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Front Page » July 28, 2011 » Opinion » Reality television in black and white
Published 1,098 days ago

Reality television in black and white


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Late nights are pretty much a ritual at our house. At bedtime we let the house dogs out to potty and run, then I put the inside cats away so that they don't get chased by the dogs when the pooches come back in. Then it is off to bed for the pets and us.

And its time for Perry Mason.

Yep it's 10:30 and KBYU has the old lawyer, one of the originals from tv on for 45 minutes (that's because the show was designed to go an hour with 15 minutes of advertisements in between scenes).

Now I used to be a Jay Leno fan at night and fell asleep to one of his guests talking about their latest exploits, but every time he took a few days off they played reruns that were less than two weeks old and I got sick of those so I got out of the habit of watching the Tonight Show. So I get my kicks out of watching Perry, Lt. Tragg, Della, Paul and Hamilton (ever realize when you shorten his first name to Ham and put it with his last name he is Ham Burger) cavort on the screen in glorius black and white. The stories are sometimes corny, and often the breaks in between scenes are incomplete when the show reappears, but I love that television series just like my mother did.

As a kid I remember laying in bed at night listening to that theme music as my parents prepared to watch the news. At the time the show kind of bored me. Now I fall asleep to that music when the show ends and sometimes I can't get it out of my head the whole next day.

I also often fall asleep right in the middle of the show so I can hear it in my half dream state but then I wake up and shut off the tv as the theme song is playing.

That is except one night a couple of weeks ago when a strange thing happened...I fell asleep to the show, but in my dreams I was suddenly in the show, black and white and all.

"Mr. Shaw, what can I help you with?" asked Perry staring at me across his desk.

"I have been accused of murder and I need your help," I said. I sat there wondering why I said that. "I don't even know who I murdered."

"Oh yes," he said. "This is 'The Case of the Misunderstood Murderer' that Earle Stanley Gardner wrote in 1955.

"What?" I said. "You would never say that in the television show."

Perry ignored me.

"Della, get Paul on the phone. I expect Tragg will be showing up to arrest Mr. Shaw here in just a moment."

Della pulled out the phone book. Funny I thought. Since she called him in every episode at least 10 times why didn't she just know his number by heart?

"Why don't you just text him to get him here," I said amusingly knowing that she wouldn't know what I meant. "Why you could even tweet him."

"That sounds like something that shouldn't be said on this show," said Della.

"Yes I'm sure the censors will get you for that," said Perry.

Just then Paul Drake came through that famous back door in Perry's office.

"Hi beautiful," he said as he came in.

"I've heard you say that line to Della a millions times," I said.

"I didn't say it to Della," he said looking at me. "I said it to you."

That made me a little uncomfortable. I stood up defensively and realized that Paul Drake was not very tall.

"I always thought you were taller," I said. "You're about the size of Alan Ladd or Robert Redford."

"Whose Robert Redford?" asked Paul. I started to explain and then realized they would have no idea. It would be three years before he would even appear in a bit part in Maverik.

"And geez...I just realized everything is in black and white here."

"Of course this is 1957, everything is in black and white," said Perry.

"But that's not true," I said. "I was five in 1957 and I know that our Christmas tree had colored lights."

"That's immaterial, immoral and incompetent," said Perry.

"No that's imperial, inconclusive and independent," said a voice behind me. It was Ham Burger with Lt. Tragg.

"Lt. Tragg is here to place you under arrest," said Ham Burger. "We ought to arrest you too Perry for shedding and embedding a fugitive from the law."

"That's aiding and abbetting a criminal Hamilton," said Perry correcting him. "Besides I was just about to send him down to headquarters to surrender. I am his lawyer afterall."

Tragg stuck a warrant in my shirt pocket.

"Hey, you're it," he said with a smile. "You need to come with me."

"Wait I need to know who I supposedly murdered," I said. "I've only been in this show for five minutes and I couldn't have murdered anybody here. I just came from 2011."

"Have you had his head looked at," said Ham Burger to Perry.

"Haven't had time but it will make a great insanity defense," said Perry. "He must have had a bump on the head. Paul I want you to investigate and tell me everything you can find on Mr. Shaw."

"Right on it Perry," said Paul and he walked out the back door.Della got out the phone book again.

"I'll call that psychiatrist we always use to examinue him," she said. "Maybe he can figure out whats wrong."

Tragg grabbed me by the arm to lead me out.

"I'll tell you whats wrong!" I yelled. "You guys are a bunch of actors and I am a real person who is dreaming."

They all shook their heads in dismay. Then suddenly I heard someone yell "LUCY!!!" and I sat up in the bed.

"I Love Lucy" is on KBYU right after Perry Mason. And Ricky Ricardo was doing his usual thing.

And so that was the night that Desi Arnez saved me from jail.



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