The Surfies

A few years ago a small North Carolina cable company launched a bold experiment in television. For the first time in broadcast history, viewers were provided with around-the-clock coverage of...a fish tank. A fish tank, in point of fact, full of fish.

Though FishTV received little critical acclaim (none, actually), viewers were smitten. Weeks after its debut, when the cable company cut off the camera that filmed the aquarium and piped in the Science Fiction Channel instead, the calls came in.

"Where are the fish?" fans demanded.
"The fish are still alive," an operator explained patiently, "but they are no longer part of our programming grid."

Ugly George slipped fishlike through a similar grid. The premise of his show, which aired briefly on Manhattan's risque Channel J, was simple: Ugly George would traverse the city with a cameraman and ask women to take off their clothes. If a woman agreed, he and the cameraman would accompany her to an apartment (or an alley, if need be) and film the disrobing. About one in five women consented.

The programs would not seem to invite immediate comparison -- aside from the observation that fish are, technically, naked. But each stands as tribute to the quirky potentials of local programming.

Local teevee, in its native state, is a kind of anti-TV. It is awkward, hokey, funny without meaning to be. The exact opposite of the slickly packaged tonics with which the national networks tranquilize us daily. On local television, the hosts try too hard. Guests are charmingly petrified. People act human.

Maybe "mortal" is a better word, given that local teevee appears to be headed for the crapper. New FCC laws could put the kibosh on the smaller cable companies that produce and air many local shows. The use of fiber optics, promising an eventual viewing capacity of 500 channels, has heralded a glut of new, niche-marketed national networks (the Therapy Channel, the Golf Channel) that threaten to outdate local programming.

In the spirit of cultural preservation, then, New Times is proud to introduce the First (and Last) Annual Surfie Awards for excellence in local teevee programming. With the diligence our readers have come to expect, the paper has spared no expense in ferreting out the best South Florida has to offer.

As befits an accolade of such magnitude, the name -- not to mention its symbolic emblem -- was selected on the basis of numerous factors. First, it honors the hallowed practice of channel surfing. Second, Miami is surrounded on three sides by water. Third, no staffer could come up with a better name.

Nor could we envision a better venue for the surfies than our own humble metropolis, with its blossoming production industry, its chaotic patchwork of cable companies, and its always toxic stew of cultures.

We may not have Ugly George, but we do have an apparently inexhaustible supply of beach party shows devoted to the display of mammary glands in all their varied splendor. We don't have FishTV. But we do have a TV chef who has been indicted for murder (and who sometimes prepares seafood).

So there you have it.
The awards are based on a few simple criteria:
1. Was the show filmed and produced locally?
2. If we were channel surfing, would we stop to watch?
3. What variety of cheese does the show most pointedly evoke?
4. Did those affiliated with the show give us anything free?

(WARNING: Because most local programs air on cable, and because Dade is home to so many cable companies, and because some shows air only on selected cable systems, viewing times and channels vary wildly. Unless an airtime is specified, please check your local listings if you wish to tune in (and by golly you will!). And if all else fails, just call Miami Herald TV critic Hal Boedeker at 376-3652. He'll be happy to answer your questions. It's his job.

Without further ado...
Music Video Show
And the Surfie goes to...
VJ David

Ever since Mojo Nixon penned "Stuffin' Martha's Muffin," his seminal ode to MTV VJ Martha Quinn, the mass media have reserved a special place for VJs, men and women whose musings serve as the cream filling between music videos. Fortunately South Florida is blessed with a singular talent on this front. Host of his self-produced, self-directed, self-titled and self-inflicted show, VJ David is a long-haired, hyperkinetic Argentinian who speaks at an incomprehensible clip. His show consists of obscure Spanish-language videos introduced by pubescent spokesmodels, and David's own machine-gun monologues, trained on a studio audience of teenage girls. David also reads viewer mail, much of which comes from lovesick fans.

Cheese Factor:
Production Notes: The spokesmodels appear to be afraid of VJ David.
Quote-O-Matic: "Don't be timid, Claudia, step up here, closer."
Network Equivalent:
Shaun Cassidy

Fun Fact: MTV Latino, which airs mostly English-language videos, is based in Miami.

Airs: Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. (check listings for channel in your area)
How-to Program
And the Surfie goes to...
Sex Talk

Do you get a sore jaw during oral sex? Would you like to know more about female ejaculation? Are you baffled by anilingus? It's time to tune in to Sex Talk, a racy offering from Fort Lauderdale's Selkirk Cable. Host Judy Manulkin is eager to discuss your perversions with frightening, anatomical precision. Probative interviews with floating bordello operators, lingerie fashion shows, and a regular cast of frisky sexologists promise an action-packed hour for the whole family.

Cheese Factor:
Head Cheese
Quote-O-Matic: "I wouldn't blow in someone's vagina. I think that could be a bit dangerous."

Network Equivalent: Manulkin is a dead ringer for Sally Jessy Raphael, minus the makeup.

Fun Fact: Anilingus is when you lick someone's behind.
Educational Value: You can go from vagina to anus, but you cannot go from anus to vagina.

Airs: Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. (in greater Fort Lauderdale)
Sports Program
And the Surfie goes to...Channel 49's Game of the Week

Thanks to the generous taxpayers of Coral Gables, diehard fans of Gables Senior High's illustrious sports program no longer risk painful tush splinters incurred via rooting for the Cavaliers from the bleachers. Nor do they run the risk of being gouged by scalpers who know the market value of a ticket to a Lady Cavaliers (Cavalierettes?) home soccer game. Instead they can tune into the City Beautiful's own special cable station, Channel 49, for the Game of the Week. Student commentators and cameramen ensure that the quality of the broadcast matches the players' athletic prowess.

Production Notes: The guys working the cameras don't always catch all the action on the field, despite the fact that they have the advantage of shooting from the roof of the dugout when they broadcast baseball games.

Network Equivalent: World Cup USA '94
Fun Fact: The City of Coral Gables has spent scads of taxpayer dollars trying to prevent New Times from placing newspaper racks on its sidewalks.

Parting Gifts: While in the Gables, we got a parking ticket.
Airs: Sundays at 8:30 p.m. during the school year (and occasionally broadcast countywide on Cable-TAP's Channel 36)

Talk Show
And the Surfie goes to...
The Danny Jessup Show

Public access teevee doesn't get any more public than Miami Springs TV. All you have to do to land your own show in this quiet hamlet just north of Miami International Airport is to convince

Andy Clark, the ham radio fanatic who runs the station (mostly out of his own home), that you deserve a shot at the big time. Jessup, a starstruck handyman who earned his stripes as a debonair microwave chef for the immortal Springs offering Cooking for the Babes, struck out on his own recently. His Letterman-like show, filmed in the Springs studio -- the back room of a realtor's office -- has all the elements of a classic. The monologue: "As they say in the business, folks,'Welcome to the show.'" The band: Orson "Big Key" Whitfield, who sings Elton John covers. The celebrity guests: Anita, a school crossing guard, and Ruthie, a professional theater usher. The patter: "As a ticket-taker, lemme tell you, it's so important that you're polite and direct people to the right seats."

Cheese Factor:
Production Notes: Danny used to employ milk crates for a desk. He now has an unfinished chunk of wood.

Quote-O-Matic: "What was I just thinking? It's that memory thing that's going around." Vintage Jessup.

Network Equivalent:
Alan Thicke
Fun Fact: Ruthie the ticket-taker is Geraldo Rivera's cousin.
Parting Gifts: Andy Clark bought us lunch.
Airs: 10:00 p.m. Saturday on Channel 36
Cooking Program
And the Surfie goes to...
Mangia bene con Pietro

He marinates. He sautees. He shoots tax collectors dead. And until recently Pietro Venezia had his own cooking show, Mangia bene con Pietro. Chef-owner of Coconut Grove's swank Buccione Restaurant, Venezia would scurry around the Buccione kitchen, magically assembling foods from his native Italy (he tended to be a bit vague about how, precisely, the specialties were prepared) and wooing his audience in a sometimes understandable patois of Italian, Spanish, and English. Sadly, the recent arrest of Venezia in Italy for the murder of Miami tax collector Don Bonham on Christmas Eve 1993 has led local outlets to cancel the program. He is not allowed to have knives in jail.

Cheese Factor:
Production Notes: Venezia used to infuriate the film crew by preparing sumptuous Italian dishes, then neglecting to feed them.

Quote-O-Matic: "Ese tipo de pollo es buonissimo con garlic."
Fun Fact: Venezia's vittles were so bene they nearly landed Judge Alfonso Sepe in the hoosegow. Defense lawyer Gerald Massey used to buy Sepe lunch at Buccione. The judge assigned cases to Massey. A grand jury indicted Sepe for bribery, but he was acquitted at trial.

Educational Value: There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Community Service Show
And the Surfie goes to...
Open to the Public

The world of Steve "Bubba" Cohen is a world of harmony, a world in which every new experience is an epiphany, every stranger is a friend, and every friend is greeted with a big, fat smile. Cohen has used Open as a forum to explore the lesser wonders of Miami Beach. Ever wonder about that kosher deli down the street? Or that mental-health facility? Or that water taxi? You haven't? Well, Cohen has. And he's happy to interview the man in charge for a long time. His cameraman is happy to capture every interminable minute of this at close enough range to ensure that the subject's head is frequently cut off.

Cheese Factor:
Toe cheese
Production Notes: The ironman of local teevee, Cohen has filmed segments while wearing a back brace and a leg cast.

Quote-O-Matic: "I try to stay away from the political stuff," says the host. "This is a good-time, positive kind of show."

Network Equivalent:
Jon Tesh
Fun Fact: Beach gadfly Joe Fontana, Cohen's evil twin, may soon have his own show, entitled Backfire.

Airs: Gold Coast Cablevision Channel 3 (Miami Beach) on various days and times

Lifestyle Program
And the Surfie goes to...
Life's a Beach

While Steve Cohen sticks to the pedestrian, Life's a Beach -- another Gold Coast entry -- is a celebration of SoBe's better-known assets. Specifically breasts, self-promoters, trendy clubs, trendy sports, and oily breasts. The show rolls chatty interviews, comedy skits, sports footage, and shots of native fauna into one not-very-filling burrito. The writing is often clever -- one segment features a Socratic dialogue between Jean Paul Sartre and Chewbacca the Wookie from Star Wars -- and the hosts are appropriately perky. Which brings us to the show's specialties: the Bikini Contest and the Bikini Oil Wrestling Contest.

Cheese Factor:
Production Notes: Those who look carefully during selected beach shots can spot a fully exposed sunbather's breast.

Quote-O-Matic: "I want to thank those of you who are tuning in to Life's a Beach intentionally." (from host Bill Cross)

Network Equivalent: An amalgam of MTV Sports and that network's House of Style

Parting Gifts: Free copy of the Oil Bikini Wrestling segment
Educational Value: Breasts look good oily.
Airs: The show's producers are now seeking national distribution for two spinoff shows. As a result, Life's a Beach is no longer aired locally.

Aerobics Show
And the Surfie goes to...
Kidz Aerobics

Shunning the convenient myth that kids are exempt from lethal arterial blockage, tiny Dena Cicale leads viewers through 30 minutes of pulse-racing exercise. Clad in purple spandex, matching sash, and spangled legwarmers, the six-year-old aerobics dominatrix barks out orders ("Take it low!" "Squat and up!") while her mom (a pro aerobics instructor, wouldn't you know it?) hollers encouragement from the wings. A concept well before its time, Kidz Aerobics has gone the way of so much revolutionary programming. (Recall FishTV and Ugly George.) The show, aired last year on Channel 36, is no more.

Cheese Factor:
Kraft Fat-Free Singles
Quote-O-Matic: "Wiggle those hips, oh yeah. Let's make some monkey faces."
Network Equivalent: Mary Lou Retton

Fun Fact: The show was sponsored by the Knights of Pythias Booster Lodge Number 132. Huh?

Educational Value: Small children are in better shape than you are.
Variety Show
And the Surfie goes to...
Sabado gigante

At the bidding of puffy host Don Francisco, entire Latin nations shake their booties, demean themselves for money, and send their virgin daughters on-stage in crack-crawling bikinis. A mindless variety show? Hah! Univision's Sabado is actually a brilliantly conceived tool of cultural imperialism. How better to disseminate the tenets of North American culture than via satellite feed?

Cheese Factor:
Nacho cheese
Production Notes: Don Francisco has played host, inexplicably, to Elizabeth Taylor, at least two of her husbands, and Rock Hudson.

Fun Fact: Don Francisco's real name is Mario Kreutzberger. He is a wealthy Chilean Jew.

Airs: 7:00 p.m. Saturday on WLTV-TV (Channel 23)
Comedy Show
And the Surfie goes to...
Salvese quien pueda

The wickedly clever Salvese quien pueda -- which translates as "save yourself if you can" -- holds nothing and nobody sacred. The ensemble cast uses sketch comedy to poke fun at everything from the Catholic church to politicians to pop stars to Telemundo's own self-serious news anchors.

Cheese Factor:
Sharp cheddar
Quote-O-Matic: "We were the first ones on Spanish-language TV to use the girls in the thong bikinis," says producer Norma Osorio. "Now everyone does it."

Network Equivalent:
In Living Color
Parting Gifts: Telemundo flack sent windup toys and chocolate.
Airs: Sunday nights at 7:00 on WSCV-TV (Channel 51)
Comedy Show (Unintentional)
And the Surfie goes to...
your local municipal government

Pop yourself a bag o' microwave corn, check your local listings for the next meeting, and settle in for a dose of improvisational humor. Whether it's an arrogant city manager bawling out a gadfly or a politico being led off in handcuffs, Dade County's elected officials never disappoint.

Network Equivalent:
Fun Fact: Generally speaking, the smaller the municipality, the funnier the performance

Parting Gifts: -- healthy mistrust of the electoral process
Airs: Varies by municipality
I Want My OwnTV!
A public-service interlude

By now you are probably saying to yourself, "Wait a second, I'm a decent, taxpaying American. I've done time as a cathode-ray tuber. I sat through that whole O.J. Simpson deal. Where in God's name is my teevee show?"

Okay. Here's the deal.
Step One: Incorporate yourself as a nonprofit. It's fun! It's easy! It's tax-exempt! Just send $122.50 to the Florida Secretary of State, along with a declaration of incorporation that sets out the specific purpose of your company.

Step Two: Order some stationery with your letterhead.
Step Three: Compose a letter outlining how a teevee show would help further your organization's goals. Send it to Martin Yoffe, WLRN Cable-TAP, 172 NE Fifteenth St., Miami, Florida, 33132. If your submission is selected, Cable-TAP will produce and air twenty hours of programming countywide on Channel 36 and/or Channel 37.

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."

Quote-O-Matic: "There's a lot of kissing in Judaism, isn't there," Neil Lash observes. "We kiss mezuzahs. We kiss the Torah."

Fun Fact: The Jews elected to have Jesus killed by the Romans.
Educational Value:
Jews kiss a lot.
Airs: Trinity Broadcasting Network (WHFT-TV [Channel 45] in Dade)
New Concept
And the Surfie goes to...Worship TV

What happens when the co-founder of the Home Shopping Network finds God? Fort Lauderdale-based WCTD-TV (Channel 35) offers the chilling answer. Owned by born-again media mogul Bud Paxson (of ZETA-4 and WINZ radio fame), the station airs mini-sermons and Scripture interspersed with locally produced infomercials.

Production Notes: If Worship
TV had a host, it would be Stuart Smalley.
Quote-O-Matic: "We want a dual identity. In the evangelical community, we want people to look to us for inspiration. At the same time, we want other people who say, 'Hey, if you want to know what's new that's being marketed on TV, tune in to Channel 35. They've got it all." (from station manager Ed Mahoney)

Fun Fact: Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers.
Educational Value: We appear to be very close to Armaggedon.
Airs: Every minute of every day in Dade and Broward
News Broadcast
And the Surfie goes to...
Alta tensi centsn
News Broadcast
And the Surfie goes to...Alta tensi centsn

In the raging battle for America's Spanish-language consumers, Telemundo is a distant second to Univisi centsn. As such, the network has to try harder. Alta tensi centsn (High Voltage), aired weekdays from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. on WSCV-TV (Channel 51), is plainly the work of executives trying too hard. Sound-bite stories recited by hipster anchors are accented with shrieking mariachis and barking dogs. Aura the Psychic serves as political correspondent, Dr. Sexo dispenses advice to the preorgasmic, and a reporter trapped in a TV monitor screams about the latest trends. The Spin Doctors supply background music. Finally, a show faster, glitzier, and more manipulative than the news on WSVN-TV (Channel 7).

Production Notes: To accommodate Alta tensi centsn, Telemundo moved the ultraviolent and locally produced Ocurri cents asi to prime time.

Quote-O-Matic: "Advocacy journalism and alternative news delivered in an oftentimes-humorous fashion." (from a press release)

Fun Fact: Anchor-hunk Ricardo Celis wears outfits that are oftentimes humorous.

Special Honorary
Surfie for Lifetime Achievement
And the Surfie goes to...
WSVN-TV (Channel 7) anchorman Rick Sanchez
Special Honorary Surfie for Lifetime Achievement
And the Surfie goes to...WSVN-TV (Channel 7) anchorman Rick Sanchez

To a man who can do more with one sigh than Richard Burton did with all of Shakespeare. In your name, we will be contributing all the free giveaways we received (the ones we couldn't eat, anyway) to the Betty Ford Clinic.

Stargazing Program
And the Surfie goes to...
Star Hustler
Stargazing Program
And the Surfie goes to...Star Hustler

"Some people hustle pool. Some people hustle cars. But have you ever heard about the man who hustles stars?" He dresses in bright windbreakers, frolics on the rings of a computer-generated Saturn, and recites Galileo. He is Jack Horkheimer, the congenitally enthused executive director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium and host of Star Hustler. Unlike most other educational programs, which feature talking heads blathering ad nauseam, Horkheimer takes about five minutes to explain where the stars are.

Cheese Factor:
Cheez Whiz
Production Notes: After Horkheimer urged viewers to gaze at the night sky through a toilet paper roll, Prince William, the future King of England, was spotted doing just that.

Network Equivalent:
Willard Scott
Fun Fact: Horkheimer, whose show is syndicated and available on video, has been parodied on the Disney Channel.

Airs: Various times late at night on WPBT-TV (Channel 2) and WLRN-TV (Channel 17); check listings

Educational Program
And the Surfie goes to...
Dial-A-Teacher Plus
Educational Program
And the Surfie goes to...Dial-A-Teacher Plus

You've got to hand it to the Dade County School Board. With many of its inner-city schools crumbling, the honchos still have the chutzpah to pour money into running a TV station. Maybe they realize that kids spend more time in front of the tube these days than doing homework. Dial-A-Teacher is a curious alchemy of the two activities. The live call-in show features a teacher -- often suffering a severe case of nerves -- running through a typical lesson with the help of student callers.

It's a hit-or-miss affair. As in school, the lesson is often a dud. Other times you can catch an extremely cool science experiment, or an ex-hippie lecturing about the elitist legacy of planned communities.

Production Notes: Iffy phone connections provide for much of the show's suspense. Only about half the callers actually make it on the air.

Fun Fact: Students who dislike their teachers have a chance to rattle them on live TV.

Parting Gifts: We learned how to grow mold.
Educational Value: During a lesson about water, a third grader asked, "How much water is in the world?" The teacher did not know.

Airs: 6:00 p.m. weekdays on WLRN Cable-TAP Channel 37
Nostalgia Program
And the Surfie goes to...Rewind

With high-tech equipment, a studio, and a channel at its disposal, Metro-Dade is one of the busiest producers of local programming. The staff, however, prides itself on cranking out shows that are "positive," "informative," and stultifyingly boring. "We don't do wacky," is how one terrified telebureaucrat puts it. It would figure, then, that the most exciting show on MDTV is Rewind, which showcases local news reports and specials from the Fifties to the early Eighties. See how teevee commemorated historical events such as the Cuban missile crisis, the lunar landing, Castro's revolution, and the civil rights movement.

Production Notes: It is hilarious to watch Miami news legend Ralph Renick whip himself into a froth over 1950s obscenity laws.

Airs: After a summer hiatus, Rewind returns in September.
Law Enforcement Program
And the Surfie goes to...
Behind the Silver Badge
Law Enforcement Program
And the Surfie goes to...Behind the Silver Badge

Produced by the Metro-Dade Police Department's video services section, Badge opens with pulsing music and a barrage of images of cops in action. The pacing is fleet throughout this half-hour news magazine. Segments run from fuzzy features to high-gloss re-enactments, with a soupaon of live Cops-style footage thrown in. Stylishly filmed and crisply edited, this is sophisticated, entertaining propaganda.

Production Notes: Cameraman-editor Rick Bravo worked for years on Miami Vice. His latest gig? True Lies, Ahhnuld's new thriller.

Quote-O-Matic: "Our cops are the MTV generation." (from video services Commander Bill Johnson)

Fun Fact: Three years ago, when the show was just a boring, in-studio talk show, staffers dubbed it Behind the Potted Palm.

Educational Value: Your tax dollars (many, many of them) are paying for Johnson's beautiful studio, equipment, and eight-person staff!

Airs: 7:00 p.m. on WLRN-TV (Channel 17) on the last Wednesday of each month
And the Surfie goes to...
Fredgie's International
El Maximo All-Star Latin Music Dance Festival

And the Surfie goes to...Fredgie's International El Maximo All-Star Latin Music Dance Festival

Trying to describe Fredgie to those who haven't seen him is a little like trying to describe a rainbow to the colorblind. Or an acid trip to a monk. Fredgie is basically an insane person from New Jersey who spent some time in Brazil and returned wearing psychedelic clothing and saying "­Epa! ­Epa!" a lot. He interviews members of the Latin glitterati, mostly at loud clubs, though never in any recog-nizable language. There is no structure, per se, to the show.

Cheese Factor:
Fun Facts: 1. Fredgie's facial scars are the result of cancer of the tear duct.

2. His business card describes Fredgie as a professional tourist.
3. Fear of Fredgie seems to be consistent across cultures.
Educational Value:
Stay away from Fredgie.

Airs: Though the show is filmed locally, no one has opted to broadcast it here.


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