For the record, this blog existed before I knew I would be publishing a book. For that reason, earlier posts on this blog have nothing to do with my book, writing a book or trying to market the book that I wrote. There’s a reason for that. Sometimes I like to write about other things.
But part of the deal you make when you sign a contract is to publicize your book as often as possible, especially if you have a blog. So, over the last two months, I have become THAT guy. I’ve become the friend you used to have who got into
Amway Primerica Pampered Chef Scentsy DoTerra, and now has no ability to talk about anything else. For that, I apologize. But for the record, that probably won’t stop anytime soon. However, I do hope everyone realizes I recognize this issue and will patiently give me a pass.
But there comes a point where even I can’t take it anymore and I want to write about/talk about something else. So today, I will get the required stuff out of the way…THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER…August 2013…Really Good…Everyone who has read it loves it…Available for Pre-Order on Amazon RIGHT NOW…and move on to a topic that has been on my mind of late. Awesome Television!!!
I think it’s easy to forget how blessed we are today when it comes to our entertainment choices. One reason might be that there still is a ton of garbage out there. Far too many situation-comedies aren’t comedies at all. They are simply 22 wasted minutes of lame sex jokes meant to shock their audience into thinking they heard something funny. And frankly, reality television is an insult to human intelligence.
(At this point, just about every human being alive will say, “Yes, except for…” because each of us has a reality show weakness. My personal favorites are The Amazing Race and Duck Dynasty. But in my defense, I consider The Amazing Race to be a game show, not a reality television series, and anyone who thinks Duck Dynasty is reality rather than the evolution of the situation-comedy is delusional. However, they are considered reality, and therefore are labeled as such. I still maintain, reality television as a whole has less value than sewer water. I would happily give up Willie and Jace Robertson if I could get rid of Snooki, Honey Boo Boo and anyone named Kardashian as part of the deal.)
Anyway, what brought this to mind is that I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago and happened to turn on the television in my hotel room one morning as I was getting ready for the day. An old episode of TJ Hooker was coming on. I stood there open-mouthed for approximately five minutes, stunned at how badly this old show had aged.
I was never a huge fan growing up, but I don’t remember hearing people talk about how dreadful this show was. And apparently that was because most people didn’t feel that way. It was a fixture on ABC for several years. But looking at it through a 2013 perspective, it was AWFUL!!!
Sadly, so were most hour long dramas of the 1980s. Don’t believe me? Find a Dukes of Hazzard re-run on CMT and try not to retch. Watch a Love Boat episode and see if you don’t feel the need to take a shower after watching it. Even my beloved Remington Steele feels a little “cubic zirconium” compared to the five diamond status I gave it in my youth.
So what was the problem? Why are these shows not getting better with time like say…I Love Lucy, or The Dick Van Dyke Show? Why does a black and white Perry Mason still kick the butt of any Matlock episode you put it up against. And furthermore, why does television today feel so much stronger.
Bottom line, you didn’t have to be great to get a large audience back in the day. You just had to be better in your time slot than the two other shows that were on. And let’s face it, if Love Boat was the best option on a Saturday night for almost a decade, you can imagine the quality of what was showing on the other two networks. But today? You can’t get away with that.
If you have a television show, you have to be better than what is on three hundred other channels. That’s a tall order. And I’m not saying we still don’t end up with crap. How Two and a Half Men is still on the air baffles me. But if you want to survive, you better up your game.
Which I believe has led to the largest assortment of amazing television shows available at one time, EVER!!!
Never before have I had a time in my life where I could use all the fingers on both hands to create a list of shows I really want to watch, but simply don’t have the time. Today I can do it without having to think hard. So when I turn on the tube at night, I get to be a selective television connoisseur instead of a cafeteria-line consumer of…ehhh.
The shows I have deigned worthy of my time include:
The aforementioned Amazing Race. It may be reality, but when you get to see a woman try to catapult a watermelon with a sling shot and have it come back and hit her in the face on a medieval battlefield in England, I mean, come on.
Person of Interest. I think this show’s strength is the way they expect their audience to pay attention. Bad guys don’t always get caught, but you better find a place for them in your memory banks, because you know they will show up again without preamble or explanation for who they are. And you can’t wait. (Anyone who watches will nod knowingly when I mention the names Elias and Root.)
Psych. Any show that has the guts to send their protagonists screaming like little girls from a sorority house when they think they have seen a ghost can’t be wrong. This show is the best adult adaptation of Scooby-Doo ever made. Others might say it is the best comic adaptation of The Mentalist ever made, but frankly, I’ve heard it both ways.
Burn Notice. The show MacGyver should have been. Enough said.
Lost. I know this show has been over for a couple of years, but still. If you haven’t seen it, go back and watch it on Netflix or whatever internet/DVD format you need to. Quit telling yourself that you didn’t get the black smoke or the polar bears and just watch the show for the character development. There has never been a show stronger in that area than this one. Don’t believe me? Name another show where you find yourself desperately concerned about the welfare of a murderous conman, a pathetic paraplegic who has delusions of grandeur or a manipulating tyrant who kills another character possibly meant to symbolize Christ. Can’t come up with any? That’s because there are none. This show is storytelling at its best. Hands down!!!
Finally, I want to mention a show that held no interest for me until a week and a half ago. When I first hear the title, I thought, “Why on earth would I want to watch a show about a church that has to be located in inner-city London?” Then I realized that it wasn’t Downtown Abbey, it was Downton Abbey. Then I read a small synopsis and realized what time frame it took place in and that it dealt with status and propriety.
My first thought was, “Yuck. Another Jane Austen wannabe.”
(For the record, I recognize the valuable contribution Jane Austen’s works make to our society. I just don’t like to watch film adaptations of them very often. And I really don’t have any desire to read them. If someone says, “The two hour Pride and Prejudice really doesn’t do the story justice. You really need to see the six hour version.” I know that I’m probably out.)
But because the hype surrounding this show started to reach fever pitch over the last few weeks, I broke down and watched the first episode on Netflix. Long story short…
Don’t ask me to explain it. I mean the most action that took place was when one awful woman kicked a cane out from underneath a co-worker while they were all standing at attention. Well, and then there was the kiss, but even that wasn’t what had me mesmerized. This show was fascinating. The subtle writing and British sensibility given to understatement have produced a hypnotic hour of television I would have never thought possible knowing the subject matter.
So, I will add Downton Abbey to my list of fine television of which I will partake and once again express my belief that we live in a time of the most extraordinary TV available. I mean, if even British television is getting in on the quest for excellence, you know you’ve never had it so good.