Poor, poor Roy.

Lance recently confessed that he doesn’t watch TV news. I don’t either — for the most part. But occasionally it sneaks up on you. Last night while waiting up for Alan I caught the 11 p.m. newscast on WXYZ, aka the station that employs Fat Ass. The investigative report was about Roy. Roy is — was — a “teacup chihuahua,” which I assume is like a regular chihuahua, only smaller.

(I love writing “chihuahua.” It’s one of those words like “hors d’oeuvre,” where just learning the correct spelling feels like an accomplishment worthy of your resume.)

Anyway, the story was about the dangers of putting your teacup chihuahua in daycare with the wrong sort of companions. I’m not kidding. Evidently Roy’s owner had him in daycare; why, we weren’t told. Perhaps he was nervous, like all chihuahuas. Imagine living in a world of giants, and you’d be nervous too. But at some point Roy was placed in a cage with “a larger dog,” which wasn’t a helpful description, since virtually every dog in creation is larger than a teacup chihuahua. And the larger dog — “a terrier” is the only description we got — killed Roy.

“Of course he did,” Lance said when I told him the sad story today. “He thought Roy was a rat.”

I’m sure he did. Terriers are famously tenacious ratters. They clamp onto the back of the neck, give a few brisk shakes, and goodbye rat. Sometimes they trot around in a proud circle, shaking the dead rat. Sometimes they drop it and move on to the next one. These details we weren’t given. All we heard was how sad Roy’s owner was, and how sorry she was that she put him in dog daycare with people so thoughtless as to kennel him with a dog who thought he was a rodent.

Roy’s owner only had one photo of Roy, or at least the news crew only got one. We came back to the picture of Roy, goggle-eyed and winsome, again and again. “I miss him,” the owner said, tearing up. “I really do.”

I’m sure she does. The question is, however: Is this report worthy of a top-10 TV news market?

Silly question. Of course it is. That’s been the biggest shock, skipping the 90 or so places between Fort Wayne and Detroit. While FW TV news pitched its product to the mouth-breathing demographic, they didn’t dive quite so enthusiastically for the bottom of the barrel as they do here. I’m sure coming up with a news mix for such a sprawling community is quite the challenge. Do you pitch to the people who keep their TVs on all day long and choose their news based on which has the better lead-in? Or do you go for the wealthier suburbanites, who have the money but, frankly, no interest in what’s happening in, oh, Warren?

Also a silly question. You go with the best video. And in Detroit, there’s never a shortage. Last week, the mayor announced his campaign for re-election, in the wake of yet another story about his fiscal irresponsibility. His father got up and compared his son’s critics to Nazis. His mother got up and had a teeny freak-out; I thought we’d need smelling salts. The mayor himself cried. “I ain’t cried since I was 10 years old,” he said.

I should watch the news more often. Where else can you get entertainment like this at these prices?

POSTSCRIPT: When Alan was a feature writer, he wrote a story about God’s Tiny Kennel, a house we passed in Hicksville (yes, really), Ohio en route to Defiance. There was a sign out front that read “God’s Tiny Kennel — Chihuahua Stud Service.” It turned out the lady was a devout Christian who prayed over every litter before she let them go.

“Would Spriggy kill Roy if they were kenneled together?” I wondered tonight.

“No, he’d just make him his bitch,” Alan replied.

Posted at 9:47 pm in Uncategorized |

6 responses to “Poor, poor Roy.”

  1. alex said on May 23, 2005 at 11:01 pm

    Though I’m not a TV watcher, one thing I do miss about a larger market is the schlock factor in local news. It makes a half hour more than merely bearable. And during sweeps it could give Jerry Springer a run for the money. (Heck, they almost put Springer on the NBC affiliate’s news, then retracted the offer when the other anchors resigned in protest.) The Fort Wayne product is so infernally dull it’s a wonder they even bother anymore. They could probably make more revenue in the time slot running paid programming.

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  2. basset said on May 23, 2005 at 11:33 pm

    “Investigative” is tv shorthand (I can say this, used to be in that business) for “go out and provoke a confrontation, then put it on tv.”

    In the larger markets, this tends to be branded as “(station channel number) On Your Side,” “I-Team,” “Investigators,” “Defenders,” “Vindicators,” “Crusading Angels of Right and Good,” that kind of thing.

    The basic idea behind it is that the average viewer will, assuming you subscribe to this approach, watch the local news program because a good shoving match now and then is the exact opposite of “infernally dull.”

    The average viewer is not supposed to notice or care that such fare is, to coin a phrase, infernally stupid.

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  3. Michael G said on May 24, 2005 at 9:04 am

    Our local TV comes out of Sacramento which at number 19 must be mid-market. One of the stations here is quite good compared to what I’ve seen in other cities large and small. They offer a crisp, professional operation and manage to avoid “Roy” stories for the most part. They obviously had a recent brush with a consulting firm because they changed their on screen appearance to look more like Faux News. They also came up with a few dippy slogans like one they used for a while on their weather: “FutureCast Three”. Feedback has seemingly been negative because they’ve been shedding some of the stupid graphics and slogans (like “FutureCast Three”). I guess public comments do count for something. Remind me to send them a nasty gram.

    Love your mayor stories. The one about the Lincoln Navigator even made it out here. Sounds just like Marion Barry. Does Kwame hang out in a crack house?

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  4. Nance said on May 24, 2005 at 10:30 am

    That’s so true, Basset. I’ve been watching the investigative reports, and they’re heavy with small-time scammers, the sort of people I can’t get too excited about because they aim so low. The reporter chases the scammer around, shouting, “What about that money, Melinda? What did you do with it?” And it’s maybe $200, dishonestly cadged from, say, a church relief fund. Which doesn’t make it less of an offense, but man — some perspective, please.

    Meanwhile, the big fish swim through the pond with impunity. At least the Detroit mayor is spending public money; God knows who they’d pick on without him.

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  5. mary said on May 24, 2005 at 12:31 pm

    Now I’ve got this image of Spriggy and his quivering bugeyed bitch stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

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  6. joodyb said on May 24, 2005 at 3:20 pm

    I LOVE the story of Roy!

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