The Tube -- Not Just for Boobs Anymore
April 16, 2006 4:00 PM   Subscribe

My Favorite Wasteland. "Need more reasons to stay home? You could probably find them sitting in the row behind you. Many members of the contemporary movie audience, only marginally socialized, would have made a misanthrope of Gandhi... Grownups who do choose to remain at home with the remote--and I often count myself among them, not a TV enthusiast exactly, but certainly a sympathist--have no reason to apologize. TV can now teach Hollywood something about smarts." [via]
posted by digaman (25 comments total)
Caveat: Believe it or not, I don't even own a television. I have never seen a single episode of Lost, Desperate Housewives, Alias, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Deadwood, Entourage, The Wire, or The Shield. I am a huge fan of The Sopranos, and am working my way through the DVDs. I definitely miss The Larry Sanders Show, which was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

But I'm married to a TV fanatic. So it's there when I want to see what America is up to.
posted by digaman at 4:05 PM on April 16, 2006

FOX News, of course, gets my blood boiling quicker than anything. It makes the parodies of fascist TV in V for Vendetta seem like Masterpiece Theater. There are graduate theses waiting to be written about the effect of FOX News on ramping up the idiocy of the general public.
posted by digaman at 4:08 PM on April 16, 2006

Kill Your Television.
posted by digaman at 4:14 PM on April 16, 2006

Wait digaman. You don't own a TV, but presumably your wife does and she is apparently a TV fanatic. So you do in fact have a TV in the house. That sort of defeats the whole not owning a TV thing. I do applaud your fortitude in not watching the box that you don't own, but your wife does. My fiancee likes her TV, so when we move in together I'll be with a TV again, and I'll watch it. No self control....
posted by Eekacat at 4:27 PM on April 16, 2006

Keith watches a lot of TV, but I don't, and the TV is in his room. I haven't been addicted since I left highschool. I thought this might be a sticking point in our relationship -- and it probably would be if the box was in our bedroom or livingroom -- but it's worked out fine for 11 years now, so I'm not worried.
posted by digaman at 4:33 PM on April 16, 2006

Many members of the contemporary movie audience, only marginally socialized, would have made a misanthrope of Gandhi.

Man, ain't that the effin' truth. I've stopped going to one local theater (Branford, CT) because the so-called management consistently refuses to manage the obnoxious, noisy teenagers who spoil it for everyone else. I either drive farther (Westbrook, CT) or rent a DVD or VoD.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:49 PM on April 16, 2006

While I can't help but agree with the general premise, anyone who can write about what great comedies both Everybody Loves Raymond and Arrested Development are is not worth my time. Seriously, people exist who love both? Hell, people exist who love Raymond?
posted by aaronetc at 4:50 PM on April 16, 2006

I want to like Lost, but I don't for the reasons he lists. If all of the characters were suddenly gifted with superpowers it'd be in line with the rest of the plot twists in the few episodes I've seen.
posted by stavrogin at 4:54 PM on April 16, 2006

aaronetc, obviously, Everybody Loves Raymond.
posted by mwhybark at 5:00 PM on April 16, 2006

He lost me on The Gilmore Girls mom-and-daughter banter...

It's probably the most annoying back & forth I've ever witnessed- on TV or in real life.

Sorry, but I find The Simpsons unfunny-- because it tries too hard to be funny. All of those pop culture references... it's a chore.

And Raymond is way over-rated and not in Seinfeld's league.

Funny TV is all about silliiness-- like The Beverly Hillbillies or The Munsters.... so incredibly stupid that it's funny.
posted by wfc123 at 5:35 PM on April 16, 2006

Movie theatres need to start being more creative about what they offer. The traditional packed-rows-of-seats model is wearing thin. My favorite movie theatre of all time was a place in Arlington, VA that showed second-run films for half-price. The great thing was that it had tables and chairs/benches spread throughout the theatre, more like a comedy club or lounge setup. Servers took orders for affordable beer and food. You could easily get up and run to the bathroom. I don't know if it's still around, but I would definitely go to the movies more if there were more places like this available.
posted by brain_drain at 5:43 PM on April 16, 2006

The Cinderellas of our time are the bachelorettes who get to hook up with their princes in a hot tub on TV; if a glass slipper is involved, it probably signals a foot fetish.

Oh yeah, like the prince in Cinderella didn't have a foot fetish.
posted by rkent at 5:51 PM on April 16, 2006

I lost track of television when I hit the road in 1988, and didn't really see much, living out of a backpack as I was, until a few years back when I settled down in one place in Korea and got massive broadband. Torrenting was taking off around this time, not coincidentally, although the old peer-to-peer networks worked reasonably well.

I download almost all the TV I watch -- other than seeing a little bit of Korean TV with my wife on the set in the living room for language practice, it's all on my PC.

Some of it is actually really damn good, and that surprised me a bit. The Sopranos and Battlestar Galactica, to pick a couple of examples, blew my mind, not having really seen much TV since the late '80s.

But I'm conscious of what a timesink it can become. Having to actively download it (though it takes less than 5 minutes to grab an episode of, say, The Colbert Report) makes me less likely to just plunk down and watch and watch and watch, though. There're probably about 10 shows from America, Canada, the UK and Australia (heavily skewed to Comedy Central) that I watch regularly, and that keeps me to a few hours a week, which seems reasonable. And, of course, they're up in the corner of the screen while I do other stuff, to the time's not entirely lost.

I assume this is the way things will go in the future, although most people will be making micropayments or paying subscriptions or something, and DRMed out the wazoo.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:02 PM on April 16, 2006

I always thought it was Marshall McLuhan who called television a vast wasteland. Who misinformed me?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:02 PM on April 16, 2006

Woody Allen. ;-)
posted by digaman at 6:33 PM on April 16, 2006

Alias, Lost, and Desperate Housewives—seem to me good reasons to join a book club. All three subscribe to a jerk-the-audience-around ethic of plot development that will sanction any twist, no matter how baroque or illogical.
During this past season [on "24"], Muslim terrorists, their cells scattered across the United States, tried to kill millions of Americans by melting down the nation’s nuclear reactors and then leveling Los Angeles with a nuclear missile. That’s after they’ve had Air Force One shot down with the president and his son on board. (For good measure, a subplot threatened to take America to war with China.)

Did this guy even proofread his essay?? It's perfectly valid to say I-like-this-one-and-I-hate-that-one when it comes to TV, but you can't disdain Lost specifically for its wacky plot twists and then say you like 24. Come ON.
posted by rkent at 7:12 PM on April 16, 2006

I don't know if it's still around, but I would definitely go to the movies more if there were more places like this available.

Arlington Cinema and Draft House. And you're right, it's a great place to catch a film.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:37 PM on April 16, 2006

The author is correct. Lost, Alias and Desperate Housewives will let their characters do ANYTHING. Characters should not do things that are out of character (every week). What are these writers doing? Making stuff up?

24 is much better in this regard. Jack is Jack. Chloe is Chloe. The other problems? I don't care.

I can't wait for the movie version: "2"
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 8:50 PM on April 16, 2006

Characters should not do things that are out of character (every week). . . . 24 is much better in this regard.

Yeah, when all the characters are one-dimensional and just shoot/torture people all the time, agonize briefly and then justify it on the basis that "I'm just doing my job," repeating those things over, and over, and over is totally in character. Every. Single. Time.

(Come on, character development? If you like 24 because it's exciting, fine, but it's not exactly a master work compared to those others. In fact it has almost all of the same flaws.)
posted by rkent at 9:03 PM on April 16, 2006

I'm with you, Stavros. After being away from American television for a few years, the increase in quality came as quite a surprise.
posted by Bugbread at 8:36 AM on April 17, 2006

Am I the only person who finds 24 to be a really creepy experiment in modern propaganda designed to create a popular mythology explaining (and excusing) why our government is suddenly doing the terrible things it's doing (i.e. torture?)

I have to wonder what Donald Sutherland (who always seemed to be a fairly anti-establishment personality) thinks of Keifer's apparent willingness to be the posterboy for the justification of the neo-fascist state?
posted by stenseng at 11:18 AM on April 17, 2006

John Prine once opined that we should "blow up the TV, throw away the paper, ..." and I'm sure Thoreau would agree.
posted by nofundy at 12:04 PM on April 17, 2006

stenseng: no, I've thought it was propgandavision for a long time. Plus, it sucks.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:55 PM on April 17, 2006

You said it rkent; 24 is quite possibly the most one dimensional program on television. I was an avid fan from the beginning, turned all my friends onto it, but I abandoned it the second episode of season four. I rarely watch new programs, though, so maybe it was just my overall impatience with television finally bubbling over.

Ahh, Cinema Drafthouse. Great place. Can catch football games there during the season. Smoker friendly, too.
posted by redsnare at 12:59 PM on April 17, 2006

I'm just sad that no one has pointed out the brilliance that is Rescue Me.
posted by Ber at 1:03 PM on April 17, 2006

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