Monday, September 30, 2013

Medicine Show

For one reason or another - possibly because the flat is in such a state of extreme chaos that we've simply given up - Mr. Muscat and I have been watching more television than normal.

We tend to watch only a very few shows, most of them long familiar (no Breaking Bad here; we like snappy half-hours, amusing if at all possible, or something from the decreasing number of cooking programs that are not Extreme Challenges.  We're also fond, rather guiltily, of What Not to Wear, and we fear we're going to miss Stacy and Clinton a lot; we're only recently over the loss of Trinny and Susannah on the British edition).

It's the first time that Mr. Muscato is having the experience - far too dubious to be characterized as pleasure - of watching great chunks of American TV; on our previous stays, vacations all, we were generally too busy stocking up on speciality items to export back to the Sandlands (a market entirely devoid of things like non-artificial vanilla, unscented deodorant, and decent socks).  As a rookie, he first noted something that now, having been registered, almost entirely overshadows our viewing:  that the advertising on most channels appears to be evenly split and consists almost entirely of either: (a) New Breakthrough Medicaments for conditions one either never suspected existed or that seem better discussed with a specialist rather than someone familiar from mid-'90s talk shows; or (b) Important Announcements from shady-sounding legal practices specializing in Getting You Cash Now for the agony suffered as a result of taking New Breakthrough Medicaments.

Whatever happened to dishwashing liquids, cake mixes, and home appliances?  Hell, at this point I'd even settle, gladly, for the occasional cigarette ad...


  1. The medicament adverts are supplying employment to an army of late middle-aged actors who are too old for anything else except the sassy grandmother, and there's just not a lot of those to go around.

  2. The original What Not to Wear with the bitchy British women was SO MUCH better than Clinton and Stacy. Does Mr. Muscato get the humor on shows like Modern Family and Parks and Recreation?

  3. For a while, given the oddities of interantional satellite programming, we had the chance to watch the UK and US editions of WNTW back-to-back, and we found that ideal; it made for a nice combination of Trinny and Susannah's savagery - which in the States would surely end with tears if not lawsuits - and Stacy and Clinton's endless peppiness (a quality I generally loathe but for no good reason find endearing in them).

    Modern Family is a favorite, but we've not yet had a chance to try Parks and Recreation (I think it will be a hit; we like 30 Rock, although it goes so very quickly that as a second-language viewer the Mister only gets about half). Our guilty pleasure is, believe it or not, Everybody Loves Raymond, for which we conceived an affection during a long stretch when it was the only English-language program on while we were living in Africa...

  4. "....the decreasing number of cooking programs that are not Extreme Challenges"...amen brother. Oh why is it so wrong to just show me how to make a white sauce?

    1. Agreed. Ina and dear Lidia B are among the few still doing a straight up cooking demo show, and I love them for it. I can't stomach Martha's chat/celeb show, but she's gone back to her beginnings with Martha Stewart's Cooking School on PBS. It's terrific.

  5. We were quite addicted to Stacy & Clinton for a number of seasons, and then, just like that, we were done. They had performed every permutation of makeover with every type of person. We stopped watching.

    There is precious little we watch on network TV. Modern Family and the occasional episode of The New Girl, The Good Wife or The Mindy Project.

    We prefer our Netflix streaming. We just finished the second series of Call the Midwife and quite enjoyed it. Now we are sticking our toes in the Breaking Bad pool.

    After Ed heads to bed, I have lately been watching The Big Bang Theory in syndication on TBS and get a real kick out of it. My other "watch alone" shows are The Walking Dead, Mad Men, American Horror Story and, of course, whatever treasure they're dusting off on TCM.

  6. The hackneyed (and not necessarily attributable to either Wilde or Shaw) phrase "Two nations separated by a common language" has never applied in a greater context than in televisual entertainment...
    I rarely like (or more importantly can tolerate for more than one episode without wanting to throw things) those US "entertainment" series we regularly get dumped with ("Friends", "Glee", "Seinfeld", "Will & Grace" being examples) and have never been interested in "blockbusters" or crime shows ("True Blood", "Lost", "Dexter", "Sopranos", "CSI" etc). Needless to say, anything involving a "talent" contest, or audience participation, or "fly on the wall", or "World's worst/best" will be a no-no.

    Here at Dolores Delargo Towers we tend to inhabit a TV universe that will inevitably include "Gardeners World", anything narrated by David Attenborough, "Downton Abbey", historical documentaries, "intelligent" quiz shows such as "QI" and "Only Connect" (hope they come to the US!) and cooking programs that are definitely not Extreme Challenges (I recommend Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein and Madhur Jaffrey).