Sunday, April 02, 2006


Here's the thing I hate about television: There is no intelligent source of critical examination to use as a gauge.

I don't always agree with film critics or book critics or theater critics, but I have a feel for how they work in terms of liking things or not and can use those to help predict my own reaction with relative accuracy based on the kinds of comments I hear from the critical groups of various sorts and know, not what I'll like, but what I should prioritize for myself.

Television? I have no idea.

Look at 24 and CSI to start out with. Both have been widely acclaimed as smart and well-made by the television critics and the public. I tried both for the first half of their first seasons and found them both to be completely lacking for smarts or internal logic or any of the things.

I kind of figured out on my own, during the third season, watching the episode Let the Seller Beware, that "CSI" isn't good television in the way that The Sopranos, for example, is. Smart, well-acted, thoughtfully written, those kinds of things. No, it's trash.

Well, why didn't you say so? I love trash!

Heck, I might even love trash more than I love good things. I'm not sure. I mean, my favorite things are good trash and good things about things that are trashy. But that's incidental.

What's important here is that if people had set me on the path to the right expectation in the first place, I could have been joining them in the gutter instead of walking past annoyed.

"24" ran two years of the whole world saying it was the smartest show on TV and all kinds of fabulous and generous praise and me tuning in occasionally and seeing only over-the-top acting, flagrant abuses of the real time formula and completely implausible situations before there was any crack in the praise and people barely started saying that they enjoy it as trash, which is now seems the standard take on the show and I'm already too jaded.

Or look at the career of J.J. Abrams, or Satan, as I like to call him. He created Felicity and the television critical community said it's wonderful and smart and charming. I watched. It wasn't. The he creates Alias and the television critical community said it's wonderful and smart and charming. I watched. It wasn't.

So, I'm now on "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

He creates Lost and the television critical community says it's wonderful and smart and charming. And I said no. No. A thousand times no.

But I keep hearing more and more good things about it from more and more people I respect. Yeah, yeah. I'll break down eventually but let me hold on to my resistance and whatever shred of pride I have for just a little bit longer.

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