Friday, May 1, 2015

Hurray for Netflix—From the Woman Who Doesn’t Watch TV

By Linda Rodriguez

As some of you readers of this blog know, I’ve been through a real run of bad luck lately, battling cancer and complications and then, once free of that, breaking two bones in my right wrist. In recent months, I’ve felt more than a little like Joe Mphstlspk of L’il Abner cartoon strip fame, who traveled everywhere under a black cloud.

One of the problems these two health situations have had in common is trouble with sleep, due to pain and side effects of medication. I’ve spent all too many nights sitting up in the living room in the middle of the night in the past year or so. Normally, in such circumstances, I would read or knit or spin yarn to use in knitting or weaving.  Unfortunately, the surgeries for cancer and the lymphedema that accompanied them—and later the broken wrist—all affected the right arm/hand, and holding a book and turning pages was not an option. Neither was holding knitting needles or a spindle.

Decades ago, I gave up watching television. This was not some intellectual I-refuse-to-watch-that-trash kind of thing. Rather it was simply an I-have-to-give-up-something-to-find-time-to-write thing.  During this time I have battled these health issues, my youngest son was living at home with his big-screen TV and Netflix subscription, something I paid little attention to until I ran into these problems. Suddenly, TV has become my friend once again.

As I’ve struggled through these sleepless nights, I’ve watched all the great Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis, and Endeavor (Morse as a young man) television series I’d missed. I’ve also taken myself out of myself with the flawless Foyle’s War, the British and the Swedish Wallander series, all the Poirots and all the Miss Marples. I’ve watched all the trite romantic comedies I never saw and all the treacly, weepy death dramas. (Remember, this period in my life has lasted for almost a year.) Finally, I sank to the lowest point and aimed the remote at a 1980s television series I’d never even heard of, Beauty and the Beast. Linda Hamilton of Terminator. Ron Perlman before his Hellboy fame. “Beautiful NYC DA falls in love with subterranean-dwelling lion-man,” the blurb said. I wrinkled my nose and asked myself, “Can it really be worse than something called Scrotal Recall (an actual TV series on Netflix)?”

Folks, Beauty and the Beast is a writer’s TV show, a show about books and reading and ideas and people trying to take care of each other in the face of a greedy world. Produced and often written by George R.R. Martin back before he was really famous for Game of Thrones, it’s the only network television series I’ve ever seen where a major feature of each episode is the reading aloud of a passage from some great book. It’s basically a romance—and I’m not a big romance fan. But this series had so much more. And it didn’t hurt that it had this hunky lion-man who recited poetry to the woman he loved.

Unfortunately, it would seem that Ron Perlman was much sexier in his pounds of makeup and lionesque prosthetics than he ever was in real life. If the man had just kept his lion mask on and stayed in costume, he could have been on one of those People “Sexiest Man in the World” covers.

My son has finally moved into his own place and, after months of promising to move his stuff out of our house, has finally taken the big-screen TV and his PlayStation which ran Netflix. (Though our garage is still full of plastic bins and boxes of his stuff. *sigh*) I finally have the cast off my right wrist, although I still don’t have much use of it, and sleeping through the night is becoming more possible. But I will remember my year-long venture into television-land and, with special fondness, that there once was a major television series that celebrated writers, books, and reading.

REPLIES TO COMMENTS (because Blogger. *sigh*)

Sparkle Abbey,

Thanks so much for good wishes. May it be so!


Foyle's War is amazing! Perfect writing, directing, acting. It's a treasure.


Who knew the 1980s had such a cool TV series, full of Shakespeare, Dickens, Dylan Thomas, etc.? One where the hunky male lead was willing to risk everything to meet his favorite writer who had, he said, "shone light on some dark places in life for me." Ah, if Perlman had only stayed in costume and kept reciting all that great writing, he could have been the biggest star around. ;-)


  1. What a year you've had, Linda! Wishing you bright days and smooth sailing ahead.

  2. Yes, here's hoping that you won't need television to keep the long night time vigil with you anymore! And I agree, one of the best parts about Netflix and the other streaming services is that ability to give shows another chance. I also love Foyle - I find the actor's timing to be a thing of beauty! Good luck with getting the son's stuff out of the garage.

  3. One of my all-time favorite series! My heat gave an extra beat when the photo popped up on-screen (don't be fooled by the newer re-make, even using the same character names). I bought the LP of Perlman reading sonnets and played it for my Shakespeare classes. When it was first released, he said in an NPR interview that they figured they'd at least sell some to English teacher, so I had to get one.
    I hope the health issues go away, but I'm so glad you found a way to be entertained. I have no Netflix or other service, but my library has many DVDs.