This fall, the CBS television network will be debuting a new show called Joan of Arcadia. Based on early promos, it seems the weekly drama tells the story of God, who takes the form of a cute boy at Arcadia High School so he can boss around a sophomore named Joan and possibly drive her insane.
Now it seems likely the producers of this program came up with the title pun first, then reverse-engineered the story to fit the title. Here at the Brain Exploder, this seems like a very easy way to make money. We made up three title puns, then wrote treatments for television shows to fit each of them. Read the synopses below and try to figure out the names of the programs. Next week, we’ll print the original titles, as well as the best and most entertaining guesses we receive from readers. (Note: the answers don’t necessarily have to follow the name/place format of the above example.) From all the respondents, our staff will pick one person to win a McSweeney’s book of our choosing.
1. Born in Munich and recently arrived in America, Olga settles on the Gulf coast of Florida where she amuses the locals with her Bavarian accent and teaches German at the local high school. When a mega-corporation wants to tear down six homes to build the state’s largest Coffee Depot, Olga refuses to sell in order to save the heron habitat that stretches through her backyard. Although she must contend with scheming corporate executives and half-a-dozen colorful but angry neighbors, Olga forms a special bond with the rescued birds. Highly intelligent and organized, the herons show their gratitude by doing Olga favors around the house, coming to the aid of troubled youths in her German class, and by smiting Olga’s enemies in bloody, Hitchcockian, aerial assaults. Don’t miss the show TV Guide calls “Willard, but with a German lady and giant birds instead of rats!”
2. Oral surgeon Greg Fanning and bone specialist Louis DeGregorio are young physicians living the good life. They share an expensive houseboat where they entertain some of the loveliest single women in San Diego and foster a reputation as two of the beachfront’s most eligible bachelors. But when high school buddy Ian Westwood, a computer programmer and unreconstructed Dungeonmaster, drops anchor in the slip next door, he threatens their hip lifestyle with his connection to their nerdy past. Can two former dweebs swing with the hipsters without abandoning a square but good-hearted old buddy?
3. Fifteen years ago, Virgil Kent, a cabinet minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government, was forced by public scandal to resign and start his life over in America. Chubby, balding, and a recovering alcoholic, Virgil now installs laminate flooring in Indianapolis and, although inexplicably married to Phoebe Cates, he finds himself caught in the everyday limbo of ordinary life. When Virgil is called in to redo the floors at the Indiana State House, however, Republican Senator Dan Geary finds the Brit’s wise counsel critical to his reelection, and Virgil has a chance to redeem himself in a political landscape far removed from Parliament.
Last week, we came up with three television programs based on terrible puns and asked McSweeney’s readers to guess the titles of the shows by reading the synopses. The winner of this week’s book is Rodney S. Ascher, who gave us good titles for all three shows and who provided our overall favorite for number two.
1. Our original title was Bitte, Egrets.
THE BEST GUESSES:
Frau Heron ’til Eternity — Will Milford
Mein Blue Heron — Forrest DeMarcus
Tampa Airy Insanity — Michael Northrop
The Adventures of Heron Munchausen — Seth G. Blaylock
Biergarten of the Fear-daughter of Clearwater — Rodney S. Ascher
Heron Earth — Hayden G.
Spite of the Valkyries — Jim Fitches
Birdhouse Frau — Bill Cole
From Heron Out: Autobahn to Audobon — Chris Barry
A Heroine for the Herons — Franco Vitella
Das Birds — Sara Eve Sarliker
2. Our original title was Geek Ortho Docks.
THE BEST GUESSES:
Skeletors in the Closet — Rodney S. Ascher
D&DDS — Michael Northrop
Doctors and Dragons — William Adamczyk (Hayden G., similar)
Shittin’ on the Docs of the Bay — Will Milford
Greg, Lou, Gain a Nerd — James Yeh
The Dungeon Master Is Dragon Us Down — Will Morgan
Docs in Dock — Megan Householder
Two Docs, a Boat, and a Pizza-face? — Anonymous
Drip Tide — Sara Eve Sarliker
The Hip Doctors — Matt Zajkowski
Baja Black Sheep — The Continental
3. Our original title was:Pergo-Tory, and one entrant actually got this one. In fact, his or her answer — The Cates of Pergo-Tory — was arguably better than the original, given that it incorporated an element of the treatment that was meant to be gratuitous. Unfortunately, the person who submitted this answer (and one other good one) did not provide us with his or her name. Worse, he or she offered in place of his or her name, “The Continental,” which we assume is a reference to a tired Saturday Night Live sketch. We’d be inclined to award this week’s prize to this person, but we just can’t do it. New Brain Exploder rule: Do not assume SNL skits are acceptable forms of identification.
THE BEST GUESSES:
No Tories, us G.O.P — Rodney S. Ascher
Floorin’ Policy — Will Milford
Parliamentary, My Dear —Megan Householder
Geary, Indiana — Seth G. Blaylock
Kent Has the Floor — Seth G. Blaylock
Kent go home again — Will Morgan
Cabinet Laminate — Hayden G.
Indy Beginning — Hayden G.
Kent I get a Witness? — Jim Fitches
Hoosier Daddy — Forrest DeMarcus (also Michael Northrup and Matt Zajkowski)
Hoosier Laddie — George Long