Came across this recap of 2006 (penned by yours truly when 2007 was just days old) tonight in the digital catacombs. Let’s LOL along at how silly I was x amount of years ago.
I greet the new year in style, gorging myself on one of those giant greasy-ass breakfast sandwiches at a Jack in the Box just outside of Charlotte, NC (yes, some of us go to the Carolinas for pleasure). A few weeks later, I get into trouble at my substitute teaching job for telling a high school physics class the moon landing may have been faked. This incident makes me realize the American school system is totally fucked and that I need a new job like yesterday.
Grandpa Munster dies. I quit the sub gig and officially give up my dream of one day teaching Eskimo children general history for $65,000 a year. My girlfriend gets me a Phil Ochs CD for Valentine’s Day. I return the favor by taking her to Olive Garden.
Harcourt School Publishers offer me a project editing position, which I take, partially because their office is situated directly across the street from SeaWorld. Over the next few months I burn many a lunch break watching dolphins appease their wet-suited, fish-bearing overlords.
No one attempts to fool me on the first day of the month, and I frown. Scary Movie 4 is released. I see it opening night. The biggest laugh in the film is a Myspace reference.
The “American Idol” finale is almost too stressful to bear. Taylor Hicks is announced as the winner. My McPheever suddenly wears off. I scream “SOUL PATROL!” at the top of my lungs and begin dancing to imaginary harmonica riffs. I am the ultimate sell out.
The band I play drums for goes into an actual professional studio to record two songs. I am proud to make it through the recording process without crying. Later, we all decide to have drinks/dinner together at a local eatery. A fight nearly breaks out when the server refuses to believe our singer’s ID is legit. Cooler heads eventually prevail and singer guy gets his Miller Genuine Draft. I arrive home hoping the cable is on in my new apartment. It isn’t, and I consider sleeping in my car as some kind of misguided protest.
After much soul-searching, I quit the band. The world continues to turn.
My friend Michael gets free passes to see World Trade Center. He cannot find a single person in the universe who wants to see it, even for free. Too soon? Yeah, too soon.
I lose my job at Harcourt, which comes as a bigger shock than the John Mark Karr confession. Most of my co-workers seem genuinely upset to learn I will no longer be working with them. This makes me feel better. The possibility of a Mets World Series appearance also lifts my spirits.
A friend asks me to play a doctor in his student film. At one point, the script calls for me to pretend to butt fuck a vampire who is high on pot. I do not question my friend’s artistic vision. My girlfriend and I hold a Halloween party at the end of the month. A neighbor assures me said party is “off the hook.”
A new Tupac album comes out. I start to get pumped for Rocky Balboa.
An encounter with a hungry raccoon early in the month proves frightening. I see Rocky Balboa and it meets my high expectations despite the absence of the heavily-rumored Ivan Drago AIDS death plotline. For Christmas, I get a tie rack. Gerald Ford finally dies, but no one cares because James Brown dies like two seconds later.
February 27, 1989: The CBS network airs “What’s Alan Watching?”, a bizarre sixty minute sitcom pilot in which a pre-“Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” Corin Nemec stars as a television-obsessed teen named Alan Hoffstetter. Young Alan’s family is mired in a swamp of typical sitcom problems—his sister is dating a balding loser, his car salesman brother is on his way to becoming a balding loser—but our hero barely notices the chaos thanks to his psychotic love affair with the boob tube. Alan watches so much TV the characters on the screen actually talk back to him, advising him about his life, occasionally mocking him, and generally sucking the willing shrimp into a weird, satiating void where life’s problems don’t matter.
The most notable of the back-talking stars on Alan’s TV is Eddie Murphy, who also produced “What’s Alan Watching?” in an attempt to fill the Fran Drescher-less void in our pop culture lives at the time (Drescher plays Nemec’s aforementioned sister, Gail). Murphy spends the majority of his scant “Alan” screen time recycling his James Brown impression from “Saturday Night Live” in a fake TV movie-of-the-week called “Soul’d On The Rocks.” Eddie was still pretty electric in ’89, and while his bits certainly stand out, they’re not as savory as some of the other weirdness emanating from the Hoffstetter’s set. Submitted for your approval: Frogs lifting weights, a shockingly political “Mr. Ed” documentary, and über-sexy commercials for industrial flanges.
Unfortunately, the long stretches that center on the rote Hoffstetter family drama drag “What’s Alan Watching?” down, and it’s easy to see why CBS ultimately passed on turning this strange concept into a full-on series. Six months later, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s UHF hit theaters, a TV-skewering tale so deft and funny it became the gold standard for idiot box mockery. Though UHF may have flunked at the box office, it successfully buried “What’s Alan Watching?” as cherished cult (in a strange coincidence, Fran Drescher also appeared in UHF, portraying “Weird Al’s” frazzled secretary Pamela Finklestein).
Some of “Alan’s” failure could be attributed to the presence of Pauly Shore as the vapid fool dating the titular character’s untouchable love interest, but hey, it’s Sunday, you’ve got nothing else to do—why don’t you watch the whole damn thing and judge for yourself? If you end up feeling truly burned by the experience, write a firm letter to Eddie Murphy Productions expressing your discontent. Who knows, maybe Ed’ll comp you with an autographed copy of Nutty Professor 2!