The Surfies

Locally produced TV shows deserve to be honored for their intelligence, their wit, their impeccably bad taste. Don't touch that remote control!

For free.
A hint: Try to create a group that combines a unique ethnic identity with the threat of legal action. For example: "The Lithuanian-American Coalition for Anti-Discriminatory Expression."

A second hint: Keep it clean. One proposed Cable-TAP series was recently nixed because it showed too much tushy.

Cultural Program
And the Surfie goes to...Roshni
While it is an undeniable truth that foreign cultures are fascinating, it is an equally undeniable truth that public-access programs about foreign cultures are deadly boring. No one knows why this is, and though esteemed professors have made efforts to solve the mystery, the pundits always wind up nodding off before they can complete their research.Thankfully, Salimah Jetha Karim provides an exception. She writes, produces, and directs a show that actually renders Indian and Pakistani cultures interesting. Celeb interviews. Beauty contests. On-location shoots in England. All from a 24-year-old Cable-TAP production technician with a budget of "zero."

Cheese Factor:
Goat cheese
Production Notes: Karim scored a mind-boggling coup recently, by securing an exclusive powwow with Shah Rukh Kahn, the Tom Cruise of India.

Fun Facts: 1. Karim was actually born in Uganda.
2. Roshni, loosely translated, means "flashlight."
Educational Value: Despite a legacy of lethal religious feuding, Indians and Pakistanis can find common ground as starmongers by watching Roshni.

Airs: Sundays at 11:30 a.m. on Cable-TAP's Channel 36
(Short Form)
And the Surfie goes to... Riverside Gordon Funeral Home

The family is seated around a dinner table, joining grandpa in his joyous proclamation: "L'Chaim!" Mother and daughter share a warm moment. Two sisters pore over grandmother's matzo-ball recipe. Scenes of Jewish prosperity. But just around the corner lurks tragedy. And guilt. "Because you love them, take time to prepare," warns a kindly man in a suit. "A full Jewish funeral for less than $25 a month." Death on layaway -- the ultimate Jewish product.

Production Notes: Viewers will note that mother and daughter, while attempting to kiss, butt heads.

Quote-O-Matic: "Sure, some people find the spots offensive," observes one Riverside Gordon family counselor. "But I got news for you, pal, they bring in the business."

Fun Fact: $24.95 per month for 60 months buys you a full graveside service (with pine casket), hearse, outfitting, embalming, and refrigeration.

Educational Value: L'Chaim means "to life."
Commercial (Long Form)
And the Surfie goes to... Kendall Toyota

The most hotly contested Surfie category, thanks to South Florida's status as a world leader in the infomercial biz. Locally produced spots include Grassman (a Chia Pet ripoff), the Bunbuster exercise machine, and Crescent Heights, the megadevelopment company whose ubiquitous, bathed-in-amber spots are worthy of Leni Riefenstahl. The Kendall Toyota show, however, is so provocative, so unremittingly, uh, bad, that one feels almost obligated to watch -- the same way that, upon passing a nasty car wreck, one slows unconsciously to assess the carnage. The carnage, in this case, consists of Hollywood has-beens who have been reduced to guest stints on a fake chat show hosted by two large, impossibly caffeinated men in cummerbunds.

Cheese Factor:
Production Notes: The has-been parade has included Bo Derek, Dudley Moore, Phil Rizzuto, Jerry "The Beaver" Mathers, and Ken "Eddie Haskell" Osmond.

Quote-O-Matic: "We try not to plan the show too much," confides one staffer. "That's what makes it so magic."

Network Equivalent: The Howard Stern Show
Fun Fact: Doctors have warned co-host and DJ Don Cox that his head will explode if he continues to laugh violently at bad jokes.

Educational Value: It is heartening to know that Toyota (and by extension the Japanese) screw up every once in a while.

Far too often
Commercial (Conceptual)
And the Surfie goes to...Biscayne Greyhound Track

A sultry growl on the soundtrack: "Don't just think about it." A couple in silhouette. The man leans forward. The woman nods, touches his shoulder. Cut to an orangutan, covering his eyes. A second whisper: "Everybody's doing it." Again, the primate, fingers in ears. The soundtrack, louder now, insists: "Do it! Do it! Do it!" Then to an escalator. The couple, seen in profile, race upward, wild with lust, ecstatic. The orang follows. Set upon this threshold of climax, the scene shifts chaotically. Bright lights. Dogs in a row, ribs heaving under colored cloth. A bell rings. A blues singer wails. A colored logo zooms across the screen: "Biscayne Greyhound Track." The orang is seen no more.

Cheese Factor:
Wiltermarsch Kese
Production Notes: Ray the orangutan was rented from Monkey Jungle. He was so terrified of the moving escalator that he defecated on it.

Quote-O-Matic: "Sex sells, okay?" (from producer Ken Malden)
Fun Fact: Ray's per diem rate is several hundred dollars.
Religious Program
And the Surfie goes to...
Jewish Jewels

Every Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. Neil and Jamie Lash welcome you into their Fort Lauderdale living room to discuss their very deeply rooted affiliation to Judaism, and to Jesus Christ. The Lashes, leaders of a local congregation of Messianic Jews (Jews for Jesus), spice the show with live feeds from Israel, and, improbably, music videos.

Cheese Factor:
Cream cheese
Production Notes: During the opening montage, a baby is held by a rabbi in what appears to be a bris, or circumcision rite. Directly above the infant is a sign reading "Jewish Jewels."

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