Z Blog – Watching more T.V. than ever
I’ve been watching more T.V. than ever. After years of not watching any of the networks, after missing the reality show craze, I’m hooked on “Lost” and a bunch of other shows.
Are T.V. writers more creative than they were in the era of “The Cosby Show” and “Cheers?” Am I getting sappy as I make my way through my 30s?
What is about “Lost,” this hokey crossbreed of “The X Files” and “Gilligan’s Islands,” that has my wife and I renting the DVDs and watching half a season in two nights. We can’t turn it off. We’re not bothered by the fact that the castaways’ skin looks great after three weeks on a sun-dazzled island on the equator. How come no one has impetigo or scabies?
And what is that thing tearing through the forest, eating airline pilots and flattening trees?
With all the flirting, we have to find out which pair is going to hook up first? And what’s up with Hurley? Surely he can’t be the blissful fatso he seems to be ” so we’re waiting for him to go bonkers.
Of course, Jack the doctor and de facto leader of the castaways can’t be as perfect as he seems. When’s he going to slit somebody’s throat, suggest cannibalism or poison the water supply?
We’re also addicted to “Big Love,” the HBO serial about a polygamist family and their totally twisted relatives. We watch it faithfully every week and will be a little sad when the season ends. Every show, we’re just astounded by the idea of one person having three spouses and three sets of children. It’s almost like a car wreck you can’t keep from staring at.
Our fascination with violence and sleeziness is satisfied by “Deadwood” and “The Sopranos.” Neither my wife nor I have ever known any mafiosos, been in the mafia or lived in a 19th Century gold-mining camp, but somehow we can relate to the fears and follies of the thugs and pimps and drug dealers that populate these shows.
I think where these shows excel is creating an “atmosphere” that becomes a character in itself. Perhaps “Seinfield” and “Cheers” were funny, but the settings were simply backdrops. On “Lost,” for instance, the sense of remoteness and of being stranded on a small island is almost overwhelming.
“Big Love,” has the same claustrophobic tone of a family trapped in a bizarre lifestyle that’s rejected by even the most liberal-minded. The mobsters on the “Sopranos” are similarly trapped in a destructive lifestyle that will end in either death or a lengthy prison sentence.
Also, the characters on these shows are more than the narrow, one-sided fops that star in so many sit-coms and dramas, where it’s either the full-time cynics of shows like “Seinfeld” or the goody-goody, justice-avenging cops and investigators of “CSI” or “Law and Order.”
No one, perhaps in the history of television, is a better example of a character who lives in a gray area than Tony Soprano. Sure, he’s a dirt bag, a killer, a drug dealer. He’s loyal, he cares for his children, he’s conflicted, he’s depressed, he’s anxious. He’s a tough guy and he cries in his shrink’s office.
I can’t resist.