Wednesday, February 16, 2011

There's Justin! Now--Where's Leah?

Because I know that some of my devoted readers don’t have access to RFD TV, I girded up my loins and watched PBR Now on that august channel, so I could report on the appearance of Justin McKee on that stellar program. I thought it was the least I could do, and never let it be said I failed to do the least I could.

Actually, I have to confess that I recorded the program, because I have heard RFD TV referred to by people I trust as “Real F****** Dumb Television,” and nothing I’ve ever seen on that channel has persuaded me that said appellation is unjust. I certainly don’t need to see another commercial that brags about how the owner of RFD TV beat out hordes of bidders to bag both Trigger and Bullet when the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, CA, divested itself of its collection. (This reminds me of a time when I overheard a coworker on the phone—he had been asked whether Gene Autry had had his fine horse Champion stuffed and mounted when Champ went to his reward. “Absolutely not,” my colleague stated. “All of Mr. Autry’s animals had proper Christian burials.” I SWEAR to you that’s a true story.)

The good news is that Justin McKee did in fact appear on the show, and he was absolutely brilliant—polished, adroit, articulate, professional, and funny in that impish way that I find nearly irresistible. In fact, you could say he stole the show from co-hosts Justin McBride and J.W. Hart.

In fact, you could say he SAVED the show from those boys, who frankly were not at their best that night. As a matter of fact, J.W. Hart was stammering and stuttering so much that I wondered if he might not be coming down with something. It was positively painful, watching him try to spit out whatever he was trying to say. Neither McBride nor Hart said or did one single thing in the hour-and-a-half-long show to persuade me they’ve improved one whit as talking heads. I do have to give the PBR folks credit for not putting those two together in the broadcast booth at the events, because when they’re in the same room, they behave like two frat boys turned loose at Hooters. Truly—it was that bad.

When the show started, with McKee ensconced in the station at the far right, McBride announced that the support of the fans was one reason why he was back, and referred to the Facebook page (Save Justin McKee), with its 2,000+ fans, as a primary mover and shaker in that support. I have no doubt that the Facebook page contributed to the effort, but I also suspect that the phone calls and emails the PBR received on the subject also had a lot to do with it. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that all told, the messages from the fans from all sources numbered in the thousands.

So for a brief, shining moment, it looked like we had won that battle—until McKee took the very first call from a fan. The woman on the other end of the line asked him pointblank if he was coming back to broadcast the events. McKee neatly avoided answering that directly—and that’s when I started to get a sinking feeling. So—the genuinely bad news is, Justin McKee clearly will NOT be back on the event broadcasts in any substantial and permanent way this season—if ever.

And I’ve also decided that the lovely Leah Garcia may well have saddled up and ridden out of PBR country for good. At the beginning of the season, we were assured she would be featured on alternating events with Erin Coscarelli, but we have not seen hide nor hair of her since the Madison Square Garden event. Of course, Leah may have decided to walk of her own accord, for all I know. If I were in her Ariats, and my bosses informed me that they were giving half my gigs to a gal who doesn’t seem to know a saddle horn from a shoehorn, I probably would have told them where they could put that saddle horn, and I would not have stammered when I said it.

So now I find myself on the saddle horn of a dilemma, so to speak. Shall I continue to watch PBR Now to get my McKee fix, or shall I just boycott the whole mess on principle? I’m still mulling that over, but if I do decide to boycott the program, I most certainly will not miss hearing McBride slapping the desk roughly one time per minute of the show. I’m not sure even the pleasure of watching Justin McKee can ease that pain.

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