AIR DATES: December 23, 1990, January 7, 1991
This entire show is devoted to surreal eye imagery and living televisions.
In “Video Dating,” two TV sets meet for dinner on a blind date. They make small talk while gazing at their – what else? – TV dinners, which they can’t eat since they don’t have hands.
They adjourn for a tavern, where a drunkard tries to tune one of them, leading them to leave and go for a walk, until the male TV is accidentally unplugged. Sensibly, they return to his place — to watch TV, which leads to a blissful conclusion.
Next is a video Eye Creature, a disjointed set of eyes and lips which recite philosophy – – until the eye’s erratic movements distract them, leading to drooling and chaos. Oddly compelling, the resulting “eye creature” was essentially a visualization of the disjointed monologues of Ken Nordine’s “Word Jazz” radio programs.
Mark Audrain was a major influence on the recurring images of living televisions in Joe’s Basement, and this episode reflects his creativity. In a series that so often seemed off-the-cuff, this was a particular demanding production.
The Eye Creature, in particular, exploited Mark’s remarkable ability to keep his eyes open for long periods of time. Mark recorded his left eye, describing his movements as he went. Then he recorded his right eye, following his description of his left eye’s movements. Then, we recorded his lips reading philosophy, while he listened to his description track in headphones, which cued him to stop speaking. Finally, three stacked TV monitors played back the three tapes.
“Video Dating” was actually quite simple. Mark and Kate performed “live” for two cameras, and the two tapes were played back in separate TVs and refilmed on-set. Synchronization was a bit tricky because the producers relied on home VHS decks for playback.
Joe and the crew all loved producing these occasional artier digressions, but insisted on denigrating them as “video schlock.”