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What I Watched Last Night

Are you one of those country music purists who firmly believes Garth Brooks is the Antichrist and the eyes of hormone-raging young boys should be shielded whenever the new, improved version of Faith Hill turns up on CMT? Then you'd be right at home with The Wilburn Brothers, as I was Thursday night. Well, I wasn't really at home with them. It was more like who in the world digs up these things?

The RFD-TV network does, that's who. (For those of you born well after Andy left Ken Berry in charge of Mayberry, RFD is an acronym for Rural Free Delivery, which brought home mail delivery to the sticks and gave farmers the same right as city folk to have their mailboxes cluttered up by Publisher's Clearinghouse.)

Billing itself as "rural America's most important network," RFD-TV is where the Propane Research and Education Council does its advertising, and I guess if I watched long enough, I could probably have picked up a subscription to Grit newspaper too, except now it's not really a newspaper anymore and that's just another fine example of how corporate America has screwed the heartland, dagnabbit.

On my channel guide, RFD-TV is located way up in the nosebleed section in the 9000s and lumped in with a mess of Jesus stations, so I kinda knew what I was getting myself into. At first, I thought I'd stumbled across a Lawrence Welk show from 1971 because the picture had that same sort of screwy-saturated look Polaroids get when they get old, yet the sets didn't achieve nearly the same design standards as Welk's. Either the TV studio was the size of a tent or it was just Doyle and Teddy Wilburn reflecting that sort of early Opryland attitude that says when you're letting the music do all the talkin', you don't need no ten more bucks worth of paint and wood in the hands of a set designer who might actually have graduated vo-tech school, y'all. No, that investment was made up in wardrobe for the hosts.

I'm not sure whether the singing brother who looked like Brian Doyle-Murray without all the extra mileage was Doyle, or the guitar-playing brother who's a dead ringer for Tom Hanks' next project was Teddy, or vice-versa. The show was a bit short on introductions, but I suppose if I knew anything about country music prior to 1992 - other than it's awful - introductions wouldn't be necessary. I needed Wikipedia and CMT.com to tell me Doyle and Teddy went from first performing on a street corner in Thayer, Missouri, on Christmas Eve 1937 to become one of Nashville's most popular recording duos between the 1950s and early 1970s. Sure, they're both dead now, but they looked mighty smooth in their matching powder-blue satin suits and bow ties.

They had to, given the company they were in Thursday night. Tom T. Hall, who is arguably the driest wit to ever pen a Nashville tune, entertained everyone in his dark blue leisure suit with "Chattanooga Dog" and his ultra-amusing "Ballad Of Forty Dollars" looking like like he hadn't slept in a year, as usual. Pre-Crisco spokeswoman Loretta Lynn chimed in with "Will You Visit Me On Sunday" while catching up to the times a half-decade late in a purple tie-dyed dress.

The music and the look was pure '70s and so was the sound, which I can only describe as 1962 beach transistor radio, so the only distinguishable instruments were steel guitar and a snare drum. All the digital stereophonics in the world can't fix that, but in a sense, you wouldn't want them to. That's just the kind of sound we need to get nostalgic over if we're ever to appreciate real country music meant for real Americans with real family values because it's got dusty-dry small town Texas 1952 gas station/diner written all over it. Go ahead, tune in to The Wilburn Brothers next week and listen to the whole thing with your eyes shut. Sure as hell, you'll be able to see the waitress reading the afternoon newspaper to the transistor radio in the empty Texas diner in 1952 just waitin' on the boys to stop in for some pie and coffee after the lynchin'.

Nope, you just don't get that with Garth.


Whata hecka mooka mooka, dear: Dan Ho of Discovery Health Channel's The Dan Ho Show neither plays ukelele nor sings about tiny bubbles or anything else. He isn't even Hawaiian. He's from Guam. Bummer.


I'm not sure what to make - or whether I even want to make anything - of ABC's Men In Trees. I caught only the last five minutes sandwiched between the end of Soundstage on WTTW and the beginning of the local news, but I instinctively go *aw, Christ* whenever I hear some woman narrating life lessons at the end of the program in in that Sex and the City tone of voice. If I can stand it long enough, I might even watch this show next week if the residual Grey's Anatomy lead-in stench isn't too overpowering, if only to see whether the current problem with Justine Bateman is that she and Tony Curtis share the same overly-rambunctious plastic surgeon or she's just hagging out naturally.


Previously, in What I Watched Last Night.


Posted on January 26, 2007

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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