Lockdown number five. As sequels go, we’re definitely heading towards the shallow end of the pool. Nothing good ever came of installment number five. Looking at this purely from a ‘Police Academy’ point of view, that puts us in ‘Assignment Miami Beach’ territory. I could bore you with plot details, if there were any, but it’s enough to say that this particular sequel didn’t even include Steve Guttenberg; whose absence rendered it something worse than pointless.
There’s a law of diminishing returns. It’s a law even more powerful than the one that requires you to wear a mask whilst at the supermarket so your glasses are continually fogging up as you attempt to read your shopping list. I, however, am determined to make this lockdown count. Forget learning a new language or acquiring a new skill. I refuse to squander this lockdown by adopting an on-line fitness program – a pointless exercise that involved actual pointless exercise. No way. This time, I’m surrendering to binge watching.
When I was a kid, ‘binge watching’ referred to what you ate when watching television rather than the act of watching television itself. Eating Milo straight from the tin whilst watching ‘The Fall Guy’ was as close as I ever came. But in this era of content on demand, ‘binge watching’ means something else entirely, even if it is still best done with a tin of Milo and a spoon to hand. I’ve got my work cut out for me.
I’m not sure how, but I’d never seen ‘The Sopranos’. It’s meant to be one of the greatest shows of all time and whilst as someone who used to regularly watch ‘It’s A Knockout’ I treat such claims with skepticism, it’s time I filled that particular pop culture knowledge gap. But I plan to mix things up. Rather than solely indulging in something new, I plan to engage in nostalgia also. Which is why I’ve dusted off my DVD collection of ‘A Country Practice’; all fourteen seasons spanning some two hundred and two separate discs. That ought to fill a five-day lockdown nicely.
‘What?!’ I hear you cry. ‘You’re not using lockdown for a Police Academy marathon?’ Put simply, no I’m not. That’s because I saw ‘Police Academy Five: Assignment Miami Beach’ at the cinema. Every smutty joke, ribald innuendo and moment of acting so hammy that if you slapped two pieces of bread around it, you could call it a sandwich, was projected onto a forty-foot screen. That was nearly thirty-five years ago and all I can say is that I’m yet to fully recover.
Lining up a bunch of DVDs to watch feels like I’m stepping back in time. Nowadays the idea of getting up to change one disc for another seems like an incredible burden. But for all the convenience that streaming offers, you never get buffering when you’re watching something on DVD. There’s something to be said for that kind of reliability. Specifically, ‘phew’.
A couple of days into lockdown and I’m finding ‘The Sopranos’ kind of tense. To balance that out, I’m swapping between Tony and the gang and the lovable characters from Wandin Valley. Esme Watson is the ying to Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri’s yang. I don’t want to put it too highly, but watching two entirely different series simultaneously feels like it may be an act of genius.
I need to disclose something at this point – I’m terrible at watching television. Don’t get me wrong; I like movies and TV shows. It’s just that I struggle to stay awake. For me, watching a film involves me viewing (and enjoying) the first forty-five minutes before waking up as the credits roll. Invariably, various plot points have developed whilst I’ve had my eyes closed and I’m confused. After all, it’s not as though I’m re-watching ‘Police Academy Five: Assignment Miami Beach’ for which being unconscious is probably highly desirable, with the added bonus that you won’t miss important plot developments because there aren’t any.
I’ve been enjoying both ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘A Country Practice’. However, as is my way, I’ve nodded off a few times mid-episode. At times I’ve been kind of befuddled. So much so, that I’ve started to blur the lines somewhat and treat them not as two separate shows but a single series. Dr Terrence Elliott sitting down with Big Puss at the Bada Bing. The bit where Fatso the Wombat is promoted to ‘captain’ before becoming a rat (being a furry quadruped probably made the transition an easy one.) And I’m still reeling from the episode where Bob and Cookie get clipped for heisting a truck full of plumbers’ overalls on the outskirts of Wandin Valley.
However long this lockdown lasts, at least I’ll have made the most of it. As overwhelming as being separated from friends and family is, I’m mindful it’s all for a bigger purpose. Besides, things could be worse – you could be stuck inside watching Police Academy Five on a continuous loop. Soon enough, we’ll be able to celebrate. Or as Tony Soprano once so memorably said to Sergeant Frank Gilroy as they enjoyed a counter meal down at the Wandin Valley public bar; ‘It’s almost time for turkey sandwiches!’ So true.