Monday, October 27, 2014

Weekly Buffet: On The Couch

[Hospital of fun! Watching Jeopardy and buzzing in with my automatic pain med button.]

Spending time watching a show that is completely focused on death is probably not the best thing to do while you await hearing news of your own impending fate. The old world superstitious Irish lady inside of me would even call it a jinx! But I did it anyway. All the perfect conditions had finally presented themselves to watch Six Feet Under from the beginning and I couldn't help myself, even if it was hitting a little close to home after the kind of year I've had.

It just so happens that I have nothing but time. The kind where you can't leave the couch.  Last week (and still now) I am recovering from a rather invasive surgery. Not to mention dealing with the emotional roller coaster that is phone calls from doctors. In my case, those calls speak to future surgeries, which are likely, and could significantly alter the path of my life.

Step one: heal. Step two: look to the future.

Right now though, I'm looking at some time off work and I'm doing my best to enjoy every minute.When free time away from the regular day-to-day presents itself, it always feels like it will be a prime opportunity to finish all of those projects that have been put on hold. I'm going to read all of the epic Les Miserables! And knit an entire scarf! And write like a zillion think pieces for my blog! And organize my room!

Then I remember - intense pain killers make me sleepy and emotional, and, oh yeah, I just had surgery where I can't reach, lift, lunge, or stand/sit up for longer than 10 minutes. Basically, at first, I couldn't do anything. Well, except attempt to keep my eyes propped open.

Let's just say, if Norman Rockwell had painted a picture of me all up in my "authentic American life" when I first returned home from the hospital, it would have been far  from that perfectly composed family dinner. Instead he would have captured me all a mess, draped in a zebra print Snuggie knock-off, passed out during a re-run of Chopped or mid popping a pill, and my cat eying me sheepishly wondering why he has been banished from jumping up on my tummy.

Ten days out, that picture is no longer as bleak, since I can be a tad more mobile. Best of all, I can laugh a little easier now too! Hell is someone who laughs constantly, long and deep giggling that involves the entire body thrown into motion, hindered by a large stomach incision, which turns any small chuckle into searing pain.

That all must be kept in mind when seeking out ways to occupy my time laying on the couch. Visual mediums was deemed the only option.Comedies of any kind were obviously out of the question. No re-running entire seasons of 30 Rock or The Office - the pain caused by uncontainable laughing just wouldn't be worth it.  I would just have to ride out the Percocet wave and weakened state of mind while entertained by something else.

Or many other things.

Over the last week and a half, while others were out in the actual world, I was dissecting culture all through  the world of The Tube. Other than avoiding unending Ebola coverage and being wickedly upset over another school shooting (this one striking close to where I call home), this is what else I observed.

Six Feet Under

Sure, this HBO drama set around a family that runs a funeral home does seem like it would be depressing. There is no question this show tackles heavy circumstances. Formaldehyde and bodies really are everywhere. Each episode even begins with a death, the highly creative way that gives an introduction to those who end up as the deceased customers of Fisher and Sons.  Although, since each of the main characters are also battling to improve their stance in the world, the show is just as much a celebration of life.

We haven't even touched on the camp factor, which also lightens the mood. The writers wonderfully tie in zany sequences. They come out of nowhere and could be in the form of a daydream from the mind of the one of the characters or a fantasy musical sequence.

Several weeks ago when I heard that  Michael C. Hall was going to take on the lead role in Hedwig and The Angry Inch on Broadway, I thought, "My word! Can he even sing and dance?" My skeptical self obviously had never seen this showstopper from season one. He. Has. Got. It. Please let him take Hedwig on tour. Very unlikely.

Several year ago, as a fan of many of the actors on the show (especially Peter Krause and Frances Conroy) I started watching this show when episodes would air on Bravo. I've seen about half the series out of order, including the remarkable season finale, but it's great to finally see the life of the Fisher's the way it was intended - from beginning to end.

I Want My MTV...Back

Anyone who hasn't seen daytime cable in awhile might suspect that MTV still played music videos all day - that assumption would be incorrect. Well, except for between the hours of 6 and 8 a.m., because that is prime music video watching time?

It is more accurate that the grand Music Television of yore has become just as relevant as a channel aimed at middle aged folks. For most of the afternoon there is a  block of TV that mirrors what also can be found airing on Nick At Nite. Anyone looking for five hours of The Fresh Prince, George Lopez, and My Wife and Kids, look no further than...MTV.

No offense to Carlton Banks, since I'm sure those shows can be shown for a cheap price, but try a little harder! At least get back into airing reruns of My So Called Life. Hold on to a little bit of edge!

The world is changing. Any music that we ever wanted can be found online. We make all the choices. Sometimes though I want someone else to decide for me. I want to turn on the TV and see a music video that I have never seen before. Something that I would never have selected on my own. I might end up mocking the song, but for an appreciator of all things pop culture, I want to see everything. Up to our own devices we get stuck in ruts and never seek anything outside of our regular consuming routines.

MTV was an innovative gatekeeper once and they should try to do something in that arena again. I guess there is still VH1. They air music videos in-between episodes of mindless reality TV.

The Price Is Right. Oh, So Right.

Come on down! Even without Bob Barker, the daytime prestige of The Price Is Right still continues. It is required viewing for anyone with the casual day off. It reminds us all of those wonderful summer days off of school when you would try to come up with a bid on the final showcase with your grandparents.

If you were out of work like I was this week, you saw this guy win $25,000 and then attempt to do the worm. With stuff like this happening on TV all the time, why would anyone want to go back to work? 

Rosie x TWO

Woah, woah, woah. Big news for anyone who cares about The View! Is anyone still reading?

This year Barbara Walters and all those other (maybe) familiar faces are out. Rosie O'Donnell, Rosie Perez, plus some political commentator lady, Nicole Wallace, have now filled in those empty seats. Whoopi Goldberg is also there. Apparently, since actresses in their 40s and 50s have trouble being cast in worthwhile movie roles, they instead find work playing themselves.

Now, this show isn't everyone's thing and it's not my favorite either. However, since my early days I have been an addict for any show where people are talking about current issues in heated, drama filled debates. So, since The View's inception in 1997, I have been known to excitedly tune in when I have the ability to be at home on weekdays. Yes, I've always been a sixty year old woman.

Oh, the drama! Meredith Vieira always knew how to keep it smart and classy, but a crazed outburst from a few of the other hosts (Star Jones and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, specifically) was always a highlight. And who didn't love those SNL skits? Tracy Morgan as Ms. Jones? Forget about it.

This new lineup is apparently tanking. No matter, I'll always have a soft spot for Rosie. Remember the glory days of her talk show? All those Koosh balls and crying over Streisand.  The days when her and Oprah were the queens of talk shows really was glorious.

Late Night TV Is Life

I miss staying up late during the week! I think I'm built to be up into the early hours of the morning. My brain works better, plus there are endless talk shows and comedy to enjoy. For most of my life, especially during high school and college, my friends and I were always soaking up the nightly edition of Late Night With Conan O'Brien and The Daily Show.

I try to catch up on these shows, watching the episodes from other sources, but I never seem to see everything. With no real schedule right now, I have been living in heaven being able to catch everything from Jimmy Fallon's crazy bits, to luscious red pompadours and kick ass bands on Conan, and  even Taylor Swift take over the world, shutting down LA and performing on every show under the sun.

It seems overkill sometimes, since almost every network has their own form of a chat show now. Although, I can't help but be addicted to many more, including another one I've been crushing on: Watch What Happens Live.

Any show that features Friday Night Lights reenactments and a cardboard Tim Riggins (only second to the real thing) has my heart.

That clip is from a year ago, but there have been plenty of other entertaining interviews in the last couple weeks alone (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig just to name one). Pop culture aficionado's will appreciate Andy Cohen's enthusiasm for celebrities, which often encourages famous people to loosen up and tell more unusual stories than per the typical talk show interview.

The only thing missing from late night TV - a lady host! Why no love? We all know Joan tried and no one else has been offered the chance. I say it's damn time!

Nope, I'm definitely not back to my old self yet. This was concluded just now after attempting to spend a measly 10-minutes putting away laundry and dancing around my room to Aretha Franklin. I'll now be down for the rest of the day.

Looks like for at least the next week I'll be continuing to keep the couch company. Let's see what else unfolds through the wonder of television. I might even branch out into other leisure activities, including movies and most definitely finishing the book, Gone Girl.

Until next time.

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