Empress of the Universe

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Way Too Much TV

Today, two weeks after my surgery, I still have a very limited range of movement. I cannot turn my torso from side to side and can only sleep sitting up or flat on my back, if I can sleep at all. My attention span for great literature is quite limited. I started reading John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" and rereading my favourite book of all-time, "Larry's Party" by Carole Shields, but both books are too heavy to hold beyond a few minutes. Even some magazines are too heavy; the new issue of Oprah Winfrey's O magazine has more than 400 pages for God's sake! This means I've spent the most time ever in my life watching endless hours of television.

Some of my viewing choices have been extraordinary TV - yesterday I watched a two-part, four-hour documentary by director Spike Lee about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that was both disturbing and compelling. It is a combination of social commentary and filmmaking art. It's featured on the Movie Network this month and I highly recommend it. Set your PVR to record it on May 24.

I also confess to enjoying a 4:00 a.m. presentation of "10 Things I Hate About You," a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" starring a very young Heath Ledger. The script was surprisingly sharp and the lead actors very strong for their young ages. Overall, it reminded me of an upscale kind of John Hughes movie twenty years after the original Brat Pack movies.

It seems though that for every hour of quality presentation, there are 10,000 hours of useless, moronic, uninspired crap. Someone offered Star TV as a good source for mindless programming. I almost choked when I saw this program in the line-up: "Hollywood Stars: An In-Depth Look at Jennifer Aniston." Now, it's not that I'm not a fan of hers, after all, where would I be without 37 episodes of Friends every day? but has Jennifer Aniston done anything with depth? I'm guessing that the follow-up program after that would be something like "The Many Sides of David Schwimmer."

Have you seen the current Clearasil commercial? The one where the older brother counsels his younger brother on getting clearer skin? It's like watching a poorly dubbed movie from Hong Kong, except both the brothers are speaking English. It's just that what their mouths are saying is not what the voices are speaking. I tried to find a copy of the commercial on-line, but, alas, it seems unavailable. For the budget Clearasil has for buying commercial time, you'd think they'd have invested a little more to ensure they had a good script from the get-go.

Speaking of commercials, there is a current Chrysler Sebring commercial on the air, perhaps you've seen it? Not one to miss many details, I actually try to read the fine print. Often car commercials warn "Stunt driver on closed course. Do not attempt." The Sebring commercial actually states in very small white print along the bottom of the screen: "Always sit properly in seat and securely fasten seatbelt." OK, I understand the seatbelt warning, but what driver needs to be reminded to "Always sit properly in seat"? (Click here to read the fine print on the Chrysler website....)

There is a program I didn't see: "Hollywood's Greatest Mysteries." It inspired me to wonder: how did the producers of "The Toy" and Nacho Libre ever get the money to make their films? Didn't anyone ever read the scripts? If Tori Spelling's father hadn't been one of TV's most successful producers, would she have ever had an acting career at all? Why did the early "Everybody Loves Raymond" writers change the twins' names from Matthew and Gregory to Michael and Geoffrey?

It's 4:30 in the morning. Why am I spending any time at all thinking about this crap?

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