My Turn

Best Of TV-Turn-On Week

4/30/2007 6:47 AM

Last week was TV-Turnoff Week.

Hopefully, like every other year, you ignored that obnoxious advice.

“Empowering people to take control of technology and not letting technology take control of them so they can live healthier lives,” says tvturnoff.org, the group behind this off-putting idea. If that’s the point, make it, ‘Get a Digital Video Recorder Week’ instead. Watch on your schedule, but keep watching.

Sure, the weather improved in a major way, hitting the 80s with sunshine in the Northeast, making it more palatable to go out of the house and stay out, maybe get some exercise, get together with friends.

But with the TV off all week you’d have missed so much.

For instance …

ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Technically, this took place before Turnoff Week began, but the week starts on Sunday, and you might have gotten confused. Not many baseball fans did, apparently. ESPN said last Sunday’s game, pitting the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox, drew an average 5.5 million viewers, topping the earlier best Sunday night game, a Yankees-Red Sox tilt in 2004.

History was made in the game, as for only the second time in Major League Baseball history, a pitcher (Yankee rookie Chase Wright) gave up home runs to four consecutive batters.

ESPN’s play callers, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, make any game listenable, and have done so together on this telecast for 18 years.

Even the in-dugout manager interviews were great Sunday, coming after the four-homer barrage. Red Sox manager Terry Francona’s father, Tito, played for the Cleveland Indians the first time the four-homers, one-pitcher feat was accomplished, and we learned from Miller’s questioning that that was a story the dad had told often over the years. The Yankees lost the game, 7-6.

HBO’s The Sopranos. Another Sunday show, and sure, if you have HBO On Demand, you could watch it after Turnoff Week ends.

But you might have to wear an “I Hate Sopranos Spoilers” T-shirt all week if your workplace is anything like mine. In New York, even sports-radio jocks blather away with detailed second-day Sopranos analyses.

The show is certainly worth analyzing, but I’ve long since given up hoping for more action or for plotlines to get resolved or for creator David Chase and the writers to do anything other than where they want these characters to go.

Just sit back and enjoy the turmoil. These characters have aged a lot over the show’s run, which is a miracle in itself given their violent occupations. Once in, you can’t put off watching for long.

Logo’s The Big Gay Sketch Comedy Show. It debuted on April 24 and, as The New York Times pointed out in a lengthy review, it’s the kind of show the deliberately serious, earnest MTV Networks outlet waited almost two years to risk putting on the air.

“There’s been enough cartoonish gay characters over the years” on television, channel president Brian Graden pointed out to the Times.

But it seemed like it was time now for Logo to loosen up a bit, he said. At a time of extreme sensitivity to what gets said in jokes on the airwaves — including on basic cable — it’s a welcome move.

Plus, as we all know from so many popular sitcoms, gay characters are funny. Big Gay’s debut episode acknowledged. The opening skit was about a girl who gets a “Pocket Gay Friend” just like “the grownups you see on TV.” “Those Crocs look fierce on you,” the khaki and polo shirted “friend” says.

“Now, work the runway!” The pocket friend — “tiny H-O-M-O” — then calls her the “B” word, all in good fun, exchanged within the boundaries of gay-to-gay humor.

Other highlights of the week in TV no doubt include Fox’s 24, which I recorded but haven’t gotten to yet (no spoilers please); The Shield on FX (ditto); and two semifinal matches of the European soccer Champions League on ESPN2, one of which hadn’t been played yet at this column’s deadline.

And that only gets me to Wednesday.

Turn off the TV? Only with both tuners on the DVR ready to roll.