Monday, March 17, 2008

My Torah
I don't remember much from my early exposure to the Jewish religion, but one of the practices I do recall is that devout Jews read the Torah all the way through each year, breaking it up into regular increments that typically fall around the same time every year. (The vagaries of the lunar calendar--which had my brother thinking Passover is this weekend, because Easter is--leave me unsure that each selection comes at the exact same time every year.)

When I was a kid, I thought this was a little weird--essentially like watching the same TV shows over and over again.

As an adult, I watch the same TV shows over and over again.

The Simpsons has been in syndication for well over ten years now; I remember when I worked at NBC in 1996-97, we'd put on the big TVs in the bullpen/office whenever we were still there when it came on at 6 or whenever it was. The Fox affiliate here still airs The Simpsons twice a day, and at this point I must have seen many of the episodes, even those from seasons I don't have on DVD, a good dozen times. Tonight I watched the classic "Beer Baron" episode, which I do have on DVD, while working out at the gym. This one I can actually remember watching on at least four occasions: when it first aired in 1997, at a bar over the head of a girl I was out on a (terrible) blind date with a year or two after that, once on the DVD, and this evening. But I can give you that episode almost line-for-line, so I have to believe the number of actual viewings has to be closer to 15.

That isn't the worst of it. The Simpsons is among the longest-running shows in TV history; they've made something like 450 of them. The Fox station tonight went out of order to show the Beer Baron episode, which begins on St. Patrick's Day; otherwise, they've been airing them sequentially since late last year, from the very first "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"--aired in the 1980s!!!--to, presumably, the most recent one they'll be allowed to show when they hit the end of the road in early 2009 or thereabouts. The show that I seem to watch almost as compulsively is "Futurama"... of which only about 70 episodes were made, not including the new ones that will debut on Comedy Central this Sunday. (Yes, I'm deeply excited.) Comedy Central airs about five hours of "Futurama" every week, and I probably watch a bit less than half of them; previously, the series played on Cartoon Network as part of its Adult Swim block, and I watched that at least a couple times a week.

Why? I still enjoy the shows, but there's got to be a few thousand better uses of my time. All I can come up with, other than Occam's answer of inertia (and what fun is that?), is that I get some kind of comfort, spiritual sustenance even, from doing it. It's not exactly Maimonides reading the Exodus, but I gotta go with what I have...


Feral said...

Let's see how my memory holds after countless attempts to drown my brain in booze:

Rex Banner: It's not up to us to choose which laws we want to obey. If it were, I'd kill anyone who looked at me cockeyed.

Kent Brockman: (something, something about St. Pat's day), when everyone is a little bit Irish. Except of course for the gays and the Italians.

Rex Banner: Don't crack wise with me, Tubby!
Comic Book Guy: Tubby? Oh, yes. Tubby.

Mayor Quimby: With prohibition ended, how long will it take for you to flood this town with alcohol?
Homer: Sorry, but I don't do that anymore.
Fat Tony: Four minutes.

Homer: To alcohol! The cause of, and the solution to, all of life's problems.

Mmm, I feel better already...

David said...

Bart (drunk): What'r yooo lookin' at?

Brockman: 'What are you looking at?' The innocent words, of a drunken child.

The Navigator said...

I just don't watch enough. Somehow I'm pretty sure I've never seen this episode. And one that I remember as one of my favorites, where the kids visit the cardboard box favorites - only think I saw that one once. The one where Homer becomes a union kingpin, and he's invited to debate Burns on TV, and when he's told he won't have to say anything he exults with a 'woo-hoo!' - also, only one time. The treehouse of horror where Comic Book Guy is walking around expressing outrage that somebody from an incompatible species should try to marry Wonder Woman, and then declares that, oh, he's wasted his life, just before he gets blown up - two times, maybe three. At least they stay with me.

The Navigator said...

that would be cardboard box factory, of course.

Brian said...

I thought Sunday was the Futurama dvd movie and not new episodes?

David said...

It is. I called them "episodes" because I think I read at some point that they were going to break them up into four episodes, but it's the movie that came out on DVD late last year. First of four, I think...