NEW YORK – Now that VH1 has blown through the '70s, '80s and '90s, it probably won't be long before the clip-happy cable channel produces salutes to more recent years gone by.
But before the network can follow up "I Love the '90s" (search) with "I Love 2003," it's worth noting that, for most people, the fads, music and movies from a time as recent as just a few years ago does not qualify as the stuff of nostalgia.
The '70s and '80s? Yes. But the '90s? No — although some might be willing to give the decade's early years — say, 1990-93 — a pass.
For my own part, I'm stunned by how much I have forgotten of the social and material trends of those bygone years.
Then again, as VH1's decade salutes never fail to demonstrate, there's no particular reason to remember them, other than to make fun of them.
That, of course, is the point of these weeklong VH1 series — which is: to laugh along with a bunch of sort-of famous smart alecks while they take shots at Dr. Kevorkian (1990), Sir Mix-a-Lot (1992) or Lorena Bobbit (search) (1993).
For me, it's that running commentary that makes or breaks these decade specials. And since I have a low tolerance for sarcasm, the reactions of people such as Michael Ian Black (search) (of the cancelled NBC series "Ed") or Kato Kaelin (of the O.J. Simpson murder trial) to the rivalry between MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice (1990) or "Wayne's World" (1992) are of no interest whatsoever.
And that brings us to Hal Sparks, an actor from the Showtime series "Queer as Folk" (search) who hereby snatches the title of Most Irritating Commentator in a VH1 Decade Special away from long-time champ Mo Rocca.
It's possible that Rocca (he's the guy from "The Daily Show" with the Peter Brady haircut) recaptures the title in later episodes of "I Love the '90s," but in the episode VH1 provided for preview — Episode 1, "1990" — Sparks is seen and heard about a dozen times too many.
His dominance is not easy to understand because it's clear the producers of VH1's "'90s" series taped interviews with dozens of different people — from Missy Elliott and Jaleel White (Urkel from "Family Matters") to Kyan Douglas ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") and Hulk Hogan (search).
When "I Love the '90s" takes advantage of the wide variety of viewpoints represented by its many interview subjects, the commentary is much easier to take.
"I Love the '90s" airs in 10 one-hour parts (one for each year, obviously) over five consecutive nights beginning tonight, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.