Saturday, December 30, 2006

Not Such a Vast Wasteland

by Libby Hellmann

Hey…it’s the holidays. Time to relax, chill, and not deal with anything too serious (like the execution of a Middle-Eastern dictator), right? So, going with the flow, I thought initially I would blog about New Years resolutions.

Yeah. Right. Not exciting.

Happily, my son, who’s home for the holidays, rented Season One of ”Weeds”
and I inhaled all 10 episodes in about as much time as it took someone we remember to claim that he never did.

In a word, I loved it! For those of you who don’t know, “Weeds” is a Showtime satire on Southern California life that features a suburban PTA Mom who also happens to be a drug dealer. Mary Louise Parker is terrific, and Elizabeth Perkins– well, tell me, can a character be an oxymoron?

Then I started to think about it. I’m addicted to

-- 24… more about that when Season 6 starts

-- The Shield… thanks to Jon and Ruth for tying me down while we mainlined episodes 1-4 of Season One. Thankfully, they gave me the rest of their stash to take home.

-- I hear Veronica Mars is worth looking into, and I still feel charitably toward Desperate Housewives and even Grey’s Anatomy, the doctor version of Sideways.
In fact, the last time I remember watching this much TV was on dateless Saturday nights thirty years ago, when All in the Family, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, and the Bob Newhart Show were on in quick succession. (Anyone else remember that line-up?)

It would appear that TV has made strides since Newton Minow, who as chairman of the FCC, made this pronouncement:

“When television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit-and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you — and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland."

Or has it?

There is a difference this time, though. I’m not watching on the air TV. For the most part, I watch DVDs of the entire season. Or two. I won't tie myself down to specific times, allow myself to force-fed with commercials, or let what’s left of my attention span be compromised by seven-minute spurts of “content.”

It’s a very different experience to throw the show onto your computer or a big plasma screen and lose yourself in ten or twenty or twenty-four uninterrupted episodes. I’ve spent several decadent weekends watching “24” and “The Shield” that way, and I just spent the better part of a day with “Weeds.”

The ability to revel in the characters, the action, the dialogue, even to re-watch certain scenes at your own discretion… wait a minute… I know this experience.. it reminds me something. Could it be it’s just like reading a novel? Dare I even make the comparison? Why not? It's the holidays.
So do yourself a favor this New Years weekend. Skip the bowl games or Tivo them... And get thee to thine video store…You too can enjoy vegging out.

Btw, does anyone know when Season Two of "Weeds" will be here?

And Best Wishes for a crime-fiction, book (starting with our own Marcus and Sean), and DVD-filled 2007.


The Home Office said...

You and Minow are both right. Picking and choosing as you have done will allow you to find a LOT of great stuff on television, mostly on cable. I dare you to sit down randomly and just move through the channels sometime. It's scary out there.

You forgot Carol Burnett on Saturday nights, right after Newhart.

Elizabeth Krecker said...

I'm impressed that you took several weekends to watch 24. Once I started the first season, I couldn't stop and watched the whole thing in one weekend. And decided it was safer to slog through the commercials and just watch 24 once a week when it was out!

Michael Dymmoch said...

I gave up watching 24--too much like crack. And I was under house arrest on Tuesday nights for the whole first season.

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

Watching television on DVD is amazing.
We dropped cable except for local channels because we don't watch regular tv. We can't commit to the schedules and I hate commercials.
Being able to powerhouse a full season in a few sittings,( or like last new years eve, Ruth and I watched the entire first season of Murder One in one fell swoop), it's like watching a long movie or as Libby says, reading a novel. David Simon actually says that he feels The Wire is set up that way, in chapters.

Plus, if you get a multi region plaer you can get stuff from the UK like LIFE ON MARS and TWO PINTS OF LAGER AND A PACKET OF CRISPS and BLACK BOOKS.

Television on DVD Rocks.

AS Meredith said...

Hi Libby, just wanted to say thanks for sending an email to the ThrillerFest bbs or I wouldn't have known about the Outfit blog. I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

Libby Hellmann said...

Hi, Home Office. You're right.. I did forget Carol Burnett. But I was never much for her show. Don't know why -- when I see snippets of it now, I love it. I guess I thought I was too sophisticated back then.

Elizabeth: I tape 24 on my old VCR so I can get my "crack" hit every week. But I still will get Season 5 and watch it.

Jon: You're one of the reasons I started in on DVDs in the first place...:)

Meredith: Thanks for tuning in. Hope you continue to pop in the coming year.

I hope everyone comes closer to their goals in 07. It's rough sailing out there, isn't it...

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