tom smith—boob tube recommendations—june 2020
I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a big fan of the entertainment medium called television. I know a few of you in the back are chuckling, who look down on TV as a lowbrow, passing fad that distracts, dumbs down, and occupies the time of the average ham-and-egger. I agree that in many cases, TV for some serves that purpose, but the fact of the matter is television, just like literature, painting, and beer can collecting, is a bona fide, legitimate art form. Yes, I also agree that there's a lot of bad television to sift through to get to the good stuff. That's when television is beautiful and great, when you discover a show you can't live without. When you have found that program and everything is clicking, you feel like 'this is the greatest show ever, this show has greatly enriched my life. If this show would ever get cancelled, 'I may give up television' That's how you know you have a great television show, when you feel those emotions.
Throughout my life I've had television shows that I just couldn't live without: Batman, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Planet of the Apes, Battle Of The Planets, Logan's Run, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Buck Rogers, M*A*S*H, Crime Story, Route 66, and Quantum Leap; and in more recent years, shows such as Venture Bros, The League, Archer, the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, Longmire, The Expanse, Star Trek: Discovery, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Garfunkle and Oates, Better Call Saul, Another Period, and Broad City. When Broad City had their series finale in 2019, I was crushed. I felt like some higher power purposefully ended the show just to spite me, Tom Smith, not that the two artists who made the show, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, realized they took the show as far as they could and wanted to end it before the show's quality suffered.
The end of Broad City had me contemplating getting rid of my television sets. I mean, come on, television had peaked, I was never going to like a show as much as that one ever again. Luckily I was talked off the getting rid of television ledge because when I very least expected it, a brand new TV show came into my life that renewed my faith in the medium of television and also inspired me to preach the gospel of What We Do In The Shadows. What We Do In The Shadows appears on the FX cable channel, and it is a television adaptation of the movie of the same title. The movie What We Do In The Shadows was an underground cult sensation. I'm very appreciative of the friend who one day sat me down and forced me to watch it. The movie is extremely funny, but I'm going to have to go on record and say the television show is even funnier. Though it is hard to compare the two in a way, the comedy styles are a little apples and oranges, as the movie, a product of the great country of New Zealand, has it's own sensibility, as opposed to the more American humor of the TV show, which is filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
What We Do In The Shadows is about four vampires who live together in Staten Island, New York. Three of the vampires are your traditional vampires, you know, the ones who transform into bats, drain the blood out of humans, must stay out of the sunlight, etc. These vampires are portrayed with a heartfelt observance of the dogma of vampirism set forth by hundreds of years of folklore, paintings, books, and movies. If you walk into this show as a connoisseur of vampiric tales, you will not be disappointed. The fourth vampire is a newer concept in the world of vampires, the energy vampire. This character choice is brilliant, because while most of us don't actually know real vampires, we all know an energy vampire. You may ask yourself, what is an energy vampire? Well, you've come to the right place to ask, because I've worked in retail since 1984, so that means I've been shin-deep in energy vampires for five decades. An energy vampire feeds off a human being by dulling the human with repetitious, time-consuming, and inane conversation and actions. Great energy vampires throughout history have been God, Socrates, Cliff Clavin, Johnathan Quayle Higgins III, and Phil Seering. I'm sure many of you are familiar with many of the energy vampires I've mentioned, except Phil Seering. Phil Seering is the greatest energy vampire I've ever tangled with. Phil Seering is a former shopper at The Exclusive Company – a former shopper because he is deceased, and I'm quite positive is energy draining Satan himself with a story on how Alan Parsons sounds so much better on Mobile Fidelity gold compact discs right now as you read this. Phil was the kind of customer that would walk into the store with six advertising circular pullouts, mostly from big box chain stores, with the prices of all the things he wanted us to price match for him. We were doing price matching in the store at the time for advertised sale prices, but Phil was the only person coming in for a price match. I must point out that every one of those sale prices we matched we probably lost $2 to $3. At that period of time, when big box retailers were using prerecorded music as a loss leader to drive in traffic to buy refrigerators, they routinely advertised prices that were below the cost of what we were paying for compact discs, and we were buying compact discszz directly from the distributor. I asked Phil once, if all the record stores went out of business (partially from the support of big box retailers) where would you get your music? And his response was, 'Off the computer.' Tactics like these from big box retailers put a lot of record stores out of business in the early '90s. Phil would also bounce checks on a regular basis, even though the dude was loaded – he even once bounced a check that was for a bounced check. You all remember when the Exclusive Company had a cash discount? Phil had manipulated and drained the previous manager at the Exclusive Company into giving him a special waiver where he would get the cash discount when using credit cards. You should have seen the glee on my face the day that I made up a bullshit story that the company sent a letter that they noticed he was getting the discount, and that would no longer be tolerated. I remember when motorcycling became trendy and he had to run out and buy a very expensive motorcycle to drive on the weekends, and also seemed to buy the most expensive clothing accessories at the dealership. Phil even used to drain me back when I worked at Galaxy of Sound in the Port Plaza Mall. I remember he was the first customer to ever present me a Discover credit card. He, of course, regaled me with stories of his cashback on each purchase.
This was not the last time I heard about the cash back he received on each purchase.
I bet you think that now is the part of the story where I talk about his redeeming qualities. Nope, because he had none. Phil Seering ruined Supertramp and Dire Straits ('Do you have the West German pressing of Brothers In Arms?') for me; routinely would call his wife on his mobile phone to make her double-check if he had something before he bought it again – these phone calls would always gravitate to him screaming at her if she couldn't find something quickly enough for him. And, last but not least: one time he called the store on a Monday under the false pretense that it was an emergency phone call for me just to get me on the line (my mind flashed to something having happened to me at the time very young daughter in school), but no, it was Phil Seering wanting to know if he could buy a new release a day early. Phil came in the next day and was read the riot act by me, and I also informed him that a former assistant manager at the store had vowed to urinate on his grave. I noticed in Phil's obituary that he was buried in a mausoleum. So as you can see, I know a thing or two about the crème de la crème of energy vampires. I also feel that I just saved a whole bunch of money on therapy here.
So with that being said, Colin Robinson of What We Do In The Shadows is the greatest energy vampire of all time. Colin Robinson routinely steals the show and is my favorite character. But there's a catch to this: the casting and acting of this ensemble cast is so great that all the characters are my favorite character. The guest stars on this program are killing also, literally and figuratively. Probably my favorite Colin Robinson energy vampire stunt so far is when he acquired a convertible, blasted some tunes, and blocked the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel ('Yes, this has ruined my day, also!').
In one episode Colin Robinson acquires a very obnoxious cologne/aftershave called Mr. Hijinks, which he wore to the displeasure of his roommates. It is also the name we gave our black kitten last year.
Live long and flippity flap.
End of Part One.