Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Notes from a TV Watcher

The Hopper from DISH is GREAT!  I love the fact that it records all the Prime Time shows and though I delete over 50% of them without ever watching (all the sports, all the reality shows) I have picked up several shows that I never thought I'd watch.  AND -- skipping all those commercials is really cool, though they can only be skipped on Prime Time shows.  Anything from USA or the Food Network requires me to fast forward though the ads.

The caveat -- The Hopper / DVR is expensive.  We carry a lot of premium  channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz) and the cost is right at $129 a month.  So . . . we signed up to have Google install their high speed network once it comes to KCMO - our neighborhood is estimated for Fall 2013 -- and by dropping The Hopper and Earthlink (which means changing email addresses we've had for 10 years) we can save over $50 a month. Though we love both DISH and Earthlink, cost (and super sonic high speed Internet connection) is going to dictate our consumer choices. 

Though I always considered myself a political junkie (PBS's Frontline show on Obama and Romney was well worth the 90 minute investment), I found the first presidential debate put me to sleep.  In my defense, I was watching it from a motel room in Kentucky after driving over 700 miles on the way home from Maryland.  I can't say I thought that either side actually won the debate, even though everybody and their cat thought that Obama hadn't shown up and Romney was on fire.  They both put me to sleep -- right at about the middle point in the debate and I didn't wake up until the last summations.  I actually was rather amazed by the analysis of the debate -- I hadn't thought that Obama was that bad -- but then I hadn't seen the whole thing.

Then came the debate between the vice-president and his challenger, Paul Ryan.  From the moment it began I found myself getting more and more edgy, feeling uneasy and uncomfortable.  Watching them go at each other was a lot like living in my home when I was a teenager and my mother would get drunk and confrontational.  I've not admitted this until now, but I switched channels after the first fifteen minutes -- and watched some show on the Cooking channel.  I tuned back to hear the reviews -- to find that everyone thought it was a great debate and probably Biden bested Ryan.  Why?  He was more aggressive. 

So last night I tuned in, hoping to manage to last through a political debate in 2012.  I had read that the rules for the debate, agreed on by both parties, was that the candidates would not directly question each other but only respond directly to the audience.  The first question, about gas prices, was okay.  But then -- on the second question, Romney turned to Obama, invaded his space, and asked him point blank about oil permits.  My heart began to pound, my brain said, "Good grief!  They're going to hit each other!" and I gasped in disbelief as Obama tried to respond with vigor while Romney kept interrupting him.

When did a debate become a bickering, vicious attack on your opponent for you to be considered a winner?  Is that the new normal for debating in today's world?  Once again, I found myself turning off the antagonists, while I watched an old recording from 2007 of the Dog Whisperer.  I switched back after 90 minutes to see that most people thought the debate was pretty much an even draw between the two -- both on the attack, both showing aggression, both interrupting and facing each other down.

These debates seem to be indicative of our new media mentality -- attack first, present facts almost never.  For the first time since I have been a voter, I have not been able to watch the political debates.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying NBC's Go On and Animal Practice.  Both are funny and well written and acted.  Parenthood has added plot lines making the show even more addictive, and I can't wait to see what happens to each family.  I'm especially pleased that, though bad things happen to each family, in the end I usually come away feeling uplifted and pleased that I've spent time with these characters.

The old standbys on CBS are still good, especially Good Wife.  I've noticed I'm feeling a bit of ennui over NCIS while I think NCIS Los Angeles has recaptured my interest.  Blue Bloods is wonderful -- not just the plot lines but the family that gathers at the end of every show.  Person of Interest, The Mentalist, as well as CSI New York and Las Vegas, are still good watches.  The only new show I've adopted on CBS  is Elementary and the only two sitcoms worth my time are Mike and Molly and The Big Bang (however, Mike and Molly seems to be slipping in the humor department). 

Fox still grabs me with Bones - but it's only on every two or three weeks.  ABC has the standard sitcoms of The Middle and Modern Family -- and Castle for semi-drama -- but all those reality shows leave me cold. I enjoyed Revenge the first season but lately, the same old plots against Victoria or by Victoria seem a little de ja vu. 
For really great viewing, PBS is the place (screw you Romney for wanting to take away my favorite network - and yes, I do contribute to PBS -- the arts ARE important!).  The series that are shown on Mystery Theater, the English imports, the news shows, the specials on the arts -- all these fill up my DVR weekly.   Have you seen the special on Les Mis?  No matter how often they repeat it, I watch just to see the ending with all the wonderful singers who have starred in it.  

Maybe in my next blog, I'll write about the books I've been reading -- but the truth is, I've been thoroughly enjoying the fall TV season.  And come November, USA and the other independent networks will start up showing their shows -- making TV watching even more of a wonderland of entertainment.

PS -- we did take in a movie over the weekend -- at an actual theater.  We say Taken 2 which Hubby really liked and I thought was okay. 


Donna said...

You and I have a lot of TV shows in common: Good Wife, Parenthood, Modern Family, and others. Aren't you watching "Call the Midwife" on PBS on Sunday nights? Cliff and I are loving it. We have Direct TV. It's pricey; we've had Dish in the past. We have NO options for our Internet, so we have to either stay with CenturyLink or do dialup, which I don't consider a choice. We have contributed to PBS in the past also.

Margaret said...

I don't watch much TV, but I do love Modern Family. I didn't watch the debate but am looking at clips and Obama was AWESOME. Love him. (sorry, Michelle)