As these weird months have dragged by and I am still unable to read any fiction (which I have become worryingly blasé about) it has been easier to find distraction and entertainment via TV watching.
Normally I avoid watching the telly. I haven’t actually watched any live telly for several years, mostly because I really, really, really hate adverts, but also because I love, love, love the fast forward button. A LOT of TV programmes these days are so formulaic that knowing how far to fast forward in order to avoid annoying plot points or character establishment becomes a simple matter of watching a few episodes. For example – many crime dramas rarely use the first suspect They stumble across as the actual criminal they are after, so you can often feel free to fast forward any bits involving them as soon as their characters have been introduced. It seems most prevalent in dramas involving the armed forces for some reason. This makes it sound like I’ve watched a lot of crime dramas but I haven’t, I’m just old and have noticed these things when compared to stuff I used to watch when I wasn’t old.
Below is a list of the comfort watching I’ve done this year. I’ve left out any of the programmes I found myself constantly fast forwarding through and although there was still some fast forwarding during this lot, I watched the majority of them…and was distracted and comforted for a little while at least.
These are in no particular order:
The West Wing – I remember watching this the first time around and finding hope in the idea that not all politicians are money-grabbing, corrupt, hateful human beings and that’s why I have rewatched it many, many, many times since. Maybe one day it might even be true. This series is good for righteous, rousing speeches and quirky but fully rounded characters. Watching it this time it was amusing to see how much they got right, and wrong, about future politics (no gay marriage, no legalised drugs and a Latino President in the final season as a Black President was too unlikely…sooooooo 1999).
Star Trek Voyager and Discovery – The final double episode of Star Trek Voyager is one of my very favourite bits of telly. Obviously it helps to have watched all of the other seasons first, to fall a little in love with the characters, but watching Captain Janeway get her crew home all the way from the Delta Quadrant with the help of her future self makes this Star Trek fan squiggily happy. Discovery on the other hand….oh dear…The crew? Great, good team, good characters. The plot? Very much Star Trek, well written, draws you in. The special effects? Great! The lead character? Oh My God…NOOOOOOOOOO. Think of the most annoying person you know then double it. That is Michael Burnham. Sister to Spock (WTF?) she has been promoted and then demoted at least three or fours times so far (and how much paperwork does that produce I ask myself) for both massive self-sacrifice and huge insubordination and AT THE SAME TIME she manages to get fully five minutes per episode, of a different character each time, telling her how wonderful she is and how the Federation would be lost without her. I think it is only right to say that I really like the actor playing this character (Sonequa Martin-Green) and I think she is doing the best with that she is being given, but I am NOT watching this for The Adventures Of Michael Burnham – Saviour of Star Fleet, I am watching this for the rest of the Star Trek universe it covers.
Ted Lasso – I started watching this then gave up after the first episode. The humour seemed to be entirely based on old and tired stereotypes (All Americans hate tea. All Brits hate Americans. All Brits swear like troopers…ok, that one’s true…) so it was annoying. But. I kept reading about how good this series was and how the humour doesn’t punch down (which makes a pleasant change) so I tried again. The second time around I stuck with it longer and, they’re right, it does get good (after the second or third episode that thing happens…you start enjoying the various characters as they come on and even falling for them a little). I’ve watched all of season one now and I’m eagerly awaiting seasons two and three. (It is slightly disconcerting seeing Anthony Head as a ‘not nice’ character, after enduring Buffy the Vampire Slayer during The Kids childhood, but he does it well).
- Grey’s Anatomy – I think this is my version of a daytime soap opera. It is full of beautiful people, throwing ethics out of the window and getting away with it. This seasons is tackling COVID 19 head on, and doing a pretty good job of it, although the highlighting of a couple of related issues has been a little heavy-handed but, y’know what? I think they should be heavy-handed when pointing out how many Black and POC Covid patients are dying.
- Palm Springs – an Andy Sandberg comedy, very similar to Groundhog Day plot-wise, but utterly different in style. Full of swearing, drug taking and sexual exploits but also humour and grace. Not quite as profound as some on the internet seem to think, but amusing nevertheless.
- Great British Bake Off – I really enjoyed this year’s season, so we’re now rewatching every season. It turns out that season two is the favourite so far. This is a dangerous watch for me, because now I’m baking millionaires shortbread (with peanut butter instead of caramel) and bread and butter pudding (with chocolate chips and peanut butter instead of raisins)…sigh…treadmill here I come (whilst munching on a biscuit…)
I really would prefer being able to read books again, rather than watch more telly, so my cunning plan is to re-read some books I KNOW are good. That way, if it is really my brain trying to protect me from disappointment, I will have proven to myself that good books will still always exists somewhere.