x382 18 WHEELS OF JUSTICE (01/12/2000)

Written, produced, and directed by a truckload of folks whose programs kept winding up on the USA Network.

Anxious to stay contemporary and relevant, the Nashville Network (AKA the Pick-Up Channel) scaled back on their "Dukes Of Hazzard" re-runs in favor of original programming geared toward a more upscale audience... people who use their cash cards at the local 7-11.

The flagship for this new programming strategy was "18 Wheels Of Justice", a series meant to inspire a whole new generation drive enormous SUVs, carry guns, and hire personal fitness trainers.

The natural choice for the male lead was Lucky Vanous, the model/actor/mostly model whose brawny chest and washboard stomache boosted sales of Diet Coke among man-hungry consumers of every conceivable sexual orientation. Vanous was given the full set of dramatic luggage needed for a primetime action-adventure stud-muffin...

Most important was the high-tech weapon of choice for Lucky's one-man war against crime: an 18-wheeled, diesel-powered, air-conditioned extension of his manhood, manufactured by the Kentworth Truck Company. Operating from a vehicle longer than Madonna's stretch limo gave his character the confidence to bust criminals without drawing undue attention.

The series primetime debut represented a milestone in the broadcast history: the first show to completely erase an entire category of audience demographics. In casual surveys following "18 Wheels" debut on TNN, adult viewers vehemently denied ever watching the program. Many of those polled refused to believe the series could ever have existed. Others assumed it starred Rob Estes and featured nine female cops on mountain bikes who fought crime with enchanted javelins.

How two entire seasons of"18 Wheels" were produced under these circumstances is a puzzle on par with the foul-mouthed boy who appeared on the old "Bozo" show. "18 Wheels Of Justice" is currently being syndicated overseas, in the Bermuda Triangle.

lando5> 'Did you witness violent outbursts of overacting from Mr. Liddy, er...Calder?'
Plumm> 'Then I saw him bite the head off a mouse.'
Ironf> The last, brave days of Jesse Ventura.
BryanL> 'Renegade?' -- 'Worse.' -- 'What's worse than Renegade?' -- 'When you've found that out, you've found your answer.'
Ironf> Billy Dee! Woo.
lando5> Courtroom sketches by Billy Dee Williams. they go up for bid on E-bay after the show.
my-crow> yeah. because bears and guitars are more important than life.
mgrasso> boom.
BryanL> Because, you know, they would wait until the very end of the trial to get the family into the protection program.
Ironf> That's one strange anti-theft device.
lando5> ooh... genius... they wired the house bomb to the car ignition.
mgrasso> holy christ, that *is* G. Gordon Liddy
BEMaven> "Lucky Vanous"???
BryanL> Billy Dee as Burton Hard?
Ironf> Brought to you by Colt 45 and Diet Coke.
mgrasso> how are they going to explain him becoming a man without a name, enumerate ALL of the truck's weaponry, *and* get in billy dee being suave at least 5 times in just one hour???
BryanL> It's the year 2000, Grasso.
BryanL> They have the technology.
Plumm> you know, these 18 wheels could use some... vodka.
Ironf> I totally believe Lucky is his real name.
Ironf> and do we get to see him in the sewer nude?
lando5> Now THAT'S quality, when even the network promos have to refer to him as "the diet cola guy" so people know who he is.
lando5> the family photo in the rubble... page 2 in the cliche handbook.
BryanL> Once again, poignant things are fireproof.
BEMaven> well, at least the aluminum siding survived.
mgrasso> well, you get what you pay for.
BryanL> 'I could have saved them. But I was across the street taking off my shirt, dammit!'
mgrasso> written by richard c. okie. i could've told you that.
Ironf> Liddy's getting off on this.
BEMaven> the hitman uses Picture-Picture?
lando5> "Based on the..." oh, dear God in the void!
mgrasso> is liddy affecting an eye-talian accent?
BryanL> He's the EVIL Frank Purdue.
BEMaven> yes, Liddy. tell the poor dope how to work undercover. you're the pro.
*** Plumm will make up his own 18 WHEELS drinking game as the show goes on
mgrasso> i'll play along, jamie.
* mgrasso set the topic to: Now Playing: 18 WHEELS OF JUSTICE! Official website at http://www.18woj.com
Ironf> 18 with OJ.
Plumm> "I'll make him pay." there's a drink.
BEMaven> "i'm not going to spend the rest of my life in some God-forsaken town with strangers looking at me."
BryanL> Isn't that the definition of television?
Plumm> I'm so glad I'm out of Yankeeland and safely ensconsed in the old CSA again so I can enjoy the quality programming of TNN.
BEMaven> 'i'm going to avenge my family with a supertruck charged with state of the art weaponry... sorry, Billy. that's just the Diet Coke talking.'
Plumm> too bad TNN canceled Burt Reynolds' panel talk show.
lando5> now, there must be a supertruck dealership around here somewhere...
BEMaven> bless those midget cameraman and their pervy ways.
Plumm> uh-oh, the bar is watching CMT.
BEMaven> this is TNN. shouldn't he have said, 'leave the jug?'
lando5> I'm not a drinking man, but if Heather Langenkamp's serving, I'd be willing to try the life of a barfly.
mgrasso> metaphorical washing of the hands, take a drink.
BryanL> Nothing like washing up in whatever water you find in the sink.
mgrasso> hah! dent marks where he punched in the previous takes.
lando5> oops. 7 years there, Lucky.
TLister> Awww yeah. Bar brawl in the pilot.
mgrasso> meanwhile, eddie van halen has a heart attack while performing a guitar solo.
BryanL> Good thing he has that crossbow in his back pocket.
mgrasso> vancouver is awfully pretty this time of year.
lando5> amazingly, California has yet to outlaw black trenchcoats in knee-jerk repsonse to the Littleton massacre.
mgrasso> dammit, screw these car chases. i want SUPERTRUCK chases.
BEMaven> BTW, are the license plates Canadian?
lando5> o/~ they TRIIIIIIIIIIED to kill him with a Caddy. o/~
my-crow> i think i saw something with alb or ...
lando5> The Caddy's got New York plates. Billy Dee's got Cali plates.
BryanL> Billy's so glad to be getting work, he's going to act his big black ass off, I bet.
mgrasso> he's suave while in a dangerous car fight. drink.
TLister> I like the head movement. I hear he had Shat show him that to imply motion.
BEMaven> don't mess with a Lincoln Continental, you naughty spawn.
Plumm> one drink for each car flip.
mgrasso> i keep picturing a "steven j. cannell" credit over that... damn you bry!
BryanL> I've been watching A-Team on TV Land. You had no chance.
mgrasso> oh, man, i wish this could go on for two hours.
BryanL> Twenty four minutes of justice.
TLister> It can, if you hold it's memory in your heart.
lando5> oh, but it can Mike... it'll take at LEAST two weeks before TNN yanks this steaming heap.
TLister> Oh no, this is right up TNN demographic.
Plumm> I bet it lasts at least a season. CBS is syndicating it internationally.
BEMaven> and i'm guessing it shows up on a Sci-Fi Chain Reaction in 6 months. top that.
lando5> John Ritter getting gunned down in the street like a dog is actually the most entertaining thing I've seen on TNN in years.
lando5> Okay, Lucky's shirt is off/open... chug away, Drinknin' Gamers.
BryanL> They share a tragic past.
mgrasso> billy dee. suave, even when recounting his dead wife.
Plumm> Witness protection. We'll set you up as a CPA in Bespin.
BEMaven> hey, his Lincoln regenerated.
lando5> The Punisher's Kenworth?
BryanL> YES! Chick scientist! It's a supertruck.
Plumm> between the white lines. trucking poetry. drink.
BryanL> Oh, yeah. The old "systems don't work yet" gimmick.
* mgrasso drinks.
BryanL> Drink every time an untested system fails.
TLister> But it doesn't drive itself. That's cheap.
TLister> The wheels arrive next Tuesday.
Plumm> Also, you have to haul Pokemon eggs and cocaine for us.
mgrasso> pokemon eggs?
mgrasso> well, they are contraband now, i guess.
lando5> Shakedown cruise!
SciTie> Hey they forgot to turn on the Cylon light in the front.
BEMaven> the people who can't handle the Witness Protection usually have high IQs. he should be able to cinch it.
mgrasso> oh, wow. undercarriage shot.
mgrasso> that's like the money shot of truck movies.
TLister> It took him 4 weeks to learn CB lingo. Sad really.
BryanL> Training montage!
Plumm> Why don't they just set him up with a VW van so he can like go to Dead shows and stuff?
lando5> Lucky Vanous in "Riding with Justice"... er... "18 Wheels of Death" ... ah, skip it.
mgrasso> they are *so* dry-humping their demographic with the slide gee-tar there.
Plumm> Liddy being pissed off, drink.
lando5> gee... it's sheer genius that he has to GET OUT OF THE TRUCK to get his spare ammo.
mgrasso> hah! hi-tech hood-closing sounds!
Plumm> He should have fun explaining himself at all those weigh stations.
my-crow> with no CDL licence at all.
BryanL> First thing he does is head to a parts store and gets himself some naked lady mudflaps.
mgrasso> or yosemite sam.
lando5> Every time Billy Dee says he owes Lucky, drink.
lando5> and the guitar survives!
TLister> Wooo! now he can be a pickin' and a grinnin'.
BryanL> Every time Lucky plays his guitar and longingly thinks of his family, drink.
my-crow> does a laptop with a win98 and a dvd player make a truck super?
mgrasso> wow. lame computer graphics. drink.
BryanL> 18 Wheels of Abusing Women!
lando5> I don't care if he is the good guy... he loses points for threatening Heather Langenkamp in my book.
TLister> He's outta control sounds like it'll come up a lot, so drink on that boozers.
mgrasso> what is this guy, a gay texaco man?
lando5> And Gary Coleman makes his rounds.
mgrasso> railing kill, btw.
SciTie> why doesn't he use one of his super truck gizmos?
mgrasso> so, the supertruck's powers include crushing people.
lando5> Supertruck powers... ACTIVATE!
BEMaven> killed by a truck trailer. what irony.
BryanL> I like that he'll apparently be using random truck trailers strewn about the landscape for their specific abilities.
BEMaven> you could drive a truck through these plot holes... oh, wait....
my-crow> huh. so we get 5 minutes of truck. and it's not even super.
mgrasso> so, he's been given the name of a tampa florida stripper.
lando5> 'Chance Bowman? You didn't have something a little more... manly? Like Thunk Beefchest?'
TLister> Chance Justice... Male Prostitute.
TLister> Wooooo! Voice Over!
TLister> Drink.
lando5> AH! Cannell Connection!
mgrasso> so, he's going to move people's belongings who enter the protection program in the truck?
BEMaven> "Format Black?" what the hell?
lando5> Stu Segall worked with Cannell on "The A-Team", "Riptide" and a bunch of his other shows.
BEMaven> fire the video editor.
mgrasso> is this over or what?
BryanL> Well, it should be, except for squished credits and possibly next week's promo.
my-crow> he ends up haulin for J B Hunt at 30 cents a mile, forgets to file for his IFTA stickers and gets 5 years. no one cares if he's a cop.
BryanL> It's over like Rikishi Fatu.
mgrasso> gary allan. a chris isaak for the '00s.
SciTie> So they made a movie to pimp the song?
my-crow> no, they made this to whore Kenworth.
BEMaven> kentworth, bridgestone, eaton auto. who needs the Feds to fight crime?
lando5> well, that was refreshing.
BEMaven> refreshing? that show racked up about a hundred shots in the drinking game.

The underwhelming performance of the Nashville Network's new programming mandated something far more drastic than another "Dukes Of Hazzard" reunion movie. In less than 10 months, the parent company Viacom tore out TNN's country-western roots and converted the station into a reservoir for the Star Trek franchise.

Re-christened "The New TNN", short for "The New The National National Network", the channel now offers a crazy quilt of "Star Trek-The Next Generation" reruns, Pamela Anderson star vehicles, pro wrestling, and an occasional nod to hunters and auto buffs.

At first glance, cable fare that caters to redneck Trekkies does not seem economically viable. The success of this strategy hinges on the creation of a brand new demographic: males who are reluctant to contribute to the gene pool. In this context, the viewership could potentially skyrocket.

To find out all you need to know about the series "18 Wheels Of Justice", head over to the official website at www.18woj.com

BEMaven didn't know the HG Drinking Game required alcohol, so he wound up being the designated driver..