Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Vancouver Jaywalkers

When George Lopez (appearing on the Petros & Money show on KLAC radio) cited "I Love Lucy" as one of the three top Latino television shows of all time (aside: for Desi Arnaz's contributions to television, click here), I suddenly realized that I was sitting on an oro-mine.

As the writers' strike continues, the television networks are running out of content, and reality shows will only get them so far. At some point, the TV viewers are going to demand storylines - storylines that DON'T involve Flavor Flav or the latest rendition of a Barry Manilow tune.

I'm ready and willing to help, if it will mean that I will get millions of dollars and lead a life of leisure. Let's face it, I'm not about to write a BWVK (book with valuable knowledge), so I have to go in the other direction.

Twenty-seven years ago, while I was a student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, I conceived a brilliant television sitcom idea for a show called "The Vancouver Jaywalkers." The concept, loosely based upon some of my freshman roommates and our trips up north, involved three Latinos (this is the "loose" part, since none of my roommates is Latino) who relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia; enrolled in the University of British Columbia (or, for AAs, "UBC"); joined the university rugby team; and checked out the seƱoritas.

And if that sounds like a stupid premise to you, I have one word: Cavemen. If that show made it on the air, I think my show has a chance. (And come to think of it, ALF, which was a very successful show for its time, had a pretty weak premise. My show is looking better by the minute.)

Unfortunately, I didn't really work on the concept beyond that, but I did put a bit of effort into the show's theme song. In the clutter of useless things my brain has retained, I have remembered all of the words to this song. One performance tip: if you decide to sing the song (and trust me, you know the melody), remember the Latino theme and sing the words like Freddy Fender, only an octave lower.

Come listen to the story 'bout a man named Tom
A poor college student, barely kept his roommates bombed
And then one day he was shooting at some pool
And up came some black stuff that kicked like a mule

(Oil, that is
Black coke
OPEC tea)

Tom drank a lot of beer, and he would have stayed right there
If his roommates hadn't said, "Tom, move away from there"
They said, "Vancouver is the place you ought to be"
So they loaded up their Volvo and they moved to BC

(British Columbia, that is
Long bridges

The backstory: Yes, one of the guys did work in the Montana oilfields one summer. And one of the guys did own a Volvo. And our college did have a pool table (I had my senior picture taken in the pool room). It's those minor touches of reality that resonate through my concept and enliven it with that true spark of magic.

Of course, I have to note that the sitcom has evolved since the early 1980s, while I probably have not (another acronym: IANT). I'll probably need an urban multicultural rewrite to ensure that this base concept still resonates with today's TV audience. (The fact that I don't watch TV sitcoms probably doesn't help me detect what the modern audience needs.)

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