Ken Hoffman tunes in to the all-day TV diet during coronavirus
My career, this long hard climb from the bottom to the middle, has come full circle. My first job in Houston was TV-radio columnist for the now-gone Houston Post. All day long, I watched TV. All night, too. I was dedicated.
Now, with the coronavirus outbreak, I’m stuck at home and back to watching TV all day and night. I am bored.
My second day on the job as TV columnist at the Post, I made a mistake and referred to KPRC, the NBC affiliate here, as KPNX, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, my newspaper stop before Houston. Simple mistake, but still embarrassing. One of the sports anchors at KPRC sent me an insulting welcome note, saying I’ll never last in Houston making dumb mistakes like that. Just for the record, I’m still here. He’s long gone.
The TV diet
For the past month, I’ve been hitting TV extra hard. My viewing habits have changed a lot since then, though. “Must-See Thursday” has become “I’ll Watch Thursday On DVR When I Get Around To It.”
I’m getting up pretty early, since the social distancing order came down. Early on, I started my day with our local stations’ 4, 5, 6-hour morning newscasts. I never realized how many car crashes there are in Houston. The hosts are much happier, and less groggier, than I am. They’re so wired and giddy, it might be time for them to pee in a Dixie cup.
I used to be a news junkie — CNN was my go-to channel. I can’t watch the news anymore. All I hear is coronavirus bad news. All I see is my life’s saving circle the drain. Even the five minutes of sports on the 10 o’clock news is awful because there’s nothing to report.
They say that you can have 150 stations on your cable package, and you’ll watch only five regularly. Mine used to be news-news-sports-sports-HBO. Now my fab five are Netflix-food-comedy-Amazon-HBO. And I’m getting ready to drop HBO because a certain show has said goodbye.
I watch the press conferences starring Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Don’t you get the feeling that they have no use for each other? I happen to think they’re both doing a competent job. It’s just a personality and ego clash between them.
Curb to the curb?
Most depressing of all: Curb Your Enthusiasm, my favorite show ever, aired its 10th and final episode of the season on HBO last Sunday night. From the way Larry David tied up all the loose strings, I’m scared Curb is never coming back. Modern Family, another favorite, is winding down its last season, but this has been a lame farewell season. It’s gone from wild comedy to sappy comedy. Sappy isn’t funny. While Curb had a huge season, Modern Family should have stopped the show two years ago.
I’m down to watching The Office reruns and old Twilight Zone episodes on Netflix and WWE wrestling on USA and Fox. I’m listening to sports talk radio because I like hearing the hosts scramble for something, anything to talk about. I’m tuning in podcasts like Jim Cornette’s Drive-thru, the Jim Cornette Experience and Something About the Beatles. I like Josh Innes’ podcast. I get into bed around midnight, hit Youtube and the next time I check what time it is, it’s 5 am.
I’m addicted to those videos where people sucker police into confrontations, and then throw the First Amendment at the officers. They goad the officers by taking video of federal buildings and security-sensitive property from the sidewalk, where the Supreme Court says it’s okay. Most of the time, the police back off, but occasionally the agitator gets cuffed, stuffed and hauled off in the back of a cop car. There are hundreds of these videos and I never get tired of them.
Sold on shopping channels
I love the home shopping channels, but only if they’re demonstrating products like vacuum cleaners and blenders, or selling food like Corky’s BBQ or frozen croissants from France. The guy from Corky’s has an annoying habit of brushing sauce all over his hands. I can’t watch if they’re hawking clothes or cosmetics on home shopping. Big fan of In the Kitchen with David on QVC. When David Venable digs into a plate of macaroni and cheese, porn stars could learn from his facial expressions.
I watch old reruns of Pawn Stars. A couple of things: they need to clean their nasty fingernails, all of the guys. I’ve seen car mechanics with cleaner hands. And the Old Man is not crusty but lovable. He’s just a mean old man. Kids, don’t hit your ball into his yard — you’ll never get it back. I don’t have to DVR Impractical Jokers, because it’s on 24-hours on TruTV and Channel 57 and Channel 2.
The non-sporting life
Sports, once the be-all of my TV viewing, is rendered a zero by the coronavirus. I do like Scott Van Pelt’s SportsCenter at 11 pm. His Monday bad beats should call my advisor at Merrill Lynch. Mina Kimes is terrific on Highly Questionable, and I just love sports purists sputtering at ESPN showing old WrestleManias on Sunday nights. Baseball was supposed to start its season this week. When there’s nothing on TV, there always an Astros game. Not now. I miss Todd, Blummer, and Julia.
Of course, I still watch Seinfeld reruns. It’s another TV full circle for me. When I got to Houston, Seinfeld was my favorite show. Now it’s Curb, starring Larry David, one of the creators and producers of Seinfeld.
I need to get out of the house.