Our 55 inch television (which is really 54.6 inches, but under the Supreme Court’s 1983 decision in Accuracy v. Simplicity, the decimal point gets rounded up) was getting a little long in the tooth. The faceless demon hounds from the upside-down universe in Stranger Things were not looking as threatening as they should, and what should have been high-definition sound was so delayed and garbled that singing along with the opening credits to My Little Pony was impossible.
So at the next regular meeting of the Committee on Unnecessary Purchases, our application to buy a new television set was approved, 8-7, and we were officially in the market for a new entertainment center. A 70 inch screen would significantly improve the image, an 80 inch screen would qualify us to vote in local elections, and 90 inches was the neighborhood average. But we did not want just be your average nobody with a 90 inch television. We wanted something special.
After taking the recommended course “A New TV: Your Ticket To Real Life” we decided on the Globe 9000, boasting unparalleled definition and a diagonal of 118 inches. Just a quick insertion of a credit card and deletion of a wall in our living room, and the largest viewing frame for miles around was as good as ours.
When the construction crew handed me the remote control and I pushed power, instead of a screen lighting up, there was a curtain that parted and revealed four people inside the TV – two men, and two women.
“My good sir,” said one of the men with an exaggerated bow, “thank you for choosing the Globe 9000.” He spoke with a deep, crisp voice, was dressed like Pinocchio, and appeared to be the leader of the troupe. “And what shall be your choice of entertainment tonight?”
“Um, how about Game of Thrones?” I asked.
“Very good, sir,” he said, and all four of them took their places on the 118 inch stage. One of the women put on a crown and turned to the leader and said, “When you play the Game of Thrones, you either win, or die,” and then she brandished a sword and stabbed him. But she didn’t really stab him. Rather, she stuck the sword in between the leader’s arm and torso, so it just looked like she was stabbing him. The leader then said, “Ah! I am slain!” and fell to the floor while the other two actors, who were supposed to be courtiers or stable sweepers or something, watched in shock, hands to their mouths.
After a few seconds of twitching on the floor inside the TV, the leader got up and all four of them got into a line and bowed in unison. They stayed in the bowed position, and then the leader raised his eyes at me, like he was expecting me to do something and was annoyed that I was not doing it. I started to applaud slightly and the leader smiled and the four completed their bow and then raised their arms together in triumph and the curtain closed.
I pushed the power button again. The curtain parted just enough for the leader’s head to poke out.
“I’m sorry, sir,” he said, “but you shall have to try tomorrow, after the players have had a chance to rest.”
“So I can watch just one show a day?” I asked.
“Sir,” the leader said, as if explaining to a child why you can’t have ice cream for breakfast, “great performances require great preparation.” He then withdrew his head and closed the curtain. Not half a second later he poked his head out again. “Also, it would greatly help if, when you wanted to enjoy a performance, you announced it by saying, ‘Oh Great Globe 9000, I would like to watch’ and then say the show you wish to watch.”
The next day I turned on the Globe 9000. Nothing happened. Then I remembered and said, “Oh Great Globe 9000, I would like to watch, um, Fixer Upper.”
The curtain parted and the actors were pretending to fix a house. The leader was hammering nails into an invisible wall. The blonde haired murderess from yesterday was now painting an invisible chair. And the other two were pretending to carry a table, a rather heavy one with sharp corners from the looks of it.
Then the scene ended and the four of them joined hands in a line and took a bow, and then they gave me this look and I applauded. Then they drew the curtain and that was all the TV for the day.
The next morning I called the store and said that I wanted to return the Globe 9000. “I do not need a refund,” I said. “I only want to exchange it for a regular 80 inch TV, even a 70 inch. I’m not picky. Just please nothing with people living in it.” The manager told me that I had to first file a petition demonstrating that I’d made a good faith attempt to bargain with the actors collectively.
I then tried to sell the Globe 9000 on eBay, but the sale was prohibited because the TV contained “humans, the human body, or any human body parts” in violation of the terms of service. As a last resort, I sued the TV store, alleging false advertising. But when it was revealed that I was not accommodating the actors’ dietary restrictions, I was subjected to a public shaming on Twitter until I withdrew the lawsuit.
Accepting my fate, I clicked the power button, and said, “Oh Great Globe 9000, I do not care what I watch. Please show me anything except the Smurfs.” The curtain opened and the leader stood by himself and pretended to hold a remote control and click it at the other three actors, who would pretend to do one thing, then another, then another, switching to a new pretend scene at every click. I guess there is something special about having the only TV in the neighborhood that makes fun of its owner.