My preferred name for the TV set: The Tube.
Other names I like: telly, boob tube, cathode-ray tube, the plug-in drug, idiot box.
Three Four-Letter-One-Word-Titled TV shows that changed my life: M*A*S*H, Taxi, Soap.
Idea for a TV show: It takes place at an information retrieval service, where TV and radio
news segments are recorded for clients who want to know what’s being said about them in
the news. The show involves the interactions of the characters at their workplace and the
different things that happen in their personal lives – similar to “Taxi,” “Barney Miller,”
“Lou Grant,” etc. The characters include Joe, an eccentric who lines his cubicle with
stuffed animals, carries all his things in plastic bags, and is obsessed with Japanese
pop stars; Allen, a conspiracy theorist who can be relied upon to interpret news events
for the government scheme that they really are – believes the moon landing was faked,
John Lennon was killed by the CIA, etc.; Ryan, a struggling rock musician who says he
isn’t really a transcriber – he has shaggy hair, is a stoner, and can he heard/seen
explaining song structures over the phone to his bandmates; Donald, a gay Zen-Buddhist
with a temper, makes extra money as a male prostitute – can often be seen/heard pounding
on his desk or talking on his cell phone; George Steinberg, the general manager of the
office – he’s a Jewish ex-hippie comedian, and everyone has trouble understanding what
he’s saying because he’s so scattered-brained – he’s married and has a child, but is
constantly having affairs with the most recently hired female salesperson; Greg, a
smooth-talking salesperson from Chicago; Johnny, the dorky, brown-nosing frat-boy
production manager; Stacy, the young, sexy receptionist, on whom everybody has a crush;
and Allison, the take-no-shit sales manager whose motto is “We’re here to make money!”
The pilot episode includes an invigorating speech by Allison, in attempts to raise the
morale of the employees; grumblings by Ryan and Allen who think Allison is full of shit;
a lunchtime meeting between Allison and George Steinberg, at which some flirting takes
place; Donald talks about one of his clients, who he says likes to be walked on – literally.
Greg, Allen, and Ryan deconstruct the purple ketchup news clips that are selling; and Joe
shows Ryan and Allen some interesting photos from his last trip to Japan.|
Best TV show ever: The Twilight Zone. Best Twilight Zone episode: “A Stop at Willoughby,”
in which the protagonist, Gart Williams, on his way to and from work on the train, keeps
having the same dream that there is a stop called Willoughby, which is this idyllic town
untouched by time, where, according to the conductor, “a man can slow down to a walk and
live his life full measure.” The town seems so appealing to Gart because his home life
is awful – he doesn’t get along with his wife – and his work life is equally terrible,
with a nagging boss and work he doesn’t enjoy. Willoughby seems to be the perfect way out,
and Gart decides he will get off at Willoughby the next time he hears the conductor
announce it: “Next stop Willoughby.” In the last scene we see Gart’s dead body lying in
the snow by the side of the tracks, people gathered around, and someone says, “He just
leaped off the train while it was moving, saying something about Willoughby.” The episode
was written by Rod Serling himself.|
Favorite TV-related expression: “Jumping the Shark” to express when a show, or anything else
for that matter, has passed its prime – and it can be narrowed down to one moment or scene,
as when Fonzie, on water skis pulled by a boat over a ramp, jumped over a shark in a Happy
Days episode. Beautiful.
Current TV-personality obsession: Cat Schwartz, co-host of Call for Help on the TechTV cable TV network. Tech-savvy, hip, young, half-Jewish, and cute, with glasses. She knows how to partition a hard drive, thinks the Internet Archive is cool, and likes the Yeah Yeah Yeahs!
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