2013/05/22

TV Shows


My shows generally fall into three categories, news, historical-type fiction and outlandish fantasy. Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow are news shows that I don't tape, I watch them in an “Appointment TV” style, that is, I get to the TV when the show starts, watch the program, often channel-jumping during commercials, then at the end of the show, I turn off the TV and go on to something else.

The Good Wife and The Client List are historical-fiction type shows. Good Wife covers various aspects of the legal profession from within a fictionalized context. The individual, specific actions, the details, are pretty trustworthy. We can be sure they're based on real institutions and events. It's the overall framework , the personal details about the characters and the context that's fictionalized. In one episode, our protagonist Alicia (Julianne Margulies) is sulking because she was appointed as a partner in her firm to fulfill a financial need on the part of the firm, not so much because she was an amazing lawyer. Her senior partner Diane (Christine Baranski) tells her to get over it because Diane was appointed as a partner for similar reasons. The lesson here is to take promotions for whatever reasons they're offered. Don't get so pure that you get in the way of your own career. Client List covers massage parlors that “give their customers a little extra” and cover all sorts of issues that arise from being a sex worker. A continuing, recurring problem is “What does one do with all of that money?” Obviously, that's problem a lot of us would like to have, but the show demonstrates that it can be a real logistical problem to deal with piles and piles of cash and to still maintain a cover. Our protagonist Riley (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is speaking with some policemen about her husband's legal problems and one of them loudly notes that the clothes she wears are not exactly of the standard for those of modest means. He notes that they're a bit more expensive than one would expect from an ordinary housewife. Riley gets through the encounter, but the point is made, that someone with a lot of extra, illicit money, has to be careful how she spends it. In both cases, the show are generally successful at being both informative about their subjects and good dramas.

Grimm, Merlin, Nikita, Beauty & The Beast, Vampire Diaries, Once Upon A Time, Lost Girl and Being Human are outlandish fantasies. They all have explicitly stated rules for what their characters can and can't do, but all of those rules go well beyond what regular people can do. Being Human is a show where a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost all share a house in the city. One of the premises is that if a vampire drinks werewolf blood, it gives him what essentially amounts to an immediate and really bad case of food poisoning, so a young werewolf (Lydia Doesburg) who was staying in the house decided to temporarily disable the vampire (Sam Huntington) by putting some of her blood into the vampire's usual refrigerated supply and to then attack him when he was weakened. Our vampire prevails, of course, but it's a real challenge for him to do so.

Now, I think I can be reasonably certain that this is a problem that will never occur to me. That's the fun of it. Someone once said the whole point of watching disaster movies is to compare the problems of the characters there with those of your own life and to comfort yourself that “Well, at least I don't have to hide my magical abilities from my king (Merlin) while trying to defend my kingdom from all manner of mystical foes.” The show Two Broke Girls doesn't interest me because I'm far too often actually broke myself, so it's far too real to me to be of any interest to me as a TV show. It's more amusing to follow storylines like those of Nikita's secret organization that undertakes covert missions in the manner of a superhero team or Vampire Diaries that examines the many problems of vampires, witches and werewolves that regular people aren't even aware of (A marvelous scene occurred when the werewolf (Michael Trevino) comes to the conclusion that a young woman he's sweet on is more than human “You're a werewolf, too!” She (Candice Accola) replies that, well, uh, sort of. She's actually a vampire, but yeah, he's right, she's not human). By the way, it seems to me that Grimm, Once Upon A Time and Lost Girl all more or less take off from the idea presented in the comic-book series Fables, which also freely pulls in characters and storylines from a wide variety of fables and legends near and far. Of course, that also borrows from a lengthy tradition of freely plundering the past to get stories, as Beauty & the Beast is a direct continuation of an old legend, just as the comic-book Thor is a direct continuation of old Norse legends.

Update: Very interesting! Grimm and Vampire Diaries both improved their ratings this past season.

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