Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reunited: TV and me

In the name of sound parenting, I’ve for 11 years espoused the conventional wisdom that watching too much TV is bad and will turn your mind to mush.

At least half that’s a lie. I think it’s the part about TV being bad.

I can’t be certain because I spent about 12 hours watching TV yesterday and I’m feeling really mush-minded.

Restricting my TV viewing while raising kids might be my greatest sacrifice. I certainly haven’t cut back on bar time or ever once during their existence applied for a real job so that must be it.

It is not insignificant.

I’ve loved TV, even bad TV, ever since “Speed Racer.”

I was raised on “Fantasy Island,” “Love Boat,” “Gilligan’s Island,” and can argue for hours about cast chemistry on “Three’s Company.” I can quote verbatim entire episodes of “Cheers,” “Coach,” and know precisely the moment to switch channels on a very special “Family Ties” episodes if I want to avoid tear shed.

I love “The Simpsons,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Odd Couple,” and anything that includes “Newhart” in the title. I, of course, love the adult shows with profanity and gore galore. That means “True Blood,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and the holy grail of it all, “The Sopranos.”

And I love sports. I grew up watching hours and hours of golf, football, baseball and hockey marathons. Heck, I’ve even watched hours and hours of actual marathons.

But with kids I watch TV the way other men look at porn. I feel shame if they bust me in the basement staring at “Seinfeld.”

That’s wrong. I was especially cranky at Christmas after surrendering the remote for four weeks of girly sweetness and holiday purity.

The only time I heard a really good profanity was when I said one outloud to the stupid dog.

I needed therapy.

It came courtesy of the NFL.

Because of schedule creep, the regular season concluded New Year’s Day, the traditional day for college bowl game extravaganzas and the NHL Winter Classic.

That meant those games were held Monday when the kids were in school.

Hallelujah! A Christmas miracle only 358 shopping days until Christmas!

It started at noon. Val wisely DVRs “The Price is Right,” essential viewing in any day of great TV.

It’s the “Gone With The Wind” of game shows. And Drew Carey surpasses Bob Barker as host. He’s added humorous flourishes that Barker, as great as he was, just couldn’t pull off.

For instance, this week is celebrity guest week. So in addition to the regular features and those gorgeous models viewers were treated to . . . Snoop Dogg!

It was such uproarious fun watching him advise contestants on the price of things like Rice-a-Roni that Val and I were chagrined we didn’t have a big bag of pot handy to get high, something I’m sure millions of other underemployed loafers instinctively did.

Then Val graciously handed me the remote and for the next eight hours (the last four spent solo in the comfortable basement), I watched sports. The NHL Winter Classic is becoming one of the year’s great events and I didn’t miss a minute.

Then I began a round-robin flip fest between bowl games and an NBC sports special about the 1972 hockey Summit Series between Canada and the old Soviet Union.

It was like I completely checked out on my parenting duties. And it was good.

It started to dawn on me that yesterday was maybe one of the best days of my life when both kids zonked out by 9 p.m. without either of us administering any narcotics. They just fell asleep.

And Val and I settled in for three hours of what seems destined to become one of the best shows we’ve ever seen.

It is “Breaking Bad.”

She’d checked out the first season from the library with neither of us having much hope we’d have a chance to dive in.

Within ten minutes we were as engrossed as if we’d been watching for three seasons. We watched till midnight.

We have 43 episodes to catch up on and I can’t wait.

I’m too mush-minded a man to predict what this year will bring, but I know this much:

It’s going to be good.

I’m turning the TV on and it’s returning the favor.


Brent Wasko said...

"Breaking Bad" is hands down the best show on television. What's crazy is, unlike almost anything else, it gets better and better with each season. This past season was practically a masterpiece.
Head writer Vince Gilligan said his team has a story arc planned for each season. But within each episode, an absurd problem or scenario is formulated for the characters that the writers have no idea how to solve.
They then take a week off before coming back and trying to brainstorm some off-the-wall solution.
I think that unique approach not only adds a great deal of tension to the show, but I also respect it as a fellow writer.

Chris Rodell said...

Wow. We're just three episodes into and are so hooked. We're already talking about it as superior to The Sopranos so to hear you say it gets better is amazing. Man, I can't get enough.

Interesting stuff about the writing sessions. Do you remember the one where they were just hooking up with the big dealer in town and Walt blew up some fulminate of mercury. Amazing!