So, occasionally I need to sleep. And when I do, it greatly helps me fall into that state if I have something soothing running through a perpetual loop on the DVD player. By soothing, however, I don't mean pastoral scenes or something with a soundtrack by Brahms. No, I fall asleep best when accompanied by movies and TV shows that I know by rote, things that don't require me to keep my massive brain working, but rather allow it to blissfully turn itself off. Here, then, in no particular order, are the Top Five Things That Allow Me to Sleep:
* The Andy Griffith Show. TAGS (as we call it in the AG Rerun Watchers Club) is my favorite sitcom of all time, and probably nothing makes for a more restful sleep. Not only can I quote every line of dialogue verbatim, but what could be more soothing than having Mayberry gently piped into your dreams? Bear in mind, of course, that only episodes featuring Don Knotts will do the trick (first five seasons; a good rule of thumb is black & white episodes). Andy Griffith post-Knotts is watchable, I guess (if nothing else is available), but I think it would give me nightmares. Keep your Emmett the Fix-It Man and Sam Jones and cranky Andy and focus on Aunt Bee and (especially) Jack Burns as Warren. I'll take simple, slow-moving, black & white Mayberry from 1960-1965. That's what does the trick for me.
* The Beverly Hillbillies. I have a real love for CBS' "rural comedies" of the 60s, and the most soothing of them is BH. Again, I know the material like the back of my hand (oh my god, I never saw that wart before!!!), and there's something so restful about the country humor, and Buddy Ebsen's voice, and the incidental music. The other shows in the Paul Henning rural trilogy, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, are also great shows, but while I've seen all the episodes of each, I don't know the lines quite as well (and I must say, Green Acres had some of the most clever and out-and-out funny writing of its time). The Hillbillies assure me a deep, pleasant sleep, however, and the chance to wake up with a head full of possum fat.
* Any Frank Capra film. I know Capra's work like I wrote it myself, and his uplifting tales are the perfect way to ease into slumber. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is my all-time favorite film, and I've drifted off to it probably 400 times. Coming in a close second as Morpheus-bait aree Meet John Doe or Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. And, of course, It's a Wonderful Life is the perfect sleep aid around Christmas time (and I used to love it when it was considered public domain and at any moment during December you could find a station showing it). Not as easy to sleep to are things like You Can't Take It With You or It Happened One Night, though they're sure as hell worth watching in the light of day.
* Other "old" movies. One great one is John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath. Yeah, I know theoretically it should make me dream of dust storms and Hoovervilles, but there's something very comforting about riding along with the Joad family as they make their way to...well, probably eventual starvation, but let's not think about that. Another fave is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, one of Elia Kazan's best, in my opinion.
Again, some might argue that it would have me REMing about turn of the century tenement life
and poverty, but I find myself pacified by Francie and her family's struggles to get by. Other good movies for sleeping, at least to me, are the Over The Hill Gang films, anything with Ma and Pa Kettle, and, strangely, In Cold Blood.
* To Catch a Predator. Yeah, I know it's weird, but there's just something about hearing "I'm Chris Hanson" and knowing that one more perve is being busted that helps me get to sleep. There are actually very few episodes of this show (and given the controversy lately, there may not be any more produced), so I've ended up pretty much memorizing all the "dialogue." I wish they'd run a comprehensive marathon of the show so I could consolidate all of 'em on to one disk.
So I guess, in conclusion, I'd have to say that...that......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz