Welcome to TV Tuesday here at Logos CC. Today begins a series of posts concerning that daily invader to most of our lives: television. For good or ill, television has become a fact in the fabric of our families. And certainly there is both much good and ill to be found on the video airwaves. That is an ongoing topic on this blog, but this series is about the shows I love (and some that I don’t).
I suppose TV Thursday might have been a more logical choice, though it doesn’t have quite the same ring. I say that because Thursday nights was the NBC Must See TV night that brought us such classics as The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Friends, Night Court, Mad About You, Seinfeld and Wings. (How many old friends did you find in that list?)
These shows became staples in our lives; topics of work and home conversation. More recently in that slot NBC has given us such gems as My Name Is Earl, The Office, 30 Rock and Community. (I’ll confess I’m not entirely sold on that last entry; didn’t care for it much at first, but it’s growing on me.)
(Gee,… maybe I should have called this Must Read TV Thursdays!)
But TV Tuesday has a better sound, so that’s what we’re going with (plus, it’s Tuesday). And what is TV Tuesday you wonder? Well, it’s a bit like Star Trek Saturday in announcing and beginning a series of posts related to the topic. That time, Star Trek; this time, TV in general. In both cases, mostly stuff I love (with a few small rants)!
Anyone who reads this blog knows by now that I’m a long-time Star Trek fan. I’ve written quite a few articles about it and may yet have a few more in me. For the moment, I’m tapped out on Trek, so it’s been moved to another night. But as it is “one of” my favorite shows, it begs the question, “What are the others?”
I have a tough time naming just one favorite thing; I usually need to name a group of contenders. It’s very hard to name my favorite TV show ever, but I do have a group of favorites. As mothers tell their children, “I love you all equally (but differently).” Ten seems a lot to give the honor of “All-Time Favorite,” and three excludes shows I deeply love. So the list shall contain five. (“Five shall be the count…”)
One problem is the difficulty in comparing, for example, the first Star Trek series with The West Wing. The first began in 1969 and lasted three seasons. The latter began in 1999 and lasted seven seasons. One is space opera; the other is political drama. One began a franchise; the other is TV at its best.
I love you both equally (but differently).
So Star Trek and The West Wing are on the list. Before I go on to the other three, there is the question, “Which Trek series makes the list?” If you will allow, I’m going to merge three series into one Star Trek entry: The Original Show (TOS), The Next Generation (TNG) and Deep Space Nine (DS9).
If you forced me to pick only one, the winner is… TNG (for reasons I’ve gone into before).
The next entry on the Fave Five is: House, M.D. I love this show so much, and on so many levels, that it gets its own time slot here on TV Tuesdays. I love the main character, I really like the other characters, I like the actors, I like the scripts and ideas. There just isn’t anything I don’t like about the show.
In particular it really taps into my love of alienated, if not socially dysfunctional, experts. In general, I always admire real expertise, but quirky expertise makes for great storytelling.
The fourth list entry is the CBS show, NCIS, which is the only entry on the list still active. And, actually, in the same way that the Star Trek entry represents three series, NCIS represents more than just itself. It certainly includes its parent show, JAG.
And as I’ve worked on these articles, I’ve realized it can also represent “cop shows” in general. I’ve always admired law enforcement and the military, so I’ve been a fan of “cop shows” going back to Dragnet.
The final entry, like the first Star Trek series, goes back four decades. (I’ve mentioned it before.) It’s a series that made TV Guide’s 50 Greatest list. It’s M*A*S*H. This one makes the list, if for no other reason than the years I spent in the 90s carefully taping all 256 episodes during reruns. Except that there are actually 260 episodes; there are four I was never able to capture. Ironically, two of them comprise a double episode that was a favorite (I’m not talking about the series finale). This show, too, has earned its own time slot here on TV Tuesday; it comes on after House and The West Wing.
My parents tried to limit our TV viewing, but naturally as time went on we managed to absorb a lot of it anyway. TV was highly restricted in our house during my grade school years, less so in my high school years, and by college I was on my own (and had my own TV). I’ve written about how I got involved in theatre in high school. In college I was pursuing film making and television production. Therefore, watching TV was part of my education. No, really, that’s not a rationale; it really was.
The point is, over the years, I’ve watched a fair amount of TV. I love stories; I always have. But I’ve discovered a down side: it taught me to believe in happy endings (no naughty jokes, please). I never believed that life had easy or quick answers. I’ve always understood that problems aren’t solved in 30 minutes or 60 minutes. But all that TV got me to believing that things do work out in the end. Of course, the reality is different.
Maybe it’s been the lack of happy endings in my own life that make me such a sucker for them in stories. I’m not hugely sentimental in the “aw, gee” cute puppies sense, but I do love a happy ending and easily choke up over a good one.
(As themes go, I’m even more a sucker for redemption. Watching (or reading) A Christmas Carol reduces me to jelly every time. Redemption plus a happy ending!)
And on that note, I happily end this introduction to TV Tuesday. I hope you enjoy it!
TV Tuesday Schedule
Unreality Shows: Gotta get this rant off my chest first. Not. A. Fan.
Hook Up the Cable: On the other hand, I’ve gotten to be quite a fan of many cable shows. Some good quality television going on there.
House is a Holmes: If I had to pick an absolute favorite from the Fave Five, it’s probable I would pick House, M.D.
Ideal(ized) Politics: If I had to pick an absolute favorite, The West Wing would be the other major contender. (Really, Star Trek is just too big in my life to be merely a Favorite. It’s a part of who I am!)
Hawkeye & Margaret: Back in the day, before the two shows named above, M*A*S*H would have been the top pick. The characters in that series were part of my life for 30 years!
House of LEO: You might think this refers to House, M.D., or even The West Wing (which had a key character named Leo), but in fact it’s about NCIS and cop shows in general.
We’ll be back after these commercial words: