Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Sunday, January 29th, 2006, 12:05 am

I don’t watch much network TV, there aren’t many shows I can even imagine myself watching. One of those shows is 24. I was a big fan of La Femme Nikita, and the producers of that show went on to do 24. But I never watched it, I don’t know if I was busy the nights it was on or if I was just lazy. Here I am a guy who bitches about TV shows that wrap up nice and neat in a one-hour format and when a show with a more complex structure comes along I ignore it. Nice.

So a friend of mine has the first 3 seasons on DVD and I ask to borrow them. I just watched the first 3 episodes. You mean to tell me that you people would watch the show…and then have to wait a week for the next one? You people must be sick. I can barely keep myself from fumbling the DVD controller as I go to the next episode.

I guess I’ve watched some shows that made me crazy like that. The Sopranos don’t always end on a cliffhanger, but 10PM on Sunday nights was always a depressing time, knowing we were the maximum time away from the next show. The absolute worst example of this came at the end of the first season of Twin Peaks, which was about the best thing I’ve ever seen on network TV, drama-wise. ABC kept running promos saying that we were gonna find out who murdered Laura Palmer. 20/20 even did a piece about how this season-long mystery would be solved. And I’m watching the show–by myself, I think my friends were all away or out or something, maybe it was summer, I don’t know–and it’s getting pretty damn close to 11PM and we don’t seem to be any closer to a solution. And Agent Cooper walks into his room at the Great Northern, gets a phone call, there’s a knock at the door, he opens it, and all we see is a silenced pistol. Fade to black, and there’s the sound of three shots.

I was stunned. Although I knew we weren’t going to find out who the murderer was, and while I thought the knock on the door was a bit sinister, I didn’t expect to be left standing in our living room with my jaw on the floor. What made this especially hard to bear was that there was no guarantee Twin Peaks would be renewed (and it wasn’t after the second season, leaving us in the middle of another cliffhanger) and that even if it WAS renewed it wouldn’t be back on for five months. I ended up walking around campus for an hour working off the nervous energy, and resisting the urge to run up to total strangers and ask if they’d seen the show.

Good lord, I just remembered something! Right after the show ended I got a phone call. I thought maybe it was one of my friends calling to say something along the lines of “HOLY SHIT, DID YOU SEE THAT!!??”. But instead it was this girl I kinda-sorta-but-no-really dated my freshman year who pretty much destroyed my life for a bit. She would call me from time to time, when she wanted me to listen to her troubles. I hated those calls, but now I was so glad to have someone to talk to that I blathered away for like 15 minutes explaining the plot and what had just happened. I think it was the first time SHE was the one trying to cut the conversation short. It was after talking to her that I went on my long walk. I totally forgot about that till now. Funny how memory works.

Well, why am I wasting my time writing this when I could be watching 24? Here’s the cool thing–I can watch four seasons right in a row, without having to wait a goddam week in between each show. And John’s taping season five, which I’ve missed so far. I may be up very late tonight. But if Jack Bauer can do it, so can Mean Gene.

Crap. Now I probably have to get hold of the DVDs of The Shield now.

And The Wire.

And Deadwood.

Any others?

UPDATE: Thanks for the suggestions in the comments. I did see the first season of Carnivale and some of the second, and liked it a lot. It does have some of that Twin Peaks vibe about it. See, this is what I really need in my life…more reason to sit in front of a glowing screen for hours at a time.

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5 Responses to “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”

  1. Absinthe Says:

    The Shield, The Wire and Deadwood are three of the finest shows ever made. Lost and Battlestar Galactica are pretty nifty. HUFF (on Showtime, but I think the first season is out on DVD now) is a great, twisted little drama. Rescue Me is also definitely worth watching.

    Yeah, I like TV. It’s a failing.

  2. BG Says:

    Robot Monkey Fighting Squad, The complete Emeril Live and seasons 3-6 of the complete Ronco. You get the knives, the Showtime grill and the bald-spot covering paint shows, but don’t have to suffer through the abominably unwatchable pocket fisherman spots from the early 80s. Popeil took a little while to hit his groove.

    Seriously though, take Monk out for a test drive at some point. Tony Shalhoub is terrific on the show.

  3. Human Head Says:

    Add Carnivale to that list and you’re good.

  4. facty Says:

    Back when Twin Peaks was on I lived at home and worked as a tour guide at Universal Studios. There was a TP Party every Thursday with all the fun tour guides but I skipped it every single week. Why?

    My mom used to make Cherry Pie and Coffee and we’d sit and enjoy the show together. We fought as fiercly as any mom, and daughter as I was growing up, but bonded over David Lynch. Ill always have a warm feeling for TP – even though they ended the second season with Heather Graham.

    Deadwood Deadwood Deadwood. Also I just saw Nip/Tuck for the first time and found it sexy, intellegent, funny and very engaging, but maybe not for everyone. Give it a try.


  5. Alan Says:

    My wife and I watched the first season of 24 in about 36 hours. That can really mess with your sense of time. It’s 4am in real life, but 8am in the show and the sun’s coming up. Very weird. We never had the courage to start the second season because watching the first one was so exhausting.

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