like it’s a joyless experience.  The show is pretty funny in spots and some of the humor is actually intentional.

And speaking of humor, or in this instance, the lack thereof, our most recent binge-watching escapade is another SyFy offering called Van Helsing.  Like Wynonna Earp (and Buffy, for that matter), the show centers around a woman with special powers to fight, in this instance, vampires, but here the parallels come to a screeching halt and the show actually has a lot more in common with The Walking Dead than it does with Buffy.  Like The Walking Dead, this show envisions a dystopian future where humans are barely surviving, except instead instead of being challenged by mindless zombies, the intrepid band of survivors is fighting off reasonably intelligent vampires.  Like The Walking Dead, our intrepid survivors are fighting each other just as much as they are fighting the vampires and they are constantly running afoul of other groups of survivors.  Also like The Walking Dead, watching this show is a completely humorless exercise, unless you get your jollies from massive amounts of blood and gore.  Van Helsing is expected back for a second season, so now is the time to buy some stock in companies that manufacture fake blood.

Categorizing Van Helsing as a terrible show is a little unfair.  The acting isn’t that bad and the story line is actually pretty engrossing, which is why we stuck with it for a whole season.  Nonetheless, I do suspect that the show has more “idiot plot” devises than any show I’ve ever seen, another characteristic it has with The Walking Dead.  The characters are constantly doing things that anyone with an IQ above that of a moderately intelligent turnip wouldn’t consider doing.

Neither of these shows is as bad as some of the bad shows of my youth.  People my age will remember that in the 60’s, Gilligan’s Island lasted an entire three seasons.  Gilligan’s Island was worse than either of these show, which I think proves that you don’t have be good to be successful, a point I’ve proven many times in my professional career and marriage as well.  For television, it all comes down to finding an audience, or in this instance dupes,that will come back and keep watching.

It looks like we fit the description of dupes.