Mr. Spud spends an inordinate amount of time watching and writing about the unreal world of TV, but he's never allowed to linger there too long.
In addition to his family and co-workers, every so often the mailman brings him a few letters to bring him back down to earth. And he's not complaining - he needs all the help he can get.Here's a sampling of those letters, and perhaps a bit of explanation here and there.
REVIEW AND PREVIEW: An anonymous letter writer last May seemed a bit confused about Mr. Spud's role:
"I hope I am one of many who were not happy with your article about the `People Like Us' miniseries. I don't think it was fair of you to . . . try to destroy the public image of the show before it was even shown."
Well, it is true that Mr. Spud didn't like "People Like Us" and said so in the paper. But he was somewhat surprised by this letter, because it's his job to preview shows before they are even shown and give his opinions - that's what a review is.
And he's not asking everyone (or anyone) to agree with him.
LELAND DID IT: Let me point out once again that intrepid viewer Craig E. Moore in Orem was absolutely correct last May when he deduced that Leland Palmer killed his daughter, Laura, on "Twin Peaks."
Well done. And Mr. Spud still has to get you those doughnuts.
HEE HAW: Nile D. Meservy of Logan has to be one of the world's biggest "Hee Haw" fans, and he didn't take kindly to Mr. Spud including that show in a story about bad TV programs:
" . . . I agree that the elements lacking from `Hee Haw' are the popular ones. These are car chases, explosions, semiexplicit bedroom scenes, blue jokes, violence and idiot laugh tracks that cue television viewers on when to laugh and how to laugh, to name a few. Rather than to brand `Hee Haw' a bad show, I would call your review of it irresponsible. . . .
"As for originality of jokes or anything else, I remember many reviews, very, very similar to yours, wording and all, appear in (student) critic sections of high school and college/university newspapers over the years."
Whoa. I guess he told me.
The problem with writing anything that's supposed to be funny is that, invariably, someone out there will take you seriously.
FLASH PAN: Sometimes Mr. Spud doesn't quite understand what prompts a letter. One reader, who signed her letter but preferred to remain anonymous, apparently didn't read his review of "The Flash" but wrote in to complain anyway:
"Over the years the Deseret News has boasted of being a family newspaper. Where then did you get television editor Scott Pierce? I find many of his recommendations to be appalling. I was especially disgusted by his review of `Flash,' which he bills as family entertainment. Is he so desensitized by TV violence that he's now comfortable with viewing people being strapped to motorcycles and then blow up?"
In his own defense, Mr. Spud will quote from his Sept. 20 review of the show:
"One word of warning: There's a lot of violence here. People are gunned down, blown up, knocked around. But it's all TV violence - people are shot but they don't bleed. It's not gory."
Oh, and nowhere in his review did Mr. Spud refer to "The Flash" as "family entertainment" - he even made a point of saying only older children should watch it.
CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM: Allan Burgess of Grantsville had a bit of advice for Mr. Spud:
"Recently I have felt some disaffection that I would like to share with you with the hope that it may make your column more beneficial to the public. The first thing I would like to mention is the series `Twin Peaks.' . . . The problem is that you give a great deal of your limited space to this one series and to a relative few others. . . . When there are over 80 shows on the air, it seems like you are choosing those things you like and spending most of your time and effort in those areas rather than giving us a broader sweep of what is available."
Well, he has a point. Mr. Spud did go overboard on "Peaks" for a while, but he's tried to cut back. (And not just because he's frustrated with the series, too.) And he's always trying to look at the big picture, which includes far more than 80 shows when you include local productions, cable and pay TV.
But please don't think that Mr. Spud just writes about shows he likes - he'd run out of things to write in a month, if that were the case.
KNEE-SLAPPER: And some letters are far funnier than anything Mr. Spud can come up with, like this one from Lisa Anderson of Orem:
"I'm so confused! KSL says that they're not going to show `Doctor, Doctor' because of its `sexual content.' How come they still show `Dallas' . . . and those soap operas? Some of those soap operas are a lot racier than `Doctor, Doctor' is. Of course, I've missed a couple of episodes: Did I miss something good?"
Lisa also asked Mr. Spud to explain KSL's decision to drop "Doctor, Doctor" from the schedule. What appears to have pushed Ch. 5 over the edge here was a recent episode that began with a segment on safe sex.
Some callers have suggested that KSL air the show late at night if it's uncomfortable with the 8:30 p.m. time period. But Ch. 5 officials maintain that the only time the network would allow them to reschedule "Doctor, Doctor" is 10:35 p.m. - and they're not going to pull "M.A.S.H." off the air.
KEEP WRITING: M. Elaine Beard of Castle Dale wanted to express her opinions about the current state of television:
"I was shocked and sickened by the situations you described from our new fall TV programs. In talking to my neighbors, we all feel this way. What can we do to make our voices heard?"
Well, a good place to start is to write to the programming chiefs at the networks - the guys who make the decisions about what goes on the air.
ABC: Robert Iger, president of ABC Entertainment, 2040 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067.
CBS: Jeff Sagansky, president of CBS Entertainment, 7800 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036.
NBC: Warren Littlefield, president of NBC Entertainment, 3000 West Alameda, Burbank, CA 91523.
Fox: Peter Chernin, president, Fox Entertainment Group, Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA 90213.
And keep those cards and letters coming to Mr. Spud as well. (Scott D. Pierce, Deseret News television editor, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.)