The Fourth Wall: On the plus side, we know what Kevin Arnold is doing these day
I’m so confused.
— Well, it’s a day that ends with –y, so that’s not unusual.
No, seriously. There’s a new after-show starting this Sunday on FOX, called “What Just Happened??!” that discusses all things related to “The Flare” ... and I haven’t caught up.
— What’s “The Flare”?
Oh c’mon ... “The Flare.” The series FOX is adapting from “The Moon Is The Sun At Night” ... the serial by TJ Whitford.
TJ Whitford, the author.
— Never heard of him.
Then go to tjwhitford.com and discover him for yourself. “The Sun Is The Moon At Night” is
— Wait, you said it was “The Moon Is The Sun At Night.”
Right, right. I told you I was confused.
— OK, let’s start over. What’s this after-show?
It’s called “What Just Happened??!” and it is hosted ...
— Two question marks ... AND an exclamation point??!
Yes, it’s for emphasis. Anyway, the host is that kid who starred on “The Wonder Years.”
— I always wondered what Marilyn Manson was doing these days.
No ... not him. And the kid who played Paul did not grow up to be Marilyn Manson. He grew up to be a lawyer in New York.
— Somehow that’s worse.
Well, there’s that. ... But I mean the kid who played Kevin ... Fred Savage. He’s the host.
— I wondered what happened to him, too. Is that the premise of the show? ... “What Just Happened to the Cast of The Wonder Years?” ... oops, I mean, ??! ... for emphasis.
No ... although I’d watch that. I mean, Winnie Cooper must be like, what, in her 40s now.
— You were saying.
Right. Fred Savage is an uber-fan of TJ Whitford, the reclusive author of the “The Son Moons At Night,” which FOX has adapted into a series called “The Flare.” And he’s hosting this after-show that goes over that week’s episode.
— Oh, so like “The Talking Dead.”
Exactly. ... Only without zombies.
— I haven’t read the Whitford books.
I haven’t, either. But Tanya L.S. says that “‘The Moon is the Sun at Night’ is nothing less than the masterpiece that hangs on the unattainable wall in a gallery.”
— Who’s Tanya Ellis?
I don’t know, but she’s quoted on the homepage of tjwhitford.com, so she has to be somebody.
— Most of us are.
Anyway ... the books are about a solar event that over time leads to a post-apocalyptic battle for the human survival.
— Aren’t they all.
It’s set in Milford, Illinois.
— Isn’t that the hometown in “The Wonder Years”?
I don’t think so. No one knows where “The Wonder Years” was set; they never told us.
— OK, I think I have it now. This show “What Just Happened (two question marks, one exclamation point)” is a talk show
It’s more than that. They’re going to do interviews with celebrity fans, cast members and go behind the scenes on location.
— In Milford, Illinois.
Or some suburban neighborhood outside of L.A. that looks like Illinois.
— So, it’s a show that devoted to a series called “The Flare,” that you’ve never seen, which is adapted from a book called “The Sun and the Moon and the Stars”
No, that’s a Depeche Mode song.
— Oh yeah ... whatever happened to Depeche Mode? Maybe they should do a show about that. So, “The Flare” is a show you’ve never seen, based on a book that you’ve never read, written by an author who you’ve never heard of, but who does have a fan named Tanya Ellis posting bon-mots on his website.
Six books, actually.
— Wait, what? There’s been six of these books? You’d think that if they were popular enough to spur a television series, we’d have heard of them.
They’re out of print.
— For how long?
Well, the last one came out in 1979.
— Forty years ago? And they’re just getting around to this? Everyone must know how this story ends.
— I’m afraid to ask.
The final chapter ended in a cliffhanger, and no one knows whether there will be another book.
— So, it’s like “Game Of Thrones”?
Yeah, very funny. But Martin says the new “Thrones” will be out soon.
— And Stephen King promised to provide a real resolution to the “Dark Tower” series.
Don’t go there.
— Fair enough. ... Here’s what I don’t get. Why would you, or anyone actually, watch “What Just Happened??!” ... hey, I punctuated it right ... if you haven’t watched “The Flare”?
See, that’s the thing. I can’t find listings for “The Flare” anywhere. It doesn’t even have a website. What TV series these days doesn’t have a website?
— Does the after-show have a website?
— And what’s it say there?
Let’s see; OK, here we go: “This half-hour hybrid comedy/talk show hosted by Fred Savage is dedicated to exploring the fandom surrounding fictional sci-fi thriller ‘The Flare.’ The TV show is based on fictional author TJ Whitford’s sci-fi book series ‘The Moon is the Sun at Night,’ which has been a favorite of Savage’s since childhood.”
Wait a second.
— Take all the time you need.
None of this is real?
— Well, Fred Savage is real. And I looked it up, and there is a Milford, Illinois ... although it’s biggest claim to fame seems to be as the birth place of Claude Rothgeb, who played for the Washington Senators in 1905.
I’m so confused.
— Isn’t that where we came in? Look, it’s simple: FOX is glomming off this trend of obsessed fans who will watch after-shows that discuss their favorite series. This is just a parody of those shows, and they’ve created an author who never existed who wrote books that never existed that have been adapted into a TV series that doesn’t exist.
Can you repeat that?
— Not if your life depended on it. But, the real question is, other than to see what Kevin Arnold is up to these days, why would you want to watch “What Just Happened??!”?
Because I want to catch up.
— Waiter ... check please.
You can continue to the after-show of “The Fourth Wall” by emailing Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin at email@example.com.