I’ve been married for a little more than a year now, and one of the biggest changes is that I’m keeping up with a lot more TV than usual. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not one of those hipster twits who doesn’t watch TV because it’s cool to say “I don’t watch TV.” I used to watch a TON of TV; I watched so many reruns of Good Times that I knew the Evans family better than my own family (did you know that Penny is actually quite a good singer?).
But over time, I developed other interests (blogging, for instance, and sometimes walking outside), and television stopped appealing to me. I don’t know if that’s because of a change in me or a change in the quality of TV shows, but I don’t feel any different, and frankly I don’t think that “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” would’ve made the cut back when there were only three channels.
However, my wife follows quite a few shows, so we spend a lot of our quality time watching her favorites. I have, therefore, developed some opinions about these shows. So, I’m going to go a little personal with this post and let some of those opinions loose. If you can’t post insignificant opionions about trivial subjects on your own blog, then what’s life for, anyway?
Lost – By far the best of my wife’s favorites, and one of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen. Forget all the hand-wringing over whether or not they’ll be able to tie all those loose plot threads together. No matter how all the spinning plates come to rest in the end, I don’t think the quality of the show depends on that. It is almost cinematic in the way it uses story, character, music, and direction (and misdirection) to hold the audience in thrall and lead them wherever they want them to go. It’s like a little mini-movie every week, minus the cheesy special effects (it’s still the small screen; you can’t have everything).
As for all the unanswered questions, my definition of “art” is “a creative work that leaves itself open to interpretation.” Spend a couple or three hours swimming around in Lostpedia, and you’ll see that there’s plenty of room for interpretation here. Enough of the story goes untold to allow the audience to create a bigger world than the producers ever could by themselves. That being the case, if they really do try to resolve all the unanswered questions in the end, I think that will leave a lot more disappointed fans than if they made an attempt to answer everything. Either way, there will be disappointed fans. Still, that’s some pretty good TV right there.
Ugly Betty – Pretty far behind “Lost,” but still the second best of my wife’s favorite shows. It reminds me a lot of Fran Drescher show “The Nanny” in that, on first blush, you wouldn’t consider it great entertainment, but it’s great in its own way because it knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything more than that. It’s a little melodramatic at times, but that’s to be expected from a show that’s gayer than a male figure skater in a feather boa doing a routine to a medley of Cher’s greatest hits.
On a side note, I also consider it a sign of the continuing collapse of civilization that the woman pictured at left can play the title character in a show called “Ugly Betty.”
American Idol – This show has no value other than to listen to the comments of one Mr. Simon Cowell. I would watch a whole show of that guy just walking around criticizing things. “This Boy Scouts car wash is derivitive and boring.” “I was interested when you first brought the dessert cart around, but by the end I thought the monkey bread was complete rubbish.” I don’t know why I love it, but I do.
How I Met Your Mother – This is where I’m going to get in trouble, becausue several of my friends like this show, and I hate to have such a feeling of complete disconnect with them. But man, we are on different planets here. This show is so bad that it makes me angry.
It’s frustrating, because I see what they’re trying to do. The show is obviously the product of people who grew up watching “The Simpsons” and “Friends,” both of which were good, funny shows. (For anyone who’s interested, I’m prepared to make an argument that, over its first nine seasons, The Simpsons was the greatest show that has ever been on television. Anyone interested? Anyone? Moving on…) They have a core group of likable, quirky white folks who have no real problems other than coping with their own quirks, and they mix in a healthy dose of surreal, cartoony goofyness and Simpsonesque flashback sequences. Only, when they mix these two TV purebreds, they birth a freakish lump of inbred, self-conscious unfunnyness.
The performances are so consistantly wooden and awkward, I have to think that a director is telling them to act that way for some reason. But, baby, it ain’t working. The punch lines are delivered with all the smooth subtlety of a tennis racket across the back of your head. Then on those rare occasions when they try to make the characters three-dimensional by shoehorning in a tender moment, I feel like I’m watching auditions for the 10th grade production of “Our Town”
Well, anyway, glad I could get that off my chest. Thanks for reading my reviews of a bunch of five-year-old TV shows.