Random Acts of Mindness

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dearth of Good TV

I am having a hard time getting excited about anything on tv these days. I haven't been able to bring myself to watch more than a few minutes of the boring new show Heroes. It's basically X-Men IV or V or whatever number they are up to. I like the new Batman and Spiderman movies (but not the mediocre Superman one) because they focus on one superhero, not five. I keep telling myself to watch Studio 60 or 30 Rock, but since Saturday Night Live is pretty much unwatchable these days, I can't bring myself to watch a parody of it. And how can NBC have two shows about another of their mediocre shows (SNL)? That's like having two parodies of Flavor of Love on VH1. Speaking of mediocre sketch comedy shows, has anyone ever laughed at anything on Mad TV? Talk about an awful show that somehow has survived for years and years (7th Heaven, anyone?) for no discernible reason. And no one famous has ever gotten their start on Mad TV, unlike SNL.

I am still mourning the loss of Everwood, one of my all-time favorite shows. It was a great show on the WB that was a casualty of the WB being bought by ABC and turning into CB or WC or ABW or whatever the new acronym is. As an added slap in the face, only the first of four seasons is available on DVD, so I had to find homemade copies on the internet if I ever wanted to watch an episode again. Needless to say, not the best quality.

I'm anxiously awaiting the return of Big Love on HBO, the story about the polygamous Mormon family in Utah. It's really not as dirty and seedy as it sounds, I swear! I got semi-addicted to Kyle XY this summer, but that show is starting to become more and more weird, so I'm not sure I can stay with it for much longer. I really like Battlestar Galactica on the Sci Fi Network, but it's time slot (Fridays at 9 p.m.) doesn't make it very easy to watch. Thank God for VCRs and iTunes. It's as if they realized that all their viewers are never going out on Friday nights and should embrace their geekdom to watch this science fiction show on a weekend night.

I angrily rejected Lost after about 6 episodes of more questions and no answers, and I have never been a fan of Survivor in any way, shape or form. (Though I do have to admit when I first heard them advertising the first Survivor that I was excited to watch a show of dozens of real people living on an island Lord of the Flies-style. I thought it was going to be no-holds-barred and they would fight each other and steal each others' food to win. Alas, it turned out to be just another boring semi-reality show.) I admit to never giving 24 a fair chance, but I'm not sure I have the willpower to go back and watch all the seasons I missed to catch up. It strikes me as a kind of show that demands you never miss an episode or you will be forever lost (as in, Lost).

Where are the Friends, Seinfelds, Family Ties, Doogie Howsers, or even Growing Pains? Speaking of Doogie Howser, that reminds me to return to watching How I Met Your Mother with Neal Patrick Harris as a womanizing, chauvinistic player. My, how he's grown from that childhood doctor. Oh well, I guess there is always sweeps month in February.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

America Runs on Duncan

Those Duncan Donuts commercials are so catchy...whichever advertising company came up with that has to be making tons of money (speaking of which...do advertising companies advertise themselves? Or do they hire a different advertising company to advertise them?). The best one is the "It's like 1 million degrees" where they are on the beach. The new one, "Alarm Clock Catastrophe" is a close second, with the "Karaateee" one a distant third. If my coffee consumption wasn't already far too high, I'm sure those commercials would be working on me, getting me to be a good consumer and buy more coffee. Maybe they are already working on me and I don't realize it. Hmmm...that might make sense; I never buy Starbucks any more, though that has a lot to do with the fact that the only Starbucks around is across Hancock Street, the most dangerous road to cross ever! The crosswalks are like 1000 feet apart, forcing constant jaywalking all the way up and down the street.

Also about Duncan Donuts, has anyone ever noticed that every new invention they make is horrible? Hash browns? To paraphrase Donkey from Shrek 2: "The position of crappy fried potatoey things has already been filled (by McDonald's)." And French Toast Twists? Um...I think calling hard crusty bread wrapped up with a gross hard syruppy mass French Toast is like calling Ben Affleck the next Lawrence Olivier. Ok, to go off on another tangent, has Ben Affleck made a good movie in the last 7 years? I'll give him Dogma and Good Will Hunting, but Gigli? Paycheck? Sum of All Fears? Surviving Christmas? Hollywoodland?

When a director goes into a board meeting with the head of Paramount Pictures or Columbia Tri-Star and utters the statement, "We really see Ben Affleck in this role" how do they not immediately toss him out into the gutter?

First One

Has anyone noticed how overtly political nearly every media outlet has become? While there are the obvious extreme arch-conservaties (Fox News, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times) and obvious extreme leftist organizations (New York Times, NPR), it seems as though every media organization now leans strongly one way or another. It is hard not to see the competition between the right-leaning Boston Herald and the left-leaning Boston Globe. And while ultra-conservative talk radio dominates the dial (NPR is only a niche competitor), semi-liberal CNN dominates mainstream web reporting.

Because of the recent rise in partisan media, the idea of "Truth" in journalism and reporting is something few Americans still believe in. Even a relatively neutral source such as MSNBC can no longer be counted on to give the news "the way it is." But the idea that this was ever true is absurd; from the coverup about JFK's obvious extra-marital dalliances to the generous non-focus on FDR's crippling disease, the media has never sought to give reality exactly the way it is. Instead, the media's job is to sell papers or advertising, not to fill Americans' lives with the one correct interpretation of the world around them.

In fact, some would argue that people are better off seeing and knowing about the obvious biases in reporting, rather than having it be hidden. However, while it is good for Americans to stop believing in Truth (with a capital T), there has been a tendency for people to gravitate toward only those media organizations that proclaim the beliefs they already hold. Just as a conservative from Middle America may only listen to Rush Limbaugh, a liberal from Cape Cod may listen only to NPR. This is a destructive trend, as it is a literal closing-off of American minds. With the biases and political leanings laid bare, most citizens now move only toward those reporters and analysts that most loudly proclaim their already ingrained and immoveable beliefs. The idea of "Fair and Balanced" reporting is gone, and so is the possibility (dream?) that Americans will actually see both sides of an issue before deciding which to believe.