Tulsa TV Memories      
Swanson's TV Dinner

"Never Been Thawed"


I saw a funny new independent movie from Netflix the other night, "Never Been Thawed". (In fact, it is available only through Netflix at the time of this writing.)

The story revolves around the passions of the diverse members of the "Mesa Frozen Entrees Enthusiasts Club". Shawn is a dental hygienist and leader of a punk band, The Christers, renamed at the suggestion of Milo, entrepreneur and Christian rock promoter. Shelly, who works at an abstinence hotline, has a crush on Shawn. Al, hair stylist/clown, bass player and Shawn's best friend, has a crush on Shelly.

The overly busy and out-of-date design by Shelly of the club's web site (actually viewable at the link) is integral to the plot of the movie. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Shelly borrowed an image I scanned for Tulsa TV Memories years ago: the Swanson TV dinner seen at the top of this page. (Swanson has a Tulsa radio connection, it turned out.)

Before scanning the box, I thawed and ate the dinner, which would have provoked groans from the MFEEC: it was a Swanson 45th Anniversary Edition.

This image has really gotten around. The popular blog Boing Boing also used it last year at the passing of the inventor of the TV dinner.

New! 2/26/2009: We now have the Netflix Roku box which lets you stream movies direct to your TV. I re-watched NBT this evening, and this time noticed that blowups of the dinner are seen at 12 and 19 minutes into the movie as background art in an apartment.

There were three blowups, tinted differently, a la Andy Warhol. The blurb at the upper right corner of the box was eliminated by flipping a copy of the upper left corner of the box over it. You can see when you pause the movie that the woodgrain on the right is a mirror image of the left.

What are the odds that an offhand scan I did in 1999 would end up in an indie movie, and that I would discover it?

NBT (not to be confused with the National Bank of Tulsa) is a "mockumentary", somewhat in the vein of Christopher Guest's hilarious "Best of Show", though it keeps up a high density of visual/graphic-oriented gags. This is a good thing.

The official web site provides links to fake web sites for each of the three organizations that figure in the story. Although I just stumbled onto NBT, looking at these sites is probably an effective way to find out if it would appeal to your sense of humor.

This iconoclastic movie is guaranteed to offend some, and convulse others, including yours truly. I thought it was hilarious. Check out the web site, but don't shoot the messenger.

Star/writer/director Sean Anders, of the "Slippery Chicken" comedy troupe who made this movie, emailed me:

"Needless to say, finding art for the old entrees wasn't easy. Much of it we created ourselves. We tried to get a hold of Swanson but that turned out to be harder than getting a hold of the president."

An update from Mr. Anders, 6/9/2006:

"'The Christers' is still in series development at Comedy Central. Too soon to tell if the pilot script will make it to series.

"'Special Needs' (Anders / Morris screenplay about an autistic sexual savant) is set up for development at National Lampoon.

"'She's Out of My League' (Anders / Morris' latest screenplay) has just been purchased by DreamWorks this week!"

Like Tulsa's own "Beef Baloney" boys (who were also working at National Lampoon, last we heard), here is another up-and-coming comedy group to watch for in the future.

A further update from Mr. Anders, 6/29/2006:

"NBT is now available for sale or rent at these locations and more:

"Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Movie Gallery, AMAZON.COM (direct link), Best Buy, Circuit City, Hastings, Tower, Transworld (Musicland, Peaches - see photoset at Lost Tulsa...webmaster)

"BUY OR RENT IT TODAY (Or at least pick it up and look at it before you rent "Blossom"'s complete first season.)"

"Never Been Thawed" official site.

Copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.

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