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TeeVee Mailbag XXVII: International House of Knuckleheads

Since last we cracked open the ol' TeeVee Mailbag, we've been running around like busy little beavers here at the home office. In addition to cranking out the high-octane television comedy that Americans of all stripes have grown accustomed to ignoring on a regular basis, we've been taking meetings and putting on our best Sunday-goin'-to-meet clothes. Deals have been brokered. Non-binding memoranda of understanding have been agreed to. Solemn bonds have been formed over Dominican cigars and glasses of port.

The result, our business manager assures us, will put our humble little Web site in high clover, keep us in tall cotton and give us stacks and stacks of long, folding green. So long as the "clover," "cotton" and "green" in question are actually agricultural products as opposed to, say, metaphors for money. Because we've never believed in reading contracts before we sign them, and we're not about to start now.

But who needs Internet riches and lasting financial security when our new online partnerships will give us a far more important commodity -- exposure. And exposure is what really stokes the engine of the new, new economy.

Our business manager assured us of that, too. And since we last saw him boarding a plane for the Cayman Islands, who are we to question his wisdom, vision and vague promises of future profits?

One thing worries us about our higher online profile, though. With new readers flocking to the TeeVee fold by the dozens, will that mean an appreciable increase in -- how to put this delicately? -- less perceptive Web surfers who stop here, look around, and pelt us with foolish questions and half-formed sentences? Will the TeeVee Mailbag staff -- already putting in time-and-a-half sorting through the myriad requests we get for downloadable porn -- have to work nights and weekends just to tackle the avalanche of correspondence we're sure to get from folks who've yet to master the tricky art of subject-verb agreement.

Because let's face it -- it's not like we're the premier online destination for Mensa candidates to begin with.

Maybe that seems a little harsh, especially to the 13 or 14 loyal TeeVee readers who've never bombarded us with passionate defenses on behalf of Shasta McNasty or requests for the lyrics to the theme from Maude. But spend an afternoon in our shoes, folks, and you'll realize that a fair chunk of the folks who drop us an e-mail probably didn't dash off the letter while on their way to Stockholm to pick up a plaque from the Nobel committee.

Take TeeVee reader Heynani, who came across our three-year-old April Fool's parody of Entertainment Weekly -- a forgery so transparent that Time-Warner's lawyers won't even bother with a cease-and-desist order -- and fell for our fakery hook, line and sinker.

You stated that Katherine Helmond who played Mona on Whos' the Boss died in 1995. How is that possible? Considering that she plays the mother of Ray Romano's wife on the TV Sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond". In fact she was just on the Thankgiving show this year. Please respond and let me know that you have corrected your mis-information!

So troubled, in fact, was Heynani by our little jest that Katherine Helmond had joined the big Soap reunion special in the sky, that she sent the exact same e-mail a few weeks later after we callously ignored her entreaty to set the record straight.

In the interest of accuracy, then, we confess that we were just kidding when we said that Katherine Helmond died in 1995 after she appeared in the sitcom Coach. Katherine Helmond is very much alive. The truth is, we were the ones who died a little bit when that happened.

A little bit more of us died after receiving this epistle from E. Normandin about Gideon's Crossing.

It's sad to think that a quality show like Gideon's Crossing is in danger of being cancelled. I am so sick of all the airhead,bimbo featuring sitcoms on television. It says a lot about a society that chooses empty trash now all over the airwaves in lieu of really thought provoking,quality drama.

So what's wrong with that letter? Nothing. Except that E. Normandin sent it to us on Oct. 14, a scant four days after "Gideon's Crossing" premiered. Which means he got suckered by the "Save Gideon's Crossing" article we ran last summer as a parody of Internet-based Save-This-Show! campaigns.

Folks, we're not sure how you formed this impression we were responsible citizens. But once you realize that three-quarters of everything we run on this site is nothing more than a bald-faced lie -- whatever slice of fiction happens to pop into our heads as we sit down at the keyboard -- you'll be a lot happier. Trust us. Buy the soft-soap we're peddling and you'll only wind up looking silly at cocktail parties.

Or course, four months later, it turns out Gideon's Crossing is in danger of getting canceled. So who looks silly now?

E. Normandin, that's who. Though we also would have accepted ABC.

It just goes to show that we should never make fun of the Save-Our-Show letters that clog up our mailbox like butter in an old man's arteries. And you know why? Because most of the time, these letters are funnier than anything we could come up with.

Witness this e-mail from Cindy Klauss, who -- if this letter is any proof of her innate sense of comic timing -- has a future writing sitcoms. NBC sitcoms.

I am not sure if you are aware of it but PAX network has produced 3 new Christy movies

Come on, Cindy. What self-respecting TV critic isn't wired into the moves and machinations of the PAX network? Who among us can't tell you, chapter and verse, what the PAX network has scheduled?

These are not rhetorical questions, by the way. We'd like to know. We're hiring.

Oh, but Cindy's not finished. Please go on, Cindy.

one aired in November and the other two are airing as a miniseries in May in which Christy will finally choose between the two men in her life and there will be a wedding. Exactly who Christy chooses is being kept secret and will not be revealed until the show airs. This has created wild speculation and frenzy among us fans and everyone, nearly everyone has an opinion on who the lucky man should be.

We hear both men reject her after they learn of Christy's promiscuous ways.

There are many intriguing aspects to the return of Christy including the search for and casting of a new lead actress,

You mean Kellie Martin's not on the show anymore. Oh goddamn, what's the point?

the return of several fans favorites to the movies including Stewart Finlay-McLennan as Dr. Neil MacNeill and the involvement of the Catherine Marshall/LeSourd family in the productions. Also there is about to be a new Collector's edition of Christy released in book stores next month that contains all kinds of previously unpublished material including journal notes, original manuscript, character sketches, letters and photos.

Wow. Previously that sort of stuff was only available to Christy scholars. All two of them.

What? You're not finished yet, Cindy?

But the really big story here concerns the fans and how they would not give up.


We wrote letters, posted on the internet, built web sites, participated in chats and mail lists and on and on.

Thank God that energy wasn't wasted on something useless like volunteering in your community or stamping out illiteracy.

Anyway, we the fans need help again.

No doubt.

We need to make sure the public knows about this wonderful upcoming miniseries and if enough watch, PAX is interested in producing more movies or even a series. PAX is a small network and will not be doing much promoting of Christy on its own. That is why we need to be sure publications/web sites such as yours at least can let tv viewers know about this event.

You, um, didn't do too much research on the Web sites you sent this letter off to, did you Cindy?

I need your help in getting the word out about the upcoming miniseries. It would be so helpful if you could feature some info about this wonderful family values show on your web site.

No. You really didn't do research.

I care very, very much about this story/show, and I just cannot let it fail without a fighting chance. Can you please, please help us in this effort?

Cindy, we'd be happy to. After all, what kind of heartless brutes would take such a sincere letter -- a heartfelt entreaty on behalf of a long-forgotten show running on a rinky-dink netlet -- and use it just for mockery and cruel abuse?

Well, Boychuk would. But he doesn't have much pull around here.

So watch Christy, everybody. You apparently don't have to worry about prolonged exposure to Kellie Martin any more, and the show probably isn't nearly so tedious as Cindy is making it sound.

You can see now why we're worried about how more Web traffic means a tenfold increase in our daily gibberish intake. Why, we're fairly overworked as it is, what with rewriting wire stories without the proper attribution and cashing our cushy dot-com paychecks and thinking up new and exciting ways of libeling your favorite celebrities. To force us to spend an extra ten to 15 minutes a day furiously pounding the delete key as we go through your mail -- then it's almost not worth it, no matter how lucrative our Web cross-promotional deals.

And that doesn't even take into account the increased e-mail we're likely to get from overseas. That's almost enough to scotch the deal right there.

Don't get us wrong -- we like to think of ourselves as citizens of the world here at TeeVee. There's nothing we're fonder of than foreigners and their quaint customs and backward ways. We get such a kick out of reading all your cards and letters, out loud, and in funny accents. Wrenn's Irish brogue was the hit of last year's Christmas party.

But every now and again, we get international e-mail, like this A-Team-inspired letter to our Lisa Schmeiser from Maarten Vermaak, that really just creep us out, funny accents or no.

Wow, you certenly know how to change everything that is good or nice, into a pile of sh*t. You must have had a bad childhood, probably without television, ony with books.

Here in Europe, we also have critics who know how to tell something positive about things. Ok, sure, "The A Team" series are based on a general idea, of helping the inocent, escape or rescue somebody in an impossible way and stay out of the hands of the bad guys, but WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT???????

There are a lot of people who love the series just for that, and all the humor that is in it.

I don't think they sould replace the original cast, the remaining cast members sould act in this movie, and with a lot of modern computerwork, i'm sure they can make a real George Peppert, as John "Haniball" Smith.

BTW After i finished your critics, the first thing that sliped my mind was:

Wow, there is another person who must have watched at least 20 "A-Team" series, becouse how could you know this 'standard' story if you haven't seen the shows?

(If your critic isn't based on you watching the show, how can you know it's true? If that is tha case. I Think you are a bad critic, so it should be removed from the internet.)

Maarten, we couldn't agree more. Lisa is "very bad critic." So not only have we removed her from the Internet, we've banished her to another kingdom and burned her village to a cinder. Then, we salted the smoldering ruins.

That'll show her to hold an opinion contrary to yours, eh, Maarten?

As for George Peppert, we think he stands as good a chance as any one of getting cast in the "A-Team" movie. George Peppard, on the other hand, may have a tougher time, given his frequent drowsiness, complete immobility, odd odor and that ongoing battle with the heartbreak of rigor mortis.

Of course, not every letter from Europe creeps us out. Some, like this one from Sweden, merely depress the hell out of us.

My name is Annika Nilsson (not my fault) and wondering if any of you guys might know if the science fiction-series "M.A.N.T.I.S" might be available on video somewhere??

I think I´ve looked nearly everywhere for it without much luck, so I´m turning to you for help.

Many, many thanks for all your assistance, it is greatly welcome!!

Annika, we hate to be the bearers of bad news to anyone -- especially Swedish women. But we have no idea where you can find the lost episodes of M*A*N*T*I*S. We believe that when Fox canceled the show, the tapes were assumed into heaven, never to be seen again by the unclean eyes of mortal sinners.

Either that, or Fox had the M*A*N*T*I*S cassettes burned beyond recognition.

We're sorry, Annika. But if you need a M*A*N*T*I*S fix, you'll have to look elsewhere. Of course, if any old crummy TV show will do, there's this Christy movie airing on the PAX network soon. Cindy Klauss can tell you all about it.

Not that all our troubling questions have to cross the international dateline to make it to our TeeVee Mailbag. Like the Edsel, Crystal Pepsi and the Democratic Party platform, some of the most perplexing queries we get are made right here in the U.S.A. Like this poser from Alexandra Aulisi:

Any possibility of getting an article about something other than the XFL. I'm not a football fan of any sort and, frankly, one article was enough. Thanks.

No, Alexandra. It's not possible. Thanks for your inquiry.

Ah, but we kid our readers. We joke, because we love. And we know that deep down -- underneath that veneer of indifference, behind those blank, empty stares every time we pass by, once everyone looks past that restraining order filed against us -- you feel the same way about us. Because we have the e-mail to prove it.

E-mail like this letter from Emmit Devay who noted the triumphant return of Vidiot Emeritus Pete Ko to our little Web page by writing:

...Holy shit! Peter Ko IS alive!

Actually, Emmit, we're sorry to say that Pete Ko passed away several weeks ago. While watching reruns of Coach.

As Katherine Helmond will tell you, that show kills.

Additional contributions to this article by: Philip Michaels.


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