by Lang Whitaker

There are times as a journalist when the person you’re interviewing or the story you’re covering takes an unexpected twist, when suddenly you realize that maybe you’re onto something bigger than you expected. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does you get a little burst of adrenaline. I had that this summer, for instance, when I was interviewing KG and he kept changing the subject to talk about the T-Wolves and his dissatisfaction with the team at the time. Going in, I had no intention of pressing him on the topic, but he obviously wanted to go there, so I went there, and for a few weeks this summer the story was national news. What was exciting to me wasn’t the fallout, when all of sudden everyone had to play catch-up and wondered if Kevin wanted out of Minnesota. To me what was exciting was before I even started asking him about the T-Wolves, that moment I realized: Wait a second, Kevin’s really ready to talk and open up here.

I had a similar jolt of excitement last week while watching episode two of “Committed: The Christies,” the exact moment when Jackie Christie said over the dinner table that she once saw Sasquatch. Now we’re onto something, I thought. (You may be wondering why I’d feel a personal sense of satisfaction over this, since this is a show airing on national cable. The answer is that I was pumped up because I’m obviously the only person in America watching this show, and I fully realize this.)

Anyway, let’s get to week three of “Committed: The Christies”…

— This week’s episode begins in Orlando. No mention of last week’s trip to Jamaica, or whatever happened to Tyrone and his missing birth certificate.

— Doug says he sprained his ankle just before the All-Star break, which causes an immediate problem: Was last week’s trip to Jamaica filmed during the All-Star Break? Doug obviously would have had the weekend off, and a lot of NBA guys take a little vacation during All-Star. But if he had a sprained ankle, why was he playing golf in Jamaica? The Magic better hope their insurance company isn’t watching “The Christies.” Then again, nobody’s watching “The Christies.”

— Jackie says that the media reported Doug “was AWOL,” but that the team knew he was injured. Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi makes an appearance to note that some fans thought Doug had a “phantom injury.” As he talks we see a shot of Doug limping over to a hot tub in what appears to be a medical facility and sliding into the tub. Getting a little self-serving right off the bat.

— Doug says the Orlando media played it as though the Magic had acquired damaged goods and this was somehow Doug’s fault. Man, we’re barely two minutes in and this episode is already boring.

— Doug says he’s suffered from bone spurs for a while, and they cut to Bianchi, clearly relishing his role as the villain, who says, “Guess what? A lot of NBA players play with bone spurs.” Bet you won’t say that to my face! Bet you won’t say that to my face!

— Shot of a plane landing, which means we’re no longer in Orlando. We’re in…Seattle! I really hope Sasquatch shows up. Doug has returned to Seattle to have surgery on his bone spurs, because he thinks he has a few more years of basketball left in him. We see the outside of the Christies’ compound in Seattle, a large ranch-style villa with a dormant fountain in the driveway.

— Doug sits in a darkened room — it looks like perhaps a home movie theater — and he writes in a notebook, a forlorn look upon his face. We see a quick shot of the notebook, and the first thing I notice is that Doug has HUGE handwriting; he must be averaging about 12 words per page or something like that. If I’m a book publisher I’m offering him thousands for that diary.

— I spend the next five minutes with the screen paused, trying to read what he’s written down, but I can only make out a few individual words: JACKIE, LOVE, LOVE, JACKIE, LOVE, JACKIE. OK, actually I can’t read it at all. But I’m guessing it’s like that.

— We spend literally 60 seconds on shots of Jackie getting ready to accompany Doug to surgery, including an extended scene where she fumbles around in her purse for the car keys. Zzz…

— The next 20 seconds is stock shots of Seattle (bridges, the Space Needle, etc.), apparently designed to infer that the Christies are in transit.

— Then we get another 20 seconds of them looking for a parking space at the hospital, as Doug drives on and on while Jackie repeatedly points out open spaces. Part of me wonders if this is being shown to us as a symbol of their relationship, that Doug is the driving force while Jackie has his back, attempting to simplify their lives. Then I realize that I’m watching “Committed: The Christies,” and there is never any subtext neither inferred nor involved with this show.

— Doug’s wearing an adidas sweatshirt and Bob Marley bucket hat. Jackie’s also frequently in adidas. You thinking what I’m thinking? Adidas better start capitalizing on this! Instead of their current It Takes Five, campaign, how about an offshoot called It Takes Two? They could even use the old Marvin Gaye/Tami Terrell song.

— Cut to an interview with Jackie, who notes that Doug went to see seven different specialists before ultimately going with the same doctor who did surgery on Doug 14 years before. Or, as Jackie actually says, “He had forgotten that, you know, fourteen years ago Dr. Scranton done his ankle first surgery. So…”

— Back to the waiting room. Vinnie Hudson, the Orlando Magic’s team physical therapist shows up, and is greeted warmly by the Christies. I guess he’s there for moral support or something. I assumed we were in Seattle, since the last five minutes have all taken place in Seattle, but why would the Magic’s therapist guy be there? To watch?

— They discuss the impending surgery, and Hudson says they’ll be flushing out the joint with saline solution which will “rinse” the bone spurs out, and that there’s bigger stuff they’ll have to shave down.

— Back from commercial break, and they run through a quick recap of the first five minutes of the show. You know, in case people are just tuning in.

— Hudson — Is he a doctor? They never say. — notes that the surgery shouldn’t take more than an hour. Doug heads back to change clothes and tells Vinnie he’ll grab him when Dr. Scranton arrives. OK, so we’re in Seattle after all, and I guess Hudson is there to observe and report back to the team.

— Dr. Pierce Scranton enters Doug’s room, where Vinnie Hudson, who is now wearing operating room scrubs, greets him. Dr. Scranton is an older man, with white sideburns peeking out from under his blue hair net. Dr. Scranton says the first step will be to arthroscope Doug’s left ankle and “look around, take care of that big spur we can see.” Next step will be “non invasive distraction,” which will kind of pull things apart so they can see in the back of the ankle. And the final thing will be going to where there’s a bone spur embedded in a ligament and to pull that out.

— Look, I don’t know how injured Doug Christie really was in Orlando, but I know he was playing in Sacramento and then he stopped playing in Orlando. But they’re doing a really good job here of making this seem as though he had no choice but to have this surgery. The tinkly piano music in the background probably helps.

— Doug asks if he can keep “all of the little, uh, deals.” Actually, as weird as that may be, I’d probably ask the same thing. Except I’d call them bone spurs.

— And we’re in the operating room! Doug is out, and Dr. Pierce shoves something into a hole just above the ankle. He asks his assistant to push it further in, and the assistant hits the thing with a hammer, pushing it in deeper. I have a pretty strong stomach for this kind of stuff, but even I say, “Ugh” during this part.

— We see an interview with Doug, and he says that he asked dr. Scranton to check out one particular spot where he was in a lot of pain. Back in the O.R., Dr. Scranton says he can’t get to that point from where’s he’s at, so we see him making a new incision. Dr. Scranton says he finds a few loose fragments in there.

— Surgery is over. That took longer than on “ER.”

— Dr. Scranton holds up to the camera a small ziploc bag with an insane amount of bone chips in there — it looks like five or six wisdom teeth in there.

— Sitting in the recovery room, waiting for Doug, Jackie says, “To all of those people who said he wasn’t hurt, they’re going to get really surprised when we shake the little things around in the jar that we’re getting.” Suddenly I recall the press conference the Christies called years ago in Seattle to complain about the Magic’s mistreatment of them, during which Doug help up a bottle of bone spurs. I wonder if that whole press conference was Jackie’s doing all along?

— A drugged up Doug is rolled into recovery, and he groggily wiggles his toes. Jackie says he’s like the Six Million Dollar Man, and Doug groggily slurs, “I’m Rick James, b*tch.” Thanks a lot, Dave Chappelle.

— Back from commercial, and we’re apparently a few weeks ahead. Doug is in physical therapy, where a man rubs Doug’s foot with an immense amount of some sort of salve. Doug says, “Bless your soul, Jim.” I’m thinking the same thing.

— Back at the Christies’ house, Doug’s agent Bradley Marshall shows up. The role of Bradley Marshall is being played by Michael Clarke Duncan. Marshall sits at the Christies’ grand piano and plays a lovely jazz ballad. Jackie tells Doug that if he could play the piano he’d be too much, because he’s already kind and sensitive. Doug swears he’s going to learn. I pray we don’t have to watch that, because they’d probably make it a four-episode arc, as slow as this show creeps along.

— Jackie can’t get over the piano playing. “Look how he plays it like it’s a melody,” she says, which makes no sense.

— Jackie tells us that Marshall is there for a meeting with the GM of the Orlando Magic, who is coming to discuss “the situation that is currently going on.” They’ve previously made vague illusions to the Orlando media having problems with Doug’s injury, but never anything about the team having an issue.

— Doug’s agent tells Doug that he’s not the typical NBA player, and that when a team moves him 3,000 miles away, something’s got to give. What are they talking about? I have no idea, unless they’re trying to get more money from the Magic. Otherwise, dude’s under contract, right? He should play, no matter where he’s traded.

— John Weisbrod, Orlando’s former GM, arrives, though they have a black spot over his face. Again, this could be emblematic of the Christies’ feelings toward him, but I bet they just forgot to get him to sign a waver, because he doesn’t seem to mind being on camera.

— None of the Christies’ camp is sure what this meeting is about, although Doug thinks something bad be could be in the works because the guy flew all the way out to see them.

— As it turns out, nothing happens. Weisbrod was in the area, scouting probably, and he wanted to stop by and just clear the air. Jackie says he was apologizing for himself and the Magic.

— Back from commercial, Jackie and Doug do a Sporting News radio interview, and the host asks them about the various rumors about them, and the two of them go through and shoot the rumors down. Jackie tells the host that some of these things are just “misconstruement by the media.”

— Here we go! Cut to an interview with Doug, who rubs his chin and tells the camera, “My wife doesn’t believe that owls exist.” The best moment of the show thus far, and there’s only about 5 minutes remaining. Forget Doug’s ankle — this is real TV!

— Jackie, to Doug: “Are there real owls…like, real ones? Or have owls always just been like a folktale? There’re real owls, who sit there all fat and just go, Ooh-ooh? Where? In what country?”

— Back to his solo interview, Doug says he told Jackie that while he’s never seen one personally, he knows owls exist.

— Jackie: “So are they out at night or in the morning?”
Doug: (pauses) “Night owl!”
Jackie: (laughing) “No, you’re saying what you’ve heard on TV. They’re not real.”

— Doug says he bet her a foot rub that owls exist.

— Jackie: “Is there true elfs? That’s all I want to know.”
Doug: “An elf?”
Jackie: “Yes, in the North Pole.”
Doug: “In the North Pole? Oh my god.”
Jackie: “Maybe there is human owls. But…”
Doug: “Human owls? The hell is that? Is that a morph?”
Jackie: “Maybe there’s owls that a lie. Is Humpty Dumpty real? Come on!”

— Even I need a break after that.

— Jackie: “They’re not real. Why aren’t there any at the zoo then? You can’t go see an owl exhibit at the zoo.”
Doug: (to his credit, incredulously) “Yeah, you can!”
Jackie: “Where?”

— Back to the interview, Doug says he’s either going to take Jackie to the zoo, get someone to bring an owl to their house, or that God might even land an owl on his front door. I really hope the third option happens.

— The show ends with a South Park-style animation of a huge owl flying through the air, clutching Jackie in his talons.

NEXT TIME ON THE CHRISTIES: Time for a wedding! The Christies are getting re-married, and we already have drama: According to Doug, “Jonathan the caterer? He’s the problem.” We also see a shot of an infuriated Jackie. This has terrific potential to be an episode where we get a lot of Jackie giving attitude.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.