Tuesday, August 21, 2012

TV lover gone wacko

For a long time there wasn't anything for me to look forward to on television. I know for many this is a trivial matter. Like what ice cream flavors you have in your fridge (another issue I've faced as of late), it plays little significance in your day to day life, but once in a while it just makes you want to go "UGH, why is there no variety?" (See? This metaphor works.) For me, though, it can be a truly life-altering consideration.

Things can go one of two ways.

1. I have a lot of television to watch.

In this situation, I lose all sense of time and place. I watch endless hours of the same shows, catching up on old seasons and awaiting new episodes. I'll sit around in my room staring at a television screen until my needs are satisfied. It becomes an addiction of sorts. I would look into getting psychological help, but -because I enjoy the addiction so much and at the moment do not see myself doing any disservice to myself in the way of health - I can't seem to force myself out.

2. I have absolutely nothing on television to watch.

When this is the case, I take time out of my day for perhaps more useful engagements than television-obsessing. Rather than reduce my rate of blinking and forget meal after meal, I become a normal functioning human being. All the brain molecule matter material thingamajigs get balanced once again, and I make plans to learn things or hang out with people or do whatever is actually worth my time.

But which of these situations is summer about? Activities like the beach and the mall and sporty whatevers fall under category two, but that's no draw for me. Most days I'm a happy resident of TV Land.

It wasn't until recently that I fully understood the depth of this strange obsession. Now, with at least half a dozen shows for me to anxiously await the returns of this fall, I can finally say my addiction is a real, tangible thing.

And because otherwise there isn't much of anything interesting going on in my life, I'm going to tell you about some of my addictions on this lovely blog.

The BBC Stuff

Sherlock without a scarf. Should've found a different photo.
Whenever I visit the United Kingdom, I'm always reminded of what a luxury it is to have the BBC at my disposal. This is network television without the added annoyance of commercials. It has many quality programs and is a central hub of cultural knowledge within the country.

This is something we don't have in the US. Our attempt, PBS, has lost much of its appeal to modern audiences (save for their broadcast of British programming nowadays), and without increased interest it may flounder in future decades.

But what I touched on in the last sentence are the cross-over shows which have come from England and started to spark an Anglophilia that I believed was unique to me for quite a few years. The BBC's Sherlock has made its way to PBS, as has ITV's Downton Abbey, creating a cult following in the states that almost disturbs me as much as it pleases me. This is the kind of stuff that I live for on TV, and to have it readily available to me via network television is like putting a hypoglycemic child in a candy store (this is in the spirit of my weird working metaphors).  Not to mention Doctor Who, which has become such a hit in the US that BBC America has started airing it on the same night as it premieres in the UK - a step up from the sometimes several month-long wait for Downton and Sherlock.

Single-Camera Comedies

Another of the great categories of television are the single-camera comedies that I eagerly await each season. For a while this consisted of Glee, The Office and 30 Rock, three shows that I watched every week, never missing an episode. They had a good track record early on, but sometimes the tired grow weary and such was the case for Glee and The Office, at least in my humble opinion (and as a TV blogger for both of the shows).

While I still avidly watch 30 Rock (and somewhat interestedly watch Glee and The Office, despite occasional disappointment), I'm always looking for new shows to fill this niche interest of mine. And I think in the new season I've finally found my replacements (ahem, new favorites).

Parks and Recreation
After a few weeks of watching the first three seasons of Parks and Recreation, a show with the spirit of The Office, but perhaps an even more lovable cast (could you believe it?), I've become quite the fangirl. While the vegetarian in me won't accept any idolized worship of Ron Swanson, my appreciation for Leslie Knope (and her relationship with Ben Wyatt) has no bounds.

In the upcoming season, I'm also pretty excited about two new FOX shows, the first being Ben & Kate and the second, and even more exciting of the two for myself, being The Mindy Project. This show comes from writer/actress Mindy Kaling (of The Office fame, where she plays Kelly Kapoor), and has Mindy playing a semi-self-destructive, yet romantic and endearing OB/GYN in New York City. It's quite the departure from the role we know her through, yet it seems to be the next up-and-coming awesome single-camera comedy.

Clever Banter Hour-Longs

But the shows that have really defined my interest in television have been the "clever banter hour-longs," as I call them.

For many years I have been indebted to Gilmore Girls as a series television program that taught me all I needed to know in life, sans hyperbole. I still credit this show with introducing me to journalism as a prestigious career path, rather than one of seediness and dishonesty (as so many painted it for me once I arrived in high school).

Now there's a new show by the person who created Gilmore Girls called Bunheads. It had a bit of a rough start with much plot development and not quite enough character analysis, but in time I've found quite a bit of admiration for the show.

What's great about clever banter hour-longs is that they require you to take a moment out of your day to really immerse yourself in the story. I feel this same way about the show Pushing Daisies which gained a pretty hefty cult following a few years ago, but never managed to gain the footing to stay on past its second season (which was unfortunately cut short).

These are the shows that manage to rip out little one-liners that keep you thinking for the next week about the authenticity of their philosophies. You don't get that from a 30-minute multi-camera sitcom very often, for some reason.

It's because of these shows that I've discovered a great amount of personal respect for television, despite it being a medium that is considered lesser among the many artistic stylings there are in this world.

For those who don't watch television, or who haven't quite figured out what the big deal is - all it takes is tuning into the right shows. And while it takes time - and in my case, it took at least a decade, if not more - the end result is finding something so intellectually stirring and wonderful.

This is why I watch TV...to have a reason to go back and maybe even to live my life in category one (despite the hermit-like tendencies). I don't know why, but it feels right to me.

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