We watch... so you don't have to.

TeeVee Mailbag V: The Wrath of Littlefield

We like to think of our little TeeVee site as a refuge for higher thought, a refuge where members of the intelligentsia who are also well-versed in pop culture -- couch potatoes who have read a book -- can gather and wax philosophical about the medium of television.

Even now as this is being written, a group of us are gathered around the espresso machine fiercely debating Martin Lawrence and his effect on African-American scatological humor. Downstairs in the TeeVee lab, our crack team of researchers is running tests on the new ABC fall line-up to determine whether it is, in fact, more noxious than mustard gas. And, of course, we just got that government grant to transcribe all of Urkel's dialogue from Family Matters to search for hidden prophecies and psychic revelations. For instance, did you know that season one of Family Matters foretold Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and that Bill Clinton's re-election was revealed some two years before it...

We've said too much already.

But the point is, we like to think of ourselves as the TeeVee brainiacs, the kind of guys who can sit in front of the ol' boob tube, watch a couple of re-runs of Mama's Family and produce a spine-tingling essay about the importance of Vicki Lawrence vis-a-vis the post-feminist era. We're the smart kids. The straight-A students of TeeVee. The folks at the head of the class.

Thankfully, we have you readers to strip us bare of our pretensions and to trample all our hopes and dreams into dust. Because whenever we're feeling like the cock of the walk, one of you inevitably sends us e-mail demanding not gripping analysis of the state of TeeVee, but rather, blasé information you're perfectly capable of looking up your own damn selves. Because we're sure you can understand how disconcerting it is for us to realize that our readers think of us as nothing more than people to settle their drunken bar bets.

Take the case of devoted reader firehouse5@aol.com, who sent a very simple request to our own Philip Michaels:

My cousin needs the FAX numbers for Days Of Our Lives.

Firehouse5@aol.com probably thought she was being quite concise in her request, omitting such extraneous words as "please" and "thank you." Yet, the clever but crotchety Michaels didn't see it that way.

"What am I, the fucking Shell Answer Man?" Michaels was heard to grumble as he poured himself another snort of whiskey from the flask he keeps hidden in a hollowed-out copy of The Sun Also Rises.

Like Michaels, we admit we were taken aback by the brusque tone of Firehouse5@aol.com's request. But nevertheless, we feel a need to serve our reading public. So we wrote back to firehouse5@aol.com, informing her that while we didn't have the FAX numbers for Days of Our Lives right at the tip of our busy, little fingers, she could probably just as easily call up NBC or indeed, someone who's actually written about soap operas at some point in their lives, and get the information she desired. And then, we politely but firmly suggested firehouse5@aol.com brush up on her Emily Post, take a few etiquette pointers and learn some goddamn manners -- a suggestion which, to our shock and alarm, she did not appreciate. She wrote:

Instead of presenting the childish "What is in this for me?" attitude to people, learn to extend them the professional courtesy of resolving their concerns professionally someday.

Ah, but that's where firehouse5@aol.com is wrong -- we aren't professionals. Most of the people who write for this site? Drunk. The seemingly well-researched and carefully checked news we disseminate? Lies. Bunkum. Malarkey we made up just to impress you. Hell, most of us aren't even using our real names as part of some clever tax dodge.

But still, we felt bad that firehouse5@aol.com's request for a few measly fax numbers would go unfulfilled. So we made some calls to NBC and we learned that Days of Our Lives disconnected their fax machine about a week ago. The show's going to be canceled in a few weeks, with NBC making the announcement in a day or so. We hope this helps.

Then there was the case of kehler@interactive.net who wrote us to ask -- very politely, we might add -- for some information about evil programming genius Warren Littlefield. More specifically, kehler@interactive.net had one particular question about the Bearded One's heretofore mysterious past.

I'm trying to find out if Warren Littlefield is the same person I served with on the New Jersey Association of High School Councils

Well, that pretty much floored us. We're familiar with a lot about Warren Littlefield -- his collection of model trains, his love of the bocce ball, his wonderful singing voice -- but one thing that had always alluded us was Warren's mysterious extracurricular activities while in high school.

So we dialed up our good buddy Warren and put the question to him straight: Did he serve on the New Jersey Association of High School Councils.

"Oh yes, fellas," Warren told us. "And it was one of the most formative experiences of my youth. I served as the association's entertainment director in charge of putting on the year-end talent show. And the way I did it was to stick a good act at the beginning, follow it up with a couple of crappy acts, then another good act, then some more crappy acts, then a rerun of the first good act and... well, you get the picture.

"The New Jersey Association of High School Councils taught me discipline, leadership and the value of taking credit for others' work. Plus, I enjoyed the snacks."

We hope that answers your question, kehler@interactive.net. And if any other people out there want to know whether CBS programming chief Les Moonves served in their platoon back in 'Nam or where you can address those fan letters to Suddenly Susan's Judd Nelson or whatever happened to the actor who played Chuck Cunningham in the first season of Happy Days, just let us know. That's all we're good for anyhow, apparently.

Additional contributions to this article by: Philip Michaels, James Collier.


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