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WE GOT IT ALL ON UHF

August 18, 2015

George Newman considers himself a man of vision. Actually, he’s a daydreamer who’s gotten himself fired from every job he’s had over the past month. He’s also gotten his friend and roommate fired as well. George’s girlfriend Teri feels that things would turn around for him, if he could just land a job and keep it without the daydreams getting in the way. Still and all, she loves him.

Little does George realize that his dreams are about to take him, his hometown, and we the viewers on a crazy, joke-a-minute adventure into the world of independent television. You see, George’s uncle just won ownership of U 62, the town’s lowest rated TV station. He decides to let George and Bob run it, after all, nobody’s watching, what could possibly go right?

U62’s staff consists of Pamela Finklestein, secretary, and would-be anchorwoman, Noodles, her diminutive cameraman, and Philo, the spacy technician.  George does his best with what he has, hosting the station’s only two original shows: UNCLE NUTSY’S CLUB HOUSE, which puts its young studio audience to sleep, and TOWN TALK, whose first guest, an eighth grade shop teacher shows us how NOT to use a saw.

George’s problems are compounded when he misses Teri’s birthday dinner while going over the accounts, and realizing that the station will fold within a week.

A misdirected envelope meant for the town’s network affiliate soon proves to change George’s luck. At the affiliate, he has his first encounter with R.J Fletcher, who would love nothing better than to see U 62 go off the air, so his station can dominate. He also meets Stanley Spadowski, a hyper, but loveable janitor who was just wrongfully fired by RJ. Stanley starts out as George’s janitor, but after the missed birthday with Teri, his Uncle Nutsy breaks down on the air. Stanley takes over, and becomes U62’s breakout star. The money starts coming in, as do new ideas for original shows, including WHEEL OF FISH, RAUL’S WILD KINGDOM (promise me that, if you have a poodle, you’re not trying to teach him/her how to fly) BOWLING FOR BURGERS, PRACTICAL JOKES, STRIP SOLITAIRE, and a new more Jerry Springer-like TOWN TALK.

Happy ending right? Wrong! George’s uncle soon finds himself owing his bookie $75,000, and makes a shady deal with Fletcher to get U 62 off the air. George, Stanley, and the rest of the U 62 gang have just a couple of days to cover the debt and save the station. Can George raise the funds? Can RJ stop raising his voice? Can YOU raise the window blinds? For the answer to these and other questions….ooops, wrong show, sorry. I was getting silly.

But then again, that’s the whole POINT of UHF. It’s supposed to be silly and goofy, and off-the-wall. This isn’t Shakespeare we’re talking about, it’s Weird Al Yankovic. Who better to poke fun at the tropes of TV, than someone who pokes fun at all sorts of popular culture in his songs. I remember how cruel the critics were to this now classic comedy gem. They tore everything apart, including Al’s mustache. Excuse me, but that’s going too far. And Al knows when to play George seriously. He loves Teri, he cares about the station and the people who work with him. So much so, that when Fletcher’s men kidnap Stanley, George goes to rescue him, and finds courage he didn’t know he had.

UHF was never meant to be more than what it is, 90 minutes of escapist fun. Perfect after a tough day at work, a good killer of the blues, a movie to watch with your friends when you get together. I’d even go so far to say you can watch it with your kids if they’re getting into their teenage years. According to the trivia facts at imdb.com, Al thought that PG-13 was too strong a rating for UHF. He wanted the whole family to enjoy it, but some of the jokes and references just wouldn’t pass muster with the censors, and to cut them would have meant ruining the movie completely for Al.

As for the title song? For me it’s one of Al’s best original songs. See for yourself  UHF-Weird Al

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