Tuesday, July 08, 2008

"Lt. Shack-Fu Said We Could": A Tale for TV Tuesday

A little over a week ago Cap'n Shack-Fu was finally released from Oklahoma and allowed to come back to Denton. After a particularly grueling deployment, he decided to take a whole week off to recuperate. Since I hadn't really gotten much of a chance to spend any quality time with my best bud in quite a while, I took off a little early on Thursday so we could hang out. The original plan was for us to go to the park or go hiking or something like that, but that plan got derailed when he got called up by his commanding officer in the Texas State Guard who asked him to be one of a group of Guard members who were interviewed for the local CW affiliate's program DFW Closeup, which was devoting a whole episode to the Texas military. Shack invited me to tag along, and far be it from me to turn down a chance to hang out with my Best Friend and see the inner workings of a TV show.

There were three groups of people being interviewed for the program: the first was a representative of The Friends of San Jacinto, followed by a couple of members of the Texas Navy, with Shack-Fu and his fellow Guardsmen wrapping it all up. The members of the first two groups were wearing suits and ties, while Shack's group were all decked out in their uniforms; I, on the other hand, felt a tad under-dressed in my Serenity t-shirt and jeans, so I hung way at the back of the pack when we all filed into the studio to meet the host, Shana Franklin. And when I say "filed" I mean "filed," with the military men (and woman) almost instinctively falling into a single-file line, which caused Shana to cry out "Please, spread out, I feel like I'm in a receiving line!" Throughout the time we were there she was constantly trying to get everyone to loosen up and not be so formal, a difficult task for folks who are very cognizant that they are representing their respective military organizations.

They set up a series of folding chairs just outside of camera range for us to sit in while the other folks were being interviewed. As soon as we sat down, everyone got very quiet as Shana and the San Jacinto rep prepared for the first segment; however, Shana quickly put the kibosh on that, calling out to us "Don't get all quiet on me, talk, please, talk, as long as you're not yelling we'll be okay, you're making me nervous like that." So, everyone started to talk quietly among themselves. When Shana was ready to start taping she said "Alright, let's get started," and everyone got quiet again, causing her to look over and yell "Don't do that, keep talking!" And so, we did.

Shack and his two compatriots spent some time trying to figure out what they were going to say and worrying about misspeaking; Shack's two lower-ranking companions -- a corporal and a warrant officer -- jokingly declared that if they screwed anything up too bad they would just tell the higher ups that it was all Shack's fault, with "Lieutenant* said we could" becoming their mantra. Finally it was their turn to get up on stage with Shana, with the corporal and warrant officer to Shana's right like the previous guests and Shack becoming the first to sit to her left** . . . you know, the sinister side. Kind of fitting, huh?

Shana told them she was wanting their segment to have more of a conversational feel rather than just an info-dump, which is sort of how the first segments came out, but that she was still wanting to sort of divvy up who was planning to talk about what first. She said "So, one thing we'll want to cover is exactly what the State Guard does; who wants to answer that?" Shack-Fu spoke up, saying "We enhance and support local authorities." Shana turned to look at him, put her hand over her mouth, and let out an incredibly theatric yawn, following it up with "I'm sorry, but this airs at 7 AM on a Sunday, we want to wake people up not put them back to sleep." Shack-Fu tried to explain that he was just trying to answer her question, saying "I'm sorry, I thought you asked for your own edification," but she apparently thought he was just stuffy, since she started telling him she wanted him to lighten up, loosen up, show some energy, etc. I began to mutter to myself "Lady, you're playing with dynamite and you don't even know it."

But being in uniform kept Shack from entering into full-fledged HyperForce mode, no matter how much Shana poked the sleeping hyper-bear. However, I think she did start to get a sense that there was more mischievousness lurking beneath Shack's exterior than she expected a few minutes later as she was reiterating that she wanted the segment to flow like a conversation, telling them that while they had sort of assigned who would focus on what topic, if anyone had anything they wanted to add they should just jump in, or try to get her attention -- at this point Shack leaned over and tapped her on the shoulder with a little evil grin on his face. She turned, looked at him, and declared "Do not do that while we're taping, I will totally lose it if you do." He assured her that he would never do such a thing, but couldn't resist tapping her on the shoulder at least one more time before they finally started taping.

While not exactly the way I'd been expecting to spend my afternoon off, all in all it was a pretty interesting and entertaining time; you can take a gander at Shack's 6 minutes and 57 seconds of fame right here.

*Yes, while he holds a blog-monkey rank of Cap'n here on CoIM, in the Guard Shack was recently promoted to First Lieutenant.
**Shack-fu's seat meant that he was pretty much facing straight at me; I was threatened with great bodily harm if I started making faces at him. Luckily for all involved, for once I was able to control my suicidal tendencies, and would not provoke Shack into kicking my butt for several more days.