September 23, 2007

Fall 2007 TV Roundup: Gossip Girl

Posted in Television at 11:20 pm by Calico Jack

Take six obscenely wealthy, narcissistic, preening teenagers with identity issues and put them in a private school in NYC’s Upper East Side. Add a group of vacuous parents to give their children something to rebel against. Mix two cases of attempted rape for spice, and a raft of underage drinking (at hotel bars, no less!) and smoking for reality. Cook under high pressure for forty-five minutes, being careful to remove any humor bubbles from the mix. Top it off with an omniscient narrator who refers to everyone by their first initial only and you have the CW’s new show Gossip Girl, an “I can’t believe it’s this trashy” thematic descendant of the O.C. — only without the O.C.‘s occasional charm and beautiful coastline.

It’s easy to see why Gossip Girl might have a huge following among teenagers and fans of the book series on which this show is based, although to be fair I don’t think there’s much overlap between those two groups. Regardless, this is yet another drama focusing on the troubled exploits of teens far better off than the rest of the country. Like all good teenagers, they must deal with the same problems as everyone else: how to get the attention of that hot girl when you’re effectively invisible, how to deal with cliquish rejection, how to fit eight people into a stretch limo on the way to yet another unsupervised party…okay, perhaps not the last one. But these sundry (and ultimately shallow) struggles work wondrous magic on the hormonally-driven minds of watching teens, giving them reasons to both lust after and identify with their favorite characters.

Gossip Girl has this formula hardwired into the show’s makeup, with a wealth of hinted-at subplots the creators can use in future episodes to drive the show forward. Serena (Blake Lively) has recently returned from boarding school after her younger brother attempted suicide; now she’s struggling to find her place once more in the clique taken over by former best friend Blair (Leighton Meester). Blair’s boyfriend Nate (Chace Crawford) had a fling with Serena before she left, creating even more animosity between the two girls. And Nate’s pot-smoking best friend Chuck (Ed Westwick) tries to rape Jenny (Taylor Momsen), whose brother Dan (Penn Badgley) has a long-unfulfilled crush on Serena. Aloof from all of these characters is Gossip Girl herself (voiced by Veronica Mars alum Kristen Bell), a popular blogger who always seems to have the latest juicy tidbits about the goings-on in their social scene. It’s quite easy to suspect the producers perused the list of teen drama clichés and grabbed the ones that had the most exploratory potential. But apparently this is the kind of stuff of which some people cannot get enough.

For the rest of us, Gossip Girl serves not as a show of reference, but as a look into the lives of people too self-obsessed to make any meaningful contributions to the world around them. They exchange depth in relationships for trite, sex-filled romps, maturity for puerility, and self-control for drunken abandon. It’s all presented with an attempted sheen of glamour, but a lingering taste of ugliness is all that remains once the credits roll. At least the O.C. managed to retain a sense of fun and lightheartedness through most of its run; but the characters in Gossip Girl take themselves far too seriously, constantly backstabbing or scheming against each other — although I suppose this show’s name speaks for itself. Gossip Girl is lacking the one thing that defines its network sister show One Tree Hill: a heart. Over the space of four seasons, the characters on One Tree Hill have argued and fought and come to blows and emotionally devastated each other. But they’ve also loved and comforted and protected and learned, and in the process given us a reason to invest in their struggles. The premise of Gossip Girl leaves room for no such fuzzy-heartedness; after all, it’s hard to gossip when good things happen to growing people. This show is nasty, and unapologetic about its tone.

And yet on some level it’s strangely compelling. There’s little empathy to be shared with these characters and their self-inflicted problems; even the “good-hearted” Dan and Serena come across as ostentatiously self-absorbed. But Gossip Girl might just satisfy that occasional need to feel superior to others; I suspect a lot of people will watch this show with an air of delicious condescension. For even with the insane displays of wealth and luxury that these teens enjoy, their lives are quite empty. And that makes most people far more wealthy than Serena and her clique.

Final Verdict: Gossip Girl is this season’s guiltiest semi-pleasure. Unabashedly vicious, it will most likely spark fervent admiration amongst the 12-19 age group and “I can’t believe I’m watching this” addiction for everyone else. But the very themes which give this show its bite also make it rather dangerous for the more easily influenced younger set. Parents beware.

Season Pass on TiVo? I’m not quite hooked yet, but I like the idea of watching a show where I can purge all of my pent-up disdain for certain people I’ve run across the preceding week. If it’s still acerbically watchable a month from now, I’ll set a season pass.

September 20, 2007

Fall 2007 TV Roundup: Torchwood

Posted in Television at 11:35 pm by Calico Jack

I didn’t realize the BBC’s Torchwood was a spin-off of their long-running series Doctor Who until well after I saw the pilot episode. It’s most likely a good thing, since I’ve never been a huge fan of Doctor Who‘s odd mix of science fiction ingredients. But this fall during my weekly viewings of the guilty pleasure Hotel Babylon, BBC America kept airing promos for a new show that would anchor their “Supernatural Saturdays” lineup. The previews looked like a mashup between the X-Files and Hellboy, with a bit of Hex thrown in for sex appeal. There hasn’t been a decent alien-based sci-fi show in years, and I’m rather fond of most British television (Doctor Who notwithstanding), so I set my TiVo to record the pilot and hoped for the best.

The setup is quite intriguing: an extra-governmental agency investigates crimes, supernatural and otherwise, in Cardiff and the surrounding area, using whatever alien tech they can scavenge to aid them in solving mysteries and protecting the Earth. Eve Myles stars as Gwen Cooper, a Welsh cop recruited into the team by Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), the swinging leader of Torchwood with quite a few secrets of his own. It’s through Gwen’s eyes that the first series is presented, as we learn along with her the dangers of being tasked as the first line of defense against alien intruders.

As I said, Torchwood‘s premise is rather engaging, like a weekly, less-humorous version of Men in Black (notice I didn’t say it was original). Unfortunately, the show’s execution itself left me rather cold. I think it borrows almost too heavily from other sci-fi; after seeing several episodes, I don’t think Torchwood has quite come into its own as a television show. Much of it is disjointed and unwieldy, especially the interactions among the cast. When Gwen is first introduced to what she is told is a crack team of agents, Captain Jack warns her that the use of alien technology is highly restricted, that none of it should be removed from the base without permission. Yet in the very next scene we see each member smuggling a piece home for his or her own personal gain. Even though this scene is played for laughs, I was instantly wondering what kind of crack team would flagrantly violate Harkness’s pronouncement — unless there were more layers than what Gwen realized. But no, later in the episode the consequences of these decisions become startlingly apparent, and the jarring tonal change is unsatisfying rather than exciting. However, apart from that shocker of an ending, the rest of the episodes have been numbingly predictable, lacking sharp characterization and dense plotting that might have excused some of its more pronounced flaws.

Torchwood wants to be a jack-of-all-trades, combining the best parts of sci-fi from the aforementioned Hellboy, Men in Black, and X-Files, with an interdimensional rift (also known as a Hellmouth, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) thrown in for extra credit. But Torchwood has neither the serious pacing of Mulder and Scully’s investigations nor the visual gags and crackling dialogue of Buffy. Its characters are often juvenile when they can least afford to be, and there is a disconcerting amount of adult content for a daughter show of the family-friendly Doctor Who. It has some of the more bloody violence shown on British television, and its sexual content seems to be haphazardly thrown in as a heavy-handed way to let the audience know that this isn’t for the kids — which is sad, really, because I think a lighter take on the proceedings (yes, much along the lines of the good Doctor’s show) might make Torchwood rather more compelling.

Final verdict: This spin-off of Doctor Who is much darker than its predecessor, but lacks a strong narrative thread to tie its grab bag of sci-fi elements together. Some of its problems might be attributed to growing pains; but unless it gets a handle on what it wants to be, Torchwood might end up as a cliché-ridden alternative to better science fiction television. Still, there is a spark of promise at its core waiting to be drawn out.

Season pass on TiVo? I’m giving this show a few more chances to hold my attention, since I really do want it to succeed.

September 17, 2007

Fall 2007 TV Roundup: The Big Bang Theory

Posted in Television at 11:34 pm by Calico Jack

CBS’s new show The Big Bang Theory (airing Mondays at 8:30) is a three-camera sitcom with a one-joke premise. Two socially awkward geeks meet their new apartment neighbor, a tantalizingly pretty girl who seems to exist solely to let said geeks make tepid jokes about wanting to mate with her. Does that sound interesting?

The Big Bang Theory is a victim of this fall’s TV trend. Every year, a new show will break out, spawning a host of imitators over the following seasons as networks scramble to find that elusive magic formula for a show’s success. Last autumn focused on Lost clones, or at least shows with large casts and season-long plot arcs. Out of that crop of new programs the only one to gain some measure of success was NBC’s Heroes, a pulpy story about superheroes that lacked the complexity or depth of Lost but was entertaining enough on its own merits. (One could also make an argument for the successful resurrection of CBS’s Jericho, yet it remains to be seen if its shortened second season will fare any better than its first.) But I digress.

This year, geeks are TV’s hot new property. The popularity of shows like The Office and the huge devotion to Heroes’ character Hiro Nakamura have persuaded networks that American audiences are perfectly willing to watch shows about technology-oriented people with maladroit social skills. Now NBC is premiering their new dramedy Chuck, about an electronics store salesman turned superspy; and has a midseason replacement sitcom called The IT Crowd, yet another remake of a vastly superior British series. Not wanting to be left out of the game, CBS commissioned The Big Bang Theory for at least six episodes. With any luck, it won’t last longer than its original run.

For a show like The Big Bang Theory to work, it has to ground its situations in something that at least resembles real life. But this sitcom is so over-the-top in its character portrayals and so utterly lacking in subtlety that it’s likely to leave the audience exhausted rather than amused. Johnny Galecki (Leonard) and Jim Parsons (Sheldon) are stereotypical nerds: they have a really hard time talking to girls, their apartment is littered with conveniently placed gadgets to ensure the audience knows this is a Nerd Room, and their conversations consist of arguments about Stephen Hawking theories and musings on the opposite gender (of which they know absolutely nothing). Leonard and Sheldon’s dialogue is supposed to give this sitcom most of its laughs, but the supposed humor is trite and predictable — and the extremely obnoxious laugh track will suck any remaining good cheer one might have for this show. I’ve always despised those sitcoms that rely on a laugh track to let their audiences know where the jokes are supposed to be. It’s a crutch for the humor-impaired, and I respect a show much more if it feels comfortable enough with its writing to let it hit or miss on its own. But one of the ingredients of a traditional sitcom is a laugh track…only The Big Bang Theory sounds like it has two. And even ignoring that part, I wonder how long a sitcom like this can last with having its range of jokes so limited. The writers can’t put in really geeky jokes that might get big laughs from a few, because most people won’t get the references. Instead they’re left with painting a broad comedic vista — not a good recipe for future success.

I would be remiss as a critic if I didn’t mention the other part of The Big Bang Theory: the girl to which Sheldon and Leonard (even their names are geeky!) are so awkwardly attracted. Penny (Kaley Cuoco) is a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory, recently broken up with her meathead boyfriend. She’s pretty, perky, good-natured, and utterly vapid. Even more than the “Hey, look at us! We’re geeks!” stereotype, I hate blond bimbos. And Penny fits that label better than nearly every other character on network TV. She doesn’t understand a sentence of Sheldon and Leonard’s, even though their discussions are rather mainstream (by way of writer necessity). It’s easy to see why the two geeks are physically attracted to her, but there is something slightly creepy in the way which they obsess over the fact that there is a Real! Live! Girl! sitting in their apartment. Penny, on the other hand, is still completely vacant to her new neighbors’ intentions, cheerfully ignoring their social awkwardness and adopting a perpetually puzzled frown when they go off on a wormhole tangent. To call their exchanges “discourse” elevates the conversation far beyond what generosity dictates, even for a new show still finding its legs.

Final verdict: The Big Bang Theory is a mess of a new sitcom, eschewing authentic observations on geeky life for tired humor and mediocrity. There might be hope for it if the writing gets sharper, the characters let go of some of their more stereotypical traits, and Penny has a wee bit of a brain enhancement. But I won’t be holding my breath.

Season pass on TiVo? Absolutely not.

May 6, 2007

TV Review: The Tudors

Posted in Television at 9:18 pm by Calico Jack

As an ardent fan of HBO’s Rome, I was excited to hear last winter that Showtime would be producing The Tudors, a miniseries about the early reign of Henry VIII. Rome was an excellent show because it depicted everything from the machinations of the Imperial Senate to the struggles that common soldiers faced after returning home from years-long sorties into foreign lands. Focusing on the political and military aspects of the crumbing Roman Republic gave it an epic scope, but Rome also showed the absolute decadence and corruption that pervaded the crumbling Roman Republic at the time Julius Caesar rose to power and proclaimed himself dictator. Its sweeping scale set the standard for what television could do, and Rome‘s meticulous attention to period detail was refreshing. Now I looked forward to enjoying a similarly-scoped story, this time set in Renaissance England. What’s not to like?

I wasn’t able to see The Tudors until Best Buy gave away a promo Showtime disc containing the first two episodes (along with Weeds and Dexter, both of which were merely okay), and I “acquired” episodes 3 & 4 through a little judicious online hunting. After watching all four hours (with six more remaining in the first season), I can safely say that Rome is in no danger of losing its perch as best period TV show of all time. The Tudors forgoes Rome’s depth and careful plotting for a slightly flashier, up-tempo style that reminds one of a marshmallow Peep: pretty on the outside, but quite a bit of fluff within.

Nonetheless, it has been an entertaining four episodes so far, and once my expectations were adjusted a bit I found that I enjoyed the show as more than merely a Rome-lite. Jonathan Rhys Meyers looks nothing like the real-life Henry VIII, which should alert the unwary that historical accuracy was a distant third or fourth place in the producers’ list of objectives. But Davies captures Henry’s philandering spirit and boyish charm quite well, although one would think that as he would display a greater gravitas as king — after all, he alone decides whether England should go to war with France, no matter what his advisors (each with his own personal agenda) say. Yet his interests and expertise lie more in the bedroom than the throne room, causing great consternation amongst his long-suffering wife Catherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy). Natalie Dormer is quite striking as the seductive Anne Boleyn, sent by her father to win over Henry’s heart and thereby influence his rash political tendencies. Most of the central figures in Henry VIII’s court are also present, from Sir Thomas More (Jeremy Northam) to corrupt cardinal Thomas Wolsey (Sam Neill). That latter bit of casting surprised me somewhat; for the first several episodes I was half-expecting him to say something like “Do you know what this is? This is a dinosaur egg. The dinosaurs are breeding.”

Although its strengths are many — special notice must be given to set design and costuming, both of which are visually stunning — The Tudors stumbles in two different areas. As mentioned, historical accuracy is not exactly the strength of the show. For many, having Mary Tudor and Margaret Tudor composited into one role will not matter in the slightest; but those who remember their English history might be rather irked at the liberties taken. The combination of Mary and Margaret is probably its most egregious error, which is a rather nitpicky thing to say, I suppose. Everything else is just window dressing.

The other flaw is its scope; or rather, the lack thereof. Unlike Rome, which spent much of its time among the shopkeepers and ex-soldiers of the Republic, there are almost no depictions of the the common man’s life in early sixteenth-century England. Focusing on Henry’s court with few outside connections leaves The Tudors feeling a bit less epic than it should have been. The lives of the wealthy and privileged had very little in common with ordinary citizens, but there is little sense of perspective in the marbled floors and golden goblets of Whitehall Palace.

One unfair criticism leveled against The Tudors is that since the audience knows how the story ends, why should they bother watching to find out what happens in the middle? But such a charge could be made against Rome itself, which turned this potential drawback into one of its strengths. Knowing the ending to these retellings only adds urgency to the proceedings, as the audience perhaps has a better grasp on the implications of certain characters’ actions than the characters themselves do. The Tudors is not quite as adept as Rome was in displaying that urgency, but I’ve watched less than half of the first season; and with a second season already ordered, the exploits of King Henry will be continuing for quite a while.

March 20, 2007

Battlestar Galactica Musings

Posted in Television at 12:16 am by Calico Jack

The following is only going to appeal to a very small percentage of those who read this blog. Ignore at will.

For quite a while now, I’ve felt that Anders hasn’t added much to the show (no disrespect intended to Michael Trucco). His relationship with Starbuck had pretty much ground to a halt at the beginning of the season, and even after Starbuck and Apollo supposedly worked out their differences, Sam/Kara still kept going at it with no relief in sight. Anders wasn’t progressing the plot at all, and no matter how frustrated I’ve been with the producers this season, I still like to believe that they do things in BSG for a specific reason — even if we don’t see it at the time. And the strongest motive I could come up with for keeping Anders around (especially knowing about Starbuck’s departure) was that Anders could possibly be a Cylon.

If the producers do show the final five next week, and we have never met any of the faces before, the reveal will have much less of an effect that it could have. Because by giving us the identities of the last remaining Cylons, the producers have effectively made us omniscient…especially with the growing certainty that the Cylons do not, in fact, have a plan (unlike what we’re told at the beginning of each episode) and are merely winging it as they go along. The first season was full of paranoia, as people on the ship wondered which of their fellow crew members could possibly be a Cylon plotting the destruction of humanity. This kept everyone on a ragged edge, and brought quite a bite to the show.

But now, BSG seems to have settled into a holding pattern. That former paranoia no longer grips everyone; and I believe that even with the Cylons nipping at their heels, many people have grown complacent. That sense of urgency and headlong flight away from a collapsed civilization has shifted to an “Okay, now we’re racing the Cylons towards Earth; who’s going to win?” sort of tone, and it has affected the show more than I think anyone was anticipating. I also think it was a mistake to spend so much of the second and third seasons aboard the Cylon basestars, because the show was most gripping when we knew as little as the humans did. BSG needs to bring back that element of surprise and uncertainty, and the only way they can do it is to reveal an existing member (or three) as Cylons. If they don’t, and we see the five, we’ll effectively be privy to the Cylons’ opening gambit, middle, and endgame. No longer will they be able to lay plans and pull the rug out from under Galactica, leaving us just as shocked as the crew when the Cylon reveals him/herself to be the traitor amongst their midst. The audience needs to be guessing right along with everyone else, and the only way the producers can pull it off is to make one or more of the Five is a familiar face. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this person(s) be actively working behind Galactica’s back all along?

I put forth Anders as a Cylon only because he would be most convenient, plot-wise. And wasn’t it his voice in the promo for next week proclaiming that “We’re all Cylons”? But on my second viewing, once I realized that Saul, Anders, Tory, and Tyrol (missed him the first time around) all heard the music…well, that goes most of my theory. No way are the producers going to a) make all four Cylons, and b) make the connection so glaringly obvious. So the music has to play a different role; perhaps those four are somehow connected with destiny and finding Earth? I don’t think Tyrol’s story arc is over yet, just as I suspect Starbuck’s bound to return someday (unless we really are meant to think that having a foretold destiny is a bunch of nonsense).

I’m still willing to bet that we get a reveal of at least one member of the Five in the season finale, because it will give BSG a much-needed adrenaline shot — although the past several weeks have almost washed out the bitter taste that is much of Season 3. All I know is that I will be staying as far away from spoilers as I can until next Sunday evening.

And they had better convict Baltar, or I am going to need to buy a new television set Monday morning…

December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays from your basic cable channel!

Posted in Random Oddments, Television at 5:53 pm by Calico Jack

Ah, Christmas. It’s that time of the year where everyone gathers together to celebrate the season, open gifts, gain twenty pounds from eating too much, which leads to a panicky New Year’s weight-loss resolution. But Christmas is also the time for those ubiquitous made-for-television holiday “specials.” I’m not quite sure why they’re special, since every single one of them shamelessly rips off the Christmas classics. I have no idea how people get suckered into watching these saccharine, derivative timewasters; but there are evidently enough to justify producing thirty more every year — and replaying all of the ones from years past. To cash in on this craze, how would you like to create your very own made-for-television Christmas movie? Courtesy of Washington Post writer Paul Farhi, here is a visual aid for contributing to this season’s cheer/depression, depending on who you are (click on the thumbnail for the full picture):

Christmas Movie

December 21, 2006

A 24 Christmas

Posted in Television at 12:44 pm by Calico Jack

I can’t believe I haven’t seen this before — enjoy!

October 5, 2006

Fall 2006 TV Roundup

Posted in Television at 11:48 pm by Calico Jack

I always make a point of watching as many new TV pilots as I can every season, since ones that look interesting in the previews often turn out to be crap (and vice versa.) I wasn’t able to look at every new show that premiered over the past couple of weeks, but I snagged a good chunk of them. Here are my thoughts on a few:

Biggest disappointment: CBS’s Smith. What looked like a flashy, interesting caper serial turned out to be an extremely bland, yet nasty piece of television. The anti-heroes of Smith are too cold and amoral to sympathize with, and the show isn’t entertaining enough to hold the viewers’ interest. I really enjoyed A&E’s airing of Hustle (highly intelligent show about British con artists) earlier this year, and NBC’s midseason replacement Heist, while formulaic, was a lot of fun to watch — mostly because the show didn’t take itself too seriously. Smith left me with a dirty feeling afterwards; if you want bad guys to root for, go watch Prison Break.

Honorable mention: Six Degrees. I thought J.J. Abrams might be able to work his magic again, but no luck, alas. Six Degrees is a pale shadow of another new TV show this fall (more on that later.) Thursday nights at 10 aren’t looking good for TV; between Six Degrees, Shark, and ER viewers have lots of shows to ignore.

Pleasant surprise: ABC’s The Nine. Honestly, the only reason I watched the pilot was because it was on right after Lost. Ten minutes into the show I was hooked, however. This should be the best ensemble drama on television this season, if the pilot is indicative of anything. By the end of the hour, I actually cared about what happened to the characters, and there were enough tantalizing hints about what happened during the 52-hour hostage standoff to make my Veronica Mars “Was that just a clue” glands start salivating. I won’t be missing this show. Still, nothing quite compares to the teasers of…

Fastest turnaround: Heroes. I was about ready to give up on the show after watching the pilot last week. This was my most-anticipated show of the season, but the pilot was absolutely atrocious. Everything about it rubbed me the wrong way, from the dialogue to the clichéd character conflicts to the introduction of the powers to an anti-climatic cliffhanger. Heroes has been compared to Lost with its overarching storyline and deep complexity. But when I watched the two-hour pilot of Lost, I was absolutely blown away. After I saw Heroes, I just shrugged and said “Whatever.” Against my better judgment, I decided to give it one more chance.

Wow! The second episode was everything the pilot wasn’t. It actually had a storyline that was starting to make sense, it was exciting, it was funny, and it even had a few surprises. I was shocked at how much better this episode was than the original…until I found out that the NBC suits had ordered the original Heroes pilot split in half. Now everything made sense. These first two episodes would have worked much better as a two-hour pilot, but thankfully the ratings don’t seem to be suffering much at all. A week ago, I never thought I’d be saying this, but catch this show before it starts to pick up the pace. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

I already watch Lost, Prison Break, Boston Legal, Bones, The Office, and MI-5. Battlestar Galactica is starting soon, and 24 will begin in January. I don’t have time to add too many shows, but I’ll definitely set aside time for Heroes and The Nine. I have a feeling The Nine might not last through the season, but Heroes has a lot of buzz; and if NBC’s ratings hold up it could be their breakout hit of the season (not Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).

Now, if they could only bring back Keen Eddie…

Update: According to the AP, Smith has just been cancelled. The article says it was facing stiff competition from Law & Order: SVU and Boston Legal. One down, how many more to go?

August 29, 2006

Literacy Matters

Posted in Books, Movies, Television at 11:48 am by Calico Jack

Last night, I watched one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen. I was at the library when I noticed a young boy of about four or five walking around by himself. He walked over to the children’s department and started to go through some of the shelves, pulling out books that he thought looked interesting. With a small stack of books in his hands, he went to his mom, who was in the audiovisual section looking at movies. At first she didn’t notice him until he softly called “Mom!” a few times.

After he got her attention, he looked up at her, and said “I want to read these, Mommy.”

Without even bothering to look at the books her son had so carefully chosen, she pushed a stack of movies at him and said, “No, no books for you. You can check out these movies, but you’re not going to read any books.”

He responded, “But I want to read these, Mommy.”

She simply shook her head and retorted, “No, you don’t need to read no [sic] books. You can watch movies if you want something to do.” He turned away, and carefully put back each book where he had found it.

After that little exchange, I walked over to the librarian sitting at the desk and relayed what I had just seen. She smiled sadly and told me that it’s much more common than anyone realizes. Parents aren’t willing to read to their children because it requires time of them, so they force their kids to watch movies and television instead.

Here was a young boy who had an interest in reading, but his mother completely abdicated her responsibility to help foster her son’s interests. So many little children are growing up without a love of reading, only because their parents are too lazy to spend time with them. How many parents actually sit down with their young children to watch the movie or television show that turn on? The television is used as a babysitter, and many children will grow up with shorter attention spans and an inability to express their imagination as a result.

That mother was woefully ignorant of the repercussions that could result from not letting her son read. But it wasn’t my place to say anything to her, either. I can only hope that she will eventually realize how destructive her behavior is.

Turn off the TV, and go read a book. Literacy matters.

August 27, 2006

Survivor: Race to the Finish

Posted in Politics, Television at 7:52 pm by Captain Morgan

Clever title, isn’t it?

If you read any kind of entertainment news site, or are addicted to CBS, by now you know of the plan for next season of Survivor. According to reports, the producers are separating the contestants in 4 groups. By races. White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic.

This, naturally, has enraged many a politically correct person. The main complaint is that this decision will be more divisive than anything else. Apparently, by seeing people divided by race on TV, in our lack of free will and intelligence, we will want to be divided ourselves. What a dumb argument!

I have not watched Survivor since the first season, but I will definitely be watching this season. I think it’s a fascinating idea. Survivor has always been a study in human behavior, so I don’t know what the big fuss is about. I don’t recall Gloria Steinem complaining when they divided the contestants by gender. So why now?

What are your thoughts?

Princess Sela adds: I don’t think separating teams by gender is something to complain about. I do, however, thinks it’s riding a line that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. That doesn’t make it a bad thing though. As a psychology minor, I think it will be very interesting to see how they project the teams and what comes of it. If nothing else, it will be an interesting show to watch during study breaks…:-)

Next page