Editor's Note: NBC producers, in an effort to fulfill advertisement obligations in their eminent post-"Friends" lineup, have given an unprecedented 37-episode contract to Ben Jacobs (AKA Max Tundra) based upon his latest album, Mastered by Guy at the Exchange. We understand that the series entitled "Smiling Electrically" will revolve around protagonist Max Balatonic, a mild-mannered Londoner who has been transplanted to Arizona by his computer graphics firm. Adventures abound as he and his two Mexican cousins, aided by the talking robotic dog "Electrode," get into one "zany" mishap after another. The series is loosely based upon the real-life experiences of Mr. Jacobs. The following is an excerpt from an interview conducted just minutes after the taping of the first episode, "Lights, Camera, Max-tion!," in which Max seeks out a beautiful singer, Lara, for whom his firm is designing an album cover, but Juan and Miguel accidentally spike her humidifier with two-finger rum. Hilarity ensues.
Andrew Bryant: I only saw the final hour of taping, but from that little taste I can tell this series is destined for a legacy of "Cheers" proportions. Can you tell me a little bit about what inspired the subject of the first show?
Ben Jacobs: It was all based on the track "Lights" from my previous album. NBC said that I had to either stick pretty close to the songs, or else hire Jennifer Aniston as the voice of "Electrode," so naturally every episode is based on my other job [laughs]. In the song I come to a realization through syncopated vocals and GameBoy beats that [mimics the high-pitched/sped-up voice on the album] "only last week/ I noticed that the colors/ of the lights in my studio/ are the same as the ones/ you conjure in my mind." The next episode, "Cho Cha Power," acts as the conclusion to the two-part cliffhanger, where Lara falls in love with my ex-wife and moves into the vacant house adjacent to my own. It's all based upon the song "Labial," so I really wanted to keep the hard-rock dynamic I tried to mix into the song by making my ex-wife a former roadie for Judas Priest. Just like in the song, and after a few electronic interludes, they leave me for one another, only to gloat about it later.
Bryant: The song "MBGate" hints at disco rhythms with doo-wop chants. Is there any chance we could have a retro-episode, à la "That '70s Show"?
BJ.: [laughs] No, no, no... it's been done to death. What I do plan on is adding more issue-driven shows. For example, "Lysine," the song warning against amino acid deficiency, will definitely find its way into the series. I think more people should be made aware of essential peptides, and not simply arginine and glycine.
Bryant: [pause] Right. I read online that you are also planning on devoting an entire season to "The Legend of Zelda." Is there any truth to this?
BJ.: That is correct. I plan on starting production this March. Those particular episodes will be based upon the Nintendo-esque trilogy off of Mastered, the songs "Fuerte," "Pocket" and "Cabasa." I don't know exactly how we will pull it off yet, but the shows will follow in the same vein as the songs: light-hearted roaming music ("Fuerte"), handclapping/string & bell-driven coliseum melody ("Pocket"), and ultimately flat-out beats with warm synths filling in the space between notes giving way to a piano-led ballad ("Cabasa"). I am very excited about it all. We are getting Paul Westerberg to play the part of the princess, so it should be interesting.
Bryant: Sounds very interesting, indeed. Finally, aside from the series, do you have any other future plans for your music? Scoring, perhaps?
BJ.: Brian Wilson and I are going into the studio this winter. I am going to help him finally master the real Smile. It was very flattering, actually. He said he was inspired by the electro-folk and pop bounce of the track "Hilted" to get back in the studio again, and this time do it right. Aside from that, Lexus just licensed me to produce more bass-line tracks such as "Acorns" and "Gondry," only with more inaudible female backing vocals. They say that anything will sell more cars than the tripe that Sting was spewing. I guess we'll just have to just wait and see.