Tuned In

Robo-James’ Time Machine: The Electronic Nurse

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One thing you learn a lot about as a TV critic is people’s relationships to their childhoods. Especially when writing obituaries–there’s a kind of intimate connection that people form, as kids, with TV that it’s hard for other entertainment genres to match. There’s so much of it, for one thing: just look at the number of notable, nostalgia-triggering passings over the past year, from Richard Dawson to Andy Griffith to Don Cornelius to Dick Clark to Welcome Back Kotter’s Ron Palillo.

And most significant to me, the line that comes up in comment after comment whenever I write about an old sitcom or a recently-passed game-show host: “I used to watch that show all the time when I was home sick from school.”

We spend a hell of a lot of time watching TV, at all stages of life, in all kinds of circumstances, at all times of day. But there’s something about that particular one that retains people: the memory of being nine years old, on the couch in your PJs, sick but also totally stoked that you were watching TV instead of sitting in class.

You have favorite childhood movies, music, books. But they didn’t nurse you through the flu; they didn’t sit up with you when you were still queasy from throwing up. At least, not where “you” means someone roughly my age. Today, of course, a kid home sick from school might as well spend his or her time with a Harry Potter DVD or a Super Mario videogame.

There’s still something about the passiveness, and the bottomlessness, of TV entertainment that makes it a perfect fit for the convalescent, but I do wonder whether today’s kids will grow up with the same imprinted affection of being nursed to health by TV. For my younger readers: How did you (or do you) spend your time at home on sick days? For my older (like me) readers: what were your favorite sick-day appointment shows? (I was a Price Is Right loyalist, see above.)

And what do your own kids do on sick days? Read? I weep for today’s youth!

12 comments
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OrchidsBloom
OrchidsBloom

I had a really strict mom.  If I was sick enough to stay home from school I had to stay in bed all day.  If you were able to watch tv you were well enough to go to school.  I was allowed to read books, but that was it.  

I'll have to call her and tell her she ruined my childhood ... /jk

BemusedOne
BemusedOne

I don't know what's wrong with me--I used to like listening to WGN radio when I was home sick. Weird kid, I know.

The Hoobie
The Hoobie

Aack! Disqus booted a comment I wrote a few hours ago on this post to moderation for reasons passing understanding (maybe because I used a dollar sign and it thought I was one of those work-from-home scammers)? I know our gracious host James is on a well-earned vacation---is there anybody at the Time Entertainment High Command who could release my comment from moderation jail? I'd be very grateful! 

lucelucy
lucelucy

 This one made it in.  And Foxfire is now letting me post as well.  If TEHC is listening, TH is one of your most famous commenters!  So let her out now! 

The Hoobie
The Hoobie

ATTICA!! ATTICA!!

...If only I had a tin cup to bang on the bars! :)

The Hoobie
The Hoobie

Oh, thanks, Ms. Rothman! I hope I didn't seem obnoxious about it; Disqus's unfathomably mysterious reasons for booting a comment to moderation mean that when it does so I'm always, "Noooooo!"

@BemusedOne:disqus Heh---your comment reminds me of *another* YouTube gem: http://youtu.be/Xxtm2QAsBqA?t=...

BemusedOne
BemusedOne

 "I'm The Hoobie." "I'm The Hoobie." Everybody now!

Lily Rothman
Lily Rothman

Your $$ comment has been freed -- see below. (Unless I got the wrong one?) Sorry for the delay.

pb_mama
pb_mama

I loved being home sick because I got to watch the 'soaps' with my mom.  She was an ABC devotee - Ryan's Hope, All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital.  Even the days when I wasn't sick, I'd come home from school and watch soaps with Mom, and fold cloth diapers!  We also watched The Monkees and Scooby Doo.  When my brothers got a little older (they're 6 and 8 years younger than I am) it switched to cartoons.  Good ones too - Heman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Duck Tales.  Thanks for the memories, James!!

The Hoobie
The Hoobie

I was definitely a Price is Right loyalist! You could not beat the Showcase Showdown for sicktime entertainment. I also would sometimes watch Days of Our Lives. ("Like sands through the hourglass...") Oh, and reruns of Bonanza! My first TV crush was on Michael Landon as Little Joe Cartwright. (Although these days I think I'd be more of an Adam girl.... hmm.)

But one of the best TV Sick Day perks where I grew up (intermountain west) was that something called The Big Money Movie would be shown every weekday afternoon on our CBS station. If I remember correctly, it started at the same time school let out, so on a school day you would miss the first half-hour of whatever movie they were showing. But on sick days, woo-hoo!

I caught this excellent, excellent Big Money Movie at least twice when I was home sick:   http://www.imdb.com/title/tt00...

(In the pre-IMDb era, I kind of worried that I'd feverishly hallucinated that movie. It's so happily bizarre!)

A few years ago I purchased the soundtrack on Amazon. It had to be imported from the UK at a cost of about $45. Totally worth it::

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

BemusedOne
BemusedOne

 "My name is Tallulah ..." I'm sure Jodie Foster looks back with pride.

lucelucy
lucelucy

Read?  LOL!  I think that's what I did, but I'm a bit older than you, James.  My father bought the first TV in the little town of 300 Norwegian farmers that we lived in way back when, but I know that, when I was sick, I was not propped on the couch in the living room with the (black and white) TV turned on.  I was up in my room with a book.   I never understood the point of or fascination with The Price is Right. 

And yet, the oddest thing happened when I clicked on the video and heard that familiar voice-over - and why it's familiar, I don't recall.   I caught of whiff of something - something familiar, but I couldn't tell you for the life of me what it was.  An olfactory memory of some sort.  Like seeing a picture of my grandmother and smelling ... lefse?  Gone in an instant.

I don't remember watching The Price is Right, but maybe it was on in the living room while I was doing something else.  Because something flashed back and was gone, just like that.  But I'll tell you what I do remember.  So maybe I did watch it when I was home sick.  Because I think I watched it a lot.  And I have no idea why.  Is anyone else here old enough to remember Queen for a Day?