Screen Savors: Sick and tired

Do you miss Star World? Zone Reality does nothing to ease his pain.

melissa etheridge 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
melissa etheridge 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Being home sick is a mixed blessing. There's a modicum of sympathy you get from the family, maybe a blanket and a hug for example. But then there are all those hours spent fading in and out of consciousness with moments of lucidity spent desperately searching for something to watch on TV. That's the way it was in recent weeks when stuck at home midday with no good DVDs. We let desperation drive us to bizarre results such as the Zone Reality channel, a strange mix of mostly sub-standard programming focusing on emergencies, people overcoming obstacles and, in this case, cow poop. But with the medicine playing tricks with my brain, I let Zone Reality - actually being passed off by HOT as a legitimate viewing choice - take over about two hours of one afternoon. This is how sick I really was. Simply put, there is no other way to explain why we allowed ourselves to suffer through even a minute of The Filth Files, a New Zealand-produced program focusing on ecological and environmental challenges. Perhaps the English ensconced me, but I'm not so sure. I watched a team of inspectors from Hutt, New Zealand deal with the challenges of Guy Fawkes Day celebrations, including how they "keep the lid on this potentially explosive situation." Get it? Explosive! Yeah. I watched the men in yellow vests tackle kids puking their guts out as they battled "the toxic mixture of gunpowder and illicit alcohol." But that wasn't as much fun as a stupid woman who couldn't keep her dogs from running away or another who asked the inspectors to take her pet because, "it's a stupid dog." The highlight of the program was a quick zoom-in on "an escaping puppy," as if it was America's Most Wanted. Back on the beach, the Guy Fawkes parties were requiring the inspectors to use "the tact of a diplomat, the discretion of a judge and the patience of a saint." I certainly was showing patience for this show, especially when the next segment focused on how New Zealand farmers deal with 20,000 liters of effluent produced by four million cows. Still too weak to consider changing the station, we held on for the next offering - two hours of the Melissa Etheridge-hosted Beyond Chance. Etheridge, who's had her own share of medical problems, probably was inspired by her comeback - and a paycheck - to host the show, which tells various human interest stories based on the same theme: "Coincidence? Fate? Or, Divine intervention? Without exception, these stories are…(cue music) Beyond Chance." Actually, the first story, of a woman who decided, after losing her stepmother, to go on an Alaskan wilderness journey was fairly interesting. Especially when it transpired that her grandfather, about whom she had never known, had made practically the same journey almost 100 years before. Then Etheridge started with "eerie parallels" and what not. The daughter revealed, "all of a sudden I realized who I was." And they lost me. The second offering gave us a couple of women, with daughters who are friends, who initially hated one another and found out later that they're actually sisters. It was much more touchy-feely. "You don't usually feel grief for someone you haven't met, but she's still my mom," said Lydia of her biological-mother, who turned out to also be the deceased mother of Tammy, the girl she hated so much but who are now best friends. What? Doesn't matter! Cue fuzzy music. Schlock TV is the best way to describe Zone Reality. And, it's a far cry from the English-language channel HOT so desperately requires to replace Star World. Other programming gems offered are shows like Trauma or Unexplained Mysteries, programs as equally as uninteresting. My fever's down and we're getting back to normal in our TV viewing. This, of course, does not mean HOT can still get away with floating this junk as an excuse for providing decent English content. One is left to wonder, what kind of viewer-ship this channel even has. "I think God has a plan for all of us and this just proves he has a sense of humor," said Lydia of her being reunited with her sister Tammy. HOT certainly needs to get a plan together because this is not funny. Zone Reality is available on HOT channel 50.