Wednesday, February 8, 2017

TELLY, T.V. and TiVo by Andrea Downing

With apologies for the length of this post...
If I watch television, it’s because I’ve recorded a program which I can watch in half-hour slots over lunch and dinner. Most of my watching consists of films rented from Netflix, documentaries, historical dramas and the odd human interest program(me) such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ which traces the ancestry of various celebrities, or ‘Long Lost Family’ which reunites adoptees with their parents. When I moved back to New York from London after forty years, and telly became t.v., I did try to watch a few American program(mes)—Monk and The Closer come to mind, but they were still recorded.
Therefore, in the interests of Investigative Journalism (i.e., this blog), I decided to subject myself to arbitrary television viewing over several days.  In fact, my first inclination was to try to watch for 12 hours of prime time viewing, but I’m afraid I soon ditched that idea in the interests of my own sanity.  I set myself certain parameters for this experiment:  I would not watch any of the program(me)s previously watched as cited above; there would be no films and no news or current affairs to which I would have normally gravitated; furthermore, there would be no British imports so Masterpiece Theatre was out--- no masterpieces for me!  Finally, there would be nothing with the words ‘Real Housewives of…’ in the title (nothing real about these women since they are 90% plastic and 10% hair extensions), simply in the interests of saving me from regurgitation.  So, here is my viewing diary: 
“1,000 Ways to Die’:  this might possibly be the funniest programme on television.  It is preceded by the warning, “Do not attempt to try any of the actions depicted…”  This programme is exactly what it purports to be:  a compendium of weird and wonderful ways people have died in these United  States.  First up is a guy on the lam in Montana who’s been robbing banks in an attempt to get the money together to open a meths lab.  Wanting a high and out of booze, he siphons off the gasoline from his Harley believing the ethanol will give him his alcoholic high.  Subsequently he pukes into his camp fire and---guess what? 
Next on this programme was a Japanese couple who, after 7 years of wedded non-bliss have still been unable to consummate their marriage.  The husband comes home plastered one evening and gets his wife to join him in his drunken stupor leading to…  At that climactic moment, they both die of heart attacks.
And then there is the woman who wants to lose weight.  Guess what she does?  She buys a whole load of tape worm larvae from Venezuela… which might not be such a good strategy.  The longest worm they eventually found in her body was 20 ft……..
Joy Behar:  the comedienne, whom I know from catching “The View” in the mornings at the gym, interviewed one Jenny McCarthy.  I’ve never heard of this person previously but she is describing to Behar, in graphic detail, a most intimate relationship she had with a stuffed bear called ‘Tubby.’
Swamp People: This is on the History Channel. Apparently there is not enough history to occupy the channel full-time so we have this series about people with accents so thick we need the provided subtitles to understand anything they are saying.  It would also help if someone explained why they do the job they do---which is hunting snakes and alligators so that the rest of us can look at lovely shoes, belts and fabulous handbags we cannot possibly afford.  Unfortunately, one guy still doesn’t know the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes which is something of a liability in his line of work.  I leave them frying frog fritters…
American Pickers:  This is about a firm called ‘Antique Archaeology’ who go around the country looking in barns, sheds, run down houses, fields and other unlikely venues where junk that could possibly be sold as antiques might be found.  This week they find a pinball machine with cowgirls on it and we are told that in 1942 Mayor LaGuardia banned and destroyed pinballs as games of luck---or gambling.  History on the History Channel at last!  The men also find the ‘Alien’ dummies used in a film about Roswell.  It’s pointed out that a UFO sighting is reported somewhere on the planet every 3 minutes!  As they load the dummies into their van, one man asks the other, “Do you believe in Aliens?”  His reply?  “I gotta believe there’s gotta be something smarter than us…”
 Flipping Out is about a gay guy with OCD who does remodeling and home re-designs on a very grand scale. In this episode, his biggest problem was dealing with a 90 year old woman who wanted door handles designed as nude figures throughout the house, and he had to explain that this might not be in the very best taste.
 Jeopardy:  this long-running game show basically entails contestants being given the answer to questions and they have to come up with the question; therefore, their replies must always start with who, what, where, or when.  So, the M.C. says, ‘the mortar between tiles’ and the contestant replies “What is grout?”  Or, “A condition in polar regions where snow makes visibility poor.”  Answer:  “What is a ‘white out’?”  But really, if someone asked you, “What is jumping?” would you truly reply, “Miriam Rothschild discovered that a substance in the hind legs of fleas gave them this amazing ability????”  Or if someone demanded, “What is Murder on the Orient Express?” would your answer really be, “Hercule makes a bust on a choo-choo out of Istanbul?”
By the way, the major-grossing question for the night was “In 1955 she became the first and only female star to win a Tony in a male part.”  Out of the 4 contestants and me, I was the only one who knew the answer. 
And last but certainly not least:
Better Off Dead:  When I hit the ‘Info’ button on my remote control, it says, “Follow Mark Lilly, Social Worker at the Dept. of Integration, as he helps new citizens…adapt to hectic life in the Big Apple.”  BETTER OFF DEAD????  Are they trying to tell me something?
Last Friday, RCN, my cable provider, decided in its wisdom to bestow TiVo on me at a cheaper rate than my previous deal with them. It has a happy little smiling TiVo man on the remote and can grab emails and photos off my computer.
     Something to watch at last.

And please watch out for the sequel to Come Love a Cowboy, coming out in June.  In the meantime, you can purchase Book 1 at
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Leah St. James said...

Thank you for my first laugh of the day, Andi! You sure picked some interesting shows to view. I've never seen most of them...except for Jeopardy, of course. :-) (I had to look up the answer to your Final Jeopardy (major-grossing) Question...and shame on me, I remember seeing clips of that show when I was a kid and should have remembered!) I think my favorite though has to be the 1,000 Ways to Die. Wow.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Wow is right! You know what they say about truth being stranger than fiction. It's amazing what passes as entertainment these days. An avid news only person, I will say I'm intrigued by your list in an I have to find out for myself kind of way. Thanks for the first installment of my daily dose of entertainment and the enlightenment.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Andi, thanks for the trip down TV lane. You hit on some new ones (Lots about dying, hm?) and some oldies. American Pickers is one of my husband's favorites; I'm aware of Jeapordy...all the rest are new to me. Just so you know, people are being dropped off naked on islands, and people are being dropped off in the wilds of Alaska to try to survive, and people are going out in the cold in rough seas to catch crab, on and on! The photographers have the tough job in these shows. (What's up with modern-day people yearning for hard-scrabble days of yore?) My point: the places TV goes today...mind-boggling. In 20 years? Oh boy are we up for some doozies. Stay tuned.

Diane Burton said...

Other than Jeopardy (which I've watched since Art Fleming was the host), I've never seen any of the shows you watched. You missed some really good (IMO) shows. Too bad you ruled out British shows on Masterpiece. We tend to watch mystery/cop shows a lot: NCIS (and all its spinoffs), Murdoch Mysteries (out of Canada), Code Black. Can't wait for Starz's Outlander. Good luck with your new release.

Jannine Gallant said...

I watch Jeopardy! regularly. It's always a bit of a rush when you know the answer and the contestants don't. And I like American Pickers, but then I like history and old stuff. I've told my husband to change the channel off Swamp People a time or two. If they can't speak in grammatically correct sentences, I'm not watching it! Fun post.

Andrea Downing said...

I thought we needed some laughter here with all that's been going on.

Leah, I only knew the answer to that question because it was actually the very first Broadway show my parents took me to see here in NYC--stays with you.

Margo, if you do follow suit I'll be interested to hear what you're able to trawl up from our 1000 channels!

Rolynn, it does amaze me what goes on tv. We've become Romans watching the gladiators. People are supposed to do just about everything in front of the camera, incl. die--that actually happened on a British show which followed a girl through the final stages of her illness. Disgusting really.

Diane, I had to rule out Masterpiece since most of them are British-made---so I knew they'd be good! Enjoy them.

Jannine, it does amuse me no end when we need subtitles to understand people who are supposedly speaking English. Okay, so some accents are just too thick. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I saved reading your post to the last of checking email, which, for reasons I won't go into, sent my morning spiraling downward. After your post, I'm back up and ready to tackle my day. I read to the end. Thanks!

Hebby Roman said...

Yes, Andrea, TV has become a wasteland. I used to watch the news more, but now that's scary! I watch documentaries, occasional PBS show, not too many movies unless they're old and I've probably already seen them, and ... not a lot else. TV is really sad, these days.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

We watch PBS and Netflix. Calvin and I chuckled over your post. Well done. Thanks!

Andrea Downing said...

Brenda, so pleased to have been of service! I think we all ned a good chuckle to start the day.

Hebby, weren't we better off in 'the old days'? I remember growing up with 7 channels, and I did a lot more watching than I do now!

Vonnie, thank you so much for stopping by today and I'm glad to have given you both a laugh. Wishing Calvin well and a speedy recovery.

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

Andi, you made me laugh! My favorite line: "Apparently there is not enough history to occupy the channel" because if you ever saw me watching TV, you'd hear me frequently shout while waving my arms around, "Where is the history on the History Channel!" It used to be my fall-back station. We continue to record and watch shows which use scientific equipment to find lost or mythical things like Monsterquest or The Curse of Oak Island where they're attempting to find the money pit which has already taken 7 lives or something. I wonder why when if they did find the Loch Ness Monster, for instance, I don't think we'd have to wait a week to found out on Monsterquest.

Andrea Downing said...

Patti, thanks for the laugh--and you're so right. Finding the Loch Ness Monster would make the evening news! Now I'm rather sorry I missed those programmes but---1000 channels! There ya go.

Barbara Edwards said...

A clear list of reasons I don't watch TV. Thanks for the laugh.

Alicia Dean said...

Oh wow, fun post, but these are NOT my shows. :) I do love tv, though, but mainly sitcomes and The Walking Dead.