Monday, June 23, 2008

TV Or Not TV

And now, some thoughts on the amazing putridity that is TV.

Having spent close to three full weeks in the hospital over the past month, I've had ample opportunity to watch more than my fair share of television during this time. Frankly, there's not much else to do besides read, and I've done some of that as well, but since I've been on painkilling drugs that alter my lucidity much of the time, watching TV is the easiest and most brainless pastime there is at the moment.

Despite the presence of my 50" high-def TV at home, I actually don't watch that much TV in my free time (this whole hospital thing excluded, of course), so while I was vaguely aware of the pathetic state of the boob tube, I had no idea as to the extent of just how ridiculous the whole thing really is. From the programming to the commercials, it's hard to accurately summarize in words just how much complete crap there is on TV, but I'm in a saucy mood, so I'll give it a go.

First off, put yourself in my shoes for a moment. You're facing a life-threatening disease and while you have all confidence that you'll win the battle and enjoy a long and prosperous life, you need to always keep your mind focused on positive thoughts and concepts. Meanwhile, you're receiving a constant flow of painkilling drugs that slightly alters your perception of what you see and hear, amplifying the extremes of the emotional spectrum. Ergo, the highs get higher and the lows get lower, and anything with a negative connotation has a more severe effect than usual.

Now that you know a bit more about where I'm coming from, here's what I've learned by watching the 20ish available channels (ESPN not being among them) here at Alta Bates over the last three days, as well as the 25ish channels I had at Stanford before that:

* Over two million customers have switched their phone service to Vonage. I know this because a smug woman tells me so in the same commercial three times an hour, regardless of which channel I happen to be on. Discovery Channel, Food Network, whatever -- the same commercial airs all day, every day, everywhere.

* Apparently Hulk Hogan is really important at the moment, because every time I flipped through Headline News when I was at Stanford, he was on the TV. I have no idea why he's important because I refuse to stop and read the headlines regarding him, but from what I can gather, the world is revolving around Hulk Hogan at present time.

* I can't stop on CNN for too long because 90% of the stories deal with gas prices, the energy crisis, some sort of murder or death or mayhem, or other news that doesn't exactly feed a positive mindset.

* Invariably, network programming presents the same dilemma, unless I happen to stumble upon a comedy. I can't watch any drama shows because half the time there's someone getting killed or the story revolves around someone with a disease, and again, this is not the sort of stuff my mind needs to be focusing on at present time.

* I can always go to the History Channel for a little non-fiction fix, but last night they were running a series called Ice Road Truckers or some such thing. Are you kidding me? What happened to the "History" part of the "History Channel"? And why would I care about ice road truckers? What's next -- they gonna do a show about how deadly it is to fish in open waters?

* The TNTs, TBSs, and USAs of the world have completely given up when it comes to weekend programming. Yesterday I checked these networks several times over the course of the day and I kid you not, these channels were repeating the same movies all weekend. One of the channels showed Spider-Man on both Saturday and Sunday; another channel alternated between Iron Eagle and A Knight's Tale all day yesterday. So let me get this straight -- if I missed that all-important showing of Iron Eagle (a really crap movie from 1986, for what it's worth) at 11 AM, I can still catch repeats at 3 PM and 7 PM? Great, thanks a ton.

I mean, come on, at least try and mix things up a little, would ya?

* Along the same vein, last night A&E was alternating between hour-long blocks of The Two Coreys and Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Setting aside for a moment the fact that these two shows even exist in the first place, whatever happened to the network that brought us Biography? Now that was a show that was often worth watching.

* Apparently pharmaceutical companies have developed quick-and-easy solutions to just about every medical condition out there (except my own), because ads for drugs simply cannot be avoided. It's such a pleasure to be watching a comedy or something, have the show cut to an ad break, and hear a narrator say something like "If you have Type 2 diabetes, then we've got the answer for you..." or something similar. Makes it real easy for me to keep my mind off my own particular medical condition.

So, to sum up: I can't watch the news because it's too depressing, I can't watch network programming because it's too dramatic, I refuse to watch reality TV because it's all crap, and even the commercials are a detriment to my mindset. Therefore, I've been reduced to looking for Seinfeld reruns or even scraping the bottom of the barrel and watching old episodes of Home Improvement (a show that I used to enjoy back in the day, but can now watch for many consecutive hours without laughing once).

Ah well, thus endeth my rant. Thankfully my mom is dropping by to bring me my new Amazon Kindle, which a friend so graciously bought for me, so I'll give that a go and maybe try to do some more reading. I'm sure I'll do some more channel surfing this evening, but I've developed a pretty quick trigger finger for the on/off switch when I find there's nothing even remotely worth looking at (which is typically the case).

Still haven't talked to a doctor yet today, so I'm not sure of how long I'll be here, but as always, I'll keep y'all posted when I find out something new. I'm going to get up and walk around and get a little exercise now before the next pain shot arrives in a half-hour or so... and then maybe I'll look for a repeat of Friends to send me into a quick catnap.

With much love,


Chris said...

yeah, tv sucks. Do you get Cartoon Network? It's got some decent stuff on there.

If only you had wireless in your room--you'd be set. :)

Hope the pain is subsiding and you get cleared for check out soon.

My condolences on Italy's loss. You are right though -- you didn't miss much and they totally deserved to lose. :|

Barry said...

I am boycotting this blog until you give Iron Eagle the justice it deserves as a classic movie from 1986, not a crap movie. Lou Gosset fresh off his oscar winning performance in an Office and a Gentleman deserves respect!

Of course the rest of the rant I agree with.

Loretta said...

It's good to see you have enough lucidity to be fed up with all the crap on TV. Make sure you don't turn to CBS for any of their sitcoms geared to those with IQs of 70 & lower.

I do think you are being a bit hard on reality tv though...and yes, there IS a TV show about the dangers of king crab fishing in open waters, & I've gotta tell is fascinating! "The Deadliest Catch" - it's great. ;-D They might be on the 3rd season by now...

"So You Think You Can Dance" is also a goodie & I must admit, I just started Tivo-ing Denise Richards, It's Complicated.

You may wonder about my TV/entertainment standards, but hey - I love Airplane, Austin Powers, Dumb & I KNOW quality stuff when I see it! Well, at least entertaining crap.

Thanks for continuing to blog. It brightens my day just to read about your ranting.

LynnAJ said...

Hey Dino -
this was a great article. good on ya!
so, (like you care) --what i watch (i realize this is really revealing but what the hell) whenever i DO watch the telly:
the Food Network - always works in a pinch, except i cannot STAND 'Giardia'...omg.
Corey and i LOVE the Deadliest Catch!
and Gene Simmons is a caricature of himself - it's too funny to watch his ego spew all over the place, dude!
Two and a half men - pretty funny and LOTS of reruns. it must be on various channels 3 - 4 times daily!

this little menu brought to you by sister Mo who feels jilted...
from the tv in Kenwood,
love, kisses, and Hulk Hogan,

ps - of course, Seinfeld is the best there ever was so at least you have those reruns, eh?

Linda said...

Dino, I agree most of TV these days isn't worth watching. But, then we could be living in another country where everything is in a foreign language. However, that may be a bit more entertaining to try and figure out what they are saying?!
So sorry to hear that you are back in the hospital, but happy you are getting the proper drugs to make you feel better.
Hang in there and never forget that everyone is praying for you and sending good thoughts and wishes your way.

Warmest Get Well Greetings,
Mrs. Nev (Linda Nevin)

Looney said...

KINDLE!! Oooh, I'm jealous :-)

Enjoy that sucker. Check your email. T and I will set you up with some books!

Kim said...

I'm not proud to admit it, but I have caught an episode or two of Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs and I absolutely LOATHE myself for liking Groomer Has It on Animal Planet (you seriously cannot believe how insanely stupid this show is, alas, I'm so amused by it. Where do they find these people?) Cat is out of the bag IQ is below 70? :)

Thinking of you and glad to hear that you're in good company with Old Man Dilaudid as he's affectionately known in the McIntyre family.

Andi said...

There is always Lifetime or the WE channel. You can usually catch a good movie about cheating or murder, usually with Jacqueline Smith or Joanna Kerns. can always rent Nuns on the Run.

Love you

Jenee said...

Good to hear you back in standard Dino-ranting form. Love to hear it.

You are actually in luck tonight though! Thanks to my overly boobalicious, and booty-licious cousin, her D-list celeb hubby, and amazingly crazy mother, you have something to watch this evening at 8 pm -- none other than "Celebrity Family Feud" with Ice T and Coco.

Go ahead... tell me how much you love me. :)

Billy Ramirez said...

WGN is starting to show some Canadian comedies. Those crazy canucks are quite funny.

corigcaat said...

Dino you always make me smile.. you forgot the Disney Channel. Ashley (my 11 year old daughter) thinks you should give Camp Rock a try... hope your feeling well enough to go home soon! your in our prayers!

Priscilla said...

Yeah - I agree with you, TV sucks - and is good to avoid whenever possible. It is not made to make peeps feel good - but I won't go there, as you already did! Thank Goodness you love reading so much, eh? Hang in there - hope you had a good day today, and will be going home soon to better cable, err, I mean, to your own bed and the comforts of home!!

Daria said...

I just got rid of my tv, because the main shows worth watching are shows I've already seen dozens of times. (and it was broken and I'm moving...). There should be an all Seinfeld channel, by the way. There's some good laugh therapy!
Have you tried public television? There's some good stuff there.
Glad you're up for blogging and I'm thinking good thoughts for a speedy recovery!

Logan said...

I have the entire series of Sex and the City you can borrow anytime ;-)

Paul said...

Hey Dino:

Good luck with the Kindle. Pat bought me one for Father's Day, which we celebrated at the ranch in Montana. Upon reading the fine print, the unique wifi the Kindle uses is not offered in Montana. Therefore, one must follow the fifteen (yes, 15 by actual count) easy steps to download a book from the internet.

I got one book on it, and an enjoying it, especially when reading in bed. A big benefit is that if I should fall asleep, the Kindle weighs much less than a hardbound book, and does less damage to the face. Jury is still out, but so far I like it, and hope you enjoy yours.

Get well Bud!


Lisa said...

TV here in Mexico is just as bad, except that for the fact that they are talking in Spanish. Somehow that makes it all more tolerable, since I can consider watching bad tv as just another spanish language lesson :)