Your RDA of Irony

My Next Attempt at Fortune and a Pulitzer

Television certainly knows how to recycle.  Just recently, one of the major networks decided to do its own version of Larry David’s masterpiece of misanthropy  “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”  Of course, in keeping with the network’s standards and practices, the reproduction was diluted, homogenized, sanitized and–shall we say–Unitarian.  The show was cancelled after two episodes. 

And I can barely wait to ignore a new production of “Charlie’s Angels.”  For those of you who are too young to remember the original or had better things to do, “Charlie’s Angels” was most teenage boys’ “therapy” as well as many middle-aged men’s fantasy of a second wife.  The show’s appeal was two-fold, and they were both on Farah Fawcett.  (Really, no one watched for Kate Jackson’s acting.)  There actually was no more than a hint–a clinging outline–but that literal titillation, unprecedented in American television, had millions of males trying to peek down the blouse of a cathode tube.   But that was the Seventies….By today’s standards, “Charlie’s Angels” could be on Nickelodeon.  On cable, even “Anne of Green Gables” is R-rated.  (Do Canadian cows really have silicon implants, and did their national healthcare cover that?)   How can this revived “Charlie’s Angels” compete with that?  Perhaps, it should try a different tact, and loot two Seventies series instead of one.  How is this:  each week, a trio of gorgeous detectives try to save the remnants of an unworthy mankind from annihilation by morally superior robots:  Charlie’s Battlestars!

And if that idea doesn’t earn a fortune, or at least a gift card for Musso & Franks, I have an even better “concept”.  Imagine a series that combines the complacent charm of the Eisenhower Fifties with provocative BBC quality from the Eighties.  And they are practically the same name!  In the 1950s, William Bendix played a blue-collar bumbler in “The Life of Riley”.  Three decades later, Sam Neill portrayed a ruthless British spy of the early 20th century in “Reilly, Ace of Spies.”   So, in “The Life of a Riley, Ace of Spies” we have a series about the world’s most brilliant, deadliest plumber.

Imagine this as the pilot episode.  Riley is assigned to steal the Russian defense plans for Manchuria.  Needing an excuse to get into the Winter Palace, Riley kills Tschaikovsky and uses the corpse’s beard to clog the pipes.  Then free to roam about the Palace, Riley seduces the Tsarina, for both the exercise and to use her to steal the secret plans.  The information ensures that the Japanese will win the Russo-Japanese War.  However, Riley still has to unclog the Palace pipes:  “Wat a revolting development dis is.”

(Casting recommendations for this and future episodes:  Shannon Tweed as Tsarina Alexandra, Lucy Lawless as Edith Wilson, and Kim Kardashian as Eleanor Roosevelt.)

p.s.  Let’s not forget the literary significance of this day:

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