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Truly Guilty Pleasures

Films, TV shows, and books of the 'modern' era

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moira finnie
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Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby moira finnie » August 21st, 2014, 6:52 pm

Psst, yeah. YOU. Do you ever watch something on television by yourself that you would never glance at if anyone else were there? Okay, I don't want to know about any really dark secrets in your television viewing life--please keep that between you and your therapist.

I'd just like to know if you ever find yourself drawn to something that might be a little embarrassing to view in the room with anyone else. You know what I mean. Those programs that are so universally reviled by the hipster crowd, so geeky and un-hip, (yeah, like that worries people interested in classic films), or that deal with a subject you never expected to enjoy seeing explored. Got your thinking caps handy? I would love to hear about your experiences and share the "shame" of enjoying certain shows.

Here's my list of shame, just to get us started.

1.) The Waltons:

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Yeah, I had seen it a few times when it was new, but I was busy being an adolescent then. I always liked the actors who played the mother (Michael Learned) and father (Ralph Waite) characters. Yet, in the last year, I started to notice it as it was being repeated on several channels and began to let go of my attitude that it was a too sweet rendition of a tough time. Instead, it seemed to be a well-crafted, amusing and moving account of well-meaning, flawed people during the Depression and WWII, touching on poverty, prejudice, the joy and pain of being intimately connected with others and much more. Before I got sucked into this I couldn't tell you which kid was Jason and which was Jim-Bob before. Now I can even tell you which one of the Baldwin sisters is brighter FYI: it was Miss Emily, the dark-haired, take charge sister who rolled her eyes whenever her sister started rhapsodizing about Ashley Longworth. I can tell you why the show "jumped the shark"--it was when they had some poor actor come back from the war, claiming to be John Boy, even though he looked nothing like Richard Thomas. I can also tell you about the fine actors who show up unexpectedly on the show, giving their all to creating well-rounded characters: Beulah Bondi, John Beal, (yes, John Beal of '30s movies), Marie Earle, Noble Willingham, Michael O'Keefe, Paul Fix and more), and why you should always watch the epis directed by Ralph Senensky (they and the ones directed by Ralph Waite are the best). Now I have gone cold turkey and stopped watching this show, in part because I've seen most of the shows (I recommend avoiding the later seasons). This decision to cut myself off from The Waltons world might change, of course, on the days when the news in the real world seems too awful. On those days, I find the company of the big family on the Virginia mountain to be quite comforting. Well, let's just say, I'm "watching it a little less" than I did for awhile.


2.) Who Do You Think You Are:

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Haven't you lain awake nights worried about questions such as whether Cindy Crawford was really related to Charlemagne or just the product of a fling between that upstart Charles Martel and a milkmaid? After catching an epi of this show about celebrities looking into their ancestry (and having the buckos needed to research in the countries of origin), I wrestled with this question, as well as wondered if the beauteous but monosyllabic Ms. Crawford really knew who Charlemagne was in history. (Her most oft-repeated comment during the show: "Oh.Wow.") This show occasionally discovers fascinating and gritty facts about family's pasts (Cynthia Nixon's story was pretty interesting, as was Martin Sheen's research in Spain), but sometimes I just watch this show because the people visit such beautiful libraries and archives...as well as traveling all over, being the over-privileged jerks they are. Good thing I'm not jealous.

3.) Bar Rescue:

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Jon Taffer, a guy who looks exactly like Shrek on a bad day, is actually a "bar consultant with over 35 years experience." His confrontational style and tendency to bellow (reminding me of certain nuns I've known and drill instructors I've read about) is sought out on purpose by failing bar owners. They apply to the Spike Channel and invite the man and his crew of consultants to come into their place of business to abuse them and their slacker/incompetent staffs. The browbeating ritual has a certain soothing rhythm to it, since you know that Taffer is going to find that the owners are drunks/sleazes/lazy and/or hopeless. Then he does a "stress test" on the bar to see how they handle about 100 people coming through the door and demanding drinks all at once--all while Taffer, his bar expert and the chef on hand yell at the staff to hustle. Taffer's tough love turns most around, but almost always one member of the staff is usually fired/quits (I think of this person as "the human sacrifice"). After all the hoopla, drama, spilled booze and tears have dried, the staff is taught to make what one commentator on IMDb calls one or two "frou-frou" drinks and a few menu items (a favorite item: petite sliders, served to a barful of welders and stevedores with a garnish of kale). The bar is then remodeled and renamed (one went from being called something like the Piratz Cove to The Corporate Bar. Guess what? It failed anyway). The staff ooh, aah, and work together to magically, even though they had been beating the tar out of one another when Taffer observed them. I know that this all sounds stupid, but there is a comforting quality to the predictability of the show...and it always makes me so glad I don't hang around in bars.

House Hunters International:

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I think this is a guilty pleasure for many people, though I draw the line at watching the program when the people just want to move to the beach somewhere. They are too boring and the houses all look alike (for the most part). The fascination with this show is the (to me) exotic locations of non-American houses, but I sometimes think I watch it mostly for the opportunity to mock the house hunters, especially the ones from America who think that they should be able to buy a house as big as Yankee Stadium, with a master bedroom with tray ceilings, a spa bathtub, hardwood floors, and oh, yes, the holy grail for these people--granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. Part of the fun of this show is choosing who to root for and who to chide: Will it be the thoughtless youth whose climb up the corporate ladder compelled his loving wife to give up her job and move to East Bulgaria with him? Or will it be the spoiled princess whose past life has left her unprepared for taking out the garbage, much less living without a dishwasher. Or could it be the heartless if realistic real estate person who keeps showing these innocents abroad houses that are way beyond their budget--all for a commission, perhaps?

*Sigh*...after watching these shows I always resolve to be the be the Non-Ugly American should fate grant me a chance to move abroad someday. Here' s hoping!

Btw, I am almost positive that the production staff of these reality shows encourage the participants to indulge in their most extreme behaviors when the cameras are rolling. So much for "reality television"
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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby movieman1957 » August 21st, 2014, 8:11 pm

I don't have a list - yet but I can tell you The Bride loves "Who Do You Think You Are." As the self appointed genealogist and historian for my side of our family she loves it. Not because we have anyone particularly interesting in my history (though there is a Mayflower connection) but the process is what fascinates her. She does great work and will even do it for friends. Ancestry.com is at the top of her favorite websites.
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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby Lucky Vassall » August 21st, 2014, 9:50 pm

A great idea, and well worth lots of contemplation.

For now, I agree with you on "The Waltons." Maybe a little sugar helps the medicine go down, but too much equals diabetes. Still, I suppose they didn't feel they'd keep their audience if they didn't lighten things up. (Can anyone who saw it ever forget the doll with the smashed in head?) They had the same problem with "Mama's Bank Account," if I remember correctly.

But their worst crime was trying to keep the corpse alive well past it's use by date. Again, same problem as "Little House."

Now, for my choice, I still enjoy watching "Dennis the Menace," occasionally. Almost wish there were a kid like him next door.

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby jdb1 » August 21st, 2014, 10:15 pm

Well, Moira, I'm with you on everything but "The Waltons," which just never captured my interest. I still look in on "Little House," which is so lachrymose and obvious, but somehow I can bear it where I couldn't stand any other such mawkishness. Maybe because Michael Landon was my first pre-teen crush?

I must admit a soft spot for a lot of these restaurant rescue shows. It's appalling how many people open up businesses, go into serious debt, and still don't have a clue what they're doing. What's up with that? Especially in the digital age -- if you're too lazy to ask an expert, or to visit a successful restaurant to see how it's done, at least look online. I've got a real "thing" for Tom Bury, the construction boss on "Restaurant Impossible." It keeps me coming back week after week. It's interesting to compare the Canadian versions of the restaurant shows -- they are so much more polite.

Did you ever wonder what qualifies Jon Taffer, or Robert Irvine, or Gordon Ramsay to dispense psychological advice? I wonder if any of the professional organizations have protested.

I love watching "House Hunters" (domestic and international) -- it's interesting to see how other people live, and what homes look like in other countries. And I have to laugh at the buyers, who whine and carp because the bathroom is only 40 X 50 and has only 12 sinks. Why is it in some families that everyone has to occupy the bathroom at the exact same moment? Can't they take turns like the rest of us? Some of their expectations, especially those of the younger buyers, are so ludicrous. I've never owned a home, so the entire home buying process fascinates me. I'm also fond of the Canadian house repair/house purchase show "Love It or List It."

There are so many more silly shows I waste my time with I can't even think of all of them. But, after all, the idea of television is to entertain (in between the commercials), so if one is entertained, one shouldn't feel too guilty.

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby Lomm » August 22nd, 2014, 6:27 am

Orange is the New Black, on Netflix.

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby kingrat » August 22nd, 2014, 11:57 am

Just think of all the new job titles we never heard about when we were kids: "Bar consultant." "YouTube personality." "Life coach." Maybe those nuns Moira mentioned would be considered "life coaches" now.

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby RedRiver » August 22nd, 2014, 12:58 pm

You could a lot worse than THE WALTONS. Sentimental, sure. But the stories are often intriguing and dramatic. As Moira says, some good actors were employed. I even liked what Richard Thomas did with John Boy. I'm sorry he didn't have much of a career after leaving the show. I guess a popular TV series really does kill an actor's future. I used to not believe this. But it's happened time and time again.

With me, it's sit-coms. Not the bad ones (at least, not the REALLY bad ones). But I like the witty lines, the simple plots. The theatrical formats. And the women are out of this world! I enjoy FRIENDS, KING OF QUEENS, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER is OK. And of course, all this derived from SEINFELD. The pointless, self absorbed, immature interactions; it's getting old, but it can be funny. The best comedies are much older. But those aren't guilty pleasures. Those are genuine pleasures!

To be honest, I don't mind watching the various "Judge Shows." YOU, THERE! STOP TALKING AND LISTEN TO ME! I don't watch them very often. But when I do, I'm anything but bored!

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby moira finnie » August 22nd, 2014, 2:49 pm

Thanks for your kind replies.

Judith, I know it sounds strange, but I can't abide the domestic version of House Hunters. I always want to shake the American couple looking for the palace they think they are entitled to and tell them how lucky they are: "Stop whining about having to live with one bathroom or better yet, one sink. 9/10ths of the earth's population would probably kill to get what you think you can't abide."

Lucky, I've never gotten into "Little House on the Prairie" and given the shows I've just 'fessed up to watching with the shades drawn, I better not start now. I like Michael Landon okay, but Bonanza was never a fave, so maybe that's why I never warmed to it.

Chris, doesn't Ancestry.com cost money? Besides, sometimes I think that research into the past of the family could stir stuff up. :wink:

Hmm, Lomm. I may have to renew Netflix. I keep hearing about Orange is the New Black. As long as it isn't too violent it might be interesting to me.

Whoa, Red. The judge shows? Oh, man, I can't take those. Aside from the urge to feel superior to the poor, misguided slobs on the show (all eager for a moment in the spotlight), my elder sister went to high school with one of the more abrasive ones who is currently still around, so it all seems too bizarre to me that people would ask these people for advice or legal decisions. Believe me, they really don't necessarily have a better perspective on life, even when they can shout legalese.

Kingrat, these pretentious job titles are fun, aren't they? I think most of the more militant nuns who left a mark on me believed that they were "after-life coaches."
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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby jdb1 » August 22nd, 2014, 4:53 pm

Well, Moira, I agree with you about the domestic House Hunters -- those people are for the most part insufferable, but I watch them anyway.

When I look about my crumbling, underheated, overpriced NYC apartment, I think -- get real you House Hunting ninnies, it's just a house, not a religious calling! Good luck finding anything on your "wish list" around here. Even the rich and famous of NYC have to make adjustments and concessions in their living spaces that you spoiled brats would find unthinkable.

Anyway, aside from the above tirade, I thought of another TV show I like but shouldn't. It's on Brooklyn cable access on Saturday mornings; I think it was produced on Long Island -- it's called "Ghoul-A-Go-Go." Wonder if anyone else has seen it. I don't think it's in production any more -- the shows that are broadcast are from several years ago. It's a very cheaply produced takeoff on the dance party shows of the 50s and 60s. The whole thing is sort of hard to describe -- it's in B&W; there are a bunch of kids who dance around to obscure 45 rpm records; the host sort of looks like Dracula, and has a big Frankenstein's monster/Igor mashup assistant. There's also an Invisible Man, who runs a kid-friendly nightclub.

They show film clips from the excruciating educational films and ridiculous grade Z indie movies of the 50s and 60s (some of those are in color). They do little skits. They have local bands performing in the makeshift nightclub. I think the show is supposed to have a sort of Zacherle TV show vibe and, indeed, John Zacherle is an occasional guest. The whole thing is tacky, corny, and often hilarious.

You see, I'm from the TV-in-its-infancy generation, and I enjoy these locally produced, seat-of-the-pants productions of the type you don't see much any more. They bring back fond memories.

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby moira finnie » August 22nd, 2014, 6:23 pm

Hey, Ghoul a Go Go sounds a bit like an edgier version of Svengoolie, which you have probably noticed entices some of us sometimes. Since we have several members in the NYC area, I bet there are a few others who might admit to seeing this. I found this on youtube. Is this clip typical??

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby RedRiver » August 22nd, 2014, 10:00 pm

"I enjoy these locally produced,seat-of-the pants productions"

So do I, JDB. We all watched afternoon movies of that nature. Sometimes seasoned with "Dialing for Dollars!" While visiting San Francisco about 20 years ago, I watched a late night movie program. It featured several relaxed people in a den or a game room. They didn't act silly. They just chatted about the evening's movie: THE LATE GEORGE APLEY. I liked the movie. I enjoyed the scenario. It was very entertaining TV!

"they really don't necessarily have a better perspective on life, even when they can shout legalese"

I'll remember that, Moira. I've just been cast as the judge in our local production of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD!

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby rohanaka » August 22nd, 2014, 10:51 pm

This is a fun thread idea. (and some of the shows you all are mentioning are ones I enjoy too.) I loved the Waltons.. and Little House.. and Bonanza, when they were all "new" and I do still enjoy watching them from now and then in the present day reruns, too. Though I confess, some episodes hold more fondness for me than others. I have "eras" of these shows that I prefer... so if it is not an episode from one of the time frames I find most appealing, I don't necessarily enjoy it as much as other.

But hey.. if we want to talk TRUE confessions.. (of absolute guilt, ha) Oh me... I am ever so embarrassed to admit this.. (gulp) ha.. but years ago. (what was it, 12-15 yrs ago, maybe?) I used to stay up late on the weekend and watch XENA Warrior Princess (aghhhhhhhhh!) and I also from time to time would watch Highlander too!!!!!!! (oh the shame.. oh the utter shame.. ha) :lol:

And to this day I have no idea WHY I watched them, but for some reason I found them enjoyable. :roll: (though I do confess.. not always. Sometimes they were either so absurd or so offensive, I just had to turn them off) but I did used to follow them at least semi-regularly for a couple of years. (hangs head in utter despair and complete embarrassment, ha) :oops:

And I do confess that part of the attraction to Xena was the humor.. it was pretty campy (when they didn't take themselves too seriously) Highlander not as much.. but sometimes it had humor too. I never got as "into" Hercules, the Legendary Journeys though.. I did watch a few.. but for some reason they just weren't as entertaining.

Oh great.. now the truth is out.. what next... I will have to own up to how I used to enjoy watching The WONDER PETS almost as much as the kidling did when she was a toddler, pre-k youngun. ha) :lol:

OH man.. they say confession is good for the soul, but agh.. some things are just TOO hard to own up to. Now I am a hopeless mess.... alas. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby jdb1 » August 22nd, 2014, 11:51 pm

Now, now, rohanka, no need to apologize. Whatever floats our boats in the privacy of our own TV viewing space . . . I don't even like to think of the countless hours I've spent in front of the TV over the years watching completely idiotic fare. Somehow, somewhere, in there were things that got to me. Who are we to say that any of it is worthless? Obviously it's worth something to somebody. I say watch away.

Moira, thanks for the Ghoul-A-GoGo clip. It's fairly representative of the show, although they've done things far more off the wall than that. Some of my favorite bits on the show are the faux commercials for Hickleberry's Meats (not included in the clip). I like that Japanese group, 5-6-7-8. They are frequent guests on the show. Two of the women also perform a separate act, in cowgirl hats, playing ukuleles. They are pretty good; at the very least, they are charming.

I sure wish my cable service had ME-TV.

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby Rita Hayworth » August 23rd, 2014, 12:08 am

My Guilty Pleasures ...


One of my guilty pleasure is to watch all 4 Matt Helm Movies starring Dean Martin - SuperSpy of ICE (Intelligence and Counter-Espionage) Films ... they are

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I watch these movies at least once a year for kicks and they never, and they never failed to entertain me ... and I never stopped enjoying these films starring Dean Martin.
Last edited by Rita Hayworth on August 24th, 2014, 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Truly Guilty Pleasures

Postby Rita Hayworth » August 23rd, 2014, 12:18 am

My Rita Hayworth Guilty Pleasure is to ...

Watch DOWN TO EARTH MOVIE made in 1947.

Just Once a Year to reflect the height of her beauty!

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FULL MOVIE HERE
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