Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Chicken Family

When I was a little kid, my family went to upstate New York once for one of my brother’s hockey tournaments.  We’re all staying in a little motel on a Saturday afternoon, nothing to do but watch local TV, which is always amazing.  Between cheesy low-budget ads to really esoteric topics* on the area news, nothing beats local TV.

* = "Mrs. Gertrude Johnson scored four bingos in a row at the church’s local bingo night!  Those in attendance…were impressed!"

I’m like eight or nine years old at this point, so I’m watching cartoons.  And all throughout the afternoon, the station kept running promos for the fact that Looney Tunes was coming up at 4pm.  Like, it was clearly a BIG DEAL for this station had the rights to Looney Tunes or something, or else they saw him as the absolute staple of its Saturday afternoon TV block.  I have no idea about syndication costs or if it really was impressive that this little small-town station scraped together enough cash to pay for the rights to these cartoons, but honestly, eight-year-old me wasn’t impressed.  It’s like fine, Bugs Bunny, we get it.  Could we not have a promo pop up on the screen every five minutes to remind me of a program coming up three hours from now?  It’s interfering with my Transformers-watching.

And those promos, I remember them to this day.  One of them, especially, I remember to this day.  They all had a gimmick related to different Looney Tunes characters.  Like, it’d be a picture of Sylvester with the caption "The Cat Family," and another caption saying "Looney Tunes at 4pm, sufferin’ succotash!"  Or it’d be Bugs Bunny and "The Rabbit Family — Looney Tunes at 4pm, don’t go any-hare!"  Pepe Le Pew and "The Skunk Family — Looney Tunes at 4pm, you’d have to be a stinker to change that channel!"  On and on like this for every character in the Looney Tunes family.

But, the one I distinctly remember was the Foghorn Leghorn promo.  It was, and I quote, “The Chicken Family — Looney Tunes at 4pm, you won’t be able to finger yourself away from the TV!

Even at age eight, I knew something was a bit off about that one.  "Finger yourself away from the TV…" isn’t a normal human phrase.  That’s not something people say.  Outside of the term we’re all thinking, the only other uses for ‘fingering’ in any context are piano-playing, pickpocketing, and identifying someone in a police lineup.  The promo used in the context of removing oneself or preventing oneself from doing something, which makes no sense.  Have you ever heard someone say "I left a steak on the counter and my dog was headed right for it, but fortunately I was able to finger him away in time."

All of the other puns were pretty straight-forward, whereas this one seemed a bit too laboured.  It had all the makings of a promo guy trying to fit a dirty joke in there and then explaining to his boss, "No no, it’s about chicken fingers!  Foghorn Leghorn, obviously, he’s a chicken.  You can make chicken fingers out of him!  Don’t you see?!"

More and more people are cutting the cord these days or avoiding TV altogether, which is a shame since we always need local stations.  Where else will you find out how the local high school football team did, or who’s running for mayor, or what this summer’s big musical at the local theatre is, or, sure, even how Gertrude did at bingo night?  In losing local TV, we lose the incredible unintentional comedy (or, in this case, come on-that’s-gotta-be-intentional comedy) of local TV.

The promo is even funnier, by, the way, if you read it in Foghorn Leghorn’s voice.  Admittedly, everything is funnier if you read in Foghorn Leghorn's voice.

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