57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)*


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Having spent the better part of last week being nursed back to health by my attentive family (BAHAHAHAHA), my alter ego, who some have taken to calling “The Crank on the Couch”, has taken some television programming notes. In a nutshell, here’s what I don’t think we need any more of.

Anything and everything that involves zombies, werewolves, vampires, fairy tale creatures, and/or alternate universes. Doctor Who being the only exception.

Folks demonstrating their skills at surviving, garbage picking, bidding on storage containers, saving hair salons or restaurants, ridding ponds of turtles or other “critters”, and/or evaluating things like Frank Sinatra’s hat (circa 1958) mysteriously acquired by someone’s Aunt Gertrude, a former Vegas showgirl, who may or may not done some private leg kicks for Ol’ Blue Eyes back in the day.

Competitions hosted by celebrities (or pseudo-celebrities who have become celebrities due to their affiliation with this dreck) involving singers, dancers, juggling unicyclists, extreme eaters, dressmakers, globe-trekking scavenger hunters, and/or drag queens.

Scripted dramas featuring forensic science, psychological profiling, season-long revenge schemes, teenagers (or anyone) with too much money, and/or series-long searches for murderers or serial killers.

Cheap rip-offs of “Lost”, “24”, or “House”. They were successful because they were groundbreaking. They’re over. We’ll watch the reruns if we need a fix.

The worlds of The Eastwoods, The Kardashians, The Ice-T’s, The Boo-Boo’s, The Simmonses, The Hogans, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

“The Real Housewives of [Anywhere]”. If America is hard-up for entertainment featuring houses and wives, I’ll bet five minutes of some actual housewifery will cure them of that. (That’s about how long it takes me to clean the bathroom or change the kitty litter or find Fangette’s misplaced textbook— I’ll put it on You Tube and anyone who really enjoys this type of thing can send me $5— cheaper than cable!)

Sitcoms that, well, aren’t funny. These include, but are certainly not limited to, old sitcom stars who are again throwing their hats into the ring. Sorry Reba, you’re a feisty old gal and I love you, but “Malibu Country” is nothing we haven’t seen before. I understand why you did it though. If someone had dangled the Lily Tomlin and Sara Rue carrots at me, I would’ve bitten, too. Next time, read the script first.

Groups of women sitting around any shaped tables (round, square, rectangular, trapezoid, or kidney) or on stools (bar or chair height) offering up their opinions about current events. Nothing Elizabeth Hasselback has to say about the death penalty, homelessness in America, or The Donald is likely to change where I stand on these matters. I don’t even know why Elizabeth Hasselbeck is famous. Is she an expert in anything?

The same question could be asked about me, I suppose. I’m not a television critic, I just play one at home. That being said and having weighed in with what I consider to be the airwave-filling, mind-numbing broadcast equivalent of the Ring Ding, allow me, conversely, to discuss the programming that does have some merit.

I do not have premium cable, so I haven’t seen “Homeland”. Everyone seems to like it, but everyone carries on about “Walking Dead” like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. I lost interest after episode three. The “Homeland” hype may necessitate my taking a look-see (if it’s available in Netflix).

It’s entirely possible that I gave up on “Walking Dead” because my Sunday night dance card is usually full. It has long been my habit to spend my Sunday evenings watching “Masterpiece Theater”. (My current favorites are “Sherlock”, “Downton Abbey”, and “Ask the Midwife”) I used to watch “Supernatural” and “Mad Men” when “Masterpiece Theater” was in reruns, but I fell behind, so now I just watch them on demand if I think about it.

I am still a semi-regular “Glee” viewer. I don’t so much care about the story lines (often I DVR it and just skip to the musical numbers). Fangette likes to remind me that they’re probably auto-tuned, but I don’t care.

“Raising Hope” has lost some of its quirkiness, but not all of its appeal. Like “Glee”, it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure.

I have already posted about “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23”. It’s sophomore season is as good, if not better, than it’s freshman season.

Fang likes “Grimm”, “New Girl”, and “Parenthood”. I have to admit that “New Girl” has grown on me, as has “Parenthood”. I haven’t been able to work up the same level of enthusiasm for “Grimm” as he has, but I still watch it with him.

He’s also the reason I began watching ‘Fringe”. He used to tape it so that we could watch it together, but now he watches “Fringe”and tapes “Grimm”. I work on Friday evenings, so now I just watch “Grimm” with him when I get home from work. I’ll have to try and catch this last season of “Fringe” on demand or in reruns. Yes, I know that I could just go ahead and record “Fringe” myself, but I never think about it.

The only show that I ever record for myself is “Justified”. Here’s all you really need to know about it: great dialogue, imperfect hero, and Timothy Olyphant in a cowboy hat (Again!). Yes, there are season-long story arcs, but each episode is so well-written and intricately plotted that you barely notice that loose ends were left hanging to be dealt with later (sometimes much later).

I’m rooting for Matthew Perry and “Go On”; ditto for “The New Normal”. (Any sitcom that can build an episode around “Grey Gardens” deserves a chance!)

As I did with AMC’s “Hell on Wheels” last season, I had high hopes for the BBCA series “Copper”. Both were disappointments, which is a shame, because I really, really wanted to like “Hell on Wheels”. There hasn’t been a decent western series in production since HBO cancelled “Deadwood” (a move I will never understand if I live to be a hundred)— and I subsequently cancelled HBO.

“Copper” has a great premise. (Applying scientific principles to crime solving— in the 1870’s!) The problem with this program lies in its poor production values (it is almost impossible to understand what anyone is saying— it’s like they’re deliberately whispering) and even worse acting (or, if you will, overacting). Ultimately these things are so distracting that they render the show unwatchable.

I have a long-standing love affair with the nerds (and Penny) of “The Big Bang Theory”. It’s the twenty-two minutes a week that I’m guaranteed to be smiling. Sheldon is crazy (his claims to the contrary, as a result of his mother having had him tested as a child, notwithstanding), but in a most endearing manner.

I check in with another few shows that I may not watch regularly, but that are usually decent (“Bones”, “Person of Interest”, and ” How I Met Your Mother” fall into this category), but by and large, I’m just passing the time until baseball returns.

Is it April yet?

*The title of this post references one Mr. Bruce Springsteen who, in his 1992 same titled song, predicted the quantity over quality cluster fuck that broadcast television would eventually become.

24 thoughts on “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)*

  1. I recognized the Springsteen title right away! Love it! I am also cheering for Go On and The New Normal. I haven’t watched Homeland, but love Parenthood. Great post!

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  2. javaj240 says:

    I have seen every episode of Gossip Girl thanks to my daughter. It’s ridiculous. She’s lucky I love her. The Hills is a reality show, right? If so, I would NEVER watch it, LOL. Scripted television can be bad enough sometimes (I think Gossip Girl is a fine example of that), but at least writers are being employed. I think that’s what I hate most about all of this reality TV crap… writers are losing work… and we are probably missing out on some great stuff because it’s cheaper to pay Honey Boo Boo’s mother $1000 an episode than to pay writers (and actors) to create something of value.

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  3. I am not ashamed to admit I like gossip girl, and downton abbey, and new girl, some glee, and not too much else. the hills on netflix maybe?

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  4. I can’t stand “The Real Housewives Of Anywhere” either. I don’t really watch much television except house shows. I also like What Not To Wear. That’s about it. I do rent a lot of movies though.

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  5. I tried watching Downtown Abbey via Netflix last week. I didn’t think I liked it but of course there was a hoopla going on in our house so I really couldn’t hear it. I will give it another shot!!

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  6. javaj240 says:

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on “Big Bang Theory”!

    Do you need cable to get our PBS up there? The second season of “Sherlock” is just as good, if not better than the first. You’ll enjoy it!

    I’ve seen “Community” and “Parks and Rec” because Fangette loves them. They’ have their moments. At least “Parks and Rec” is better than “The Office”. (I didn’t think anything could be worse than the British version, until they came out with the American version— ugh!) Fangette loves it, though, so I have seen every episode, LOL! Have you seen “30 Rock”? Another one of her faves (and I like it, too— surprisingly).

    I watched the first season of “Breaking Bad”. Then I kind of forgot about it, LOL. I should catch up now that it’s over. The other one that everyone loves, but that I’ve never seen is “Sons of Anarchy”— maybe someday I’ll get around to that one.

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  7. ethelthedean says:

    Great post, and I agree almost 100%. HOWEVER! I will go to my death expounding on why the Big Bang theory is absolute dreck. Holy smokes do I hate that show. (But I adore you so I’ll let it slide.)

    We don’t have cable, only Netflix, so we are pretty limited when it comes to our TV selections. My favourites are Community and Breaking Bad. I also love Parks and Rec but haven’t seen any of this latest season. I really, really want to watch the second season of Sherlock and really hope it’s on Netflix sooner rather than later!

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  8. javaj240 says:

    Who doesn’t?

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  9. I too am over anything zombie. And I lke Justified, probably because I have thing for Timothy Olyphant.

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  10. javaj240 says:

    Fangette and I are currently watching “Freaks and Geeks”— another show that was brilliant, but never made it. I am going to have to check out “Dead Like Me”, as this is the first I’m hearing of it. I used to watch a Canadian show “Slings and Arrows”, which featured a ghost and a Shakespeare company. I liked it, but then they stopped showing it here.

    Springsteen is a bit of a god around these parts. That album (“Human Touch”) never got a lot of play, but I’ve always like it. (But, what do I know? I like “Nebraska” for crying out loud!)

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  11. Ad-libb3d says:

    I agree with your “don’t-need-more-of” list 100 percent. My girls and I are currently midway through of one of our faves, “Dead Like Me.” Friggin’ brilliant show and one of our old standbys when we’re disenchanted with our tv’s current offerings.

    By the way, got the Springsteen reference in the title straight away. Classic!

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  12. I’m ashamed to say that last night we spent quite a romantic evening watching ‘Doomsday Preppers’ (National Geographic channel of all places). WHAAAAT THE???? It was so horrible I couldn’t look away. Next time you and Fang want to snuggle, I highly recommend it! LOL!

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  13. javaj240 says:

    I didn’t include “Game of Thrones” because it’s on HBO (I did see season 1 through Netflix though).

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  14. Rick says:

    The best shows on television are Justified and Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, they aren’t in season at the moment.

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  15. I love “Homeland,” “Once Upon a Time” and “The Good Wife.” I also love the New Normal – so adorable! But in truth the only thing i would really miss if i no longer had a TV is HGTV. It’s pure relaxation for me.

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    • javaj240 says:

      I liked HGTV when it first came on. I enjoy a DIY project! Now, at least when I’m flicking around, most of the programming seems to be about real estate.

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  16. peachyteachy says:

    Parenthood is one of my few “must-watch” shows. I have a really hard time keeping up with anything that can’t be viewed by an eight-year-old, as I have the same bedtime. Lame.

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    • javaj240 says:

      I hear ya! My husband does have the television tastes of an average 8-year-old. I’m looking forward to watching the documentary on The Dust Bowl tonight; he’s hunkering down for a “Storage Wars” marathon, LOL.

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      • peachyteachy says:

        Is that a Ken Burns? Gotta see it!
        I was subjected to forty minutes of Mr. Bean movie last week and it is still killing me that those minutes of my life will never be recaptured. Ugh.

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      • javaj240 says:

        Yes, it’s a Ken Burns documentary. It’s very good. The Dust Bowl really was one of the saddest things to ever happen to this country.

        I have to admit that I like Mr. Bean. Of course, I’ve been a Rowan Atkinson fan since Blackadder!

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