This time of year, as it gets colder and activities turn indoors, I set my eye toward the television in the hopes that something will draw me back into being a viewer.
It’s not much fun being a person who doesn’t watch TV. People think you are deliberately being a snob and that, if you’d just watch, you’d be hooked; but that you won’t watch because you think you are intellectually superior to everyone else.
I remind them that I eat emotionally and that is my addiction of choice. So it’s not like I’m claiming they’re the only ones with a character flaw – only that mine is different.
Usually, though, I never get the chance to explain and when I say I don’t watch a lot of television I’m met with either a smirk or a roll of the eyes and people move on to someone who can discuss the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
Because of this, every now and then I try to find a show to hang my hat on; a show I can look forward to, say, every Wednesday night; a show that I can refer to and sound like I fit in; another West Wing; another M*A*S*H. Each new TV season I scan the new offerings looking for my Cinderella, each year to be disappointed.
In fact, I was rather surprised to hear that there was a TV writers’ strike because I wasn’t aware there were actually TV writers. I thought that there was, basically, a program that you sort of Mad Lib the specifics into the computer and it spits out a reasonably cohesive plot line, cohesive enough for the attention span of most viewers who are only watching this show because it happens to lead to the next show:
“In this episode, (insert name of lead character) and (insert name of different lead character of same or different sex) discover that because of (insert headline from morning’s newspaper), the (circle one: law office; hospital; morgue) might be(circle one: closed; under new management by Heather Locklear; blown up by a terrorist played by any male actor with black hair and Mediterranean features) and that a visit by (insert name of first or second lead actor)’s ex, played by (circle one: Heather Locklear; Jason Bateman; Dabney Coleman) causes a reoccurrence of his/her (insert any physical or psychological malady, preferably not terminal at this time). (Insert name of minor character) attempts to win the heart of (insert name of another minor character who wouldn’t give this person a second glance) and end episode with a shot of the two of them in bed together.”
Of course reality TV doesn’t need writers because it’s. . . well . . . reality, right?
So, really, I think this whole writers’ strike is a ruse while the TV industry upgrades to TV Episode-Maker 2.0.
Dirtman is always on the lookout for shows that I might like. He is very qualified to do this because, as far as I know, Dirtman has never watched television on the entire screen. He watches the little box in the corner while continually scrolling through the guide.
For the most part, he likes any game featuring a Virginia Tech player or past player, Iron Chef, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and – I can’t tell how much it pains me to say this – Dog the Bounty Hunter. Yeah. . . I know.
And speaking of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares: this one almost sucked me in. Dirtman got me hooked on the older BBC episodes where Chef Gordon Ramsay pulls failing restaurants out of the dumper – or not. Whether it’s because the British producers are more hands-off with their reality programs than Americans or they recognize that people are not idiots and can recognize a dramatic situation between normal people, but the subtlety makes all the difference.
Compare this with the new, FOX version featuring Ramsay’s “sensitive, nurturing side.” I’ve watched one episode and spent it cringing as the producers pit the chef against the usual American reality TV coached, encouraged and primed cast of freaks and mutants. Ramsay doesn’t look so much “sensitive and nurturing” as bewildered and incredulous. It’s almost like he’s saying to himself, “(Beep), these (beep)in’ guys are more (beep)ed up than I ever was . . .”
So I’m back to square one; though I do keep my television tuned to TV Land occasionally. It keeps the dogs from getting too nervous while I’m gone.