Above you’ll find find a clip from Wired In, a television show produced in the early eighties meant to orient viewers in the midst of that heady era of technological innovation. Alas, the program never aired; only a demo reel and some raw footage survive. But those remains feature no less a comedic luminary than Bill Murray, who even 32 years ago must have been quite a catch for a pilot like this. Though not known for his tech savvy, he has built a reputation for making anything sound hilarious by virtue of his persona alone. This skill he applies to a parody of the everyman’s anti-technology diatribe, as commonly heard then as it is today — or as it no doubt was 32 years before the shoot, or will be 32 years from now. “Who thinks up all this high-tech stuff anyway?” Murray demands. “They start with the digital watches. Tells you the time in numbers, the exact time to the second. 3:12 and 42 seconds. Who needs to know that stuff? I don’t!”
Keep watching, and that Wired In clip heads to Las Vegas to demonstrate for us the wonder of solid-state cartridge software for the Texas Instruments Home Computer. But if you’d rather marvel at more of Murray’s particular kind of craft, watch the full seven minutes of rant takes above. His riffs, seemingly scripted as well as improvised, of varying moods and pitched at varying energy levels, take him from those digital watches to automated car factories to R2-D2 to talking dashboards to the one idea he does like, robots that ride alongside you in your car’s passenger’s seat. “You know what?” he concludes, “They’ll never do it — because it makes too much sense.” The makers of Wired In clearly had a presciently sardonic attitude about the coming waves of tech-related anxiety; the pilot also includes a jab at the notion of video game addiction from “Pac-Man freak” Lily Tomlin.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.