September 2007

'Carcass' is not a pretty word

By David Feela

I don’t expect much from the new fall television season, but I don’t mean I’m bereft of hope. I just mean I have enough experience with the medium to know it’s not well done.

Sitcoms, soap operas, game, reality, and talk shows have pretty much worn me down with their antics. At least the crime scene investigations – the cadavers reminding me of the carcasses I have to live with near my home – keep me from chucking my TV into the dumpster.

My own television is an older one, connected to the public airwaves. It’s not a high-definition flat-screen plasma- pulsing digital-image/sound transfusion device, and I don’t have any immediate plans to upgrade my equipment. Maybe in a few years equipment like mine will prompt people to feel pity. They’ll invite me over to their houses for snacks and shows. You see, my signal doesn’t even arrive via cable or satellite. It trickles down from the roof, strained like spaghetti through a traditional aluminum antenna.

The reason I mention all this TV background is because I’d like to propose a new series for next fall, a show called “Auto Autopsy.” The piece could easily be filmed south of Cortez, where plenty of my neighbors have the carcasses of salvaged vehicles stashed in the weeds around their homes. It will be a CSI-style investigation drama, car detectives going door to door, trying to figure out if what went wrong can ever be repaired.

Here’s a synopsis for the first episode:

Burt has a fondness for classics. He’s seen it in the magazines, foldouts no doubt, and he gets excited talking about how its rear end is styled. It’s a ’53 something, with paint the color of a clear blue sky, and enough chrome to compete with moonlight.

One day, while driving to the landfill, Burt notices another old car with its trunk sticking out of an arroyo. It might have been there forever, but he never noticed it before. He stops his truck, climbs under a wire fence, and checks out the carcass. You see, Burt thinks any old car is worth resuscitating. It’s not that he has environmental leanings, upset over the irresponsible disposal of salvage vehicles. He just wants to winch that old beast out of the dirt and bring it home, park it beside his other junk cars, and brush up on its specifications.

Burt rushes back to town and assembles his car team. He tells them what he’s found, they speculate for over an hour about what it could be, and they agree to meet at the carcass to “take a look”. What the television viewers don’t know (but will eventually be forced to learn) is that to car people, every vehicle is connected to the great automotive family tree, a genealogy of makes and models. If they drag it home, it will be because it’s an offspring to the cars in their yards – a niece, nephew, cousin, uncle, aunt, great-grandparent, or bastard of some model they already own.

Burt and the boys examine every inch of the car. In the end (there’s a wife involved in a flashback scene, looking depressed), they decide to leave it where it’s been dumped, grilled into a hot desert arroyo. A squeak of elation (definitely a female voice) is heard while the credits roll.

I’m hoping this treatment for a new television show will go cable. If it gets as many viewers as “Car Talk” has listeners, I’ll be able to afford a new television and a dish antenna that can pull in a signal from as far away as, say, the Space Station. You see, I suspect the crew – just for kicks – tries to identify the carcasses of old satellites as they drift past and, as they say in the orbiting business, it could make a good spin-off.

David Feela is a teacher at Montezuma-Cortez High School.