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So Much TV --Well, It's Just Sick


Having recently returned to work after two weeks of battle with an "X-Files" strain of virus, I have had time to reflect on my world. My world, according to TV, that is.

And a shrunken world it is when you are sick in bed and a container of Chef Boy-ar-dee in the microwave seems ambitious.

Maybe it was a Robitussin-induced haze that left me viewing the "Beverly Hillbillies" as something to plan my day around.

Feeling able to do something besides sleep by the sixth day, I push into a reclined position for the first of my many shows. Already I'm thinking that one of those holsters seen on the side of a Barcalounger is what I need for my remotes.

The highlights:

10 a.m.: "I Love Lucy" doubleheader. Unbeknownst to Ricky, Lucy joins a ballet company performing at his club, at one point riding piggyback on another dancer. Cough syrup clouds memories of the second half-hour.

Noon: Aunt Bee, sporting an oversized flowery bonnet, has arrived to help care for little freckle-faced Opie, who hates her. This is the first episode of "The Andy Griffith Show." Aiming to win the motherless Opie's favor, she tries to fish and fails, tries to catch tadpoles and fails, and commits a string of other embarrassments. So Aunt Bee decides she should go home and let Andy the Sheriff of Mayberry find someone else to look after the young Ron Howard. Just before she hoists up into Andy's old pickup truck, Opie runs out to stop her. Aint Bee! Aint Bee! We can't let you leave. We need to take care of you 'cuz you cain't fish, you cain't catch tadpoles, you cain't do anything. They tearfully embrace. Fade out.

I dab my eyes and watch the first of a daylong stream of commercials for dental referral agencies--I had no clue finding a dentist was so difficult as to require professional help. This is followed by ads for "the motorcycle experts" and the caring "slip and fall" lawyers.

Based on these commercials it would appear the target audience is the homeless Hells Angel who has wiped out a Harley or skidded on a banana peel and now needs massive emergency dental plates and a no-interest payment plan. Should any such consumers recover, they will have major career possibilities if they just call the 800 number and enroll in either medical assistant or dental hygienist school.

1 p.m.: Back-to-back "Beverly Hillbillies" episodes. This is the vintage stuff. (It occurs to me that my social life is saved by not having cable, and specifically Nick at Nite).

In the first episode of a multi-part story, Shorty the hotelier from the Clampetts' mountain town comes to the Beverly Hills mansion. Because the station interrupts the show with a news story--a dull car chase--I don't know how Shorty became engaged to a dowdy widow in a plaid shirtdress, who is also staying at the Clampett home. But this guy Shorty definitely does not seek marriage. What a flashback to my childhood viewing this show is. Jethro the dumb nephew, Elly May the dumb but bodacious daughter, Granny the smart but cranky mother-in-law whose boots and skirts are now high fashion. And of course, the ce-ment pond.

Would Shorty get hitched, I wondered? And hadn't I seen this episode twice before?

The cold-remedy commercials seem even more annoying than they do when one is well. Who wants to listen--especially when your own nose is stuffed up--to someone with a stuffed-up nose screech about how they were up all night? And, hey, I'm sure my nose is way more stuffy than these actors'. I vow to check the cough syrup box for side effects, like edginess.

Phew, just about time for "The Lucy Show."

Based on her age during the "I Love Lucy" years, Lucy Carmichael, now widowed and single, is probably nearing 60 years old. But strangely enough, she has a son in grade school and resembles my 1961 Barbie doll.

Lucy and Ethel, her sidekick neighbor from the "I Love Lucy" era who has managed to lose Fred somewhere, are two single dames with homes of chartreuse and purple who are constantly being set up with dashing, eligible bachelors who want to take them to nightclubs. In this series, Ethel goes by Vivian. She and her current beau fix up Lucy with a dashing, eligible bachelor who is so smitten he wants to take Lucy hunting. She fakes him out and pretends she loves gunning down wildlife. But after bungling all attempts to shoot down a duck, it becomes clear that her real skill is not duck killing but duck calls. Some people are just naturally gifted. I miss the ending due to an unfortunately timed nap.

I fade back in to a psychic-hotline commercial, although it could be astrology forecasts. I appear to be zooming on cold medicine.

2 p.m.: At last, the premiere of the new one-hour drama "Sunset Beach." Day One with a soap opera named after a beach town five minutes away from my very bed! Waves crash as the show opens with a shot of what suspiciously resembles the Seal Beach Pier. But, OK, this is fiction, right?

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