Every so often I have an epiphany about myself and other people. It’s usually one of those, “hey not everyone thinks the same way I do.” This one came to be awhile ago, but the other day in conversation with my friend Lisa we started discussing it. We’re real fans of TV. The big difference between how we watch TV and how other people watch TV? We know writers, producers, actors and their real names. It seems like a small thing (and sometimes I really screw up names because I have a real hard time remembering anyone’s name), but I’ve always been really interested in the writer names on TV shows. Stephen J. Cannell was one of the first ones I remember learning when I was a kid. I knew Rick Berman from Star Trek and Paul Gross from Due South. I understood their importance in making the shows I was watching and it still kind of surprises me when people don’t know the names behind their favorite show.
But, I love TV. I love episodic storytelling. Movies are too short. Just as I get immersed in the story, it’s over. I think I’ve seen more movies this year than I have in a long while (and it’s like five). Books are great, but there’s a length and interest problem there. But, like Golidlocks in the Three Bears house I find TV “just right.”
My parents can tell you that my love affair with TV started at an early age. I used to be so glued to the TV that they couldn’t get my attention while I watched. Seaseme Street sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. The thrall has continued and is helped along by Netflix, Hulu and other devices to watch TV on. It’s more than mindless entertainment, my friends and I spend hours discussing it, dissecting it, quoting from it, and learning from it. Yes, learning. I worked through a lot of my own personal issues by watching them played out by characters on TV. As David Grenwalt once said (about writing) at a Paleyfest panel, “there’s nothing like taking all your pain and putting it in the mouths of pretty people.” The same can be true of watching it on TV.
So yes, this my love ode to the television format of entertainment. I hope that scripted TV lives long and prospers.