They called it the Sundance Channel, later re-branded SundanceTV. Its schedule includes ndependent films, World cinema, documentaries, and more recently, highly regarded scripted programming, such as Restless and Rectify.
“Classy.” That’s what you think of when you think of the name Sundance. (Whose eponymous festival would appear to have been named after its founder Robert Redford’s star-making performance as the “Sundance Kid.” Though I am guessing here, rather than looking it up.)
I cannot say I was a follower of SundanceTV. But then, one day, when I was flipping around the channels, I inadvertently landed on Channel 625 (on Time Warner Cable, meaning I was so desperate, I had already flipped through six hundred and twenty-four other channels), and what do I see – my desperate flipping being generously rewarded – but…
Law & Order!
My absolute favorite of the Law & Order franchise,
Broadcast in marathon-length compilations of reruns.
I am an undeniably “Happy Chappie.” It was all Sam Waterston – All The Time! (With a sprinkling of Michael Moriarty in the early episodes.) It goes without saying, I was hooked.
As, evidently, were many viewers in my age demographic, as reflected by the numerous commercials for funeral insurance, electric wheel chairs (which may be paid for by Medicare), and ads for recently marketed pharmaceuticals, all of which included variations of,
“Ask your doctor about Placebo.”
Which was about the only medicine they didn’t promote, which I was actually sad about, because I was dying to hear the sales pitch:
“Ask you doctor about Placebo – the drug that will help you if you believe it will.”
These mortality-reminding interludes were admittedly annoying to me. But I was willing to put up with them as the price I was paying to watch reruns of Law & Order episodes I had already seen.
Then, for me, at least, it got problematic.
Over time, I started noticing the appearance of a subset of commercials involving “Class Action” lawsuits related to serious diseases.
It began with Mesothelioma.
If you happened to have that, the commercial told us, there were attorneys coordinating a group of fellow sufferers to collectively sue the people who gave it to you, the insinuating punchline being:
“You could be eligible for a monetary award.”
Okay. It’s the “Silver Lining”, and possibly justified – let them argue that out in court. The bottom line was: You have Mesothelioma. Maybe there’s some money in it for you.
Okay, fine – one commercial involving a lawsuit. “Let justice prevail”, and get me back to my program. In which justice sometimes prevails, and sometimes, the jury loses its mind and lets the murderer back onto the streets.
Unfortunately, it did not stop with Mesothelioma.
There’s a “Pelvic Mesh” warning.
There’s a lawsuit against “Testosterone Products.”
And if a pharmaceutical called Xarelto “made you sick or even die” – I don’t understand – are there dead people watching Law & Order with me? – you are instructed to “Call this number now!” (Because you could be eligible for a monetary award.)
(Hopefully, the station does not also broadcast commercials for Xarelto, because then, you’d have “Dueling Messages”, one urging you to buy it, the other saying it can kill you.)
Suddenly, I have this illuminating epiphany. SundanceTV is two different channels: one for people who can’t wait for the commercials to be over so they can get back to the show. The other is for people who can’t wait for the show to be over so they can get to the commercials.
That second crowd appears to me to be playing “Bingo” with diseases. The commercial mentions their illness, they yell “Bingo!’, and they call up a number and sue somebody.
There is something fishy going on. Sundance is a “Marquee Label.” I am attracted by the pedigree. But I’m starting to believe the entire operation is just a “front” for…
I make no judgments here concerning the participants. (Unless the lawyers are scamming vulnerable sick people.) If you’ve been legitimately damaged, by all means, try and collect. But, for God’s sakes, take your business to the “Lawsuits Network.”
I am trying to watch a show.
(Note: It is possible I am simply jealous because they never mention anything I’ve got.)