one hour at a time

Posted: July 10, 2016 in Arts
Tags: , , , , ,

blue bloods

Sucked in like a rube by a carnival barker, that’s what you are. You are relaxing on the couch, minding your own damn business, not paying attention to the dribble spitting from the television, when a tiny niblet suddenly squirms through your defenses and Velcros itself to your consciousness. It may be a wisp of dialogue. Or loud, urgent sound effects. Or the wistful sigh of an actress acting in a way you secretly wish was not acting. Doesn’t really matter how it slipped past your determined disinterest. What matters is it did. When that happens your priorities change. You transform from a vigilant outsider to a hypnotized drone faster than a hummingbird moves from flower to flower. Getting hooked into an hour-long police show is a drug more powerful than any opiate. And once that happens the need for more more more holds greater urgency than any biological imperative.

Sure, you think you are above this kind of drivel. Police shows have been around since the days DuPont was the television’s major advertiser. Occasionally you may glance up at the screen to see the wild car chase or the desperate pleas of a victim. You may even take a moment to watch the progression of questionable logic among the law enforcement characters as they piece together the crime in a crisp 43 minutes. However, you can easily shift attention back to your previous diversion once that initial thirst is quenched. This is just manufactured television drama, right? Just actors reciting lines scripted by an underpaid screenwriter, right? Just a show filmed by a director who has no new perspectives because the genre has been around forever and there is only so much you can do with camera angles, right?

But we humans are weak. We can deny these weaknesses, we can fight them off, we can even claim they don’t exist, but the truth is our weaknesses always lurk, patient as ninjas. And if they are unexpectedly tapped into by a clever line of dialogue or an especially arresting sound effect or, preferably, a deep breathy gasp, forget it. We are done.

Like everyone else, I thought I was immune. Sporadically I watched the various iterations of the Law and Order empire over the past 15+ years. It is enough to steel anyone’s defenses. Are there any possible new plot lines left to explore? Doubtful. So on Friday night I was purposely distracted by other important life matters (Words with Friends, Instagram, Ticket to Ride) to care about what glowed from the television. Besides, the screen showed nothing but a classic car auction show which, even when intrigued by certain vehicles, was easy to dismiss.

At one point, however, the channel changed to a show which was clearly a police drama. Blaring sirens, words like “Freeze!” dramatically tossed about, and serious discussions about people’s rights and police responsibilities. I admit the tiny screen of my phone was quickly shrinking when Tom Selleck’s character said something which drew my attention, words noble and admirable in a tone I didn’t recall from his Magnum days. It had to do with honor and family. So I powered down and looked up.

The program was Blue Bloods, a show I knew existed, but never watched. With Selleck involved I half-expected Magnum P.I. 21st Century. Instead, a quick IMDB search set me straight: “Revolves around a family of New York cops.” When Bridget Moynahan filled the screen I figured, as distractions go, this was worth one scene. Then I could return to the mind-numbing world of the iPhone. Funny thing, though. When the scene shifted away from her, the only shift I made was to sink further into the couch. The hook dangled and I bit.

Three hours, and an unreasonable number of family and professional crises later, I knew if I didn’t withdrawal my blood would forever be addicted to blue. So I forced myself to bed before the next episode sucked me in. That night I dreamt of accusations, heroism, hoodlums, family and, inexplicitly, Reese’s Pieces. But when I woke the next morning I knew if I didn’t address this head-on I was in trouble.

So this evening when I heard the now familiar theme music on the television, I retreated to a quiet room in the obscure hope writing would temper the early stages of addiction. Maybe it worked. A few hours and episodes of Blue Bloods have passed. I now hear the overly excited proclamations from announcers at the USA Olympic Trials and feel ready to emerge. The current crisis has passed. But I know this is not over. Like any addiction it will be a constant fight, only now it will be one hour at a time. One hour at a time.


  1. Cathy Hurley says:

    Ok, thanks a lot. Now you’ve awoken the beast! Tuning into Blue Bloods momentarily. Or rather searching “on demand”, Netflix, and virus ridden free apps for my fix. You are a good addict; you didn’t name your dealer.


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