Tuesday, March 6, 2007

In the Ice Box

Dear HBO executives,

I’d like to pitch an idea for a drama that takes place in a butcher shop. I am writing to you as my last hope for reviving interest in the quickly disappearing art of butchering fish and meat. Surely, In the Ice Box can do for butchers and fishmongers what Six Feet Under has done for funeral home directors.

According to my estimates, at least 10% of the office trapped work force is dreaming of opening a restaurant, a wine shop, or a cheese shop. But I am yet to meet a man or a woman whose ambition it is to open a meat or fish market. Every time yet another Mom and Pop shop shuts down, my heart sinks in despair.

Why are we more concerned with the disappearance of penguins in Antarctica due to our fishing practices than with the disappearance of fishmongers? Trust me, there are fewer real fishmongers left than penguins and no one seems to notice. If we don’t act quickly, the only option left to us will be Whole Foods. Do you want to eat flavorless New Zealand lamb and buy fish fillets with scales for the rest of your days?

Our drama, In the Ice Box, starts with Jeremy Albert dropping out of Harvard medical school. He is a smart kid, but after a few years of dealing with medical establishment, he becomes disillusioned. As he is walking home with his cup of triple latte, he passes a butcher shop and is smitten with the butcher’s daughter, Amanda, arranging Colorado lamb chops and grass-fed rib-eye at the meat counter. Jeremy is desperate to talk to Amanda, but the $25/Lb price tag on those chops seems a bit prohibitive to a medical school drop out without a job. That’s when he notices the “Help wanted” sign. He bravely walks in, asks for an interview, impresses Amanda’s father, George, with his knife skills – that surgery rotation sure came in handy – and gets the job.

The next day, George sends Jeremy to Dan, the fishmonger next door, for some butcher paper (the business is going so well that they ran out). Poor Jeremy finds Amanda and Dan making out in the back room. Their passion is as red and raw as the bluefin tuna they are feeding each other.

Jeremy is crushed, but in a few weeks he learns that sex is the only thing that keeps Dan and Amanda together (that, and Amanda’s addiction to fatty tuna). From here, the possibilities are endless. I am sure your writers will make this drama into an Emmy award winner complete with a threatening acquisition by Whole Foods, an E. Coli scare, and sex on the butcher block.

Feel free to contact me any time to discuss the plot line and cast. I’d be happy to put you in touch with some of the few remaining fishmongers and butchers who can act as consultants for the show.

Sincerely yours,
-Helen Rennie


Anonymous said...

I know you didn't really initiate this, but now all day long I'm going to be singing "Fish heads, fish heads, roley poley fish heads..."

Pam said...


You might not be able to blame Helen, but I know who *I* can blame now, can't I?


Toni said...

Speaking as the daughter of a butcher, my dad will tell you that few men behind the meat counter even know how to cut meat anymore. It all comes in from and assemble line and packed in cryovac. At the store, they just open the package, weigh and label it. The trade (apprentice to journeyman) is fading away and their wages reflect it.

Dolores said...

Alyson Hannigan (Willow of Buffy fame) as Amanda... George Clooney as George... the possibilities are endless... (and much more entertaining than the spreadsheet I should be analyzing).

And we can use Sean's "fish head" blast-from-the-past as the show's anthem...

Freya said...

Helen, this is a great post! If you'd pitched that to me, I'd be backing you all the way (providing you cooked lunch, that is)...
The points raised though are very true.

Helen said...

Hi guys,

Can you enlighten me about the "fish heads" song?

My musical knowledge is limited to classical, Beatles, and a tiny bit of jazz, so I am eager to expand my horizons.


Shawn said...


Also, Fish Heads the perennial Dr. Demento fave by Barnes and Barnes (how can you have been a programmer in your former life and not know this? :)

Helen said...

Hi Shawn,

I must admit that Fish Heads was even more impressive in its badness than Buckaroo Banzai. One of my development teams introduced me to that one, but I guess they overlooked Fish Heads as a crucial part of my computer science education. Shame on them!


Anonymous said...

Did you know that Barnes and Barnes was a duo that included Bill Mumy of "Lost In Space" (Will Robinson) fame? It was him and a friend who made the song, and I don't know how they came up with Barnes and Barnes for the "group" name.

I'm just sayin'. :)

I like your TV show idea, Helen!

Monika Korngut said...

I like your show idea.... Very true story, moving.

Elise said...

Sign me up! It's got to be better than the dreck they're serving up these days. In another 10 years no one will even know what the term "fish monger" means.