Tag Archives: television

Good TV, bad TV and ugly TV

I was once addicted to television.

I grew up the daughter of a guy who sold TVs for a living. We always had the greatest TV in our living room. We didn’t go so far as to watch it during dinner, but let’s just say, there was no lack of television viewing in our house.

I remember spending many a Saturday afternoons watching reruns of Star Trek, In Search Of and Bionic Woman. Who stopped watching Saturday morning TV just because morning was over? And who needed to be outside in the middle of a Minnesota winter? Or the middle of summer for that matter?

There were also Sunday afternoons (Wonder Woman reruns) and Sunday nights (The Wonderful World of Disney), Tuesday nights (Happy Days)  and Friday nights (The Incredible Hulk, Dukes of Hazzard) and all the nights in between. I loved curling up in front of the boob tube.

I watch a lot less television as an adult. The quality if probably no worse, but I’ve found a lot more compelling ways to spend my time (can you say iPad Scrabble? And Facebook?).

Tonight, I’m watching the Oscars. TV about movies (navel gazing, anyone?). And fashion (more navel gazing).

But I’m still shaking my head over my Beloved’s latest binge-watching compulsion: The Sopranos.

No, I didn’t watch it when it was airing and collecting awards and kudos like no one’s business. And boy am I glad I didn’t.

I watched six seasons of The Sopranos over my Beloved shoulder for the past two weeks.

What garbage.

Sorry Sopranos fans.

I hated Tony Soprano and everything he stood for. Sure, James Gandolfini was awesome–he deserved whatever accolades he got because he actually found some humanity in a completely unlikable character. But I hated Tony and his woman-chasing, gun-wielding, flagrant-murdering arrogant self. Yuck. And all the other enabling or just plain mean, ridiculous characters? Why couldn’t creator David Chase funneled his talents into a more uplifting story?

And then the ending!

Do you know about the ending? The highly controversial ending that left viewers wondering if The Sopranos broke their TV sets? That ending? That was the ending I witnessed this morning. I knew it was coming (I peeked at Wikipedia), and when my Beloved turned to me with his mouth hanging open, asking “That was the end?” I couldn’t stop laughing. We took only two weeks getting to that 10 seconds of black screen. I can’t imagine was fans who had been watching for six years thought!

With weeks binge watching Big Love (which I liked) and The Sopranos behind me, I’m looking forward to some good television this week when The Voice and Survivor return to my weekly schedule.

Who needs scripted television when there’s reality TV, right?

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Guilty pleasure: ‘Big Love’

We’re late to the party, but my Beloved and I have started watching “Big Love,” the HBO series about polygamy that ran from 2006-2011.

It’s available on Amazon, and despite my better judgment, I’m hooked.

Why? Certainly not because I aspire to be a sister-wife and live the Principle, heck no (my Beloved couldn’t handle more wives than me anyway).

I’ve always liked Bill Paxton, who plays interesting supporting characters in James Cameron’s movies. Remember Hudson in Aliens? “Stop your grinnin’ and drop your linen!” Or how about Simon in True Lies: “No, I sell cars! That’s all! C’mon, I’m not a terrorist. I’m actually a complete coward, if I ever saw a gun, I’d… Oh God, no, please don’t kill me. I’m not a spy. I’m nothing. I’m navel lint!”

Paxton plays the patriarch of the Hendrickson family, which includes his three wives, eight or nine children (depending on the season), three houses in suburbia and enough drama to fill, well, five seasons of episodic television.

The series does a decent job of portraying polygamy more or less without being judgmental. Polygamy, when you think about it, is as rich a landscape for drama as a family of Dallas oil barons or New Jersey gangsters.

Already had your fill of “Big Love”? Don’t tell me how it ends.

Pantry makeover beats reality TV

I don’t know what it is about my personality type that I adore before-and-after pictures so much, but I must not be the only one because room/closet/hair/body makeover photos can be found everywhere.

I found myself staying up late last night waiting for the after images of the conjoined twins on the latest episode of Oprah’s “Where Are They Now,” and I don’t know why I was so entranced. I’m not a conjoined twin. I don’t have a conjoined twin. I don’t even know a conjoined twin. Why did I feel compelled to see these strangers made famous by Oprah?

I don’t know. I guess I’m a sicko.

Apparently, TLC is making lots of money off this rubbernecking fascination. When I was checking on OWN’s TV offerings tonight, I happen to notice tonight’s TLC lineup includes “900 Pound Man: The Race Against Time,” “The Man with the 132-lb Scrotum” and “40 Year Old Child: A New Case.”

Really?

Instead of indulging in TLC’s car accidents, I worked on one of my own today: My pantry.

Pantry: Before

Pantry: Before

It was such a disaster area that when I resorted to “storing” my latest Costco staples on the floor, I knew I had to do something. What’s worse is that this pantry is in an often-used entryway to our home, so it was an eyesore to guests, too. How embarrassing (not as awkward as a 132-pound scrotum, I’m guessing, but still, it’s unseemly).

I removed absolutely everything, washed the floor (yes! the woman who doesn’t mop floors! swept and mopped! I know!), dumped most packages less than half full (I did keep a half-dozen well-wrapped Thin Mints, however) and replaced everything by theme: Cleaning supplies, paper products, breakfast foods, crackers, pasta, chips, sweets, coffee, dog food, etc.

Pantry: After

Pantry: After

I discovered I have enough aluminum foil, quart-size storage bags and paper plates to last a lifetime, but at least they’re all in one place now. I need to get a few organizing devices, but I made vast improvements without spending a cent (and no surgery either!). I’m left with a pile of paper bags, which I think I’ll just toss, and a bunch of kitchen linens for which I need to find a home.

Perhaps my before-and-after photos here will satisfy your rubbernecking inclinations and you can ignore TLC tonight in favor of something more redeeming. Like Oprah’s highly anticipated interview with Lindsay Lohan.

Kidding!

This shopping trip was a first

If you can follow the logic between watching “Doomsday Preppers” on National Geographic Channel and shopping for a hand gun, then you understand the phrase “contagious paranoia.”

Did you know you need a firearm owner’s identification card to even touch a gun in an Illinois gun shop? And did you know it takes 30 days, 10 bucks and a clean mental and legal record to get one?

And did you know a 9mm handgun is probably the best option for a woman whose experience in shooting a gun begins and ends with a water pistol because it is lighter, has less recoil and doesn’t jam?

And did you know you can rent a gun at some shooting ranges so you can try one and become familiar with a particular type of shooter?

As for “contagious paranoia” and logical leaps, you might follow the link from “global pandemic” to “Be a hero.” “Global pandemic” is trending right now on National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Dashboard. The how-to-survive rule “Don’t be a hero” was changed to “Be a hero” in the 2009 movie “Zombieland,” a tale about life after a zombie apocalypse.

Never hurts to be prepared. Extremely well prepared.

Time out for a fun Monday distraction

“The Voice” keeps getting better every week.

Regular readers know I’m a big fan of reality shows, but I’ve never really gotten into “American Idol” or any of the dozen other shows in that vein. Until “The Voice.”

Maybe it’s because I have a couple of iTunes cards burning a hole in my pocket (you can buy your favorite songs of the evening on iTunes — how’s that for almost instant gratification?). The contestants on “The Voice” do covers of popular music (yes, pop, so sue me) that make old music new again.

If you haven’t been watching “The Voice,” it might be hard to get into it because you don’t know who to root for and you don’t know the backstories. But you should check it out anyway. Just watching it cheers me up. The music is so fun. Except for Christina Aguilera. I pretty much hate anything that comes out of her mouth. Ignore her. The rest is a joyous distraction.

And at the end of a long Monday, there’s nothing better.

(P.S. Vote for Chris Mann. Just to be “weird.” Thanks, Adam Levine, for that commentary.)

Shooting stunning holes in Holy Saturday … with a ray gun

Science fiction helps explain away a lot of perplexing theological questions.

Familiar with “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”? For those of you for whom this is an arcane reference, let me explain. In the episode “The Emissary,” Capt. Benjamin Sisko uses baseball as a metaphor to explain linear time to an alien species known at the Prophets. The Prophets exist in a wormhole, a timeless plain where there are no beginnings, no endings, no befores, no afters.

Sisko: In the end, it comes down to throwing one pitch after another, and seeing what happens. With each new consequence, the game begins to take shape.

Alien Batter: And you have no idea what that shape is until it is completed?

Sisko: That’s right. In fact, the game wouldn’t be worth playing if we knew what was going to happen.

Jake Prophet: You value your ignorance of what is to come?

Sisko: That may be the most important thing to understand about humans. It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives day by day, and we explore the galaxy, trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here. Not to conquer you with weapons, or with ideas. But to coexist… and learn.

I imagine God to be like those Prophets. He exists in a place without time — every event in all of history occurs at the same time, all the time. This is how He is omniscient — He knows what the future holds because it already occurred and it’s occurring right now and it’s about to occur, all at the same time. It is us humans who experience life in a linear manner, one pitch after another so to speak. God doesn’t intervene in mundane human events, like the Cubs baseball season, because it’s already over.

See? Science fiction solves this deep philosophical quandary.

In any case, I was amused by the story “What did Jesus do on Holy Saturday?” in today’s newspaper. Read it here.

Apparently, theologians for centuries have been arguing about where Jesus was on the Saturday between his crucifixion and resurrection.

Seriously. God is the great I Am (Exodus 3:14). The Truth and the Life (John 14:6). The Alpha and Omega (Revelation 21:6). And we, lowly humans with teeny tiny intellect, think we can explain Jesus’ daily planner on the day between dying for humanity’s sins and rising from the dead.

Sometimes, we can be so arrogant.

Apparently, some people believe that on Holy Saturday Jesus descended into hell (it’s a line in the Apostle’s Creed, recited frequently in the Catholic and Lutheran churches I’ve attended most of my life), and some Christians have found little Biblical evidence to this “hellish detour.”

I don’t know where the son of God was passing his time that Saturday (and frankly, it seems so trifling compared to what happened on Good Friday and Easter morning), but I’m content with my science fiction explanation: God is everywhere at once, all the time — in the grave, in hell, in heaven looking down, in my heart.

I am willing to immerse myself in Capt. Sisko’s humanity. It is the unknown that defines our existence. I have faith the answers will all be revealed in due time.

Bonus arcane reference: Part of the title for today’s post comes from “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”:

Chekov: [picks up his phaser from the table, aiming at the FBI agents] Don’t move!

FBI agent interrogating Chekov: OK, make nice, give us the ray gun.

Chekov: I warn you, if you don’t lie on the floor… I will have to stun you.

Stay tuned to ‘Hoarders on a Diet’ when we explore reality TV addictions

I spent several hours this afternoon watching “Hoarders: Buried Alive” on TLC.

I kept hoping to see a really impressive “after” reveal and kept being disappointed hour after hour.

I finally gave up and watched last Tuesday’s “Biggest Loser” episode.

After delving repeatedly into the psychology of compulsive hoarders and overeaters, what does this say about the subconscious motivations behind my TV habits?

Am I addicted to redemption stories or do I just have bad taste?