The Writing Life

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07

Sep 2017

Cheesecake

Posted by / in The Writing Life / 2 comments

Here’s the main title sequence for SABLE, an awful series that only lasted for a month in 1988. William Rabkin & I wrote an awful freelance script for this awful series that thankfully wasn’t shot — but it had a lasting impact on us.

The show had a terrible, expository character, an African-American tech wizard in a wheelchair, named Cheesecake. We hated that character…because it wasn’t a character. It was a painful cliche. So “Cheesecake” became our shorthand, and is to this day, for a cliche character who exists only to provide dull exposition.

It’s amazing and depressing how many times that EXACT SAME DREADFUL CHARACTER — the exposition/computer whiz character in a wheelchair — has been repeated in shows since then.


Cheesecake came to mind today because I just watched the first regular episode of Bill Bixby’s THE MAGICIAN, from the newly released DVD boxed set, that had that same “Cheesecake ” expository character — though it was a white guy in a wheelchair and aired several years before SABLE premiered. Just goes to show how long that dreadful, lazy writer cliche has existed. 

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2 comments
  • P.N. Elrod

    September 7, 2017, am30 11:28 AM
    01

    Followed a link to the pilot ep. on YouTube.

    Longest elevator ride ever, except for a legendary one rumored to have been in a soap opera.

    At 4:38, I decided life’s too short.

    Also, that I cannot unsee any of that.

  • Gary Mugford

    September 26, 2017, am30 11:54 AM
    02

    Lee,

    Memories, even if delayed. I was bitterly disappointed at the Sable show since I truly loved the original source material created by Mike Grell. Grell had created a hit for DC Comics called The Warlord but the nascent First Comics lured him over by giving him carte blanche and he rewarded them with Jon Sable and later Maggie the Cat,. His writing was NOT his strong suit. He was an artist out of the Neal Adams mold, very scratchy but also photo-realistic. He told most of his stories via pictures and, indeed, told one story without words of any sort, making for a good tale. The origins of Sable make more sense once the whole African sequence has been read and understood. But jumping into a blank urban canvas to tell the story, while retaining the zebra camo was, as you say, awful. Van Bergen was not very good, but I remember Russo and Fulger fondly. Not enough to watch any of the shows ever again, though.

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