Sunday, October 03, 2010

Day 3 of 30 - Your favorite television program

I completely understand why many people hate television. Where movies are about telling a story that satisfies a person with a solid beginning, middle, and end, television shows have a strong beginning, intriguing complications, and... no real ending.

Traditionally, television is designed not to provide a satisfying conclusion, but rather to perpetuate watching. Each act break builds to generate interest to engage the viewer and then the viewer is presented with... a message from our sponsors.

The shows I gravitate towards are the ones that don't have commercial breaks, whether they be from other countries or on cable (the BBC version of 'The Office,' HBO offerings, etc.), or the ones that don't require sustained viewing (like 'The Twilight Zone' or 'The Carol Burnett Show'). The standard template for shows draws me out of them. (I think that was one of the big problems with 'Arrested Development.' As much as I loved watching the show on DVD, when I tried to watch it on television, the commercial breaks made it fall flat.)

Having said all that, my current favorite television show is a Canadian show called 'Slings & Arrows.' It has just the right mixture of artistic ambition, inspiration, and humor to have me completely enthralled. Plus it is Canadian, so you can make a drinking game out of how many times people apologize.

The show is about a fictional Shakespeare Festival, and the difficulties that occur when they try to produce plays (Season 1 is 'Hamlet'; Season 2 is 'MacBeth'; and Season 3 is 'King Lear'). The show is smart, witty, and thoroughly engaging. And it also does a great job of showing how great literature can enter and affect our lives.

Without getting too esoteric or metaphorical, I am am always amazed at this wondrous gift of received culture and history. There are so many good stories that have been passed down to us, how can do anything except revel in them and have some fun?

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