Seitz Asks: What TV show has appeared in your dreams the most?
Seitz Answers: The Incredible Hulk, The X-Files, and Deadwood
If you watch a lot of TV shows and movies, sooner or later a character or situation from one of them will show up in your dreams. It might be because the show’s themes speak to some aspect of your personality or a certain stage of your life, or it might be because the show has a dream-logic vibe that makes it catnip to your roaming subconscious. I’ve had so many dream encounters with fragments of pop culture — some immersive, others fleeting — that I couldn’t list them all here, so I’ll just cite three examples. I hope you’ll list your own in the comments section.
1. The Incredible Hulk. The original seventies version of this story, starring Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as his big green id, appeared frequently in my childhood dreams. No wonder: It was a show about controlling one’s darker emotions, and a spectrum of unpleasant childhood experiences (chiefly divorce, feelings of abandonment, and some domestic violence) turned me into a kid with anger-management issues. I got in fights at school, often for stupid reasons that shamed me when I thought about them later. It was only natural that this show would speak to me. It spoke to a lot of kids, I bet.
I had dozens of dreams that somehow involved the Hulk. In one of them, I was the Hulk rampaging through my school, trashing the place and feeling great about about it until I saw my favorite teacher in a corner hiding under a desk and crying, at which point I stopped and turned back into David Banner. In another, I was myself, arguing with my parents about something: Suddenly, the Hulk crashed through a wall like the Kool-Aid pitcher in the commercials, slung me over his shoulder, and ran off down the road. The rest of the dream was me and the Hulk visiting various landmarks, including the Grand Canyon and the Golden Gate Bridge. At one point in the dream, we asked a tourist to take a picture of us together so that I could prove the Hulk and I had been in the same place at the same time.
2. The X-Files. My affection for this show waxed and waned along with its quality, but I never stopped watching it, except near the end when David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson became glorified supporting characters. The whole show was fueled by dream-logic. No wonder I had a dream where some of the scariest monsters — Fluke Man, video game and lightning master Darren Peter Oswald, the serial killer contortionist Eugene Victor Tooms — were all living in my building, and another one in which the Cigarette Smoking Man approached me in a coffee shop and asked me to help him write his memoirs. I clearly remember him saying, “I need somebody to help me set the record straight. I’m a good person, and I feel I’ve been misrepresented.”
3. Deadwood. As anybody who reads me regularly knows, this is my favorite TV drama ever, so, duh, of course I’d dream about it. I had a dream about the Hatfields and McCoys fighting it out in the camp while everybody else watched from rooftops, one where Cy Tolliver married Trixie with Al Swearengen officiating, and one in which I was a recently arrived stagecoach driver and secret opium smuggler carrying on a steamy affair with Alma Garret. (I had that last dream twice, actually; details would never make it past the copy desk.)
Just a couple of weeks ago, I had a dream that I turned on HBO and there was a fourth season of Deadwood. The season was set during the holidays. The actors all had frost coming out of their mouths, and there was a constant, gentle snowfall like in McCabe & Mrs. Miller. The episode I watched was set on Christmas Eve. Doc Cochrane, Ellsworth, and E.B. Farnum stood under Alma’s window and sang “Silent Night.” Al Swearengen read A Christmas Carol to orphans, with feeling and without any profane embellishments, and was so moved by Scrooge’s transformation that when he read my favorite lines from the story — “I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future! The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me” — there was a slight catch in his voice.
What TV shows have appeared in your dreams?