REPORTING FROM KANSAS CITY, MO. -- Few envisioned the Arab Spring that would upend international politics and lead to the overthrow and death of Moammar Kadafi. With one odd exception — a long-lost, long-forgotten 1987 Matthew Perry sitcom set in Venice, Calif., that correctly forecast Kadafi’s demise.
In "Second Chance," Joseph Maher plays an insouciant St. Peter, who judges whether the recently deceased will go to heaven or hell. Perry plays the teenage, 1987 version of a troubled man who dies in 2011 and has a second chance to go back and change the course of his life for the better.
But before Perry is introduced and the plot gets rolling, St. Peter’s second visitor in the opening of the pilot is a slimmer, younger-looking Kadafi than the one we know today — and one also perforated by multiple gunshot wounds.
“Ah, Colonel Kadafi,” St. Peter dryly muses, “dead at last.”
Kadafi says, "It's impossible for me to be dead," but St. Peter assures him that he most certainly is.
After some awkward pantomiming, St. Peter judges Kadafi: “Colonel Kadafi, hear me: because you’ve ordered the death of innocent people by means of terrorist explosives, you are sentenced to spend eternity wired as a human bomb. Every two minutes, you will blow up.”
The audience laughed, and it’s worth looking back to that period in Libya’s history to remember why: In the mid-1980s, Kadafi supported several international terrorist groups, and Libyan agents were responsible for the fatal bombing of a West Berlin nightclub.
What’s more unsettling is that the "Second Chance" episode predates the most notorious case of Libyan terrorism, the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 — known as the Lockerbie bombing — which a former Libyan minister recently claimed that Kadafi ordered personally.
"Second Chance" failed after one season; Kadafi survived for another 24 years.
-- Matt Pearce