Come Watch TV in a Post-Merger World

The CBS-Viacom deal has some concerned about what sort of fare might creep into our living rooms. Don't you worry.
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The proposed

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

-

Viacom

(VIA) - Get Report

merger has people worried.

Critics prognosticate that as ownership becomes concentrated, the media won't disseminate the objective information vital for maintaining a democracy. Instead, they say, inane programming appealing to the lowest common denominator will creep onto our TV screens. Others protest that the latest merged company will control our entertainment options from cradle to grave, with barely a free moment remaining to purchase tie-in products.

Well, isn't that nonsense! The "new" Viacom will soon have fantastic shows in development -- programs that give democracy a better shot than ever! At last, young people and mature viewers will have a common network, as the company that created

MTV

joins hands with the

60 Minutes

stalwart. It's a whole new chapter in multigenerational TV.

Diagnosis: Awesome!

Herewith a few TV shows that could emerge in the era of a merged CBS and Viacom.

XTreme This Morning

Bryant Gumbel

gets his testicles pierced.

Paula Zahn

climbs into the hot tub with

Rob Zombie.

Mark McCuen

interviews the author of

The Lonely Planet Guide to Bisexual Monogamous Snowboarding

. Also, some dude reads the news, some goths set stuff on fire and everybody in vests.

Elder Hostel Rules

Ten couples with sufficient incomes,

thrown together by circumstance and a reservations agent, sign up for package tours to countries they've heard of. Some early rushes: Sue and Steven Glickman of Coral Gables, Fla., find their hotel accommodations in Rome to be merely adequate, Lois and Michael from Atlanta meet a lovely young Russian woman who speaks impeccable English and Maxine from San Diego can't understand what the big deal is about that

Guernica

painting. Also, everyone is advised not to eat outside the hotel, because of bacteria.

Shemekia LaQuinn, Hip-Hop Paramedic

Our heroine (

Brandy

) and her MC boyfriend Dr. Sultan (

Omar Epps

) rap and resuscitate with equal vigor on the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles in the distant past (1986). They are aided by several

Walter Mondale

supporters, whom Shemekia has adopted.

Ed Asner

also stars as an actor who takes knee-jerk left-wing political stands about various causes.

Senility

Senility Cross (

Rue McLanahan

), begins the greatest adventure of her life as she leaves her Upper East Side co-op to live in a multi-use nursing-care facility in suburban New Jersey. In the pilot episode, Senility becomes confused and accidentally locks herself in a closet. For dinner, there's pot pie and butterscotch pudding. Also starring

Milton Berle

as an older resident on whom Senility has a crush, and

Wilford Brimley

as William Howard Taft.

Rug Hats

Dan Rather

,

Mike Wallace

and

Andy Rooney

, in their first dramatic roles, star as an aging but mischievous

group of gangsters who wear elaborate

hairpieces. The early episodes revolve around their war with a rival mob that is attempting to steal their formula for

Viagra

, and the later ones mostly consist of Rooney's complaints about gardening.

Lesley Stahl

occasionally appears as a district attorney who won't sleep with any of them.

Touched by a VJ

Jesse Camp is Chad, a hipster from heaven who gets people to straighten out their lives by threatening to move in with them. Also starring

Nell Carter

and an as-yet-uncast "20-year-old chick with a great rack" who also knows karate.

Behind the Muzak

At 27,

Harry James was on top of the world. His big band was on the radio right after The Green Hornet, he had $10,000 in the bank, and he and

Myrna Loy

were hanging out all the time. But then he began a downward spiral from which he never recovered. First he started listening to race music. Then he became addicted to games of chance. Finally, he fell victim to that accursed demon, whiskey. Now he's dead.

Neal Pollack lives in Chicago, where he works as a staff writer for the Chicago Reader. He has also written for Salon.com and The New York Times Magazine, and is a regular contributor to McSweeneys, both the online and print editions.