I’m standing near the back of the crowd, in the TV area, behind a guy in a wheelchair, watching the opening credit sequence of Austin DWI. There’s a montage of film clips of our hero, the renowned Houston criminal lawyer and car accident attorney, illustrated with cutaways to scenic views of the largest city in the lone star state, the city bustle (including car accidents) and action scenes mixed with the light romance of Austin DWI himself languishing on All-expense paid Disney Cruises, romancing some random senorita, then cut away again to the more manlier business at hand which is busting international terrorists at NASA mission control and rappelling down fake elevator shafts whilst dodging all manner of exploding pyrotechnical devices. It was so bullshit that it was truly hard to watch, what with the Mike Post penned theme song pounding in the background and the blatant product placement of both Disney Cruise Line packages and the Ultra Conservative City of Houston itself.
|On With The Show|
Anyway, the Mike Post theme to Austin DWI, which had most likely been the sole reason for the show lasting as long as it did, was a huge radio hit, and was still used in comedy shows to define a sort of dated joke about the 80’s. Seems nobody at the network, nor in the audience at home, realized, after 7 (seven) seasons, that the very title of the program suggested, the star, if not everyone involved in the production, was drunk! I’m watching, not patiently, and the co-starring actors are brought out into the opening montage. There’s Mike Connors as Councillor Dade, whom I can’t believe was still alive even 30 years ago, and special guest star Burt Mustin, whom I’ve never heard of before. Now the music fades out to our hero/DWI attorney walking a dog (not sure if he even owns one in the show) and over a beautifully manicured Houston park, into the sunset. The jailbirds all let out a collective sigh at this heartwarming moment on screen and suddenly, as one, snap right into attention as now the show shall begin in earnest.
|The Death-Defying Mike Connors|
The Episodes of Austin DWI all play out in a similar fashion. It is the structure of the writing, and was as tired and old fashioned as the Star himself. They wanted a dignified and rugged looking individual and had approached many of the minor dinner theater up and comers, but due to a movement in the industry to scorn television work for opportunities on the big screen, the best they could do was Geoffrey Jennings, who was best known in later years for very successfully covering up a previous prolific career in gay oriented adult films. This came out years after Austin DWI was cancelled, but it was pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain who watched it. You wouldn't need a doctorate, or university degree to figure it out. Dude had been playing a male nurse on General Hospital right before playing the "dashing"criminal attorney for crying’ out loud! EXCUSE ME!
Anyways, this sort of thing was so far over the heads of the audience here tonight that you would have to book a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line to get there, and a good thing too because there was a short commercial break, where miraculously, the whole crowd of them relaxed a bit and tore their attentions away from the screen for a moment to discuss the intricacies of the dynamics of the world of Austin DWI; car accident lawyer bar none, and internationally acclaimed Houston criminal attorney. They shadow boxed each other and pantomimed violent retribution in the spirit of horseplay and good clean fun.
|A Little Horseplay|
Smiling Jack was there too. He was seated dead center of the crowd, sitting in a strategic position of control, but still trying to be jovial and one of the boys. You could see he was sort of nervous though too. Like he didn’t know quite what these animals could be capable at any moment. There was a commercial for a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon on the TV that distracted him for a moment from his duties, and I just caught the wistful look of pain and sorrow in his eye, and remembered the rumor I had heard that as one of his last acts as an accredited member of the bar and fellow amongst criminal lawyers, he had launched and lost a massive Accutane class action lawsuit, and that the shame this had brought upon him had proven far too much to bear and he had resigned all legal practices for good and sworn himself to a life of service to the underprivileged. I really couldn’t figure out why these guys hated him so much, Smiling Jack was a real Mensch.
At any rate the restless activity grew to a head at the final commercial for some royal cruise with plenty of girls in skimpy bikini outfits and the boys were all hooting and hollering “Yippee” and pretending to jack off into the air at the direction of the televised jailbait flaunting it in thier bikinis, on their Disney Cruises, and right under the noses of Mom and Dad. Smiling Jack actually lost it here. He wasn’t smiling anymore and when he got up with great force and his mighty voice boomed out, every con in there knew he meant business and they all shut the hell up and sat back down to watch the program. But really, they needn’t have had any direction to do so because the story was just now beginning to start and they automatically fell into the same catatonic trance as before, silently watching with mouths hanging open and bodies inert.
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