I believe the year was 2000 — December if I remember correctly. Frothy adult beverages flowed like water, so please forgive the lack of my usual precision. Long before DVRs, Hulu, and Youtube, we noticed it — viewers fleeing television like Leo DiCaprio off the Titanic.
We were a small enclave of television professionals who saw the decline of our beloved media and set out to do something about it. While consultants pushed the latest gimmick to attract viewers (at the time it was hand-held everything), we eschewed the trends and proposed something bold that would hold viewers still watching and welcome back those who had left.
We proposed this idea to all who would listen. (Actually, we said it so loudly that the people at the surrounding tables shot us dirty stares and eventually left.) No one took us seriously.
Now, as CBS celebrates the 50th year of the half-hour news format, and even news organizations search sites like The Onion for information, it is time once again to make our proposal to save television news.
We’re not talking those damned dirty apes that caged Charelton Heston and destroyed American society. We’re talking actual simians. Chimps, orangutans, gorillas, and baboons all clad in the latest fashions, delivering the news.
Think Lancelot Link on the news desk.
Really think about it. Who doesn’t love a monkey? And one who delivers the days headlines with panache? That’s gotta be worth at least half a ratings point.
Before you “pshaw” our idea, really think about it. Oh, sure there’s the whole monkeys don’t possess the vocal chords for speech thing. We say, give them time. They will learn. Aristotle assured us such things were possible in his infinite monkey theorem. And Aristotle knew his shit. (And until they develop said vocal chords, Chet Greytemples can do the voiceover work for half the price he now charges. Beancounters rejoice!)
Who could pry their eyes from the Consumerwatch Baboon as he chases down a slumlord then throws his own feces at him?
Sports? Sam the Spidermonkey can already talk faster than Jim Shorts. And he’ll work for peanuts.
Weather might be a stretch. We don’t know of many monkeys stupid enough to stand in the face of an on-coming hurricane and tell people to stay indoors, but if push comes to shove, we feel confident that the promise of stale snacks and a killer open for his resume tape could convince a sliverback gorilla to take his chances.
“But what about credibility?” You purists ask. Sure, monkeys would be fun to watch. They are unpredictable, and oh so cute. But who would believe anything that comes from their little simian mouthes? They are animals after all. They have no concept of integrity, fairness, objectivity! They cannot form a thought of their own! They cannot fathom the weightiness of the days events on which they report! They are stupid!
They couldn’t be more stupid than this.