A new sit-com on NBC is making headlines across the nation. Little Library on the Prairie is about a municipal library in a small farming community in the South. The show features a vast array of red-necks trying to learn how to read and look intelligient.
With no laugh track and few obvious jokes, most of the humor happens when two cultures clash, a backwoods Southern red-neck type with the English language. It's where Monty Python meets "Larry, the cable guy."
In a scene from the first episode, the librarian chastises one of the local men, a plumber, who owns a plumbing company and has come in to flip through some magazines and check out the plumbing of several of the fashion models on his lunch break.
After he takes out a pack of nabs, tears open the package and begins to eat them, the librarian approaches him. The sound of tearing into the package has caused so much noise, it has distracted everyone in the library from what they are doing.
"What do you think you are doing?" The librarian asks. "Put them away! You can't eat them in here!"
With his mouthful of crackers, a distorted, "I ain't botherin' nobody," mumbles out.
"Yes, you are. Besides, you're breaking the library rules," the librarian returns sharply.
Then, the cell phone that he is wearing on his belt under his jacket, rings. It's not a complicated musical ring like you hear these days, Beethoven's 9th, or Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, or Handel's Water Music. It's just a plain and simple digital ring.
"Heeelllo!" he answers as if nobody else were around.
"Wha'd do you mean he's actin' up?" he responds.
"He won't put his crackers away in class? Wait'il I git a hold of hem!"
The show's creator, "King David," says it's a pretty standard formula: the fish out of water. In this case the fish are the librarian, a liberal and cultured man who quits his Chicago Top 10 accounting practice to take over the tiny municipal library downtown and the locals who come into the library to appear smart and set a good example for their children.
"Every artist writes from their own experience," David says. Having taught in a small, rural school system, David knows his characters well.
In an episode from the second show, Vana, a local beauty queen and divorced mother of two walks in and begins flipping thorough a copy of Vanity Magazine. All of the men seated in the area where the magazines and newspapers are kept can't take their eyes off of her. Thoroughly distracted, it's only a matter of time before someone begins a conversation.
But the librarian, Mr. Fish, sees all of this and preempts any conversation by coming over and telling all of the men to get up and go use a different part of the library, encouraging them to engage a different part of their brains.
"Go on! Go on!" he said. "Go read a book on alligators and snakes! They have pictures in them too!"
Locals in North Carolina watched the show with some anticipation but there were few vocal complaints. Some thought the show's portrayal of red-neck and trailer trash types was insulting, but when pushed most admitted that the portrayal of the white-collar types in the show was just as insulting.
"I would expect that if you had this kind of comedy in a hospital, or at a sporting event you'd have a similar reaction," says Dr. Sigmund Soda, a university professor specializing in cultural anthropology of the South.
"But again, because of the image that red-necks have in the media, this particular show generates lots of interest and sheds light on a strong, southern cultural, backwoods tradition."
David says that the show was received well and looks to using show earnings to supplement the budgets of lacking, local, rural school systems in North Carolina.
"We're looking to set some precedents here," said the satirist.
In other news today, tractor manufacturer, John Deere, introduces its new line of BMW tractors. These new tractors have posh, leather bucket seats, sunroof, with rack-in-pinion steering, all leather interior, Alpine stereo system, and independent front-end suspension brakes.
"They're real chick magnets," says one spokesman for the company. "And I don't mean chicks,cheep...cheep....cheep!" he added.