Thursday, July 17, 2008

Courtroom Overload

One of the most disconcerting things about moving to a new state is the change in local channels. In Chicago, I knew the trio of CBS channel 2, NBC channel 5, and ABC channel 7, along with independents WGN channel 9 (which is now a Superstation), PBS channel 11, and WFLD channel 32 (now Fox). Others, like channels 44, 60, and 66, flitted in and out of existence, but I could always count on 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 32 from the dark, pre-cable days all the way up to the present.

We had great local programming like B. J. and his Cartoon Town, featuring such memorable characters as Town Monument Blob, Weird, Mother Plumtree, Suggestion Box, and the ever popular smoke-spewing Dirty Dragon. B. J. was a shameless shill for Maurice Lenell cookies; my husband's sister won some sort of show-affiliated contest, earning their family a year's supply.

We also had Family Classics with Frazier Thomas, a Sunday afternoon staple in the Windy City. Frazier would introduce a wholesome movie like "Lassie Come Home" or "Boys Town." He also hosted the ever-popular "Garfield Goose and Friends," which featured scary puppets interspersed with scary cartoons like "Clutch Cargo." You may have seen a clip of CC on "Pulp Fiction." If not, imagine totally static cartoon people with a freaky human mouth as the only moving part. Click here to see for yourself, but don't blame me for the nightmares.

In adulthood, I had my list of staple shows on the local networks too. Sure we had a bajillion cable channels, but I am addicted to Simpsons reruns and court shows and those are found on the networks. I got addicted to court shows back in the days when Judge Wapner was the only game in town. Nowadays the TV courtrooms are run like a Jerry Springer episode, but back then Wapner ran a tight ship, assisted by intrepid baliff Rusty.

Now the shows have proliferated into a dizzying array, and many try to have some sort of unique twist. You have Judge Judy, the bitchy female. You have Judge Mathis and Judge Joe Brown, both African-Americans. You have openly gay and flamboyant Judge David Young. There's Judge Alex and Cristina's Court, too, but neither of them seem to have any particular schtick. And of course People's Court is still alive and well, currently led by Judge Marilyn.

Upon moving to Celebration, I had to learn the new numbers of all the local channels (or, more accurately, their position on the cable dial). Since I work at home, I leave the TV on for background noise so I was anxious to find a suitable local backdrop. Thank goodness the Court Show Contingent is alive and well on Orlando television. Starting at 10 a.m., you can watch straight through till 7 p.m. with only one gap. Technically it's not a gap, since it's considered a court show: Divorce Court from 2-3 p.m. But for me, it's not a real court show if it's not full of bizarre small claims cases. I don't want to tune in to heard estranged spouses laying into each other; after all, I'm a counselor and that's too much like work!

The court shows are always reliable; you can count on at least one dog attack case per week, as well as mutiple feuding broken-up couples where one claims they made a loan while the other swears up and down that it was a gift. You can count on a cell phone related case, too, where some poor schuck let a friend or former lover put their phone in his or her name. Other common disputes involve car accidents, ruined weddings, and the like.

I do have to flip between the two Fox affiliates in order to see the whole block, but that's not much of a problem. At 7, when Judge Judge finally goes off the air, an hour of the Simpsons start so I have a suitable TV backdrop all the way to 8 p.m. At 8 I become a network orphan, wandering through the cable environs in a search for Family Guy or Cops reruns or an Animal Cops episode, depending on the day of the week.

Maybe I should try to shift myself to more mainstream tastes, like CSI (I fully expect a 24-hour all CSI channel to crop up soon). But I can't help it; I've always had a soft spot for court shows and I think I always will. We all have to have our guilty little pleasure; I'll admit that I used to love the Weekly World News until it transcended all pretense of reality and then mercifully stopped publication. Now it's all about courtroom eye candy, and happily the Orlando channels make sure I get a whopping dose every day.

1 comment:

Jane said...
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