Here in Letongaloosa, a humid, sweaty July gave way to what
everyone expects to be a humid, sweaty August. We all hope that
August will give way to a sweet September, and that then will come
a glorious new prime time television season.
The other night I asked two of my best friends what they
thought about prime time television, things got weird in a hurry.
That’s not surprising since my two friends were a robot from outer
space, KB11.2, and Biggley Masters, the legendary writer/producer
of prime time network television shows.
The three of us were having soft drinks in a back booth at the
Enchantment, a dingy roadhouse north of here. The Enchantment is
the kind of joint that every college town has to have to maintain its
My Alien friend Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector
Set arms sprout from the curved sides of his body. Three spindly legs
drop from the flat underside of his stainless steel torso. He has ball
bearing wheels for feet, and three sensor-eyes wave at you from the
ends of floppy antennae on the top his lid.
No one at the Enchantment even notices when Kaybe rolls up
to my booth. Half the patrons, including the waitress, Four Finger
Fannie, are aliens themselves.
Biggley Masters is a true television prodigy. At 19 he was lead
writer for a very popular network soap opera. In his mid-twenties he
wrote and produced several award-winning prime time series.
Biggley has principles. He held out against a network executive who
demanded that Biggley compromise a show’s plot so the network
could sell more commercials in that episode.
So there were Kaybe, Biggley Masters and I in a back booth at
the Enchantment discussing the upcoming prime time television
“The folks on Hebe, a minor planet in the Andromeda galaxy,
love “Toast of the Town,” and “The Fred Warring Show,” said Kabye.
“Whoa,” said Biggley, who was something of a TV historian.
“Those shows aired in the 1949-1950 prime time season. They were
the first prime time television hits. How can you say that the folks on
Hebe are seeing those shows?”
“FM radio waves and television signals pierce the earth’s
ionosphere and travel through the vacuum of space at the speed of
light,” said Kaybe. The shows from the 1949-50 television seasons are
just now reaching outer space planets like Hebe.”
“So the folks on Hebe must have picked up Marconi’s first radio
signal, the letter “S” (three dots) that he transmitted in 1901,” I said.
“Oh, yes,” said Kaybe. “In fact, the Hebian Supreme Council
met in a special session to discuss a response to earth’s distress
signal. They decided, given time and distance, nothing could be
“I’ll bet the Hebians will love “M.A.S.H,” when it finally gets
there,” I said.
“Oh, yeh, ‘M.A.S.H. will be a big hit on Hebe,” said Kaybe.
Biggley took a folded paper from his jacket pocket.
“This is the new prime time network schedule,” he said. “Kaybe,
I’ll name a show that is going to be broadcast this fall on U.S.
Network TV. Then you can tell me the name of a show on that will be
airing this fall on some planet in the great Cosmos.”
“Wonderful,” said Kaybe .
“Grey’s Anatomy,” said Biggley. “That’s a long running medical
series on U.S. television.”
“Rick’s Robot Repair Shop,” said Kaybe. “That’s been airing on
the planet Relontov (in the Bode galaxy) for 200 earth years.”
“Criminal Minds,” said Biggley. It’s a cop show.”
“Zap! Crack! Blam!,” said Kaybe. The Marilians LOVE that cop
“Where is Marilia?” I asked.
“It’s a small planet in the Triangulum Constellation. There’s
been no crime on Marilia for centuries. There are no cops, no jails,
no courts, and no prisons on the planet. The Marilians are
fascinated by the concept of “badness.” But they have to import
their TV crime shows from Gobokovandan, a nearby planet that has
a ton of bad guys.
I finished my soft drink and slipped unnoticed from the booth. Kaybe
and Biggley were engrossed in a discussion of interstellar TV. I told
our waitress, Four Finger Fannie, to put the whole bill on my tab.
I wrote “Garrison Keillor” in my computer file box and up came eight notes that I sent to Mr. Keillor (one a day for eight days) prior to the Erma Brombeck conference in March 2008, I don’t think, when I met him in the hotel, I even mentined that, because there was no response from the Keillor office about my letters.
The Secret of Walter Mitty,” and “The Short Happy Life of Frances Macomber,” are on my list of the top ten stories ever written.
Somewhere in the top 100 is my own short story “Heavenly Spin.”
That’s ego talking.
“…she made him a tomato salad and he ate it and they went up those well worn stairs and the house shook…”
Readers can find “Heavenly Spin” in my book of humor columns, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon.