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TV HOWARD ROSENBERG

Advice isn't well done; it's half-baked or medium

October 21, 2002|HOWARD ROSENBERG

Dead men talking....

On one of the city's busiest freeways, familiar faces greet gridlock from a pair of billboards advertising their respective new daytime shows, "Dr. Phil" and "Beyond With James Van Praagh."

Dr. Phil and Mr. James gaze at one another along this strip as if the megawatt life strategist, becoming his own money mint by offering folksy tough love to troubled souls who can't seem get it together, and the fawning spiritual medium, who rings up profits chatting with the dead, were somehow having a cozy sit-down of their own. If only that were really possible.

Well ... it is.

Dr. Phil: Listen up, Jimbo, as I tell ya this will be a changin' day in your life and offer facile homespun advice that you'd be a naive idiot to follow.

Mr. James: As I nod my head and focus on a leprechaun that I claim is standing on your shoulder after passing over in the 18th century.

Dr. Phil: As I sit here grinnin' like a possum, fella, while thinkin' you're a slug.

Mr. James: As I fantasize a thunderbolt striking your chair while throwing you my obsequious smile that I rehearse each morning in front of a mirror.

Dr. Phil: Which I would dearly love to wipe off your face with my coonskin cap.

Mr. James: But not before I mention the dead poodle wagging its tail while sitting on your lap.

Dr. Phil: As I wonder if ya sit home all day makin' this stuff up.

Mr. James: A valid question I'll ignore while telling you that I'm now being contacted by your great-great-grandfather about his passing over. I'm getting something about a heart. A heart condition. Is that right? Please?

Dr. Phil: As I keep on grinnin' and inform you he didn't have a heart condition.

Mr. James: Which I pretend not to hear while panicking and hoping no one notices my terror and the trickle running down my leg.

Dr. Phil: While I repeat, "No heart condition," and tell ya to grow up and get past these problems, and that there's no rationale for shootin' yourself in the foot.

Mr. James: As I regain my poise and say that if his heart stopped when he passed over, that's a heart condition to me.

Dr. Phil: While I get real goofy and say listenin' to ya is like tryin' to sack fog.

Mr. James: As I play my eerie music, assure you that you're never alone and begin speaking with the spirit of J. Edgar Hoover hovering just above your head.

Dr. Phil: As I sit on the edge of my chair as if I really care what ya think, and say children come and go, they join your life, ya don't join theirs.

Mr. James: As I make my voice crack with emotion in response to your convoluted balderdash, sigh deeply to project deep feeling and tell you "God bless," while praying your show is struck by a typhoon.

Dr. Phil: While audience members nod knowingly as if they have a clue about what either of us is sayin', and I pretend to know what I mean when I say ya gotta do a relationship autopsy and get closure from where ya been before ya go on to the next thing.

Mr. James: Doubletalk that moves me to tears as I fantasize performing an autopsy on you.

Dr. Phil: As I ask why ya talkin' to the dead when ya gotta get balance in your life, and add that there's no reality, only perception, and if ya don't fix that perception, you're doomed before ya start.

Mr. James: Which I'll pretend makes sense before mentioning the contact I'm now having with an ancient Babylonian who says he's your cousin many times removed and wants me to tell you he liked you better on "Oprah."

Dr. Phil: As I wonder if you're takin' stupid to a higher art form and tell you happiness is a choice.

Mr. James: Which gives me time to call my stockbroker and check the market.

Dr. Phil: As I tell you pretty soon you're gonna up and say, whoa, I got old.

Mr. James: Not as old as the prehistoric mummy I contend is standing behind you, wiggling his ears and wanting to tell you there's a real outpouring of love for you from your ancestors on the other side. What's that, mummy? Uh huh. I gotcha.

Dr. Phil: Which is why I say you're not going to convince me it's reasonable that ya talk to the dead.

Mr. James: Which I ignore while lifting my eyes to connect to the spirit, who keeps saying in my ear she's sorry she had to go.

Dr. Phil: While I ask, "Do ya guys just get together and start doggin' on each other?"

Mr. James: As I try to keep a straight face while telling you I'm hearing stories from heaven and that Lizzie Borden wants to say hi.

Dr. Phil: As I tell ya what a good spirit you've been here today and that talkin' to the dead beats talkin' to most of the guests on my show.

Mr. James: Which I would respond to tearfully, with sincere appreciation, were I not taking a call on my cell phone from my agent.

*

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The shows

"Dr. Phil" is on at 4 p.m. weekdays on KNBC and "Beyond With James Van Praagh" is shown at 1 p.m. on the WB.

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