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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Excellence of Television


People sometimes get a little cranky about TV. Either there's too much of something they don't like (reality TV, infomercials, doctors in love), or not enough of what they miss (whether it's the Beav or Buffy). And people don't want to admit they watch TV all that much, anyway. "Oh, I happened to catch five minutes of Oprah or American Idol or America's Next Top Model . . ."

Several years ago I realized that if I read 50 to 75 books a year, then I had enough credit built up to also watch as much TV as I wanted. What I realized, in this orgy of CRT love, was that TV . . . had gotten pretty darn wonderful. Great acting, fantastic stories, and the time to really explore characters and their worlds to an extent the multiplex will never match. Rome and Deadwood were as compelling as any documentary or drama I'd seen in the last ten years. I liked Dexter way better than the books. Supernatural was a delicious fill-in for Angel. True Blood was a little steamy for my taste, but In Treatment had me glued to my couch.

And you know what? I don't even have premium cable. I watched all of the above series courtesy of the library - and at no charge. I checked out each season of Deadwood (in order, of course) for 14 days and had my own little McShane Marathon.

So here's to the magnificence of the small screen! Whether it's a classic like The Far Pavilions or a gritty eye-opener like The Wire, you can enjoy it long after its run has ended. What's on your personal marathon list?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to put a reserve on Little Dorrit. Hey, it won all those Emmys, I should give it a chance.

6 comments:

Laura A. said...

I love that the library gets HBO shows like The Sopranos,since HBO is beyond my budget.

I also love that we have lots of classic shows like Taxi, a 1980s comedy featuring Andy Kaufman, and the all-too-brief but not forgotten Freaks and Geeks, an early Judd Apatow production and an honest, funny, and often surprisingly moving look at life in high school.

Jeanne said...

I highly recommend Little Dorrit! In my opinion, it is better than the book.

My big tv marathon lasted for months when I started watching Lost. I watched the first four seasons last year and got addicted! My to-watch list includes Mad Men and Deadwood.

Linda K. said...

I love all the BBC mysteries the library owns. Midsomer Murders, Murder in Suburbia, A Touch of Frost, Blue Murder, Hamish MacBeth, Jonathan Creek, The Last Detective, Inspector Lynley, Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis... my husband and I often watch marathons of British DVD's. It's fun to try and spot actors from other shows. Nathaniel Parker from the Lynley series appearing in a Midsomer Murders episode as a young cricket player, Caroline Quentin appearing in two different roles (Blue Murder and Jonathan Creek)in two different series at the same time, Peter Davison starring as "Dangerous" in the Last Detective and in the series Campion, and in episodes of many other series. (Actors in England never seem to be out of work.) Lots of fun and free of charge!

LaScorpia said...

I agree that there are some programs on the boob tube that aren't booby at all. In fact, they are excellent. I predict that The Wire will be taught in college courses, not just in the writing classes but in the sociology classes too. It was storytelling at its finest.

Anonymous said...

I loved Northern Exposure. I think back in the 90s shows like Northern Exposure and Twin Peaks displayed how important a well-writing script is for TV. The newer crop of shows seem to be following along. I used to hate and bash TV, but not so much anymore.

Chris said...

Back in the 1950s, 1957 to be exact, they had some good writing as well. I've just watched the first season of the old Perry Mason series on DVD and I have to say the episodes were outstanding.

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