Category Archives: television

The Lydster (Part 14): "24"

Before she was born, I decided that I was going to keep a journal of my thoughts about Lydia as she was about to enter my life. And before she was born, I did write to her a number of times. But since then, nothing. I got caught up in the busy-ness of life with her. This electronic outlet has allowed me to write about her in a way I was somehow unable to put down before.

I don’t want to write primarily about how well she’s walking or how she says “Uh, oh” when she drops something, though both are quite endearing. I want to talk about how she’s affected me (besides sleep deprivation).

So, naturally, I need to talk about the television series “24”. The two-hour season finale was Monday night; I didn’t see it. I watched the first season intently, and thought the first 13 episodes made up a fine story arc, though the remaining 11 episodes stretched credibility (amnesia, the Perils of Kim Bauer). Still I was willing to try it a second season, and I watched, though not as regularly. Super Jack Bauer, suffering intense torture did all THAT?

Carol and I discovered she was pregnant in July 2003. When the third season of “24” came around, I just didn’t feel like subjecting myself, and by extension, our unborn child, to such violent vibes. I didn’t see the fourth season, and won’t watch the fifth one when it starts up again in January.

It changed my movie viewing habits, too. Mystic River is a movie that, three years ago, would have gone to see in a heartbeat, but now: a film about an abused child who becomes the accused in the murder of his childhood friend’s teenaged daughter? No, thanks. A few months after Lydia was born, my in-laws in Oneonta watched Lydia will we went to the movies. There were only two choices at that particular theater: Man on Fire with Denzel Washington trying to save Dakota Fanning from being abducted (and FAILING), or Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls. Lindsay won.

(Incidentally, no spoiler alert needed: the information I cited came from the trailers of those films.)

My family was visiting shortly after Lydia was born. They were watching CSI; I was reading the paper. But I couldn’t help but to note that the plot was something like this: a couple kills their own kid because they were afraid the kid would get some debilitating disease or die from a pesticide, or some such, which the kid (as it turns out) was NOT subject to. Oh, YUCK!

I need uplifting or funny or fun or silly. That’s where I am right now. So it will be a LONG while before I see Frank Miller’s Sin City movie, no matter how stylized the violence is.

Getting back to “24”, I found it humorous that not one, but two people I know, who are connoisseurs of the program, Mark McGuire of the (Albany) Times Union -who I bug occasionally, and Fred G. Hembeck (April 8-12, et al.) -who I bug more than occasionally, managed to tape or TiVo “24” this season, then fell weeks behind, only to catch up in marathon sessions. What’s THAT all about? BTW, it was Fred who put my feelings about the show best in his May 24 column: “I mean, I know it’s just a TV show and all, but the always mounting body count can be disturbing at times, especially considering the number of completely innocent people who are so casually slaughtered along the way, y’know?” Yeah, I DO know.

So, happy 14 months, Lydia. I’ve learned a lot about me through you.
***
The JEOPARDY! Ultimate Tournament is over. And the winner is..I DON”T KNOW. I’m still a week behind, so PLEASE don’t tell me, don’t ask. I know Jerome is one finalist (and Ken Jennings, of course, is another,) but I haven’t seen the last pair of semi-final games, nor the three-day final. My wife knows the results, so talk with HER about it.

JEOPARDY! Part 0

I had fully intended to talk about my JEOPARDY! experience from 1998, starting today. Unfortunately, I’ve had limited computer time recently, and moreover, I have little time at home to do the research. (It was only seven years ago; you’d think I’d remember every detail as though it were yesterday. But, NO. Memory cells lie gasping on the side of the road.) SOON.

So, I thought I’d write about…JEOPARDY!
First off, I haven’t watched it since last Tuesday, May 10. So, PLEASE don’t ask me what I’ve thought about the end of the “Ultimate Championship”. In due course, I will watch these shows IN ORDER. I almost always watch the show IN ORDER. If I happen to catch that some person had won the game I’ve not seen, it diminishes the enjoyment somewhat. (I’ve also taped World Series games, and some “March Madness” basketball games”, and as long as I don’t know the outcome, it a great watching experience – better because I can zap through the commercials, and close basketball games tend to have coaches using all of their timeouts, which means a LOT of commercials, near the end.

On the other hand, during the first round of the JEOPARDY! tournament, I watched some games out of order, because it didn’t inform who won a previous match that I didn’t see. Likewise, in some of the other tournaments with 15 players, I’ll watch the first week Monday-Friday shows in any order so long as I avoid the end of Friday’s “who makes it to the next round” segment. The following week, M-W in any order, with the same caveat. The final two days IN ORDER.

The other rule is that you oughtn’t to call me between 7:30 and 8 pm, Eastern time, because I’m not likely to answer. Indeed, there were folks over at my house, and someone wanted to take a picture of Lydia, Carol and me DURING Double JEOPARDY! I was not accommodating. (In other words, I ignored him.) If he’d asked three minutes later, which was during that four minute gap between Double and Final JEOPARDY, I would have posed gladly.

Finally, I never mock players on the set for not knowing an answer. I AM surprised (and REALLY PLEASED) when I get Final when none of the constants do. I WILL, however, mock bad betting. If one’s in first place, one has to bet enough to win if the person in second place bets it all. Conversely, Second only really has to bet enough to be ahead if he/she gets it right and First gets it wrong (assuming that Third is in as distant third. If Third’s close, Second should bet similar to the way First bets in relation to Second. (Wha?)

OK, say, at the end of Double Jeopardy!, the totals are $14,000, $10,000 and $9,000. First should bet twice what Second has (2 X 10,000=20,000) less First’s score (-$14,000) + 1, or $6,001. Second will have to bet $8001 to protect against Third. BUT if Third has only $6000, Second can bet $4001, enough to win if First gets it wrong, quite possibly even if Second gets it wrong as well. Being in First is great because, if you get it right and bet enough, you can’t lose. Being in a close second is great, because you can win if it’s a really tough Final.

On the other hand, if you REALLY hate the topic, bet little and hope for the best.

Slippery affiliation

I was going to request a tape of the season finale of Gilmore Girls on this blog, but I’ve already been helped by a certain blogger.

It has been one of the very few shows that Carol and I watch religiously, ever since we caught it in summer reruns during its first season. It’s a soap opera, and I don’t mean that pejoratively at all. (N.Y.P.D. Blue, ER, Hill Street Blues – all soap operas.)

I had set the VCR to tape at home. But I neglected to tell Carol that she needed to put in a FRESH (just like the WB!) tape and the incumbent tape ran out of space about 20 minutes into the show! (I would have changed it myself except that I was still in Lake Placid.)

And since I was still in Lake Placid Tuesday, I went up to my room after the SBDC awards banquet at about 10 p.m., turned on the TV, flipped through the channels and came across an episode of Gilmore Girls. Initially, I assumed it was a rerun broadcast on ABC Family cable, but it soon became evident that it was THAT NIGHT’S episode, which I watched.

Most of the buzz about this series has about the rapier-quick dialogue between Lorelei and Rory, the relationship of Lorelei (and Rory) with Lorelei’s parents, and the Luke and Lorelei relationship- Will they? Won’t they? They did – now what? (An aside: I’ve long wondered if their names are nods to Luke and Laura from the daytime soap General Hospital.)

But the best thing about this show is about the parallel construction that the show tends to provide. I don’t always pick it up until the show is over. This season ender was about quitting. Will Rory quit Yale? Will her best friend Lane Kim quit her band? Where they each end up, and how they got there, was a real treat.

But why was it on at 10 p.m.? Was there some (amazingly rare) Presidential news conference or some major catastrophe that backed up the programming?

Nah.

In the Plattsburgh, NY/Burlington, VT television market, there is no WB affiliate, so WFFF in Burlington (actually Colchester), FOX 44, broadcasts the 8-10 pm WB shows from 10 pm-midnight!

Those of you in large markets may not appreciate this fully. When I was a kid, there were 7 stations in New York City, 2 (CBS), 4 (NBC), 7 (ABC), 13 (PBS), and 5, 9, and 11 (all independents). Eventually, 5 became a Fox affiliate, 11 became the WB’s outlet, and 9 went with UPN (and moved to New Jersey).

(Incidentally, this numbering is the reason most fictional TV stations in those days were 3, 6, 8, or 12, the remaining numbers on the VHF dial, or some upper number on the UHF dial, Channels 14-83. Most notable is WJM, Channel 12, Minneapolis, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And if you don’t know what the heck I mean by VHF and UHF, look here.)

But in a smaller market, such as Binghamton, NY, where I grew up (and at a time when there were only the three “major” networks), there were only two stations, WNBF, Channel 12 (CBS) and WINR, Channel 40 (NBC).

Then one Saturday morning in the fall of 1962, I turned on the TV just before 7 a.m. to Channel 34. Where there had nothing, suddenly we had a third station! It was WBJA, an ABC affiliate. My TV viewing choices had just increased by 50%!

What I didn’t realize until later is that Channel 12 (and perhaps Channel 40) were broadcasting some ABC programming before
Channel 34
came on the scene. I specifically remember Lawrence Welk, an ABC show, showing on Channel 12 Saturday nights at 6 or 6:30 pm. I recall that other ABC shows such as Bachelor Father, The Flintstones, Hawaiian Eye, Leave It to Beaver, Ozzie & Harriet, The Real McCoys, and Top Cat would show up on the schedule, often on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, outside of prime time (which was usually 7:30-11 pm in those days.) I remember these shows quite clearly, and most of them were off the schedule by the fall of 1962. I must have seen theme SOMEWHERE. Cable didn’t exist and I didn’t go to New York City that often.

Apparently, shows broadcast by one network appearing on the affiliate of another network was common in most small markets, going back to the days when there was a fourth network, Dumont, in the mid 1940s to the mid-1950s.

You big-market folks just don’t understand the confusion…