Secret for a great relationship: Two televisions

That’s right: his and her television sets with TIVO for both. I have a great marriage, and when people ask why Kevin and I are so happy, I’m glad to divulge my secret(s). If you want to know them too, you’ll have to follow my logic – and since I’m still flying from Point A to Point B on DayQuil as I write this (2 a.m. Tuesday morning), we may have to take the scenic route.

My husband gifted me a lifetime subscription to TIVO, ending arguments over what to record when our television preferences ALWAYS conflict. I watch “my shows” on my TV while I work at my computer or sew late nights. Even though Dexter (Showtime) is not on this season, I’m still in viewing heaven with options other than paid endorsement nonsense after midnight.

I am particularly enjoying the new series The Secret Millionaire (ABC). The millionaire goes undercover to live in slums and to volunteer with about three different charities for a week, and then rewards the charities with gifts ranging from $10,000-$50,000. The hero isn’t the millionaire or even the downtrodden or critically ill people the money ultimately serves, but rather the golden-hearted folks running the charities with dreams of a better world – and a glass half full of not much else.

Yes, I do realize it’s politically incorrect to applaud millionaire business people, but like in the television series Undercover Boss (produced by rival CBS), the millionaire always cries and always has a life-changing enlightenment moment where he or she realizes that poor people are nonetheless GOOD people who are just down on their luck – and luckily for viewers, that moment is conveniently caught on camera. You can safely assume that the person who makes them cry the most will get the biggest reward at the end of the show, too. It’s admittedly formulaic, but who cares? God bless those secret millionaires; at least they make a difference with $100K of their own bucks every week.

And back by popular demand – DATE NIGHTS with Dancing with the Stars (ABC). Since Kevin and I both adore that show, Monday/Tuesday shows mean double the time spent together watching people trip the light fantastic on his TV. DWTS producers held back celebrity Kirstie Alley until last in the opening night lineup (as I predicted) but (surprise!) she was one of the very best dancers. Who knew that beneath all the whining, pouting, and posturing was a competitive dancer? Only the formidable instructor Max could have coaxed that out.

It’s refreshing to see an anxious, 60-year-old overweight woman outperform nervous young skinnies. The other best dancer in the group was the Karate Kid – though Ralph Macchio is 49 years old now. What’s up with these older dancers? This trend is almost enough incentive to tease me into redeeming the four free Arthur Murray Dance Studio lessons I won at a silent auction. (I tried to help out the Salvation Army by making the suggested opening bid at a fundraiser and was shocked to later learn I was high bidder on about five odd items – lesson learned.)

Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC) – well, that’s a natural favorite for me, since I’m a genealogist who already buys most of Ancestry.com’s products. I do like the variety of celebrity closets they pry open, to reveal the star’s quirky or famous ancestors, but I don’t appreciate the fact that a program is in rerun mode on prime time within weeks of airing. My Ancestry.com membership is $300 a year. With 1.4 million subscribers, the mega-sponsor could can enough shows to last one season.

And how about that Gary Busey on this season’s Celebrity Apprentice (NBC), eh? He’s WILD – a Wacky, Illogical, Lost Dude (show watchers get it). Meanwhile, Dionne Warwick makes even Richard Hatch look like a nice guy. She is coming off like Dionne WarWitch. If she turns that evil eye on Star Jones next week, this season could explode. But hey, who doesn’t like a good catfight between equally mean-spirited opponents?

Meanwhile, The Office, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation (NBC) is the best ticket on Thursday nights, when I TIVO them to watch Sunday nights while Celebrity Apprentice is taping. (You can watch other taped shows, but not live TV when TIVO is taping.) Skip commercials and, on average, you cut viewing time in half.

I’ve just added Rachael Ray (Food Network) and The Nate Berkus Show (Sony/Harpo) because I was home sick again yesterday and rediscovered daytime TV options. Typically we leave the television on during the day to mask routine sounds so our three dogs don’t bark their heads off every time a rabbit runs across our yard. I was alternately hyper, zoning out, or hallucinating on DayQuil and/or fevers, so I pulled up a blanket and watched those two programs – maybe I liked them. Will I still appreciate Rachael and Nate when I’m not hyper-stimulated or semi-conscious? Today is Day 5 of this cruddy flu: If I ever get off of cold medicine, we’ll see. That’s why God made a “delete button” on the TIVO menu.

This season, I’m also watching good girl character Temperance Brennan on Bones (Fox) – for sure, she has Asperger’s syndrome – and bad girl Chelsea Handler on Chelsea Lately (E!). And that’s it: About 9.5 hours of taped television watched in about five hours late, late nights – often as a backdrop while I write for IB – rewinding and fast forwarding here and there as I write, edit, and rewrite. It’s a symbiotic process.

Two televisions, two TIVOs: Yep, that’s the secret to a successful relationship because it leaves plenty of quality prime time to do other things.

And now we get to the heart of the real secret. Kevin says love is a verb, and I agree, but I think it’s a lot of prime-time verbs strung together – visiting grandkids, sitting down to dinners together, holding hands in bookstores, discovering spiritual activities, walking in beautiful dog parks with our trio, talking, spending evenings out with friends, traveling, going to the occasional concert or theater production, and volunteering in the community. (Which is why, in case you wondered, I write or sew so late at night.) We work to remove obstacles to precious prime time, and making television programming the focal point of any night but DWTS date night, well … what do you think?

Seriously, what do you think? Take the controls. Thanks for your patience and comments, but I’m overdue for NyQuil, so I’m parachuting out of this discussion now while I can still remember how to email it to the editor before it goes “live” later today. Be well, and I’ll see you next week “After Hours.”

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