"I Love the 80s" enters the third dimension

by Beacon Staff • October 26, 2005

Remember the days when VH1 (which stands for Video Hits One) actually showed-gasp!-music videos? Instead of reverting to that format, the channel is celebrating its heyday once again with "I Love the 80s 3-D." The 1986-87 segments air from 9 to 11 p.m. tonight, and the decade will be finished up tomorrow night.

By now, VH1 has the "I Love the 80s" format down to a science: round up a stable of B-list and lower "celebrities" and have them shoot off one-liners about a given decade's historical events and trends in music, movies and fashion. Then, film 10 hour-long episodes (one for each year in the decade) and repeat them non-stop for two months with occasional intermissions for "Breaking Bonaduce" or "The Surreal Life."

VH1 has upped the ante this time around, however, by resorting to the eye-popping gimmick that was last used earlier this year for the cinematic "classic" The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Interestingly enough, the results are about the same. Only the graphics are in 3-D, and these are not spectacular enough to warrant a trip to Best Buy to pick up the required glasses. Fortunately, the traditional red and blue frames have been replaced by some new technology that allows the program to be seen in the glory of 2-D flatness without any distraction.

But as much as they try to change, the "I Love the..." shows remain essentially the same. The comedic trifecta established in the original-actor Hal Sparks, actor/comedian Michael Ian Black and "media gadfly" Mo Rocca-once again return to espouse their opinions on various topics.

Although each commentator has bright spots, Black's sarcastic deadpan can provoke a laugh for even the most asinine or sobering of topics. His take on David Lynch's moving The Elephant Man compares the exploitation of the afflicted titular character to that of notorious porn star John Holmes. Comments like this are what make "I Love the 80s" so watch-able.

Yet, considering that this is the third outing of "I Love the 80s," the subject material is wearing thin. Whereas the original installment touched upon the decade's wide-sweeping phenomena like Duran Duran and Back to the Future, the writers started scraping the bottom of the barrel for this new version, choosing to cover forgettable films like My Bodyguard and events such as Paul McCartney's Japanese pot bust.

This, however, makes "I Love the 80s 3-D" even more interesting to watch. The average college student can probably sing the chorus of "Hungry Like the Wolf" or tell you what a "flux capacitor" is, but how many could tell you how much weed the former Beatle tried to bring into Japan? (Answer: half a pound). Suddenly, the trivia night competition at the bar just got tougher.

By boiling down these pop-culture nuggets into easily digestible, three-minute segments, VH1 has inadvertently created a niche market of television. "I Love the 80s" is the type of show that one can turn on halfway through and instantly be hooked into learning about trashy television shows like "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" and the hottest haircut this side of the mullet, the Jheri curl.

And when you are tired of studying for midterms, this show can teach you random facts to throw into conversations to make you sound smarter than you actually are. So if you need a break from studying, turn on VH1-there's a good chance you'll catch "I Love the 80s 3-D."

,"Bryan O'Toole "

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