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 V.16 No.46 | November 15 - 21, 2007 

Idiot Box

Roped in!

“The Roping Show” on RFD-TV

OK, I admit it. I’m scared. I fully support the Writers’ Guild in its strike against the major movie and television studios. At the same time, with many shows being yanked off the air and many others preparing to go into semi-permanent reruns, I’m a little worried about my job. Three months from now, if the strike is still going on, am I going to have to be penning pithy, philosophical columns about reruns of “Deal or No Deal”? I’m gonna have to do some serious channel surfing to find fresh stuff to write about.

Late last week, for example, I spent some quality remote control time thumbing through the lesser-known channels on my satellite dish. As it turns out, some enterprising satellite executive has moved RFD-TV from the ass-end of the channel listing to somewhere south of the home shopping channels. Not exactly a power move, but it’s a bit more prominent now when you’re scrolling from CNN to HBO.

RFD-TV, in case you don’t know, is “Rural America’s Most Important Network” (at least according to RFD-TV). I’ve scanned over it on occasion, watching in puzzled awe as the “Big Joe Polka Show” spilled out into my living room. Other RFD highlights, just to give you a flavor, include “Branson Theater Showcase,” “Training Mules and Donkeys,” “Ms. Lucy’s Cajun Classroom,” “National Tractor Pull” and “Superior Livestock Video Auctions.”

Last week, I had the singular pleasure of witnessing “The Roping Show” with Tyler Magnus. Watching “The Roping Show” is a little like catching a Japanese game show or a four-hour Mexican variety show--it’s funny because we really don’t understand it. Clearly, these are shows built for a very select audience. Still, if you’re in the throes of intoxication or extreme insomnia, they can be mindbogglingly entertaining.

“The Roping Show” is pretty much what you’d expect: horse, rope, cow, repeat. The production values make Community Access Cable look like MTV. The show I caught featured team roping highlights from the fourth Annual Paul Bruggman Memorial in Loveland, Colo. “Premier horseman, instructor and professional team roper” Tyler Magnus popped in occasionally to give roping hints using a frightening contraption called the RoboSteer--which is exactly what you’re imagining.

Interspersed between the hot and heavy steer-roping action were commercials for such baffling products/sponsors as a mechanical horse watering trough and the 26th Annual Greater Peoria Farm Show. Yeah, you aren’t going to see a lot of Nike ads on RFD-TV.

Oh, you laugh now. When are you ever going to watch “The Roping Show”? Talk to me in March when you’ve watched every episode of “The Office” three times over. Then we’ll see who’s gathered around the water cooler on Friday morning marveling over that four-steer 28.03 victory Rink Bownds and Kip Middleton pulled out against Lance Crawford and Perry Smith at the Llano, Texas, Crawfish Open.

“The Roping Show” airs every Thursday at 9 p.m. on RFD-TV.

 
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