There was an ad in the paper for DirecTV Streaming or DirecTV GO or whatever they’re calling it. All the content without the dish bolted to the roof. Wise move, and tricky: if you’re a satellite provider, and streaming is now the biggest thing, and the internet providers are moving in with their own TV services, you’d best step lively and provide something, Pronto.

But don’t call it Pronto. You’re DirecTV. That’s a brand. That means something to its customers. At least to me: they’ve always been a reasonable service, and I’ve been happy to be a subscriber.




Really? Do you go back that far with the Bleat? You remember the aching laments of long hours on hold with mournful Peruvian pan-flutes punctuated by eagle cries, the skeezy subcontractors, the condensation on the dish because its ill-considered proximity to a vent, the guys who showed up without a long enough ladder? Had to be ten years ago. I barely remember it, except to say that it’s been a very long time since I was dissatisfied with the service or enthused by it. The interface on the devices and TV screens is ugly. It still looks like 2004.

So I called them up to see if I could get a better deal. Hello, my name is Brian. I am one of 700 Brians in this pod in India. A fat man stripped to the waist is roaming the aisles, beating a drum to set the pace. How may I help you. I explained my query - could I switch to streaming and lower my price?

He said I could not because it was not possible but yes it was possible and he would transfer me to customer account where they handled the account of customers

“Is it all right if I place you on hold while I transfer you,” he asked.

“Of course not,” I barked. “Time is money. They very idea. Why I never. Instantaneaous, seamless, frictionless transfer, that’s what I want.”

Actually I said sure, and then there was hold music - no scremaing eagles now, but upbeat SuperBowl music - and then I got Harmon, who was obviously in America and had an opening patter so seamless I thought I’d got his voice mail.

I explained what I wanted: can I dump the dish and go streaming?

Yeeees, and no; not all the networks are on board.

Ah, I said; deal breaker. Wife still watches network shows. He began to describe some means by which we could still get network shows if we dumped the dish - an external HD antennae, there’s this thing called Hulu, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but at the earliest possible chance I stepped in and just laid down a suppressing fire of jargon and acronyms to let him know where we stood. I couldn't get her to navigate a Roku - different remote - let alone use Plex to find something on the NAS, ya know?

And then there was great brotherhood. So we had a conversation about the future of the industry and streaming and satellite costs and DirecTV competition, and at the end of it he struck a third off my bill. Like that. Just - whacked it.

I was stunned. I hadn’t even pulled the Prism or Comcast card. But I’ve been with them for 17 years, and there must be something in the file and the script that says whack it if they’re the least bit restive.

I can imagine the manager standing over Harmon, looking at my account. So this guy’s been with us since 2001, eh? Lots of money. Solid client. What does he watch?

“Checking . . . looks like COPS. That’s the one thing that stands out. COPS.”

(Manager and data-mining tech softly sing the “bad boys bad boys” song to themselves)

Speaking of which, I didn’t check to see if there’s a new show.

There isn’t. It’s from 2008. Gas prices are weird and the picture’s 4:3 and smeary, but one thing is constant and one thing echoes down to our times, right now, this minute:

It’s not his car. It’s a friend’s car. That’s not his crack. He never seen it before.


More of the work of C. H. Wellington, cartoonist mislaid by history.

Worst yet to come, indeed. After sexual and emotional rejection, a beating! At worst, fear and death.




We are at present studying the criminal strategies of the man known only as . . .

What have we this week?

In case you've forgotten, The Copperhead is in reality Bob Wayne, a guy who . . . who . . . well, he's the Copperhead. As for Doc Devil:

Nothing gets past this guy. He sics one of his robots on the Copperhead, and the last thing we saw, ol'Cop-noggin was getting crushed to death while Dr. Smith sat in a nearby chair, tied up. Well:

Dr. Satan gives Dr. Scott a drug that will make him powerless to resist. Never occurred to him to use that before. Why not just go straight to the roofie, if you’re trying to get secret Remote Control Cell tech out of a stubborn doc?

Under interrogation, Dr. Scott says the secret to his Remote Control Cell is a metal called “Tungite,” which is very rare but he has loads and oodles at his house. The goons go to his house, y go down to the cellar with Speed, the Comic Relief guy, and the Spunky Secretary. Good for them the Copperhead is around, and the orchestra is ready:

I love these fights. They are the best fights I’ve seen in a serial. Seven seconds:



Spunky Gal escapes but is stopped upstairs by a hench, who goes back downstairs to investigate, and . . .

Yes, there’s an edit in there, but who cares. It goes on for another 20 seconds before they knock Bob Wayne unconscious - he wasn’t wearing his Copperhead mask - and the henchmen abscond with the Tungite AND Dr. Scott’s daughter. Back at the lab -

Comes in conveniently-labeled boxes, I see. I should also note that Dr. Scott’s daughter -

- who's really cute, and wears enormous padded shoulders, has been kidnapped by Dr. Satan. The evil fiend calls the Copperhead and tells him to come get the daughter, and no, it’s totally not a trap. Bob Wayne goes as Bob Wayne, and because there are only 11 people in the world of any give serial, no one's surprised when he wanders past Dr. Satan's house and pretends he saw Dr. Scott's car and thought he might be here.

Dr. Satan, who not only saw Bob Wayne in the first episode but thinks that he shot him dead, doesn't notice tthat this is Bob Wayne, and the henchmen don't seem to recognize the guy either. Because that happened five eps ago, which would be a month ago for the audience.

Doesn't matter. What counts is Dr. Satan's ingenious plan, which he explains in detail to Bob Wayne.

It’s quite complex, but let’s just say it involves electrocuting the Copperhead if he’s on time and goes through the front door, and killing the girl with poison gas if he’s late.

Let’s just say . . . he’s late.


That'll do! See you around.



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