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Miniserious

This is the second part of a two-part miniseries. What? You missed the first part? No matter, it’ll play again during summer replacements.

In the meantime, join the action in progress, which shows the Lizard of Fun lounging on a plush barstool, looking despondently into its half-finished margarita.

Of course, this being television, the Lizard is played by a similar-looking, almost-recognizable, not-quite-the-same but rather more attractive character actor who’s had extensive makeup and some coaching to play the role, and the margarita is really Mountain Dew with a dash of food coloring.

"I can’t believe they turned it down," says the Lizard, or rather the actor-Lizard, in an overly depressed tone that suggests more method than acting. "I was going to be a star with my ‘Who Wants to Marry a Lizard’ game show. I was going to see my name in lights!"

"Awww, man, I would never say anything so cheesy!" whines the real Lizard, lounging on the sofa and munching pawfuls of lime-flavored Tostitos.

"Shhh!" I say, waiting for the camera to switch to the unknown but clearly talented actor who’s got her big television break by playing me. "Here she is!"

"You would’a never gone through with it," says the TV-me, beautifully emoting every badly scripted word. "You were just doing it for the publicity."

The camera cuts to the TV-Lizard, who looks suitably shocked. "What! Publicity! Freak Girl, you, of all people, should know I was in it for love!"

"Love of money, sure," says the TV-me, rolling her eyes theatrically. "You’d do anything to get your own miniseries."

"Anything?" asks the TV-Lizard, rhetorically?"

"Anything," says the TV-me, while ominous background music reaches a crescendo and the screen flashes forward to a few teasing scenes from the segment to come after the commercial break.

Cut back to reality. Scene: My living room, prime time. The Lizard and I burst into giggles while Mel Farr tries to sell us cars and Sarah Michelle Gellar tells us about makeup.

"It’s kind of creepy, isn’t it?" I say, motioning to the television set. "How we’ll sit and watch the most gruesome and mundane details of people’s sordid lives, and all in the name of entertainment."

"Even our own sordid lives," agrees the Lizard. "Good thing that show about you and me was just a fantasy and not really a miniseries, eh?"

"Sure," I nod. "It’s much more entertaining to wallow in graphic scenes of autopsies and hardboiled detectives and cute little girls singing. Who needs reality when you’ve got a high-profile true-crime murder mystery to watch?"

In the past few days, there have been three different sets of shows about JonBenet Ramsey, on three different networks: CBS, A&E and MSNBC. To be precise, they’re not about the 1990s version of Shirley Temple herself, but rather about her murder and all the who-dunniting that even a grand jury just couldn’t figure out.

The CBS miniseries, "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town," was a flat-as-yesterday’s-beer two-part dramatization based on a best seller. The A&E and MSNBC versions were meant to be more newsy investigations into the still-unsolved – despite endless media coverage over the past several years – case. They point no direct fingers, but cast some suspicion on all concerned. As for the finger-pointing, just wait for the Ramseys’ book to come out later this month to hear more about who else might’ve dunnit.

Unfortunately for those who just can’t get enough of the world’s creepiest family, there was also a fourth one-hour JonBenet special aired recently on Fox, but it’s not likely to be replayed again soon. When "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire" became "Who Wants to Escape From an Alleged Abuser," the network’s programming department decided to divorce itself from the hyped-up, super-sensationalistic tabloid-TV programming altogether.

"Awwww," whines the Lizard. "Those were some of the best parts! I was looking forward to ‘World’s Funniest Home Surgery Disasters’ and ‘When Good Foods Go Bad: The Horrifying Hidden Secrets of Your Fridge.’"

"You’ll have to find them on some other channel," I say. "Fox has decided to restore its integrity."

"And it’s starting by bringing back ‘Family Guy’?" asks the Lizard, incredulously.

"Well, I suppose Fox could always ditch the sensationalistic stuff, and do nothing but straight-ahead, insightful documentaries and lots of educational shows about animals. You know, become more like PBS. Maybe even ditch the commercials."

"Well, let’s not get carried away, now," says the Lizard, motioning for me to listen. "I’ve got an idea. A reality-based miniseries that has nothing to do with sensationalism. It’d be about a lizard who’d do anything to get its own television series, even eat its own young."

"That’s disgusting," I say, appalled.

"Come on," says the Lizard, winking and nudging me as the commercial break ends and "Perfect Murder" comes back on. "Can you really tell me it wouldn’t work?"

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