We’ve all been there – you wake up and feel that scratchy feeling in your throat, your head hurts and your nose is all blocked. You feel gross, so you go downstairs and ask your parents for a day off school. If you manage to convince them, then you’re set for a day of lying on the sofa being brought mugs of honey and lemon, and bowls of tomato soup (well, if your mum and dad are as awesome as mine, that is). But what are you going to watch on this day of healing? Well, here’s a rundown of what I used to watch when I was feeling run-down.
Please note: This includes shows that I used to watch before the days of Freeview, and we did not have Sky television when I was growing up. So don’t expect anything that recent…
5. El Nombre
If you’ve never watched ‘El Nombre’, I’m not sure I would trust your maths skills. Take a few minutes and educate yourself, people:
El Nombre was part of Numbertime, which was the programme my mum would let us watch if we took a sick day from school because it was “educational”. I never really had a problem with maths at school, in fact until I got to high school I really enjoyed maths and did really well in it, so watching Numbertime wasn’t really much help to me. But you just take a look at those clips of El Nombre and tell me that this low-budget, bad-ass Zorro lookalike doesn’t teach you more than just maths – he inspires youngsters to believe in themselves; he teaches us that it’s important to help those in need; and most importantly, he shows us that it isn’t necessary to know the difference between the Spanish words for “number” and “name”.
4. Supermarket Sweep
I can’t be the only one who watched this and barely took in anything that was happening, instead disappearing into a world where I was granted hour long ‘sweep’ privileges in various shops of my choice (usually HMV):
The dream of being able to just dash round a supermarket – or any shop, for that matter – and just fill your trolley with anything you want knowing that you could smash into things and not have to pick it up, and then just leave without paying… man that’s some good stuff. Forget the rounds that come before that with all the questions and stuff, we just want to be granted the wish of taking whatever we damn well please without paying for it. And for many people, that wish came true in August 2011.
Speaking of incorrigible scumbags, who remembers Trisha? I’m not saying that England’s downgraded, C-list answer to Oprah was a scumbag, in fact she seems like a reasonable enough person but the people she featured on her show…oh my god. Whereas Jeremy Kyle is open about the disgusting nature of the sub-human scum he has on his show, Trisha tried to dress her guests up as if they were first-offenders making honest mistakes, except that as the show transpired you would inevitably be subjected to stories of how these people kept getting into the same mess time and time again. Or there was the occasional “phobias” show, where Trisha would get people on who suffered from a phobia – from the common coulrophobia (fear of clowns) to the less common fear of mannequins, handled hilariously here in the first minute by Trisha. Trisha normally handled things with more class and sense than Jeremy Kyle could ever hope to achieve, and her show, while in the same vein as Kyle and the other exploitative chat shows like Jerry Springer and Rikki Lake which we all so secretly love to watch, was somehow more palatable than the other ones. I dunno, there was just a little more decorum about it. Unfortunately in 2008, Trisha revealed she was undergoing treatment for cancer, and despite continuing with her show for another year it was taken off the air in 2009. I had thought that was the end of her television career but something I’m sure not many people will know (and I didn’t realise until researching for this post) is that since 2010 Trisha has served as an occasional consultant and host on the Maury Povich show in America AND in 2011 she landed her own television series in a similar vein to her original UK show. Come home, Trisha, the kids these days don’t know what they’re missing!
2. Sunset Beach
Oh it’s getting serious now, people. Yes, Sunset Beach was the go-to show for daytime drama when I was growing up, with its ridiculous story-lines and terrible acting – it made America seem like a place where everyone was beautiful, evil, complicated, and lived by the beach.
There were devious plot twists involving evil twins coming back from the dead, regular visits to a voodoo priestess and stealing babies. If you were off school because you were genuinely sick, Sunset Beach was a brilliant way to switch off your brain and just enjoy some pretty people behaving in a despicable manner. The ending was a masterclass in tacky twists – a dream that turned out to be a dream, you’re blowing my mind! But the beauty of Sunset Beach was that it knew how cheesy it was, and never took itself too seriously which was what made it okay to have such ridiculous story-lines and over-the-top performances.
Just to sweeten you guys up a little bit (as if just being awesome wasn’t enough), here’s a little something you might enjoy, whether you’re a fan or a newbie…
That’s right. Whole episodes of Sunset Beach on Youtube. I know, right?
1. Diagnosis Murder
What else was it going to be, huh? Do me a favour, loop this video while you’re reading.
Awwww yeah. Diagnosis Murder revolved around Dr Mark Sloan, a physician who dabbled in surgery as well as helping out his detective son Steve whenever a juicy murder case turned up. Along with Dr Jesse Travis and forensic examiner Dr Amanda Bentley (we don’t talk about the Scott Baio years, we just don’t talk about them), Mark and Steve would team up to solve crimes that normally took place in and around the hospital or the beach where Mark lives in a beautiful home that would provide temporary residence for many of the wrongly accused people that Mark met over the course of the episode.
I can’t pinpoint what is so brilliant about Diagnosis Murder but – oh no wait, I can. It’s DICK VAN FUCKIN’ DYKE.
What a legend. Yes, this man was the main reason that people would tune in, because Dick van Dyke can and will master any skill, no matter how difficult, and then make it look easy as hell in a tenuous segue during an episode of Diagnosis Murder. His onscreen son Steve was played by his real-life son Barry, which made their chummy relationship on the show even sweeter. The appearances of his hundred or so other off-spring and grandchildren was a little annoying at times but HEY, SHUT UP, HE’S DICK VAN FUCKIN’ DYKE.
Diagnosis Murder is pure 80s detective shtick, which is weird because it was made in the mid 1990s. An unprecedented amount of episodes featured ladies doing aerobics or dance classes wearing spandex leotards, terrorist cells based in LA and rogue cops involved in serious murders. It was perfect for when you were home from school and needed something to watch on the couch in your pyjamas. Or, you know, when you’re 24, out of a job, and need something to watch on the couch in your pyjamas. Screw it, here’s another whole episode from Youtube.