HOLIDAY CHEER: It’s a Wonderful 3.0 Life
This abridged ATSC remake of the bittersweet Frank Capra holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” features George Bailey, the humble force behind a local TV station in the typical American small town of Bedford Falls.
As the film opens, it’s Christmas Eve, and George is seriously contemplating suicide. As he is about to leap off the bridge, two celestial voices high above Bedford Falls discuss Bailey’s dilemma and decide to send down eternally bumbling angel Clarence Oddbody, who has yet to earn his wings, to help out George.
But first, Clarence is given a crash course on George’s life, starting with his time as a boy building crystal radios with his broadcaster father, then as young television engineer working on ATSC 1.0, and later leading the Bedford Falls TV station’s transition to digital.
George Bailey had big aspirations – seeing the world, building TV stations around the country, perhaps even running a network someday. Clarence learned how those dreams were dashed as George became the head of Bailey Broadcasting when his father died and his younger brother, Harry Bailey, fled Bedford Falls leaving George to holding the bag.
Clarence saw George always looking out for his viewers, defending his Uncle Billy (an early advocate for Next Gen TV) and preventing the town despot Potter from taking over the Bailey’s TV station. Along the way, George married his childhood sweetheart, Mary, who stuck by him through thick and thin – from NTSC to ATSC 1.0 to 2.0 and 3.0.
Just as George is about to jump into the frigid river, Clarence comes down to Earth; his moment has come. He knows George well enough to expect that if he, Clarence, jumps into the river, George will rescue him. He does so, and George rescues him as predicted.
To George’s astonishment, Clarence knows the entire story of his life. George is disbelieving and cynical about the whole thing, saying it’s not surprising that he got only a second-class angel, one without wings.
Finally, George says, “I wish ATSC 3.0 had never been born.” Clarence formulates his plan, and, after a little prayerful communication with the senior angels, says, “You’ve got your wish. ATSC 3.0 has never been born.”
Things change immediately. It stops snowing, and Clarence escorts George through the alternate universe without Next Gen TV. They discover that Bedford Falls has become Pottersville and, with no ATSC 3.0, it’s a dreary place. They trudge into town looking for Martini’s Tavern, where townspeople had gathered nightly to watch 4K UHD sports broadcasts. Martini’s has become a sleazy dive that doesn’t even have a TV.
George leaves Clarence behind and explores Pottersville on his own. He discovers that the local pharmacist, Mr. Gower, is out of business because he can’t use ATSC 3.0’s targeted advertising. George encounters Ernie the cab driver, who gets lost because he can’t download navigation data from ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.
He finds that his boyhood home has become Ma Bailey’s Boarding House, a seedy place where the TVs are all dark because there’s no ATSC 3.0 deep indoor reception. He is astonished to see the plight of his friends. Violet Bick can’t watch her reality TV shows broadcast to her tablet via ATSC 3.0. Bert the cop can’t use ATSC 3.0’s advanced emergency advisories.
Still in denial, George learns that Uncle Billy is in the asylum and, because they can’t take advantage of Next Gen TV’s interactivity and audience measurement, the Bailey’s local TV station is boarded up. And the evil Potter, mired in ATSC 1.0, has taken over all the media outlets in town.
Finally aware of what is happening, George runs back to the bridge and calls out, “Help me Clarence, please! I want ATSC 3.0 to live again!”
The alternate universe suddenly ends. It’s snowing once again. Bert arrives in his police car, and calls out to George that he’s been looking for him. George is ecstatic. He runs into town, which is once again Bedford Falls with all its familiar institutions: the Emporium, the Bijou, Mr. Gower’s drugstore, Martini’s – and his beloved TV station.
When he gets home, he has a joyful reunion with his children. Mary arrives, along with a big crowd led by Uncle Billy. When word got around that George was distraught about Next Gen TV, the townspeople who all benefitted from ATSC 3.0 arrived to support him: his mother; Mr. Gower and Mr. Martini; Violet, Ernie, Bert and many others. Harry Bailey, now a war hero, arrives last and toasts: “To my big brother George, the best broadcaster in town!”
In the last scene, a bell on the Christmas tree rings. George’s youngest daughter Zuzu says, “Daddy, teacher says every time a bell rings a TV station launches ATSC 3.0.” George exclaims, “That’s right,” and glancing heavenward, “Attaboy, Clarence.”
So, after his nightmarish odyssey through a world without ATSC 3.0, George Bailey learned how impactful Next Gen TV truly is. And Clarence earned his wings by showing George that, indeed, It’s a Wonderful 3.0 Life!