Armed & Fatuous

There is an axiom in reality television that any show which bills itself as involving ‘famous’ people or ‘celebrities’ will exclusively feature has-beens. Celebrity Boxing, for instance, featured the likes of Screech from Saved By The Bell and Vanilla Ice, while I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, that most noxious of English inventions, will live on in perpetual infamy for having resurrected the careers of – and joined in marriage – Peter Andre and Jordan. Similarly, our own Celebrity Big Brother ‘starred’ Warwick Capper, Adriana Xenides and worst of all, Sara-Marie. So when I tell you that there’s a series in the US called Armed & Famous, you can pretty much guarantee that at least the second half of the title is going to be false.

To be fair, I’ve at least heard of four of the five dubious stars of this show, which takes formerly kind of famous people and makes them into police officers in the small town of Muncie, Indiana. And if you’re going to sign obscure celebrities, you should definitely make them funny. And so they have.
In particular, the signing of La Toya Jackson verges on the genius – her quote in the trailer alone is priceless. Wee Man is, as ever, funny because he’s short. Hilarious! Former ChiPs tv cop Erik Estrada is washed up and doesn’t seem to know it, Jack Osbourne is, well, far less interesting than his dad, and then there’s some former wrestler, which is inherently funny.
So having assembled a raggle-taggle selection of D-list misfits, the show then makes them police officers. Now, the process sounds funny – in particular the scene where they get tasered. Watching La Toya suffering excruciating pain is purely a matter of karma, whereas Wee Man – ha ha, he’s short! Well done! Brilliant! Such are the sophisticated delights of Armed & Famous.
The thing is, though, that they get given guns. Actual guns, that fire actual bullets. Now, that’s going substantially too far. It’s at this point where the premise stops being funny, and starts making me genuinely concerned for the wellbeing of the residents of Muncie, Indiana. Erik Estrada is clearly reliving his youth when he was skinny, famous, and got to fire fake bullets that, as is standard in all TV cop shows, never missed. And someone clearly suffering from flashback delusions should not be given a deadly firearm. Whereas La Toya can’t be trusted near a microphone, let alone a lethal weapon.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely in favour of throwing celebrity has-beens onto the giant funeral pyre that is reality television. Mr T’s I Pity The Fool, for instance, is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages. But reality television should never, ever actually be real. Arming a borderline insane ex-celebrity is one of the most irresponsible things television producers have done since the Celebrity Big Brother folk put Warwick Capper in a house full of cameras wearing pants that weren’t locked tightly around his waist.
Would you trust La Toya Jackson not to shoot to kill? Or Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘troubled’ son? Someone’s going to die out there, I guarantee. And regrettably, it’s unlikely to be one of her fellow washed-up celebrities.
More importantly – please, I beg our TV networks, let’s not have an Australian version. I don’t want even the slightest chance of running into a heavily-armed Constable Hotdogs.
Dominic Knight

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