Drunk and Irradiated…

Stupid, random thoughts for the day:

I couldn’t find anything to watch the other night.  There’s nothing unusual in that, by the way.  Springsteen, after all, did a song thirty-ish years ago about “57 channels, and nothing on.”  Well, with the almost infinite options of streaming, there is more choice than ever before…and yet it is harder than ever to actually find something to watch!

*sigh*

There’s an old theory in marketing and sales that says you should never actually give the customer a choice.  You give him/her the illusion of choice, while guiding them to the “solution” you pre-selected for them long before you ignored their first hint of what they would prefer.  That thinking defines the “old world” of network TV and old-school movie studios pretty damned well, don’t you think?

The worst thing, for me as a recovering marketing & sales weasel, is that that theory actually works…

Unrestricted choice can be the most paralyzing thing in the world.  Look, I subscribe to all four major streaming services: Amazon Prime, NetFlix, Hulu and Disney+*.  Between those four, I can watch anything.  So why on fucking Earth can I sit there after fifteen minutes of searching and complain that there’s nothing on?!

*And before you criticize me for the Disney-thing, let’s all repeat to ourselves the key reason: “The Mandalorian”.  ‘Nuff said.

After those fifteen minutes of futility, do you know what I did?  I started up a show I’ve watched hundreds of times before.  That act of pathetic surrender wasn’t the low point of the night, however.  No, the low point of the night came when I realized that the show on which I had finally settled — one of my top-5 all time favorites — had just hit it’s 20th freaking birthday!  Wait, godfuckingdammitalltomotherfuckinghell!!  Just how the hell can Firefly be 20 damned years old?!  It was cancelled just the other day!

Then I thought about the other four in my top five TV shows:  M*A*S*H, Cheers, Star Trek (the original, of course!), and The Wire

Are you kidding me?  Shit, I just realized that I really am getting old…now get off my fucking lawn!

Ahem.

My solution to the whole depressing dilemma, by the way, has been no help.  Books aside, when I turn away from TV and movies, I turn to video games.  Well, the game I chose to pick up was a user-created mod for a current video strategy game.  That mod was built on the lore and world of the Fallout series of games.  That, of course, meant that I had to go and revisit the actual games the mod was based on…

Look, not only am I now pissed off about getting old, but I have started replaying computer games that (kinda) go back to my college days*!  And just to add some salt to the wound, it is a game series that takes a very, very wry look at nostalgia and the urge to hearken back to “better times”!

*An interesting note for my fellow nerds out there: one of my college roommates was a programmer on the original “Fallout” game while we were in school.

Wait…wasn’t the bottle of bourbon full when I started looking for something to watch?  By the time I got killed by that first deathclaw in Fallout 3, the level of liquor was a whole lot lower…

People ask me, by the way, what is the best thing about being a writer.  I would lie and tell them that it was the money, but not even I am that good of a liar.  So, instead, I go with honesty: the best part of being a writer is the ability to take any random, stupid thought and turn it into six or seven hundred words of (hopefully!) coherent prose.

{Musical Note — I didn’t want to do a song that I identify specifically with nostalgia, so instead I decided to go a little sideways with the idea.  Look, I’ve told you before that I’m a hockey guy.  I love hockey.  I also happen to play a lot of hockey — and I do mean a lot.  One of my teammates had a young son whose team was playing in the same tournament in which we were playing.  Before his son’s game, my friend and I stopped into their locker room to feel…well…not so old.  Long before we even opened the door came the unmistakable sound of blaring music and 20 middle school kids belting out the song below — and can you get more throwback or nostalgic than that?!}

Do I Dare Watch “Regular” TV?

I just scared the shit out of myself.

No, really — absolutely terrified myself.

Did I suddenly evince a passion for cannibalism?  Find evidence of some vile Lovecraftian entity possessing me?  Feel an urge to do something evil?  Stroke a white cat while laughing maniacally?

Nope…none of the above.  It’s worse than that: I figured out I’m kinda looking forward to the coming reboot of Roseanne.

It scares me because, well, I don’t actually watch “regular” TV…I just stream (and binge-watch) shows and movies that interest me at any given time.  Even worse, I didn’t particularly like the previous incarnation of the show in the first place.

Well, that’s not quite accurate — the show itself was both clever and effective in its humorous insights into life for “everyone else,” I just couldn’t deal with Roseanne herself…or, more accurately, her over-the-top antics and behavior off the show.

0404_nuclear_homer_250x220_2I was also young(ish) at the time, and far more given to Married…With Children and The Simpsons. Al Bundy and Homer Simpson are still my heroes, as a matter of fact…alandpegbundyquotes_large

So why am I intrigued this time around?  A few reasons…

If the show can continue its tradition of cleverness, and honest insights into the real world, it will be a very welcome change from what passes for funny and intelligent on most nights right now.  Aside from the weird-as-hell ending, even my younger-self knew Roseanne had some seriously good writing* going on behind the scenes.  Nowadays, my older, writer-self is excited to (hopefully) see that same level of talent.

*If you don’t know, the list of contributors includes some impressive (and surprising) names…including Carrie Fisher and Joss Whedon.

The new show is also apparently continuing to do something the original did: tackle subjects that are “challenging” and “controversial” to those who live behind ivory-tower visions of the world, but are the honest reality of friends and families and loved-ones for the rest of us.

Now for the elephant in the room: the politics of it.  I don’t give a shit.  Honestly, I’m not one of those people who thinks someone’s views — let alone who they voted for — defines them as a person, let alone as an artist.*

*Well…mostly.  You support or vote for the truly despicable and evil — for a David Duke or a Roy Moore or a Louis Farrakhan — and it DOES say something about you…

At this point, Roseanne Barr (as well as her character on the show) is a Trump supporter.  That alone has a good chunk of Hollywood twisted into knots, especially given her roots as a Clinton friend and supporter.  And I don’t care.  Just as I wouldn’t care if she had been an open and avid Hillary supporter.  To each their own.

The writer in me says the Conner’s midwest, blue collar household — if the show wants to be honest — would have to have a Trump voter, anyway.  Just as the show itself has to represent the tension that politics can (and does) bring within families that have differing views.

If the writing does continue to be top-notch, however, tension and conflict about politics can be a wonderful vehicle to highlight the strengths and weaknesses all families share…as well as being a great way to shine an occasionally-uncomfortable light onto aspects of our society itself.

Just like the original did.

roseanne-605x405Look, back then — 20-30 years ago, lest you forget! — the original Roseanne had gay and lesbian characters, TV’s first (I think) gay wedding, insights into drinking and drugs that had far more to do with people and reality than with Reefer Madness

The new iteration has characters that highlight the political extremes (Roseanne and her sister), a gender-fluid kid, and the same blue collar family, still struggling to survive, and still needing each other.  Well, all of that, and a writing/producing team that gives me hope they can make it all work.ames-mcnamara-sara-gilbert-laurie-metcalf-emma-kenney-jayden-rey-roseanne-barr-michael-fishman-john-goodman-lecy-goranson-sarah-chalke-645281710b24a9da

By the way, what got me to thinking about this enough to write this post at this particular time?  An honest, positive review of the new Roseanne by the last person you’d think: read it here.