The Reader's Eye on Television

That woman in Howard the Duck did it with him, and he was a duck, and that's weird and sad, but it's not why the movie is glorious and hysterical. Nor is it because Howard the Duck had little feathery fingers and a butt that stuck out to here. And the movie is not a hallmark of a generation's fears and frustrations because Howard had a rubber in his wallet with a white feather attached to the middle of it. No.

Howard the Duck serves as a portrait of a nation in transition. The 1950s' workaday philosophy of a suburban nuclear family shattered in the "anything goes" swinging '70s, and by 1986, when Howard T. Duck landed in every cinema in Everytown USA, the children of Flower Children were coming of age and searching for their own philosophy. With The Wall down and glasnost baby stepping off Donahue and onto our front porches, weren't we all a dwarf-sized duck pulled through an interdimensional portal and dumped on our asses in an alley in Cleveland? Metaphorically, I mean.

Along with the plotline, the visuals and dialogue exposed our vulnerability in a shifting landscape of population boom, rebellion-against-former-rebellions, and an apathetic disregard for politics and formality. You see, the cities, at the time, bred punks with pincushion faces, women who dressed as men, men who dressed as women, large red sunglasses long after dark, and a bright new color palette for ties, jackets, and evening wear. The faces of the cities had changed, and rural Americans stood in shock as to what was happening to urban youth. Would it have been such an unthinkable thing to drive through a major metropolis and see a three-foot-tall duck in a college sweatshirt and corduroy pants?

A baby girl in a hospital was given the heart of a baboon only two years before.

In a triumph of art imitating life and vice versa, the evil scientist of the film, Dr. Walter Jenning, bent technology to his will and created himself as the Dark Overlord. The actor playing this role was Jeffrey Jones, best known as Ed Rooney from Ferris Bueller's Day Off . In 2001, police arrested Jones with a computer filled with unmentionable photos -- a dark overlord with evil gadgets. Willard Hyuck: director of Howard the Duck and oracle. Bravo, Hyuck.

So, thank you, Howard, for leading us through those shadowy and menacing times of 1986 with your brave feathery white heart. We will honor you by replaying your trials on free movie channels Sundays at midnight.

Thursday, September 6 Tennis, U.S. Open, Men's Quarterfinals USA 8:00 a.m. Robotic arm and a cast-iron skillet.

In the Wild: Zoo Babies with Whoopi Goldberg PBS 9:00 p.m. Not even baby animals would make me want to look at Whoopi Goldberg. Sure, she's a talented actress and a self-made woman, but yeeesh. And congratulations to her for doing all that, obtaining all that success, while carrying around a mug that looks like a bad stretch of the 805 between National City and Chula Vista. But that doesn't mean I have to look at it. Woof.

Friday, September 7 The O'Reilly Factor Fox News 8:00 p.m. From now on I'll assume anyone loosely related to the Republican party is a terrified and perverted deviant. Own it, O'Reilly. Come out onto your show in a lime-green feather boa, silver rhinestone vest, and glittery lip-gloss, and tell the world your plans to marry a Taiwanese pack mule. Giddy up, conservatives. Yee haw!

Saturday, September 8 High School Musical Disney 8:00 p.m. If you like high school and you like musicals, I would say that you also enjoy getting up early to cause war, famine, and the spread of incurable diseases. This generation of viewers will cause disaster in my golden years. I'll move to Canada where high school and musicals are regarded for what they are and global crises aren't started for the fun of it.

The CW's Fall Preview Special CW 9:00 p.m. Here we go. A planet waits on tenterhooks, with fingernails dug into the edge of our sofas, for a sneak peek at what the CW will offer us by way of recycled gags and yet-more shtick about race relations this season. I am bleary-eyed and my face has a pallor from the sleeplessness of anticipation. Oh, CW. Give it to us! More "white people are like this and black people are like this" humor, please! We can't hold out much longer!

Sunday, September 9 Meet the Fockers ABC 9:00 p.m. Hostility. Hostility is what Ben Stiller offers to his audience, to intelligence, to good taste, acting, and comedy. Come at me, Ben Stiller. Come at me with your hostile attitude and eat my fist until your teeth tick tick tick across the floor and leave a trail of blood and saliva. Just me and you, Ben Stiller. Me. And you.

Monday, September 10 Economics Classroom: A Workshop for Grade 9-12 Teachers ITVS 9:00 p.m. Why is this allowed to be on TV? I do not put on a whistle-and-fart tap-dance show in your algebra class; please keep this "educational programming" off my thought-free release from daily trammels. Thank you. Now return me to my regularly scheduled ninjas and volcanoes, please.

Tuesday, September 11 Just for Laughs ABC 8:00 p.m. Six years. Six years, and to say the date still stings and my eyes wince a little. To carry on would be nice. To know what lies ahead, even better. Hope, for me, is that Just for Laughs , deck chairs on the Titanic, and Nero's fiddle are all unrelated.

Wednesday, September 12 I'd Kill for a Baby TLC 8:00 p.m. Holy cow! Sensational titles, thy name is TLC. What are they going to do to top this? Bikini Babe Slashers and Gang-War Brazilian Waxers Street Rumble at the Hot Rod Races for Slovakian Slave Children! Tonight on the Learning Channel!

Thursday, September 13 2007 MTV Video Music Awards MTV 7:00 p.m. The best possible combinations of events would be the MTV Video Music Awards and Jeopardy . When each winner is handed a trophy they would also be asked about rivers in Africa or 17th-century Scottish poets. You thought Miss Teen South Carolina had interesting answers, ho boy, wait until Puff Daddy digs through and serves up his knowledge of Hungary's Velvet Revolution. What is the failure of public education, Alex?

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