Don’t kill your television

I like TV.

Okay, I should amend that to some TV. Like many things, moderation is important. But I remember seeing those “Kill your television” bumper stickers when I was a kid and feeling a little sad. I understand the idea behind them, but don’t throw out the good stuff because there’s some bad stuff.

I’ll recognize that some shows are complete and total trash. There are also a lot of trashy books (Harlequin now has a NASCAR romance novel division. I’m not making this up.). Solution – don’t watch them; don’t read them. Imagine if everyone did that…a world without Jersey Shore. Awesome.

I like TV because I’m a story nerd. But I don’t believe that story is a medium that should be reserved exclusively for books.

Television is excellent at telling stories. Think about it: a movie will give you two hours with a group of characters and a plot. Two hours to get to know and love them, and to care about their fate. And for all but the most skilled of filmmakers, it simply isn’t enough time.

On TV, you can get to know characters over the course of years, and see them go through life changes. As a writer, it’s a fantastic chance to write a long term plot, one that can play out completely without having to be abbreviated because of time constraints.

Of course, the risk here is that if your show is doing well, it can be tempting to throw story integrity to the wind and drag the show on for years…far beyond the point that the story should’ve ended.

But despite that risk, there are still some great shows on the air. My current faves are:

1. Community – I want to hug these writers. The cast works perfectly together, and the writing is fantastic. And there’s a rumor that it will only be around for four years – by choice. It makes sense: when they’re done with college, the show ends. No shark jumping there.

2. Castle – It’s a really old show premise, but it’s done well. And Castle (as a writer, naturally) occasionally makes incredibly awful grammar puns. Excellent.

3. Psych – Another crime show, but the focus is the friendship between Sean and Gus, which is what drives the show. Which is also what makes it hilarious.

4. Doctor Who – I still miss the David Tennant/Russell T. Davies years, but Matt Smith is growing on me.

What are your favorites and why?



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4 responses to “Don’t kill your television

  1. I like Biggest Loser…Zooey Deschanel’s new show, “New Girl,” and Mad Men…which has good writing, but could probably be thrown into that trashy genre. 🙂

  2. Oh, I love Biggest Loser – the husband of someone I know is on this season (Patrick, from the youngin’s team). What channel is New Girl on?

  3. Jesse Dill

    Admittedly, mine are all guy type shows, but I bet you and Ben would like them – I’ve been trying to get Ben to watch Burn Notice forever :-).

    1)Burn Notice – indescribably awesome do gooder spy show, with a great quirky humor and Michael’s girlfriend is basically a Klingon (aka she always wants to shoot stuff :D). This gets top billing because it has really never let me down, I can’t remember an episode where I was bored or didn’t feel like watching it.

    2)White Collar – witty and fun, pretty much the only crime show I enjoy after being totally burnt out on the CSI/NCIS/oh please CBS just MAKE IT STOP type of stuff. I like it because it is one of the only shows that portrays a normal heterosexual marriage as stable, useful, admirable, and loving.

    3)Hawaii Five-O – great action sequences generally saved it from being turned off my TV in the first season, and now the cast and crew has hit their stride and its generally pretty intense and enjoyable – plus it lets me feel like Hawaii isn’t so far away :D.

    4)Chuck – pretty much the quintessential nerd show. So many references to so many things, and Firefly actors are sometimes guests, even one where the Old Spice guy was a guest star, and Adam Baldwin is Col. Casey which = awesome.

    5) ST:TNG – Technically not current of course, but it came up on the Netflix stream, so Amy and I have been watching it over again – would probably be craptacular if it weren’t for the fact that Patrick Stewart makes you believe that its all somehow real and awesome.

    • I remember White Collar! I really enjoyed the first few episodes – might have to pick that one up again. I’ve never watched Burn Notice, but I’ve only heard good things.

      TNG is, of course, a classic. Patrick Stewart does carry the show, but I don’t think he does it alone. Brent Spiner and Levar Burton are amazing in their own right, and it was a cast that just gelled perfectly. Ben and I are watching Voyager right now, and there are a few strong actors, but far too many weaknesses to call it a really good show, at least until the later seasons. The neverending shuttlecraft/photon torpedo count is pretty funny, though!

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