1. Big Cheese had found himself in a bad spot—and we don’t mean that his enormous Gouda head had been slathered with brown mustard and wedged between two slices of marble rye, either. No, he was in a far worse fix than that: he didn’t have a hit cartoon show to anchor his network’s Saturday morning lineup. If he couldn’t bring in the ratings, his Gorgonzola-flavored ass would be grass—or, more accurately, curds and whey.
But all that was going to change, he thought as he propped up his cheddar slippers on his desk. His zombie manservant Crow had hired some of the best “idea men” around, and most assuredly one of them could devise a ratings-grabber that would pull his part-skim, part-fat out of the fire.
“Who’s up first?” he asked, nervously peeling one of his string cheese fingers (“stringsters,” his stepkids called them).
“Some guy named Oscar Berkman,” Crow said, glancing down at his clipboard and trying not to drip his brains all over the goddamn place.
“Ohvuh? Never heard of him. Oh well, guess you’re saving the best for last. Send him in, Crow.”
Oscar Berkman ambled in, cutting a terrible figure in the same old t-shirt and worn-out khakis that he’d been wearing since at least the end of elementary school, perhaps earlier. “Hey there, Mr. Cheese,” he said.
“Boy, here’s a winner,” Big Cheese said. “Where’d you find this turkey, Crow?”
“He’s on loan from Moustache Publishing,” Crow explained. “Part of a talent-sharing agreement.”
“What’d we give them in return? A BLT?” laughed Big Cheese. Crow, who didn’t find the joke the least bit funny, followed suit, as did Oscar Berkman.
In fact, Berkman’s exaggerated simper was a sight to behold. “Ha ha ha, that’s a good one, Mr. Cheese. Well, you might never have heard of me before, but boy do I have a high concept for you.”
Big Cheese yawned. “All right, hit me with it, sweetheart. Give me a taste.”
The Tech Boyzz
Ok, here it is. What is the biggest thing going at the moment? The hugest, most ginormous thing, even? Life-changing, as in it’s changing every facet and/or aspect of our day-to-day existence? Tech, that’s what! Tech is so here and so now you won’t even believe it. Now the show I’m proposing, it’s a can’t-miss deal because we’ve put all the tech of today, tomorrow, and yesterday in it. I did my homework on this one, for sure. Got some IBM, Atari, and Colecovision veterans as advisors.
The premise is as follows: There are these four kids—Lance, Dance, Chance, and Rance—and they’re all in elementary school or middle school or what have you. They want the typical things that kids in their age range want: Getting picked first in gym class, bagging a date for the prom, having downtime to play their 8-bit consoles, et cetera.
But Lance, Dance, Chance, and Rance—no relation, mind you, but rhymes make everything easier to remember—are different than other kids. Why, you ask? Because they’re Tech Boyzz, with two z’s for marketing reasons. And because they’re the Tech Boyzz, they use technology to solve all their problems.
The personalities of these kids are unique, which you’ll be able to tell from the clothing they wear. Rance is real cool and always wears his favorite pair of neon shades. Dance is also extremely cool and doesn’t go anywhere without his favorite skateboard. Chance is a cool-as-a-cucumber customer who wears his electronic keyboard around his waist at all times because he’s, uh, a ‘music boy.’ And Lance, he’s the leader, so he wears a backwards ball cap and carries a big-ass boombox. Thanks to our research in the schools, their language is ‘with it,’ too—they say cool new words like ‘L-O-L,’ ‘O-M-G,’ and ‘L-M-F-A-O’ to one another. Not only is this hella tech-y–imagine the catchphrase potential!
We already have a whole bunch of episodes planned. In one of them, Rance is trying to finish his term paper in time for the dance. How the heck is he going to do it? It’s on the Pilgrims—we can use this as our Thanksgiving educational special—and there’s just no way it looks like he’s going to get it done. But he uses his cellular phone—all the kids have “cellys” that they use to contact one another—and calls up Dance, who comes over and connects his 14.4bps MAX modem to the World Wide Web. Even with Rance’s mom getting super bitchy about him clogging up the phone line because she needs to call to make her hair appointment, they manage to use the Mosaic web browser and the Gopher protocol to copy and paste some facts into Rance’s report—just in the nick of time, too! Hooray for the Tech Boyzz!
In another episode, the Tech Boyzz are at a showing of one of those asteroid movies that are all the rage right now. The movie is okay but the Tech Boyzz want to gossip about some school stuff. They try to talk in the theater, but some asshole grown-up “shushes” them. Suddenly Chance has an idea: he uses his “celly” to send a text to Lance. O-M-G! Problem solved! Score another one for the Tech Boyzz!
And the tech-themed plotlines just go on and on. The pedagogical value of the show is tremendous, in terms of teaching the kids about all the latest tech, so we can probably get it into the schools, too. As far as I can tell, it’s a fantastic idea with huge upside potential and no downside risk.
2. “Jesus Christ, what a terrible idea,” Big Cheese said after Berkman had departed. “I wouldn’t give an abortion like that to my ex-wife’s daughter even if she begged me for it.”
Given Big Cheese’s notorious Trial of the Century a few months ago (“Good news, folks: He got off—and in more ways than one!” quipped the hot college comedian, who was still wanted in 33 states for intent to elicit laughter), Crow wasn’t sure if this was meant to be a joke, but laughed anyway. Better safe than sorry. “Yes, it’s kind of a stale concept.”
“You’re telling me, Crow! E-mail? The ‘World Wide Web?’ Who gives a rat’s patootie about that nerdy claptrap? This is 1998, not the fucking Star Trek age. I haven’t sent an e-mail in my life, and I bet most kids haven’t, either. Why would you, when you’ve got a show like ‘Friends’ on TV that is absolutely beating the crap out of us in the ratings,” ranted Big Cheese.
“Nineteen ninety-aaayy…” Crow began to say, before realizing that discretion was the better part of valor and that his all-powerful supervisor should be allowed to think that it was any year he pleased. “You said it, boss. A ten-foot-tall robot is up next. Should I send it in?”
“Whatever,” groaned Big Cheese.
The robot that wrote a children’s TV show
I admit that this will strike you as a rather simplistic premise. Nevertheless, my calculations indicate that it will be a runaway “hit,” if I may use that industry term. First: It is well known that children like, or at least are physically attracted to, robots. Second: I am a robot. Thus: Each episode of this show will consist of me breaking into dwellings where children reside and entertaining them with my built-in MIDI player. Finally: There is no “endgame” to this, per se. I am simply following my programming to its logical conclusion, and what’s good for my programming will undoubtedly be good for yours.
3. “That’s not half bad,” mused Big Cheese. “It’s not half good, either, but who cares? People eat this reality stuff up like S’mores-flavored Pop Tarts.”
“Boss, I’m not sure this would fly with the boys in legal,” Crow said.
“Fuck those suits! Give the robot a development deal. But what else have we got?”
Crow handed him a pile of crumpled-up pages from a yellow legal pad.
Cheese pushed it aside. ”What the hell’s this?”
“One of those Brian Powell Stories the kids love so much,” Crow explained.
“Then read it to me, you idiot. You know damn well I’m no Sherlock Holmes when it comes to the written word.”
Micah the Cat
Micah the Cat is a former grad student who dropped out of his Knowledge Studies program after “going ABD” and then became America’s favorite flabby orange tabby. How do we know that he’s America’s favorite? Because we’ve done extensive statistical modeling and the R2 was nearly 1, which means that almost 100% of the variation in the response variable can be explained by the explanatory variable. And doesn’t it make sense to you that an explanatory variable should explain this variation? It seems like common sense to us—but common sense is pretty fucking uncommon in our day and age!
Anyway, Micah the Cat lives in a garret in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. He splits expenses with Pawscar Wilde, a creepy old Maine coon who alternates between quoting lines from Quentin Crisp’s The Naked Civil Servant and trying to get Micah to look at his extensive collection of “pink thing” polaroids. Now Micah is an accepting sort of pussy, but he doesn’t swing that way, so there’s been a lot of dramatic tension between these two characters. At least two of the first season’s episodes dealt or will deal with what happens when Pawscar tries to “get the drop” on Micah while he’s sleeping. Let’s just say that the fur flies and leave it at that, ha ha ha! Ha ha ha!
Micah the Cat is a show from which kids can learn valuable lessons. One of the key lessons to be learned is that the world is a horrible place, especially if you’re lazy, poor, and “high as a Georgia pine” most of the time. Occasionally Micah’s parents float him 15 or 20 bucks to get by, but usually he just sleeps until 3 or 4 p.m. in the same pile of kitty litter where, to borrow a line from Pawscar, he “takes his toilet.” Needless to say, Micah thinks about suicide a lot—but only in the silly, narcissistic way that most forever-young-but-slowly-getting-older, over-educated people in his position do. In fact, Micah the Cat is living high on the hog compared to the mice he spends a good portion of each show hunting down and killing.
Micah likes to read continental philosophy and still dreams of a day when he will complete his dissertation about “the totality of things.” But he’s tackled too big a topic and is too wrapped up in a relatively easy routine of coughing up huge hairballs and fending off attempted rapes to ever 100% it. He is, in short, a tremendously sympathetic character and we’re sure the children who watch his misadventures and antics will come to worship him and his “meower power” catchphrase.
4. “This sounds great, but I get the feeling that it’s been done before,” Big Cheese said.
Crow nodded. “Yeah, well, the show is on TV right now. I mean, it’s completely different—there aren’t any rapes in it, for one thing—but it’s definitely on this network and it’s definitely called Micah the Cat.”
“Crappity crap crap. Anything else, Crow? How about a story with an Edgarstein ending?”
“We do have this one ‘spec script,’ boss. It’s Edgarstein’s take on a hot college comedy.”
Skool’s Kool if Ur a Tool or a Fool
Bumbling assistant professor Niels Bohr just can’t seem to win for losing. First he was denied tenure, and now he finds himself teaching Intro to Earth Science—“rocks for jocks”—to the coolest bunch of boneheads and bimbos at University U. They are:
a) “Toe” Beans, the handsome star receiver on hard-as-nails coach “Herc” Broadsides’ (Broadsides plays himself, “natch”) top-ranked football squad. He’s a real “wild card” and is always “cutting up” in class—nobody does Professor Bohr’s German accent quite like “Toe,” leader of UU’s wild and crazy “Zoo Crew” fraternity (which appears to consist only of him and fellow “jocks” J.P. Crackerjack and “Brick” Shidaus)! He’s also a real ladies’ man and sometimes gets “called on the carpet” for secreting a charming coed under his table during one of Bohr’s boring old lectures about the virtues of sedimentary rock.
b) Camden Camden, the pretty girl who is so beautiful on account of her good looks. She’s as thin as a rail and quite a few episodes revolve around her numerous eating disorders, specifically how much the other girls admire them (don’t worry, ladies: There are “trigger warnings” every three or four minutes as well as a scrollbar that runs across the screen at all times). Even though everybody believes Camden Camden has a secret crush on “Toe” Beans, her secret crush is actually on herself and she spends almost every waking minute trying to steal glimpses of her sunken cheeks and bloodshot eyes on any nearby reflective surface. She’s also a Gemini (or maybe a Virgo–a girl never tells, lol)!
c) Emily Twiggs, Camden Camden’s “sidekick” on account of being slightly heavier than CC and having an assigned seat right next to hers. She loves checking her FriendFace, and that beloved social network proves to be a key plot point in several episodes. She also has the hots for “Toe” Beans, who wouldn’t notice her even if she secreted herself under his table and commenced yanking his crank.
d) Micah the Graduate Student, the despised TA and resident “nerdlinger” who serves as the butt of the “Zoo Crew’s” assorted pranks and punkings. At one point, he is beaten within an inch of his life and left facedown in a urinal.
e) J.P. Crackerjack, the imbecilic four-sport star who is functionally illiterate and possibly even developmentally disabled. His sex drive exceeds “Toe” Beans’ and he frequently “hooks it up” with Emily Twiggs, though he can’t ever seem to remember her name. This leads to lots of winning moments where a laugh track can stroll in, bust some “phat” moves, and bring down the house.
A note on the filming: This is one of those “documentary-style” sitcoms that viewers seem to love these days, except it’s got a laugh track (five of them, in fact, each with a different-colored ‘do rag and set of “phat” breakdancing moves). No one will ever explain, even in passing, why the show is being filmed this way—it’s just a vehicle for “Toe” Beans (as played by James Van Der Beek) to wink, wink, wink at the camera and pretend to be a twenty-year-old despite the fact that he’s pushing 40. And that’s the thing: All of the actors playing these characters should be established, because who better than an established, middle-aged thespian to play a “horndog” teenager (bonus points if he or she has played such a character before, because that’ll make their new roles—which are hopefully almost identical to their old roles—easier to swallow).
Edgarstein’s special note on the ending: The rooms of the lecture hall are locked from the outside. Hated, put-upon undergraduate “Pillowface” Jones then opens fire on the “Zoo Crew” et al. with either an L85A1 bullup rifle or an H & K G36—take your pick—and kills everyone in the room in short order except for herself, Micah the Graduate Student, and Professor Bohr. The laugh tracks bang furiously against the locked doors, eager to catalogue this hilarious scene, but are unable to gain entry. Professor Bohr begs for his life and Micah begins to cry. However, Pillowface Jones trains the gun on her own pillow-face and blows her stuffing out. As her down filling is dispersed through the air, the camera zooms in and follows a discrete feather as it descends to the ground. This is all very artistic but also funny and touching in a warm, sweet way—truly the best way to send off these memorable characters to the “promised land. And this is just the pilot.
5. “I don’t know about that last one, Crow,” Big Cheese said after a spell.
Crow’s ears perked up a bit, which caused his rotten left ear to fall off. Laughing embarrassedly, he picked it up, concealed it from view behind his back for a moment, then — when Big Cheese wasn’t looking, of course — ate it. He burped softly and then asked, “What’s wrong, boss?”
Big Cheese lit a cigar, which he molested rather thoroughly between his “stringster” fingers, a thoughtful expression on his cheese-face. “I’m in one of my moods, it would seem.”
“Would you like me to sing that Phil Ochs song you love so much, sir?” Crow asked. “Maybe the Gloria Estefan tune? ‘Turn the Beat Around?'”
Big Cheese shook his cheese-head. “No, no,” he said. “No thank you, Crow.”
Crow nodded. He scratched his exposed brain and then stood at the ready for a few moments until Big Cheese spoke again.
“Sometimes I feel like, eh… Maybe I should’ve devoted myself to another field, y’know? Something besides, uh, movie and television production, get me?” Big Cheese thought out loud.
“Oh, you’ve had a great career, sir,” Crow offered immediately. “Two Days from Retirement was a hell of a picture. Everybody knows that. It won a People’s Choice…”
Big Cheese sighed loudly, effectively cutting Crow off. “I just think sometimes that I would’ve gotten a bigger, uh, vicarious kick out of, I don’t know, owning a sports team or something.”
Crow nodded, since he didn’t know what else to do in response. He was a zombie and a yes-man, after all. He had but so many courses of action at his disposal.
Big Cheese “hrmmed” for a minute before drumming his desk with his knuckles like John Bonham on a three-hour rendition of “Moby Dick.” Bonzo never drummed with his knuckles, of course. You understand what I mean, though. You “feel me,” right “brahski?” “Crow?”
Crow pushed his rotting teeth and gums back into his equally rotten mouth and looked up. “Yessir?”
Big Cheese allowed the ensuing pause to enter the third trimester of its pregnancy before terminating it with a controversial dilation and extraction procedure–by which I mean that he shouted “Get Ludwig Wittgenstein on the line!”