TV Tuesday

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).

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?”

Fave Five

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.

Happy Endings

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…

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

32 responses to “TV Tuesday

  • reocochran

    Okay, I have to say we have a little bit more in common than those teachers in your life, yourself included). I was not only involved in theatre in high school but tried out for a National Opportunity (Girl Scouts) and was Ohio rep. I took acting classes and ended up senior year directing the comedy.

    Oh, and I love every month receiving my channel guide, circling all the shows I like to watch switching during commercials to see as much of each as I can. My newer favorites than your nostalgic ones are:

    “White Collar” (reminds me of “It takes a thief”).
    “Warehouse 13” (relics with agents chasing after the weird effects they have on the people who fall prey to them, cannot think of a past reference).
    “Leverage” (reminds me of “Mission Impossible” t.v. version).
    “Covert Affairs” (a more mature show than “Charlie’s Angels” but femme fatale included).
    “Political Animals” (great cast, not West Wing, too specifically defined).

    Cannot wait until Fall shows come back, including “Touch.”

    Also, looking forward to new version of “Holmes” but really loved, loved the British version on PBS with the Watson blogging, too.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Ha, cool, another theatre person! Director, too! (In college my goal was directing TV and movies, but I ended up as a computer programmer somehow. Talk about a different road!)

      I know exactly what you mean about switching between shows. I hate commercials, so the moment one comes on, I’m off to something else. (I have OnDemand now, so I can watch most shows either commercial-free or can fast forward through them. Lovin’ the OnDemand!)

      I’m not familiar with most that you named… except Leverage! I love that show (and, in part, for exactly what you said: it reminds me if Mission: Impossible, a childhood favorite–I’ve got the first five seasons on DVD, in fact)

      I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, so I really should check out Holmes. (So few hours in a day!)

      • reocochran

        I did not make it to any place than high school theatre and then enjoyed ushering in a local Shakespeare Theatre.
        Just so you know, I mostly was backstage or understudy until senior year I directed only one comedy. I enjoyed an acting camp but it only was fun for summer. I like to think when I taught I used a little drama to keep the students interested, though!
        No need to worry about watching t.v. its not that big of deal, just a way to relax after all the business of days, and definitely the outdoors are a much better show to watch!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Oh, I don’t worry about watching TV. I still consider it a hobby, even if it’s no longer my profession. It’s tougher in the summer, because I like to watch the Twins, and a three-hour baseball game pretty much is as much TV as I can stand in a day (and no way around the commercials).

        Plus, as you say, there’s the outdoors! The plot is kind of slow, and there aren’t as many exciting chase scenes, explosions or spaceships, but sets are really pretty and I like the cast!

      • reocochran

        I should amend possibly that any season the outdoors is the best place to be watching. Not sure if I just said summertime, but I was thinking that!

  • Chyina

    I like most of these. Actually I like all but two of them, West Wing and Seinfeld. That’s not to say I didn’t watch them on occasion, but just weren’t a concern if I didn’t see them. *shrugs* All the others though I have liked and loved. Totally agree with you on the ST being too big to be place in such a measly thing like a faves list!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      As you read, TWW is in my top three, but a lot of that is based on taste (and loving Aaron Sorkin’s work).

      Seinfeld is a funny one. Hated those characters. Would not have allowed any of them in my house. But the writing was amazing! It was a show I almost hated watching, but couldn’t not.

      • Chyina

        That’s a great way of putting Seinfeld. Now that I hear it that way, that’s how I felt about it. The characters annoyed the hell out of me but the writing was brilliant.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        And parts became cultural icons. “Soup Nazi” “Sponge worthy” Everyone knows those references.

      • Chyina

        Lol, too true. I think the most memorable thing for me with Seinfeld was when George bought the arcade game Frogger. I loved the little frogger-esque trip to get it across the street.

        I both loved and hated that game. Loved it because it was challenging. Hated it because I sucked at it, lol.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I never played Frogger, although I know what it is. By the time video games came around, I was already a fairly hardcore programmer, and I never quite got into playing games using the same mode of being (using computer, staring at monitor) as I did for work. Kinda made the games almost seem like work.

        (And I think I always saw video games as being utterly unproductive—which is fine for a few brief moments of brain rest, but too much of it feels like wasting my life moments. I’d rather do something that grows me in some way. But then I’ve always been a weirdo. Kinds of like Scotty on Star Trek, my idea of a good time can involve studying engineering manuals. A lot of what other people define as fun seems, to me (the weirdo), just kind of tedious. [shrug])

        That said, in games and other things, I can appreciate the feeling of being challenged because you didn’t have a facility with something (skydiving was that way for me, for example). I think it’s the challenge that draws, the desire to be better.

      • Chyina

        I can understand the feeling of doing something at work and then not really wanting to the same or similar thing once you get home. I felt that sometimes working at the restaurant. The last I wanted to do was come home and cook and clean after spending hours doing that at work, lol.

        The challenge was always the draw for, and the fantasy when it came to the more in-depth gaming (such as RPGs). I was a master at the original Super Mario Brothers, and once I had beaten it I added challenges for myself (beat it without dying, or finishing it within a certain time frame, and so on).

        When I started getting into RPGs, I found it stimulated my mind. Made want to create worlds of my own. Something I already loved, but they just seemed to push the need further.

        Having said that however, I love to learn. Math was a fave subject, though I wasn’t all that good at it, lol.

        When writing a story, one of the best parts for me is the research. Say if I’m writing a period piece based in China in the 1400s, I could get lost for hours reading about that time. There were moments when I had remind myself that I was actually looking this up for a reason, and forcibly get back to using this knowledge for the story, lol.

        Point being I can totally relate to sitting down with what others may see as tedious or boring and getting lost in it.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        You know, with a mind like yours, it’s quite possible you might enjoy computer programming.

        I think a life of continued learning is the only life worth living. It’s all a journey that never stops (well, until you do, anyway). Some of isn’t super-useful (probably won’t ever really need my quantum physics self-education (such as it is), but it has allowed some great conversations and a few blog posts). It’s the stuff that’s been useful that’s made my career function as well as it has! (And as I mentioned, it was a huge bit of luck being interested in career-useful things from an early age.)

      • Chyina

        I have actually considered looking into computer programming. My life just never really went that way. *shrugs*

        I firmly believe that everything has a use, even if it’s just to pass on what we know. 🙂

      • Wyrd Smythe

        30 wouldn’t be too young to pick it up for your own use and fun, although it probably is too young to consider it for a career. Very ageist industry (I survive because I’m that good), and the youngsters have a hell of a head start these days.

        And there are many other fun (well, in my mind, anyway) things you can do with a computer that give you a lot more in return than any video game ever will. Learning to muck about with databases or webpages, for example. And my next post will be about my new (old) toy, a ray-tracing engine that let’s you “build” things.

      • Chyina

        I have mucked around with website building, but must admit I am a bit rusty, and things change so quickly, lol.

        Your next post has me intrigued! I look forward to it.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Website tech has changed so much that most of what I did back in the 90s is fairly obsolete now, too.

        Might do a POV-Ray post this evening, but if not certainly this weekend.

      • Chyina

        You and me both. It’s been a while since I’ve done much site coding, and I find I am behind, and out of practice. 😛

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Did you ever work with programming languages? (HTML and CSS don’t count; JavaScript does. BASIC does. SQL does.)

        Baseball season is coming! Time to get back to my Python library. I wrote a library that interacts with the MLB site to pull stats data (you see some of it in some of my bb posts). It’s at version 2.0 now, and it worked well last year. I have some improvements in mind, though, for version 3.0!

      • Chyina

        I’ve worked briefly with Java, but admittedly not a whole lot. I haven’t worked with the other two at all, but it’s been a few years since I’ve written any coding, lol.

        The library sounds awesome!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        With Java, eh (as opposed to JavaScript, a completely different language, despite the name)! Programming class, perhaps? It’s been a common teaching language for a long time; my buddy used it when he went back to school for his CS degree. It’s gotten to be the language in the business world; I’ve written thousands upon thousands of lines of Java. It’s a very friendly language compare to most older ones; harder (but never impossible) for a coder to shoot their own feet.

        I was thinking about this… I’ve now written extensive libraries in: 8086 assembler, C, Commodore 64 BASIC, C++, BASICA, Visual BASIC, JavaScript, Java and Python! (I think that’s everyone!) Not to mention all the applications I’ve written that use those libraries, plus the entire web sites, the SQL suites, the teaching examples and more day-to-day in the moment stuff than I’ll ever remember. I wonder just how many lines of code I’ve produced 35+ years!

      • Chyina

        I really should look into coding and programing more. I know it would interest me, as it already does. I’m the type of person that likes to make things, in whatever fashion.

        I’m not sure I’d want to try and figure out how many lines you’ve accumulated over the years! Makes my brain hurt. Not to mention I’d need a major computer just to get started on calculating that. Where’s Data when you need him. 😛

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It does require extreme attention to detail and the ability to be precise; sounds like you’ve got that. It also requires the ability to sit at the computer for long periods; I don’t know you well enough to know about that. It also requires the ability to think in abstractions, and as I’m writing this line I’m wondering if there is a way to test that.

        Part of the difficult would seem to be the different kinds of abstractions. There are visual and spacial abstractions, mathematical abstractions, data abstractions,… have you ever taken one of those tests that shows you drawings of, say, five 3D figures and asks you which two are identical (but oriented differently). That’s testing your visual and spacial abstraction ability. I’ll have to think about math. Data seems like it would be even harder. In your Java work, did you get as far as tree structures? How about linked lists?

        I’m quite certain I’ve crossed the million-line mark. That amounts to less than 30K lines per year. Crossing the five-million-line mark amounts to less than 150K lines per year, and there are many years I know I wrote at least that much. I find things in my archives sometimes, old projects I’d forgotten about, and realize that there is another 50-thousand lines of code that’s slipped into history!

      • Chyina

        I do tend to have attention to great detail, almost to a fault. So you can check that off the list. Most of my works are done on the computer anyway (writing and art). So being in front of the PC a lot isn’t a big deal either. Another check. Now I just need to find a good class or online site to get me in the groove of what I’m doing.

        I’ve taken those type of tests before. In fact I love taking them, lol. So that must be another good sign.

        I did get that far in Java, but again it’s been a long time. Would need to brush up on it. I found recently that I had forgotten a number of basic HTML coding simply because it had been a few years since I had actually written anything. 😛

      • Wyrd Smythe

        If you don’t use it, you do lose it.

        One thing about the web… you will find a ton of tutorials. It’s invaluable in my work, and I always always find what I need. The web is great for the technical stuff, because we techies have been using it since day one!

      • Chyina

        I know, thank god. Sometimes I wonder what I would do without the web. It is loaded with info for things like this.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I know! Prior to the internet, there was just no place to get information! 😐

      • Chyina

        Yep, not like there was a library or teachers to hit up for info, lol. 🙂 Although most of them didn’t know as much as the web can offer, and some even had the gall to ask for money for their knowledge!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I’ve heard interesting comments about how with a physical reference book or library you can browse and often run into interesting information. But when you search on the net, you only find what you’re seeking. No (or far fewer) unexpected surprises. The extreme case is what they call “the internet bubble” — the ability to carefully only exposure yourself to information that agrees with what you already think.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        (Sorry, just cannot resist sometimes! :lol:)

        You see the same thing in large on the net that you do in small(er) in Wikipedia. The “social” stuff that can be controversial is were information gets iffy. But the technical stuff is usually rock solid and readily available. It was ever so, probably going back to the original ARPANET.

        Geeks tend to be precise about facts (kind of goes with the job description), but opinions are always a whole other ball o’ wax!

      • Chyina

        I couldn’t agree more.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I like your attitude. (And looks like someone’s internet connection is better again?)

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