Monday, March 31, 2008

Zen and the Art of Having the Flu

This week, on top of everything else, I was hit with one of the worst flu bugs. I totally blame my sister, who on despite being sick with the flu came over to my parents to make dinner for Easter. My germs are in everything she said. Great. By Monday I was feeling odd, by Tuesday afternoon I was leaving work early. I don't get sick that often (hangovers not included), and when I do it lasts a day at the most. But this was as Hazel would say, 'a doozy'.

High temps, chills, coughing. It was the full symphony of symptoms. I just gave in and slept when I could and when I was awake I drank lots of hot water and lemon and watched a lot of TV shows. There is something zen like about having the flu. I remember when I was young, there was an excitement about it. Staying home from school, lots of attention, and getting to see all the shows that you missed during the day. I mentioned Hazel earlier, but of all the shows that one reminds me more of being home sick. For Years, WGN 9AM. Hazel with it's non-threatening plots and quiet Shirley Booth cooing voice, were perfect for when the body was ailing.

So this time while I was fighting off the worst of it, I pondered what are the best shows to watch when you are sick. Comfort shows.I really believe that there should be a TV health ruling in hospitals. News, loud awful shows with people yelling at each other should be blocked.

Now I've gone on before about how today's TV is too loud. Especially morning shows. Too many talk shows with over excited audiences or 80's tired sitcoms with their blaring laugh tracks and sickeningly sweet stories. Soap operas still are quiet, but I never know what's going on, and being a completest I'm terrified I'll get caught up in one. So, I hit my reserve of old TV shows to drift away on. After a week of pondering and watching I thought I'd give you:

Dr Johnny C's Top Ten Shows to Watch When You Are Sick
10. Lost in Space - The color ones especially will dazzle and lull you into a quiet peaceful coma. Although a tad loud, I would not recommend this except for a head cold.

9. The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now you might be able to repeat the lines with these shows, but that's part of the healing process. Plus, the plot lines are usually so fun that you'll be a half hour to being well before you know it.

8. Fantasy Island - There is nothing like some quality eye candy and pretty scenery to make you forget your runny nose. And there is nothing that can shut off your brain like Fantasy Island.

7. Alfred Hitchcock - A sublime flu show. It has it all quiet, interesting, and in some cases sleep inducing. That's not a bad thing, sleep is important in getting over a flu and your mind has to be distracted by something to fall asleep.

6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
- The same qualities that made Dick Van Dyke such a good flu show are carried over when Mary got her show. Except even more, the music was much more soothing using muted clarinets instead of blaring horns. I recommend this show especially if the flu bug hits you in the dead of winter.

5. Dragnet (circa 1967). Like Alfred Hitchcock, you will be distracted, but unlike Hitchcock you'll most likely be dozing comfortably before the end of the show. The dazzling Technicolor and stilted dialogue can be taken together, or try a cold cloth over your eyes and just listen. Works just as well.

4. The Lucy Show: Now I might get some flack for picking The Lucy Show over I Love Lucy, but for shear comfort nothing works like the early black and white ones with Viv and Lucy getting stuck in a shower. Warning: This is only for a sniffly cold. Everyone seems to yell a lot in this show. It's too loud for a flu.

3. The Doris Day Show - Next to Hazel the quietest, cozy show that was ever put on TV. Pretty, colorful, vapid, but totally engaging. Should be used during the worst flu. I once had a flu that was so bad that I probably should have gone to the hospital. I swear the Doris Day Show was the only thing I could even begin to watch. It was also the only thing that did not stick in my head when I slept. I made the mistake of watching the Simpsons and Lisa's laugh rang in my head for hours.

2. Bewitched - Like Hazel, the color Bewitched's have this certain patina about them for me. They are a perfect flu show because they incorporate all the best elements; They colorful, funny, sleep inducing, but not boring. This flu I happened to time my sickness with the one where Endora gets Dr. Bombaby to cure Darren's cold. It was good to watch a show where everyone had a cold.

1. The Andy Griffith Show: I was never a big fan of this show until I was in the hospital ten years ago for an appendix operation. I had several channels to choose from but I was on morphine and everything hurt. That was until I ran across Andy on at 6 in the morning. Suddenly everything seemed right in the world.

Anyway... I had to share my favorites... What are yours?


Ponto said...

I recommend old Bollywood flicks - "Amar Akbar Anthony" would be my top choice, or maybe "Bajrangbali". Or both.

Aaron said...

I like this list--I called it "snow day TV." :-)

Your list and my list are a lot alike...

* I like some of the newer "Lucy Shows," too, with Gale Gordon--those two were so good together! (But not "Here's Lucy," with the deadbeat children--we have to draw the line SOMEWHERE.)

* "Doris Day" is a good one...I have Season Three on DVD (where she's moved into San Francisco over the restaurant owned by Kaye Ballard and Bernie Kopell). I guess the loud voices don't bother me so much, because there's a lot of yelling in this season (especially by Kaye Ballard). But it's Kaye-Fucking-Ballard--it's funny when she yells!

* "Love American Style" and "Room 222." Both sort of hippie-era feel-good favorite stuff!

* "Laugh-In," the Joanne Worley years, and especially when Carol Channing would guest star. Yes, it's manic, crazy and loud, but Worley was always so likable, she had a soothing effect on me.

* MOVIES from this era were also terrific. (60s/early 70s.) Doris Day movies (even that stinky "Caprice"), Norman Lear comedies ("Cold Turkey") and the original "Freaky Friday" with Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris.

* Anything with Barbara Harris...the woman is a fucking genius. Which reminds me, I'm going to rent "Nashville" again--Barbara Harris AND Lily Tomlin. It's like a double dose of endorphins!

Anonymous said...

Great list, Johnny...

Among my favorite shows in the daytime when I was home sick as a kid were Concentration with Art Fleming, High Rollers with Alex Trebek and his Brady 'fro and Ruta Lee, and of course Bob Barker and the Price is Right - with Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup... I can't ever be home sick again!


Mike Lynch said...

Man oh man, there's a heap of nostalgia in this entry, Johnny.

I have to agree with some of your choices, although I've never seen a few of them -- like The Doris Day Show and Alfred Hitchcock. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, there just were certain shows that played in the town I grew up in. An hour away, kids had different shows that they grew up on! Remember that? So, I never saw certain shows (like all those Gerry Anderson puppet shows or The Addams Family) and I never knew the existed until I was a teenager.

Anyway, a friend just showed me some old Gidget episodes and I was surprised that I liked them.

Andy Griffith is an old standard that I enjoy -- like the one when Barney arrested the whole town or the ones with Malcolm Merryweather. I'd also add an old B&W episode of My Favorite Martian.

The Courtship of Eddie's Father I'd add in the mix. And maybe an old episode of He and She that's heavy on Jack Cassidy (if you can find it on anywhere).

I'd love to see the TV version of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir again. I think it would do nicely. Ditto the Please Don't Eat the Daisies show. Pretty much any show that has the pet dog's name in the title credits is cool.

I'd have to add a spooky or SciFi show. If I was really sick, then an old Doctor Who show with Sylvester McCoy in B&W. If I was feeling a little better, then it would be a color 1970s episode with Tom Baker.

Aaron, where are you getting to see Room 222? It's not out on (legitimate) video. I'd love to see some episodes. I still remember the intro, with Karen Valentine (Where is she now?) getting stuck in the school bus doors. It was done by a lot of the same guys who went on to create the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Anonymous said...

We had a limited number of viewing choices here when I was a kid, so I watched the staples: I DREAM OF JEANNIE, BEWITCHED, MY THREE SONS, and MATCH GAME.

Aaron said...

Mike, I don't actually have a video of "Room 222." They used to show it on TV Land several years back, though...

I wish they WOULD put it out on DVD! Life's so unfair: they're making a new "Beverly Hills 90210" (yes--a new one, when the concept has outlived its welcome) but they can't give us "Room 222!"

David said...

Johnny, of course I love your list.

My faves include:
The Beverly Hillbillies- I love it when Miss Hathaway goes to the rock club with Jethro and soon finds herself frugging on the table. Bonus poitns for a Sharon Tate or Jethrine episode!

Gilligans Island- COLOR epeisodes featring a Ginger or Mrs. Howell storyline.

Father Knows Best- Always brings a tear to my eye.