By Bill Hudgins, columnist
As regular readers of this column know, my friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe dreams of coming up with a super-duper idea for a TV show that would let him lounge by a poolside in Beverly Hills instead of a creek in rural Tennessee.
I have really liked some of his ideas: a reality show in which participants try to become truckers, and a game show called “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Wheel?” But, he has been, er, Snookied at every turn.
But the puny lineup announced for this fall gives me hope that Rufus may prevail. We’ve got shows celebrating the ’60s (the only folks who really enjoyed the 1960s were hippies, and they don’t remember it), a new run at “Charlie’s Angels,” and a recast “Two and a Half Men.”
Of course, many popular shows will be returning: the seven or eight versions of “Law & Order”; “CSI” and “NCIS”; reality shows like “Survivor” and “The Maybe Presidential Candidate’s Apprentice”; and Rufus’ personal favorite, “The Weather Channel.”
Seriously, that’s the best they can do? It’s enough to send a trucker running from his sleeper and screaming into the night … or afternoon or morning, depending on your restart.
But as his rejection slips continue to pile up, Rufus has learned you can sometimes take an old show and give it a new spin.
“Fox canceled ‘Human Target’ and ‘Lie to Me,’ and those would be easy to redo as trucker shows,” Rufus declared. “You don’t have to be out on the road very long to feel like a target for everybody from the oil companies to the cops to everybody else on the road. And who gets lied to more than a trucker?
ABC dumped “All My Children” after something like 10 generations.
“Just make that into a trucking family. Several generations and they run a big fleet. Maybe some of the kids got mad and started fleets to compete with the old man – you know, real fictional stuff,” Rufus said. “Plus the kids get into and out of scrapes and love and all that. Plus a black sheep who doesn’t want to be a suit – who just wants to drive. Good stuff!”
ABC also axed “One Life to Live,” which Rufus sees coming back with a new name – “One Truck to Drive.” It would be about a young couple with their own authority, struggling to stay independent and dealing with all sorts of conniving brokers, dispatchers, tow-truck operators and so on. If it’s on ABC, maybe he’d even take some loads from the family in “All My Children.”
OK, smart guy, I said, how about “Friday Night Lights”?
“Now I like that show because it was all about high school football and small towns. So I think I’d keep it like that, and make several of the mamas and daddies truckers with kids on the team,” Rufus mused.
“They’ll be trying to get home or wherever the away games are on Friday nights to see their kids play. There’d be a lot of drama and suspense and some good crying moments for the ladies. I think that would work fine.”
OK, here’s a tough one – “America’s Most Wanted” – I said. Rufus laughed. “That’s easy. It wouldn’t be made up. It would be all about trucking, about how if you have it – if you WANT it – a truck is going to bring it. Put a whole new meaning on ‘most wanted.’”
Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often. LL