Deep in the heart of Malice, Texas, on the Salad Fork Ranch, dwells a family as rich, raw and half-baked as the land they tamed—the fabulously wealthy Youalls. Unscrupulous son W.W. plans an adult amusement park called Linda Loveland and hustles homesites on Mount St. Helens (“Experience the earthshaking beauty of America’s great Northwest”). Big Daddy Garth Youall guzzles “seven-course Texas lunches” (chili and a six-pack), wife Miss Millie is a “dear, kind lady with the IQ of a rhododendron,” and W.W.’s sister-in-law Jody “is a well-dressed woman who cares about the world’s social ills—a sort of Gucci-two shoes.” Then there’s brother Billy Roy Bob, “a right-thinking humanitarian and also a wimp.” Any similarity between Malice, a daily 75-second radio serial syndicated nationally to 249 stations, and CBS-TV’s superseries Dallas is intentional and hilarious.
“It was time somebody lampooned Dallas,” says Malice’s Virginia-based creator, Chris White, 33, who dismisses TV’s Ewing saga as “chewing gum for the eyes. I think the acting we do is more outrageous and the scripts ain’t too bad either.” Well, they’re different, anyway. Recently Daddy Garth and a wheeler-dealer companion were blasted into space while inspecting property on Mount St. Helens. “It was the first time,” Garth observed later, “that a mountain ever subdivided a real estate agent.” Some of the jokes flirt with bad taste (“How many Poles does it take to picket a factory?” “Five—one to wave the sign and four to move the building back and forth”). Others embrace bad taste openly: “It was so nice of W.W. to ask Dean Martin to hold a Richard Pryor roast.” Apparently White is embarrassed by none of it. “I could even see our show translated to TV as a sillier kind of Dallas,” he deadpans. “Gary Coleman could play the Jock Ewing patriarch.”
For White, an Oakland-born deejay turned comedy writer, Malice is the latest step in a 14-year career that has taken him, he says, “to some of the most forgettable radio stations on earth. If I stayed more than six months, they gave me a gold watch.” A year ago he began writing commercials for the Studio Center in Norfolk, Va. When the company began thinking of producing a serial, White approached them with Malice. The show now grosses $9,600 a week, though the producers say the threat of protests has kept the nonunion show off the air in prime markets like New York and Los Angeles. White says he isn’t getting rich. “When I take my paycheck down to the bank,” insists the writer, who says he has a wife and “two drooling little girls” at home, “they still ask how do I want my money—heads or tails?” But cash, he implies, isn’t everything—nor are hollow professional honors. “Pulitzer Prize be damned!” he cries. “I just want to sell some material to Mad magazine.”