Everyone’s talking about this new TV show. It’s shot through an upstairs window, maybe in London, maybe not. There’s a view of a street tree and a lamppost and a sidewalk where every once in a while someone walks by. In the pilot, we witnessed a blonde woman in a pink shirt and a white skirt, and, about fifteen minutes later, a little boy, both traveling from right to left. The dramatic peak so far came in episode thirteen, when a man riding a bicycle paused briefly next to a fire hydrant on the corner. Was that hydrant always there? Who knows what other adventures await as the mystery continues to unfold? In the meantime, the entire first season will soon be available on DVD for $17.95.
“Hi, I’m Robert Osborne,” says our host Robert Osborne, emerging from the warm mahogany recesses of his Craftsman-style living room. He approaches the camera, smiling enigmatically, then drifts into a niche behind the leather sofa. He reemerges into an Orientalist fantasy of floor cushions, hookahs, and maroon draperies. Still approaching the camera, still smiling, he glides through a lofty hall of white plaster columns, sweeping staircases, and silvery fixtures. He doesn’t pick up the white telephone; he keeps on walking through room after room. In a flophouse with stained carpet and peeling wallpaper, he pauses next to a battered La-Z-Boy. He is still smiling, still looking at us. We can’t see his feet. Will he sit down? Will he ever sit down?
Mr. Burns is getting some bootleg videotapes for Christmas! Homer has a secret stash in prison, and Mr. Smithers sneaks in, disguised in a trench coat and dark glasses. He hands Homer six hundred dollars in tidy little bundles and leaves with a spilling-over armful of tapes, at a run, dodging the guards’ bullets. After a while Mr. Burns tires of the tapes, and Homer needs entertainment to pass the long nights in prison, so Mr. Smithers breaks back in and supplies Homer with an armful of bootleg videotapes in exchange for six hundred dollars. But Homer also needs money, and Mr. Burns needs something to help him pass the long nights in his mansion, so Smithers dons his trench coat, puts six hundred dollars in his pocket, and pays Homer another visit, leaving at a run with an armful of videotapes, dodging bullets. The nights in prison are still long too, though, so Homer arranges another transaction, armful of tapes, six hundred dollars, but then he needs six hundred dollars, Mr. Burns in his mansion is bored, Mr. Smithers, six hundred dollars, armful of tapes, dodging bullets, repeat, until one day Homer suddenly realizes while sitting on his lawn chair on the roof of the prison, dreaming of profits and videotapes, that he can just jump down off the roof and be free. So Homer is joyfully reunited with his family for Christmas, and the giant egg that had been incubating under his lawn chair hatches into a giant yellow teapot and flies away, psychedelic music playing, into the sunset, credits roll.
The demilitarized zone outside the Academy was teeming with gowns and guard dogs. We made our way past the goosestepping sentries, past the white-columned totalitarian facade, and into the fairgrounds where the picnic tables were arrayed for the festive banquet. I scanned the crowded benches for someone to sit next to, but everyone was talking to everyone else and I decided I’d better go home. As I got outside there was a commotion in the DMZ, and I saw–barely saw, it happened so fast–my unglamorous brown dog herded into a truck along with the guards’ German shepherds, flying off to some crisis with flashing lights and sirens blaring. I flashed forward to my desolate future life, searching the city for my only friend like Umberto D, but before I got there a few days had passed and my dog had come home with a new companion, a chipper shepherd from the Academy force, proving that there are still happy endings in Hollywood.
The March on Washington, August 28, 1963. Among the thousands gathered on this momentous day are members of the crew of the firefly-class spaceship Serenity. They’ve sailed far across that vast sea the president is so excited about, and they have demands. As Dr. King approaches the podium, the tough guy with the woman’s name starts to mix it up with members of the crowd. Who thought it was a good idea to let a bunch of space cowboys stand in the front row? Did Kennedy have something to do with this? Or are we witnessing an ill-conceived attempt at comic relief on the part of an exhausted TV writer? Fortunately, history will forget they were ever here.
There was only this one episode, where we all sat around in our separate studio apartments moping in the dark next to telephones that didn’t ring. The camera operators yawned. Nothing happened. Nobody watched. The show got cancelled.
Surprise! Tara wasn’t dead, she was just asleep for a while. She and Willow are back together, but they’re having trouble getting along after all that time apart. At the cast pajama party in the attic of Buffy’s mom’s house, they keep waking everybody up with their bickering. Still playing the role of Irrelevant Older Friend, I counsel them not to try to work out all their breakup details now — division of property will be easier in the morning. Meanwhile, Buffy is in heaven, which looks a lot like New Zealand. She cruises up and down the mountain roads on a motorcycle; the angel guide on the back of her bike explains that this is what you do during your first year in heaven. Also, you have to wear an oversized black leather police cap with lots of gilding and sparkles on it, inspired by a costume designed for the Village People. “That’s funny,” Buffy says, “because I’m not even a gay man.” Her long tresses spill from under the cap and fly out behind her as she takes a hairpin turn at top speed. Her toenails, peeking out between the straps of her high-heeled sandals, are painted pink.