Staying home instead of taking that summer trip? Need something to take your mind off the economy, your job or lack thereof? Don't furrow (or furlough) your brow; tune in to Staycation TV. USA TODAY spent days and nights at home, combing through cable and syndicated offerings to unearth these nuggets — some obscure, some not — to air-condition the mind on those long, hot hours in your own living room. Dig in, and remember: The sun is still shining, somewhere.
Start your hi-def holiday in court. TV judges are morning staples, and their litigants prove that somebody has it worse than you. Your-honor offerings range from the justice-is-served-in-your-face brio of "Judge Judy" ("That's what you owe him, you idiot!" she yells at one reckless dope) to the streetwise wit of "Judge Mathis" (about wronged Detroit women: "They don't run you over; they cut you"). After a husband says his mistress once joined his wife and him in a threesome, "Divorce Court's" Judge Lynn Toler could have been speaking of any number of litigants: "We are so deep in the trailer park I don't know what to do."
During rerun-heavy summer, other syndicated jurists packing the daytime docket include "Judge Joe Brown," "The People's Court," "Judge Jeanine Pirro," "Judge Alex," "Judge Hatchett," "Family Court with Judge Penny Brown Reynolds," "Cristina's Court," "Judge David Young" and "Judge Karen." Don't get confused about Judge Sonia. That was just a Senate confirmation hearing. (Check local listings.)
Excess body hair and severe itching "down there" are not exactly fun-in-the-sun topics. But the engaging manner of "The Doctors" makes the medical advice go down easy. Plus there's no co-pay for daytime house visits. Four real doctors who might as well be from central casting — plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, pediatrician Jim Sears, obstetrician/gynecologist Lisa Masterson and ER physician Travis Stork — discuss health topics both serious and silly, from breast cancer to "Does sex lead to sneezing?" They really seem to like sex talk, as does the studio audience. Pass the antihistamine. (Check local listings.)
Talk is cheap — amusement
Everybody knows "Oprah," "The View" and "Regis & Kelly." But have you seen "Wendy Williams," the longtime New York radio personality who comes to syndication (daytime, check local listings; weeknights, BET, 11 ET/PT) with a little grit, a lot of wigs and a trademark phrase, "How you doin'?" The show features a disco ball, celebrity guests and Wendy's advice, along with some brash attitude: "You don't want to know where this wig was last night when I was par-tay-ing."
For fun on a lower-key level, there's "The Bonnie Hunt Show" (check local listings.). Personable and wry, Hunt has long been a favorite of David Letterman, and she shares some of his traits, including playing off the audience and featuring her mother as a long-distance guest. In one episode, she re-enacted her appearance on "The View" with her all-male band playing Barbara Walters & Co.
And then for late-late-nighters, there's Fox News Channel's "Red Eye" (3 a.m. ET/midnight PT), which features host Greg Gutfeld and panelists riffing outrageously on the day's events. Warning: After watching, you may have trouble falling asleep.
Fun & games