Dr. J’s Night School

Image Credit: https://images.realclear.com/296473_5_.jpg


[Bosley’s note: The following is a partial script from the pilot episode of Dr. J’s Night School, a late-night B-movie show developed for Animal Planet.  The action lines are italicized. I take no responsibility for this.] 

This is obviously a basement rec room converted into a makeshift classroom. A desk with one leg substantially shorter than the others totters near the back, propped up by various books. A whiteboard stands next to it stage left. Several bookshelves full of DVDs, books, and comics line one wall. 

DR. J (mid-to-late 30s), devilishly handsome and professorial (at least in his mind), sits on the edge of the desk. Leather patches adorn his cheap tweed jacket, obviously sewn on by his mother. 

DR. J 

All right, class, welcome to the first session of Dr. J’s Night School.  

Dr. J hoists his carcass off the desk.

DR. J 

You might be wondering where we are. We’re actually in a basement in an old University of Phoenix campus building provided by Animal Planet. Now you may be asking yourself “Why are you in a basement?” Well, I’m happy to answer that question. 

Dr. J writes “THE MAN” on the whiteboard.

DR. J 

See, The Man doesn’t think that these movies are worth my or your time. They think that “exploitation” is a bad word and would rather you study Eighteenth-Century Serbian lesbian poetry. Actually, that reminds me, if you are looking for the Eighteenth-Century Serbian lesbian poetry class, it’s down the hall and to your right, just past the leaky boiler. I think that class is being sponsored by the History Channel. 

Where was I? Oh yeah—The Man! See, Academia is mostly run by old, white men who haven’t left campus since approximately 1862. They don’t understand all this fuss about the “talkies” you young ‘uns are so crazy about. 

Dr. J writes “Snobs” under “The Man” and underlines it.

DR. J 

See, “entertainment” is a bad word to them. They figure if something’s anything other than soul-crushingly boring and socially realistic, then it can’t be any good. And if lots of people like it—well, run for the hills, Aunt Martha, cause the barbarians have broke through the gate! 

Dr. J steps away from the whiteboard and pulls out a flask.

DR. J 

Well I, and the good folks here at Animal Planet, don’t buy that argument. And I’ve told those old farts that, which is why I’m down here in a leaky basement talking to a bunch of high school dropouts instead of maxing and relaxing in some cushy tenure track job! 

Dr. J drinks from the flask.

DR. J 

This is iced tea, by the way. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, sticking it to the man! Once I turned in my dissertation on women’s prison movies filmed only in the Philippines, I told those high mucky-mucks what for. 

Well, not right then. I waited until I got my degree and THEN I told them where they could stick it. You see, academia has a strict “no backsies” rule, and my momma didn’t raise no fool. 

DR. J drinks more. He rests his hand on the desk, but slips on a pile of papers and almost falls.

DR. J 

And let’s be clear: that’s why I can’t get work anymore. It had nothing to do with the 247 days straight I missed teaching a class. I was undergoing a strenuous research regimen at the time. Plus, I forgot.  

But that’s okay, because I’m here now in a place that appreciates the finer things, like Pam Grier, teenagers turning into cicada monsters, Pam Grier, lesbo vampires, Pam Grier, zombies, werewolves, and Pam Grier. The class’s mission statement is simple: “Everything’s worth studying.” Especially if it’s Pam Grier.  

Dr. J goes behind his desk and retrieves a black cat. He pets it while he talks.

DR. J 

Now you may be wondering why we’re on Animal Planet. Well, if you had read your syllabus, you’d have seen that we’re going to only cover movies involving animals. We’ll have killer rattlesnakes, killer bunnies, killer orcas, killer whatever that ain’t us, and sometimes killers that are us, but are tenuously connected to animals.  

And tonight’s movie definitely falls into that last category. Tonight, we’ve got the 1942 flick Cat People. Not to be confused with the one in the Eighties where William Hurt gets freaky-deaky with some cat chicks. Nope, this is the one that started it all. It’s the movie that asks the burning question “Can love survive without nookie?” Not according to my ex-wife, but that’s a whole ‘nother lecture. What we’ve got here is the age-old story of a young woman from Serbia named Irena who’s a little too into cats, and the hunky but blockheaded lunk named Oliver that falls for her. The two get married even though she won’t even kiss him for fear that she’ll turn into a man-eating panther, and I don’t mean that euphemistically. If it were a euphemism, everything’d be fine. 

You know, I knew a girl like that once, as a matter of fact. Whatever happened to her? Last time I saw her, she was running nekkid in the Florida Everglades. 

Dr. J shakes himself out of his reverie.


Anyway, as if turning into a cat and eating her husband wasn’t stressful enough, Irena has to deal with a greasy, rapey therapist from the Freudian school of psychiatry if you know what I mean and I think you do, and her husband’s best friend, who happens to be a hot blonde. Or maybe redhead. It’s hard to tell with these black and white flicks. 

Can true love survive in the face of no nookie? Watch and find out. As the movie goes along, we’ll pause for mini-lectures on lycanthropy, the Jungian archetypes in the movie, some nerd facts about the writing and making of the flick, and, what the hell, maybe we’ll even talk about Eighteenth-Century Serbian lesbian poetry. I’m feeling froggy tonight! We’ll also have a visit from the Night School TA—that’s “Teaching Associate” so no snickering in the back row—with questions for the Professor, and a whole lot more unless Animal Planet pulls the plug. 

[Bosley’s note: Animal Planet pulled the plug.] 

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Creative writing Instructor, Full Sail University. Writer of fiction, poetry, literary criticism, and reviews.

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