Daily Archives: December 28, 2010

“TV rots your brains!”

“TV rots your brains!” Right? At least that’s what my grandma would yell at me whenever I was knee-deep in it with the Duke boys, waiting to see how they’d get out of whatever pickle they had found a way into that week. Did your parents say it? Your teachers? Television has long since had a reputation of being associated with the lazy. The more you watch, the dumber you get.

Well, I’d only say that is partly true. Yes, TV does make you dumb. And yes,  TV does make you lazy. But, I’d like to think that TV isn’t responsible for the full on drain of the brainpower. I blame commercials. COMMERCIALS. They are the bane of all of our existences. It’s why I don’t really ever watch network television. I can’t deal with them. The same five things played over and over every couple of minutes.

Over the past couple years, networks have wised up and started selling seasons of television shows on DVD. They are amazing. You get a season’s worth of television, usually around 25 weeks worth, and you get to blast through it in however much time you want to. For me, usually a week is enough. It’s amazing.

The story is completely uninterrupted by either commercials or pesky breaks while waiting a week for the next episode. For the average consumer, let’s say me for example, the price tag on a recently released television season is a bit steep. As much as I needed to find out what happened in the latest season of Lost, I still wasn’t going to drop fifty dollars to find out.

That’s where the library comes in. I just hopped on the waiting list and, in a couple of months, was able to watch it. I did the whole season in about three days. I couldn’t help it. You try to watch just one episode of Lost when you know that there are tons of episodes and answers (yeah right) waiting after it. It’s impossible. The only real problem to using the library to get your TV fix is that sometimes you have to wait a bit for the newest titles. Fortunately, there are tons in the collection that have zero wait time.

Television’s real power comes from its ability to develop characters. A typical television season can be ten times longer than a movie. Within that time, there are so many opportunities to tell all the little stories of the characters’ lives that fuel the overall story arc of a season. The story can get sidetracked and backtracked. It has time to breathe and come alive. You spend more time with the characters and the story and before you know it, you feel as though you’ve become part of the show itself. At least, that’s if it’s done right.

HBO’s John from Cincinnati is a great example. Actually, the show did it so right that it got itself cancelled after just one season. Sometimes it’s like that. Just ask the creators of Arrested Development. But, at ten episodes/hours long, JFC gets done what it needs to get done and does so almost flawlessly. I can’t stress enough how much you need to see this, but I will warn you that it’s weird. Really weird. And kind of awkward with some uncomfortable family issues mixed in. I’ve never seen a story with the elements that they were brave enough to combine.

John from Cincinnati tells the tale of the Yosts, a once great surfer family who squandered it all and how their lives are changed by a strange man. I don’t want to say too much about the actual story because I would rather you just go and watch it. I heard that David Milch had created it and picked it up not knowing anything else. But, I will say that you get to see Ed O’Neill talk to a bird throughout the show. Like I said, it’s pretty strange.

By the end of it all, I found myself so immersed in the Yost family story that I had that feeling I get after saying goodbye to a distant friend or family member, driving away knowing that we won’t see each other again for a very long time.

– Christopher

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