Television Impromptu

I was far more of a tv addict in my youth. As I was working on my graduate degree in the 80’s, and getting in the thick of church stuff, I watched very, very little. Maybe the Super Bowl. Maybe the occasional NHL game on ESPN. Cheers and Hill Street Blues passed me by completely. I had a friend at summer school about whom it was remarked she was like Diane Chambers. When I saw my first Cheers episode in 1993, that comment came to mind and nine years later, I understood. And laughed.

When Star Trek returned for its next generation, I watched the episodes on the tv monitor at the radio station I worked at. I pretty much missed all of season 2 after I moved to Illinois.
I finally got my first tv in ’93, while I was recovering from back surgery. It was mainly to watch movie videos. I tuned in a bit on Spenser: For Hire and Cheers, but I have to say I wasn’t totally engrossed.

I watched the first episode of ER, and thought, “I could get into this show.” Medical dramas were among my favorites in the early 70’s. But weeknight evenings are not generally free for parish liturgists, and I wasn’t inclined to rearrange my life for tv. Not even taping shows and watching later, as I caught most of Star Trek in the 90’s.

Since we’ve moved to KC, I spent a few years keeping up with Arthur, but kids seem to soon outgrow such fare. For a while, I would gobble up Good Eats. Then catch one of the Law and Order channels before bedtime. I have to concede: people do good work on television. I’m bitterly disappointed in the scripts and acting on the SciFi channel, except Battlestar Gallactica seems very good. The best tv show I’ve seen in the past decade is Firefly–and then I caught it on dvd five years after release. I seem to be perpetually behind on this track.

So I’m curious by the attention given the Sopranos. It’s all the blogging thing, it seems. I was reading some summary in the Sunday paper about how the best of tv is now better than the best of cinema. I couldn’t say. I get impatient with advertising from our corporate masters, especially since they seem to know when I’m making a run for the bathroom or to usher the dog in or out of the backdoor. They turn up the volume accordingly. For any drama I start to watch regularly, I find too many inconsistencies. I see a lot of stuff, mostly not on network tv, that I think I would really like. I saw the second half of a Smallville episode that included Aquaman and Lex Luthor. It seemed quite good. It’s been around for what–five years now? I caught The Dresden Files Sunday night. Anita liked it. I did too, depsite my skepticism.
bookshelf.jpgI still find books a far superior choice for good plotting, characterization, and inspiration. Movies may well have been overtaken by the best of tv, but they still run a distant second to great books.

But who knows? Maybe in another five years I’ll change my mind. With my luck, homebrewed YouTube videos will have surpassed tv by then.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Television Impromptu

  1. Brigid says:

    Todd, what’s so interesting to me about The Sopranos (I began watching them on DVD after season two via Blockbuster) is all the attention given to other TV drama: Lost, Heroes, ER, The West Wing…

    The Sopranos is Shakespeare alive now: the tragic hero, the King Lear for today, the definition of evil, what is power. Yes, violent. But shocking and amazing in a horrific way. And the acting is just tremendous. The characters are horrific and endearing at the same time like little else I have seen on TV before. Are you a Flannery O’Connor fan? If yes, then the horrific Soprano characters are for you.

    I have found commentary about it at Busted Halo, Beliefnet, Open Book and now dotCommonweal but the rest of St. Blogs, true to form, has missed the boat because of the violence and the fact that it’s on HBO…

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