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Cable access offers 'ROX,' an excess of irreverence

 

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Review from Indianapolis Star by Steve Hall. January 24, 1995.

 ***
Stars: J, B, Christy Paxson, Jenny B. and T. Black.
Broadcast time: 4 p.m. Wednesdays, with rebroadcasts at 5 p.m. Thursdays.
Channel: American Cablevision Channel 98 or 99, depending on your set. Show contains nudity, profanity and occasional illegal activities. Parental discretion is advised.
Star ratings: 4 excellent, 3 good, 2 fair, 1 poor.


Most cable access shows are as exciting as watching lint.

Not Rox — a nutty bohemian blast of irreverence and imagination. The 2 1/2-year-old Bloomington public access show is finally coming to Indianapolis. American Cablevision subscribers can see the weekly series twice honored for its innovative approach by the Indiana Film Society and twice voted best TV program by Bloomington Voice readers.

What are they raving about? A group of Bloomington slackers armed with a video camera, a satiric outlook and a penchant for creating controversy. Their funny, intelligent and opinionated show contains scenes of nudity, alcohol, blue language and, in the most famous instance, marijuana.

Last summer, they attracted national attention with an episode In which "J, your bartender" (Joe Nickell, 26, a Louisville, Ky., native) and "B" (Bart Everson, 27, originally of Greenwood) got stoned and lost in the woods.

After viewing the episode, Joseph E. Mills Ill, director of the Governor's Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana, complained that they were involved "in the overt promotion of anarchy."

They only play them an TV

J & B responded with an episode titled — what else? — The Overt Promotion of Anarchy, to air in Indianapolis on Feb. 15-16.

It shows Bloomington police roughly arresting bike riders during a Critical Mass protest (bikes take over the streets), and contains instructions on how to build one's own "Red Box" to make illegal long-distance telephone calls.

The episode carries a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer: "You should never, ever, do anything illegal. So don't try it."

Counterculture politics aside, Rox at times plays like an oddball slacker sitcom — what NBC's Friends might be like if the producers actually knew interesting, authority-challenged folks like these. (They'd have been called "hippies" in the '60s.)

For instance: Wednesday's show, Moving On Down, finds this motley crew moving out of a shared house into low-income housing, a boarding house and, literally, the streets. The camera roams through their cluttered closets, Christy Paxson (Everson's real-life wife) explains the importance of ramen noodles in a funny segment, and a yard sale features a guy eating a pickled pig's foot for $1.

Scenes of their former digs being cleaned include this observation: "You'll be amazed what people will watch on TV."

Not when it's Rox.

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