Meet Wally Sparks

The New York Times was honest enough to acknowledge that it’s really funny, and idle enough to take it for a defense of tabloid TV.

Filmcritic frankly said “you’ll need a shower,” which reminds one of the usherette guarding the Cineplex door at James Joyce’s Women.

“And besides,” says Roseanne, “he’s a lousy lay.” Michael Bolton does a fair impression. George Wallace plays a bartender, Tony Danza a cabdriver. Lesley-Anne Down is the hooker in the nurse outfit.

Peter Baldwin is an accomplished director, he misses nothing. Many hours of television production have paid the dues for the butt-making of a TV exec’s gofer, but it’s not a satire of television.

An election year is when politicians have to kiss the great American behind rather than just kick it, like the Governor here (David Ogden Stiers) with his campaign commercials promising the best values in the State, but it’s not a political satire either.

It’s rather a simple equation, really, in the end. Take the lowest common denominator of daytime TV, and the highest noble numerator of campaign commercials, let them be purified in the coming of The Wally Sparks Show to the Georgia governor’s mansion like The Man Who Came to Dinner for a knockdown drag-out fight between professional wrestlers and sumo wrestlers, with a little blackmail thrown in for good measure, and miraculously you’ve got a fraction of human sense standing in for the whole lot.

Baldwin’s acumen is polished to the invisibility of his seamless transitions to the live studio camera, indicated by the show logo like a seminarian’s name tag. The gentlemanly production gives the most brilliant parts to the ladies, Debi Mazar as the Natasha to Dangerfield’s Boris, and Cindy Williams as the First Lady of the Peach State.

So what Meet Wally Sparks has to say about politics and television is really quite serious, even if they aren’t, and it’s said as many, many jokes of every variety that make up the tessitura of the piece. Tessitura, what a piece!

Like every good TV host from Jerry Springer to Tavis Smiley, Wally Sparks has his favorite bit of wisdom to impart each time. “Remember folks,” he looks into the camera searchingly, “every man has his tale of woe.” He continues, echoing Samuel Beckett, “unfortunately, in life, there’s more woe than tale.”