Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Day the Triffids came to Public Access

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Just as Baltar made it easy for the Cylons to destroy the human worlds on Battlestar Galactica, so too did one Joseph Dutton open the doors for the Triffids to invade a small part of Fayetteville, Arkansas - and on live television, no less.

The alien invasion began on a quiet Saturday night in the Ozarks, with a small group of people gathered together at Community Access Television, as producers often did, working on various projects, planning programs with other producers, and just plain visiting.

Public access in Fayetteville has always had that welcoming atmosphere, when folks would get together in the break room and brainstorm. A lot of TV magic has emerged from those visits over the years.

On this night, though, little did any of us realize that Dark Magic would come about as a result of our Gathering.

Young Master Dutton was the cable caster that night, meaning he ran the joint. Nothing went on the air without the help of his nimble fingers at the equipment. His word was law.

It was when regularly scheduled programming for the night was about over that the Dark One came up with his idea, an idea which has haunted my dreams many a night since.

“I’ve got Day of the Triffids here,” he innocently suggested. “Why don’t we run it?”

And not just run it, but have breaks throughout the movie, when the scene would flash to folks minding their own business in the studio - surrounded on all sides . . .

. . . by plastic plants, the likes of the which you see in so many other TV studios.


Yeah! Great idea!

The four or five of us (there may have been more but I’m not sure we all survived the evening) took our places in the studio, nattering and gromishing each time the cameras went to us - seemingly oblivious to the fact that the plants were getting closer and closer.

By the end of the movie we had gone from nervous to apprehensive into full-blown, screaming panic as plants hovered over us on each break from the movie, until the last of us was finally - even though we fought valiantly - covered by plastic foliage.

It was one of those things you do just for fun, and have no idea if anybody is actually watching. I learned that they did when I bumped into a man who had run for mayor in the last election, a very conservative fellow, who looked at me oddly and said, “I saw you on TV Saturday night.”

I didn’t quite know what to say. Maybe if we had kicked some alien butt - ala Independence Day - he wouldn’t have looked at me with such bemused pity.

But we had let the home team down. The Triffids came, they saw, they ate us.

And my nights have never been the same, ever since.

Outside my window a large bush seems to be nodding in the wind, though there is no wind today.

******

And after all that effort . . .

And after our Oscar-worthy performances, Joey Dutton never put a tape int to tape us! Ah well . . .

*****

If you want to see a really good version of Day of the Triffids

If you are looking for a version of Day of the Triffids which is much closer to the book, check out the nifty BBC version which was produced in the 1980s. Though it ran on A&E I missed it, but I picked up the DVD last year. It’s well worth your while.

And even though it has a plot which has been imitated many, many times, nothing beats the original.

****

Quote of the Day

When I was young I was amazed at Plutarch’s statement that the elder Cato began at the age of eighty to learn Greek. I am amazed no longer. Old age is ready to undertake tasks youth shirked because they would take too long. - Somerset Maugham

rsdrake@cox.net

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