The other night, I watched the first episode of the CBS reboot of Murphy Brown, and my first thought is that I hope it gets better. A lot better. The only part I liked was the cameo by Hillary Clinton playing “Hillary Clindon,” a potential secretary for Candice Bergen’s Murphy Brown. (If I remember the original show correctly, Brown had a long and troubled history with secretaries, which puts a bit of icing on the scene.)
Seeing the main characters again, for me, was awkward and close to cringe-worthy. They seem very much a product of their era (1988-1998) and didn’t translate well across the two decades that have brought so much social and technical change.
Part of the problem might be that I find CBS half-hour sitcoms tediously dull, cliché-filled, totally unfunny, marshmallow realities.
Last post I mentioned the ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, a show I’m currently mini-binging on Hulu. When I wrote that, I was still very much on the fence as to whether I even liked the show. In fact I was puzzled about why I liked it at all, since it’s a fairly standard sitcom in many regards.
Ever since I’ve been paying more attention to my reactions while watching, and I’ve come to realize that it’s not a matter of being undecided — it’s a matter of having developed a strong like/dislike for the show. As I wrote with Halt and Catch Fire, my feelings are mixed, not vague.
And it turns out to really tap into what attracts or repels me to sitcoms.
Perhaps it is a personal penchant for irony-leavened paradox that has me pen a post titled 2014 that turns out to be more a look backwards. The dash of irony comes from the explicit mention of not being one who spends much time looking back!
But, also as mentioned, there is a time and place for most things, and January is a more ideal place for that than you may realize. The month is named after the roman god, Janus, god of beginnings and transitions, who has both a backward- and forward-looking face. The turning of the year is the time and place for both.
So here is a bit more looking back and looking forward.