The Dead Art of Channel Surfing

I am going to Ireland this weekend. So this blog will be put on hold for a while.  Last time I went to Europe, I wrote a piece about how to get kicked out of Europe. For Ireland, I figure I’d write about something I won’t being doing while I am there-watching TV.  With Hulu and Netflix, I never seem to lack something to view. But I can remember the days of owning cable with triple digit channels and nothing to watch. Here is all the television I’ll will not see while in Ireland. An ode to the dead art of channel surfing:

click.

Announcer: Hey kids! It’s that time again!

KIDS: Time for Uncle Happy’s Fun Land!

Uncle Happy stumbles out. Drunk.

Uncle: Fuck you. The bitch says that I owe child support! I fucking support kids all fucking day.

Kid One: Gee Whiz, You’re drunk again Uncle Happy.

Kid Two: That means it’s time for…

KIDS: Hide-the -FLASK! Yayyy!

The kids roar with laughter as they hide Uncle Happy’s flask.

Click.

Déjà vu: The sensation you've done something before. Déjà vu: The sensation you've done something before.

We are like the Groundhog’s Day of romantic comdies.

Tom Hanks: You know. I’m not really that attracted to you. I just don’t see what’s the big deal.

Meg Ryan: Shut up! You don’t have to be! I represent every woman!

Lzzy Hale: Not me.

Meg Ryan: I’m not talking to you! Now go and ponder about how the right one is out there and we will barely miss connecting until the end.

Tom Hanks: But we always do this! Can’t we do a different movie for a change?

Meg Ryan: No! Now go check your email.

Tom Hanks: But…

Meg Ryan: GO CHECK YOUR EMAIL!

click.

Chris Harrison: This week, the bachelor has sex with three different women within twenty four hours of each other in order to find his one true love.

The Bachelor: Life is so hard when you’re the bachelor!

Women: We have low self-esteem.

click.

It's just a neck rub... shut up.

This is actually a masturbation photograph. A real man’s penis fights back.

Rambo is chained to a wall and being tortured by cartel thugs. They punch him in the face while they talk.

Thug One: You know, I think you got a real shot at governor.

Rambo: You think so?

Thug Two: Arnold did it. Jesse Ventura did it. That’s like half the cast of Predator.

Thump! Bap!

Rambo: You have a point.

Thug One: It’s something to think about. Mull it over.

Thug Two: It’s an 80’s action star thing to do.

Thump! Wack!

Rambo: True.

Thug One: Very good, now get the red hot ass poker.

click.

Tom Hanks looks like he has been on a desert island. He talks to Wilson the volleyball in a grass hut.

Tom Hanks: You wouldn’t believe what I’ve had to do to get away from “you know who”.

There is a rustle outside. We hear Meg Ryan’s voice.

Meg Ryan: Tom? Is that you?

Tom Hanks: Shit. Cover for me!

Tom sneaks out the back. Meg walks in.

Meg Ryan: Have you seen Tom?

No response from Wilson. He’s just a volley ball.

Meg Ryan: What do you mean I just missed him! I told you to keep him busy.

No response.

Meg Ryan: Oh, I can’t stay mad at you.

No response.

Meg Ryan: Has anyone told you that you have such friendly eyes?

click.

A senator is at the podium.

I wonder if they have crazy hat day?

Ha! I said Boehner!

Senator: It’s a good thing that the public doesn’t watch C-SPAN, or they’d know about the bullshit that goes on around here. Am I right? Am I right? But seriously folks, it’s time for some business. Ever notice how New York and Chicago both claim to have the best pizza on the planet? If they could only make that claim about their football teams!

Newt Gringrich does a rimshot.

Senator: Thank you. Thank you! You are beautiful folks. So my girlfriend left me today…

click.

Gary Busey sits in the Governor’s office.

Celebrity governors are an untapped national resource.

Best governor ever… think about it

Gary Busey: I’m Gary Busey and I’m going to be your governor! The best fucking governor you’ve ever had.

Rambo enters, ready for office.

Rambo: But I was supposed to do that.

Meg Ryan: Don’t worry Wilson. The Governor will marry us. I love you Wilson, you’re just so obedient.

click.

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WWMPD?

My wife and I finished watching the entirety of the X-Files. One episode featured shirtless Mitch Pileggi, who was surprisingly buff underneath the doofy balding boss exterior. His character, Skinner, was that fifties-nerd-looking-character, while sans shirt, who became a Vin Diesel type action hero, with plenty of chest hair. Bear in mind that the shaven male chest is a relatively new idea of sexy. The chesty scruff look ruled supreme and even made it into the nineties. Commander Riker sported the enchanted forest look. Chest hair is the symbol of a manly man: The man that stands in front of a tsunami and says, “Take your best shot.” (The chest hair actually softens the blow.)

While most people don’t think of Mitch Pileggi as a sex symbol and a man’s man, my wife and I certainly do. We know he’s a man of action. That’s why, throughout the series, we kept saying, “WWMPD?” What Would Mitch Pileggi Do? He is a tough but caring man, combining the might of Chuck Norris combined with the fatherly wisdom of Morgan Freeman. He’d kill a man with his thumbs and cry a single tear. He had to do it, but it will be his burden to carry. He’ll carry it with dignity.

If you think we are weird now, look at us while we watch television (expect don’t because that would be creepy). For Mulder, we imagined that he spent the entire series looking for the ultimate stick ball field. Imagine Felicia and I in childlike New York accents saying, “Remember me? It’s Old Muldey! We used to play stick ball together!” My personal favorite is when Mulder was running around on the docks and my wife said, “You can’t play stick ball there! The ball will go in the water!”

The joke is never as funny explaining it the second time around. While I giggle to myself writing the Old Muldey dialogue, you are probably thinking of ways to distract me so you can call mental health. You wouldn’t be the first. My wife has many moments like these. When I find something funny, even if I’m the only one, I can’t stop laughing at it. For example, I have an IMDB profile. Most people that have pursued film at one point or another will have one. My actor friends use it for pictures and resumes. As a writer, I never really bothered to upload my picture. After careful thought, I wanted to upload a photoshop my friend did of me:

Mad Eye Aaron

SWM, likes long walks on the beach that end in slaying Death Eaters, keeps constant vigilance

I couldn’t stop laughing. The thought that a viewer would click on one of the writers of Hamlet: The Vampire Slayer and see that shining face that almost ended my life — twice. The first end would be from lack of air during the barrage of laughter. The second end would be from my wife’s bemusement turned to irritation. My brain went into overdrive. I imagined myself attending film conventions, collecting the morning newspaper, and even out in public sipping coffee and eating a scone all while dressed like Mad Eye. Wouldn’t that be brilliant? People think, this is just a silly picture but in reality, it’s the guy, the Mad Eye Guy!

Losing it with laughter isn’t what Mitch Pileggi would actually do. I imagine him to be a stoic figure with eyes that display slight pity, disdain, and the gentle grace of a father that knows his wayward child will come back one day. Of course, Mitch Pileggi doing any of these things would only make me laugh even more. The heart of comedy, at least for me, involves anyone who takes themselves way too seriously and slightly exaggerating their behavior.

WWMPD is a manifestation of that concept. My wife and I really thought this one out (considering we had nine seasons to think of it). We were going to make a website, featuring pictures of Mitch, write fake bios, and even post scenarios in the raving fan boy voice to apply the WWMPD phrase. We ended up doing none of the above. That’s not to say we wouldn’t do something silly — I am one of the guys that tried to sell his roommate on Ebay:

It’s just that some silliness is way better in the mind than out in public. Humor strikes and leaves the victim with an endorphin high and slight disorientation (sometimes leaving the “why was I laughing at that again?” thought). Maybe a comic moment happens more because the person laughing needs that release or some other physiological response. Either way, the act of inflexible seriousness seems to want that release. It is as though the person, who is too serious all the time, needs to laugh, so people like me laugh for people who can’t (or who have too much of a stick up their ass to) laugh for themselves. But that’s how I’ve always been. I’d rather fart in a prestigious person’s general direction and have a laugh about it than give myself cramps from clenching.

15 TV Pilot Failures

From the Bunny Droppings files:

1. CSI Leave It to Beaver – The first episode involved a lot of a vomiting from the Beave and Wally. Eventually, Wally downward spiraled into heroin addiction.

2. V: North Korea – The Aliens began worshiping the Kim Jong-Il like a god and wondered what the hell happened? They were supposed to be the terror dictators!

3. Lost: Central Park – They eventually escaped after one of them hailed a cab, but not after a few hobo fights.

4. American President – Kind of like American Idol except for the presidential election. Simon was discovered dead in his bedroom from “natural causes.”

5. The Prisoner Blues Clues – Steve ended up on the spy prison island. Blue was number 2. Famous quote: “I’m not a number. I’m a free man! Let’s dance.”

6. The Never-ending X-Files – It really wouldn’t end when it should. Just like the original X-Files. Zing!

7. Fresh Prince of 24 – Parachute pants weren’t really effective means to go undercover from the terrorists.

8. Who wants to be a Terror Dictator? – The contestants started worshiping one of the judges, Kim Jong-il. How does that guy do that?

9. Elmo the Vampire Slayer – Killed in the pilot. However, Ernie experimented with witchcraft and discovered his true feelings for Burt.

10. Phreak Factor – Just like Fear Factor except with Meth addicts.

11. Full Big House – The entire cast of Full House in prison. Uncle Jesse had the map tattooed on his chest. Bonus feature on the DVD set featured a cut shower scene with Joey saying, “Is it made of wood?”

12. Battlestar West Wing – Featured an insane doctor that kept speaking to an imagined Cylon Hilary Clinton.

13. All in the Borg Family – Good old fashion assimilation values.

14. Win Ben Stein’s Used Toiletries – They couldn’t find any contestants except for a couple of stalkers.

15. Eat, Drink and Be Larry’s made for TV dramas – This is serious guys! Shut up! Stop laughing!