Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Why I watch too much TV.

I have a really quirky personality when it comes to TV and movies. I have discovered this in particular over the last year, as I got deeper and deeper into CSI Vegas and CSI Miami.

I have always liked movies and TV shows that make me a little uncomfortable. Not in the sense of being over-the-top graphic, but in the sense that they push me out of my emotional comfort zone. I have to be able to relate to the characters in order for me to really get anything out of my viewing. If I cannot relate to the characters, I remain detached and make no commitment. If I get attached to the characters, I will loyally watch and empathize. It also allows me to accept some rather "extreme" storylines. Cases in point:

Homicide: Life on the Street

I discovered this show when it was being aired late night on Bravo. It's a tough show to get into, but once I connected with the characters (Andre Braugher's awesome Frank Pembleton, Yaphet Kotto's Lieutenant Giardello, Melissa Leo's Kay Howard, etc.), I was hooked. Some of the characters annoyed me, especially Kyle Secor's Tim Bayliss and, by the final two seasons, when Bayliss became the central character, I had completely lost interest.


The originator of extreme television, I have always dug this show. It is the show that brought out my favourite character of all time - David Caruso as Detective John Kelly. When Caruso left, I stepped out of the show for a while, but really got drawn back in by the relationships between Dennis Franz' Andy Sipowicz, Jimmy Smits' Bobby Simone and Kim Delaney's Diane Russell. Once Smits and Delaney left, I lost complete interest, especially since I actively hated Ricky Schroeder's character. I got back into it a little bit last year, but I didn't commit fully and, when ABC began shuffling episodes, I didn't make the effort to keep up. Once again, I was able to tolerate the more extreme behaviours because of the human face Smits, Franz, Caruso and Delaney put on things.


This one's kind of a no-brainer, but I really was a HUGE M*A*S*H fan growing up. I always liked BJ better than Hawkeye. The relationships between the characters was always strong and no show has made me laugh out loud more in my memory. However, the show is dated today and I can no longer stomach the show BJPM (B.J. post-mustache). Seasons 1-6 and the final episode covers my interest in the show.

Today, I love 24 because I like the intensity. I also find that, year over year, I care more about Jack Bauer. CSI, I like for the science, but I would have carried on just fine if Jorja Fox didn't come back. I do like all of the other characters, though, and hope that they continue to build their relationships (but not romantically).

I used to LOVE The West Wing, but they completely lost their focus 3/4 of the way through Season 3 (after Bartlet was re-elected) and I cannot get back into it, try as I might. This may be a case of Sorkinitis, as he seems to run out of gas after a few seasons. Witness Sports Night, a great ensemble comedy that ran out of steam noticeably toward the end of Season 2. I think Sorkin burns out quickly.

On a similar note, I have now come to the conclusion that John Wells is good for TV working in the background. When he moves to the forefront, his shows (West Wing, ER, Third Watch) get far too inconsistent in developing characters, sacrificing long-term development for week-to-week crises, effectively killing my interest. There is an early ER episode involving a preemie baby that was a stark reminder of the fear I personally felt when my son was born. Last year, they did two episodes in a neonatal ICU that felt like they were exploiting the situation, rather than building a character-driven episode showing just how emotionally powerful and draining time in the NICU can be for parents and nurses alike.

Why this long-winded rant? I borrowed Boomtown from a friend. I never watched the show in it's regular run on NBC a few years ago. Boy do I regret that decision now. If you get a chance, borrow or rent this show. In 8 episodes, I became so connected to the characters that I have found myself on the verge of tears in a couple of episodes and with my heart in my throat in others. Donnie Wahlberg (former New Kid on the Block) and Mykelti Williamson's detectives are the heart of the show, and Gary Basaraba's cop is the soul and I absolutely dig this show. I am going to be looking for a used copy of this bad boy for my personal collection.

Just about all of the shows I listed are available on DVD and you should try to find it. Homicide's first 5 seasons, MASH's first 6 seasons, CSI Vegas' first 3 seasons, CSI Miami's premiere season and seasons 1 and 2 of 24, NYPD Blue and the West Wing are out. CSI Season 4 is out in October, West Wing Season 3 in November (and, supposedly, Season 2 of CSI Miami) and 24 Season 3 is due in December/January. TV shows on DVD give you the opportunity to watch shows in the way they were intended, in proper order (and without commercials).

Well, that's enough. Later.