Deadline
Perception

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Heathen: D | Grade It Now!
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Police Brutality

Lights up on "Washington Street" in the wee hours of the morning. Two tough Puerto Rican guys are strutting down the sidewalk; one is bragging about how he mouthed off to a "negrito," a disparaging remark about a black person. One whiny kid has been punched in the eye, and both are acting like bad-ass ghetto children. "I told him we didn't do nothin'," WhinyThug insists. "I'm lookin' out for you, too, Lord Nelson." This young actor has clearly spent lots of time on character development, crafting a very textured thug who does crazy things like eschewing the letter "G" and wearing a do-rag on his head. In a minute, he's going to start wearing his jeans backward, saying "wiggity-wack," and doing Sprite commercials. WhinyThug, whom the show now christens "Manny," touches his right eye, which is bleeding. "It's nothing," Nelson tells him, laughing. Manny insists he's been brutally maimed, and banter ensues. Nelson accidentally pushes Manny into an oncoming white man in a three-piece suit. Manny bristles and decides to harass the man, while Nelson tries to rein in his flamboyantly belligerent buddy. Pushing. Shoving. Much flapping of hands. Manny's acting teacher appears overhead in a floaty thought-bubble. "If you have to fight in a scene," he says, "then pretend you're doing doggie-paddle standing up." Aw, Manny's gonna get an A in that class. A black cop runs out shouting at Manny and Nelson, claiming he told them not to cause trouble. Manny freaks and starts running, while the white guy and black cop both draw guns. The cop shoots first and kills Nelson; then the white guy fires at the cop. A cross-dressing hooker watches in the shadows. Good. Wallace has to have a love-interest at some point.

Roll credits. Wave goodbye to Beth and Charlie, who should be axed from the show when it's forced to retool itself midseason.

Circle of News. Nikki asks what stories are coming from the national wires. One editor replies that the state of Iowa wants to strike the word "gay" from all Christmas carols. I wonder what Iowa would do if, as punishment for stupidity, we outlawed vowels. "'Don we now our straight apparel'? Great," Nikki deadpans. The Sports editor is planning a feature on the New York Giants' offensive line, joking that they're the midgets of The Meadowlands. There's a dumb joke about medicine here, too, and a story on Mad Cow testing on Plum Island which serves as a lame excuse to get Si's head out from behind the newspaper. Nikki says the lead story is the scene we saw before the credits began. The white man was tourist Joshua Roth, in town from Boca Raton, Fla., for a medical-supply convention. Nikki reads that Roth was accosted by two youths, and when the gun-smoke cleared, one kid was dead and the off-duty cop badly wounded. Brooke is calling the family for comment. The meeting ends, and Nikki looks startled because she's noticed something sketchy in her office. Apparently, she's never seen a "Wallace" before.

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