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And Now, Back To Our Program...

  So we survived another round of commercials and now the show was back on. They’re all back to normal, focused on the TV. I think I already said how boring I think this show is. The idea of this swash buckling DWI attorney was preposterous, to say the least, and the cheap production values, and unappealing characters made it a chore to watch. I wouldn’t have watched it if I was home, in fact, I would have rather spent this time not watching it here either, alone in my cell, so I could go over my thoughts undisturbed. I needed to focus, but not in cheap entertainments, in repeat re-runs no less, but I had no choice. I was expected to watch right along with all the others. Attendance for the screening of Austin DWI was mandatory, and the entire population of our block was there. They liked it.

Mandatory Attendance
    Well, you could make me watch, but you couldn’t make me like it. This car accident lawyer “who-dun-it” show was the worst piece of crap; I guffawed at its absurdity, even as the rest of the cons reeled and swooned with the very glances Our Hero Austin DWI threw about the scenery. Oh look, there’s Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s Island. They’re really parading a cavalcade of stars tonight! Looks like she’s the old boy’s Wifey, as she’s being held below decks on an ocean liner by swarthy guys with black fedoras and trench coats on. The cabin is decorated with empty cardboard crates and a hanging “3rd degree” light. Mrs. Howell is tied to a chair and you can see how fake the rope is as it falls around her as she struggles to “free” herself from her captors. One of them holds a pistol, and the other one lunges into his cue “You better tell us where the diamonds are, or else!”   
 
  He means business, and to show this, the writers include a close-up shot of him raising his fist so as to strike and then cutting away to just a blackened screen and the shriek of one Lovey Howell. (The inimitable Natalie Schafer)

The Inimitable Natalie Schafer
    The bumper for Austin DWI flashes on the screen with the distinctive 12-14 bars of the instantly recognisable theme song chime out to inform us of another commercial break. This show has a LOT of commercials in it. As thought the actual program in earnest wasn’t bad enough. Now it’s 3 ads on either side of “Station Identification” and then a Public Service Announcement before 2 30 second “tune in weekdays at 3 for “Joker’s Wild” and weeknights at 7 for Black Sheep Squadron, (does this station ever play new programs?) self-promotional slots before getting back to the show. The whole time the population sort of sulked and turned back and forth in their seats. They needed the Austin show to continue, they were mulish, sultry, but fairly silent in their discomfiture and impatience. The show came back and they eased off and breathed once more.

With your host, Jack Barry. Weekdays at Three.
     The faint wave of nostalgia, and the brief distraction it affords, gave me pause, and I almost, absent mindedly, began to follow the dramatic story arc of what was going on in the program I sat watching, despite my better efforts. Seems as though Gus the Fireman is so rich that he sends his wife, Mrs. Howell, out on world-wide shopping sprees where she buys all manner of priceless luxury items as well as large sums of foreign currency, precious metals and gems. She’s just on her way back after a globe-trotting binge and has a fortune of diamonds stashed away somewhere. Now these crooks are going to get it, and by any means necessary it seems. The guy with the gun tells the other guy to take a breather. “Go get on the blower wit’ de old man again an tell him to step on it wit’ that ransom money, already!”          

These guys ain't messin' around!
     As he fumbles with these simple lines, the actor seems slightly paralyzed, partially induced by the quality of the script no doubt.  He is frozen stiff at the shoulders and much too intensely guarding the tiny, little old woman in front of him, the gun welded in aim at his captive sitting perturbedly across the room from him. His flop sweat comes off well, being actual beads of real nervous perspiration as he jerks the gun sideways at his crony, off of the beat, and preforms a clumsy, and totally accidental, visual non-sequitor which is quickly cut away in an urgent edit. 

  Buddy’s on the phone, a pay-phone on the wall, next to a port-hole style window denoting their presence on a boat.  I thought to myself, “Do they even have pay-phones in storage lockers on ocean liners? Is that even a ‘thing’?” Then I also considered that maybe I would never find out. Maybe I would remain here in jail for the rest of my days and never get out. I might never be able to know! This thought crushed my spirit just that much more that I would have to languish in my ignorance, wasting away my entire life, watching some awful re-run of some second rate TV show, with its unrealistic portrayal of the realities of driving while impaired, if not the patently false glamorization of the roles and lifestyles of car accident attorneys and personal injury lawyers. The insignificance of it all, and my inescapable position at its center, my powerlessness in its shadow, this almost had me at the point I might break.

On The Verge of a Total Bug-Out
     But No! None of that mattered here on Cell-Block K. There was no question amongst the boys. Austin DWI was the BOMB! A kindred cheer went up every time he entered the scene, they laughed heartily at the indulgences of his penthouse bachelor apartment. They silently looked to each other and nodded in unspoken agreement at how Heff this Huston Criminal Attorney was, living the pimp lifestyle with the bar right in his sumptuous living room. Man, they thought Austin DWI was Bawse, and to be honest with you, I found it hard to reckon with. 

  What could draw them so dramatically to this show? I was puzzled, and thinking, I noticed, that when I looked over, in front and to the side, there was Smiling Jack, actively averting his eyes from the screen, and pulling the visor of his cap over the front of his face while peering around it to keep an eye on the criminals surrounding him, but effectively blocking out all sight of the TV itself and being very careful never to actually look directly at the screen.

Averted Eyes


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