Must See TV. That's what NBC called their Thursday night line-up. Seinfeld. Mad About You. Friends. ... It wasn't all that long after the Army. Our days were filled with university classes, and Tuesday & Thursday nights were filled with Aikido practice ~ and on Thursday nights, folks were quite intent on class ending on schedule so they could get back to their TVs in time.
It was entertaining, sure ~ all of the comedy of a certain flavor and era. It wasn't necessarily worth missing a few extra minutes on the mats, but with everyone else rushing to get back, ... well, Aikido practice isn't quite the same when performed strictly as shadow boxing.
Somehow it was a cultural phenomenon, and ~ no ~ cultural phenomenons and I have never quite gotten along ~ mutual misunderstanding or irreconcilable differences, I suppose. I'd be quite alright missing the Friday morning water cooler chatter, thanks.
Fast forward abit through the VHS tapes and on to digital recording on to on-demand streaming. With the new cellphone plan came "HBO Max," and with HBO Max came the "Friends Reunion Special." Hell, why not? A little nostalgia for my wife and me over dinner. I hit play...
The regret built solidly over the next 90-minutes or so. I knew nothing about it ~ figured it was a one-off comedy with story and throw-backs as these things tend to be. I was mistaken. This was bringing back the six main characters to have them revisit the set, read key scenes, and be entertained by cameos some 20 years later.
And somehow, Lady Gaga singing "Smelly Cat" was not the worst of it. At one point, to highlight the reach and impact of the television series, there were snippets of people from around the world saying how much the show meant to them ~ each somehow identifying with the characters or even voicing the sentiment that these Friends were somehow their friends too.
I held the deep hope that this past year's pandemic would have been the opportunity for society to reconsider certain habits and reset certain perspectives. Instead, there's an apparent rush to return to "normalcy," to fire up those well-tread economic engines backed by the proven models. Who knows? Maybe shifting the Public's attention back to new Hollywood "content" will replace identification with those Must See Characters and their Stories of Social Media that we've come to love, hate, or identify with around the clock.
Not mentioned anywhere in the evening's show? From a CNBC story: "It’s estimated that each actor was paid $2.5 million for participating in the special."
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In other news, the 17-year cycle has the Brood X cicadas in full swing. As the sun warms the day, each individual male insect is climbing a tree and humming for a mate. Collectively, the noise is outrageous and amazing.
... well, not every male. Some woke too early. Others will wake too late. Who knows? Maybe others simply won't understand. Or maybe they do.