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Here Comes Austin DWI

  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!

Gay-dar Alert!
    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.

Back To Your Precious Stories!


TV TIME

  I was more than a little put off by the ideas my new friends were pushing at me. I had no grudge against lawyers, in fact I wished to attend university in hopes of becoming one, but this fact I managed to keep secret. These guys had a positively murderous attitude towards the legal profession, and showed no degree of tolerance what so ever towards anyone holding a doctorate of law. In fact they were hinting at criminal acts directed towards our chief warder “Smiling Jack” McAllister, who had at one time himself been a prominent attorney. They wished him grievous bodily harm, serious brain injury, even wrongful death, and it looked like they sort of expected me to do something about it! I don’t know why, all I wanted was to do my time in peace, attend university or one of the colleges with their PhD programs and attain my doctorate of law degree so I could become one of their despised lawyers and put all my legal woes right again and go back to my life as a free man on the outside.

Starting to get me down!
   I had all sorts of dreams of what I was going to do as soon as I was a free man again. First on the list was to go on a nice relaxing vacation. What I needed after all the trauma and horror of prison was a royal cruise, maybe one of the Disney Cruises, or one of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Something sumptuous and luxurious, where my every whim would be attended to and I could forget about all my anxiety related to criminal lawyers and the doctor, experimental psychiatry and monsters like “Wrongful Death” Rowan!

Dreams of Freedom
    But no sooner had I drifted off into reveries of being pampered on Disney Cruises, and eating grapes out of the cleavage of naked 18 year old ship’s attendants on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, was I rudely pulled back to earth by the insistence of Mickey The Rat that I get my ass IMMEDIATELY to the TV area, and in no uncertain terms was I expected to get there with no small degree of haste and alacrity!

TV Party Tonight!
    Not knowing what exactly was going on, I jumped up and ran straight there, only to find that all the other inmates had gathered to watch their favorite show. Here I thought the prison was burning down, or aliens had landed, but no! They were all simply gathering to watch an episode of Austin DWI, a fairly weak action-drama program from the 80’s featuring the adventures of a Houston criminal attorney, Garret Austin, who was a DWI attorney in the bustling Texas metropolis. It was a stupid show, in my opinion, following this schmuck car accident lawyer around Houston, defending drunk drivers and inevitably uncovering much larger and more serious crimes, then, through much “fast-paced car action” and “action-packed” gun battles he would inevitably put everything right again. It was about as believable as Magnum PI or Quincy, but only contained about one-third the charm and humor. I never liked it when it was on TV, and still was not sure how it managed to survive in syndication. 

High Art for Low IQ's
    Apparently though, the inmates here worshipped this show. Absolutely every single man on the ward was present to see tonight’s episode of Austin DWI, even the naked guy with the permanent brain injury was there, bobbing and drooling along. There was much nervous anticipation and anxious banter as the program was about to begin… but as soon as the first notes of the very recognizable theme to Austin DWI pealed out… absolute silence befell the crowd and there was total concentration on the proceedings of this fictional Houston criminal attorney.

  I found this perplexing for two reasons. First; Austin DWI was probably one of the stupidest shows of its kind, existing in the same universe as Murder She Wrote, and Diagnosis Murder, and made by the same production company, it was not nearly a fraction as good. This putz car accident lawyer looked awful and couldn’t act. He appeared as if he had won in an Accutane class action lawsuit and then spent all the money getting some questionable Beverly Hills plastic surgery and wound up resembling some uglier version of Burt Reynolds. He was a real dick, somersaulting over the hood of his car dramatically, or dashing off on Royal Caribbean Cruises to nab international jewel thieves or some other such far-fetched non-sense. It was maybe interesting to half-witted 4 year olds and blind/deaf shut ins, but beyond that, Austin DWI was a jalopy!

  The second thing that disturbed me was the fact that a population of inmates, who had informed me (with a great degree of seriousness too I might add) that they absolutely HATED attorneys, criminal lawyers and all members of the legal profession, yet they would instantly drop the entire facade to cheer on the actions of an attorney himself. Yes, of course; Austin DWI was a fictional car accident lawyer, and yes; the adventures of this TV criminal attorney were obviously fantasies (however simplistic they might appear) but he was still a lawyer. And they all hated lawyers! It made no sense. I knew full well that 99% of the guys in here, like in every prison everywhere, were basically retards, but this was too glaring to be a mere oversight on their parts.

  I was turning around, looking over the crowd, and not the TV, when I was violently shoved from behind. When I looked to see who did it, I found Tony the Shirt, glaring at me, more menacingly than usual. He hissed “Show some respect!” then he jabbed his finger at the screen, still scowling. “Watch!”

TO BE CONTINUED…