Television These Days

An unforeseen outcome of my sojourn in the Iraqi desert was that I lost control of the television remote.   Now I get to see American Idol, Hell’s Kitchen and others, but you do get a different perspective when you don’t choose all your own programs.   If left alone, I would watch the variations of History Channel, Discovery and the News, along with reruns of “Bonanza” & “Star Trek”.   I suppose some variety is okay and I can see what others are watching.

I really hate “Family Guy” and the boys know it, so they make a special point of coming up and turning it on. When I object, they claim that they are only seeking a family experience and something we can watch together.   “Family Guy” is clever, but very hateful.  It is an old comedy tradition to poke fun at society, but the writers of this show seem to hate everything about the way most people live.  Still, it provides a type of entertainment.   When the lead character, called Peter, does or says something particularly egregious, the boys look at me and wait for my ranting.  I don’t disappoint them. It is a family social event.

“South Park” is a show I started off disliking, but now generally enjoy.   It is very uneven.  Parts are horrible, but it there is some legitimate social satire.   The writers of this show don’t display the disgust I perceive in “Family Guy’s” treatment of our society.    The one today parodied the economic mess.  If you get a chance, watch it.

Chrissy likes the tournament style shows like “American Idol,” “Top Chef” and “Hell’s kitchen.”   We also get to watch “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”   I really cannot stand “Grey’s Anatomy.” The doctors are all ostensibly skilled, but rotten and selfish. They usually redeem themselves with an ostentatious show of some politically correct compassion or outrage.  It actually drives me out of the room.  I clean up the kitchen, which might indeed be its purpose.  Chrissy likes “Ax Men,” which I also like and we watched DVDs of “The Wire,” which was a great show.   We have now reached the end of it, however.    I used to like “The Office” but that is also starting to get on my nerves.

I guess you have to have an English accent to be truthful.  On “American Idol” only Simon Cowell tells the truth about the sometimes horrible performances.  The audience boos him for it, but I think most people respect his integrity.   Otherwise you just get that vapid praise.   Paula Abdul praises everybody, but doesn’t seem to be sure where she is or who she is watching, so it is not much value.  The terrible truth is that half of all people are below average and always will be, but that seems to be an unwelcome surprise. The other truthful guy is Chef Ramsey on “Hell’s Kitchen.”  Actually, I am not sure if he is truthful or just plain mean. He is constantly out of control.  Of course, they seem to pick a bunch of idiot savants as contestants. They seem to be able to cook, but lack all social skills and common sense.

Below – This happened near the Capitol. I don’t think anybody got hurt.  You don’t have to hit a car very hard to do a lot of damage.

We now have TViO, which means we can record shows for later viewing.   This is less useful that it might seem. We have lots of shows recorded but not enough time or inclination to watch them.   The only show that I record and actually consistently watch is “Modern Marvels.”   Recently they had episodes re how cheese and sausage were made, a history of pigs, oil refining, plastics and – my favorite – forestry technology.  I like it because you get the story with all its parts but w/o the social commentary crap that seems to have accreted to most things today.    For example, they talk about how pigs are raised and eventually turned into bacon and ham.   That’s it.  We don’t get the sad music or the criticism of modern eating habits.  I just want to know how things work.  I don’t need the help re how I should feel about it.

For all the criticism of TV, it really has improved and it is a great learning tool – if used properly.  You could get a decent general education from watching things like “Modern Marvels.”  “Nova,”  or the various History Channel Shows.    It also democratizes and fosters search for knowledge.  There are now a lot of people trying things out.  For example, there are whole cottage industries involved in figuring out how people in the past lived and built things by actually building them with the tools and techniques of the times.  

Of course, you could just spend your time watching reality shows.  They are popular, IMO, because all the losers watching can feel better than the even bigger losers on TV.