Sparrow Spelunker

To: PBS Kids

From: Rampage Productions

Subject: Sparrow Spelunker

Let’s not beat around the bush.

You have a thing for avians.

big bird

I have one lodged in the exhaust pipe of my furnace.

house sparrow

You could do with some fresh IP.

IP intellectual property

I need $100 to extract the fresh IP from the exhaust pipe of my furnace.

100 dollar bill

You seek to excite and education your young audience.

the more you know star

I suspect the three or four nanoseconds of life that sparrow had when it encountered the exhaust blower, which to him must have seemed like a ten thousand RPM birdie buzzsaw, were both exciting and educational.

furnace blower

So without further ado, I give you your children’s television flagship property: Sparrow Spelunker.

Sparrow Spelunker

Sparrow Spelunker

It’s a show as unafraid as its protagonist(s) to grapple with the tough issues.  Issues like:

  • Why you really shouldn’t go in there

  • What will happen to you if you go in there

  • How much it will cost some innocent homeowner to scrape you out again after you do go in there

This said, I admit the title of the series is somewhat misleading in using the singular form of sparrow – it will probably require a new protagonist pretty much every episode.  While this might seem like a lot of work from a characterization standpoint, I feel the script leaves both adequate room for characterization as well as presents the opportunity to vary the racial, familial, and political history of the sparrow for a true multicultural experience.  In fact, based on the flying communist who entered my furnace in an ill-fated attempt to seize the means of heat production, I’ve put together a script outline for your consideration.

  1. Opening theme

  2. Recap of previous week

    1. “O’ Righ’ – On last week’s episode o’ Sparrow Spelunker, ol’ SS explored the exhaust on a 100,000 BTU Luxair.  Didn’t end so well for him, poor chap.  But that was then, so hang onto yer hats, kiddies, ’cause this week we’re going in the intake o’ that same 100,000 BTU Luxaire!”

  3. Spelunking

  4. Audience of British-sounding-children, in Spongebob Squarepants fashion, shouts the show’s catchphase: “Oh no, Sparrow Spelunker!  You mustn’t spelunk in there!”

  5. Furnace fires up

  6. Closing theme

I also have drafts for other possible episodes of Sparrow Spelunker.  These include such exotic, spelunk-worthy locations as a wood chipper, a fractionating tower, a muscle car air intake, and – my personal favorite – the depths of some pachyderm’s wazoo.  The last, of course, is where I sincerely wish the sparrow that inspired all of this would have flown.  You know, instead of my furnace exhaust pipe.  I could have done without meeting the furnace repair guy, who in his defense was a very nice man and more than willing to convert a bird oubliette back into an exhaust pipe in return for a picture of Benjamin Franklin.

This, of course, is where you come in, PBS.  Just send that check to Rampage Productions.

And maybe a Sparrow Spelunker t-shirt.



My daughter has reached the inevitable developmental stage wherein she anoints Big Bird the principal deity of her personal pantheon and, thusly, wants to do little else save consume manna (which looks and smells suspiciously like Cheerios) at the foot of the flat screen that serves as his flickering alter.  Simultaneously, her parental authorities, mere mortals that they be, have reached a point where they no longer care what precisely she does so long as it doesn’t end in turning her sippy cup into the cutest Molotov cocktail you ever did see.  This is a brief story, but it carries with it more than one moral.

First, Dr. Spock can bite me.

Second, I can, in fact, tell you how to get to Sesame Street.  It involves a phone call to my dealer for a little bit of Snuffleupagus, if you know what I mean.

Dude! Dude! You never told me you had a big brown elephant! … Whatcha think he tastes like?

I won’t pretend to be the first parent to realize that Sesame Street is the sort of place that would benefit from either an exorcism or intervention by Beetlejuice.  I mean, let’s meet a few select members of the cast, shall we?

There’s the eight-foot bird with inversely proportional cognitive ability and self-esteem.

Today Big Bird will feel really bad about his ignorance. As he should.

There’s the landed gentry with numeric monomania.

That’s one, two, three letters in OCD! Ha ha ha…

And then there’s this… thing.

Slightly more malevolent than Chucky.

It speaks in the third person.  It inspired (via the infamous “tickle me” doll) numerous attempted murders.  And these days, it seems to have somehow got itself trapped in a hell of its own making.  That, of course, is Elmo’s World, a previously unmentioned circle of the underworld within walking distance of Cocytus.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say they still haven’t got his dosage quite right.

I’m forced to conclude, at some point in the indeterminate past, it was determined actual script writers were expensive, which I suppose is understandable when you factor in the salary, benefits, and substantial amounts of alcohol needed to come up with stuff like this.

Forget coming out of the closet – they’ve left the bedroom and are sailing at 30,000 feet.

Regardless, “Elmo’s World” is a segment unburdened with plot or purpose.  A realm where !@#% all can happen and directing serious inquiries at babies, which Elmo (their intellectual inferior) does every show, is a perfectly acceptable research method.

And then there’s Mr. Noodle.  I’ve come to loathe Mr. Noodle.


Mr. Noodle and Elmo’s goldfish make up most of the remaining population of Elmo’s Fever Dream.  I have no idea how they got there.  My current theory, at least in regards to the first, is that Mr. Noodle was standing too close to the fuzzy red psychopath when the earth split open and the souls of the damned seized Elmo and yanked him back where he belongs.  The experience, understandably, shattered Mr. Noodle’s sanity, and now he cannot put on pants or locate his ears in under three tries and without excessive prompting.  He also appears to be suffering from some strange variant of Stockholm syndrome, as he routinely exhibits excessive exuberance in doing Elmo’s bidding.  It’s meant to be cute, but I find myself frightened.  In Mr. Noodle, Elmo has the potential of a perfect assassin.  Of course, this assumes Mr. Noodle could figure out which end of the knife he was supposed to hold and remember he should shove it into the other guy and not himself.

To end on a timely note, I suppose I should weigh in on whether or not my daughter’s religious denomination merits continued public funding.  This is difficult to do since ultimately I’m ambivalent, but I think we should at least reevaluate our funding of one Elmo and his personal plane of existence.  It’s only a matter of time before he starts asking babies about our nuclear capabilities and tasks Mr. Noodle with building a warhead.  Unlike, say, putting on one’s trousers, that’s not the sort of thing you want to do by trial and error.