Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Column #12: Saturday morning TV is special

While reading the recent oral history of The Simpsons, I came across a statement describing one of the people who got the series on the air, the very successful TV and movie writer/producer/director James L. Brooks. It was said that if Brooks was awakened at 3 a.m. and asked what he did, his half-aware response would be an immediate, "I'm a writer."

There was once a time when I wanted a career like that of Brooks, working of some of the most beloved TV of the day and directing my movie scripts into award-winning hits. However, if you woke me up at 3 in the morning and asked what I did, I'd probably offer, "Uh... well, I love my wife. And our cats. Oh, and doughnuts. And I love TV. Oh, and I should probably mention my parents — are you going to tell them that I listed them after doughnuts?"

Sure, I write some stuff. It's satisfying, up to a point, but it's a fairly isolating and dry task.

On the weekends, I jump out of bed as soon as possible. Am I ready to go jogging, hiking or volunteering in a soup kitchen? No, silly, that's you. I'm up because I'm excited to watch my TV.

Saturday mornings are even more exciting than Sundays, and not just because the weekend is newer, fresher and more filled with promise. No, Saturday mornings are even better because my three favorite Christian children's shows are on.

I don't watch them for religion. I do, of course, swear allegiance to The Shield, The Wire and The Sopranos, as TV standard-bearers. And before I continue, I should specify that I don't smoke drugs.

I don't like all Christian children's programming. It's a mostly dull and uninventive form, and the special ones have to really work to stand out. I've
already learned my lessons about sharing, patience and other junk you don't need as an adult, but I still love colorful puppets and bad puns. Anyone who loves H.R. Pufnstuf and claims to be hip needs to drop their skinny-pants pretensions and check out shows like the following:

Dooley and Pals is a favorite. The program
follows the adventures of Dooley, a space alien who has landed in some American kid's yard and is prone to Ned Flanders-esque exclamations. Each week Dooley, a robot and a postal carrier (suspiciously reminiscent of S.Epatha Merkerson
on Pee-Wee's Playhouse) teach the kids lessons about life.

There's also a pair of aliens who act like a less-cynical version of The Muppet Show's Statler and Waldorf, plus odd animation and weird songs.

Wimzie's House is another fun one, featuring a sweet little girl who's supposed to be a dragon (or something) but looks like a puppet version of Punky Brewster. Altogether, the gang looks like Fraggle Rock rejects, which is endearing and probably explains why the Jim Henson Company sued them at one point.

My favorite character is Horace, the dumbest one and the one most likely to throw an angry fit. He's certainly more interesting than anyone on Grey's Anatomy.

Then there's Mustard Pancakes. Is that a name for a show or what? It sounds creative enough to be a Frank Zappa album, right? I shouldn't like this program as much, though, because there's a human starring in it. Lame!

No less, she's a middle-aged folk singer and seems Canadian. She's also a total rip-off of Nanny from Muppet Babies, but you have to see her face. Its characters are three dogs and a cat who live with this delusional single lady. One dog in particular, with the delightful name of
Oogleberry, instantly stole my heart with his sad eyes and eagerness to please.

My wife doesn't totally understand my fascination with these programs, but I don't
totally understand why she watches The Real Housewives of Orange County.

Maybe you shouldn't listen to me. My favorite movie genre is the "animal who talks, raps and/or plays sports" genre. I just like what I like.

c. 2010 Velocity Weekly

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