TV treatment: The Wontons
“The Wontons” deals with a family who comes to America from a region in Polynesia known as the Thousand Islands. The leading figure in this series is Bok Choy, the only son of an ambitious family. Inexplicably, Bok Choy has a younger brother, Bok Worm. The start of this series is set in 1838.
As happy as the Wontons are in their tropical home, they feel that the economic environment is impeding their success as salad-dressing magnates. Ever-vigilant for any opportunity that presents itself, the Wontons are galvanized by news of the then-new telegraph. Bok Choy is particularly smitten. Not completely understanding what telegraph is or how he might benefit from it, he senses that it is the way of the future, with possible ramifications in the fields of dial-up computer services and automated telemarketing. Taking advantage of the moment, Bok Choy packs his things and heads for America, promising to send for the rest of the family as soon as he is settled.
Arriving in America, Bok Choy’s first impression is positive but not overwhelming. Few people know what a telegraph is, let alone care how to convert ideographs into Morse Code. Disillusioned, Bok Choy decides to move to Montana (which means “stand of cocoanut trees” in his native tongue), specifically, the town of Sweetgrass.
Settling in Montana during the summer, Bok Choy makes the acquaintance of a runaway slave named George who shares Bok’s dream of an encoded binary omni-indexed archive-and-retrieval unlimited-access matrix, while not being unaware of its drawbacks. Encouraged, Bok sends for the rest of the family.
The Wontons discover that the weather in Montana is not as temperate in the winter as it is during the summer. At the same time, Bok Choy and George spend virtually every last penny of the Wonton family fortune on their scheme, only to fail. George decides to leave Montana for Washington, DC, there to run for President.
Bok Choy opens the nation’s first travel agency. Business is slow at first, so Bok Choy invents in-flight movies. The eventual success of the Wright brothers seems impossibly distant, however, and this venture, too, folds.
Prosperity! Bok Choy notices that many Americans suffer from obesity, and moves to counter this trend by developing 500 Island Dressing, named after the Wonton family’s more famous salad topping but with half the calories. With the family fortunes restored and with enough money to live anywhere they want, the Wontons move to Butte, Montana.
The Wontons settle into a comfortable groove, with Bok Choy spending virtually all his time inventing various things. In this episode, he pioneers anti-lock brakes, but has trouble multiplexing the control signal. Because the brakes don’t stop, the idea doesn’t go.
Guessing that bats must use some sort of special technique for finding their way around, Bok Choy sets out to invent radar. This project sinks because the radar operator must manually calculate the Doppler shift using an abacus.
Out for a joy-ride in a new carriage, Bok Choy hits a bump that leaves him weightless for a fraction of a second. Envisioning faster carriages, Bok Choy reasons that hitting bumps at faster speeds may result in prolonged weightlessness. The funny feeling it creates in the stomach will necessitate different foods, leading Bok Choy to experiment with hydroponics in a gravity-free environment. Sadly, the new carriage is destroyed by repeated attempts to fly it at higher and higher speeds over larger and larger bumps, curtailing further advances.
Bok Choy labors secretly for days in his room and becomes the first person in the world to produce synthetic helium. Its practical uses are limited, however, by the discovery that it does not make your voice sound like Donald Duck the way natural helium does.
Peeved that the mainstream scientists do not take him seriously and will not publish his work, Bok Choy invents desktop publishing. Just as it seems that Bok Choy will attain fame, his work area is atomized during an experiment to see if a Crock Pot can be used instead of an electro-magnetic bottle to contain a sustained thermonuclear fusion reaction. With no more desktop (or anything else of note), desktop publishing becomes but a dream.
Lightning strikes twice. Bok Choy invents Troll Dolls just in time for the Christmas season. Strangely, not a one of them sells. Rather than give up, Bok Choy assumes an aggressive marketing posture, eventually finding thousands of buyers for his product, all of whom seem to live in Jamaica.
And again! During a family vacation trip to Utah, Bok Choy becomes intrigued with the possibility of co-generating electricity from biomasses. The idea is sound but it turns out to be not economically feasible due to intense price competition from Standard Oil of New Jersey. Undaunted, Bok Choy converts his biomass testing site into a toxic waste recycling and storage center, albeit to initially low response.