Dalton Ross on his fear of hospital dramas
Grey’s Anatomy is one of the top rated programs on television right now. I can’t watch it. House is a smart and sassy show with one of TV’s most intriguing lead characters. I don’t care. ER has had a dramatic resurgence in its 13th — yes, 13th — season. And I will ignore it in much the same way that I ignored the first 12. The reason I just say no to all three programs is simple — they all take place in hospitals. I hate hospitals. I hated them the time I had my wisdom teeth pulled out and lost feeling and taste in the right side of my mouth (a condition that continues to this day). I hated them the time I faked an injury to get out of doing some simple chore, so my dad actually dragged me to one and they assured him I was just fine. And I hated them the time they literally kept stabbing my wife in the back with a big-ass needle because they couldn’t find her spine to administer a simple epidural. (By the way, fellas, fainting while your wife delivers your baby? Not too cool.) The thing is, all of this makes my hatred sound rational, but in reality, my fear of hospitals is only slightly more normal than my wife’s infamous escalator phobia (which she once wrote about in great detail in Sassy magazine).
If I don’t want to visit hospitals in real life, why would I want to pretend to be there via the television? Of course, this has ramifications. It means I can’t partake in the great McDreamy vs. McSteamy debate of 2006. (Can I be McLeany?) It means that if I flip by House I have to ask someone, ”Hey, why is that cranky dude walking with a cane?” And it means my main point of TV reference for George Clooney is of him rocking acid wash jeans and a bad mullet on The Facts of Life.
This may all sound a tad odd, but most of us have genres of shows that we appreciate or ignore more than others. My wife won’t watch anything with a cop or criminal investigator in it (which pretty much puts the entire CBS lineup off-limits). As for me, there was a time when I obsessed over every single reality show on the air, a habit that was mercifully broken with the launch of Amazing Race: Family Edition. I still love anything dealing with the Mob (from ’80s entries like Crime Story and Wiseguy to more modern day fare like The Sopranos, Brotherhood, and even ABC’s short-lived Line of Fire. I also let my geek flag fly when it comes to science fiction, ravenously devouring all these shows with second-rate alien costumes and time-warp continuums that I don’t even come remotely close to understanding. So if I’m going to watch all that crap, I should be able to ignore a few shows with people in long white coats.
The thing that friends and coworkers find so odd about my irrational fear of medical dramas is that I have no problem with gore whatsoever. I’m the guy who has wasted way too much money buying multiple editions of all the Evil Dead films. I lived on a steady diet of slasher flicks as a teenager, and even today insist on sitting through multiple screenings of gruesome films like Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy. But as soon as someone walks into a hospital, you can forget it. Just hearing some dork call for ”50 CCs” of anything can pretty much send me into immediate convulsions. Suspending your disbelief is pretty easy when a person is getting raped by a tree, but seeing car-crash victims with their guts hanging out is just a little too real, I suppose. (Although getting treated by doctors as handsome as Clooney, John Stamos, and Jesse Spencer is certainly none too realistic.)
In any event, it’s my phobia, dammit, and I’m sticking with it! And no hospital — televised or otherwise — can treat it.
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
I know I discussed this show in this very same space about a month ago, but I have to give props once again to Desperate Housewives for an incredible episode this past Sunday. I had pretty much left this dramedy for dead last season once it became all about a mentally handicapped person in a basement with the occasional Bree-being-a-drunk sideshow. Once a program loses it, it is extremely difficult to get it back (whatever it is), but Housewives has been having a much stronger season three, and this supermarket hostage episode was a gem. We should just skip the wait and hand Laurie Metcalf an Emmy right now for her portrayal of suburban-wife-scorned Carolyn Bigsby. Hell, even if she hadn’t acted well, the woman killed Nora!!! — doing away with easily the most annoying character on television today…or yesterday, as it were. This was just good TV, and now that Mike Delfino is back home — not one single scene in a hospital.
Regular readers of mine [insert sound of crickets here] know that I’m mildly obsessed with the 1980s breakdancing scene. One reason: I love the fact that when gangs had a beef with each other, instead of bashing each other’s heads in, they would settle their differences through the power of dance! (At least that’s what they did in the movies.) I also dug some of the awesome names of the dancers in question — names I will now pay tribute to in the form of this week’s List. Go grab your cardboard mat, because it’s time for The Top Five Awesomely Named Breakdancers of the 1980s.
1) Boogaloo Shrimp
Does any other name even come close? As the costar of Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Mr. Shrimp wowed audiences with his patented broom dance. Went on to greater fame playing an assortment of robots, including the evil Bill robot in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and the one and only ”Urkelbot” on Family Matters.
2) Mr. Wiggles
Wait, is this a nickname for a dancer or for one’s male genitalia? Perhaps both.
3) Icey Ice
True, it is a bit repetitive, and the whole Ice thing is kinda overplayed in hip-hop culture as it is (Ice-T, Ice Cube, Vanilla Ice, etc….) but I still like it.
4) Mr. Wave
Mr. Wave specialized in doing the snake, and showed off his wares in Beat Street. I realize you couldn’t care less, but now you know. Go impress your friends with that useless knowledge!
5) Powerful Pexster
Honestly, I have no idea what that even means.
After reading last week's column, a fair number of you copped to also loving incredibly cheesy syndicated dramas (don’t even think of coming between Joopiter and his/her Renegade tapes). Many more of you wanted to react to my List of the Top Five Scariest Movies Ever. But before we get to those, Andy has a theory…
As far as I can tell, the two reasons for the success of most syndicated shows are skin and sci-fi. Playboy should create a syndicated show with a super sexy Mulder-Scully type team that investigates super sexy supernatural crimes and happenings. They have a bevy of playmates looking to “act” and there are plenty of good looking waiters/actors who would probably take a role for an invite to the mansion alone. They could do a version with nudity for their PPV channel and an edited one for syndication. I should get a royalty check if it ever happens. — Andy
Actually, Andy, such a project already existed. Skinemax had some softcore porn movie ”franchise” titled Sex Files: Alien Erotica that I used to ”stumble” upon late at night sometimes. And I’m going to stop right there before I get into even more trouble with the wife.
Watching Jaws on its opening weekend in a dark theater — nothing was scarier than that. About halfway through, I noticed I had my feet up in the chair so the theater sharks couldn’t get me. I was afraid to go in the water all summer — and that was in a lake in the Adirondacks, which is not prime shark territory. I still won’t go in the ocean. — Peggy McHugh
I don’t blame you, Peggy. I was scared of the decidedly unscary Jaws appearance during the tram ride at Universal Studios theme park, where some mechanical shark basically just opened and closed his mouth a few times before descending back into the water. One of my life goals is to go to a crowded beach with a boom box and just start blaring the Jaws theme music down by the water and watch people freak out.
Heeelloooo Dalton? Um, where is The Shining on your top 5 list? Two words for you — creepy twins! — Jennifer Johnson
Total oversight on my part. The Shining is freaky as hell. Creepy twins, weird ghosts, Scatman Crothers — it doesn’t get much scarier than that.
Holy Lord. Something Wicked This Way Comes totally takes the cake in my eyes as a friggin’ scary movie. Ok, so by today’s standards it might not hold up. But, dude, being a third grader and having your teacher SHOW THIS IN CLASS all the while saying it’s a Disney movie, left me scarred for life. Man, I was expecting singing cartoon animals prancing through a candy coated forest. What I got was a room full of hairy spiders, circus freaks, a beheading and a creep-o getting electrocuted! I’m far removed from the third grade now and it still takes all my strength to watch something with Jonathan Pryce in it without being thrown into some serious PTS flashbacks. — Becky Geear
I’ve always insisted that circuses were evil in some way, shape, or form, and this movie hereby serves as Exhibit A.
Dalton, I love the column. But please, never, never, never mention ventriloquist dummies EVER AGAIN!! Now I can’t get images of murdering dummies out of my head, when I’ve put a great amount of time since childhood into repressing such morbid, frightening thoughts. And can you never do a column on roadkill, too? Not that it has anything to do with entertainment, but the only thing scarier then dummies is roadkill. — Anne Northgraves
Interesting story about roadkill, Anne. Just this morning I was dropping my son off at the bus, and there was a squirrel lying in the street almost completely intact except his head was missing. Naturally, my son got on the bus and told all the other kids about it, who then proceeded to all peer outside, point and make Ewwwwwwwwwww, gross! faces at each other. It was pretty cute?as far as roadkill goes.
Dalton, say it ain’t so!!!! Have you forsaken the Survivor TV Watch faithful? And in mid-season, no less? Friday’s just not the same without reading your take on the previous night’s shenanigans. If you’ve dropped the summaries, please reconsider! — Chris Morris
Okay, Chris. I’ve reconsidered…and I’m back! Actually, I never went away. It turns out there was some glitch with the programming on last week’s Survivor column so it did not appear on either the TV or TV Watch pages of EW.com. (It’s back up now.) Rest assured I still spent my Thursday night chugging down cheap beer and writing about a freakin’ reality show, although — truth be told — there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot to say. Pretty boring episode. But thanks to you and all the other readers who actually noticed its absence and cared enough to write in. I will never abandon you again?unless my VCR conks out on me. And yes, I still have yet to buy that DVR. And yes, I am ashamed. And yes, you can continue to make fun of me for it. And no, I am not a cheap bastard. And yes, it is time for this column to end.
Have a particular type of TV genre that you simply can not watch? Have a favorite breakdancer or breakdancing move you want to celebrate? Thoughts on roadkill? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to firstname.lastname@example.org, or just fill out the handy dandy form below. See ya next week!