Friday, January 13, 2006


I realize that in recent years I almost never watch TV. Once in a great while, I may turn on the local TV news to catch the weather forecast. Or I may turn on the TV to catch emergency coverage of some major breaking news story. Apart from that, I go weeks and even months at a time without ever turning my television on.

I doubt there's a single series on network TV today that I've ever watched. Except perhaps for the odd five seconds while flipping around from channel to channel with the remote. I repeat, whatever your favorite TV series is, I'd bet good money that I've never even seen it.

The last TV series I followed was The X-Files. When that wrapped up however many years ago, in that series finale with the black helicopters firing missiles into the ancient Indian cliff dwelling where the Cigarette-Smoking Man was holed up, I pretty much let go of television. Since then, I just don't watch TV.

When I was a kid, I remember how I loved to watch Gilligan's Island and The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. Hey, sometimes sort of dumb, I'll grant; but they were genuinely entertaining. I also watched countless hecto-hours of The Andy Griffith Show.

And when Star Trek came on the air... I was in seventh heaven. If ever there was a show that was just made for me as a kid, it was the original Star Trek series. (It embarrasses me to admit it today, but as a kid I also loved Lost in Space. I guess there's no accounting for tastes.)

In the seventies, my favorite shows were All in the Family and MASH. Haven't watched them in years, but I used to watch them all the time.

Then— and by now we're skipping ahead to I think the early nineties and onward— I very much got into Twin Peaks. And then American Gothic, with eeevil Sheriff Buck...

I discovered The X-Files a couple of seasons along, and it bugs me that to this day there are some episodes from seasons one and two that I've never seen. I was an absolute X-Files fanatic. I have many of the episodes recorded on videotape from channel 25 up in La Crosse, poor broadcast signal and all. I keep trying to resist the hundreds of dollars it would cost to buy all nine seasons of the show on DVD.

And I also loved Chris Carter's "other" TV show, Millennium. I sort of identify with Frank Black, if you can credit that. "This is who we are..."

Not to mention, I am a great fan of Digimon, which I recorded faithfully off of Fox Kids on channel 25. "Gomamon digivolve to Ikkakumon!... Ikkakumon digivolve to Zudomon!!!"

And there were a few other much-too-short-lived shows I followed. Chris Carter's Harsh Realm. Vengeance Unlimited, with Michael Madsen.

But once The X-Files went off the air, I pretty much stopped watching TV. Actually, by that time for many years I'd been in the habit of only watching a few favorite series. I was never a channel-surfer or someone who watched TV just to have something to do.

In fact, the signs were long obvious: I never owned a color TV in my life until I was 43 years old. I repeat, I never owned a color TV until I was 43. For many years there, I got along with a little 12-inch black-and-white.

I don't know what it would take to draw me back to TV today. It's not really that I object to the sex and the violence, you know: actually, hot babes and blazing guns are part of what might draw me back to TV, if anything did. No, I think what led me gradually to drift away from TV was simply that I didn't find anything interesting in most of the TV shows out there. It was so boring. Much of it was so awfully written. So uninspired. So seen-it-100-times-before formulaic. And somewhere along the line, I became downright allergic to canned laughter. God, please spare me from having to suffer through any show that has a canned laugh track!

If somebody could suggest to me a show that's interesting— probably something along the lines of science fiction or the surreal or even a good comedy or a good action/adventure show— I'd be open to suggestions. I waste way too much time over my computer, maybe I could waste some of that time in front of the TV instead. Only, please, something that genuinely holds my interest. Until then, I remain televisionless.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

House, M.D.: Esp. Season 1. "Everybody lies." And the truth hurts.

Battlestar Galactica: The new one from 2003, starring Edward James Olmos. Yes, I was sceptical too, having hated the original. This version has teeth. Big sharp ones. I am not up on the current season.

Mythbusters: Two guys with the best job in the world.

Prior seasons of all of these are available on DVD; all but Mythbusters can be rented at Netflix.

Friday, January 13, 2006 2:26:00 PM  
Blogger Caltechgirl said...

I second ALL of those. House is the best show in years: witty, entertaining, plot-driven.

I hear Galactica is very good, but I keep missing it.

Mythbusters ROCKS! Two ex special-effects guys use their know-how to test urban myths, often with explosive results.

Also, Firefly is out on DVD (the excellent Fox/SciFi show that was the basis for Serenity....

Other than that, not much. Getting the DVDs is a good idea.

Friday, January 13, 2006 2:44:00 PM  
Blogger The Tetrast said...

The X-Files was good, and did something that should have been done long before. One day it dawned on me that it was like the old Night Stalker and other such fare, except that instead of the usual forcing of 18th- & 19th-Century objects of paranoia into late-20th-Century contexts, the X-Files' makers had the idea of actually using late-20th-Century paranoias! Though it seems obvious once you say it that way, it was quite a leap, and for quite a while many people thought that the episodes were intended as fictionalized portrayals of things that have actually been happening.

Once I grasped The X-Files in this way, I started marching around the offices of the major (non-media) corporation in NYC where I worked and sputtering in an indignant and very phony brogue about how The X-Files was nothing more than a "glorified Night Stalker" with "fancy up-to-date trappins an' trimmins, fer what they're worth! And do they even give Darren McGavern a cameo? Not on your life! Not a crumb to that good man!" (McGavern was the star of the Night Stalker movie and first subsequent TV series.) People thought that that was funny but when I tried to say that, in fact, I was kidding and instead believed that X-Files concept deserved a heck of a lot of credit -- well, they didn't care about the "concept," they just wanted to talk about episodes.

Between four and six weeks later (I think), The X-Files gave McGavern a role as an X-File investigator from the previous generation, one who knew Maulder's father. I was eventually heard ranting: "Well it's only fair and extremely appropriate, and it was about time!"

Anyway, I've wondered whether some X-Files person or their spouse or friend was working in my department. We did have a few people there who were also involved directly or indirectly with some other big TV shows. I mean, talk about quick results! But it was very likely all a coincidence. I don't know. "The truth is out there"!

Sunday, January 15, 2006 2:52:00 PM  
Blogger The Tetrast said...

Sorry, I meant Darren McGavin, (not "McGavern"), whose passing was announced today (February 25, 2006).

Saturday, February 25, 2006 10:16:00 PM  

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