Monday, March 11

Nuclear (Nielsen) Family - Part 1.


(NOTE: For the last week, I kept a log of every television show I watched, and as a result, inadvertently kept a log of nearly everything else I did during the week. Every single show, good or bad, no exceptions. Here goes nothing.)


I left work early on Monday, as I needed to be home for the DirecTV guy to install my new Genie. If you haven’t seen the (somewhat humorous) commercials, the DirecTV Genie is the greatest upgrade to the greatest invention since the Internet, the DVR. It allows for recording on five channels at once, live viewing on any TV in the house, picture-in-picture, 1 terabyte of hard drive storage and an unlimited amount of Season Pass settings. It’s a technological dynasty. It’s not even close; it may be more revolutionary than Penicillin.

When the Genie first debuted at the beginning of the year, it was only available to new DirecTV customers for a reasonable price. As it usually goes with satellite television, loyal and longstanding customers had to shell out $300 for the hardware, plus a $15/month upgrade charge. I thought this was too steep, instead deciding to wait patiently for the eventual offer where Genie became the new norm and was bundled into my existing plan.

The Missus, however, could see how sad I was that I couldn’t 840 hours of television a week, and took it upon herself to call DirecTV and get us a sweet deal. It’s one of the nicest surprises I’ve gotten in years, although I believe she may have slept with a customer service representative to make it happen. She e-mailed me at work, and I had to step out of a meeting because I nearly wept.

The install was painless enough (the contractor was a Grade A Creeper, though), and before I knew it, I was navigating the new menu and recording options like a pro. The only drawback was that I needed to re-enter all of my previous Season Pass settings, which meant I had to search and program about 70 shows into my queue, but my dexterity with a remote control is that of a true artistic master. You may think that Carlos Santana can perform magic with a finely-tuned guitar, but you’ve never seen me adjust the recording time of a last-second live event that’s about to run over its regularly scheduled slot. I should carry that shit in a holster.

One of the new functions I received with the Genie was Internet connectivity, which carried with it the ability to access things like Pandora, YouTube and dozens of On Demand channels. This meant that not only would I never miss a program again (like I don’t already), but I could download movies and shows to my queue in the background while I was sleeping or (gasp!) out of the house.

Now that every electronic appliance in our house is wirelessly networked (including the slow cooker), our next investment will have to be a bigger wireless router. It’s starting to choke on all the crap we feed into it, and I’m afraid it’ll blow out at an impromptu time, causing me to resort to cannibalism or something. The outcome is too terrifying to even hypothesize.

Once the installation guy left, my week of television watching began in predictable fashion.

2:00-4:00pm – SportsCenter (Live – ESPN)

When I’m alone in the house, SportsCenter is my background music. In fact, I have to assume that 80% of ESPN’s viewership is primarily passive; it’s just noise so I don’t feel alone when I’m balancing the checkbook and making toast. Furthermore, if you’ve ever watched more than 10 hours of ESPN in a day (which I have done several times), you’ll realize that they have literally nothing to talk about after an hour. Really, unless someone dies or gets arrested (or dies while getting arrested), SportsCenter is about as informative as a handful of Tweets (which is all you really need anyway).

Today’s major topic of discussion was once again Manti Te’o, but not because of more Imaginary Girlfriend controversy. Nope, the sports world (or ESPN, at least) was abuzz with raw horror that Manti was currently underperforming at the NFL Scouting Combine. There were reporters on the scene and a round-table discussion as to the reasons why Te’o was unable to run a decent 40-yard dash time. They even brought in a sports scientist to drop some failure physics on us. It was excruciating, but I was making lunch and running domestic errands at the time, so my passivity made it tolerable. Also, the new Genie wasn’t updated to record anything new yet, so I was sort of stuck with it.

4:00-4:30pm – Around The Horn (Live – ESPN)
4:30-5:00pm – Pardon The Interruption (Live – ESPN)

Now that I had a moment to sit on the couch, I took the time during Horn/PTI to update all of my series settings (it was beautiful). I usually watch a DVR’d PTI every day when I get home from work, but as I was home early I could watch it live. Also, I was alone, so I didn’t have the opportunity to play the Missus at Jeopardy!, which comes on at 4:30pm here in Madison. I don’t DVR Jeopardy!, but on the chance we’re both home when it comes on, we throw down. My current winning percentage over Celia is about 90% as of present day, but I think that’s because I cry when I lose and she feels bad.

5:00-5:30pm - NBC 15 News (Live – NBC)

I was helping Celia clean the kitchen during the news. We’re preparing our house for refinancing/re-appraisal, and we’re scrubbing the place down like we accidentally murdered someone. I have no loyalty to NBC 15 News (or any other local affiliate) other than the fact that my buddy Ben works there, and I found former afternoon anchor Carleen Wild to be extremely cute.

5:30-6:00pm – Cops (Live – TruTV)

The season settings were still kicking in, which meant another hour or so of random, syndicated, live programming. I’m not making any excuses for watching Cops, mind you. It’s unapologetically one of my favorite TV shows of all-time and a welcome go-to when there’s nothing else on (after 25 years and 900 episodes, Cops is always on somewhere).

6:00-6:30 – Seinfeld (Live - TBS - ‘The Puffy Shirt’)

6:30-7:00 – Seinfeld (Live - TBS - ‘The Van Buren Boys’)

During TBS’s Seinfeld hour, I took care of two very important weekly tasks: I called my mother and pretended I was on a diet.

I came to the conclusion a few days ago that I needed to lose a few pounds, so I bought a bunch of fruit and yogurt at the grocery store with the idea being that it would be all I ate throughout the course of the next two weeks. I did this because:  

A) I don’t know how to diet,
B) I’m not a nutritionist, and  
C) I have no concept of what it means to take care of myself.

I honestly thought this would work, but when I explained my ‘diet’ to the Missus, she explained to me that I would die of diabetes long before shedding the first pound (not counting when they sawed my foot off).

Nonetheless, I had a bunch of fruit in the fridge (and nothing else), and fruit seems to last about six seconds in my house before it rots, so I was going to have to make due with my Diabetes Diet until further notice.

I seem to love Seinfeld more in 2013 than I even did in 1995 (someone wrote ‘Seinfeld Forever’ in my 8th Grade yearbook). There’s so much about it that remains surprisingly contemporary, but even the dated stuff makes me laugh (the mere invention of the cell phone would have straightened the conflict in dozens of plots). I also think that, over the last decade, we have given Tina Fey her due as one of the funniest and most influential women in the genre, but I can’t really remember if Julia Louis Dreyfus got her due in the 90’s. I think Elaine Benes may have been the funniest female sitcom character of all-time (although Liz Lemon is close), but it was perhaps lost in the ether of the outstanding ensemble cast. I hope I’m remembering that wrong.

Also, if you can remember an episode where Jerry or Elaine were ever in George’s apartment, let me know. I’m starting to think it never happened. Kramer was over there for the ‘Bro/Manssiere’ episode, but I think that’s it.

7:00-7:15 - Adventure Time (DVR - Cartoon Network - 'Vault of Bones')

7:15-7:30 - Regular Show (DVR - Cartoon Network - 'Caveman')

The 1-2 punch of Adventure Time and Regular Show pretty much adds up to the best animated half hour on TV (although Bob’s Burgers may say otherwise). Adventure Time has always been a bit too surreal and trippy for kids, but its most recent season has gone completely off the rails, giving anything on Adult Swim a run for its bizarre money.

Regular Show, on the other hand, has always been a reality-bending, alternate dimension slacker comedy, and their new episodes are as good as anything they’ve ever done. These are two perfect shows to jump right into and get caught up. They’re 11 minutes long and there’s about 20 episodes a day (each) of both shows on Cartoon Network. A great way to start off Prime Time on Monday.

7:30-10:15 - WWE Monday Night Raw (DVR/Live - USA)

Raw is my Appointment Television on Monday nights; the highest-rated show in all of cable television (except for those weeks where The Walking Dead steamrolls them), Raw represents one of the most beloved facets of my childhood: Pro Wrestling. In as much as WWE/WWF hasn’t changed since the 80’s, it has also become (surprisingly so) the most 21st Century show on TV.

Something you may not know is that Raw has become totally interactive in regards to social networking; the idea that an entertainment genre that relies on pulling one over on the fans would so lovingly embrace the Internet Age is outstanding business acumen at work. Really, if you used to be a WWE fan and it’s been awhile, give it a look the next time you’re flipping through the channels. That’s what I did in 2006 after a several year absence, and I never turned it back off.

Monday is also the night of the week where I feel most like an old man, and it’s sometimes a task to even stay awake through Raw, so I went to bed as soon as it ended. However, as I drifted off to sleep, I saw my beloved Genie continuing to work hard into the night, blue light flickering with warmth and the promise of limitless future entertainment.

Or possibly a spy camera installed by the creepy installation guy. Either way.

Until he moved in with Susan, I don't think they ever showed George in the same apartment more than once. I think they just kind of stuck him in whatever set was handy.
I may be the only person out there who really enjoys Adventure Time but absolutely detests Regular Show.
CELIA - He bounced around apartments a few times, but I'm referring to his most popular place. I often wondered how close they were to each other that warranted such easy pop-ins.
EPHLAND - Hey, they're two very different shows; there's got to be more people out there like you. I ignored Regular Show for quite a while, but I couldn't deny that I'm a little too much like Mordecai.

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