Rerun Junkie Confession–I’ve Never Watched Seinfeld

Like all of my confessions, this isn’t a brag. Just a fact. I’ve never watched Seinfeld. Not during it’s heyday, not in reruns. I’ve never sat and watched an entire episode. Not even passively. Never even thought to give it a try. Not then and not now.

I know that’s hard to believe. The show was huge in the ’90s. It was in syndication before it went off the air. Even now, over twenty years later, I’d have no problem finding a local station airing it. You’d think that there was no way that I’d be able to avoid it.

And yet!

I can say the same for Friends. I’ve never seen an entire episode of that show either. And my dad went through a period in which he binge-watched it. It was always on his TV. I could probably find it on any channel right now if I was so inclined.

Lest you think I actually did occupy space in a remote cave or under a rock, I didn’t escape the pop culture saturation of the shows. I know quite a bit about them because of their popularity. I know the shows from other people talking about them, by the way the jokes and funny bits make it into conversations and become part of the fabric of culture. I know them from memes and gifs.

But I’ve never watched them.

Part of it, obviously, is because they’re sitcoms and I’ve already confessed that I’m not predisposed to liking sitcoms. Nor am I big on watching shows that are current. Hence the Rerun Junkie title.

The other part is that I seem to have a natural aversion to hugely popular shows. I don’t think it’s necessarily a conscious thing. It’s just a switch that gets flipped in my head. Everybody is hyping about a show. Mmm. Not for me.

Of course this doesn’t apply for every big show. I watched The Simpsons and Lost and the CSIs first run when they were looming on the landscape. But for every hyped show I ended up watching, there are several more from whose orbit I managed to escape, either because they weren’t my bag or because the massive popularity dissuaded me. Everybody else is watching. Why should I? Nowadays I can absorb enough from social media to keep up on all the references without watching a single minute. Time saving, really.

I know it sounds very snobbish, but I don’t mean to be. I don’t think these shows are automatically bad or anything because of their popularity. Nor do I look down on anyone who enjoys them. Do you. Get your kicks where you can. Laws knows I do. It’s just a weird quirk of my viewing habits to either be reluctant to try those shows or to not watch them at all.

And it makes me wonder how many of my beloved reruns I would have passed over if I had been around when they were first run. Obviously, not the cop shows because we all know those my favorite. But would I have still watch The Monkees when they were huge? (I’m going to say yes because of my love of music). Would I have ever watched M*A*S*H? Now there’s a question I can’t answer. An incredibly popular sitcom? But it’s set in a hospital during a war? Honestly, it’s 50/50.

But in junior high, ten years after it had gone off the air, it was a definite yes for me. So, who’s to say?

Maybe one day I’ll give Seinfeld a shot.

Maybe it just needs a few more years off the air.

Rerun Junkie Confession–I Love a Series Finale

Warning! I will be spoiling the hell out of how several reruns ended. Proceed with caution.

The only episode of The Big Bang Theory I’ve ever seen in its entirety was the series finale. Never really cared for the series, but I had to see how it ended.

I’ve got a thing for a series finale.

Many series don’t get a formal ending. They get cancelled. Which is a shame, especially when they end on a cliffhanger because they fully expected to get another season, but had the rug pulled out from under them. An official series finale wasn’t a common place thing with older series. Most of them just ended without any grand exit even if they weren’t cancelled.

But whether the episode was intended to be the end of a series or not, whether it’s a big send-off or a quiet goodbye, I’m fascinated by how shows end.

The Fugitive was the first series that had a real finale: the one-armed man was caught and Richard Kimble was finally proven to be innocent. It set the template for other shows to follow. Wrap up all of the plot lines and say goodbye.

Obviously, the biggest series finale was M*A*S*H. Though alive when it went off the air in 1983, I can’t say for certain that toddler me actually experienced the end of the show’s 11 year run. I didn’t get to watch it until about twelve or thirteen years later when I was in high school. I’d been watching the reruns since junior high (not counting falling asleep to the episodes they showed after the local news when I was a kid spending the night at my grandparents’ house), but the finale was never shown. And now I can’t remember if some station did a one-time replay or if someone loaned me a copy of it. Either way, I finally managed to see it.

Talk about a grand finale. I can see why so many people tuned in. It was more than just bringing a popular series to a close. It was an event.

Safe to say most shows don’t get that kind of treatment.

Barney Miller got a three-part finale that saw the 12th Precinct building sold, everyone getting split up, Barney and Levitt getting their long-sought after promotions, and Barney turning off the lights and closing the door as he left the squad room. A fitting, bittersweet end.

One of the most brutal series finales is courtesy of Quantum Leap. Dr. Sam Beckett is leaping from person to person in his timeline, trying to right the wrongs of the past while searching for a way home. Spoiler alert! The last episode features a title card announcing that Sam Beckett never made it home. How do you like your feelings? Crushed over ice? Because that’s the only way you were getting them with the way this show ended. It still makes my chest ache to think of it. And I didn’t even watch the show religiously.

Sometimes a show gets cancelled with enough warning that it’s able to tie up enough loose ends that the final episode feels like a satisfying enough conclusion. Stargate: Atlantis comes to mind. Atlantis ends up on Earth and our cast is hanging out on the balcony, taking in the Golden Gate Bridge sunset. It promises more adventure is possible, but it’s not a cliffhanger. Stargate: Universe wasn’t so lucky. The show ended with everyone but Eli in stasis pods, and Eli had only a couple of weeks to fix the broken one or he’d die when the life support ran out. Yeesh.

The A-Team ended up with a shortened final season when their retooling didn’t boost ratings like they’d hoped. What should have been the final episode perhaps wasn’t the strongest, but the final scene was a perfect sum up of the show. They’d get their freedom and keep working to get justice for the underdogs. However, months after that “final” episode aired, the network aired a partially finished episode (they used scenes from another episode to “finish” it) and that became the series finale. “Without Reservations” is good, but the ending doesn’t hit that finale feel like “The Grey Team”.

Steve McGarrett finally caught Wo Fat in the last episode of Hawaii Five-O, but the Marshall family never made it back from The Land of the Lost. Dorothy finally found the love of her life and got married in the last episode of The Golden Girls, but as far as we know Mork and Mindy are still stuck in the stone age.

Planned or not, happy or sad, I love to see how a show ends.

Rerun Junkie Confession–I Love Crossovers

When Dan and I first started making our plans to chat about The Green Hornet for Eventually Supertrain, I knew that we would be discussing the whole series, but I was absolutely delighted when he said that we’d be including the Batman crossover episodes.

In those episodes, our heroes Green Hornet and Kato take a trip to Gotham City where their status as villains precedes them and puts the Caped Crusader and his sidekick on alert. As it turns out, Britt Reid is old frenemies with Bruce Wayne and they spend the two-parter jousting over some woman who’s obsessed with the color pink while their alter egos attempt to apprehend Colonel Gumm.

It’s magnificent.

But I’d probably think that anyway because well, I am a sucker for a crossover.

There’s just something about seeing characters you know so well meeting other characters you know so well in each other’s environments. It’s oddly exciting to me. It’s fun. It’s different. I think The New Scooby Doo Movies did this to me. I saw Davy Jones running from ghosts with Shaggy and Velma and I was hooked.

Speaking of childhood, I was addicted to ABC’s TGIF. It should be no surprise to you how absolutely stoked I was as a young person to watch Steve Urkel from Family Matters show up on Full House and crash into Step by Step. For my 11 year old self, that was must-see TV.

It probably would be for my 42 year old self, too.

Back in the day when all of the CSIs were up and running, they managed to a crossover with all three of them, and though I’d kind of fallen out of love with them at that point, you better believe my ass watched all of those episodes anyway.

The 1980 Magnum PI was implied to exist in the same universe as the 1968 Hawaii Five-O, but a proper crossover never happened. However, Magnum PI did crossover with both Murder, She Wrote and Simon & Simon, creating its own little universe that should have seen Rick and AJ visit Jessica Fletcher at some point, but it never happened. That probably would have been too much for my heart seeing as how much I enjoyed them visiting Hawai’i. But I still love watching the crossover episodes we did get.

With the reboots, the 2010 Hawaii Five-0 crossovers included Magnum PI, MacGyver, and NCIS: LA, which means that it shares a universe with JAG, NCIS, NCIS: New Orleans (RIP), and NCIS: Hawai’i, which recently did its own crossover with NCIS.

Talk about crossover inception.

In the vein of all of this, there’s something special about characters from the original show visiting the show’s spin-off. Like Arnold from Diff’rent Strokes showing up at Eastland to visit Mrs. Garrett on Facts of Life (Arnold also showed up on Silver Spoons, and Diff’rent Strokes had three different crossover episodes with the show Hello, Larry). Or like the Fonz and Richie Cunningham showing up on Laverne and Shirley. And Laverne and Shirley turning up on Happy Days after they got spun-off. The two shows even had a crossover two-parter. Laverne and the Fonz also turned up on Mork and Mindy and Laverne made an appearance on Blansky’s Beauties because Garry Marshall had a whole universe going there.

Likewise, characters crossed over in the Henningverse, would go from The Beverly Hillbillies to Petticoat Junction to Green Acres and back again.

And of course, Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Stargate: Universe all crossed over with each other. I mean, they were all based with the same government program. It’d be weird if they didn’t.

I know that these are just stunt episodes, many times using the popularity of one show to help boost the ratings of the lagging one. But sometimes it’s just two popular shows colliding and exploding in a joyous cacophony of fun.

I’m going to be honest. I never get tired of it. I don’t even care if the shows crossing over have nothing in common and the premise is completely ridiculous, I’ll still watch it. Give me all of the crossovers.

Make the TV Universe infinite.

Rerun Junkie Confession–I Don’t Like Your Favorite Sitcom

I am currently enamored with two TV comedies, What We Do in the Shadows and Ghosts. This probably hasn’t happened since the ’80s. Because the truth is that I’m not a real big fan of sitcoms.

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t like them at all, obviously. It’s just that when it comes to sitcoms and the like, I’m very picky and particular. Comedy is hard and I’m a persnickety bitch.

Which means I probably don’t like your favorite sitcom.

We’ve already established that I don’t love Lucy. Or even like her. I’m also not a big fan of Cheers. Even first run, I didn’t really want to watch it with the rest of the family when it was on (ah, the days when we had only one TV and no say about what was on it). Seinfeld? I don’t think I’ve seen an entire episode. Ditto Friends. And I don’t have any desire to.

On school days back in the long, long ago of grade school, my mother would put on a particular channel and that’s how we timed ourselves getting ready for school. The channel played Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and when Little House on the Prairie came one, we left for school at the first commercial break. Of those four classic sitcoms, I only really liked Laverne & Shirley. It’s still the only one I really like.

It’s not that I think the shows are bad or that I hate them or anything like that. I just don’t care for them. Or about them.

My Three Sons, Mr. Ed, Make Room for Daddy, The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, and The Honeymooners just don’t do it for me. I only like The Dick Van Dyke Show when he’s at the office. I never hit it off with The Partridge Family or The Odd Couple. All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Maude are all fine, I’m just not compelled to watch them. Ditto The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda. Throw Welcome Back, Kotter in there, too. I’ve seen them all and they all have episodes I like, but I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fan.

There are a lot of sitcoms I watched first run back in the ’80s and ’90s as a kid -The TGIF line-up, Mr. Belvedere, Family Ties, Head of the Class, Gimme a Break, Kate & Allie, The Cosby Show, Alf, Married…with Children– that I really enjoyed at the time, but either have no interest in revisiting them or I have, but now don’t enjoy them as I once did.

Of course there are exceptions to all of these. I watched The Golden Girls first run and I still love it. I discovered The Addam’s Family, The Monkees, and Gilligan’s Island reruns when I was a kid and they remain my faves. I was grown when I found F-Troop and Barney Miller and quickly fell in love.

So, I do like some sitcoms.

Just not your fave.

Rerun Junkie Confession–I Love to See My Faves in Peril

One of my favorite episodes of The A-Team is the Season 2 finale “Curtain Call”. In it, Murdock is shot during a job and the team has to figure out how to get him help while being pursued by Decker. It’s actually just an excuse to have a clip show. But the whole time, Murdock is bleeding to death and I love it.

See also: Hawaii Five-O Season 1 episode “King of the Hill” (Yaphet Kotto has a psychotic episode which leads to Danny being shot and held hostage); Starsky and Hutch Season 1 episode “Shootout” (Starsky is shot as a killers take everyone in an Italian restaurant hostage); and The Green Hornet episode “Bad Bet on 459-Silent” (Britt Reid is shot while being The Green Hornet and they have to figure out how to get him help while he’s preoccupied with catching the bad guys).

I know. It sounds sick and cruel and while I am both of these things, there is actually a very good, less evil reason for my enjoyment.

What it boils down to is that it’s an emotional extreme happening in a fictional context. Like watching horror movies. You can be terrified, but in the end, it’s a safe environment. You’re never in any real danger. Same deal. I and my faves are being put through it emotionally, but in the end, everybody’s okay!

Take “Home From the Sea” for example, the Season 4 premier of Magnum PI. Probably my favorite episode of the series; the ending is an absolutely gut punch. But the whole thing hinges on the fact that Magnum is stranded in the middle of the ocean, caught in a dangerous current pushing him further out to sea. At one point, he’s even bumped by a shark. Ultimate peril that we all know that he’ll survive, but it’s the getting there that we love. Okay, maybe I love it.

Another one is Adam-12 Season 4 episode “The Search”. Reed and Malloy are called to a robbery in progress. Reed catches one suspect while Malloy chases the other in the squad. However, the squad has a dodgy mic so dispatch and other officers have trouble keeping up with Malloy’s location, which proves to be a problem when he rolls the car and is badly hurt. Obviously, Malloy is going to be found in time, but you still hold your breath when he’s found first by someone with less than honorable intentions.

The peril doesn’t even have to be that immediately deadly either. Take for instance the Season 2 Gilligan’s Island episode “Quick Before It Sinks”. It looks like the castaways are in for a watery doom because the island is apparently sinking. Obviously, not the case because the show went on for another season and a half and a few TV movies. And as per show rules, it was a Gilligan goof that led to the incorrect assessment. Now, it’s a sitcom, so the danger is amusing at best, but there’s still something about watching first the men try to keep it from the women, and then the women coming up with a solution (build an ark!) and everyone working together before the inevitable. The inevitable being finding out that Gilligan is the cause of everyone thinking they’re about to bite it.

“The Sniper” episode of M*A*S*H is another good example. Though the dramedy had its serious moments, in this Season 2 episode, there’s more laughs despite the impending threat of being gunned down by a sniper. Though we know nobody is going to be shot and/or killed, there’s still something about watching the doctors, nurses, and patients cope with a situation that’s out of the life or death scenarios in the operating room that they’re used to. The show would do several episodes like this, including another favorite of mine, “The Army-Navy Game” in Season 1.

Whether light or dark, watching my faves in peril is a favorite of mine. It’s almost like a bonding experience in a way, living through that dangerous episode with these fictional characters and coming out on the other side closer than ever.

In case you’re wondering how sadistic I am, when I was watching Tales of the Gold Monkey and got to the episode “Escape from Death Island”, I saw that Corky was going to be bitten by a poisonous snake and actually rubbed my hands in glee. By this point in the series, I adored Corky, so to see that he was going to be in peril thrilled me.

Sure I knew he was going to be okay.

But for a little bit, I got to fret over him.

And then feel that rush of relief when he lived to see another day.

Rerun Junkie Confession–I Don’t Like Them Kids

I’m not talking about the Brady kids, or the Drummonds, or Punky Brewster and her friends, or even Cousin Oliver. I don’t mind the children on their sitcoms where they’re meant to be. I’m talking about the kids that show up on my grown-up shows only to irritate the hell out of me because their spoiled antics and precocious nature are played for laughs or worse, for them to learn a life lesson that I’d rather not witness.

Now, I don’t hate all children that end up on my shows because not all of them are written to irritate me (and I don’t hate any of the actors whether they’re portraying a kid I like or not; I shouldn’t have to say that, but I am). Some of them I do quite like. Tran Quoc Jones in the Magnum PI Season 5 episode “Tran Quoc Jones” is a great example of a kid I like. He doesn’t dominate the screen time, he’s street savvy without being obnoxious, he’s sweet without it being saccharine or fake, and his story has an emotional depth that Roland Harrah III plays well.

Butch Patrick as Melvin in The Monkees Season 2 episode “The Christmas Show” is another example. The whole point of the show is to teach Melvin the meaning of Christmas and Melvin is basically an uptight forty-five year old executive in a 12 year old’s body. Melvin is dismissive, but does nothing to actively sabotage the guys working their Christmas magic. They’re just thwarted at every turn, which is why the humor works so well. And the pay off is a very sweet ending.

However, not all child characters are written with such care.

My least favorite child to show up on my grown-up shows are the spoiled, entitled children. Yes, they’re usually played for laughs because what’s not hilarious about watching our favorites attempt to placate such children except everything. Bonus points if the child is manipulative on top of it.

My best example of this is the Season 4 episode of Stargate: Atlantis, “Harmony”. John and Rodney are tasked with escorting a young princess (Jodelle Ferland, who is excellent in the role) to perform some sacred ritual that will make her queen. In addition to the princess being demanding and spoiled, as princesses tend to be written, she’s also awful towards Rodney, and then uses his rightful anger to play up to John. Yes, it makes for a funny punchline at the end, but the getting there is tiresome. We’re supposed to be amused by Rodney’s torment, but I spend the episode wanting something terrible to happen to a child.

My second least favorite child is a teenager. Perhaps that’s because it seems that all teenagers that pop up on my big people shows are written with their lack of fully formed brain in mind. They end up being rebellious, angsty, defiant, as well as spoiled, entitled, and all around unpleasant. Are teenagers this way in real life? Sure. But there are at least four who are not and they deserve representation.

Usually, these teenagers are there to learn a hard lesson. That’s why they’re so defiant and rebellious. Because they’re heading down the wrong path and it’s our favorites’ job to save them. Most of the time I don’t want them to be saved. I want life to chew them up and spit them out. You get what you pay for, junior.

Let’s go back to Magnum PI for this example. In the Season 6 episode “Summer School”, Robin Masters’s bratty nephew RJ (Tate Donovan, who plays it well) is sent to Robin’s Nest so Higgins can instill some discipline in the lad. After all, he keeps getting kicked out of school and getting into trouble. RJ is a prat from the word go and ends up impersonating Magnum on a case, creating all sorts of problems. And the best/worst part? He doesn’t learn shit from anything. He puts everyone in jeopardy and his parting shot is stealing one of Robin’s cars. Ha ha! What a scamp!

I’m not one to advocate violence against children, but that fictional boy could have ate shit and I would have been fine with it.

I admit that the writing of children and teenagers has gotten better in recent years. Writers have finally started to realize that the young people are actually nuanced little individuals with depths of personalities and emotions and experiences. However, I’ve still managed to run into a few lingering stereotypes.

Despite the improvements, though, I think my first reaction to seeing a child or a teenager in the guest credits is always going to be me wanting them to get off my TV lawn.

Rerun Junkie Confession–I Don’t Love Lucy

I know this is probably one of my most controversial television opinions and I may subject myself to mobs of people with torches and pitchforks, but I must speak my truth.

I don’t care for I Love Lucy.

Now, let me cut you off before you start trying to burn me at the stake as a witch. Nothing about my dislike of the show in anyway denies its place in history nor Lucille Ball’s contribution to comedy, television, or women’s history. I recognize all of that. She was a brilliant, creative, pioneering woman who deserves all of the accolades she gets. Nothing about this post contradicts that.

I just don’t like the show.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that much of the humor (at least in the episodes that I have watched) is embarrassment humor, which is my least favorite. I suffer from second-hand embarrassment so easily that I can’t find any humor in watching fictional characters endure those situations. It’s just not funny to me.

The character of Lucy is also kind of annoying. Her obsession with being a performer despite having little talent grates after a while. She’s always scheming and plotting and for me, it’s tiring. Her ineptness loses its charm quickly. Though I’ve watched other shows in which I didn’t care for the main character, I can’t make the exception here. Lucy is just too much for me to get past.

The physical comedy is amazing, though; I won’t argue that. I do have much appreciation of that.

But it’s not enough to get me interested in the show. Or to be willing to give it another chance. The feeling of irritation that lingers on my nerves from the times I have watched the show is too strong to overcome. It’s a Pavlovian reaction of annoyance that makes me turn the channel.

One last thing that might quell the mob coming for my head…

I’m not a big fan of sitcoms in general anyway. My humor is better found in action shows with witty one-liners. So, don’t think I’m singling out I Love Lucy as being the only sitcom I’ve ever watched that I didn’t like.

It’s actually in very good company.

Rerun Junkie Confession–Gilligan Was My First

That’s right. Gilligan’s Island was my first rerun love. (What did you think I was talking about, you perverts?)

It was on TBS when I was a kid and I remember watching it every afternoon. It didn’t bother me that the castaways had an endless supply of clothes or The Professor couldn’t fix a boat or they could fashion anything and everything (except a boat) out of coconuts or that nobody lost weight or died of scurvy or how those other people came and went and the castaways were always stuck. I was only concerned with the fact that Gilligan was silly and did silly things and Mary Ann should have been his girlfriend and the Skipper should have had some more patience.

Jinjer MaryannI was so taken with the show that I named one of my dolls Ginger Mary Ann. Except I spelled it Jinjer Maryann because five year olds are crap at spelling. Also the doll was probably supposed to be a boy, but it had red hair like Ginger and it had a sweet face like Mary Ann so I decided it was a short-haired girl.

Anyway, it was the only doll I ever named after characters on a TV show, therefore, it’s noteworthy.

I can remember daydreaming about being on that island with the castaways. I would have helped Gilligan and wouldn’t have made him feel like such a screw-up, even though everything he touched pretty much exploded in his face. Even at five, I felt very protective towards Gilligan.

I related to him because he was like a kid. He tried his best, but he messed up a lot. He was goofy and playful and seemed like the most fun. It’s not that I didn’t like the other characters; I did! I could have made my doll a boy and named him Gilligan, but I didn’t (she looks nothing like a Gilligan anyway); I named her after two of the girls. I was fond of all the castaways.

And I still am.

Little did I know that this show would set me off on my course. Like the Minnow’s two-man crew and its five passengers, my young self set sail in a sea of entertainment and like the inexplicable pull of that uncharted island, I’ve repeatedly found myself washing onto the shores of reruns, particularly when my life’s been stormy. I realize now that the shows I’ve liked best are the shows that remind of that fantasy world comfort I first experienced with Gilligan’s Island. No, the shows I love aren’t all silly, but there’s something about them that involves me yet puts me at ease the way the antics of the castaways did.

Only for me would naming a doll after a character establish the gold-standard of a television show.

Rerun Junkie Confession–I’m a Sucker for Reunions

Mary Tyler Moore Hot in ClevelandI don’t watch Hot in Cleveland by habit. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes, mostly because there was some special draw, like the live episode (which was quite funny and well done for a live show). One episode that I made sure I watched, though, was the one featuring the Mary Tyler Moore reunion.

I’m a sucker for things like that.

Of course, plain old reunion shows are great (you know, like the Gilligan’s Island and Love Boat TV movies), but there’s something really nifty about getting actors from an old show together and having them play new characters. There’s the wink-wink, nudge-nudge they always seem to work into the episode, of course, but mostly there’s this fun of watching people with a history, with a chemistry, with a rhythm working together, but playing something different.

Like the Mary Tyler Moore reunion. They played a bowling team getting together after years apart, fame having undone their friendship. So there’s Mary and Rhoda and Georgette and Sue Ann and Phyllis sitting around a table, except they weren’t those characters. It was the same chemistry but presented in a different way.

Cagney Lacey Burn NoticeSharon Gless and Tyne Daly did it on Burn Notice. Cagney and Lacey together again only as Madeline and Tina, strangers not partners. So even thought Madeline is befriending Tina for a short-term purpose, that chemistry that made Cagney and Lacey such a great duo is still there.

I find that kind of thing fun to watch. It’s taking people who are comfortable with each other and putting them in a different element.

I look for those kinds of reunions. I don’t catch them all, of course, but I’m always thrilled when they happen. I guess it’s just the warm fuzzies it gives me. Here are the actors that created some iconic characters back together in a different, but yet familiar way.

It sucks me in every time.

You want me to watch current TV more often? This is definitely the way to do it. I’d clear my schedule for the right reunion.

I’m that kind of sucker.