If there's one thing that I've dreaded throughout my years of television viewing, it is the "Olivers." Before getting into the many various reasons I hate "Olivers," I should probably explain what they are.

(HEY! Pay attention, this here's the explanation.)

During the last season of The Brady Bunch, the ratings began to slump (this most likely had something to do with those pesky communists). In an attempt to raise the ratings (and to thwart the dastardly communists), the show's producers decided to bring in a new character, his name was Oliver.

Oliver was some kid with a dorky, late-80s Tom Petty haircut that the Bradys decided to take into their household (as if they didn't have enough of their own children to deal with). The show's producers and writers figured that the genuine-article Bradys were all getting a bit old and (especially in the case of Cindy) awkward and that America was yearning for some new, younger moron to pick up right at the spot that the other Bradys grew out of. All Oliver actually succeeded in doing was to destroy a once seminal work of art. I don't think anyone enjoyed the little freak's hijinks and the ratings didn't improve, as a matter of fact, they actually started to sink.

You rarely even see Oliver's name being brought up along with the other Bradys and the most the fictional character will probably ever accomplish is to make an appearance as some really difficult, obscure, brain-stumping question on an upcoming volume of the Jeopardy-for-morons (but it's still fun!) game, You Don't Know Jack. Ugh! Well, to give credit where credit is due, he also helped me alter the name "Oliver" from a nerd's name into a brilliant metaphor.

Now, whenever a brand-spanking new, recurring character appears on a television program in hopes of bringing up falling ratings, I call him or her (no sexism allowed in this analogy) an "Oliver." (All good writers will tell you that you're not 'sposed to have one sentence paragraphs, hence, this paragraphed sentence. All good writers will also tell you that you're not 'sposed to use words like "'sposed" in a sentence. What all good writers forget to mention is that 99% of them suck and the other 1% are pretentious.)

(This is the end of the explanation, you can go back to being a Zombie now.)

Throughout time, no matter how far evolution will take us, I feel we will be stuck with "Olivers." They began as soon as t. v. sets entered every middle-class household and they continue right into today. Due to lack of space (and knowledge) I cannot name all of t. v.'s "Olivers" here, but I'll try.

On I Love Lucy there was that damn controversial baby we keep hearing about. When Roseanne's ratings began to drop, she copped Lucy's idea and brought in a baby of her own (and gave Dan a heart-attack, but we'll save that for an article on "Very Special Episodes"). Full House, the crappy late-20th century version of The Brady Bunch brought in those two idiot twins when they felt those two other idiot twins (the girls) were getting a bit too old to appeal to the diaper-set.

I heard that in a last-ditch effort to save their horsie show, the producers of Mr. Ed were going to bring in Mrs. Ed as their "Oliver," but the show was canceled before their plan commenced. (Think of the lost potential. If the show failed to pick-up in the ratings, Mr. and Mrs. Ed could have a cute little baby Ed, and send Wilbur to an insane ward).

There's plenty more "Olivers" to complain about, but, at this point, I'm sure you get the point. I'm thinking about adding a list of "Olivers" to this home page so, please send your "Oliver" suggestions to me at: alex@juicycerebellum.com 

Every little-itty-bitty bit of writing on this page 1997 Alex Sandell. If you steal it, without asking, I WILL save ALL my snot in a jar, for two years and . . . make you swallow it. Thanks for caring.

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