Boy, I’m unimpressed with Commander in Chief: speeches that make Bush sound profound, silly and anachronistic gender-role-reversal gags, cheesy plotting, cardboard characters. C-
Posts about tv
We’ve been watching the real golden age of TV lately on HBO.
This week’s episode of Six Feet Under was a wonderful exploration of the pain that death not only causes but exposes in a family when we leave them behind.
In The Times, Virginia Heffernan tried too hard, as she does, to intellectualize her reaction to it. I’m not sure whether this is an attempt to raise up the lowly arts of TV and TV criticism or to give TV credit for being more than some think it is.
In choosing among these idioms of mourning, Lionel Trilling’s great series of lectures, “Sincerity and Authenticity,” published under that title in 1972, comes to mind. Sincerity – what Trilling calls “congruence between avowal and actual feeling”- once seemed (to the Romantic poets, x say) like an exalted state of existence that could be achieved only with conscientious attention to the heart.
And what dorm do you live in?
She goes on:
But the ideal of sincerity has long ago been devalued, rendered commercial or quaint. Today, for example, it is associated with Coldplay, mewling God-and-country Republicans and weepie cable-television dramas like “Six Feet Under” that appeal mostly to women and gay men.
Heffernan gives sincerity one star.
Oh, well, I liked it.
I also liked Entourage these last two weeks, especially in its skewering of the potential for egotistical corruption in citizens’ media, mocking an online movie blogger (a la Ain’t It Cool News) as a power-hungry star-f’er.
The MT Law Blog wonders why I’m not enraged. Enraged? Hell, no, I’m entertained.
I only wish that The Comeback was a tenth as good as these two have turned out to be. It is as cringeworthy as they are memorable.
Do a friend a favor and list your favorite 10 TV shows ever — but not the dutiful ones, the ones you like for a reason — in the comments here or better yet, on your blog with the tag: 10shows (following Steve Rubel’s example of the 10blogs tag… just link to “http://technorati.com/tag/10shows” when you create your post).
I can’t stand the dutiful lists that include Milton Berle (rude, egotistical, and not terribly funny) and The Honeymooners (sorry, gang) and The Simpsons (never grokked it).
I will claim the right to change my faves — because, after all, such lists are as meaningless and meltable as Silly Putty. But to get the ball rolling:
: Cheers. When it went off the air, I argued that it was the perfect ensemble sitcom.
: Picket Fences. In its early days, it was an amazing show with imaginative writing, characters, and messages. In its later days — when it suffered from David Kelly’s chronic creative ADD — it got awful. But it had its moments.
: David Letterman. He set the comic tone of his era, like Johnny Carson before him and Jon Stewart after him.
: The Daily Show. OK, in a few years, or even now, this may be a dutiful choice. But it has changed news by poking a pin in journalistic ego and we needed that.
: Cosby. Yes, in the end, he became an insuferable sermonizer (and he sent me poison pen letters when I said that in People). But at the beginning, Cosby not only resurrected the sitcom and with it prime time but he also had a direct hand in the best decision I ever made, though one I resisted: having kids. He made having a family look like fun.
: This Old House. TV is so useless but how-to TV is useful and This Old House (along with Julia Child) created the genre and, brilliantly, added in the drama of the dorky homeowners. Was this the original reality TV show?
: The Sopranos. Who has pushed the form farther?
: The Wonder Years. Because it was the story of my youth (except for the beautiful brunette neighbor).
: Jeopardy. Who says TV is dumb?
: You convince me of the 10th. I have many nominees: Star Trek, China Beach, Roseanne, Garry Shandling, MTM, Hogan’s Heroes, Hill Street, M*A*S*H, but I fear they are too old (like me now) and so I want something more contemporary (and my Total TV reference work ends when I stopped being a TV critic, so I don’t have current grids to jog my memory).
I’ve shown you mine. Show me yours.
: Comments are coming in already. One added a very obscure favorite of mine: Good Neighbors. I had such a crush on Felicity Kendall.
: My friend Matt Drapkin asks how the hell I could leave off Seinfeld. Right, he is. I’d say that’s the missing show. My son would say it’s Friends but I’ll take Jerry.