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Sounds like a couple different issues here, but off the top of my head here are the first things I would try, and some questions I have:
Things to try:
1. Open ArcMap, go to the Customize menu->ArcMap options and go to the Data View tab. UNCHECK the box for "enable hardware acceleration" if it's checked and hit OK. If the operations you listed work fine after this, it may be an issue with your graphics card's driver.
2. If the above worked fine after disabling hardware acceleration, update your graphic card driver to the latest version from the manufacturer's website, and try again with hardware enabled.
1. When you get the BSOD (blue screen of death) what is the exception listed, and in which module? This may give us some info about what is actually crashing.
2. Have you contacted Esri Support yet? There are several analysts dedicated to helping you through your initial install of ArcGIS.
I have the same problem as Evan_G. In the BSOD I obtained following message Stop: 0x0000007f with parameters (0x00000008, 0xba340d70, 0x00000000, 0x00000000). You can see it in Pic_1. In the Data view tab I cannot Uncheck or Check the box for "enable hardware acceleration". Part Hardware Acceleration is not active (it is grey). See Pic_2 in the attachment. My machine is following: OS Win XP 32bit SP3, processor Intel i3, RAM 2x2GB addressed are 3.2GB due to Win XP 32bit. I tried to check RAM memories with MEMTEST86+ v.4.20. No errors were obtaind.
I would suggest that you contact Esri technical support for more interactive troubleshooting of this issue. I don't think that the basemap layers themselves are the issue (based on your reporting of hardware acceleration being turned off), so they would need to walk you through other troubleshooting.