Tuesday, February 21, 2017

T.V. Shows We're Watching (and Not Watching) Part 1

"I like to watch TV." - Chance the gardener a/k/a Chauncey Gardner*

I'm with you Chauncey but I'll take it one step further. I love to watch TV. Always have going back to Happy Days, M*A*S*H and The Rockford Files in the 70's; Cheers, The A-Team and L.A. Law in the 80's; Seinfeld, The X-Files and Party of Five (Guilty!) in the 90's; and The Sopranos, The Wire and Curb Your Enthusiasm in the 2000's. I could've listed at least forty more, especially in the 2000's when television made a generational leap to greatness. Fuck it. Let's list a few more that started in that 1999 - 2009 era: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Shield, Arrested Development, Dexter, The Office, 30 Rock, The West Wing, Weeds, 24, Californication, Lost and Friday Night Lights. And those are just the ones I watched on a regular basis (apologies to Six Feet Under but I can barely walk into a funeral home much less endure a show about one).


How am I able to watch so much TV while raising three kids, holding down a job, playing golf, periodically drinking to excess and generally just living the dream? There are two keys to making this work: (1) My wife (the "FGW") shares my love of quality television and is always up for a good binge session,** and (2) we're not afraid to go deep into a Tuesday night like a couple of junkies to get it done.

"Don't you even think about
not cuing up the next episode!"
This got ugly for us as new parents when we got hold of the DVD set for the first season of 24 because you cannot physically watch that show one episode at a time so it eventually turns into a casino like experience where all sense of time is lost. Not to mention, when you do actually go to bed at 1:30 a.m., you're wired on TV crack and convinced that someone is in your driveway wiring a bomb into the CD player of your Honda Accord because they think you overheard something at work that could undermine their assassination plot. We were frittering away sleep at a time when it was a more valuable commodity than one of our kidneys.

Little did we know that it would actually be harder to find the time now than it was ten years ago because, as the FGW noted the other day, we have emerged from what is sometimes called the parental "sweet spot" which is that fleeting period during which your kids both respect your authority and are capable of performing everyday tasks like getting in and out of a car, swimming unsupervised and, most importantly, flying solo missions in the bathroom from takeoff to landing (even if they do leave skid marks and jet fuel all over the runway). As it relates to watching hours upon hours of television, the sweet spot is money because your kids actually go to bed at a reasonable hour instead of milling around your house all night like fucking pickpockets at a bus station.

I don't know if anyone has come-up with a name for what follows the sweet spot but might I propose the "shit spot?" When you're in the shit spot, your job description as a parent suddenly becomes the following: (1) driving your kids, (2) telling your kids to get off their phones, (3) driving your kids, (4) feeding your kids (because the law makes you), (5) driving your kids, (6) yelling at your kids to get in the car and finally (7) driving your kids. At first you don't realize that you're in the shit spot and then one night you find yourself setting the alarm for midnight so you can wake-up, fall off the couch and go pick-up your kid at a party while thinking to yourself "I used to go to parties." 

All of that driving, yelling and cooking takes away from quality TV time but that's just part of the problem. Now that you've got the potential for pre-teen kids to wander into the room at any moment, you don't really want the image of King Joffrey using a naked prostitute for crossbow target practice or the sound of Vice President Meyers telling someone "that's like trying to use a croissant as a fucking dildo!" emanating from your set. So now the viewing window has been shrunk down to about one hour per night from 9:45 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. Sometimes we'll tack-on another hour so we can watch season 2, episode 7 of whatever. It's always a bad idea but that doesn't stop us from doing it about once a week because goddammit we work hard and we deserve to screw ourselves out of an extra hour of sleep so we can watch a show through half a cracked eyelid that we could just as easily watch tomorrow.

How do you make an unwatchable 
show about rock and roll starring 
Olivia Wilde? They found a way.
So part of the purpose of this exercise is to solicit advice on what we should be watching because we don't have time to fuck around with a whole season or multiple seasons of some crap show like Vinyl when we could be spending that time watching something awesome that initially flew under our radar like Friday Night Lights. So feel free to email or tweet recommendations to fgr@fantasygolfreport.com and @fantasygolfrep. Or even better, leave a comment below if you're one of the Silicon Valley computer programming geniuses who can figure-out how do it. (That is not a sarcastic slight but an acknowledgement that I don't know how to post comments on my own website).  

As has become the case lately, this was going to be a single entry but then it ballooned into a goddamn tome so we're going to limit Part 1 to the shows we (and by "we" I mean "I") have no interest in watching regardless of how critically acclaimed and/or popular they are. In no particular order and based on zero to limited knowledge of what these shows are about, here we go.  

HAVEN'T SEEN IT . . . DON'T WANNA SEE IT!

The Walking Dead

We're just too late to the party on this. If I’m going to go back in time to binge watch a show that’s eight seasons in, it better be getting Breaking Bad level love and it seems like The Walking Dead has more of a narrow cult following like Doctor Who or My Little Pony. Speaking of cult followings, zombies and vampires are not a selling point for me (unless a horny Sookie Stackhouse is prominently involved).

Transparent

One of the most consistent gauges of whether I think a comedy show will be funny is whether or not its lead actor has won the emmy. This dates back to the early 90's when they started giving it to John Lithgow for 3rd Rock from the Sun over Michael J. Fox (Spin City), Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) and Gary Shandling (The Larry Sanders Show). Lithgow was and is a great actor but that show was such a fucking lightweight enterprise which leads me to . . .   

Since then, they've given it to Tony Shalhoub for Monk (over Jason Bateman for Arrested Development), Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory (over Steve Carell for The Office) and Jon Cryer for Two and a Half Men (over Larry David for Curb Your Enthusiasm and Louis C.K. for Louie). No way anyone should've beaten Bateman and The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men are low-brow crap so I now just assume that whomever hands-out these awards has shitty taste in comedy which makes Jeffrey Tambor's two Emmys for Transparent a deal-breaker.

The Good Place

I just looked at Ted Danson's IMDB page and apparently he's been cashing a lot of checks since the role of Sam Malone took him from bit player to television icon. Good on him but I'm not tainting my memories of Cheers by watching him play anyone else. I could live with his role in Curb Your Enthusiasm because he was playing himself and it meant we got to see more of sneaky hot Mary Steenburgen but that's where I draw the line. Jon Hamm is doomed to the same fate. (I'm sure he's crushed).

Girls

I have no idea what this show is about but I think it's angst ridden women living in New York. I don't need a show about angst ridden women. I already get so much of that through Facebook that the FGR is starting to sound like it's being written by an angst ridden woman. Not to mention, Girls strikes me as a more brooding version of Sex in the City, a show that I used to watch intermittently for brief periods only to realize that its target audience did not include me or anyone else with a hairy butt.

Shameless

Nice try. Still not interested.
I'm a big William H. Macy fan and Emmy Rossum has certainly made her fair share of appearances in the FGR but this show just looks kind of dirty to me, and not in the good way. I'm okay watching people live in filth when they're riding around on horses, eating wild boar from a spit and bathing only when they stumble onto natural water supplies but, for a show set in modern times, I'm going to need you to take a shower and put on a clean shirt.

This is Us

The title alone annoys me and I just read the following plot description: "Each week is a tender look at what makes and breaks a family, both with heart wrenching confessions, touching speeches and well-crafted humor." Here's a tender two word review. Fuck that.

We'll be back after this brief commercial break to start running down the list of shows about which I've formulated strong opinions by actually watching. Stay tuned (see what I did there?).

Footnote

* Not to get movie preachy but, if you've never seen Being There starring Peter Sellers, then you really should. Sellers is of course famous for playing Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies but he's at his best in Being There and Dr. Strangelove, both of which might be more relevant today than they were at the time they were released considering that the former is about a simple man who stumbles into a position of political influence despite the fact that he knows nothing beyond what he sees on television and the latter is about an unhinged general who orders a nuclear strike on Russia. Shit. Now I don't remember them being that funny.      


** Either she enjoys it or she just accepts that watching TV is one of the rare circumstances where I actually seem to be enjoying life so she goes along with it. This just in. I can be difficult.