The weather outside is frightful, whether you're melting on the East Coast (New York's expected high temperature for Tuesday: 96 degrees) or shivering in the Northwest (Seattle's expected high temperature for Tuesday: 58 degrees). You can't change the weather, but if you choose the right TV show to watch, you might fool your brain for a few minutes. Here are a few suggestions to cool you off or warm you up.
If you're too hot ...
‘The Brady Bunch’ Episode: ‘Big Little Man’ It's only natural during a heat wave to fantasize about being trapped in a freezer and slowly turning into a block of frozen meat. That's just what would have happened to Greg and Bobby Brady if Bobby hadn't been small enough to be stuffed through a window in the freezer door at Sam's butcher shop. If you're both overheated and insecure about your height, this story will hit the spot.
‘America's Next Top Model’ Episode: ‘The Girl Who Is a True Miss Diva’ Sure, it doesn't sound that comfortable to lie around in lingerie with someone taking pictures of you. But being draped all over a set made entirely of ice sounds pretty good. You could sit there, blissfully frosty, until your entire body freezes to the ice blocks and you’re trapped like the kid with the tongue in “A Christmas Story.” It's enough to make a New Yorker take up modeling.
‘Little House on the Prairie’ Episode: ‘Blizzard’ Life was tough in Walnut Grove, but at least there was often a blizzard around the corner to chase away your sweat. On Christmas Eve, the kids were released from school early only to get caught in a terrible snowstorm on the way home. For some reason, their parents seemed to think that the possibility that they would become gradually submerged in a snowbank would be a bad thing, and panic ensued.
‘House’ Episode: ‘Frozen’ This year's post-Super Bowl episode found House helping a doctor stranded at the South Pole who had stubbed her toe and (naturally) wound up with agonizing abdominal pains. Don't focus on the medicine, though – focus on the opening sequence in which it's so cold outside that a severe injury stops bleeding almost immediately as a result of temperatures so low that blood quickly freezes. Lucky stranded doctors!
‘Northern Exposure’ Episode: ‘Spring Break’ Nothing says “chilly” like being naked in Alaska, as the men of Cicely were each year when they celebrated the breaking of the ice with “the running of the bulls,” an unclothed run through town. Even the buttoned-up Joel Fleischman took part. While spring was on the way, the snow was still deep enough to help facilitate FCC-friendly, waist-up filming of the men running down the sidewalks. Anytime nudity and snow come together, the heat is forced to yield.
‘The Amazing Race’ Episode: ‘Race To The Finish, Part II’ Way back in the show's first season, the final leg took the two leading teams to Alaska, where their last task involved a hole in the ice and a very cold swim. While they shivered miserably and complained of “Seinfeld”-style “shrinkage,” they survived, and so can you. All you need is your bathtub and a very, very powerful chilling device to duplicate this stunt at home.
‘Family Ties’ Episode: ‘Cold Storage’ How cold would you have to be to take refuge in a chipmunk costume found in a trunk? That's how cold Mallory and next-door neighbor Skippy were after they inadvertently locked themselves in the basement while the rest of the Keatons were away. The close quarters may have forced Mallory to look at Skippy more kindly, but they also represented a charming picture of the suburban cellar as an anti-tropical paradise with a fabulously chilly climate. Perfect for bonding and fleeing the heat.
If you’re too cold ...
‘Beverly Hills, 90210’
Episode: ‘Beach Blanket Brandon’ If what's dogging you isn't the extreme heat but the refusal of winter to yield to summer, embrace the ultimate summer candy that was “90210’s” first summer season. In the summer opener, Brandon decides to work at the beach club and Brenda heads for an acting class. But more important, there are endless, loving shots of beaches, sand, sun glare and everything the summer could be asked to deliver.
‘Friends’ Episode: ‘The One With Phoebe's Dad’ Despite the official title, this is really “The One Where the Heat Won't Turn Off.” Monica and Rachel's holiday party turns into an unexpected quasi-summer bash when inadequate greasing of the super seemingly results in his inattention to their busted radiator. The episode is full of sweating and ice appetizers and sticking your behind in the refrigerator – everything you'd expect from a New York heat wave in December. Guaranteed to make you feel downright clammy.
‘The Office’ Episode: ‘Beach Games’ As if the Michael-approved day of sun-baked levity (and, as Pam says, “diligent note-taking”) isn't enough to warm your chilly bones, you can watch Pam literally walk over hot coals. And if you picture yourself stuffed into a sumo suit, floating faceup across a lake like Andy, you won't be able to help sweating. The sun beats down, the stupid games pick up and the whole thing ends with a “Flintstones” sing-along. What could be warmer?
Linda Holmes is a writer in Brooklyn, N.Y.