As a rule, newspaper people should not be seen—hell, most of ’em shouldn’t even be read. Even those lame little photos next to print columns are too much (be glad City Weekly doesn’t play that), and actually going so far as to appear on television is probably the stupidest damned thing a homely print jockey could ever do.
So, what did the author of The Only TV Column That Matters (TM) do last week? He taped a segment for this weekend’s Sci-Fi Sunday (KPNZ 24/Cable 8, Sundays, 8-10 p.m.) with X96 Radio From Hell’s Kerry Jackson and Deseret News film critic Jeff Vice. One radio guy can balance out one newspaper guy, but two?
Sci-Fi Sunday, which debuted in April, is simply back-to-back repeats of UPN’s new Enterprise and 1993-’99 Star Trek series Deep Space Nine, spiced with two-minute segments featuring hosts Jackson and Vice riffing funny on all things Trek and anything else science-fiction geek-related. Past no-budget bits have been taped at locations ranging from Burt’s Tiki Lounge to the Conduit sci-fi convention to Jackson’s own sci-fi paraphernalia-overrun basement, which gave birth to a hysterically surreal recurring segment dubbed “Action Figure Theater” (more on this later). Recently, however, Z24 went so far as to build an actual studio set for the show—a mock-up of the original Star Trek bridge—and de facto creative director Jackson has taken to adding more geek-friendly segments that expand beyond the Trek universe.
This is where I come in: While too casual a sci-fi consumer to be considered a “geek,” I do follow and write about the stuff frequently—the entire month of June has been almost exclusively sci-fi here in Tube Town, even if you don’t count American Idol.
Two weeks ago, I introduced the Witchblade drinking game, based on the TNT sci-fi series and star Yancy Butler’s recent stint in alcohol rehab … and the hate e-mail poured in. Nearly 40 Witchblade Internet devotees called for my head on a stick for making fun of Butler’s problems and the show’s increasingly tipsy plotline with equal outrage. Most wanted me fired; one suggested that I shouldn’t even be watching Witchblade until I study up on Faust and quantum physics (!); all huffily asked how I would feel if my personal trials were publicly mocked. Here’s the deal: When I’m admitted to alcohol rehab (believe me, it’ll happen one day), feel absolutely free to have at me, you fuggin’ geeks.
Jackson, one of those rare sci-fi geeks with a sense of humor, heard of the hubbub and instantly said, “You HAVE to come on Sci-Fi Sunday and do the Witchblade drinking game,” even though he and Vice were once busted for a similar Deep Space Nine bit—yes, the local Booze Nazis can even roust you through the TV screen. Being a self-admitted media whore (is there rehab for that?), I agreed.
After a minute of oh-so-necessary shine-reducing brushwork from the show’s lovely makeup artist Allegra, I joined Jackson and Vice on the set and prepared to ad-lib (most of Sci-Fi Sunday’s bits, believe it or not, are scripted) the Witchblade drinking game—with no actual hooch in sight, mind you. Two takes, bam, done. Won’t know if I came off like a twitchy idiot until I actually see the final product Sunday, but I delivered like an un-shiny pro!
Jackson and Vice (the coolest guy at the D-News—not exactly a horse race, just had to be said) nailed their six-odd speaking bits with the same aplomb. But one Sci-Fi Sunday feature is deceptive in its seeming simplicity: “Action Figure Theater,” this week a geeked-out parody of The McLaughlin Group, starring Mr. Spock, The Hulk, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lando Calrissian and the Invisible Girl, takes well over an hour to execute due to staging, uncooperative plastic actors, camera angles and Jackson’s overlong script.
“As long as we get the Lando gag in, I’ll be happy,” he laughs as he whacks out chunks of dialogue. It’s a backrub joke involving the Invisible Girl … or is it? Only geeks will know for sure.