MOVIES ON REPEAT: The TV Shows And Films We Love To Watch And Re-Watch Again And Again And AGAIN
My husband does this thing where he will listen to the same album -- and sometimes the same SONG -- literally over and over and over for months. I find this extraordinarily annoying.
For example, while driving back from my in-laws in New York’s beautiful Capital District back in December, I introduced him to the work of Janelle Monae by forcing him to listen to everything she’s ever recorded in chronological order.
And he loved her! Which is great, as Janelle Monae is amazing and deserves heaps of love. The downside is that he hasn’t stopped listening to “Many Moons” since. Like, several times a day. And also singing it, but changing the lyrics to be about emptying the dishwasher, or our cat.
The result is that I am now so sick of “Many Moons” -- a song I USED to love -- that I’d be happy to never hear it again.
His song fixations perplex me, as they are totally opposite to how I relate to music; my husband will find a few albums every year that he loves and listens to constantly, whereas I will find a bazillion albums that I have a wide variety of feelings for and many of which I will never listen to more than twice. Thank god for Spotify, seriously.
But I can’t judge him too much, because what he does with music, I do with movies and TV shows.
I have certain things I will watch repeatedly, no matter how many times I’ve seen them, and no matter how recently. And when I say I will watch them repeatedly? Sometimes I even mean that I will watch them, then start them over and watch them again.
This generally only happens when I’m depressed or anxious or feeling otherwise joy-challenged in my life. But sometimes it does happen.
SO in the grand xoJane tradition of trumpeting all our weirdnesses as loudly as possible, I present: eight movies and tv shows I will never get tired of watching, in no particular order.
This is a big one. The product of the same company that brought us "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist," "Home Movies" follows eight-year-old budding filmmaker Brendon Small, voiced by series co-creator Brendon Small, who is now probably better known as the co-creator of pretend metal band Dethklok, stars of Adult Swim series "Metalocalypse."
Confused? It’s OK, man, all you need to know is that "Home Movies" is hilarious and awesome, really coming into its stride in the second season. Relying heavily on improvisation, this series is a hilariously grown-up look at the lives of three ridiculous children -- Small, Jason Persepolis (voiced by H. John Benjamin) and Melissa Robbins (voiced by Melissa Bardin Galsky) -- and I think one of the reasons I like it is because its mixture of wholesomeness, naivete, camp, and out of control imagination reminds me of both myself as a kid and really, myself today.
By the fourth and final season, "Home Movies" evolves into a much edgier show but never really loses its charm. There are 52 total half-hour episodes of "Home Movies," and I’m not exaggerating when I say I could probably recite most of them from memory. I’ve seen them SO many times.
You like chicken wings? They're delicious.
Probably obvious. Too bad. I am proud to confess that I originally saw “Clue” in its original theatrical release, when the big marketing gimmick was that it had three different endings dispersed through different theaters nationwide. I got the Mrs. Peacock ending. I remember that, with my ticket, I even got a little Clue card patterned after the board game telling me I’d received ending B, and honestly I would trade vital organs to have that card back today.
Maybe not MY vital organs. But somebody's.
It’s a shame the promotion of "Clue" emphasized the ending gimmick so heavily, because it sold short a brilliantly funny farce of a movie that has since risen to lofty cult-worship heights, and nobody even remembers the multiple-endings deal.
With Tim Curry in my second favorite role ever (guess the first and third, dare you) and a cast stuffed with some of the funniest comedic actors of the era (Madeline Kahn! Martin Mull! Michael McKean! Christopher Lloyd! Eileen Brennan!), “Clue” has aged into a film appreciated more today than when it premiered to disappointing box-office returns in 1985.
It doesn’t hurt that it’s also ENDLESSLY QUOTABLE. Flames, on the sides of my face. It goes on forever.
I don’t know what it is about “Deadwood” that makes this a series I can watch and rewatch without getting tired of it. Part of it is probably that, with all its fine and gritty detail, I see something new every time. Part of it is that it is a show that literally invented its own grammar, and so once you start it’s hard not to hear everything narrated in your own life in Deadwood-speak. Which can be inconvenient, as Deadwood is very, very fond of the word “fuck.” Also “cocksucker.”
And it’s a difficult show, too, with some profoundly hateful characters and some revolting events. Maybe it’s the occasional glimmers of redemption, rare as they are, that make it worthwhile, as well as one of the most frustratingly complex characters ever on TV, Al Swearengen, who does just enough to make you loathe him and then comes up with something magical that you could almost hug him for.
After 36 episodes and three seasons, “Deadwood” was unceremoniously dumped by HBO after talks with show creator David Milch failed to result in an agreeable compromise to end the series. Thus, “Deadwood” joins the ranks of many tragically canceled shows that concluded with unresolved cliffhangers. I keep re-watching it anyway.
The Little Mermaid
Imagine me running in here and throwing this in your face and then running away.
It was almost two years ago that I first wrote about “Huge” as the best teen-centered TV drama you’ve never seen, and that continues to be true. Set over one summer at a fat camp, “Huge” follows a group of variously sized kids as they work out the identity stuff that is often central to growing up. The show steadfastly refuses to make assumptions about any of its characters, and its commitment to unabashedly showing fat kids as every bit as complex and awesome as their thinner counterparts is still unique in television.
“Huge” stars Nikki Blonsky in the lead role as Wil, the defiantly anti-diet troublemaker forced into fat camp by her parents, and who lectures her fellow campers on feminism and body politics with a conviction I wish I’d been capable of at her age. (Also see Gina Torres, better known to you nerds as Zoe from “Firefly,” as the well-meaning but control-freakish and possibly eating-disordered camp director.)
It’s not surprising that this show was so great, given that it was co-created by Winnie Holzman and her daughter, Savannah Dooley. If Holzman sounds familiar, it’s because she was the force behind “My So-Called Life,” which means this show was similarly doomed to be canceled after one brightly shining season, which also -- OF COURSE -- ends on a cliffhanger.
Not that I am still angry about this, or anything like that.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
This is the film version of Tom Stoppard’s absurdist comedic play exploring the bewildering and existential circumstances of two minor characters in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the titular Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Starring Gary Oldman and Tim Roth in the main roles, the movie supplies an often hilarious behind-the-scenes experience of the events surrounding Denmark’s tragically doomed prince, as seen by two buffoons who have as much trouble understanding Shakespeare’s play as I did when I first had to read it as a freshman in high school.
“Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead” is not a movie where many things actually happen -- the few things that do are ripped directly from Shakespeare, and for the most part, our heroes spend their time wandering around and talking to each other, and also trying to figure out who is Rosencrantz and who is Guildenstern. Filled with wry humor, I think I love watching and re-watching this film because, like “Deadwood,” with its labyrinthine logic and circular use of language as a theme, I get something different out of it every time.
It is also the film that holds the line that, should I ever get around to getting a tattoo, is the line I would get a tattoo of.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
No, I was never that fond of “Deep Space Nine.” No, “Voyager” never grabbed me. “Enterprise” was just not right. The original series I remember mostly as something my mom used to watch when I was a kid.
But Next Generation? I will watch forever. I will watch from Encounter at Farpoint and go through to All Good Things and then head back to Encounter at Farpoint again. I don’t even care that some of the early episodes were terrible. I don’t even care that parts of it are horribly dated. I. WILL. WATCH.
Oh and THE BEST EPISODE is "Darmok," NOT "The Inner Light," although I'm sure some of you will be silly enough to debate this universal truth with me in comments.
If you don’t already understand, there is nothing I can say to help you get it.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Last but certainly not least, we have the epic cult TV show that really defined my adolescence and had a profound influence on my sense of humor -- not to mention my feelings toward authority -- today. MST3K ran for 197 feature-film-length episodes over 10 seasons and even survived a jump from one network to another before finally coming to an end in 1999.
I have seen every episode of MST3K a truly outrageous number of times, a fact expedited by the tape-trading culture, encouraged by the show itself, that defined MST3K’s dedicated fan community. Until the series began to be released on DVD, I clung to my literally 20-year-old VHS copies recorded from television (complete with ubiquitous BK TeeVee commercials, naturally) like they were the most precious irreplaceable treasures I owned.
The former castmembers moved on to other projects, like RiffTrax and the Cinematic Titanic, which is itself coming to an end later this year. (WORD: I’m going to try to interview as many of the cast members of Cinematic Titanic as I can when their farewell tour swings by Boston in November, although I suspect maybe 20 of you will be as excited about that as I am. I DON’T CARE.)
AM I ALONE IN MY COMPULSIVE TV AND MOVIE RE-VIEWING? Do you have a show or film you return to again and again and never tire of? Tell me, I want to know. If only to expand my own repeated-watching catalog.