Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Confessions of an ex-TV junkie

I admit it. I used to watch a lot of TV. When I was little. I'd tune in everything. Why did I sit through Medical Center when I was 8? Because it was on, I guess. Though I had just not laughed my way through Here's Lucy and The Doris Day Show, the television was already on WCBS Channel 2. These were the days pre-remote. Who could be bothered with switching the station, especially when your parents would yell at you not to spin the dial so fast. "You'll break it!" Once you were on a network, you were in for the long haul.

As a teen I stayed awake all night watching reruns. The Twilight Zone, The Honeymooners, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Those shows filled my summer. I would go to sleep around 4 AM, wake up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, swim, find some friends and, by 11 PM, was back in my room for the night's programming. No regrets there, believe me.

I was still an avid viewer until the mid-'80's, but now, my TV is limited to The Simpsons and sports, almost exclusively baseball (which is why there have been so few posts this October. Playoff baseball is a full-time job).

Yet, from what I hear, we live in a golden era of quality television. I'm told I should watch Mad Men, and Californication, and Weeds, and... The list goes on. Occasionally I will get into a show, which leads me to the topic at hand, complete seasons on DVD.

I love having shows available on DVD. The very idea of sitting around, waiting each week for a new installment, seems positively barbaric. The past two weeks I've been catching up on Arrested Development. It's quite hysterical and I can easily fit in two shows a day. That should get me up to date in a month or so.

The interesting thing about condensing a whole season of shows into a week of viewing is that the strengths, and the flaws, are easilyspotted. The first DVD immersion we had was with The Sopranos. I loved the first season, its wit, violence, brutality. The second season, not so much. The third, wait a minute, didn't I just see this in the first season? Are they already rehashing characters, the same person with a different name? I was put off and that was it for me and Tony.

But Curb Your Enthusiasm, I can't get enough of that. It suffers from none of the flaws of Seinfeld. Jeff will never be greeted by wild applause, as Kramer was whenhe transformed into a neurotic version of Fonzie. It's constantly fresh and surprising, Larry and the others stay within their personalities, consistently real and vital. Bring on the new season on DVD! I'm ready.

Another facet of the TV shows on DVD phenomena that I love is the ability to own whole chapters of my youth. Just knowing I have the complete Munsters on my shelf makes me smile. I haven't gotten through them all in their present incarnation, but I've seen them all years ago. It's nice to know that they're wihtin arm's reach, just in case I have the urgent need to watch the Zombo episode.

I also have The David Steinberg Show and one season of Superman. Who knows if I'll ever get around to watching them all, but who cares? We live in this wonderful world where I can buy the complete Mr. Bean for ten bucks and let it sit on a shelf. That's what I call luxury!

But, there is one glaring absence, a void that needs to be filled. Where, oh where, are you, complete DVD set of Batman? Until that gets released, I will not rest easily.

1 comment:

Douglas Miller said...

Good Post!
Another great memory of the good old days of TV was the local programing for kids.

In Philly we had some great shows.