My ex-wife used to watch the idiot box, and I found I could enjoy some of the shows if I came in in the middle, after the set-up. Because then I had to figure out what was going on, not be spoon-fed some idiotic story idea.
But once in a very long time I see a network TV show that doesn't offend me or bore me to the point of mania. The most recent one and the best one I can think of is "Lone Star," from fall 2010. It was a Fox drama about a con man and his father who use the son's good looks and charm to relieve people of as much money as they can. The son is especially adept at wooing the women.
The show starred James Wolk, David Keith and Jon Voight, among others. Great cast. Huge acting chops. Set in Texas. Oil money. Big landscapes, fancy offices, tall buildings. Lovely ladies.
The best thing: the son had profoundly mixed feelings. He wanted the money, and he wanted to please his dad, but he also wanted a real life, too. To quit lying and succeed on his own merits, which were pretty strong. This was a great inner conflict, one of the best I've ever seen. Very dramatic. There were strong outer conflicts, too. The Jon Voight character seemed to be onto our young anti-hero.
The show was first-rate. The acting, the story development, the directing, the depth and meaning and movement of the story -- wow. Stunning. Maybe the best thing I have ever seen on network TV. One of the best dramas of any kind ever.
But this great show was cancelled, after only two episodes.
Why? The number of viewers fell from 4.1 million to 3.23 million between the first and second episodes. I guess Fox thought they had a loser on their hands.
Sweet Jesus. Good thing it wasn't a novel. You only have to sell about 5,000 copies of a novel in the first week to be a blockbuster. But that audience pays by the book, at $25 or $30 a pop. I guess that's peanuts in the world of network TV.
The people at Fox didn't look at the quality of the show, apparently. Who cares about quality? Why would you think quality might be worth preserving? Or that quality might sell in the long run, that the show might find an audience? So it was great drama, so frigging what? Who cares?
That's why TV is a vast wasteland. Always has been. Probably always will be. No guts, no glory. No taste. No quality. Pablum for the masses.
The same thing happens in politics. Many leaders are scared to death to tell the truth.
People wonder why American culture is so full of junk. Politics and TV are intellectual junk food for the masses.
Makes me want to puke.
My advice: Buy a funny T-shirt and read a good novel instead of watching TV. (And click on these ads. Please.)
© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle