Culture

Things To Do In Roanoke Besides Watch ‘Liz & Dick’

No one knows where the Roanoke Colony vanished, but I have a hunch. I saw a probable location last night—the back parking lot of the Ramada Inn in that fair Virginia city’s downtown. Driving back from Thanksgiving yesterday, my companions and I ran out of steam just as we pulled into Roanoke. We stocked up on crappy sandwiches, grabbed a giant bottle of cheap red wine—Virginia’s grocers sell wine!—and made our way to our motel to unload our car in a parking lot that would spook the family from The Shining. A veritable army of rapists, murderers and evangelicals lurked just in the shadows, but our nerve held, steeled by one dreamy thought.

We were going to watch Liz & Dick.

For eight hours, we had dreamed of it, and I don’t need to tell you why. Every red-blooded Internet troll was sharpening its fangs in anticipation of the latest float in the Lindsay Lohan shit-parade, and we were to be first in line. But this Internet-free, bedbug-ridden, cockroach-ruled roadside inn had one drawback. No Lifetime! What the F?!

Lifetime is the premier movie channel for idiots, and you would have to be an idiot to stay in such an awful motel. Why the two have not been introduced is beyond me. But we had several hours to kill there before the red wine robbed us of consciousness, and the time had to be passed somehow. In case you’ve fallen into a timewarp and today is yesterday, you’re in Roanoke, and Twitter is blowing up with quips ranging from asinine and cruel to dead on balls accurate, you may pass the time thusly.

Watch Revenge. Besides news TV, Sunday Night Football, and—shudder—NCIS, this is by far your best option. Revenge is the worst television show that I have ever seen, an unfathomable hybrid of melodrama and nonsense. Stuffed full of the kind of dialogue written by a fifteen year-old hobo, it’s one of those soap operas where, despite lots of camera mugging and jabber, nothing ever happens. Last night’s episode was an unnecessary flashback to events prior to the start of the show, and served as a chance for the main character to show off the karate skills that, we learned in the first season, she possesses but never uses.

Highlight: Finding out that Victoria Grayson, the vanilla-bland villain at the heart of the show, was at a young age pressured by her mother into implicating herself in the murder of her stepfather. This was shocking not because, hey, that ain’t great parenting, but because the producers expect us to believe that Madeline Stowe is more than 13 years younger than Adrienne Barbeau, who played her mother.

Watch 666 Park Avenue. Reasoning that it can’t be any worse than Revenge, you decide to stick with ABC’s Sunday night rich folks with secrets drama block and enjoy an episode of this show, which has already been canceled. You will regret it. It’s astonishing how little actually happens in these shows. Last week’s episode, the previously on told us, ended with a main character descending down some kind of spooky magical staircase into, let’s assume, hell. Following that cliffhanger, the producers ran a ten cent scam, blanking that character’s memory in order to avoid showing us what happened down there. The next hour of television could easily have been boiled down to fifteen minutes. What brainless focus group told these producers that they should dwell on the soapy elements instead of the supernatural bits? With creative thinking like this, it’s a shock it got canceled.

Highlight: Watching Ice Age on TBS during the commercial breaks. Simply adorable!

Watch Shutter Island. Tantalized by the film’s fantastic trailer and then let down by its tepid reviews, I skipped this movie when it was first released, but I welcomed it gratefully as an alternative to Treme. More happened in the first half hour than in an entire season of Revenge—every time I see that show title, I hear “re-wen-gay“—giving me enough dramatic satisfaction that I was able to pass out and have terrifying dreams about mental institutions and successful one hour dramas that were mostly fluff and bother.

Highlight: The aforementioned nightmares.

And so your evening in Roanoke is at an end. Sleep happily until 2 a.m., when you will be awoken by a heavy thump that sounds distinctly like a body being dropped in the next door room. Check your door locks. Drift back to sleep. Never stay in a Ramada again.