What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This movie is not on my list of essential films.
NOTE: This installment of Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies is being done as part of a blog-a-thon celebrating The Unexpected. This is an event all about a film or a TV show that you knew nothing about, wasn’t expecting to see, and ended up really liking, or being disappointed in something you were expecting to love. This blog-a-thon is being hosted by Taking Up Room, which is a recent addition to the blogs I follow, and it really should be in your bookmarks as well.
In a fun bit of coincidence, this just so happens to be the second straight movie featuring Kevin McCarthy. In my last installment of Sports Analogies Hidden in Classic Movies, McCarthy can be seen as General “Smilin'” Jack Kirby in the 1963 Rock Hudson vehicle “A Gathering of Eagles.” In today’s episode, McCarthy co-stars as R.J. Fletcher, the media mogul who serves as the protagonist in “UHF.”
Another thing this movie has in common with “A Gathering of Eagles” for me is that it carries a connecting moment. The first time I saw “UHF,” it was the early 90’s and I was living in a crap, “right-out-of-college” bachelor-type apartment and in a similar station in life when one invents crap like a “Twinkie wiener sandwich.”
To protect, the innocent, I won’t divulge whether I ever descended to those gastronomic depths during my days of youthful poverty; let’s just say “mistakes were made” and from those days I can tell you precisely where the edges of the envelope are when is comes to the culinary constraints of 19-cent, freeze-dried ramen noodles.
Having said that, in order to preserve your shot to have the “unexpected” experience with this film, I’m not going to go “blow-by-blow” on “UHF.” Instead, in three simple points I’m going to tell you how to have that experience for yourself, because I love this movie, and as the theme of this blog-a-thon suggests, that was completely unexpected.
1) Don’t be a snob.
It’s easy to discount “Weird” Al as a “novelty” act. The quickest way to cure yourself of that concept is to try to write solid comedy, let alone parody. Parody is harder than hell to create because you have to stick close enough to the reality so people still get the gags. All those tremendous parody songs for which “Weird” Al is best known are strokes of genius when you consider they have to be musical, honest, and funny. If you don’t think “Weird” Al is funny, you need to quit reading right now and call an orthopedic surgeon, because your funny bone is broken.
2) Understand this movie is dated.
What about television hasn’t changed since this movie was released in 1989? In my “Twinkie wiener sandwich” days, there were two television choices. If you could spare the coin, you could have cable. In those days, you might have had 30 channels, half of which were “super-stations” from cities other than yours or home-shopping networks; and as always, the “good stuff” like HBO came at a premium. In other words, there weren’t today’s 500-channel mega-packages, and there certainly weren’t stream-jobs like Netflix, Hulu, or whatever.
If you couldn’t spare the coin for cable, you were perusing your VHF and UHF knobs on an old cathode-ray-tube based Magnavox that had “rabbit ears,” and if you were lucky, you lived in a city where those dueling dials netted you ten or so channels. That fact is crucial to the idea of this movie; the VHF dial was all about channels 2 to 13. That was the “prime real estate” on the TV dial; that was where the “network” affiliates lived. But “UHF” was the “Wild West” of television; anything could happen on channels 14 to 84.
In my youth about a decade before the “Twinkie wiener sandwich” era, the UHF dial meant California Angels baseball, Japanese monster movies, and Mexican children’s programming featuring enormous-breasted women in halter tops. In other words, it was television’s version of the “wild west;” short of violating Federal Communication Commission regulations, the rule was “anything goes.”
Sadly, the tyranny of time relegated UHF to the dustbin of history, and we’re all a little worse off for it.
3) Get over yourself.
You need to know that when you watch “UHF,” there’s going to be some very sophomoric humor. There’s going to be some serious “groaners.” There’s even going to be some jokes bound to piss off the “social justice warriors.” That’s because they are laugh-out-loud funny, unless you’re a pompous, Park Avenue-type who has “ivory tower” standards or a self-righteous pain-in-the-ass who can find “injustice” in anything because that’s all you want to see.
In other words, if you have seen this movie, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, find it and watch it. This is a “test” movie…if you can’t find at least one belly-laugh in this movie, you might just be an asshole.
The Hidden Sports Analogy:
Just the other day, the National Hockey League announced the awarding of it’s 32nd franchise to the city of Seattle. Whatever the future brings for professional puck in the “Emerald City,” the story in Seattle has a slim shot as being the surprise the NHL’s 31st franchise was.
Being an expansion team, the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights weren’t supposed to be any good. Expansion teams aren’t really ever expected to be good. They are usually comprised of a combination of first-time professional and veteran players cast-off from other teams. When the Knights started the season winning seven of their first eight games, hockey fans across North America (myself included) had a collective, head-scratching “WTF” moment.
At first, this early success was dismissed as a novelty, but the winning days of the Knights continued. At the end of the regular season, Vegas found themselves atop the NHL Western Conference with a record of 51 wins, 24 losses, and 7 ties. Again, the nay-sayers (myself included) prattled about how this team may have been successful in the regular season, but they just didn’t have “what it takes” to win a seven-game play-off series.
As a fan of the Los Angeles Kings, I went into that series against the Knights confident this wouldn’t take long. The Kings have won two Stanley Cups in recent history and Vegas had zero play-off experience and let’s not forget…they were an expansion team.
The problem was I was right; that series didn’t take long. The Knights hit the Kings with a bag of chisels and skated over their collective corpse. Vegas swept that series, and left two more team in the dust on their way to the Western Conference championship. It was in the middle of Game Two between the Kings and the Knights that I had my full-on “R.J. Fletcher Meltdown.”
It was when I was channeling Channel 8’s Fletcher that my “WTF” moment about the Vegas Golden Knights brought me to “Weird” Al’s “UHF;” they share the same secret for success.
Like “UHF,” the Knights had a great cast; even if they didn’t have any “super-stars.” If you aren’t a hockey fan, the likes of William Karlsson, Jon Machessault, and Marc-Andre Fleury may not mean much to you, but they form as solid of a cast as do the aforementioned Kevin McCarthy, Victoria Jackson, Michael Richards, Anthony Geary, Trinidad Silva, Fran Drescher,”Weird” Al himself, and…wait for it…Billy Barty!
Now that I’ve made my analogy, I’m going to make myself a Twinkie wiener sandwich.
The Moral of The Story:
Sometimes, the “why” just doesn’t matter. Sometimes, you just have to “Dare to be Stupid.”
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