In Nevada movies, there's always a giant worm in the sand

Here we go again.

I just saw the commercial for a new fall television show called "Push, Nevada."

Here's the plot synopsis: "A mild-mannered IRS agent travels to a remote desert region in search of missing money and stumbles into a strange small town where mystery, danger and peculiar characters lurk around every off-kilter corner."

Let's get one thing out of the way right up front. The announcer for the promo commercial doesn't know how to pronounce Nevada.

This doesn't speak well for the verisimilitude of the series. One suspects that no one associated with the show has ever actually been to Nevada. (The Las Vegas strip doesn't count. While the Strip may be quintessential Nevada, it also happens to be Paris, New York, Venice, Rome and a number of other places which are not Nevada.)

Personally, I think we should get over the feeling of being slighted whenever somebody mispronounces the name of the state. It's a handy time-saver, because you can tell right away there's no reason to pay any attention to anything they say about Nevahda.

I love the TV commercials that pretend to be local, telling us all about how their product will help us live that Nevahda lifestyle. Think of all the money I've saved ignoring them.

Beyond the ability to pronounce the name of the state, what I'm most wondering about is why it seems every creepy, deranged, bizarre plot line for a TV show, movie or book has to pass through our state.

For crying out loud, don't they have any weird people in Arkansas? (Don't answer that.)

"Everyone in Push has a secret," continues the plot synopsis for the new TV show, "but no one is talking ... unless they're telling our man to get out of town, fast."

OK. That part I understand. We're about nothing in Nevada if it isn't being left alone. Sure, we have that whole tourist industry thing. That only means we don't mind being paid to put up with other folks.

Generally, though, we'd just as soon people didn't mess with us. Everybody's always trying to grab a piece of Nevada. Got 77,000 tons of nuclear waste you need to store? Um, we'd rather you put it somewhere else.

Still, you get the feeling there's a well-thumbed book at the Screenwriters Guild in Hollywood titled "Nevada Plots."

Brothels. Casinos. Howard Hughes. Nuclear bombs. Extraterrestrials. Mobsters. Area 51. Liberace.

I hardly need to remind you, but virtually every other X-Files episode seemed to be set in the Nevada desert.

There is, of course, Stephen King's "Desperation," wherein the local lawman has lost his marbles.

In a line that runs from "The Misfits" through "Leaving Las Vegas" to "The Pledge," even when the people in Nevada aren't portrayed as otherworldly ghouls with fangs and claws, there's still something very, very wrong with them.

But my favorite in the whole bunch of movies that needed Nevada as an appropriate backdrop may be "Tremors," which was followed by "Tremors 2" and, amazingly enough, "Tremors 3."

In the first one, Kevin Bacon is living in the middle of the desert in a place called Perfection, Nev., when monster worms start poking up through the sand.

Here's the plot summary: "Local redneck residents Val McKee and Earl Basset, while attempting to leave the town permanently for the big city, were instead forced to stay and fight the enormous worms as they closed in on the citizens, preying on every living thing in their path."

The worms are called Graboids, and they come back for each of the two sequels. Bacon didn't.

If you've seen the movies, you may agree with me the only character in them who accurately portrays a Nevadan is Burt Gummer, played by Michael Gross. In his ballcap, hunting vest and shooting glasses, Burt is armed to the teeth and living in a bunker. Just in case.

It's a good thing, too, because he's the only one prepared to deal with the giant worms.

To people in other parts of the country, Burt probably comes off as some kind of cartoon-character wacko.

All I say is, "You go, Burt." Somebody has to protect Nevada from the Graboids.

Barry Smith is managing editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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