Saturday, July 04, 2009

Five More (Slightly Belated) Random 4th of July TV Marathons That Have Very Little to Do With The 4th of July

Is it safe?

The biggest problem with static, date specific, holidays like the 4th of July is that it falls on a weekend every two out of seven years thus greatly weakening their work stopping powers. It was only by the grace of a last minute change of heart by the boss that I actually got Friday off and the benefit of the three day weekend. Unfortunately there are many a workplaces that don't subscribe to the artificial three day weekend policy when it comes to weekend 4th of Julys. I say it's downright Un-American to nullify the classic July 4th three-day weekend just because of a technicality on the calendar. Denying a hard working American their patriotic right to celebrate their nation's birth by over-eating, over-drinking, playing around with dangerous explosives, and watching copious amounts of marathon television? What did our Founding Fathers fight for anyway then?

I must first apologize for the slight belatedness of this year's five marathons. I am quite aware that a good portion of the day and many a marathons have already passed before I realized my posting obligations (I've personally been soaking up the old "Twilight Zone" marathon since yesterday evening). While we may be getting a slightly late start, I assure you, faithful readers, that the following marathons are guaranteed to last at least through the late evening hours (and some well into the 5th). So without further needless delay here are this year's five most random marathons.

BET - Sister, Sister
Really? "Sister, Sister"? I know the BET lineup isn't exactly stacked with long-running, classic shows, but I really think they could have done better than "Sister, Sister". It's not that I have anything against those sassy Mowry sisters (the Williams sisters of the American sitcom), I watched my fair share of their five or so year run on the WB when I was in middle school. What exactly is there about the completely generic, white America friendly, nature of this show that just screams Black Entertainment Television. Comparatively,"Sister, Sister", makes "The Parent 'Hood" look like a Gil Scott-Heron spoken word album. I would have preferred a "Wayans Brothers" marathon or maybe some sort of day long, hastily put together, Michael Jackson retrospective.

Possible Spin for the 4th: I guess you can look at the cast of "Sister, Sister" as a sort of dramatization of the fulfillment of the American Dream. Tamara's well to do father Ray is a self made man with his own company and a giant house that everyone moves into. Tia's mother Jackée is enjoying the fruits of the American promise of upward mobility by moving into Ray's big house. Tia (the smart one) is a model student and upstanding example of how education and a strong family support system can improve anyone's station in life. Tamara's goofing off and constant partying also, in a away, demonstrates the American Dream that minorities can have entitled lazy idiot children just as well as rich old waspy families.

USA Network - James Bond
This is seriously one of the most weak-ass marathons I have ever seen. It's just five random James Bond movies from 9 am to 11 pm. I think there were just regular weekdays on Spike TV that played more Bond movies. This random fiver of movies, aside from failing in terms of length of marathon programming, also fails in terms of depth of marathon programming. For the first two you have "Dr. No" (the fairly boring first film) and "Thunderball" (vintage Connery); and then the next two jump ahead about four decades and three Bonds, to "The World is Not Enough" and "Tomorrow Never Dies" (adequate Bronsnan). Finally the day is capped off with the new "Casino Royale". It seems pretty obvious that the good folks at USA tried to slap together a "marathon" with the cheapest and easiest Bond films they could get their hands on. Makes you miss those old month long nightly Bond movies on TBS.

Possible Spin for the 4th: It's definitely a hard sell for the 4th when you have a marathon of Eurpeon movies about a British secret agent who travels to exotic locations that rarely include the United States. In addition, the most prominent Americans in the series have been: generally useless CIA second banana Felix Leitter and the bumbling Sherriff J.W. Pepper. I guess you can say that James Bond touches on general American values of resourcefulness, toughness, ingenuity, and heroism; but then again what culture doesn't value those traits (please no French jokes)?

Disney Channel - Hannah Montana
Disney Channel goes with the "showcasing your prestige show" route with its Hannah-thon. This is a preemptive announcement of the marathon since it's actually slated to begin at 1 pm tomorrow. So if you were ever thinking about watching a ten hour block of Hannah Montana on a Sunday afternoon, then this is your opportunity. Apparently it all leads up to the premiere of an hour long new episode, so it's a nice little pot of gold at the end of the long rainbow. If only all marathons could reward you like that.

Possible Spin for the 4th: I guess Hannah can bee seen as a wholesome, ideal, all American, girl next door. I'm not sure what kind of songs Hannah sings, but I'm sure they're not subversive or Anti-American. On a deeper level, one might read the constant tension and conflict between her real identity and her stage persona as demonstrating the complex duality of our great nation; the rich and varied tableau of the American population and landscape and our historic and current struggles to reconcile our realities with the lofty goals of equality and prosperity that we were founded on. Or something like that.

Discovery Channel - The Deadliest Catch
This appears to be another case of a channel showing off their money programming via marathon. I've never actually seen a full episode of this show but I'm amazed by the surprising success of it. I mean, wouldn't the novelty of watching crabbers pulling in cages full of crustaceans in inclimate weather wear off after the first season at the most? It's not like fishermen are dying every other episode right? Is it really the deadliest catch when there's no dying on camera? All the marketing would seem to indicate that every episode involves the crew braving towering "Perfect Storm"-esque waves and fighting sea monsters straight out of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". The risk can't be that high, otherwise the price of a mediocre dinner at Red Lobster's would be astronomical.

Possible Spin for the 4th: Well, few things are more American than straight up hard working ambition and gumption. From the harsh beginnings of the early settlers, to the gritty patriots that fought for Independence, to the hearty pioneers of Manifest Destiny, to the men who've walk on the moon; daring Yankee ingenuity and ambitiousness (as demonstrated by the fearless crew) is what made this country into the superpower it is today.

TV Land - Andy Griffith Show, Roseanne, Leave it to Beaver
TV Land is taking an interesting route by cobbling together three shows to form one long marathon. Looking at the schedule, Andy, Roseanne, and the Beaver are working in rotating shifts. Currently, it's Andy Griffith until 8 when Roseanne takes us through the night until the Beaver takes over sometime tomorrow morning (actually. if these schedule is accurate, there will be a slight 4 hour break from the marathon from 8 to 12 for an airing of some show called "She's Got the Look" and Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July"). I like how the shifts were set up. Andy Griffith and Leave it to Beaver, with their sugary, idealistic 50's-60's sensibilities and story lines clearly belongs in the daytime hours; while the gritty, decidedly unromantic, modern day suburban slice of life that is "Roseanne" belongs after dark.

Possible Spin for the 4th: All three shows, despite their differences are pretty choice examples of middle class Americana. Leave it to Beaver basically set the standard (although a completely ridiculous and unattainable one) for the ideal American suburban life. Andy Griffith showed a similarly idealized, portrait of small town life as simple and light as its whistling theme song. Roseanne, while being in sharp contrast to the other two shows was still cut from the genuine American sitcom cloth, showing the daily trials and tribulations of average working class Americans.

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