Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Last Tango in Los Angeles: Television.

Last Tango in Los Angeles: Television.: "We probably watch too much television in this house. To be fair, I do spend a good deal of time reading, but usually that comes toward the ..."


We probably watch too much television in this house. To be fair, I do spend a good deal of time reading, but usually that comes toward the end of the evening. I also spend a hefty amount of time writing, but that's tough to do sometimes because there are often distractions around here keeping me from it. But true to our latter day, twentieth century roots, Angie and I tend to equate television after dinner, sitting together on the couch with the dogs around us, our 'family time.'

We always watch the news, of course. I've discovered since being here, however, that local news in the LA area is laughable. For whatever reason, Angie alwyas turns it to channel 4, which is NBC, for the local news. I don't know why this is because there is an anchor guy on that NBC affiliate named Chuck Henry who may be the single most incompetent news announcer I've ever seen or heard. He announces everything as though he's just spotted a new float in a parade coming around the corner, be it the Japan disaster or the most recent murder in East LA. There's always a subdued smile playing around his delighted lips as he reports in his carnival barker voice the latest horror of humanity. But most annoying and unnerving is his 'between stories banter.' It takes innanity to a whole different level. His comments are not only sort of stop-in-your-tracks stupid, they're unbelievably insensitive. And of course the fact that he clearly thinks he's the height of wit makes it even more unbearable. And yet, we watch him. Sometimes, when Angie isn't around, I flip it over to The Fox network for the local news. Unlike the national Fox folk who are unabashedly conservative and anti-Obama, that doesn't seem to be the case with the local guys. Plus, apparently Fox can't afford nice chairs because they make them stand up, awkardly so, to do the news.

In any event, once the news, both local and national, is over, the real battle for the TV begins. Angie prefers 'Dancing with the Stars' and 'American Idol.' I don't hold this against her because having seen both a few times, I admit it IS easy to get involved with that nonsense. The other night I found myself in an embarrassing conversation about whether the dance we'd just seen was indeed a 'quick step.' I had to disengage in the middle of it because I suddenly heard myself saying something like, "I really think it was too modern for a quick step. It bordered on jive. And although they did it well, I felt they didn't have the clean arm movements and step precision they had last week. And Ralph Macchio's line wasn't right. He needs to work on his posture a bit for next week." It was at this point I realized what I was saying and threw up in my mouth just a little a bit. I had to step out back and take some deep breaths and think of Eugene O'Neill and Sergio Eisenstein.

If left to my own devices I will always choose either The History Channel or The Military Channel. Last week there was a fascinating piece called 'Third Reich, the fall.' Pretty gritty stuff. Filmed by Germans, about Germans between the years 1939 and 1945. I was mesmerized. Angie tends to call all of these programs, 'The Hitler show.' She thinks they're all the same program. Whether it be WWII in Color or World at War or Iwo Jima or U-Boats in the North Sea or America at War...she thinks it's all the same show, The Hitler Show. So she always says, "We've seen this already. It's the Hitler Show. You watched it last night." To which I reply, "It is NOT the Hitler Show. There is no such program called The Hitler Show. This is about comparing and contrasting the Sherman tank and the Panzer tank in the Battle of the Bulge." To which she replies, "Yes. Exactly. The Hitler Show. We've seen that one." It's a no-win situation.

Fortunately, we mostly agree on our Netflix selections. Except every now and then when I start ordering a bunch of boxing documentaries. She doesn't care for that and will protest by standing in the kitchen for hours at a time silently weeping.

Bravo used to show episodes of The West Wing everyday. They've stopped doing that, which is too bad, because Angie and I could watch West Wing episodes until the cows come home. I've made no secret about the fact that I sincerely believe it to be the finest network television show in the history of broadcasting. At least the first five seasons until Sorkin bailed out. I never get tired of them simply for the writing. It's like going to school every time I see one. Sorkin is a master storyteller and I steal from him relentlessly. I don't know if the likes of it will ever come around again. And the parallels to the current administration are absolutely startling sometimes.

Angie is also a big fan of something called 'The Dog Whisperer,' which is about a Mexican obsessed with being 'The Pack Leader." I don't pay much attention to it, but now and then I look at it for a few minutes. This guy (I think, not surprisingly, his name is 'Cesar') likes to kicks dogs (gently, to be fair) and push them to the ground and demand allegiance from them. He is forever prattling on about being 'The Pack Leader.' These poor dogs, most of them small ones that couldn't hurt a tit-mouse, are bullied into following his every command. Now and then, in his insatiable pursuit of being 'The Pack Leader' he'll stare them down until they're so uncomfortable they roll over and pretend to die. This Cesar guy likes it when they do that and subsequently swaggers around for awhile afterwards touting himself as 'the true and undisputed champion of all Pack Leaders' in broken English. Sounds like a little overcompensating to me. Nonetheless, Angie is convinced this guy is Dr. Doolittle. Frankly, I don't know why he calls himself a 'whisperer,' because he always shouts. His claim, apparently, is that the dog is never wrong but the owners need training. I think his show should be called 'The Dog Bullier.'

Another beautiful day in So Cal. My buddy Jeff and his family came to visit us from Colorado last week and the entire time turned out to be rainy and cold. He'll probably never believe now that Southern California is almost never like that.

See you tomorrow.