The Convention

Episode Report Card
Djb: D | Grade It Now!
I Don't Give A Shatner

Fade in on an over-directed, over-indulgent, underwhelmingly effective media frenzy in front of the UFO Center. The mood is active (Ow! Typing words for the first time because I'd never had use for them before makes my fingers hurt, and the sheer will of designating something as "active" on this show actually made my palms bleed). The soundtrack is ska. Now I can't say that there's really any musical style that I find offensive beyond reproach; I've been known to consume musical tastes from every corner of the cultural globe, and can't swear that I've never been that guy at last call at a karaoke bar belting out a soulful rendition of The Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way" just because "they're really talented if you listen to their harmonies." But the sheer amount of rewind time required to fulfill my recapping duties caused me to hear, learn, reject, and desire to destroy this and all existing copies of the song accompanying this scene. It's a bouncy little ditty off of the "Signs That Ska Has Become More Diluted and Mainstream than Celine Dion" soundtrack (featuring No Doubt and the Bosstones on every track), and the lyrics include the nails-down-a-blackboard annoying lyrics, "Waiting for the aliens/Hanging out in Roswell." Ack! Is this a preexisting song, or has someone written it solely for the purposes of the show? If the latter, are there verses about each individual character, i.e. "My name's Liz Parker and y'all are my peeps/I'd finish this verse but by now you're asleep." Do they have those? I hope they do.

This visual make-up of this moment is scarcely less aggravating: Ostensibly "famous" model-esque people schmooze and get photographed while camera crews film the goings-on and the paparazzi swoon. Yeah, I know that when I become really famous, I'm going to maintain my profile as a rising Hollywood star by associating myself with high-profile events that will validate my integrity in the eyes of my adoring public. Hence, lots of UFO Conventions. Tons of them. And Klan rallies, too. Anyway, the camera pans to a banner on the UFO Center that informs us we have unwittingly stumbled into the "10th Annual" something or other. Cut to someone wearing an alien costume of a bulbous green head and huge black eyes, handing out flyers in front of the UFOC. I can't see what the text on the paper is and I don't believe we're intended to, but I certainly hope that if we did have the opportunity to do so, the words would read, "I'm Max Evans. Inside of a costume." Because it would certainly spare us the intelligence-insulting fury of future moments when we're supposed to be not sure. Anyway, the costume-clad phantom stranger I'll just call Anonymous (because I have no idea it's Max Evans) turns to face the camera. At which point the frame freezes and the words "Roswell Tenth Annual UFO Convention Day One" appear at the bottom of the screen in the font "X-Files Ripoff Sans Originality." When the action kicks up again it's in slo-mo, a tighter shot of the green alien costume staring at the Crashdown, which seems to have acquired an al fresco veranda facing the UFOC solely for the purposes of this pointless sequence. Clearly, Liz is on shift, and the extreme green alien face close-up fixates on her every slo-mo move. I think we're supposed to believe that Liz is in some way threatened by this entity. The closed-captioning (sorry, I became ska-intolerant and had to turn the sound off for a bit) suggests the stage direction "heavy breathing," and the effect is very Darth Vader-esque, but the moment carries the same dramatic heft as knowing from the first time you ever see Darth Vader that under the foreboding mask and the sinister black cloak is . . . Max Evans. But at least the so-called theatrics of this moment have made the Roswell/aliens/aren't we hip and self-referential song cease forever. Anonymous continues staring at Liz. I go over the top completely and bellow at the top of my lungs, "GAH! IT'S MAX!!! HE FREAKIN' WORKS THERE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! The UFO Center has one other employee besides Bania . . . and it's HIM!!! Do you know who's as dumb as you think we are? No one. That's who. NO ONE!! AAAAHHHHHHH!" My downstairs neighbor slams a broomstick against her ceiling, and my roommate remains in the kitchen, where she has been cooking Top Ramen one noodle at a time for the last three hours in a newly-developed method of not having to come watch this train wreck with me under the inarguable pretext of "making dinner."

Cut to ska-free, Porno-packed clip of Porno and an unnamed deputy discussing last week's sighting. More freaked calls, the deputy says. It was dry lightning, Porno lucidly responds. And I mistakenly believe for a minute that Porno might be returning from the land of the loony a little bit, and that the "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" bird is no longer the centerpiece of the Valenti family crest. But all these notions of normalcy are quickly dispelled when Porno enters his perpetually pitch-black office to discover a Billy Bob Thorton celebrity impersonator sitting in Porno's chair, feet up on his desk in that "look at me all acting like the big sheriff" defiance pose. "Been a while, Junior," he mumbles. Porno walks into the one ray of light peeking through the slotted shades and lets Billy Bob know, "You're not welcome here, Hub." So Hub leaves. Way to make a name for your new character there, Hub. You'd better stick around and say something memorable, as most weekly guest stars receive a year's supply of Rice-a-Roni and a copy of the Roswell home game and are pretty much sent packing. Hey, it's cheap, and it sure beats developing the ten or fifteen people featured in the opening credits, the so-called "leads," whose characters have remained as static as scrambled porn. Anyway, Billy Bob obliges with a witty retort, tossing out the line, "Regards to your dad. From what I hear, you're starting to come around to his way of thinking." And he's gone. But he'll be back. They always come back. Unnamed Deputy comes in and asks who that was. Porno responds, "That deputy was a bona-fide alien hunter." Ohhhhh. I mean, "Huh?"

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