Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Slaves Of Habit: First New Must-See TV of 2014

It's entirely appropriate that the first new TV show I watched for 2014 should be Slaves To Habit.
Look, I knew it would be well made because the director is veteran Andy Blicq and he's directed and produced such fine documentaries as Faking The Grade and The Truth About Shoplifting in recent years.
But the subject matter makes this a virtual must-see.
It's all about kicking our bad habits and why we make New Year's resolutions and then strive mightily to keep them.
Slaves To Habit premieres on CBC-TV's Doc Zone Thursday January 2 at 9 p.m. Got that?
The reasoning for making resolutions goes something like this: the holiday season is for many people one of over indulgence and that engenders guilty feelings.
It seems to easy to make a resolution to be better in some way. The problem lies in keeping that declaration as the months pass by. Basically the New Year gives most of us the opportunity to restructure our lives and get rid of nasty habits and basically rewind our lives.
What Blicq has done very nicely is to personalize this quest.
Yes, there are the talking heads experts and what they say seems so logical. Best of the bunch are psychologist Dr. John Norcross and Pultizer reporter Charles Duhigg.
Duhigg hits gold when explaining the three stages of a habit: a cue jump starts the behavior and then the routine takes over and then there must a a reward so you'll want to do it again.
In this case this constant striving gets personalized by a nifty cross section of three people fighting their addictions.
First up we meet corporate head hunter Marc who lives in a swank partment and is trying to stop smoking any which way he can.
Then there's  student Hallae who is a binge shopper and can spent $3,000 on fashion without blinking an eye just because it makes her feel better.
And what about Tom who feels angry and betrayed because at 325 pounds he is perceived by those around him as morbidly obese.
Blicq gets his three subjects together to talk about what makes their problems seem so common. Then he separates them and we watch to see if they will slide back into bad old habits.
For Kelly it involves a shopping trip to New York city which is already planned.
For Chareles it's working on an old house he must hurry and refurbish even through constant rainstorms are against him.
For Mark it's a weekend with the boys --how can he cope during such a stressful time?
Slaves To Habit follows them over six weeks and their epic struggles to break the very cycles that have made them unhappy.
What is Kelly really shopping for? Does Charles need that next cigaret? Is Mark angry at himself or others for his obesity.
Slaves To Habit (from Merit Motion Pictures)  is completely satisfying seasonal fare. If you've made a resolution you really must watch to test your resolve against the three subjects.
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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