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The Rowland Ebright Twilight Zone Fake Talk Show

Episode Four

Intro [1]
We go "On The Road" from Alma High to Ithaca High [2]
Three young astronauts discuss the space shuttle Edsel, Mars, and green dogs [3]
The "Beach Closed" sign joke [4]
CPB [5]
Preview of Under Grace [6]
Invading someone's home [7]
Mr Polanski juggles invisible watermelons [8]
The beach bum is bummed [9]

In most people's opinion, this is the best episode, but it sadly no longer exists.

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I don't remember.

With a camera in the back seat of my Pinto, we start in the parking lot of Alma high-school, drive streets to the highway, comment on each exit we pass, takes streets in Ithaca and end at the high-shcool parking lot. It seemed interesting at the time.

In episode one I explained that the majority of this show was thought up on the spot and just ad-libbed as we went along. This is a great example of this taken to an extreme. I had the studio booked for the next four hours, and it was one of the rare days I actually had three of the four studio employees there, rather than the usual one. We actually had the whole thing set-up to use both cameras, so I could edit between two different shots and make it look vaguely professional.

However, I hadn't found any friend willing to come be on camera that day, and didn't have a single idea of what kind of sketch to throw together. So I went upstairs to the Coke machine, and when I came back, one cameraman's (the one who did the Naval segment) younger sister and her two friends, all around 12-years-old, had shown up to bug him about something. Bam! We immediately talked them into sitting down with me, and over the next half-hour, we slowly, piece by piece, made up the story of how they had taken their grandfather's old Edsel in a barn in New York state, converted it into a space shuttle, and flown to Mars. They witnessed life on Mars in the form of green dogs that made sounds like chickens, then headed home, flying in at night so as not to be picked up on radar (ha!), thus nobody in the world is aware of their exploits except us, giving us a world exclusive story.

Not only was this whole thing hysterical, but it looked good too. I later simply edited between the two different camera angles everytime their was a pause to dream up the next part of the story, so the entire seven minute sequence looked seamless.

But the clincher was the best of our "walk-on" jokes: halfway into the interview, the cameraman walks on set, sits down a wooden sign that reads "Beach Closed," and walks off. Nobody looks at him, looks at the sign, or for that matter even acknowledges that anything happened. It's completely surreal.


Still having enough battery power after taping the "On The Road" segment, we stop by Kevin McCreery's house and he and his drummer briefly talk about the interview we'll be taping in a few days.

I look at the camera and say, "We're about to, for no reason at all, break into someone's home!" I say, and burst in the backdoor of my sister's house, camera in tow, and charge through several rooms as my shocked sees cries "What are you doing?!" The funniest part is my 4-year-old niece's face peeking in the window of the door as I unknowingly proceed to shove her against the wall as we charge in.

When we come back to the studio, the sign is still sitting there on the set, completely ignored. I do a final speech about what's coming up next week, but before we go I bring on world-famous juggler Mr. Polanski. My brother, in at least his third appearence, steps on camera and I ask him what exactly he juggles. "Invisible watermelons," he replies, and proceeds to start moving his hands as if juggling. I give him a sidelong, "what-a-loony" look and do my usual final sign-off:

"This has been the Rowland Ebright, Twilight Zone, Fake Talk Show, where we don't mess around with interesting topics, we don't wear plaid ties, and we don't drink Camel-Head Beer. Goodnight!"

...At which point, Mr. Polanski says "Here, catch," and tosses me an invisible watermelon. I give a shocked look, make like I'm catching it, fall over, and we quickly cut to the end credits.

After the credits rolled, we cut back to the empty set, lit by only a single light, with the sign still sitting there. In walks a guy humming to himself, wearing swim trunks, beach towel, beach ball, even the sun-block on the nose. He spots the sign and whines: "Ah, man, the beach is closed AGAIN?!" and walks back off.

I kept that sign for almost two years. I finally left it in the lobby of WMTU, the radio station at Michigan Tech, before I moved to California.

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