Monday, June 21, 2010

Capsule Reviews

The television schedule in the nation’s tenth largest daily newspaper summarizes the movie Show Boat as: “A pregnant woman must perform in a cabaret.”  I seem to remember a few other plot elements in the epic sweep of Edna Ferber’s novel and Oscar Hammerstein II’s musical book—but if you have to summarize in eight words, something’s got to give.

Other classics meet a similar fate in this zippy journal. The Bounty (Mutiny on the Bounty) gets this capsule treatment: “A captain struggles to keep his crew in line.” And The Alamo: “A small group of soldiers defend a San Antonio fort.”

Perhaps I could get a job as a summarizer.  Here are some samples of how I would encapsulate a few famous works if they were adapted for television.
Hamlet: Moody Danish prince acts crazy to nail dad’s killer, gets stabbed, dies.           

Don Quixote: Naïve Spanish retiree, with goofy chum, fights windmills, etc., repents, dies.
Les Misérables: Hungry Frenchman steals bread, is jailed, gets out, eludes mean cop, starts new life, dies.           

Moby Dick: Angry New England skipper hunts white whale that ate his leg,            
finds him, gets caught on harpoon line, dies.

Oedipus Rex: Clueless Greek king kills dad, weds mom, regrets it, puts out eyes, is exiled, does not die.
I may have to turn for assistance to the Bard of Buffalo Bayou, who scrawled a capsule TV version of Genesis shortly before he had a great fall. 

     World is created,
     God makes Adam.
     But he's unmated,
     Needs a madam. 

     So God makes Eve
     From Adam's rib--
     Hard to believe,
     But it's no fib.     

     The hapless pair
     In birthday suit
     Take Serpent's dare,
     Eat forbidden fruit.     

     God's double-crossed,
     And, boy, it shows:
     Tells them, "Get lost--
     Put on some clothes!"    

     After the Fall,
     It's all downhill.
     That's what you call
     Too much Free Will.    

     Will Original Sin
     Keep pair from heaven?
     Stayed tuned in--
     News at eleven.

1 comment:

  1. Now, see, you've just COMPLETELY ruined "Moby Dick" for me [can't underline or italicize here] ... I didn't know he DIED at the end.
    But then you HAVE saved me about 6 days' [how's THAT for a trailing apostrophe?] worth of reading ... so I guess thanks are in order after all.