After a decade of running exclusively music-related content, MTV was set to diversify its lineup in the early nineties. Before the network finally saw success with The Real World, more than a few flops had come and gone. Tapes of these shows have either been lost or destroyed. For twenty years, these programs had been successfully torn from the pages of television history. Until now.
What follows is a transcript from Appraizzle, MTV’s short-lived attempt at tapping into the auctioneering craze of the time.
Title sequence. Brightly colored swirly shapes shift positions slightly to the beat of a saxophone-laden dance jam.
Host Chet, 31, decked in a lime green helmet, matching elbow pads, and a neon pink sweatshirt with rolled-up sleeves, skateboards to center frame and awkwardly drags his back heel to stop. Someone hands him a mic from offscreen.
Chet: Hey homeboys and homegirls of TV land, welcome to Appraizzle – your number one source for all things gnarly. I’m your host Chet Walkman and this week we’re in Chicago, Illinois showing the Windy City what’s punk and what’s junk. Let’s get kickin’!
Chet does a high front kick and runs to the center of the auction house floor. Darryl, 17 with poor skin and a peach fuzz mustache, stands in front of a video game console.
Chet: Whoa, Darryl, what do we have here?
Darryl: Um, this is a Nintendo Entertainment System. It’s four years old and I’m looking to get rid of it. I might buy a car or something.
Chet: Anything special about this particular Nintendo, Darryl?
Darryl: Yeah, well, about a year ago I won a contest from the radio to hang with Sammy Hagar for a day. But he was too hungover to go anywhere, so we just sat and played this Nintendo the whole time.
Chet: Way cool! Sounds like this is a hot item. Girls?
Two models, who can only be described as “bodacious”, strut onscreen. One is wearing a sexy Sherlock Holmes outfit, the other is a sexy nurse. Sexy Sherlock Holmes closely scrutinizes the item with a magnifying glass. The nurse listens to it with a stethoscope that she wears incorrectly.
Chet: The verdict?
The sexy nurse whispers into Chet’s ear.
Chet: Whoa, ladies, he’s only seventeen years old!
Darryl giggles and tries to hide an erection. He fails.
Chet: I mean, it’s punk! The item is totally punk!
Darryl: Wicked! So how much is it?
Chet: A punk item like that officially snags you a free gift card to Friendly’s! And as you know, “There’s no place like Friendly’s.”
Darryl: Wait, that’s it? Can I just keep my NES?
Chet: Sorry brother, but I got to cut you off there. We’ll get things kickin’ [does a front kick] once more after this commercial break.
Chet stands beside Kimberly, 16. Behind her is an acoustic guitar leaning on a stand.
Chet: Hey, welcome back to Appraizzle, I’m here with Kimberly and she’s going to show us this righteous git box she’s got here. Tell us about it, Kimberly.
Kimberly: This is an antique Oscar Schmidt blues guitar I got from my grandpa, who was a friend of Robert Johnson. Johnson is often considered the greatest blues musician of all time, and was an immense influence on countless rock musicians like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Jimmy Page.
Chet: Whoa, you’re dropping a lot of names there, Kimmy. Care to tell us what makes this hunk of junk a hunk of punk?
Kimberly: Well, little is known of the enigmatic Johnson–
Chet: Radical! Girls, what do you think?
The two models walk onscreen. One is dressed as the MTV Moon Man in a skimpy and nonfunctional spacesuit. The other might be a sexy teacher? Or a prostitute? The sexy astronaut takes out some sciencey-looking instruments made out of tin foil and examines the guitar. The other licks it. They finish and whisper in Chet’s ear.
Chet: Ladies, I’m married! Whoa, I mean, this is junk! Hate to break it to you, but this item is just lame-o-rama.
Kim: Oh. Bummer.
Chet: But wait! There is a way to turn this junk into punk. Here to perform their number one hit “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection” on your guitar, here’s the boys of Nelson! Kick it [he does another front kick]!
Gunnar Nelson grabs the guitar and shoves an amplifier cable into its brittle body, cracking a makeshift input jack into the wood. Matt Nelson accompanies his brother on a Stratocaster. They do a stunning rendition of the hit single right on the floor of the auction house, which apparently has been fitted with sophisticated lighting and pyrotechnic rigs. The models dance against the Nelson brothers with gusto. The song ends with Matt and Gunnar sweatily panting and smiling, as Kimberly tries to hold back tears. She fails.
Chet: Can you say “bombdigity”?! That was killer! Keep it fresh, dudes. We’ll be right back with more Appraizzle.
Chet high fives the Nelsons.
Chet stands in front of the camera as roadies dismantle the pyrotechnic and lighting rigs.
Chet: Well that’s it for this week’s episode of Appraizzle. See you next w–
Andre, 18, walks onscreen wearing a leather jacket and skinny jeans. His face is obscured by a shaggy Joey Ramone hairdo. He holds a small ornamental oak box.
Andre: I have something to show you.
He opens the box. Inside is a shriveled gray mass shivering against the box’s fine silk lining. On close inspection, it resembles a severely premature fetus. It blinks and whimpers.
Chet: What the–
Andre: This is the true spirit of rock n’ roll. I found him working ground crew at a Poison concert. He was cold and scared. And dying.
Chet: You want us to appraise that thing?
Andre: Yeah, my Pops is making me sell it to pay for school.
The shriveled thing lets out a faint shriek at the utterance of the word “school.”
Chet: No, no, no. Get real, kid. That is junk.
The two models come out, one dressed as a sexy Bugs Bunny in drag, the other is a sexy Golden Gate Bridge wielding a riding crop.
Chet: Don’t worry about it, girls, this kid was just leaving.
Andre closes the box dejected. The true spirit of rock n’ roll hisses at the onset of darkness.
Chet: Well that about wraps it up for this week on Appraizzle. Next week we take it to Long Beach, California to kick things up a notch!
Chet does a haphazard front kick to his side, where Andre has just turned to leave, knocking the box out of Andre’s hands. The sickly embodiment of rock flies from its box and falls under the stiletto heel of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Sexy Golden Gate Bridge: Oops.
A flight of black doves emerge from rock n’ roll’s dead body. An unseen guitar strikes a mournful A minor chord, sapping any sense of joy or hope in the world from all who hear it.
Andre weeps. A white limousine crashes through the auction house wall. Tom Freston, CEO of MTV Networks, emerges and runs to the site of rock’s demise.
Tom: I came as soon as I heard. Dammit, Chet. You’ve done it!
Chet: I didn’t do anything, sir! I was just signing off.
Tom: No, you magnificent fool! You’ve saved us!
Chet: Saved us?
Tom: You’ve destroyed the one thing holding us back. No more carrying on with this charade.
Chet: Oh, yeah. You’re welcome.
Tom: No more must we slave for the sake of music and youth culture!
Chet looks confused. Freston reaches down and picks up rock’s tiny remains. He slowly raises them above his head. An unseen choir dissonantly howls like a noxious wind through a sea of dead trees.
Tom: We are free to create our own culture – a popular culture – popular for the simple fact that we say it is. We shall optimize viewership and revenue by shilling idiotic bullshit that appeals to humanity’s most base desires. Anything with half a spinal cord will want to watch our network! “Music Television”. Ha! We may now take complete advantage of the youth without the pesky rebellious and anti-authoritarian spirit of counter- and alternative culture!
The choir, wailing now like the souls of the damned, builds to a deafening crescendo.
Tom: Goodbye uninhibited youthfulness! Farewell choice and free will! For I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds!
Tom laughs from deep within the hollow of his being.
Chet: This mean we get a prime time slot?
Tom: Fuck no. I’m canning this piece of shit.
Roll credits. Swirly shapes shift slightly to a saxophone-laden beat.