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Newmann: The Byzantine ceiling

Fall is a bonanza time for television. Virtually all of the major sports are competing for viewer attention on a variety of networks, the premieres of new (and old) series begin to air and streaming companies you’ve never heard of suddenly spring up with a host of offerings.

However, one old soap opera that’s been around for decades still endures. “As the Government Turns,” which first aired back when folks were still crossing the Delaware in small open boats, has had a bit of a resurgence.

For many years, the show just trundled along. Episodes contained struggles, prosperity, depression, war, peace, good times, bad times. A revolving cast of characters, many of whom became familiar faces over the years, came and went. Heroes turned into villains, villains into heroes and, sometimes, minor characters turned into major players.



Over the past few years, the show appears to have been modeled more on drama than any form of reality (many of the episodes appear to be based almost entirely on fiction). We’ve witnessed a variety of emotional cliffhangers, cringed at riotous behavior, listened to harangues about stolen items and seen all sorts of infighting and intrigue.

The cast, all pros and semi-pros, are excellent at carrying out their roles portraying a multitude of characters including virtuous stalwarts, nasty self-interested louts, piteous sycophants, mumbling power brokers, infighting cohorts and bumbling amateurs.



No wonder this soap keeps grinding along year after year.

A recent episode (that aired about a week ago) included the threat of a government shutdown (which, due to great scripting, was avoided at the last minute). But the show brought to mind similar episodes in the mid 1990s and in 2013 and 2018-19 when viewers witnessed the shock and horror of the effects of shutdowns.

People got furloughed or locked out of jobs, contractors didn’t get paid on time and government agencies went to slowdowns and/or standstills. The only good news on those episodes was that the congressional folks who instigated the whole mess still got paid. But, happily for all of us, these events could only take place on a soap opera. So no need to fret.

An upcoming episode (spoiler alert) could be a real barnburner that involves trying to raise a debt ceiling. Just to add to the drama, looks like there’s a new timeline that has to be met — or the ceiling may collapse and cause all sorts of problems.

Now one would hope that these congressional folks know their own limitations and would just call in a competent architect and some skilled specialists to raise that ceiling. A group of good tradespeople might be able to get the job done quickly, cooperatively — and even relatively inexpensively.

But, according to the promos, that may not be the case. There’s a chance these Congress people may try to tackle the job by themselves in a sort of “everyman for himself and God against all” mayhem.

Could be great viewing. Just have to hope they use the right methods and materials if they attempt to tackle this one. And that the ceiling — and, ultimately, the roof — do not come crashing down.

We’ll just have to see how the show’s slick writers actually script these upcoming installments. Maybe nothing will happen — and we’ll have to wait for more episodes (or even a new season) to find out if the ceiling actually gets repaired.

Suspenseful stuff! And a real cliffhanger.

Stay tuned.


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