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Beyond the Lone Islands

Friday, 5 February 2010

Watcha Watchin' ?

Recently I somehow landed on a blog new to me - clicking my way there from another one - and found the blogger to be in a mood not unfamiliar to me; weighed down by a combination of winter weather and other circumstances, including funerals; but still also recognizing "moments of lightness" (the title of her post).

One of the things mentioned was that while being in this mood, she was still feeling drawn towards TV series having to do with forensics and paranormal stuff, even though not feeling quite sure this was the best way to improve her dark mood. This triggered me to a comment; and then I kept thinking about it, so decided to expand a bit upon it in a blogpost of my own.

Now someone might be expecting a "you are what you eat" post recommending a TV diet excluding this or that, but that's not quite what I had in mind. Instead, what came back to me was memories of an extremely hot summer four years ago, when I had to undergo surgery in the midst of the season's worst heat wave, and after a few days in a hospital ward lacking air condition was also confined to spend some equally sweaty weeks indoors in my own flat, doing pretty much "nothing". I was only just about able to stand on my feet for as long as it took to get myself some food and wash the dishes; and sitting was not comfortable either, so most of the time there was not much else to do but lie flat on the couch and watch TV/DVD.

In that kind of weather and circumstances, you might think that I'd want to watch something cool and soothing. I might have, in between; but what I remember is a real craving to watch other people sweat!

Ben Hur

What I longed to see was people fighting their way through deserts and rainforests, suffering dramatic pain and heat, and one way or the other walking that thin edge between life and death. So I watched films like African Queen, Out of Africa, Lawrence of Arabia, Ben Hur, Gone With the Wind, Anna and the King, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Green Mile, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Bridges of Madison County. (In the last ones, not so much wilderness, but still a lot of sweating!)

Mary Stuart Masterson in Fried Green Tomatoes

And somehow, mentally, I actually found that helpful. It created a sort of distance to my own situation, while there was still some identification involved.

Bridge on the River Kwai

I think it might also have been around that time that I watched one or two daily TV series about superheroes hunting for mysterious and more-or-less magic old treasures, in Indiana Jones-like circumstances. I know there was one (super)woman (the kind with very little clothes on but able to kick her way through just about anything)*, and one man (ordinary-looking but of course with Special Gifts making him not so ordinary at all)**; but I can't even remember now if they were in the same series or in two different ones. Probably two different ones. I can see them both in my head but no names come up! Anyway, they were both that kind of series that makes you ask yourself ever so often: "Why am I watching this?" And you still find yourself not wanting to miss a single episode.

Personally, and especially lately, I really can't watch anything "forensic". I still like a good old mystery (Agatha Christie kind, free of bloody details), but spare me the mortuaries and forensic labs, please! But maybe those series do kind of the same job for someone else, as the fighting-our-way-through-the-jungle movies did for me. Who am I to say?! (I, by the way, would never ever endure a real jungle even for a day. Not even when I was younger.)

By the way, I'm 2/3 through the first series of M*A*S*H now - and loving it. Mercifully, back in those days, they never really felt the need to pretend to show the messy details of surgery, but kept the camera well above the operating table; content with showing some blood stains and an occasional passing of a pair of forceps.

But it contains a lot of inventiveness when it comes to fighting boredom and meaninglessness!

So - what are you watching?

- - -

* P.S. I managed to track down the female super-hero.
(Or should that be super-heroine?)

Tia Carrere played archeology professor (!) Sidney Fox in Relic Hunter (series from 1999-2002).

** P.S. 2 One should never give up! Here is the other guy:

Adrian Pasdar played Declan Dunn in Mysterious Ways (series from 2000-2002); an anthropology professor teaming up with a female psychiatrist (played by Rae Dawn Chong) to investigate various miraculous and unexplained events.


Sandra said...

Now you made me strain my brain to think about all this. it is easy to say what i watch. I love NCIS, CIS, Crimanl Minds, White Collar, 24 all forensics and FBI, CIA spy things. I love old movies, new movies, and love action movies. anything with Harrison Ford or Mel Gibson. I agree with you, i do not like how bloody the movies and TV shows have become. i like to use my imagination. I am an avid reader of books, I average 5 every 2 or 3 weeks. I use my library card a LOT.
I am trying to decide if I watch anything per my mood. I don't think i do. Mostly i want good acting. I can not watch something that has poor acting in it. I like all the ones you listed and a lot more.
if i come up with any deep thoughts on this subject i will return.
Just thought of something. during the Christmas Season, i must have watched 30 Christmas movies. that was because they bring back memories and on holidays both my parents and all my aunts and uncles on both sides are deceased. I have a brother and his family, my two boys and my husband. I like those movies because i like Happily Ever After even though true life is not that way.

GB said...

I've just got a few episodes of West Wing to watch. Brilliant series.

I recently watched the first two series of When The Boat Comes In and today I got the first series of The Onedin Line from the Library.

That makes it sound as though I watch a lot of DVDs. In fact it's taken me nearly two years to work my way through West Wing although I did watch WTBCI over the last few months - usually when ironing or preparing meals.

DawnTreader said...

I never got into the West Wing series for some reason although it was broadcasted here. Might have been on too late at night for me or colliding with something else I was watching.

The Onedin Line I watched on TV when it was new and I also have the first season on DVD. Another example of hardships I've liked to watch but would not like to experience! (I'm no good with boats - get seasick...)

DawnTreader said...

Sandra - I had to laugh at your 30 Christmas movies because it confirms my general impression of Americans really loving these (while I often tend to find them a bit "too much").

I agree with you about the acting. Even with a lousy script, good chemistry between the actors can often make a film or TV series enjoyable anyway.


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